Monday, August 30, 2010

Help A Sistah Out

Okay, so I'm preparing for a class I'm teaching at a conference in a few weeks. It's called "Building Your Blog Into An Online Platform" and I have a lot of ideas, but I'm wondering about a few things. Maybe you guys can help me out.

What questions do you have about blogging? I want to hear from beginning, intermediate, or advanced bloggers. (Let me know what you think your level is in your comment, okay?)

What's the hardest part for you?

What's the easiest part?

What do you wish someone had told you when you started?

What do you want to know now?

Basically, I want to hear your concerns/questions about blogging. I imagine a lot of the attendees will have the same ones.

Thanks, all!

61 comments:

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Basically I want to know how you get so many followers. What do you write about? How much time do you spend on your blog (including reading and commenting on other blogs) a day?

The Golden Eagle said...

My question is: Do you think it's a better idea to target an audience or to just post (relatively) random things that may or may not have anything to do with what you posted before? Is it better to be more consistent or just post about what you find interesting no matter what subject? (Intermediate level)

Renae said...

Let me start by saying that I was terrified to start blogging in the beginning, but now after meeting so many wonderful people I wish I had started sooner!

You had a post a couple of months back with a lot of good tips about blogging that really helped me. I guess now I'm with Tamara. How do you get so many followers, how much time do you spend each day blogging and how do you come up with your ideas.

Good luck, I'm sure whatever you decide it will be great!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

When I started my blog, I figured I would be the only one seeing it. It wasn't until the end of last year that I made a conscious effort to get my name out by visiting other blogs. But it was your posts on blogging earlier this year that really helped me out (plus adding the followers widget on my blog--that helped huge time!).

Good luck with the workshop. I know it's going to be rocking. I can't wait for the day you're doing a workshop at the LA SCBWI conference. Believe me. That day's coming. :D

Ted Cross said...

I can only guess, but I think I am an intermediate blogger. I could have gotten off to a faster start if people explained how the whole blogging-go-round works. Now I think it works slightly better if you use Blogger rather than the other major sites, as Blogger has the more blogger-friendly gadgets. And, I would immediately add the Follower gadget somewhat high up on the side of your blog, and also add teh Blog Stream gadget, as it helps to keep track of the latest posts of all the blogs you follow, not to mention that those bloggers appreicate seeing their blog on your roll.

Janna Qualman said...

I'm at the intermediate stage, and I keep second-guessing myself. Have I done everything right? Am I giving my readers what they expect at this point? What can I do to take it to the next level?

I'm sure your class will be awesome, Elana!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Best part = the relationships
Hardest part = keeping up

Ya know... the usual :-)

KarenG said...

Have you ever gotten bored with it and wanted to quit/slow down/give it up? What kept you going?

Christine Fonseca said...

Keeping up with everything w/o having it cut into writing time. AND...
What making sure you are targeting your readership...

That is what I think about - All the time!

CL said...

My main question would be how to attract followers-- and I'd like some info on blog etiquette: is it okay to facebook about your blog? I belong to a regional SCBWI listserv-- do I send out notices when I blog asking people to stop by? Or is that rude?
Also, how often do you blog to maintain a viable presence... or is it just personal choice?
Thanks for asking! I hope you'll post some of your answers on your wonderful blog!

Amie B said...

i'm not sure what level i'm at...what defines that anyway? the length of time we've been blogging or our followers?

one thing i've noticed is that just because a blogger has say 200 or 500 followers doesn't mean anything if they don't have a good relationship with those who read their blog. sometimes these bloggers only have a few comments - and that's a tell-tale sign people aren't returning.

as for me, i'm under 100 followers, but i truly feel that each and everyone of them is my friend - and more importantly, i think THEY know it. and i hope that is one measure of my success. :)

Piedmont Writer said...

The hardest part about blogging for me was wishing I had more followers.

When I had less than 50 I had more comments and could do more commenting myself. Now I have more than 200 followers, I barely have time to comment on their blogs let alone my own.

