On a recent post, I listed ideas for posting when ideas aren’t coming. One of those ideas was to invite someone to guest blog, which I said I’d never done. I meant that I’d never invited anybody to guest blog over here at Ann Kroeker, but I haven’t ever guest blogged for anybody else, either.And then you can guess what happened: Two people asked me if I would make an appearance!One was a relatively new gal in Blogdom, Nicole at tickledpinkbynicole. I think she said she’s only been blogging since November, but what an impressive launch! She seems to have this thing down to a science.Anyway, she sent me a list of questions, and I answered them.Curious about the questions? And the answers? Hop on over and check it out (my headshot is really big, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I flinched upon arrival).
On the backwards edition of Works For Me Wednesday, I get to ask questions instead of offer tips. This blog first came about because of the book I’d written. My publisher suggested I start a blog back when most people I knew had never heard of blogs or blogging. I had to explain it to them, and they thought it was strange–some people suggested it was a colossal waste of time, but I loved it and tapped away, regularly publishing post after post.Over time, the blog morphed into a more personal blog, as I shared family stories and connected with other moms on the blogosphere.As a result of this gradual unfolding of style and content, this blog simply goes by Ann Kroeker, instead of a bloggish name that hints at its purpose and content. In fact, for now it serves as an online presence for my writing life.So I’ve been thinking about refining the blog and its content, but hesitant, since many people have mentioned that they appreciate the wide range of topics that pop up here. It’ll be great to hear from both readers and bloggers, and those who attended BlogHer would have interesting insights:Readers, what do you enjoy most in a blog (specifically this blog)?
- Humorous personal/family stories
- Helpful ideas (like WFMW tips)
- Thoughtful insights on topics relatng to motherhood/writing/life/Christianity (one of more of those topics)
- Devotional-style posts
- Posts pertaining to the writing life
- A mixture of posts, unexpectedly tuning into any of the above (if you like a mixture, would it be helpful to categorize them more clearly? Or should a blogger keep separate blogs for different topics)
Bloggers, have you narrowed down your blog’s purpose and seen good results from doing so? If so, how did you go about the process of defining that purpose?BlogHer attendees, what were the top two changes you made in your blog or the act of blogging as a result of the insights you gained from the conferences?Everyone: Assuming you weren’t already stopping by regularly, would you be more drawn to this blog if it had a bloggy-style name?Visit Rocks In My Dryer for more questions on this backwards Works For Me Wednesday.See my previously published, odd assortment of tips and solutions here.
About a week ago I posted about blogs needing to be fed.A bit later, I shared my experience at a writing workshop called “Writing from the Heart,” where the leader recommended we find the convergence of heart and mind, where what we’re dealing with at a heart level is also what we’re thinking a lot about–and that, he said, would make for some powerful writing.Those two posts started to overlap and blur in my mind, each influencing the other. I started to think about frequency of posting and offering something meaningful or helpful in some way. And then when I considered heart-level content, I began to run into some inner conflict that seemed to be emerging also in the comments.One of the commenters, Mommymonk, said:
…I often wonder how I can come up with worthwhile blogs every day, but as you suggest, if it’s food for thought, we ought not skip meals! I guess my point is, I don’t want to blog just to fill up empty space; I really want it to be nutritious. Maybe not meat always, but at least a carrot here or there.
She has a good point–we don’t want to fill up empty space, and we prefer that our content be “nutritious,” but who can compose a meaty, heart-filled post every time (except maybe Ann at Holy Experience, who seems to write a deep and rich devotional–a full course meal, if you will–every time she logs on)?I wrote back in the comments to Mommymonk:
…carrots are good. Full of antioxidants. Most blogs can’t be a full-course meal every time.
Along those lines, Toni wrote:
As a regular reader of Seth’s Blog I have to note that for the most part he takes his own advice. His posts are often quite short and to the point – a fact which draws me to read them all the more. I like long meaty (or not) posts but frequently don’t take the time to read them as thoroughly as they deserve. Sad but true.
I thought about her admission of not taking the time to read the long, meaty posts as thoroughly as they deserve. It reminded me of another conversation a few months ago following a post I wrote after Jenni at One Thing shut down her blog (I’m happy to report, by the way, that she returned to her blog and is actively posting great stuff). A lively conversation ensued in the comments, where several bloggers were sharing their frustration over the apparent disinterest in the posts that they’ve poured themselves into–the very posts that “Writing from the Heart” would have applauded. Their sitemeters would rumble along at the same level–no heartbeat, no pulse, no spike, and strangely, no comments. One could practically hear virtual crickets chirping after publishing these emotionally packed posts. Visit the original post, “Bless a Blogger,” and follow the comments. It really hit a nerve.Which caused me to wonder the following:Maybe blogs aren’t meant to be meaty all that often? I just read yet another post the other day about keeping posts short. Makes me think…maybe a nice crunchy little carrot is all readers want or need? Maybe deep writing is for other venues, other forms–the published essay or article, perhaps?Maybe blog-readers are searching more for quick-inspiration to nibble on; USA Today-length posts. A perky little thought du jour to get them thinking about something or solve a quick problem.Otherwise, it may be overwhelming. Maybe it’s all too much….Too. Many. Words.I keep thinking about what Toni said: “[Seth's] posts are often quite short and to the point – a fact which draws me to read them all the more.”Short and to the point draws her to read them all the more.Meaningful or helpful, yet brief.Maybe I just talk too much? Perhaps word-restraint is in order?Now that, is food for thought.
