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Old 10-18-2007, 06:03 AM   #1
JeanneTGC
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JeanneTGC's Blogging Lessons from SherryTex's Humor Clinic

Note from Dawno - Jeanne has graciously given permission for me to copy these posts about blogging. Great stuff here! Thanks SherryTex for pointing me to it and Jeanne for sharing!
__________________________________________________ ___________

To Blog or Not to Blog, Part 1

Professor Tex, in her generous wisdom, has asked me to guest lecture on a subject only semi-near and not all that dear to my heart -- blogging. Since the topic requires more in-depth discussion than one might realize, and since I'm notoriously long-winded, we're going to break this up into a couple of sessions.

Blogs -- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

For the possibly seven people out there who don't know what a blog is, there are a variety of different definitions, but this one is my favorite: A blog is something you should do if you want to be published.

Blogs are online forums where one person discusses something and others can come on and make a comment. Five years ago you rarely heard the term. Today, everyone and their grandmother has a blog. But should you?

Before I answer that (heh), let's go over a few different types of blogs.

1. The professional blog -- our own Nancy has a spiffy professional blog. It's filled with interesting articles about her profession (mental health), and more than one person contributes information. Blogs such as this provide both information and education, as well as a safe place for people to ask questions or discuss their own situations.

2. The fun blog -- also known as the stream-of-consciousness blog. Your teenagers, parents, and friends have these. Sadly, many of you have this, too. Why sadly? Because if you're on this thread, you're here to improve your writing and chances of publication, and the fun/stream-of-consciousness blog may not be the best way to do that. However, it IS a great way to keep in touch with your extended circle, and to share with everyone how much coffee you drank in the morning and why you're switching to tea this afternoon. It's also a way to ensure you write something on at least a semi-regular basis that someone other than yourself might, possibly, read. Of course, while an online diary sounds keen, a handwritten one is less likely to be pasted across the world in about fifteen seconds. Think about it -- do you really WANT everyone in the known universe to know exactly how much milk you put in the Cap'n Crunch this morning?

3. The entertainer's blog -- this is the blog for people more famous than little old you or little old me. Entertainers can get away with a lot more, or a lot less, than the rest of us. These are fun for fans and those into celebrity culture, but only some should be emulated, barring one of our students actually being Justin Timberlake with a really clever screen name. (In which case, Justin, bring the sexy back and endorse my book!)

4. The columnist's blog -- other than Nancy's blog (hey, gotta support my homies!), these are normally the best done, and you can learn a lot from them. These are professional writers who cover entertainment, gossip, movies, popular culture, politics, etc. They write at least weekly, usually daily, and they gather a huge following. These are the blogs our baby blogs wish to be when they grow up.

5. The writer's blog -- ah, finally, what you all care about. This is the blog you, the want-to-be-published and/or not-yet-published-enough-to-be-a-name-brand author are being told to have up, have active, and have tons of visitors writing 'you rock!' comments on daily. Best of luck with that...but why? Why do you need it and why is it hard to do well?

Professional authors have blogs. They use them to advise their fan base of upcoming releases, give advice to other writers, and create buzz around them and their books. Some will test ideas or post "teasers" to get folks interested in buying upcoming or currently released books. They also use them to network.

But why should you, the want-to-be-published and/or not-yet-published-enough-to-be-a-name-brand author do one? And if you do build it, will they really come?

Find out, next lecture! Same Bat time, same Bat channel.
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Coming December 2, 2014, Universal Alien -- Preorder NOW!

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Last edited by Dawno; 05-19-2008 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:26 PM   #2
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Oh No...She's Still Talking! Guest Lecture Series

To Blog or Not to Blog, Part 2

Since y'all seem to be bringing on the questions, let's answer some of them, shall we?

Blogwarts, A History…of Sorts

Why should you blog, particularly when you want to be paid for your writing?

According to the best advice out there -- from folks on AW, leadership in the RWA (Romance Writers of America), a variety of notable agents, and others who would, truly, know -- blogs are a good way to build up a fan base, even before you have fans. The well-done ones also show agents who might search on you that you're aware of self-promotion and why it is good, and if you've actually attracted a following, you can point to them as potential buyers of your books.

The bottom line? Blogs, like websites, are a marketing tool. And marketing sells. If you don’t believe me, consider that Coca-Cola is the best-known brand in the world. Yet you see an ad or display for Coke products every time you turn around. Why? Because Coca-Cola wishes to STAY the most recognized brand in the world.

Blogs, unlike websites, are a lot easier to use. There are free sites available where all you have to do is sign up and start writing. The hard, behind-the-scenes stuff is taken care of BY the blog sites themselves.

