Monday, June 21, 2010

Blogging 201

Okay, so I've done a bunch of posts on blogging. Things I think make the blogging experience better for everyone. Well, I'm back after a convo last week with some fabu friends.

One of them asked (and I get this question a lot): "How do you have time to read so many blogs?"

Are you ready for the answer to that? I'm not sure I'm ready to spill (besides my speed blogging method). Instead I'm going to give you some tips that make me READ your blog.

1. Length. I can't remember if I've brought this up before. For me, length plays a hefty role if I'm going to read your blog or READ your blog. You know?

I think you should be able to get your point across in 300 - 500 words. Any more than that, and I'm well, you know.

2. White space. Break up your paragraphs a little. Long blocks of text freak me out. If I see a paragraph that goes on and on like the worst wedding on the planet, I read, I don't READ.

So give me stuff in short chunks. It makes it easier to read quickly, and since I have a million + one blogs I'm trying to read each day, I'm all for getting in, reading, commenting and getting out. Sounds rushed, doesn't it? Yeah, I know. I want to read your blogs, but I also want to read hers and his and theirs...

3. Video. Consider it carefully. I don't post a lot of videos, and here's why. Many times, YouTube is behind a firewall. Number two, they take more time. I can usually read a blog, comment and get out in under two minutes. If your video is longer than that AND it's accompanied by mucho text, chances are such that I won't stick around.

Rude? Definitely. Sorry! Just consider video carefully, and especially the length of the video.

I think that's it for now. Just a few more bloggish things I've been thinking about. While this is not my first opinion column on blogging, what did I miss? What bloggy things have you been thinking about lately? Things you've seen you like? Things you wish people didn't do?

68 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

Like video, pictures sometimes take a long time to open. I hate it when down on the left hand corner of the screen it says, 57 items to open. I'm even going to get rid of my awards because they take so long to open my own page.

Like you I want to be in out and done so I can get to my writing.

Terri Tiffany said...

I so agree on the videos. I just don't have time to wait on them.

Christina Lee said...

Yep, you hit all the marks! I agree! I might just add 500 topics rolled into one post. All of the topics could be teased out into their own separate (smaller) posts.
Have a good day!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Your suggestions are great. I tend to skim or ignore the too long posts for the same reason as you. I'm trying to read lots of blogs and just don't have enough time to read long ones, no matter how good they are.

And thank you for saying what you did about videos. I hardly ever watch them because they take way too long. Though the writeoncom one was fast so I watched it. It was great.

Please blog on how to read all the blogs. I'd love some tips. I spend way too much time on it and I don't stop working until 9:00 pm after starting at about 6:00 am.

Mary said...

This is exactly why I love your blog-- to the point easy read wit no frills.
Many thanks!

Maribeth
Giggles and Guns

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It's rare that I watch a video because they tend to be long. I could have read and commented on 2-3 blogs by the time I'm finished watching the video. And that doesn't include leaving a comment.

And I rarely read blogfest like posts. They're usually long, and I feel like the guest at a party who's joined a group mid-conversation.


I try to make my posts short. If they're longer, like one I did last week, I infuse it with humor. Then people are going to want to read the whole thing. :)

Great post, Elana!

Jessica Nelson said...

I'm the same way, Elana. If I post a video and it's long, I try to pinpoint the minute mark that I really liked so people can fast forward to that, if they want.
Hope you're having a great day! Seems like forever since I made it over here...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Long text throws me off as well. I usually keep it short.
Although today there's some long ones out there as it's the Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest. 54 signed up, so it's brought a lot of new blogs to my attention. And vice versa!

Melissa said...

I'm cringing because my posts tend to be long. Well, I'll work on it so people, like you, with a lot of blogs to read can actually enjoy my blog more.

It's funny because now that I think of it, I cringe when I see a large amount a text on someone else's blog. Oh, how hypocritical of me.

Well, I'll work on it!

Jamie Grey said...

Great post - I hate huge long text paragraphs, and most of the time I won't click through for videos - so I rarely use them on my own site. I do like pictures posted, but I try to make them small enough that they don't effect load times.

salarsenッ said...

You make a great point about length. I usually try to keep it short or break it up in two parts.

I'm not a huge fan of video, either. Takes too much time. With that said, I have viewed a few that were worthy. They were short and to the point.

Great post.

Jen said...

I think you made great points. I work the same way and recently noticed that my blog posts were getting longer and this week worked on shortening them A LOT.

If I don't like to read that much
text then who else would? That is except for interview days, those I don't take away... I like all the questions, I guess that post is for me!

laurapauling said...