At the writers’ colloquium I attended last weekend, the one where Haven Kimmel brought the keynote message, I participated in a breakout session entitled “Writing from the Heart.”The workshop leader, Brent Bill, led us through a couple of simple exercises designed to illustrate that while it’s easier to write from our heads than our hearts…writing from our hearts can make a deeper, more meaningful and lasting impact on readers (and ourselves).As I went through one of the exercises, I concluded–not surprisingly–that I am very head-oriented. I like thinking, learning, sorting through ideas. In fact, some of the people who have commented on my posts have mentioned that some of the things I’ve talked about have really made them think. I like to write about the things I’m thinking about, and there seems to be no lack of ideas in my noggin.The key is to tackle the more profound issues of the heart, as well. In fact, Brent said, a convergence of heart and mind is ideal.If I explore through my writing an issue that I’m both thinking about and turning over in my heart, I will probably produce something with much more power to minister and communicate to others.After posting about providing regular, meaningful content in order to feed the readers of my blog, I thought this nugget was worth sharing with fellow bloggers.It may be riskier emotionally, but if we want to touch, connect, impact and/or minister to readers–even entertain them–we should look for the places where our mind and heart converge; where the thing that we’re thinking about is also something we’re dealing with at the heart level.It might even change us as we write it.Ironically, this post does not illustrate this well. This is a head post. Helpful, hopefully; informative, perhaps. But not really dealing with matters of the heart.I do hope to write more posts in the future that are even more heart-level, while honoring my commitment to a vibrant mind and lifelong learning.I see others do it well, admiring their ability to merge storytelling and heart-issues with literary allusions, while tapping into inexaustible lexicons via their vibrant, vigorous intellects.To offer readers meaningful content, look for the convergence of mind and heart in your life. Throw in some story, and you have the recipe for nourishing, memorable, linkable, TrackBackable posts.Visit Rocks In My Dryer for more great ideas.To browse my previous odd assortment of Works For Me Wednesday posts are here.
At a writing event this weekend, one of the speakers leading a breakout session mentioned his blog. He said, “A blog is like an animal–you must feed it.”True. To keep a blog alive, it needs food in the form of quality content.But how much? And how often? Monster-plant-sized portions daily, or a light watering once a week?If I recall from my personal history of blogging, bloggers used to be advised to blog daily. That was in the early days of blogging, back in Web 1.0. Then the advice shifted to “regularly” (but once-a-week minimum was still advised). The idea of regular or daily blogging was to develop a loyal audience–that nothing would be more aggravating to a curious visitor than to be interested enough to start visiting, only to find one day that no content appeared. That was the theory, at least. To gain readers–faithful, loyal readers–you had to give them lots of content.Then came RSS feeds, Bloglines, Technorati, Google Reader and the like. Now loyal readers rely on automated delivery services to alert them to new content–it pops straight to their reader, feeder, or e-mail in-box. This technology raised the question of whether or not daily content is still necessary.And then, along came over 50 million blogs, give or take a few million. Some of those, they say, may be abandoned; thus, the number of active blogs may be much lower. Still. This explains why I saw a post the other day at Pensieve, in which she noted with alarm that over 4,000 posts were waiting for her at Bloglines. Talk about overwhelming!We may be experiencing blog-fatigue. The term usually applies to the blogger him- or herself, the one too pooped to produce material. In this case, I’m suggesting that “blog-fatigue” refers to a reading fatigue. It’s a funny cycle, actually, with bloggers feeling a kind of obligation to their readers to provide fresh material; and readers finding they are overwhelmed with all the new material. The readers want to read–they may even feel a bit of anxiety that they’ll miss something great. But who can read all of those posts? Who can keep up?And one would be tempted to pose the same question of the bloggers, the writers–who can write all of those posts? Who can keep up? Strangely, many of us can. I miss a day here and there, but I do seem to keep tapping away.But should I?This article by Eric Kinz has me wondering if I am contributing to a problem, a glut in the blogosphere, a bottle-neck of ideas.Kinz appears to gear his post toward corporate marketing and professional bloggers (and it’s a little old, dated June 2006; and you know what that means in computer-years…), but he provides an interesting argument for why daily blogging is no longer necessary or even desired–and he does it in a 10-reason format, which is always so easy to read online.He talks about participating in the blogging community as being vitally important–more so, perhaps, than churning out daily posts (especially if content is compromised and lacking punch). A person commenting on the same post duplicated on Kinz’s blog pointed out that the goal of the blog should be considered when determining frequency.Kinz quotes Seth Godin saying, “blogging with restraint, selectivity, cogency and brevity (okay, that’s a long way of saying ‘making every word count’) will use attention more efficiently and ought to win.” Kinz concludes by saying he is only going to post when he has something to say.Still other articles make good arguments for daily blogging, even today, even with RSS feeds jamming and even competing with approximately 55 million blogs.I spite of Kinz’s 10 compelling arguments against daily blogging, I intend to continue posting often–daily, when possible. I guess it’s the German ancestry flowing down through my DNA–I like people to leave well-fed. No scrawny, underfed blog-readers over here. I’m going to try to keep you supplied with content.It’s up to you whether or not you’ll sit down with me for the meal.