Some popular blogging sites where you can create your blog for free -- and please note that many of these are also considered friend and social sites and note also that this is in now way a complete list -- in no particular order:
-- MySpace
-- Gather
-- Facebook
-- LiveJournal
-- Blogger / BlogSpot
-- BlogFlux

But blogging can be a chicken and egg kind of deal. And more and more, if you post it on the internet where anyone can read it, it's considered "published" and you can have trouble selling it. Not in all cases, but this is becoming more common, as epublishing is becoming more prevalent. There are ways to protect yourself -- similarly to how our own Share Your Work forum functions, if you use a blog site that allows password protection for anything that you post which you one day hope to sell, you’ll be covered for most (though not all) agents and publications as having NOT already published the piece. If you don’t have a password protection option, you will want to consider the ramifications of what you post, and you’ll also want to consider the benefits of the “teaser”, so that you only have an excerpt up that would help drive to a published piece, as opposed to being the published piece.

Many people have more than one blog, which is great, but compounds the issue of what are you talking about ON this or these blogs?

*Note: If you write in a variety of genres and plan to use pen names, then you should plan on a blog per pen name. Yes, really. Because if you, as an example, write humor and erotica, you may not have a lot of "crossover" in your readership, and you also may not have a lot of crossover in your agent and publication options.

And therein lies the key. If your goal with blogging is to have it support your writing, to support your brand, then you need to tune in to the next session, where we’ll discuss the why’s, what’s and wherefore’s of what you should consider putting up there.

Until then, let’s be careful out there.

Homework: Check out three of the blog sites listed and compare them. Which one did you like best and why? Which one least and why? If you had to choose a blog spot tomorrow, which one would you go with? If you already have a blog, which one of the others will you add on to your blogging network next and why?

Teacher's Personal Note: I have membership in MySpace, Gather, Facebook and LiveJournal, but I tend to truly blog at LiveJournal, because it's very focused on writers (many AW members are also active on LJ).
__________________
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonnaDuck View Post
Ok, considering I'm at work at the moment, all of those sites are blocked for me so just humor me here for a moment. What, exactly, do you write in a blog when it's a writer's blog? The trials and tribulations of writing, editing, publishing, what you're working on, etc.? The thing with me, 90% of my writing is done after the 110% of procrastination I do. Who wants to hear how I twiddled by thumbs and surfed the web and told myself, 'I'll get it to later?' Granted it's a huge pain in the ass to write while the dog is slapping me with his chew so that's another distraction.

The big thing is, and what I'm really hung up on, who wants to hear me talk about me? Everyone's a voyeurist in the blogging world and equally wants to be spied upon but what makes my day by day trials of writing interesting? Or is that the point of a writing blog is to make them interesting? Do you have any links that I could visit of writing blogs so I can get an idea of what, exactly it is because I still think blogging is a meaningless meandering means for people to whore themselves to the internet world in order for some kind of infantile fame, however minute. Writers from the days of yore never had blogs (nor knew what the hell one was) and they sufficed. I just don't want it to be just another internet diary that I post because I think people will give a shit about what goes on in my really mundane day. Is that where the creative license comes in? Help!
Official Note: I'm not paying Donna to do lead-ins for each subsequent lesson, I swear!

However, to ensure I don't innundate with my "wisdom" (HA, even I can't keep a straight face typing that), here are some blogs to take a look at -- all are findable via a Google search, but I've included links where I can find them:
--Miss Snark (shed a tear, it's gone dark, but the archives remain): http://www.misssnark.blogspot.com/
--Dave Barry's blog: http://blogs.herald.com/dave_barrys_blog/
--Jennifer on Writing (one of the most prolific and awesome writers in my RWA chapter): http://www.jenniferonwriting.blogspot.com/
--Brit's Blog (another prolific and awesome writer in my chapter): http://britblaise.com/blog/?p=22_
--Erin Grady's Blog (yet ANOTHER one from my chapter): http://eringrady.blogspot.com/
--AV Blog: http://www.avclub.com/content/blog/flops
--SlushPile.net: http://www.slushpile.net/index.php/2...ished-authors/
--*cough* My blog: http://jeannetgc.livejournal.com/

Why is the largest percentage made up of Romance writer blogs? Because romance writers, more than writers in almost any other genre, understand and "get" why self-promotion is the key to success. If you want to do a good blog, find some Romance blogs and do the sincerest form of flattery.

Teacher's Note: These are blogs that I, personally, like. I'm not endorsing them, other than to say I think they're great, and I also didn't ask permission to send you to these blogs. But I think the bloggers will be okay with it.
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Old 10-19-2007, 11:48 PM   #4
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Speaking of Painfully Funny and a Glorious Evening...But Not In This Post

To Blog or Not To Blog, Part 3

Or, as I like to call it, Part 1 of the two-part answer to one of Donna's many questions.

