Know Thy Less-Than-Perfectness

I am a social geek/ nerd/ cave person. I know this about myself and I am okay with it. I can live with being semi- social phobic and not all that chatty in large groups of unknown people. Some would call it shy. It isn’t really. It’s more like intimidated and growing up polite – not cutting into the conversation. (One of my pet peeves, which I do not talk about, is being interrupted when I am trying to say something).

Anyway, this is one part of my character which does not go well with blogging, the promoting part of blogging. Some say they are shameless self-promoters. This is not me. I am more like a shy, rebellious self promoter. Half of me does not even like all that advertising/ marketing/ commercial and sales stuff and the other half thinks it would be much nicer to just keep writing and not bring attention to myself. This does not work really well. It is detrimental to several of my blogging and fame seeking goals.

Still, I know myself. I know where my difficulties/ challenges are. Do you?

What is your challenge as a blogger? I won’t assume you are all in if for the fame, like myself. (I will pretend I’m not, but I know I want the glory and gusto of fame, deep in my quietly shy heart). Anyway, is your challenge something personal or something like spelling which can be helped with proofreading (unless you are one of those anti- rule reading types who thinks proofreading is for sissies).

We all have these little challenges. No one is perfect. No matter how perfect you think someone else is, just ask them, if you catch them in an honest mood. Everyone can tell you their story of woe and less-than-perfectness.

Are Blog Archives Too Old Fashioned?

What are reasons to keep an archive on your blog? We have categories and tags. An archive may seem a bit prehistoric or overkill, especially when they aren’t search able and just sit there all static and growing old. Tony Briley started this discussion on the CMF Ads forum.

Reasons for keeping an archive on your blog:

  • Web directories tend to list established blogs only, those which are at least six months old. An archive is where they look to find the age of your blog.
  • Knowing the age of your blog establishes your credentials, your experience, especially if you are posting about web publishing related topics like SEO, blogging and making money online.
  • Some readers prefer to read a blog which has some staying power, has passed the test of time and kept going.
  • If people want to flip to a certain date in your blog they need an archive. For instance, to see what you were posting about a year ago, or what you posted on a holiday, or some other eventful day.
  • An archive shows all the posts from the month on one page. You can do the same with categories but, not by date.
  • Your readers can go back to see how you started. What your thoughts and plans and goals were right from the beginning of your blog project. Who was commenting then? How has your writing style, your way of expressing yourself changed? Also, have you changed the focus of your blog and the topics you cover?
  • You may have undertaken a special project which readers would like to track back and go through the journey day by day, as it happened (through the archives). This is not just something for personal bloggers. If you post a series of posts on a topic they can also be read as an ongoing journey.
  • I also keep an archive for myself. I like to skim back and see where I was, what ideas I had in the past. I don’t look by topic (category or tags) cause that isn’t as random as looking into your past by time machine alone. Often something I posted a couple of years ago inspires me for an update on the same topic or a completely new angle on what I was thinking then.

Reasons to get rid of the archive on your blog:

  • Your blog is very new and you don’t want to broadcast that.
  • You want to cut down on clutter in every way you can and the archive just seems to take up more space than it is worth.

What’s your opinion? Archive or not?

Eye of Newt, Rule of Thumb and Hands of the Clock…

It’s a bit disappointing to go to a favourite blog and find they have no new updates at the time you expect them to be there.

What time do you make your blog posts? Even if you don’t choose (or have available) scheduled blog posts you can pick a good time for making a post go live to your blog. Whether you post every day or a few days a week or just every Tuesday, you should have some kind of a planned posting time.

I was posting at 6:00AM for several months. I thought that would be a decent time to get it out there, not too early and yet early enough. However, one day I changed it. It made a difference! I was surprised. Now I post at 8:00AM, sometimes 9:00AM. Not exactly, I’m just not an exact kind of grrl. I only change the hour on my scheduled post time, not the minutes.

