Blogging Insights (25 January 2021)

This week Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks:

How would you describe blogging to someone who has never heard of it before?

It is a form of social media, just a form where posts tend to be that much longer. You’re not expected to limit yourself to 3 characters, you’re expected to maybe string a few more together. So, for that reason, more patience is required.

For me, perversely, the act of blogging, rather that writing, is 90% reading. But I don’t think others agree. I read a post the other day, along the lines “I haven’t been on here much as I couldn’t think of anything to say”. A one-way street, talk, talk, talk. Not a “listen” anywhere.

I’m not sure that there is an awful lot else that is different to other social media platforms. This community in particular is more polite, at least, but peel off the veneer and there is still the same hatred and intolerance that exists in the big, wide world. I read another post last week which started off “Trump should be hanged”. If that isn’t an incitement to violence, the very thing Trump syands accused of, I’m not sure what is.

Blogging Insights (11 January 2021)

This week Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks a couple:

Do you like reading posts written for prompts? If so, what kind?

If I take part in a particular prompt, I try to commit myself to reading other people’s responses. I sometimes miss one or two but I’m usually pretty good. So, reading prompt responses comes with the territory.

That also means:

  • if I don’t think I’ll have time to read other responses, I’ll usually skip the prompt.
  • when I do sit down to look through other responses, I’m going to be reading ten, twenty, maybe even thirty responses to that prompt. So, however long a post is, multiply that by thirty, say, and that’s how long it’ll take me to plough through the bunch. Bottom line, the kind of responses I like are short ones!

Poetry is a good one there, as poems are usually a quick read. But here I must admit to being a bit simple – I prefer direct language and I often don’t understand some of the poems I read. I do write some poems myself – you can’t beat a good limerick – but I deliberately try to be obvious, in your face. It’s very “schoolboy” stuff.

For long posts, whether I even try to read them depends on how much time I have abailable to me.Bearing in mind that WordPress is not my main activity.

When you publish a piece in answer to a prompt, do you read entries by other bloggers? If so, do you read them before or after you have written your own?

After. I try to catch up with my daily prompts the same day, but weekly prompts. I tend to wait four or five days. This is because responses tend to come in dribs and drabs, so I try to wait until “most” have come in. I don’t get stressed about those I miss.

Especially with the music prompt I used to take part in, I used to think of a response and think “that’s so obvious, everybody will think of that one”. But, they never did! It was rare, anyway.

I’d tag onto this that I’d expect the person who issued the prompt to read the responses, even if nobody else does. If people have taken time out to write a response, then I think the prompt-issuer should at least take the trouble to read them. In fact, I once stopped taking part in a prompt for that reason. But… it won’t be anybody who finds themself reading this, this goes way, way back. I think that’s really the committment you make when you decide to host a prompt.

Addendum

The next day. I’m sorry, I really don’t like adding to posts, once they#re live. But I realised there was a glaring hole above.

Some bloggers will say, I’ll read other responses if I have the time. My view on this: if there’s time to write a post, then there’s time to read a post.

Blogging Insights (wb 21 December 2020)

Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks interesting questions this week in her Blogging Insights series:

How organised are you when it comes to blogging? Do you have a blog schedule or do you play it by the ear?
How often do you’ tidy up’ your blog? e.g. go through your Drafts Folder, or go through old posts checking for broken links etc.?

I try not to publish more than three times per day, for no other reason than I figure that people will get fed up if I post more often. Well, there’s also the matter of having time to write. That number is not hard-and-fast, so if I publish four times on a particular day, it’s not a big deal. But I aim for three.

Of those three posts, some of these are challenges I like to regularly take part in. I also have a regular post I put out each week.

I figure my week is as follows:

DayPlanned Posts
Monday2
Tuesday1
Wednesday2
Thursday1
Friday2
Saturday2
Sunday3

In addition, there are prompts I take part in occasionally, such as this one. So I figure, if I’m sticking to my 3-a-day, that only leaves a few slots per week for anything impromptu.

I tend not to schedule anything other than my regular post, because I like to publish privately first, which allows me to listen to the post. Then I can iron out as many typos as I can, before I make it public.

I use categories and tags to keep posts organised. That’s as much so I can find posts again, as anybody else finding them. With my poetry, for example, I’ve a mind to self-publish some of them, when I have enough good ones to choose from. So I’ll need to be able to find the poetry in amongst all the other stuff.

Regular housekeeping tasks include sifting through spam comments, and spam contact form submissions – I do all that a couple times a week.