Gotta Blog, Gotta Sing, Gotta Blog

So, you want to be a blogger. You’re ready to run with the big blog dogs, if only you knew how to do it. You’ve decided that if it’s good enough for name authors, it’s good enough for you. You’re ready to show the world how good your writing IS.

In that case, you need a blog that shows said writing off, not that shares what you wore today, why you don't like your boss, and why you think all agents and editors are out to get you (more on this later).

Until you have something published to talk about, you should consider what you want your blog to ultimately support. Are you going for a regular column, or to become the next David Sedaris? If so, then your blog should reflect that -- it should be funny. If you're writing romances, then your blog should reflect some sort of love for that genre, as well as some information -- perhaps the books you've just read that you thought were fab, describing a meeting with a favored author, etc. Same holds for other genres -- your blog should support what it is you write.

I'm now going to take the assumption that if you're here, you're at least attempting to write Humor, so I'm going to focus the rest of my remarks on Humor, only. But it applies to all genres, with the appropriate genre twists.

If you're going to blog, then your blog must first and foremost be FUNNY. It should reflect your voice, the voice you use when writing humor. Let me be brutally honest, like your mother should be but isn't -- a blog about whatever happens to be on your mind at the moment is unlikely to be funny. It's also unlikely to be interesting.

Which is the next key. As your readership grows -- that IS the idea, remember -- you want to have more than your mom and the people whose blogs you visit regularly showing up and posting. You want posts from people you've never heard of, don't know, and potentially will never meet. You want to build an active readership, to have people who check out your blog because it's YOUR blog and they WANT something new from YOU.

No one, not even your mother, wants to hear about that weird dream you had last night that didn't have a start, or an end, or anything even fun or funny happen in it, and you can barely remember it, but...

Seriously. Do. Not. Do. This. Ever. Again. Yes, I'm talking to you. All of you.

A blog is, ultimately and for real, a MARKETING TOOL. Yes, yes it IS. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again -- it's a tool you control, a weapon you wield, in the vast marketplace of consumer choices. You're better without a blog than with a bad one, because, as Ben Affleck has learned and Britney Spears is learning, there IS such a thing as too much publicity. If you, as a WRITER, present yourself as unprofessional, inane, and, worst of all, boring, then you cannot use your blog to create readership.

Your blog should drive readers to your published humor pieces, and vice versa. If you have an active blog that is actually funny, aka supporting your humor writing, then you should have it listed in every author bio you have. And you should keep it updated.

Yes, updating a blog is work and it's writing and it takes time from the "real stuff". However, if you're using it as a marketing tool (aka, as you should be), then you need to ensure that it's updated more than once every few months or so.

But, how to do this? And do it without depleting your entire store of saleable humor pieces?

Tune in next time, when we finally get to the entire point of this lecture series. We think.

Homework: Find a blog of a famous author you particularly like. (Yes, part of the homework is YOU finding it, not me finding it for you.) Study it and see what it is they do. Now find a blog of an author who isn’t famous, someone who’s mid-list or brand new. See how they do it. Compare and contrast.
__________________
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Coming December 2, 2014, Universal Alien -- Preorder NOW!

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Old 10-20-2007, 03:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonnaDuck View Post
More questions! Shocked? I thought so. Ok, so obviously I'm going to have some humor in mine but I also write stuff that's on the darker side. Since I'm just breaking into the whole "real" writing world and I haven't found my niche yet but I have a could of areas that I do like to write, how would I tailor said blog to cater to those aspects of my writing? Can a blog be both humorous and support my dark stuff as well? Please don't tell me I need two blogs...(this is just the short story stuff at the moment since no novel I'm working on is anywhere ready to be seen my unknown eyes).
It's eerie...I swear to the gods that I am not slipping Donna cues for the next lecture.

And, I mentioned the answer you don't want to hear in Lecture 2. Yes, you need to have more than one. HOWEVER, this is somewhat dependent upon pen names. If you're comfortable selling humor and dark shorts under one name (and there are very good reasons both to and not to do this), then you only need one blog, you'll just need to have posts clearly marked as "funny" or "dark". However, my personal feeling is that if you want to be a successful published author, you do whatever it takes in order to grow your fan base. And that may indeed mean more than one blog.
__________________
Jeanne

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Coming December 2, 2014, Universal Alien -- Preorder NOW!

--Click the covers to go to my website for details & more!

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Old 10-23-2007, 12:07 AM   #6
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She's Ba-ack!

To Blog or Not to Blog, Part 4

Or, Answering Donna's questions, one little bit at a time.

Make Me Laugh, Clown, on a Daily Freaking Basis!