After changing my post time I started getting more reader comments. Comments being the gold nugget when you are blogging and feeling kind of unnoticed and all wallflowery. So, more comments are nice and I’m trying to write better with more of the interesting ideas I get when I’m in the shower versus stuff that I think will make a post so I can stick to my daily post schedule. Which is also a good thing. Martha Stewart would be proud!

Since making this change I read that many people tend to read other blogs during the morning, between 8:00 and 9:00AM. This is also the time they make their own blog posts too. I guess people get to work early and have that hour before they have to be on the clock. I’ve done that, especially when I had to bus in the winter and you never knew how late you could be on those really cold days when you would much rather sneak off from work and just sit in a nice, warm and cosy coffee shop. But, I digress…

Consider what a prime posting time would be for you. If you can schedule posts you can set them up for any time you choose. If you don’t have that option see what time you are usually able to post. It is a good idea to stick to the same time. That way people will know when they can expect your updates, not just by the day of the week but by the hands of the clock too.

Creative Writing Related Memes

I think it’s a bit snobby to put down blog memes. True, it isn’t a good thing to over use them to the point where that is all you are posting. But, they are good as a way to give you something to write when you are running out of steam. Some of them are especially good and all of them would be glad to have more regular posters/ participants. I don’t think they deserve the reputation they have been given as a blight on blogging. Instead, think of them as very user friendly and try one, or two, now and then.

Friday Fill-Ins

The Friday Five

Saturday Six

Saturday 9

Sunday Scribblings

Word Beads

Manic Monday – No longer running but the list of topical words is still up in the sidebar.

Manic Monday – A different meme with the same name.

Wordless Wednesday

Unconscious Mutterings

Coffeeshop Confessional

Three Word Wednesday

Monday Musings

3X Thursday

Friday Frustrations

Only the Good Friday

Friday Questions

Thursday Thirteen

The Queen’s Meme

TMI Tuesday

One Word Project

The Weekly Musing

Meme Express

Smiley Saturday

Wednesday Weirdness – No recent posts but archives are in place.

Photo Hunter

Letters That I’ll Never Send

Poetry Play Thursday

Thursday Thunks

Curious as a Cat

Limerick Off’s

Snackie Sunday

Monday Crazy Questions – Meme is on hold until at least Spring next year.

Situation Sunday

That’s My Answer!

Sunday Seven

Random Meme – No updates since June, old posts are still available.

In Other Words

I Want… Wednesday

Illustration Friday

Four for Friday

Circle of  Words – Retired meme but kept in archives by a fan.

Luv Your Blog Lately?

Have you visited Blogs We Luv? I was interviewed at Blogs We Luv for my personal blog, back in 2008.

Put together your own answers to the ten questions and send it in for your own interview. Here are the questions so you can get thinking right away:

  • Describe your blog in five sentences or less.
  • Link us to one post from your blog that best defines who you are.
  • What sets you apart from other bloggers?
  • When and how did you first discover blogging?
  • What is your biggest pet peeve related to blogging or the internet?
  • Name one plugin, blogging widget, or service that you can’t live without.
  • If you could choose anyone, living or dead, to write a guest post for your blog, who would it be and why?
  • How has blogging made you a better person?
  • What are your tips for becoming a better blogger?
  • Name one great blog that you read on a regular basis. What makes it unique?

Here are my answers:

Ten Questions with Laura of That Grrl

1. Describe your blog in five sentences or less.
A scrapbook/ junk drawer of things I create, write, think or just find interesting. Rural exploration photos when I have been out taking photos. Cartoon drawings to illustrate the blog mostly every day. Basically it is things I think of when I’m in the shower. Conversations I have with myself. Ideas I find somewhere else and want to keep track of to explore further. It’s made of stuff I love, stuff that bothers me and just stuff in general. Kind of like life.

2. Link us to one post from your blog that best defines who you are.
Love the World – Doesn’t define who I am. There is no one post that does that. But it has some of the elements of who I am. I think there is too much in my head for any one post to contain it all.

3. What sets you apart from other bloggers?
I don’t especially want to be set apart from other bloggers. With all the other bloggers out there I’m sure there are several doing the same stuff I am. I post for myself. I still feel the passion for web publishing that I first did over ten years ago when I began my first weblog. I like the ideas of diy web publishing, free journalism, creative CSS and HTML and having the freedom to do it all my way.