Unique, useful and updated. And short! I def. skim when it gets too long.

Lisa R said...

Keep it simple. No sparkley or light colors to the post. Frequently I run into a post that a super dark background and then they will use peach, yellow or beige text. I can't even see half of it. Just keep it simple. Black on white or white on black with maybe a dark blue for links. The rest of the "cute" colors--leave them alone. Oh, and challenges-- if you must post your progress- keep it short and sweet.

Talli Roland said...

I hear you on the short and sweet. I'm sorry, but I hate it when people post LOOOOONG chapters of their work! I have a netbook and that means A LOT of scrolling.

I also don't like it when I have to scroll way down to find the 'Followers' box. Put it at the top! Please. :)

Also, sometimes people have very strange font colours against equally strange backgrounds that I really struggle to read.

Gosh, I sound like a grouch now!

Scott said...

Dude, Seriously? Sorry, couldn't resist. Length of the blog often determines if I'll read the blog or not . . . the main exception is The Literary Lab since I always glean useful info . . . oh, and your blog of course, always your blog!

S

Vicki Rocho said...

I agree! I think I probably fail in the length category though. I feel like I'm being short and sweet when I'm writing it, but when it's posted 'on the big screen' I'm surprised by how long it seems!

Ah, well, we're working on it!

Aubrie said...

I like blog posts with a theme so I know what they are about.

You are a super blog woman to be able to comment on so many :)

JustineDell said...

Just ignore my blog this week, Elana! Every post is long for Beta Week, sorry! I had a lot of stuff to talk about. Hopefully my other weeks are so bad. I'll keep all the tips in mind. Thanks! ;-)

~JD

Natalie said...

You are amazing Elana. Really. I have no idea how you do it.

Lately I've been commenting on about 10 blogs a day and all of your rules apply. If a blog is so long I have to scroll more than once in Google Reader I won't read it. I will look at an occasional vlog, but I usually won't watch random video.

The other thing for me lately is topic. If it's a book review, I probably won't read it. The same goes for awards posts, blogfests, and blog chains. I know that's terrible!

I like to read posts where the blog writer tells me about their experience with writing, publishing or blogging. I learn more from those kind of posts.

Mary Aalgaard said...

People do need to keep them short. Short and to the point with a great question at the end. That's what I find the most appealing. I posted my first video last night. It's an option to click on it or not. Some people have more time to linger, maybe they'll fill their coffee cup while listening.

Renae said...

As usual great post! I agree on length. I try to visit as many blogs in a day that I can and when they are really long posts that cuts in to your time.

Thanks for all the great advice!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I'm with you 100%. I rarely watch clips. Sorry, people!

Maria Zannini said...

I don't mind videos as long as I'm told what it's about. Then I can choose to watch it or not.

What really frustrates me are people who Vlog. (video blogs)

I don't have time for that kind of entry. Unless it's a how-to video, keep blogs in text so I can scan at will.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Great tips, and definitely things I notice myself. I also want to mention that if the blogger has a wallpaper so complex that it takes a long time to load, that's a blog I won't visit often.

sarahjayne smythe said...

I still think you are one of the most amazing bloggers out there. I can't handle the almost 300 blogs I follow, and I think I lose some followers that way.

But I hear you on everything else and try to keep my blog just that way.

Tess said...

I try to highlight a few words so if people read only them, they'd get the gist of the post. But, I'm still amazed anyone at all comes over. who cares about my rambling? i mean, honestly...that sometimes trips me out.

lynnrush said...

Great post.
I love videos...but try and find short ones. . . and I like to be told a little bit about them. Sometimes I'll play the video first and have it running while reading the post to see if I wanna hear the whole video. :-)

I can't stand having black backgrounds with white writing. It totally wigs out my eyes. If the blog post is short enough and my eyes will tolerate it, cool. Otherwise, I'll pass.

I love short blogs too. Funny ones as well. I love laughing. Not a big fan of having music pop up once I get to the site either, cuz I usually have my own music playing. LOL.

Great post. I like learning about what makes blogs more successful.

Happy Monday!

Jennie Englund said...

Excellent points!

I definitely need to shorten up my stuff and add some giggles.

lotusgirl said...

I completely agree on all three points. Hear! Hear! Let's hope everyone follows your advice.

WindyA said...

I agree completely on the length thing. I try so hard to keep posts short, though I'm a bit of a rambler...

And music on blogs irk me too. They distract from what I was reading and then I end up trying to figure out where to go to shut it off!

paulgreci said...