I don’t check for broken links in old posts. Here’s why:

When I looked at 6PM, only 8% of yesterday’s views were on posts that were more than a week old. I assume that’s pretty typical. On those numbers, I’ll take my chances.

Blogging Insights (wb 14 December 2020)

I haven’t answered one of these for a few weeks, but I had some unexpected free time come up, so decided to participate. Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks an interesting question this week in her Blogging Insights series, and I wanted to respond, especially because none of the responses I read so far puts things quite like this:

Is your blogging personality the same as your real life personality? If not, how is the blogging you different from the real you, and why?

Remember that legal expression: the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth?

Well, in this blog, you certainly get the truth. My truth, anyway. Yours is probably different.

Nothing but the truth? No, there’s a lot of nonsense thrown in. Hopefully, it’s obvious which is which. That’s deliberate, because I think life is a bit more bearable if we can see the funny side of it, so I hope to promote that.

And, the whole truth? Nah. you guys only see a small part, the stuff that I want you to see.

You didn’t see that it took me half an hour Sunday to put the cover back on my duvet, after I washed it. That this is a single duvet, because I can’t manage anything larger, period.

You didn’t see me try to tidy up the patio Sundayafternoon in preparation for a firewood delivery today – but had to give up because it was too difficult. Brushing.

You didn’t see that I had to hunt high and low for somebody who will not only supply the wood (there are plenty of them) but who will also stack it for me afterwards, because to do so myself, last time, took 4 days.

So, admit it, aren’t you glad I keep that shit out of the blog? Because nobody likes a whiner.

I swear, if ever we met in real life, you’d walk straight past me.

Blogging Insights (wb 9 November 2020)

Dr Tanya asks a few this week, but don’t worry, each one is quite short.

Evergreen or Topical content, which do you prefer writing?

I don’t really differentiate between the two, and writing one or the other depends on my mood. I also like to mix things up a bit.

In the sense that a lot of my posts are responses to prompts, and prompts are issued on a certain date, then you might say that a lot of my posts are topical.

However, when I come up with responses, most of the actual content is evergreen, so I’ll go with that instead. Poems, flash fiction, or even about my beliefs… none of them have a shelf-life.

I try not to overdose on subjects like politics, some of which is topical. Sometimes I just feel so strongly about something that I let off steam. Often, politicians are inconsistent, and I don’t mind pointing that out. But in general, it isn’t that I’m not interested, but more because I think people don’t want to be reading that. I don’t, not all the time.

Which do you write most often?

Evergreen, probably, although I don’t keep count. I’m certainly conscious that I don’t want to ram things like politics down people’s throats.

Which of these adds more value or engagement to your blog?

Value? That’s for the reader to decide.

Engagement? Funnily enough, I think my poetry, which I consider to be mostly evergreen, seems to attract the most readers and likes. It’s quite difficult to tell because again, I don’t keep tabs, but just taking a cursory look at my list of posts, poetry seems to attract as much as 50% more likes than straightforward prose posts. For my part, if people enjoy reading this nonsense then I am encouraged to keep writing it. But at the same time, I don’t want to write just poetry.

As for engagement via comments, I have no idea. I try to field each comment as it comes in, but don’t look any deeper. Most comments are from people I already know (in the blogosphere) and actually, it would be nice to sometimes receive something short from people who “like”, but don’t comment, even if just to say Hi.

Blogging Insights (2 November 2020)

Tanya asks this week:

Can you share some tips and tricks for using the new Gutenberg editor on WordPress ?

Okay, I have a tip. When you want to put a little section-break in a post, there is a block called the “Separator” block. It has the option of an inch-long, centered break, as I did above, or a full-line break, as I will do below.


And it supports different colours, if that floats your boat.

The reason? Why not create a break using underscores? _____

Well, when my reader picks up that construct, it repeats the word “underscore” many times over. Can you imagine a whole line of eighty-odd underscores? Can you imagine how annoying that is?

The effect is that I stop reading the post. All that writing effort, wasted! Can you imagine, people rate their time so cheaply?

This is not simply my little peeve, but an inclusivity thing – it is an appreciation that some people might not use their eyes to take in a post. Do people want to make their posts accessible, or not?

Incidentally, I noticed that when I copied Tanya’s question, she’d made it bold and italic, to make it stand out. She could have just used the “Heading” block instead.

Censorship

One of the things Dr Tanya asks this week was surrounding censorship. She’s echoed a question originally suggested by Melanie B Cee. I’m paraphrasing, but it went along the lines:

In order not to offend our readers, are there some subjects that are off limits?