And as for cutting into writing time, there is no easy solution there. I try and keep blogging to an hour in the morning but it's hard to read and comment on all that I follow and then find myself wandering to others.

Bish Denham said...

I want to learn more about the technical side of blogging. I've currently got this problem going on and hard as I try to get it resolved through HELP I'm not finding the answer.

Summer Ross said...

I wish someone would have told me how to create links in my posts. or on my sidebars. Sometimes I still have trouble with them.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I was clueless about blogging when I first started. Been blogging for a couple years now. I learned there is a certain etiquette. My problem is when you are hitting on a specific thing, say with a writing blog, it seems all the subjects have been said and then some. It's repetitive, ya know. So I think it's important to make connections too. Do you think it more important to blog often or keep a schedule? Seems like the "cool kids on the block" (lol) run many contests/guest bloggers but what about the bloggers who haven't made those connections yet. How do you get agents to guest post? What is the etiquette with that. Okay think I gave you much stuff to think about lol. Good luck I'm sure it will be great!

Linda Kage said...

I've been blogging at least once a week for a year and half, but I'm not advanced because my following list is under a 100 and I don't get more than 30 hits a day, so I'd say I'm an intermediate.

Hardest part is finding the time to visit everyone else's blog and find something interesting to say to everyone. Plus trying to come up with new interesting stuff on my own blog without blathering on about myself is getting tougher.

Easiest part is writing the actual blog once I get an idea and meeting new people. It's easy to meet, little harder to stay in good contact with them.

I wish someone had told me how time-consuming it is. I think cobwebs are forming on cobwebs at my house; its been so long since I last cleaned the place.

lbdiamond said...

Keeping up with everything! I can't comment on as many blogs as I'd like to, and I'm wondering if my readership is "small" because of it. (Well, could be one of many reasons, I suppose, LOL!)

I'm sure you'll do a great job teaching, Elana! :D

Karen Lange said...

I guess maybe I fall into the intermediate-ish category since I've been blogging about a year and a half. I had no clue what I was getting into when I started, other than I wanted to add blogging experience to my resume. The toughest part for me is the time factor. Such as:

1) Staying on schedule with my posts. Writing and scheduling posts ahead of time helps somewhat.

2) Getting around to blogs, those who follow me and others I follow. My first priority is to visit blogs of those who've commented on mine, then I move on, if time allows to others. Sadly, I don't always have this time every week.

3) Visiting new blogs, generating new followers. Only have time to do this occasionally. I think hiring a personal assistant would help this greatly but since the budget won't allow it...

I am extremely grateful for the friends, info, and connections I've gained through blogging. Not only are blogs a rich resource, but a great source of support and camaraderie.

All that said, the one question I have for other bloggers is how do they manage their time?

Wishing you all the best with this, Elana!
Happy Monday,
Karen

Bethany Mason said...

I'd say I'm an intermediate blogger and I'm noticing that now I seem to blog a lot less than I have done in the past as I simply don't know what to blog about and I don't want to sound like I'm giving advice when there is no reason for people to listen to me - how do you work out the line between patronising and sharing your view? And how do you keep coming up with ideas that don't get stale and that will interest readers?

salarsenッ said...

I wish someone would have told me that my url didn't have to be the title of the blog. I know that sounds obvious, but I was unaware of this fact.

L.T. Elliot said...

Bethany Mason's comment is totally what I would have said, word for word.

Carolyn V. said...

Elana, I think the biggest thing for me is time. When do you find the time, how do you follow so many others. *ugh* stinkin' time.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Perhaps for beginners some of the basics of setting up the blog, like whether to use blogspot, etc, domain name, how to set things up.

Then for those who are already doing it, you've done some great posts about time management and following blogs, the length of the post (I so agree with that), being consistent in posting. I think for many of us, a question is how to keep thinking about things to write about and not letting a blog take too much of our writing time.

Wish I could go to your workshop. I know it'll be awesome.

E. Arroyo said...

I first want to thank you. I learned loads from you.