I often skip videos. And audio too. I like short posts. I try to keep mine under 250 words.
This week is an exception because I have cover copy from three Edgy YA novels I'm Giving Away. It's a bit longer, but most of writing isn't mine, lol.

Erinn said...

DOh, I have a video on my blog today, but I also summarized it, super quickly too, in case the firewall blocked it for anyone.

But come on it was Hank Green talking about The Game, how could I NOT blog about it.

I've been trying to keep posts shorter.

there's a few bloggers out there who do a great job of keeping it short and meaningful.
*resisting the urge to tell a penis joke**

Janet Johnson said...

Totally agree! I try to keep my posts short, though some get longer than I like. I guess editing counts for blogging, too!

And absolutely on breaking up blocks of text into paragraphs. Block-o'-text shuts my brain off.

JEM said...

I'm glad you've said what we're all thinking. Plus, on the video front, I read some blogs at work, so I don't want to listen to a video :).

Patti said...

I love that your so honest, because I totally agree. If it's a long post I usually skip it and I try to make mine short.

Angie said...

Great points. I am reluctant to watch a long video too, unless it's a video of my nieces and nephews being adorable.

Stephanie said...

I agree 100%!!!! I like short blogs...to the point! I like space between paragraphs...I hate long drawn out paragraphs. I too want to read every blog I follow...but it's very hard. So many times I skim..because I have to. But I also know there are some poeple out there who blog because it is their only outlet...so they do write long blog posts. But those people I don't think care about comments.

Eric said...

I am still unconvinced that you ever sleep. That's the only way you could possibly be so many places at once :)

Lua said...

I agree about the videos- unless they are very intriguing and important for the post, then I can’t watch them. I wish I could but usually I don’t have the time. And I couldn’t agree more about the ‘White Space’, it makes it so much easier to read posts… Great tips! :)

http://likeabowloforanges.wordpress.com/

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Once again--Elana Johnson--making the blogosphere a better place for all of us. :)

Carolyn V. said...

Love it! And I agree with you on so many points. The video thing I hate (too bad I just posted one for four minutes). =p

Jackee said...

We all certainly adore your blogging advice. I know I want to be like you when I grow up! :o)

With vlogs too, I find that I'm USUALLY turned off to that person by them. This is harsh I know, but we are writers, not actors, and very few of us can actually come across as ourselves under the influence of Camera. Some, not all.

Thanks for the short, well-spaced post! :o)

Katie Ganshert said...

Great stuff! Lots of wisdom in this here post. I try to keep mine short, but sometimes, if I'm super passionate about something...I just can't help myself!

Melody said...

Good advice! I know - long blocks of post scare me too. (And sometimes I write them. Ouch.) And, like you, I'll rarely watch any YouTube videos unless a) they are clearly marked about what they are - instead of just, "Watch this. You'll like it," or b) the blogger says it's uproariously funny and I'll like it if I ____" (fill in blank).

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

These sound like good advice for writing as well! :)

Short posts are definitely less scary, but for a good topic, well-written, I definitely stick around.

And speed read! :)

Julie Musil said...

I'm 100% with you on the long blog posts. I must be ADD or something, because I don't stick around for very long. Great points for the rest of us, thanks!

WritingNut said...

These are all such great points. I'm working on the length of my posts - some days are better than others.

G said...

Interesting point about long blog posts, because my blog is exactly that. I came from an arena where the max was 750 words/4K character coutns, so most of my posts hit that cap (which is about 1 1/2 to 2 pages in length).

While I find short posts interesting, I also find that most people don't have the ability to keep me hooked with a short post. Give me a short post and I won't even give your blog a second glance in my reader.

My speed is reading longer posts (about 500 and up) and writing longer posts as well. I can keep people's interest with a longer post, and I only use a short post as a lead in to longer meatier posts on my other blogs.

Video I won't even touch unless I'm in a good mood.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love your blogging tips. I usually find myself nodding in agreement. Videos take too much time - I can sort of/kind of speed read, but I can't speed watch. So I often skip.

I like your difference between read and READ - perfect description of what I do too. Thanks!

Horserider said...

Great post! I try to be careful with the lengths of my posts because if I see a really long blog, I might just skim over the first couple paragraphs and then exit out. Not only does it take more time to read longer posts, but it's also harder for me to keep my attention on them.

I never post because because one, I don't know how and two, I don't have any interesting videos to post. If I want to share someone else's, I just link to it. Though I didn't think about the picture thing! I'll have to be more careful about that.

Lydia Kang said...

I've been making my posts shorter just for this reason (except for my medical posts, which must be longer to answer the question given to me).

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I agree! I follow a lot of blogs and the ones that catch my eye are the ones with shorter text, good spacing on the page and a well placed picture.