So you want to do a humor blog. (But…WHY?) You’re writing the humor, they’re all laughing, you’ve got some stuff published or at least not returned in your SASE torn to bits. So, how to? (And the whole class goes “FINALLY”.)

Well, there are ways. One way is this -- I've posted most of my Humor Clinic pieces to my blog. If they were funny here (yes, yes, open to debate) then they are funny THERE.

But, you haven’t done the homework and you don’t think your stuff was funny enough here and…

Let me quote from the Gods of Marketing: Just do it.

Remember, first and foremost, that your blog is a marketing tool. (I know, shocker. I’ve said that in every lecture. Wonder why…) Not every Jack in the Box ad is hilarious. Not every Geico ad makes you want to claw your eyes out. Some ads to better than others, but the overall brand is being supported. Have a Coke and a Smile, and then get to work.

Because that’s what you’re building here, your brand.

Yes, your brand. You are a brand, at least if you plan and act correctly, and brands have name recognition, stand for something, and make money. J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, David Sedaris, Dave Barry -- they aren’t writers or authors any more, they’re brands. And everything they do should, and usually does, support that brand. BTW, they’re also RICH. Because brands make money, as long as the brand is supported correctly and behaving in a way the consumer expects the brand to behave (ie: if you are a humorist, you’d better be funny).

First off, of course, let me point back to Lecture 1 and remind you that you are NOT doing a stream-of-consciousness blog. I promise you, your stream of consciousness is NOT funny. Not funny at all. For a variety of reasons.

One of those reasons is that you don’t edit your stream of consciousness. But you should edit your blog posts. Why? They are posting for anyone in the world to see, including the top agents out there, should you be so lucky. Spelling, grammar, context, syntax and an actual topic are all requirements. If you wouldn’t present it to the head of a Fortune 500 company because it’s so crappy, don’t post it to your blog.

You should put the same loving care into a blog post as you do any other piece you want to have published. Because the moment it’s on your blog…it IS published.

Your blog represents you to everyone who reads it. Like the old clean underwear wheeze, if your blog is misspelled, lacking in wit or interest, totally narcissistic without any benefit to the reader therein, or, still worst of all, boring and/or unreadable, then your blog is a waste of time to the nth degree. Most blogs are a horrifying combination of these errors, making them truly miserable places to visit once, let alone repeatedly.

I mentioned in Lecture 3 that I’d get into why complaining about the writing process -- agents and editors, in particular -- is a bad choice for your blog. Here’s why: the person you insult today could be making a decision about your future tomorrow. If you call Agent A a stupid idiot because she passed on your deathless prose, then, when you finally learn to write a book that will pass muster (oh yes, it’s usually us, not them, who need to get better at what we do), if Agent A has seen her name dragged through the mud of your blog (and, trust, me, people Google themselves ALL the time), then she’s not only going to pass on your now good book, she’s going to mention to all her friends in the tight-knit agent community that you are a world class jerk and probably more work than you’re worth.

Same with insulting Publication B because they didn’t see your genius. When you finally send in a great article, and Senior Editor at Publication B does a Google search to see how many readers pubbing your piece might drag, and then discovers you’ve called his publication a worthless rag, or worse, guess what? Your piece isn’t going to be selected, no matter how great, because Editor B knows that others will Google you to find more of your stuff, and will find your insulting blog post, denigrating his beloved pub.

As with anything in writing, think about it before you post it. Consider how many times you see someone on AW pull their post down, because it wasn’t funny, insulted someone else, was so off-topic as to be rude, etc. Now imagine that every one of those deleted posts were on YOUR blog with YOUR name attached to them. Not a pretty picture is it? Especially in a tool you should be using to market yourself and your works.

So, how to just do it?

First off, going to give big props to our own AmyDoodle, who asked us to take a look at her blog and see if she’s doing it right. She IS. For those who didn’t go take a look-see, go right now, and check it out. It’s funny, written in her voice, and NOT stream-of-consciousness. (Link to her blog is in Amy’s sig, on all of her posts.)

My blog is this way, too. (Link to my blog is in my sig line, on all of my posts. Those spotting a trend can feel superior and like they have a inkling as to part of what the next lecture will cover.) Whether or not you, personally, find my or Amy’s blogs to be places you’d want to hang out or not is probably based a lot on if you find either one of us funny, or at least intermittently funny. But both of our blogs are supporting our humor writing by being humorous.

And that brings us to this week’s homework. (Oh, the power, the POWER!) Create a blog post in the Homework thread. Choose from one of the topics listed below. Make sure that it is, above all, FUNNY, at least to you. Make sure that you edit it at least three times before you post it (really). Make sure it’s also reasonably short -- as this lecture series alone can prove, if it’s too long, it becomes work to read, not fun. After all, the mind can only take in what the butt can endure. Finally, make sure you’ll be willing to have it posted for the world to see (points for whoever can guess the NEXT lecture’s homework).

