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If blogs were people, what would yours be like?

 

Reading an entry on someone else’s blog is a bit like overhearing a one-sided conversation on a bus. The blogger isn’t talking to you – doesn’t even know you’re ‘listening’. Nevertheless, we form an opinion about that person based on what he/she says (and how it’s said).

 

From a self-promotional point of view, it’s important to be aware of the kind of person visitors ‘see’ when they read our journals, and to remember that every post we make may be the first and only entry someone reads. Of course, what we then do with that knowledge is up to us. 

 

So how can we tell how our blogs portray us to the outside world?

Take your last twenty posts and boil each entry down to its basic, one-word ingredients.

Those ingredients fall into three categories, the first of which is ‘Positive’:

 

Amusing

Articulate

Entertaining

Friendly

Funny

Informative

Recommendable

Thought-provoking

Useful

Upbeat

 

There are a few Negative ingredients.  In my opinion, fiction writers using their blogs for self-promotion should avoid these at all costs:

 

Aggressive

Arrogant

Boring

Bossy

Embarrassing

Offensive

Intolerant

Rant

Unfriendly

 

There is a third category, Neutral:

 

Advertisement

Self-advertisement

Personal

Update

Vent

 

If you write out the ingredients of your last twenty posts, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how your on-line readers see you.  If you’re happy with that, keep on doing what you’re doing, if not, then you’ll know what to change, but we’re not finished yet.

 

THE WRITER’S BALANCE - Beware the Neutral post

Earlier in this series, I talked a little about The Writer’s Balance – the ratio between self-publicity (letting people know where they can find you and your work) and self-promotion (making them give a dang).

 

Others may disagree, but in my opinion that should be one part self-publicity to ten parts self-promotion. In other words, if your goal is to use your blog to create an ‘online presence’ as they say, then self-advertisement posts – be they announcements; story clips; WIP reports etc, should be the exception, rather than the rule, and here’s why:

 

With the possible exception of ‘Advertisement’, the effect of a neutral post depends almost entirely upon the readers overall perception of the blogger. If your journal entries fall mostly into the neutral category, potential visitors won’t care enough about you to read them.

 

I hope this is useful. Next week, I want to talk about some simple, easy to remember, methods we can all use to increase our blog traffic, in the meantime, I'd appreciate your opinion:

 

Did I miss out any ingredients?

 

What ingredients would you recommend for a good self-promotional blog?   




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Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
wordsrmylife
Nov. 9th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Great post!

I also would add something about length and frequency of posts. (You've got it nailed, btw.) If you are going to post often, posts should be relatively brief. If you post seldom, but what you post is quality--tips on technique, sharing the publishing experience (what copyediting looks like, for example), etc--then your posts can be longer. But when people are likely to be catching up on a number of posts, they don't want you to go on for scroll after scroll after scroll, no matter what the topic.
jongibbs
Nov. 9th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I try to keep my posts under 500 words (this was 445).

Even if I could get lj-cut to work, I think I'd still keep my self-imposed limit, though that may prove difficult when it comes to the first round of voting for the Puddle for Best Opening Line ;) I'll have to give that some serious thought.

Thanks for sharing :)
kmarkhoover
Nov. 9th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
I feel my blog perfectly captures me: Opinionated and irrational. *nods*

A good self-promotional blog is one in which the writer shares things about himself, both good and bad. That way, he becomes more immediate to the readers and they are more likely to click on his links to view his work and find out more about him because they feel they have come to KNOW him.



jongibbs
Nov. 9th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I come at this from a different perspective.

For writers, the two most important measures of a good self-promotional blog are: a steady increase in [blog] visitors and whether or not some of those visitors then go on to read, or at least take an interest in, our writing elsewhere.

I truly believe that how we achieve that result is a fairly straightforward matter of finding which particular mixture of those ingredients I mentioned works best for us (though I don't think the same mixture will work the same way for everybody).
natf
Nov. 9th, 2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the add - I am adding you back from ol' blighty!
edited for typo

Edited at 2009-11-09 08:21 pm (UTC)
jongibbs
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Then thank you :)
bogwitch64
Nov. 9th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
Your posts are always just right, lengthwise. No matter how much writerly-love one LJ peep has for another, a blog post the length of a short story isn't going to garner enthusiasm when there are dozens of other blogs to check up on.