Blogs are, I think, a personal platform. If they’re not a personal, then I don’t reallythink they’re a blog. In most cases, it’s not only reasonable, but commendable, that somebody holds a view on something, rather than no view at all. So I don’t think it is unreasonable for them to express that view on their blog. One person’s view might conflict with another’s, but I don’t think they should hold fire for fear of causing offense. An opposing view is not necessarily offensive.

That said, how the view is expressed can make a difference. So, it is often not what we express, but how we express it, that makes makes something offensive.

Regardless, the reader has the ultimate right to switch off, if they are offended.

In applying this, the three concrete scenarios I had in mind were:

  1. Writing a post on our own blog (Melanie’s case).
  2. Commenting on somebody else’s blog.
  3. When somebody comments on one of our blog.

For (1), we compose our own posts so it is our responsibility to promote our view tactfully.

For (2), if I disagree with the post, I will mostly just move on, but will sometimes say something. If I do, it is my responsibility to disagree tactfully. And convincingly. Like any other web pages, blog posts are readily accessible through the internet, so it is possible that an open-minded, third-party could stumble across the post. If I write a comment, who am I trying to sway? The poster? Who already wrote something I don’t agree with? Or, this new reader? That’s why I don’t bother arguing in a thread – I state my case and the passer-by can decide for themself.

(3) gets interesting, because the commenter has a responsibility to comment tactfully. That could bar anything from “offensive” to simply “inappropriate” material. In that case, I’m happy to censor – it’s my name on the site, after all.

To give some perspective here, I’ve had 6,400 comments on my blog, since Day #1, and I have censored about 6 so far. All except one were spam (as suggested by Akismet), the last was a genuine comment from a genuine reader, which was simply inappropriate. It might have been embarrasing for somebody (and, by impication, for me). I thought long and hard before removing it because I don’t want to be closing down discussion, but on my site, I decide.

Blogging Insights #48 (28 September 2020)

This prompt is the brainchild of Dr Tanya over at Salted Caramel. I’ve recently started following Tanya and her questions are really good. This week, she asks:

What mistakes did you make in the first few months of blogging?

Okay, I don’t say mistake, for starters, rather it became more refined. One of those is brevity, it is something I am still learning.

YearPlatformAverage Words Per Post
2017Blogger279
2018Blogger397
2019Blogger / WP442
2020WP294

The brief storyline is that when I started the blog, it was as a diary, to chart my recovery. Posts tended to be “I walked to the shop today”. I had no readers. With no readers anyway, the length hardly matters.

I discovered I quite enjoyed blogging, and in 2018 the posts became broader. Two big themes were politics and job hunting. The posts became longer, but there were still no readers.

2019 started off much the same, with posts on the same subjects. Brexit was a big issue here. Midway through the year I found some WordPress blogs, and in September, I moved my own blog to WordPress. I started getting an audience.

2020 will be my first full year on WordPress. The subject matter is now all over the place. I enjoy taking part in prompts, but I figure that if I have got something interesting to say, then other respondents might have, too, so I try to read other responses. I’ll do so with this question towards the end of the week. If I haven’t got something interesting to say, then why am I posting at all?

As a reader, if their are 20 other responses, and each is just a 3-minute post, then that is an hour to go through them all. Largely because of my eyesight, an hour is a long time to be dealing with a single topic.

So I feel that, as a writer, I should keep my responses short, just in case there are other people like me out there. I don’t know how many people read other responses, I suspect on the smaller prompts, we do. Most of us tend to follow each other, anyway.

You’ll notice that my 2020 number of words per post is dramatically lower, largely driven by this newfound audience. For starters, it is largely international so I tend to (mostly) avoid UK politics. And there has been precious little job hunting to report in 2020, so another topic avoided! But also, I have become better at editing my posts. I like that my posts now have an audience, but I can’t really expect those people to be unconditional. If I want people to read my posts, the very least I can do is to put some effort into making them thrifty with words.

The nature of my blog is different, 2017 to now. I don’t get so hung up about health/progress and use it more as a day-to-day medium. I started responding to a word of the day prompt at the start of UK-lockdown. Posting daily was another way of saying I’m okay and this prompt was the ideal vehicle. As it happens I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and I’ve gotten into the habit of responding to the prompt using poetry. For one thing, people seem to like them (no idea why), but for another, they are 1-minute posts. So, another example where brevity has been a factor.

It is not necessarily the length of the post. If we’re discussing a detailed topic, then the posts will be long. It is this thrift thing. We could all use a good editor.