As promised, here’s the second half of my interview with Dani Greer, founder of the excellent Blood-Red Pencil (one of the best online sources of tips and advice about writing).
JON: Is it worth having more than one journal account eg; Live Journal and Blogspot?
DANI: I had a curious predicament last year – Blogger earmarked my Blog Book Tours blog (http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com), which I use as a newsletter for the online class, as a spam blog. It took me months to fix, and during that dilemma, I set up WordPress blogs for several blogs to put "dibs" on the name. Yes, particularly if you develop a strong "brand", I would set-up mirror blogs. You might only post on one, but the other is reserved in the eventuality that you need it to transfer years of content. You'd be amazed at how much good writing accumulates in small increments. Losing it would be a trauma.
JON: What are the biggest mistakes people make when setting up their blog?
DANI: Every blog should have key elements for various reasons. Here are some suggestions from my blog critique criteria:
Basic Design Attractiveness?
Title and url cohesive?
Consistency and clarity?
Bookmarking in place?
Frequent posting 2-3 x weekly?
Quality of overall posts?
Comments section working?
Too many/too few gadgets?
What can be improved?
We could do a whole separate post on the elements of a good blog.
JON: How can people tell how many hits their blog site gets?
DANI: Every blog should have a hit counter and there are several freebies. Two popular ones are StatCounter (www.statcounter.com) and SiteMeter (www.sitemeter.com) . Many folks also use Google Analytics which I confess I'm too stupid to figure out. Easy peasy is my model for success. I also tell folks planning a blog book tour that their goal for visits should be 100 per day, and their blog hosts should have at that much activity, too. The more active the blogs, the better the blog promotion.
JON: Aside from The Blood-Red Pencil, can you recommend any other good writers' blogs?
DANI: Gads, there are so many good writing blogs. One of the best ways to check them out is on Twitter where authors often post their latest blogs. Really, I think writers themselves have marvelous advice on the writing life. Those blogs are a particular joy to read especially if the authors clearly love to blog and consider it a valid form of writing. That shows in their blog posts. I love group blogs like The Kill Zone and Jungle Red Writers. I also follow some literary agent blogs for that side of the publishing world. The blogs I avoid are the ones that make me sign up in a forum in order to comment. Even the word verification codes will drive me away. Make it easy on your readers, otherwise you lose 'em.
JON: Can you tell us a little more about Blog Book Tours?
DANI: Another hard question – however did that start? I think it was one of those domino things a few years ago. I went to a Women Writing the West Conference and volunteered to blog the event on their new blog – never having blogged before! My room-mate and I muddled our way through, and I remember thinking, "now that has potential". Shortly after, the expression "blog book tour" crept into my consciousness and I think I hosted a stop for creativity coach, Eric Maisel. (http://www.ericmaisel.com/) He always sets up yahoogroups for his tour hosts to chat about it all. I thought this was a great idea, too, so from there it was a short hop to creating a similar set-up for any and all interested authors. That support group eventually turned into more of a classroom situation. I didn't really want too much socializing or blatant relentless advertising, but a real learning experience for folks who needed to promote their new titles and were really serious about learning how to do it online.
JON: What's the one thing you know now, but wished you'd known about when you started blogging?
DANI: That group blogging is one of the best approaches to the concept. You don't have to do it all by yourself. Not only do you share the burden of regular posting, but you have fresh views, interaction, and built-in connections to your fellow blogger websites. It's so much easier if everyone does their little part. Plus, group blogs are interesting to the readers because there's always something new. I also wish some of my older blogs had been a little better planned, as far as names and appearance. Some things you can't change after-the-fact – you can just kill them and start over.
JON: How many hours a day should a writer spend online?
DANI: Barring research for a book, I think a writer can limit online time to two hours a day. If you have a schedule of your online chores, and stick to it, you won't get sucked into surfing the days away. It's also important for authors to find the forums that really work for them. Just because someone says you have to have a blog on FaceBook, doesn't mean it's true. You might do just fine as a member of one group blog, never entering the doors of MySpace at all, and finding a half hour a day on Twitter gets you more attention than all the other social sites combined. Experiment and do what works for you. Experiment, learn to create parameters, and then stick to them.
JON: Is there anything else you'd like to mention while you're here?
DANI: Let's see, in July, I have a blog book tours course just for publicists if anyone out there is interested. Also, if you're a professional editor with your own editing business, you might think about joining the Blood-Red Pencil and contributing a couple of posts every month. You can email me for more information at hotbuttonpress at gmail dot com.
JON: Thanks again for taking the time to do this, Dani. I learned a lot, I hope others did too.
DANI: Thanks, Jon. I'll stop back by to answer questions.
When Dani isn't blogging for Blog Book Tours, a peer support group which now has 125 author members learning to arrange their own virtual promotions, she creates and maintains group blogs like The Blood Red Pencil: http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com and Penny Dreadful http://pdreadful.blogspot.com. Email her at hotbuttonpress AT gmail DOT com if you'd like to participate on either one.
Want to learn more from Dani? Here’s another great blogging interview she gave: http://www.jungleredwriters.com/labels/Dani%2
DON'T FORGET! Dani says she’ll stop by to answer any questions, so be sure to think up some good ones