The hard part for me about blogging is to be clear about what you plan on blogging about. I think its important to plan ahead and organize your tags. When I go into a blog I look to see what's been written about certain topics. Mine is all over the place and I had to go back and add tags. Planning this out first, at least for the first year or so, would help.

E. Arroyo said...

I mean Labels...Sorry.

Falen (Sarah) said...

i think for me, i sometimes struggle with keeping blogging fun (for me). It's probably just my hormones jerking me around, but it's something i always wonder about in regards to other people and their blogs

Elana Johnson said...

Dude, you guys are AWESOME! I knew I could count on you guys to help focus me a bit more.

As for those of you who asked how you categorize yourself, that's a personal question you have to answer. For me, I think it's how comfortable you are with blogging more than the level of followers. Generally, those things increase together, but not always.

Jill Kemerer said...

One of the comments I hear from other writers is "I don't have time to blog." My concern is that unless a writer is committed to blogging regularly, their blog will actually hurt their platform. It doesn't look very good if a writer hasn't posted in three months! Maybe a perspective from an agent or editor would be helpful?

Patti said...

This is my second year blogging. The hardest part is keeping up by visiting other people's blogs so that I can keep those relationships.

Taffy said...

I wish I would have known sooner:
How many times a week to blog.
Do visits/page counts etc really matter.
Where do you find the RSS feed?
Why do followers matter?
Can bloggers really make money?
Are giveaways worth doing?

Bekah said...

1.) Followers- where and how to get them. Do you want a ton or close friends that mean something?
2.) What to write when I am not a "professional"? I don't feel the need to share my personal life, that's me. So....what else is there? Some post pages of manuscript or query on their blogs. I hear this is bad and good. Thoughts?
3.) What is the point when an agent supposedly looks at such a blog and what are they looking for? Your style or personality? Is it just to make sure we aren't crazy?

Bekah said...

1.) Followers- where and how to get them. Do you want a ton or close friends that mean something?
2.) What to write when I am not a "professional"? I don't feel the need to share my personal life, that's me. So....what else is there? Some post pages of manuscript or query on their blogs. I hear this is bad and good. Thoughts?
3.) What is the point when an agent supposedly looks at such a blog and what are they looking for? Your style or personality? Is it just to make sure we aren't crazy?

Krista said...

What does it mean when you get 20-30 visitors a day, and 1 comment? but the visitors keep coming? And why does that bother me? (ha)

Also, blog contests... I've tried. I've failed. *help*

Elle Strauss said...

How to stay balanced. Blogging can get "too big" sometimes.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'd categorize myself as an intermediate level blogger. For me the biggest challenge is responding to all the blogs of my followers. As you know, I'm trying out a Google Reader schedule. I feel guilty about not commenting on each person's every post, but it gets out of control. It's fun or I wouldn't do it at all, but I've got to keep the time in control somehow!

T. Anne said...

I have to say for me the hardest part about blogging is getting fresh new ideas for topics.

Also, you (Elana) have a great voice on your blog. I feel like I can see you, hear you, understand your personality and it's all good! Some blogs read a bit dry and I think new bloggers shouldn't be afraid to inject a bit of personality in there. I love coming here because I love you!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Hm...I'd consider myself an intermediate blogger--because I've only been at it for a year.

I think the easiest part is being myself. I want people to see the same Shannon online that they would meet in real life.

The hardest part is showing them me, without having my posts feel like they're all ME ME ME, I'm so awesome, pay attention to me, let me tell you about all the people who love ME and how awesome everything I do is and blah blah blah. For one thing, that's not my personality. And I hate blogs like that.

So it's hard to strike a balance and connect with my followers and not have it feel like it's the Shannon Show. I *think* I've found a method that works, but it's hard. Every post I always reread it, trying to figure out if it seems braggy or pretentious.

Oh, and LOVE the layout changes, btw. ;)

Kelly said...

