Monthly Archives: March 2012
Wouldn’t it be nice?
I wonder how many aspiring writers are out there. Due to the internet the dream of being able to express your ‘voice’ has come a lot closer to many people. After all the internet allows anyone to publish without the consent of a publishing company. It’s that easy!
As a result millions of people will have a go at this, the competition will be fierce and the ultimate trick is ‘how to stand out’. The entrepreneurial amongst you very likely have already tapped in to this world of online writing. You will have written material on ‘how to’ go about this online writing phenomena as soon as it was out there.
‘How to’ information
Apparently some of the most popular non-fiction is ‘how to’ information. Quite amazing that even in a world where information is abundant, there seems to be a shortage of organised facts, knowledge and wisdom. People crave for ‘how to do’ articles, step by step guidance and ‘the ten best things’ lists.
Let’s have a closer look at this. Imagine you need information about how to prune a plant. The first thing you do is a Google search and you’ll find that there are countless sites to choose from. You sift through some of them but find that nothing is totally relevant to your specific problem or question. You rephrase your request and some more sites appear. Again not exactly the answer you are looking for.
Frustration levels are rising because you did not want to spend too much time looking this up as you really want to spend your energy on pruning your plant. Now imagine if there was this little concise guide that told you exactly ‘how to’ prune your plant, what tool to use, how to get cuttings and even what to do with your garden waste.
Anybody can do it!
There are many blogs that have become big businesses because they are doing just that – compiling and re-creating information. Short and to the point advice for people that are not that savvy in a particular area. It’s a simple concept and readily available to everybody who owns a computer and has access to the internet.
The bottom line is the following. If you love writing and you have an analytical mind, you can make money out of organising information and offering it in a more accessible form to your readers. Just imagine – blogs, eBooks, tutorials, pod casts and what else the trend is at the moment. Again it’s as easy as that!
I personally love writing! By writing this ‘blog about blogging’ I have realised that more than anything. In fact I have always been attracted to it. I have a big pile of diaries that reflect on my life, my travelling, emigrating, having kids and much more. About a year ago I indulged in reading some of those stories and I have to admit that I had the feeling on many occasions that I was reading about someone else’s life! I have never contemplated to publish any of them but if I wanted the opportunities are within my reach.
So if there is the slightest ambition in you to write a book or a blog and you feel you have something to offer, there has never been a better time to do it. To say it metaphorically – the ‘world wide web’ is your oyster.
LOL – OMG – C U L8R – MOL – ROTF!!??
Do you understand this language? Am I supposed to get this? I feel I should as I see it used on a regular base in various social media. As most professions or specialised activities have developed their own jargon there is a special language for bloggers called ‘web speak’.
Call me ‘old fashioned’ but I am not keen on this new language. The same as I have an issue with the lack of grammar I am not an advocate of ‘web speak’ and I am pleased to see that some critics call it a sign of ‘our moral and aesthetic decline’.
However as many words and expressions are more and more established and widely used by people from all walks of life I feel ‘blog speak’ should be part of a blog about blogging.
First of all here are some words that have been introduced as a result of blogging but are now ‘insiders’ language.
- The word ‘blog’ is jargon itself as it stands for ‘web log’
- Jargon of a blog is called ‘blargon’
- Spam is jargon and was first used in the early nineties. Since then it has become a verb (spamming)and has been combined with other words – e.g. spambot and spam comment
- Then there is ‘blogerati’ – those amongst us who are experienced and sophisticated bloggers
There is much more and it is funny to see that also in ‘blog speak’ certain things have acquired a sexual under-tone. So believe it or not, in ‘blargon’ you can find ‘linky love’, ‘link slut’ and even ‘blogasm’!
Someone in Sydney has gone so far to develop a dictionary for bloggers. It is called ‘blogosary’ and in it you can find many words used in and for blogs and their meanings.
Here are some fun abbreviations that you may have seen or use yourself.
BFF best friends forever
TTYL talk to you later
AFAIK as far as I know
LOL laughing out loud
OTOH on the other hand
JK just kidding
WTG way to go
ROFL rolling around on the floor laughing
BRB be right back
PITA pain in the ass
NAA not another acronym!
I suppose using acronyms and other types of blog jargon is a matter of taste and new abbreviations will come and go. It is at your disposal but it is not something I will adapt to very easily.
ILITT! See who can figure that one out….