4. When and how did you first discover blogging?
Over ten years ago. I almost remember some of the first blogs I read. They were still new in 1996, most people had a webpage up if anything. Blogs were software which made keeping a site updated easier as your newest work would show up on top of the older work. They weren’t all journal-like then either. People who knew code were doing wonders. The rest were trying to learn from the best of them. I remember being awed and amazed by those who created blogs back then, they really were feats of artistic and geeky genius. I was working more on ASCII art, newsgroups and IRC than blogging. My first blog was on Blogger though, I liked it even way back then.

5. What is your biggest pet peeve related to blogging or the internet?
Biggest peeve are the ads (and splogs which followed the ads). If anything is killing blogs it is monetizing and seo obsessed people who don’t really create anything. All too often it is recycled, stolen or mass contributed content which lacks anything personal at that point. Splogs are like a huge clog in the drain of the kitchen sink and they spoil blogging by making it harder to find real blogs that would awe and amaze as they did once upon a time.

6. Name one plugin, blogging widget, or service that you can’t live without.
Nothing is coming to mind. But it’s always the widget that you don’t even think about which is most essential and taken for granted. I couldn’t live without Blogger itself. I love finding good avatar making sites, is my favourite at the moment. I like Firefox though lately it hasn’t been keeping me logged in anywhere as it used to do. I like StumbleUpon and Flickr too, both services.

7. If you could choose anyone, living or dead, to write a guest post for your blog, who would it be and why?
No one. What would be the point of having someone else write a post? It’s a personal blog, a way for me to hear myself think as much as a way to create something for others to view. To have someone else post would turn it into something else and then it wouldn’t be me writing for me any more. I’d have to start another new one. 🙂

8. How has blogging made you a better person?
That’s easy. Blogging kept me from going insane when I was alone in a foreign country and getting divorced. Not sure if it really made me a better person but it really did keep me from feeling completely alone and isolated with just all kinds of thoughts and feelings spinning in my head. It gave me focus and a place to put my feelings out there and get feedback from a few blog friends so that I felt someone was listening to me even if I was still in a room all by myself.

9. What are your tips for becoming a better blogger?
That depends if you really are a blogger or someone using blog software. If you really have the genuine interest in creating something go for it. Try new things and don’t worry about the opinions of others. You should be doing this for yourself. Making your own footsteps into the virtual world. Don’t go too far into the idea of writing for an audience, write for yourself or it soon becomes meaningless. You get burnt out when you really don’t have anything of yourself there any more. If you focus on traffic and link backs to your blog instead of adding colour, ideas and thoughts you won’t have anything of your real self invested in it any more. Readers won’t find that interesting either.

Work on keeping your blog easy to navigate, organized, not too cluttered and keep it to a simple, clean layout. Also, make sure your colours and the font size don’t strain your reader’s eyeballs right out of their sockets. If you want to post every day but feel stuck a few days try a new way of expressing yourself: draw something, post a photo, a poem, write about a new hobby you are interested in, take a day off and do something new to write about, anything else you can think of that will fit into a blog post. Just like the old days when I wrote penpal letters and would think of new things you could fit into an envelope and mail acros the oceans, a blog is a format you can fit a lot of things into if you put your mind to it.

10. Name one great blog that you read on a regular basis. What makes it unique?
Had to think about it for a bit. It’s a tie between The Useless Men and Blog U now. The Useless Men are fun to read but Blog U has been a great source for blog innovations especially when there was something specific I wanted to change or fix.

The Neverending Blog Post

One thing about blogging that haunts me is the last post. If I were to be hit by a meteorite while crossing the street today, this would likely be my last blog post. The last thing I will have said to the world. I’d hope whatever my last post would turn out to be that it would be somewhat memorable, somewhat wise, somewhat silly, somewhat sarcastic and eccentric but in a good way. Wouldn’t it be a real shame to leave the world with a bland kind of post you stuck in just because you were tired and wanted to get the damned thing done already?

