I have been writing this blog for one year and nine months. Wow. That’s hard to believe. It seems like I just started it, anxiously, feeling very vulnerable, with my first post about getting lost on a trip to take some old hens to the butcher in the little town of Brainard, Nebraska. Nearly every day during the early morning hours while the
voraciously needy precious children and husband and cats and dogs and chickens and gerbils and goose are still sleeping, I’ve clicked onto my website and done something: either I’ve loaded photos, or worked on a post, or shared a post, or answered comments, or loaded photos, or updated plugins or checked on links. I’ve also read a lot of other blogs, and I’ve learned from the experience.
During this time span, I’ve seen many blogs come and go. Of course I want my blog to be successful, so I study the workings of successful blogs. When I post in a blogging group, I am required to read a couple of blogs in return for others reading my blog.
Sometimes this required reading is a pleasure, and sometimes it’s not, depending on the blog. To be brutally honest.
Usually I write about gardening and teaching children and cooking and baking and little Mack and my preternaturally gorgeous grandchildren and garden pests and, of course, chicken matters, large and small, but today I’m going to deviate from these writing topics. I’m going to write about blogging.
I’ve thought about writing this post for months. Months, Gentle Reader. I think I have a bit to share. But a little voice (my shoulder angel, probably) suggests that it’s just my opinion, that my opinion is worth about, um, 2¢ (if that) and that everybody else has their own opinion, also, so–so–so what?
Another little voice (a dissenting shoulder angel) says that there are other bloggers who might benefit, after all, from my observations, vapid and nonsensical though they may be.
Did your dissenting shoulder angel really use the word “vapid,” Amy, you might ask? Absolutely. Vapid. Shoulder angels, after all, are not immune to desiring good vocabularies, just because they are teeny-tiny.
And yet another voice points out that my blog is pretty ridiculous, at that. I mean, really. Who names their blog after something disgusting like a vomiting chicken, after all? And why, for pete’s sake? And what’s the fascination with baby gerbils and baby chicks all about, after all? And whatnot? Why on earth would anybody use such an antiquated words like “whatnot” and “doggonit,” and so forth?
That second voice (the one who uses the word “vapid”) says that there might be other bloggers who might be just starting out who might appreciate even 2¢ (if that) worth of insight. If you can call it that. So. Without further ado. Now that I’ve got all the self-deprecating stuff out of the way and you know that this is all just my opinion, we’ll proceed. And I’m going to hope that some of this is helpful to you. Or at the very least, a handy way to kill a few minutes, say, if you’re waiting for your dinner to cook. Or your train to arrive. Or whatnot.
At the end of this post, I’ll share with you my personal favorite blogs--the ones that I return to again and again. The ones that–when I see that there’s a new post, I click on it immediately if at all possible, for whatever reason. And also an invitation to share your favorite blogs with me in the comments.
I’m also going to drop in some photos, just because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want to, and because I don’t like reading big blocks of text with no pretty pictures, so I’m not going to inflict that on you. I love my Gentle Readers. I do. *smooch*
Here are some stats, too, just because. I enjoy stats a bit too much, I know. I think I should ignore them, Andrew (my cute bearded blogging guru, and son) tells me that I should ignore them, but blogging stats, for me, are like the naughty child in the same room: they are hard to ignore. They make a lot of noise that calls my attention. I know that I should turn away from them, but for some reason I just can’t. Anyway.
Here they are:
- I’ve written 341 posts. This is #342.
- This is my top-viewed post, and it has been viewed over 12,000 times. Apparently cabbage moths are a big menace, world-wide, all year round, too.
- My blog has had nearly 118,000 page views.
- I have followers from nearly every country now, and most of them are from the U.S.
So what’s the difference between a blog that I really want to read every time there’s a new post, and a blog that I’d prefer to not read ever again, not even in a million years? There are just so many blogs out there now. There’s not time (little Mack is awake) to read many of them (now I hear Amalia moving about) before the responsibilities of my day (yup, I hear roosters crowing now) pull me away from my blogging work (the ‘phone is ringing now, can somebody grab it while I finish up here–?). So there is tons of competition in the blogosphere. Tons. There’s tons of competition in the real world, too (“Somebody’s at the door, Mom!”) so there’s no time to waste here. Somehow I connect with some blogs, and don’t with others. What’s the difference?
So I’ve done a heapa thinkin’ on this matter, and here’s what I’ve come up with. Without further ado, here’s my list: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers,” (with apologies to Stephen R. Covey for borrowing his superb book title).
1. A highly effective blogger connects with readers and fellow bloggers alike, and treats them with kindness and generosity.
I have made dear friends that I’ve only become acquainted with through blogging, who live all over the world! I remember how delighted I was, when I was a little girl and my dad would make contact with his ham radio with somebody in England or New Zealand. Now I have friends from all over the world, other bloggers and readers alike. If I have made a personal connection with a blogger, I’m much more likely to want to read what they have to say. No connection? I may still want to read the blog, but I’m not as motivated to do so.