I think I'm at the intermediate level...
I do think it's important to stress the value of community in blogging. To comment or at least visit other blogs if you have one. I love how bloggers support, help, and care about one another in this writing community. But if you don't participate, you are missing out on the comradrie and knowledge.
It can be time consuming, so just set a schedule and stick to it (daily, weekly, a few times a week, whatever) to make sure it doesn't become a time waster.

Kelly said...

And after reading Shannon's comment, I think posting about yourself isn't a bad thing in moderation (as long as it isn't every post). I really like the personal posts people put out there. I feel like I know them more and feel more connected.

Tamika: said...

You are the perfect person to teach this class:)

I would say the struggle I find with blogging is managing my time visiting. I can't seem to knock it out as quickly as I'd like. I need a formula to keeping up with everyone!

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Hey there! I thought I'd pipe in here. I feel like I am not quite a beginner but I also don't feel too advanced with the blogging scene. The easiest part for me about blogging is that I actually enjoy posting things on it, when I can, because I am doing it for me. If someone happens to find my blog helpful in any way than that is a major plus. The difficult part is trying to post everyday. I have young children at home and this makes me wonder if I should cut my posts in half. Another challenge I have is that I find so many blogs an I want to comment on them all and follow them but I have to remember not to get too crazy or I won't have time for my own blog. It is hard to find a balance sometimes. I wish I had known about kidlitosphere, and pblitchat before I began blogging and about the wealth of information/knowledge/resources on twitter through networking. These three things have helped me a ton. Mashable on the other hand has helped me figure out how to link all the social media to my blog and not lose my brain through it all. I wish I had known about that sooner as well. Looking at other author blogs before I started mine was one of the best things I could have done for my blog--to get an idea of what kind of presence I wanted to establish in the blogosphere and feel around for priceless resources. I started with a black template and loved it but learned that it was better to not have a dark template. Finally I tossed it. The search for a fun, reader friendly template was difficult for me. I explored myopera, blogger,and wordpress, templates etc. I had a hard time finding something I truly loved that didn't take forever to upload. Then I met Google Chrome and that simplified my life when it came to posting because it cut upload time in half! Someone told me to limit myself to 2-3 blogs/posts a day then concentrate on my own blog and/or my writing. This was the best advice I could have gotten other than: comment on other blogs, and be yourself. It is absolutely like T. Anne says "some blogs read a bit dry" without that personality weaved into them. I want to know:
how to draw readers in with a contest(because I'm in the same boat as Krista here--I failed), how does guest blogging work, how in the world can I get someone to let me interview them on my wee little blog(besides the obvious answer of just asking them, and how do I know if I'm ready to handle a blog carnival, are they difficult to participate in?

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Hey there! I thought I'd pipe in here. I feel like I am not quite a beginner but I also don't feel too advanced with the blogging scene. The easiest part for me about blogging is that I actually enjoy posting things on it, when I can, because I am doing it for me. If someone happens to find my blog helpful in any way than that is a major plus. The difficult part is trying to post everyday. I have young children at home and this makes me wonder if I should cut my posts in half. Another challenge I have is that I find so many blogs an I want to comment on them all and follow them but I have to remember not to get too crazy or I won't have time for my own blog. It is hard to find a balance sometimes. I wish I had known about kidlitosphere, and pblitchat before I began blogging and about the wealth of information/knowledge/resources on twitter through networking. These three things have helped me a ton. Mashable on the other hand has helped me figure out how to link all the social media to my blog and not lose my brain through it all. I wish I had known about that sooner as well. Looking at other author blogs before I started mine was one of the best things I could have done for my blog--to get an idea of what kind of presence I wanted to establish in the blogosphere and feel around for priceless resources. I started with a black template and loved it but learned that it was better to not have a dark template. Finally I tossed it.

