In preparation for their blogging workshop at the She Speaks conference in June, the two “Mamas,” Big Mama and BooMama, have submitted call-outs for questions/comments about blogging. In this post, I will attempt to answer their questions because I’m pretty much an expert on all things bloggy, especially now that I’ve figured out how to create an actual button that actually links to an actual something that actually exists somewhere(s). And it only took me two years to figure that out, so you could say I took to the html tricks of blogging like a Pavlovian pigeon took to learning how to peck a dot and get a pellet after only 2,000 tries.
Anyway, feel free to offer your opinions, as well. More than “feel free,” please do, and leave your link in the comments.
And now to the questions:
1. What part of blogging don’t you understand?? No, just kidding. Question 1 is: “What part of blogging brings you the most joy and satisfaction? Relationships? Having an outlet for writing? Reading? Commenting? Building your traffic? Something else?”
A. Provides the immediate gratification of quick “publishing”
B. Serves as a creative writing outlet
C. Builds community with other Christian women who also enjoy writing
D. Provides small goal challenges such as traffic building, daily writing discipline
2. What is the most frustrating part of blogging for you?
A. Guilt about time spent blogging as opposed to writing for publication, spending time with family, exercising, reading good literature
B. Having my sphere of influence limited to Christian mom bloggers. I could justify the time spent blogging if I were reaching into people’s lives who do not yet know Christ. Unfortunately, I do not do this.
3. If you had to give someone one piece of advice about blogging, what would it be?
A. Post daily if you want to be read daily.
B. Don’t write long posts. People just skim them. (Chief of Sinners, here.)
C. Don’t use overly spiritual language
D. I had a quote in my header for the longest time that said, “The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard: Don’t write like you went to college” (Alice Kahn). I love that because I’m turned off by stilted, preachy, self-conscious writing.
4. What do you know about blogging now that you wish you had known when you started your blog?
A. Being overly friendly scares people.
B. You probably won’t agree with this, but here is something I truly feel. Some bloggers were out of my league, and I didn’t realize it, and I was probably annoying them with my comments, and now that’s embarrassing to me. It’s like someone who has a role in community theatre casually calling up Helen Mirren to ask, “How’s tricks? Seen any good movies lately?” In fact, this just happened to me last week. I’ve been chatting up someone who is much-read but seems so approachable. Then I read that she was listed in the Wall Street Journal top ten motherhood blogs. I immediately commented on her site that I was sorry for commenting so much on her site. I’m sure THAT wasn’t weird or annoying at all. Some people need to de-lurk; I need to embrace lurking. She was very gracious. But still. Embarrassing!
5. What draws you to blogs you read regularly? What elevates a blog to “daily read” status?
A. Humor, above all. Not a site full of jokes or cartoons, but a place where a blogger does not take herself or her family too seriously and is relatable.
B. Fresh insights into daily life or the world around us (like politics or entertainment)
Pet Peeves: Not being able to open those little plastic produce baggies in the grocery store. Oh, you mean about blogging.
A. I don’t like preachy posts full of “churchese.”
B. I don’t fully understand why people never share opinions on their blogs. I myself do not enjoy conflict, but having an opinion doesn't guarantee turmoil. I don’t think bloggers should be controversial just for the sake of making noise, but I have a hard time with hundreds of posts devoid of any opinions or beliefs. A person does not have to be disrespectful to have an opinion on something. I frequently write about disagreeing with Oprah and the Presidential candidates, but I do not think I treat them with disrespect. I just happen to have an opinion, which I share on my own blog. I guess I like a mix of silliness and substance. But that’s just me.
C. Although I’m not into husband–bashing, I don’t enjoy posts by women who write about their husbands as if they’re demi-gods who can do no wrong. I hope I’m never disrespectful toward my husband, but I hope I don’t come across as a Stepford Wife, either. It screams "phony!" and it doesn't help any woman who is struggling in her marriage.
D. I understand the need to protect and preserve privacy, especially children’s identities, but I grow tired, after a while, of never knowing what a person looks like or what her name is. I feel awkward referring to grown women as “Butterfly Cupcakes McQueen of Her House” month after month. If bloggers do not want to reveal their identities, I think they should choose a pseudonym or "nom de blog" for easy referral.
Why I started blogging:
A. I was hoping that writing regularly would inspire me to write for publication regularly. It turns out that blogging has actually distracted me from submitting for publication.
B. I saw it as a safe, paperless place to catalogue whatever I wrote.
How I measure success:
A. Well, I would like to have a high-minded answer like, “I just want to help people, speak into their lives,” etc. which is true, except that I rarely do that, since I tend to write about my dog and American Idol. So I guess I measure it by how entertained people purport to be.
B. I would lie if I did not say I measure success also by monitoring my traffic, which is a little like counting your own homecoming queen votes backstage--embarrassing! I maintain that Site Meter is the new bathroom scale. Every day I check it, and I’m usually slightly disappointed.
C. I feel successful if I have expressed my opinion well on some topic that I care about, like the death of Terri Schiavo.
D. I feel successful if someone says I made them smile. I can't buy a Starbucks coffee with that, but it is very rewarding.
*Edit: I must confess that after I published this, I clicked on all my links to make sure they worked because you know, it's rocket science. My She Speaks button did not work, and the link I first made to BooMama took me to one of her posts in 2007, which is weird because it is not a post I have read, at least lately. How that happened, I do not know. So it was back to the drawing board to earn some pellets.