Apples, Reflections, and the Anato-Emily of a Blog
This post is in response to an assignment in my Communication and Technology class at Regis University. I was asked to read a chapter in the book Exploring Web 2.0: Second Generation Interactive Tools - Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis, Networking, Virtual Worlds, and More, and write a reflection of it.
Well, I picked the chapter on blogging. I blog and have been blogging for a while now.
Ann Bell, the author of the book, says: “A blog is similar to an empty book; it is how you use that book, which makes the difference.”
This is my 122nd post on Emmy Appleseed.
How am I using my book? My initial idea was to use this blog to share my writing and bits of intellectual fruits with all who care to have a read.
Well, I’ve been tracking the traffic this blog receives for a while now and have come to one unequivocal conclusion: Not too many people are wild over Emmy Appleseed. This comes as no surprise to me, and as the chapter mentions, linking to blogs, tagging keywords and active engagement are all huge components of driving traffic to your blog. I don’t do this too often.
It should also serve to remind the reader that not many of the billions of blogs out there are well-read. Many people serve their heart out on a keyboard, hit the Submit button and wait for the reply that never comes.
For all the community the Internet provides, some people out here are still quite lonely.
But all that aside, I can tell you the chapter on blogging tells me a lot of things I already know. I know that people use blogger, WordPress and Xanga to host their blog. The chapter however, says nothing of Tumblr, which is my hosting site of choice. And Tumblr is starting to gain momentum in the social media circuit, the New York Times recently profiled them: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/technology/02tumblr.html?dbk
It’s a nice blog interface because there is community on Tumblr. And as the article says, it allows you to do things you can’t do on Facebook or Twitter.
I personally like the design, it’s sleek, uncluttered and intuitive.
The way your blog looks says a lot about the blog itself.
There is an interesting section in the chapter which details “How to Write Meaningful Blog Entries.” Let’s see if Mrs. Bell’s ideas line up with mine:
1. A constant theme for your blog.
Emmy Appleseed is a bit sporadic, pieces of my creative writing spread over months and pages. The unifying factor: it’s all from one person, despite the occasional set of song lyrics.
2. A consistent tone for your blog.
I disagree, I think a good blog can surprise its readers with content you hadn’t expected of it. It shouldn’t always be funny and it shouldn’t always be sad. Readers appreciate variation and could easily lose interest with a blog that always sounds the same.
3. Honesty and sincerity
A component most personal blogs do not have to worry about.
4. Be informative and up-to-date.
Depending on the subject area.
5. Differentiate between facts and opinions.
Important for some blogs and less important for others. A blog that features only fictional pieces needs to be less concerned with this than a New York Times blog, for instance.
6. Double-check spelling, grammar and punctuation.
This is always important, many personal blogs seem to find this step less important, however.
7. Select key-word rich titles.
Very important for purposes of tag clouds and SEO.
8. Update frequently.
This is true and something that I am currently not doing. When I first started my Emmy Appleseed blog, I posted once a day and the traffic to my site greatly reflected my persistence.
9. Correctly maintained RSS feed will increase your blog’s readership and distribution.
This is also something I don’t do. Hey, I never said that this list couldn’t teach me a thing or two!
10. Select specific tags that reflect the theme of your blog.
This is a great suggestion and something that I do practice. I tag every post with tags like #poem, #poet, #poetry, #writer, #writing. It is also very important to tag variations of the same word to come up in more search results.
11. Select category labels that best describe the blog.
Tumblr doesn’t use category labels. This suggestion is only applicable for some hosting sites.
In summary, I find this list to be helpful for the novice blogger. Much of the information however, is too vague and doesn’t necessarily apply to all kinds of blogs. And after letting this information percolate for a while, I noticed that Bell leaves out one major tip for writing meaningful blog entries:
You have to write for an audience, or at least be aware that an audience, a reader exists out there. Whether your audience be HR executives or 13-year-old Justin Bieber fans, it’s a component of blogging that is not to be taken lightly.
And so there you have it, and with a focused pen and an audience in mind, I think a novice blogger should have no problem at all getting their bits of appleseed out into the world.