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

The search for a fun, reader friendly template was difficult for me. I explored myopera, blogger,and wordpress, templates etc. I had a hard time finding something I truly loved that didn't take forever to upload. Then I met Google Chrome and that simplified my life when it came to posting because it cut upload time in half! Someone told me to limit myself to 2-3 blogs/posts a day then concentrate on my own blog and/or my writing. This was the best advice I could have gotten other than: comment on other blogs, and be yourself. It is absolutely like T. Anne says "some blogs read a bit dry" without that personality weaved into them. I want to know:
how to draw readers in with a contest(because I'm in the same boat as Krista here--I failed), how does guest blogging work, how in the world can I get someone to let me interview them on my wee little blog(besides the obvious answer of just asking them, and how do I know if I'm ready to handle a blog carnival, are they difficult to participate in?

Bethany Mattingly said...

I wish someone had told me to just relax and let my voice and personality come through right at the beginning. I wanted to be too formal when I first started. It wasn't as fun for me to write the posts or, I'm sure, for others to read them. It's people's choice whether or not to come back to your blog, the best way to guarantee their return is to make them smile or leave them totally stunned in the awesomeness of your insight, in my humble opinion.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I'm a beginner-leaning-towards-intermediate blogger. I've got it set up, and I know what the gadgets are (mostly) and how to write and post and such, but I'm still finding my footing in terms of consistency, coming up with interesting posts, and attracting people to my blog.

Is it weird that I experience the "am I crazies" with my blog? I'm torn between doing contests to draw people to my blog, and just wanting people who will read it and be interested enough in what I'm saying to comment on it. For the longest time, there were no comments, and I wondered if I was crazy to spend time on it because I didn't even know if any of my followers actually read it. Now, I have more followers, and I usually get a comment or two, so that's better, but it's still not quite where I'd like it to be in terms of follower-to-commenter ratio. How do you find that balance?

And how do you make your blog interesting without being gimmicky?

And how do you know when your blog is "big" enough to start introducing features like guest blog posts, interviews, etc?

I wish I could go to your workshop.

ali said...

I think what I wish I knew then, but know now, would be to keep the long view in mind when you start your blog. Cutesy names are great and all, but it's unfortunate when you have to hope your readers will follow you to a new blog from the old one you had and called Snot from A Baby's Nose or something equally silly. I did that (not the snot part, but ...) and it was a PITA.

Similarly, to not get caught up in trying to be like the cool kids. Be yourself - your own brand of cool. It will be good enough, because honestly, we're all good enough. (Thank you Stewart Smalley)

Jamie Burch said...

Tips to make things efficient!

Like just recently I set it up so my comments automatically go to my email. That way when I email them it feels more personal as opposed to commenting back on my blog. Plus it's easier!

All those little tips and tricks that will help out new bloggers would rock! Good luck!

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

Okay, I be bold and throw myself in with the intermediate bloggers. Things I think would help beginner to know is…
1) How to set it up and what are necessary, ie. Follower thingy (yes, technical words are my specialty, archive list, etc.)
2) Posting tech, by which I mean good post length, use of white space, etc.
3) How to get real comments - Followers are great but the comments show that what you’ve written something worthy.
4) How to manage the blogging obsession, you know getting to the myriad of blogs one follows. ;)

Bonnie said...

I think I'm a beginning blogger, I've been doing it since this spring. I'd like to get more followers, what are tips for doing that? I leave comments on other similar bloggers pages. I see a lot of blogs with their side bars cluttered with all kinds of cutesy things, awards, ads, etc. I find it distracting but what does everyone else think? I like a nice clean page. I also find long blogs take too long to read. Is it better to keep it short and sweet with a little education thrown in? I started a gardening blog but have branched out to include a few recipes from garden produce and a few book reviews on garden books. Does that throw people off when you change your subject a little?

Jen said...

Hey Chick! I'm going to be bold and say I'm advanced blogger. However I've only been blogging since January and I'm not sure how you would consider gaining stripes.

I would say that when I first started being judged was a major concern. I didn't think anyone would follow and if they did they would only harp on how bad I was. I think it's important that bloggers know how supportive we are as a community and we are all working toward the same goals, to get ourselves out there and share our stories.