Blog Topic Prompts:
-- The baseball Playoffs/The World Series
-- A current TV show
-- A current movie
-- A pet peeve, with peeve and reasons for peeve clearly stated
-- The state of this season’s NFL
-- The weather
-- Children/Teenagers/Spouses/Parents/Other Family Units, pick one and talk about them
-- Any celebrity you think has been over-publicized
-- Any celebrity you think has been under-publicized
-- An unrequited affection

Next lecture will *gasp* wrap up with technical details. Like, where do you go TO blog, why should you be in more than one spot and how can you make that work, and why tagging is the be-all, end-all of the entire damned process.

Until then, happy proto-blogging!
__________________
Jeanne

Action, Adventure, Romance & Humor
Coming December 2, 2014, Universal Alien -- Preorder NOW!

--Click the covers to go to my website for details & more!

Submit your poetry, humor & shorts to Raphael's Village!
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonnaDuck View Post
Oh my god...no questions! Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I checked out Amy's blog. Very cute stuff there, my kind of quirk and funny. I couldn't see yours, Jeanne, because LJ is blocked on my work server but I shall look at home! By the looks of it, though, I'm on the right track. Could you pweeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaassssssssssse take a look? Link in the signature. Only two posts thus far but for me and blogging, that's pretty damn good!
Well done, Donna! (Or should I just call you Shorty ?)

My two suggestions:

1) Make subsequent articles shorter if at all possible. Your intro was a good length. The Frankie/Drac piece was both hilarious and long. It's a fine line, but try to figure that if it's going to cause someone to screen down more than once (so 2 screen pages), you're bordering on too long. Some would tell you one screen page is it, tops.

Acceptable length will vary -- long pieces are okay if they're intermittent and there are more shorter things than longer as a whole.

2) More, so very many more, tags are needed. Desperately. Dracula, Frankenstein, on and on...you cannot have too many tags. I am not kidding. Let me say it again, for you and all listening: You cannot have too many tags. If you have less than 5 tags you do not have enough and you're just not trying. Go for 10, minimum. (No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I really mean it. And do it now, not like Teacher, who has to go back and tag all her damned stuff 'cause she swore she'd "get back to it later".)
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by AmyDoodle View Post
JeanTGC--

Free knowledge! I'm so glad I found this thread. You're answering all the questions I've wanted to ask Somebody Who Knows. You're right about editing--I go over a piece for posting just as much as I would an essay even though it's a little more casual. Please tell me it gets easier.

Thanks for checking me out and for your encouraging words. I'm on my way to your blog to see if I can pick up some tips!
We're all about the free here.

Glad you're finding this useful; otherwise Prof. Tex won't let me come back to class.

Oh, and, uh, as to easier? Ummm...no. It's writing, and it's writing for, pretty much, immediate publication. It never gets easier. BUT, remember -- it's not something you're doing "for fun" or to "practice". It's something you're doing to build your brand and make yourself more appealing to readers, agents and editors. So, as such, it may not be easy, but it surely can be worth it.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:38 AM   #9
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I picked teenagers for the homework, but I was searching valiantly for a post for today, so I popped it into my blog. I'm working on making sure I do the labels. Should we really put at least ten?
Yes. Remember, this is a MARKETING TOOL.

Back to Coca-Cola. The FIRST day I was at a marketing agency (lo, these many years ago now), my boss took me aside and explained the facts to me. He handed me David Ogilvy's "Ogilvy on Advertising", someone else who I can't remember's "Guerilla Marketing", and gave me these sage words: "Coca-Cola is the most recognized brand in the world; they are recognized by aboriginals who have no contact with the outside world; and Coca-Cola advertises every minute of every day. The day Coca-Cola stops advertising is the day the rest of us can THINK about it."

Until you are the Coca-Cola of writers, you cannot even think about it.

Tagging is how you put yourself onto the search engines. Trust me, there is no other (free) way to do so. Tagging "humor" means that you're only going to get the very desperate for a laugh. Tagging "Halloween", on the ohter hand, will get you a LOT of hits -- for about 1 month. The more tags you have, the more likely you are to arrive in someone's search list.

Tagging is your friend. We all want a lot of friends, right? So Tag early and Tag often.
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Old 10-24-2007, 07:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by AmyDoodle View Post
Alrighty then, we'll play Extreme Tag--I went back and added some more. If we manage to do a post that has some currently popular things like Halloween or You Tube or Britney Spears (shudder) that we can tag, does that work for us or would we just get lost in an avalanche of search results?
Much will depend on where you are when the search engine pulls. Like anything, the more hits, the more likely you are to be higher up on the list. This is why multiple, massive, insane-like tagging is so important -- you can still get pulled into someone's orbit by complete accident and hook them in.