I didn't know about the video thing you mentioned, but it makes sense. I'll watch a video if it is something that interests me, but it can't be too long. I'm guilty of putting video on my blog. I'll have to be more careful.

Great tips!!!

Christine Danek said...

Totally agree. I have been guilty for some long posts but I try to keep them short. I tend not to read or should I say READ super long ones.
I wouldn't even know how to put video on my blog and usually don't watch them on other blogs.
I have two monsters so time is critical.
Great post!

Yvonne Osborne said...

I agree on the videos. I don't look. Not ever. Even if I had high speed I probably wouldn't. I don't mind a longer post if it grabs me. Myself? Yeah, I've been guilty of over-writing. Of course when the words are mind I think every one has weight. It's how I ended up with a manuscript of 165,000 words.
Don't throw a shoe at me. I've edited it.

Claire Goverts said...

Handy post, I agree on the length and videos. And the white space as well, reading to much text in a chunk on the screen isn't fun.

I've been neglecting my blog lately. Aside from to much other stuff going on I keep thinking about what to write about, aside from just the dull writing progress updates. Something like what can my blog bring to the blog-verse that has my unique spin on it, either an interesting topic or an interesting approach to a current topic going around the blogs.

Sandy Shin said...

I agree completely. I tend to skim longer posts, because I just don't have time to read the entire thing. And while I do click on videos, I don't do that often -- they take up a lot of time.

Karen Lange said...

Good post. I hear ya, and I try to keep my blog within those parameters. Getting there anyway.
Thanks!
Karen :)

ali said...

Always love getting inside-glimpses into your life Elana ;) I don't think I've got any wisdom or pet peeves to pass along. But I appreciated your comments! If we all did those things we'd all be happier I think!

Nichole Giles said...

Great thoughts, Elana!

Okay, since you asked, I wish people would make their blogs easy to comment on. Every time I read a blog that requires me getting through five different security measures before I can have my say, I have to really think hard before I leave that comment. You know?

Sadly, I often read those blogs and never comment because it's a pain. If I have to switch browsers to comment (which is the case with five or six blogs I follow) I only comment once in every four or five visits. Not because I don't read or love those blogs, but because it takes too much effort.

*shrugs*

Matthew Rush said...

Not everyone can be Elana! Queen of the Blogoshpere (for writers) but it is nice to have the subtle hints as to how you get it done. Thanks Elana.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Sigh. For me, blogging ALWAYS brings back those "not cool enough to sit at the cool kids table" thoughts - especially when I get unfollowed or when my posts don't garner many comments. Thrusts a sista right back into seventh grade sometimes. Thanks for letting me in on what works :D

Heather said...

Great tips in here. I have to agree with you on the overly long blog posts. I read a lot of blogs and have very little time. If it won't fit on a page it gets read last, if at all. Sorry, I just don't have time.

lisanowak said...

I'm with you on length, though I usually allow myself 800 words, tops, depending on what I'm blogging about. I like to read short posts, and so I try to write them.

I also agree about videos. I rarely watch them, whether they're on someone's blog or sent in an email. The reason is, I have less control. You can't speed-watch a video.

Palindrome said...

Length, length, length! I will either not read really long posts or skim them.

Videos I could give or take but I usually don't watch them.

Olivia Herrell said...

Thanks, Elana! And thank you to all the other commenters, too. This is a subject near and dear to my heart these days as I'm in a quandary about what to do to get more readers and commenters.Now I know. Yay! Ask and ye shall receive.

Zoe, I feel ya, you desribed me to a T.

~That Rebel, Olivia

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I am still a child at heart. I like pictures when I read. So I always open with what I hope is an eye-catching picture.

I'm also a visual kind of guy. I try to put a video that parallels my post or adds depth to what I've said.

Two no-no's I know. Say that four times fast. LOL.

I think my black background is elegant. And truth to tell, I put my blog address at the end of every query.

If an agent drops in because of that, I want it to be elegant, eye-catching, and absorbing.

If I am cheery and bright and just like everyone else's blog, what impression will that leave?

I am probably wrong. It won't be the last time.

I hope my friends stay and read my posts. I try to make them entertaining but also thought-provoking :

It's the former teacher in me.

I like to believe my blog friends get something positive out of my posts and do not just skim to say they've been there.

Rats. I've gone on too long. That teacher/counselor in me again.

I get a lot from your blog. Thanks, Roland

Maurice Mitchell said...

A additional note on video: 9 out of t10 times the Youtube link will be dead in six months. Unless its updated its kind of annoying.

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