2. A highly effective blogger is a good storyteller, writer, and proofreader.
I learned this early in my parenting days: Sometimes a kid won’t want to hear a lecture, but he’s always ready for a story. I love to read a good story or an appropriate anecdote, even if I’m reading a “how-to” post. It just makes the person writing the blog seem more real. And I am interested in what real people have to say, not what some committee or staff has put together. And poor writing skills or bad grammar (knowing the difference between “its” and “it’s,” for example, or “there” and “their,” and so on) or poor punctuation skills or even just careless typos are a real turn-off for a grammar nerd like me. I won’t click on a blog again, no matter how great the content, if there are lots of typos or misspellings. Life is too short for such assaults. That said–even the most careful writer (i.e., moi) will make an occasional mistake in this area, especially if they are trying to churn out 31 blog posts in 31 days (cough).
But a highly effective blogger will proofread carefully and catch all the nasties and put them right, before pushing “publish.”
3. A highly effective blogger makes things look pretty. I love to look at a well-designed blog page, with beautiful original photos and convivial typefaces and clean lines. If there are too many elements in the page vying for my attention, I get a bit rattled. I am easily overwhelmed, visually. I am easily overwhelmed, period, actually. My environs are a bit busy and chaotic and cluttered, so I like things clean and neat and easy on my eyes, when I settle down to read at the ‘pooter.
Even if the content is good, I’ll not stay long on a website, for example, with a dark background and white letters. It’s just too hard on my eyes. Or if the colors chosen in the website design are the highest chroma (think neon colors) and there are lots of them, for example, it makes it too noisy, visually, for me, and I just want to get away. Quickly!
This blog has beautiful photography. It’s not so hard, these days, to buy a decent camera and learn how to use it. It’s not like when you had to spend all that time in the darkroom, for example. I blush when I see a really awful photo on a blog, because I know that with a bit of attention, it could have been better. This blog has such a clean look and such luscious photography, that I want to just stay here all day. This one, too. I just like the looks of it. Pretty, to me, is so important. And the world–it is so pretty–it’s easy to find plenty of pretty things to photograph.
4. A highly effective blogger consistently churns out new and interesting content. I don’t know how Jill does it, but she is constantly surprising me with the “how-to” posts that she comes up with. I want to read every word that Ben Hewitt writes, not only because he’s an exceptional writer, but because he just has some pretty interesting things to say. And he says his interesting things in such an effective, amusing way, using words like “dadgum” and “heck,” which resonates with me. And “whatnot.” These kinds of posts are interesting and informative, too. 🙂 If you need to learn about guineas, which–I would expect–most folks do.
5. A highly effective blogger has great tech support and takes care of blog “glitches” immediately. It’s a bit frustrating to click on a link in a blog and it not take you where it promises you that it will take you. This is the hard part for me–I’m not technologically astute enough to fix the little broken things that inevitably will happen on a blog, but thankfully I do have excellent tech support (my son Timothy). Every blogger will need good tech support at one time or another. Or, practically daily, some weeks (groan).
6. A highly effective blogger knows his way around social media and the etiquette of using such. I don’t think it’s possible to master and use all the social media that’s available, but bloggers who know what they are doing seem to be able to build their online presence using something: Facebook, or twitter, or linkedin, or Pinterest, or something. There’s not enough time in the day (at least, not in my day) to be involved with all of these, but since online sharing is so important (unless you are only interested in having your mom and your best friend read your blog), bloggers need to be good at it. And did I mention that they are great at sharing? Many times, I’ve commented to a fellow blogger, on an interesting blog feature, only to have them send me a note explaining it, and sharing a link so I can get it for myself. Pretty awesome.
7. A highly effective blogger understands that her blog is not her best friend, sitting across the table in a cozy coffee shop, for example. It makes me squirm when a blogger crosses that line of “oversharing.” It’s easy to do. Everybody has perplexing problems that pop up in their lives. Everybody. Sitting alone in a room with your computer, it might be tempting to just spill it all out to your readers–who, after all, care about your opinion–including photos (groan), disappointments, frustrating physical problems, relationship issues, etc. For a time, I read a blog that had the wittiest writing style–the person who wrote it was just flat-out funny. But then she started in on a series of politically-based (and a bit angry) blogs and I clicked out. Literally. And I haven’t been back. Maybe you’re different in what you like to read, but that’s not what I want to spend my time reading.
So there is my list of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers, for what it’s worth. It wasn’t too painful, was it? I would imagine that if I’m still writing in this space a year from now, I’ll have more to add. Some points might even seem silly to me then, but that’s that and that’s then. This is today. And I need to get out and pull weeds now.
Here are my favorite blogs, in no particular order. They are the blogs that when I see them in my email box, I just have to check them out:
- Joy the Baker
- The Prairie Homestead
- A Beautiful Mess
- Ben Hewitt
- Smitten Kitchen
- Seth Godin
- Soule Mama
I think it goes without saying (therefore, I will say it) 😉 that blogging is a relatively new enterprise, and the rules are still being written, and changed, and re-written. And thrown out the proverbial window. And actually, there are no rules! It is a fluid and changing venue. That’s partly what makes it so much fun! I hope my observations about blogging have been interesting–maybe even helpful–to you. You don’t have to agree with them, natch’, but here they are.
Do you have favorite blogs that you follow consistently? While you read this, did other “habits” of bloggers that you follow occur to you? I’d love it if you wrote me a comment below.
And have a great day, you! Thank you again for reading this space!
You’re da best. *hugs*
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