The hardest thing for me in the beginning was learning how to work my blog, how to properly set it up and to make the best blog I could have. Bloggers should make sure to always show their personalities, make sure the blog is easy to read, if you like bold colors make sure they aren't the background but the header, or a few pictures you add.

I'm asked all the time how I gained my follower count in such a short time span, my response is hard work. I commented on those I thought were interesting, followed who I knew I'd enjoy reading, stayed consistent on blogging. Structure and entertainment is key, the shorter the post the more likely you are to attract people, however it must still remain interesting.

Oh and what should people know before they start? Blogging is addicting, you'll never want to leave it behind!!!

Hope that helps Elana!! You're an awesome blogger so I know you'll knock it out of the park!

Lola Sharp said...

Best part--> the relationships and the writing community.

Hardest part-->Keeping up/time. I constantly feel guilt about not being able to get around to everyone. I read every comment (they mean SO much to me) and I read EVERYONEs posts in my reader, but only have time to come out of my reader to comment an hour/day. Since I want every comment to be sincere and personal, it's time consuming. I do my best.

Julie Musil said...

Elana, I'd consider myself somewhere between beginning and intermediate.

I started a blog because I thought I needed to, but now I just enjoy it! I love the sense of community. So, if nothing else, your students can learn that they'll feel as if they're a part of something.

Plus, it might help them to put out questions on their blogs, because I love hearing other bloggers solutions to sticky situations.

I hope that helps, and good luck!

Jan Markley said...

I guess as others have pointed out - tips on how to increase traffic and followers would be great.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Post regularly is important to keep your friends coming back. Writing about what would interest them, that would help them, and that might make them smile at the same time is also important.

But then, I'm just a newbie at this without an agent even. How much can I know? Wish you luck in your presentation. As a teacher, now a speaker myself, I know how mouth-drying and nerve wracking, preparation can be, Roland

A Canadian Girl said...

I just started blogging about a week ago so I'm definitely a newbie. The hardest part for me was actually setting up my blog and making it look pretty. I wished someone had told me how long that would take because it took me forever and I'm still tweaking it.
The easiest part would be posting. It's hard at the beginning but once I can get my thoughts in order, the writing just flows.
As for what I want to know in the future once I have a bunch of reviews in place, how do I get followers and people to comment.

P.S. I'm glad you liked my blog enough to become a follower! Feel free to send suggestions my way. I can definitely use your knowledge and help.




What do you want to know now?

Jai Joshi said...

I want to know how you got so many followers. What ways did you use to bring people in and what do you do to keep them around?

Jai

Becky said...

I'm a brand new blogger, two weeks old.
I want to know EVERYTHING about blogging. The questions I have, have already been asked and some I didn't know enough to have. The most important one is how to get people to look at your blog and then to stay interested.

http://studentat30.blogspot.com

Suzie F. said...

I'm a newbie blogger too, just a few weeks. I had a blast setting it up, though I did have trouble getting my images to upload at first. I guess I'm unsure about blogging etiquette when it comes to adding side links to blogs I like. Do I need to ask permission to link to favorite blogs (like yours!)

Right now it's taking up a lot of time, but I can see that being easier over time once I get more organized. I'm going to try and plan my blog topics the weekend before.

Good luck with your class and I plan to dig through your archives for more tips.

Indigo said...

As a long time blogger, it never occured to me people expected me to reply to comments. As a writer, I'm beginning to hear rumors we should. How would you recommend we go about that - email or reply directly in the comments? (Hugs)Indigo

Heather said...

Congrats on teaching a class on blogging. I can't think of anyone better than you for that! I'd have to say I'm between beginner and intermediate when it comes to blogging. I wish someone had told me in the beginning that readership plummets on the weekend so don't bother writing a post every single day. Not just for the sake of blog traffic, but also to give my readers a chance to catch up, and to give me a break from blogging!

Trish said...

Elena, I love blogging, but I get behind when I'm writing. Now, you've reminded me to update. Yipes! It's been a while. I have a good excuse though. I've been doing my final edits for my latest story. Yay! I can go blogging again.

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