As an example -- I have a standard Google search done on my fave leading men, mostly to see if any new pics of them appear. So, I've found some awesome blogs or sites because someone mentioned Ben Affleck (as an example) in passing in their blog. BUT, if they hadn't tagged it for Ben Affleck (one mention, in passing, but mentioned, so tagged), then I never would have seen their stuff. Some of which I have bookmarked and now read religiously.

Go forth and let the great tagging begin!
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:16 PM   #11
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Sherry, see if you have a better compatibility with BlogSpot, where Amy has her blog. Start one there, post same piece. It's NOT a problem to post it more than once somewhere, especially starting out.

Two suggestions for your blog post:

1) Give it a title, like "Introductions and Me" or something, so that the skipping around is clear. I spent the first few paragraphs amused but also confused -- couldn't tell if you were working for your husband or your FIL (I realized, neither).

2) You need a "closure" para after the barefoot in the snow portion, that says something about how your zany intros have made you fun, better, funny, whatever, so we transition from your "life" intros into your blog intro.

Otherwise, good job! It's funny and in your voice, which is exactly what you want.
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Old 10-26-2007, 08:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Okay. I created a blog on blogspot and sent a massive email out to my family and those who might still call me friends to come see. Now. How do I do tags on blog spot, how do I make them work and how do I get total strangers to find my blog in the ocean of bloggers that are out there and how often do I have to update this thing? More often than I shave my legs? Daily? When?
It should talk you through the tagging -- Amy, can you lend a hand on this?

The tags "work" when you post them to wherever you post tags in the blog program. The work is done by the search engines. Once you've tagged, you can, in theory, stop thinking about it.

Not sure how often you shave your legs. Daily is great IF you can do a daily stream of funny. On a good week (when I'm not in the throes of a WIP) I try to update twice a week. Weekly is fine, as well. You just don't want one thing out there for months before you post someting else, because you'll lose anyone who's coming back for more unless there IS more.
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Old 10-26-2007, 11:39 PM   #13
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found it, now have to start tagging everything. Would it make sense to have some tags be the same no matter what each time --motherhood, mom humor, family humor, that kind of thing? Sorry if I'm just the dunce of the class but I have updated my blog --so that's three days straight. Wow. This is fun but work. Promise it's never stream of conciousness. Though I did catch a typo that I had to edit out.
What Donna said, and yes -- not a bad thing to keep some standard tags that would keep you falling into the same search categories regularly. And, of course, you have to be ready to change your tags if they aren't working...more on that later, promise.

Whenever the ice picks remove themselves from my brain, I swear I'll get lesson 5 up. On the plus side, all your questions are making me go, "Oh, have to speak to that!" so hopefully lesson 5 will be worth the wait.

(I hate migraines. I hate pre-menopause. And I really hate them both together. But I lurve all of you! )
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Old 10-30-2007, 06:52 AM   #14
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Oh My, She's Back From the Almost-Dead!

To Blog or Not to Blog, Part 5
AKA the LONG, LAST LESSON!

Wait, What, I Have to do MORE Work?

You have your blog. You have articles in your blog. And yet…no one is coming TO your blog. Why, cruel world, WHY?

Well, you probably haven’t done a few key things.

We’ll start with tagging. It’s the be-all, end-all of blogging, but so many of us (me included) don’t realize it until we’re well into the process.

Tagging is calling out key words that will help search engines -- like Google and Yahoo -- find and pull your piece when someone does a search. You want to over-tag, not under-tag, because anything can pull a reader into your orbit and reading your stuff might keep them there.

I’m going to refer to my first Humor Homework piece in the SYW forum for this, so you’ll have to go back and forth for a bit. In the piece, I talk about the following, and should create a tag for each of them:

Baseball; The Los Angeles Dodgers; The Anaheim Angels (of Los Angeles); The Arizona Diamondbacks; Los Angeles; Anaheim; California; California sports; Phoenix; Arizona; Arizona sports; In-laws; Parents; Spouses; Season tickets; Fans; Fan behaviors; Vin Scully; Tim McCarver; Mike Piazza; The New York Mets; The New York Yankees; New York; baseball stadiums; hot dogs; peanuts; Cracker Jack; Steve Garvey; Davey Lopes; Ron Cey; the World Series; Eckstein; the St. Louis Cardinals; humor; humorous baseball.

That’s a long list. But if I want anyone to come and read the piece, I need to put that list into my tags.

Yes, tagging takes a lot of extra time. But it’s worth it. Because without the search engines catching you, you’re dependent upon the next thing you have to do, which is a support, only.

You should have your blog listed in every post you do on every forum where you’re known or trying to be known as funny. You should put it into your email signature line, to drive friends and family there. You should add the URL to the yearly newsletters you may send out.