If only you had waited that few minutes more and written a better post. The meteorite would have splattered someone else all over the pavement. And, you would have left the world with something better to read.

Make some notes for your last ever blog post, write it up and then schedule it to appear on your own personal day after. You may need to become psychic for that last part.

Your Blog Should Fit You

I wrote a comment in a thread on the CMF Ads forum in reply to Erin who is feeling she is not cut out to be a blogger. First of all, I don’t think it should be seen as some exclusive club. If you post to a blog, you are a blogger. If you stick with it, you’re a better blogger. Anyway, for your consideration on the topic of not being cut out for blogging…

You need to make your blog more your own creation again. I think one problem for new bloggers is that they try to play to the reader so much that the blog stops being their own. If you direct too much to the reader you are giving away power and then it does feel flat.

Do something new with it. What are you interested in? What hobby do you love? What topic are you really interested in or what have you really wanted to spend some time finding out more about? Maybe you have always wanted to learn to draw or take better photos? Maybe you collect teacups? Maybe you just need to write for yourself again, free writing.

Take a week off to break away from the old plan and then start again with the new version. Give your blog a total revamp, start from scratch, change your colours or just a new header. Whatever it takes.

I don’t think you are not cut out for blogging, just that your blog has stopped being a good fit for you.

Demonstrating the One Question Interview

Question – If you could hire a professional writer for your blog, would you choose to do so or keep writing your own content for yourself?

Canucklehead – I would continue to write myself. Visitors of Canucklehead have come to expect and in an odd way enjoy the mindless, barely legible way I write and I’m afraid writing that was in any way professional would frighten and/or confuse them. (NOTE: I would however spend the money on beer – hence the whole mindless and barely legible thing. CHEERS!)

Texas RV Travel Blog – I have been a professional writer and editor for almost 30 years. – My current site is a picture blog, so there’s not much to be written in it. But in the past I’ve had writing blogs, and I would continue to write for them myself as long as the sites stayed informal. If I was running a tech/business blog or something similar that needed a bit more formality, I’d most likely hire someone.

Tycoon Blogger – I have several blogs and some I am not as anal about so for those I would allow a hired writer to create the content. On my flagship blog, Tycoon Blogger, I enjoy writing on the topic of blogging and social media so much that I would continue to write even if I had the option not to.

Old Red Pen – I do a comic. I’d always want to be the primary illustrator, but I’d be happy to feature guest artists if I enjoy their work.

The Thin Red Line – I will definitely always do my own writing. I’m not a professional writer per se, yet I have and do make money by putting words together.

Thirty Something Blog – I would continue to write my own content. I do enjoy posting a guest post by someone else every now and then, but it’s MY blog and it wouldn’t feel right having someone else writing the content. I do this as a hobby, for fun. Hiring someone would defeat the purpose.

Ken Writing – My blog is my writing and my writing is my blog. If someone else were to do it, it wouldn’t be mine.

Cromely’s World – I have had a couple of guest posters, but I wouldn’t hire a writer. I blog specifically because I need to write. The act of writing keeps from brain from falling apart due to work related concerns.

Jane Bradbury and Paint Shop Pro – I will always write the majority of my content. I’m a perfectionist and couldn’t bear to farm it out, and like Ken, it wouldn’t then be mine. The mistakes I make now are my own mistakes; if no one likes my blog then it’s my own fault. I can’t shift the blame to someone else, or use them as an excuse. I do fancy some guest posts though

New Scribbles – I would continue writing for myself, it is part of the fun for me, I like my blogs to have a little bit of me in them, my humour etc. Plus I am a writer and love to scribble

I asked this on the forums at CMF Ads. I was glad to get a good variation of answers. As you read the answers which hold your interest, which of them are you likely to follow up to see their own sites? When you give an interview it is important to have the information being asked but, don’t forget this is self promotion too. Use your interview to engage your reader, even when it is a short interview which isn’t appearing on your own site. You never know who will be reading and possibly dropping by to visit you.