I've a few ticks in the positive category, a few in the neutral, and only one in the negative that I'm hoping isn't actually characteristic of my LJ (boring!)
jongibbs
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks. As for those ingredients, I don't think I've ever found your posts boring, despite what that Peadar's always saying ;)
bogwitch64
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, that Peadar!
a_r_williams
Nov. 9th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
Great post, Jon!

I think you have a good list of categories to describe a blog effectively.

As far as the self-promotional thing goes, I think it's important to know who your audience is.
jongibbs
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Aaron :)

By 'audience', do you mean the target audience (as in tailoring your posts to them) or the actual readers?
a_r_williams
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Target audience.

I think knowing who your actual readers are is helpful, but first you want to know who you want to attract to your story/post/article.

For instance, my blog probably wouldn't be interesting to someone who enjoyed my writing, but wasn't a writer. To attract the attention of a "reader only" I would need to provide a different type of content.
jongibbs
Nov. 10th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
'...To attract the attention of a "reader only" I would need to provide a different type of content...'

Or additional type of content. I don't think the goal should be to make every post appeal to every reader. In fact, I'd think that would limit the blog's potential.
serge_lj
Nov. 10th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
If my blog were a person, it'd probably look like me. Moody. With more hair on top of the skull.

Edited at 2009-11-10 05:19 am (UTC)
jongibbs
Nov. 10th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)

But you'd still want to hang with it, right? ;)

serge_lj
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
I hope so.

"I hate you."
"Me?"
"Strictly speaking, it's me I hate."
"You?"
"Well, I am you."
peadarog
Nov. 10th, 2009 08:40 am (UTC)
Nice post -- how you blog is always worth thinking about. Or maybe, it's better not to think and just be yourself. Except that for some people (not you) that would be disasterous!
jongibbs
Nov. 10th, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
I think you have to absolutely be yourself, but I do think it's important to be aware of how we come across to others - especially from a self-promotional pov.

Thanks for that '(not you)' by the way, you had me worried for a minute ;)
dynastic_queen
Nov. 10th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC)
I think you pretty much nailed everything. Terrific post.

There is a thin line between Vent and Rant at times. I save those posts for when I really have to say something or implode, so that they are few and far between.

From a self-promotional point of view, it’s important to be aware of the kind of person visitors ‘see’ when they read our journals, and to remember that every post we make may be the first and only entry someone reads. I strongly agree. But I try not to worry about this TOO much--I don't want to be so stringent that what I post ends up not being me and, in effect, fake.
jongibbs
Nov. 10th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, like Peadar said, you have to be yourself, but I think we all have our 'best' side, and that's the one we should show the most :)

As for Vent and Rant, I think vents are triggered by something which directly affects the blogger, while a rant is about politics, the general state of the world, etc.

Thanks for sharing :)
clarionj
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
if your goal is to use your blog to create an ‘online presence’ as they say, then self-advertisement posts – be they announcements; story clips; WIP reports etc, should be the exception, rather than the rule

I agree and have witnessed this kind of shift in bloggers that worked against them from a promotional standpoint. Pre-novel publication, blogs were fun, interactive, personal often, writerly at times, while post-novel publication, blogs were about where to buy the novel and what novel would be due out next. I wanted to know where to buy the novel; I wanted to know what novel was due out next, but slowly as the person disappeared, the news of the new novels equalled a press release to a newspaper.

If I like the author's work, of course, I'll buy the book, for myself, for my own pleasure, but it's a bit like the celebrity who withdraws from fans once fame sets in. Withdrawing a bit is necessary--certainly they can't be personal with a huge fan base, but when they manage to still let their personality shine through as they promote themselves, still share anecdotes of their lives, I think fans stay more attached. We're people; we like to know others as whole people too.
jongibbs
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that you've noticed a change in some blogs after the writer gets published.

I think it helps to think of blogs as people.

For example, just like in real life, if all anyone talks about is themselves, it gets old very fast. The same goes for ranting and general unpleasantness, I figure if it would sour your opinion about someone in person, it'll probably have the same affect on how you feel about their journal.

(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I'm glad you find it interesting, and I hope, useful :)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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