Speaking of URLs, blog versus website -- discuss. Well, there are pros and cons to both. For the unpubbed or not very much pubbed writer, a website could be premature. (Note: Someone other than visiting Prof. Jeanne has to teach on websites, I just know the differences, not the why’s, wherefore’s and how to’s.) While there are many similarities between them, the key MARKETING difference is you use your website to help sell your books. You sell from the website, drive to your publisher’s site, drive to the bookstores selling your books, etc. You also are creating demand for your books by providing teasers, samples, personal info interesting to fans, etc.

Many writers have their blog linked or on their website. This, like website creation, takes some work. How much? Can’t tell you. Blogs are easier to start, I can tell you that.

Happily, while teacher has been incapacitated, most of you have gone off and started already. Well done! Now…keep it up! Why? Because all the tags in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have copy, new copy, up there on a regular basis.

We talked about it before, but focus on a schedule and try to keep to it. Do you post every Monday? Tuesdays and Thursdays? Friday night and Wednesday morning? Try to find a rhythm and stick with it. Treat it like it’s a small but necessary chore, like paying a bill on time. The sooner you get into the habit, the better your blog will be for it.

And, to reassure you as to why -- you may blog for months and not get any hot nibbles in terms of readers. And then one of your posts may bring you a cornucopia of readers, who will read your other stuff and realize they want to read your stuff all the time. And that way lies the creation of a fan base…which is what we want to create with our blogs.

Last but in no way least -- comments. Comments are key, because they show someone how much readership you have. But if you try to respond to every comment, then you will run out of time as you get a larger readership. So, be both picky and random.

Picky -- the fans (hi Mom!) who’ve stuck with you since Blog Day 1 deserve replies, at least every other time once you get an active blog. The ones who rave about how awesome you are also deserve a Thank You Kindly! For every person who comments, it’s likely you have many who read, enjoyed, but did NOT comment. You want to encourage the talkative ones because they help drag along the silent ones.

Random -- just pick a post and reply to it. Either because the poster was funny, interesting, seems to like your stuff, doesn’t like your stuff, whatever. Try to avoid any form of baiting or fighting. If someone posts something insulting, you can delete or hide their post, it’s YOUR blog. But sometimes a quirky or funny or even dull commenter can be fandom gold, and anyone who took the time to say “funny” could be the person who convinces Oprah you need to be booked onto the show next.

So, write like you mean it, tag like your life depends on it, reply to comments as makes sense for where you are in the great Blogsphere of Life, and always remember…let’s be funny out there!
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Old 11-09-2007, 04:36 AM   #15
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A few follow up questions for our blog professor extrodinaire from the resident rookie.

I heard from another writer who has a blog that has won awards that I should keep my stories short and incomplete? She said I had a lot to learn about blogging.

Who wants to read that? You want a sandwich, you don't want to be handed bread with mustard and nothing else. Having seen a lot of what I would term chop salad blogs I now question my own instinct --to write the whole story, leave the reader satisfied such that they want to come back for more as opposed to asking, is there more, there has to be more...why isn't there more?

So I come back to the question --trust my own instinct and keep it up or hold back --which isn't really my writing style.
Always, always, always trust your own instincts. Unless this person is going to do all the writing for you and send you the money, it's her opinion, only. Advice is great. Belittling, not so much.

Won awards for blogging from where? Are these monetary awards? Are they getting her publishing contracts? Is she a professional writer with a weekly column and using her blog as a teaser? These answers, and answers to a lot of other questions I could come up with, alter how much you should or shouldn't listen to her.

I have never gone back to a blog where I didn't get a full story, article, anecdote, etc. I woulnd't go back because I personally hate teasers, or "to be continueds" in something this fluid. I'm sure I'm not alone in that mindset.

It's YOUR writing career. Do what feels right to YOU.
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:47 AM   #16
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Well done, Donna! (Or should I just call you Shorty ?)


2) More, so very many more, tags are needed. Desperately. Dracula, Frankenstein, on and on...you cannot have too many tags. I am not kidding. Let me say it again, for you and all listening: You cannot have too many tags. If you have less than 5 tags you do not have enough and you're just not trying. Go for 10, minimum. (No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I really mean it. And do it now, not like Teacher, who has to go back and tag all her damned stuff 'cause she swore she'd "get back to it later".)
I'm a newbie, know nothing about blogs, and am trying to learn. What is a tag?
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Old 07-18-2008, 11:14 PM   #17
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I'm a newbie, know nothing about blogs, and am trying to learn. What is a tag?
Welcome, Chrisla!

Tags are words or phrases that you'll see (sometimes) on blog posts or blog pages. They seem random, but they're not. They exist to make it easier for search engines like Google to pick up your blog so that when someone does a search on, say, "humor columns" and you've tagged "humor column", your blog will be in the found list.

Sometimes you, the reader, will see what the blog author has tagged and sometimes you won't, it depends on the blog system, etc. But all blogs have a tags section, and this is where you write in your key words that will pull your piece out of the vast universe of the internet and into someone's specific search list.

An example: If I were tagging this post, these are the tags I'd use.

Newbie, humor, blogging, tags, tagging, blog education, Google, search, search function, writer, author, search engine, humor column, JeanneTGC, Chrisla (that's 15 tags for a post that isn't the most scintillating in the world -- think of what I could have come up with if this was an article?)

Will those tags work every single time to get readership? No, but without them, you don't get nearly what you could or should.

Hope this helps, and enjoy getting to know AW!
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Old 07-18-2008, 11:31 PM   #18
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Thanks so much! I wondered how they did that. I've learned something else today. Who says browsing these forums is wasting time?lol

I don't think I need a blog yet, since I'm still struggling to learn, and have nothing ready for publication. But, when I do, I'll revisit this site.

P.S. Do you write westerns? I started reading Louis L'Amour way back in 1962. My brother, in the Navy, was shipping out to another post. He told me that nobody in his outfit read and he couldn't bear to throw the books away, so he shipped them to me. He was killed the next year, and I still have those paperbacks he sent me, as well as every other book Louis L'Amour ever wrote.
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:02 AM   #19
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Thanks so much! I wondered how they did that. I've learned something else today. Who says browsing these forums is wasting time?lol

I don't think I need a blog yet, since I'm still struggling to learn, and have nothing ready for publication. But, when I do, I'll revisit this site.

P.S. Do you write westerns? I started reading Louis L'Amour way back in 1962. My brother, in the Navy, was shipping out to another post. He told me that nobody in his outfit read and he couldn't bear to throw the books away, so he shipped them to me. He was killed the next year, and I still have those paperbacks he sent me, as well as every other book Louis L'Amour ever wrote.
I'd agree that you don't need or want a blog until you have something to say. If you're still learning the craft, do your learning in a more private forum than the worldwide web.

I write in most genres. I don't write traditional Westerns, but I do write novels set in the Old West. L'Amour was quite a writer, but he was rejected over 350 times (closer to 400) before he sold his first story. He's the King of Perseverence to me.

We have a Westerns forum here on AW. You should drop in and say hi on your journey around AW!
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Old 07-20-2008, 02:41 AM   #20
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Jeanne --

A million thank you's for this thread, for your expertise, and for your willingness (like so many AW writers, which surprises me each time) to share what you know.

I'm a month into my blog now and I was just winging it and having a blast, and to my happiness, I was able to go down your blog "checklist" and see I was doing it right, (whew), except I haven't been adding enough tags. I'm going back now and adding more to every post. It's actually fun, because it's exciting to think of reaching more readers, especially in order to help horses when issues arise in the world.

Big thanks for the help. : ) And, great bunch of posts you wrote here. Great writing, and it made learning very fun. I enjoyed reading.

Em
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Old 07-20-2008, 03:50 AM   #21
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Thanks, Em! Happy to have done it and keep it going as needed!

Congrats on doing the blogging right intuitively, too.
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Old 09-21-2008, 09:26 PM   #22
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I know I'm a little late in the thanks giving, but thanks is thanks...so THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THESE WONDERFUL POSTS!!! I knew what blogging was.....I had a stream of consiousness blog for many moons, just to share with my friends....but never thought of what a professional-writer's blog could do for me. I have started one!! Yay! and taking your advice as best as I can. I am doing more research into other writer's blogs to see where they headed. Thanks for all of the great info!!
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:39 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraDawn View Post
I know I'm a little late in the thanks giving, but thanks is thanks...so THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THESE WONDERFUL POSTS!!! I knew what blogging was.....I had a stream of consiousness blog for many moons, just to share with my friends....but never thought of what a professional-writer's blog could do for me. I have started one!! Yay! and taking your advice as best as I can. I am doing more research into other writer's blogs to see where they headed. Thanks for all of the great info!!
You're welcome, and thanks very much, too! Glad you're finding this helpful and congrats on getting your own writer's blog going!
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:54 PM   #24
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Thanks for the information. I'm just getting together the ideas for the blog I want to write and it's good to have these details to start. I want to try some freelance writing and I'm hoping this will be a start to get some writing samples together.
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:35 PM   #25
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Another great way to publicize your blog is to become a regular commentor on blogs you like. Don't shamelessly plug your own blog, just be active in the community, be relevant and make sure you keep your website address in your signature block. People who like what you said in your comments are likely to check out your blog, too....
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