I wonder if bloggers ever run out of something to say. I have mentioned before that my inspiration comes and goes. It is in general the most fruitful when I have just finished a blog post. Exploring certain topics opens up the road to other content. Many bloggers get inspiration from reading other blogs or their comments. And offcourse when you have heaps of traffic yourself there will be many comments and the ideas will just flow.
When your blog becomes a chore
What should you do when writing becomes a chore? There may be times in your life that blogging is not your first priority and other things take over. Depending on the type of blog you have, it may be appropriate to admit that. If you speak the truth – your truth – you may find that the words come easily even when you have got a lot of other things on your mind.
In fact when you are honest it could well be that your readers can better connect with you. You could tell them that you did not feel coming out of bed and spent the day in your pyjamas. I bet there will be many who wish they had the courage to do the same! Just take a break and let your readers know when you will be back.
Blogging should always come from the heart. When it becomes something you feel you ought to do, it is not optional anymore. I bet that whatever you write about won’t be that captivating, could be repetitive or lacks originality.
When to have a break
Another thing that could stop you from blogging is when you get ill. Can you imagine writing something worthwhile when the only thing you like to do is cuddling up in bed with a hot water bottle and a box of tissues? My suggestion in that case would be – give it a break!
There are a couple of things that you can do when you suffer from writers block, are sick or just want a break. Being sick or a having a holiday may grant a real break! Writers block on the other hand may be a good opportunity to do some reviewing, do a recap or dig up those old posts you have written but never published.
It may also be a chance to evaluate the success of your blog or look at ways to improve the amount of readers or how you market your blog. Stepping back, evaluate and reflect may well get the juices going again!
I started Blogexercise in November 2011 as an experiment and I have written over 25 posts so far. I wanted to explore the blogging world or better blogosphere before I ventured into having a blog. Sounds bizarre but so be it.
I like to call it research and preparation for the real stuff. Anybody who wants to set up a business will have to do market research and acquire some expertise about what they are about to do. Just open up a random business book and you’ll find that one of the biggest cause of failure is lack of preparation.
My market research started with a blog. A blog is of such a nature that you can ‘explore’ while you are doing it. Imagine setting up a business and being able to have a practice run without it costing you a cent.
What’s next in line?
Digging deeper into the blogging world has taught me heaps and I feel very comfortable to explain blogging to someone and believe me there are many people out there who would not be able to tell you what a blog is! Also I have the expertise now to guide someone in making important decisions that I feel need to be made before starting.
In sum Blogexercise exists because I needed an outlet to help me make decisions about a blog about my passion. There are many things that fall into this category but a couple of things jump out being ‘styling of homes and gardens’ and anything to do with ‘food, wine and entertaining’. I have been dabbling at it through various small business ventures, some more successful than others.
Suddenly last year the idea of a blog hit me and it all began. And here I am blogging away and now with the confirmation that I love blogging and have in fact lots of to say.
The first baby steps!
Last week I have had a meeting with a young computer techie who is going to develop my blog. I have decided to have my own domain and buy hosting and will continue with WordPress. I have looked at BlogSpot, TypePad and others but feel comfortable enough with WordPress. So why change?
My ‘techie’ and I have discussed the concept and the appearance and after I have submitted a couple of mock posts she can have a go at it. I was asked to deliver some great pictures as well. I like to use my own pictures and I have a love relationship with my camera already for decades. I even ventured in to studying the topic at art school a long time ago. So here I am shooting ‘great’ pictures from various food items, plants and interiors. Good fun and I have been able to create some suitable footage.
It’s all part of the game!
When reflecting on this post I realise it is not about anything new or something that can educate you about another facet of blogging. It has turned out to be an evaluation and explanation of the purpose of Blogexercise. Such thought processes are relevant though when you want to start blogging unless you don’t care about things like planning and making the right decisions.
Anything you start can be changed at a later stage – very likely with some more effort or costs but it can be done. No need for panic but for me personally ‘taking my time’ has helped to step back, look at the various options I have, ask for opinions, read up on it and then let myself be guided by all these ‘bits’. Quite often the final choice just appears as it did with my blog about homes and food.
I have decided I will continue with Blogexercise as there is a lot more to say – maybe not as frequent when the next blog is alive. It can take a bit of time to prepare a good post – at least if you aim for relevance, novelty, truth and entertainment. Happy blogging!
When I read through my blog post ‘Number Crunching’ I feel that I should complete the topic by having a look at who reads you blog – in other words your blog audience. With the enormous growth of social media and increasing numbers of blogs written I am getting curious about the attention span of the average online reader.
When researching human attention span I found that it is a mine field out there. That could mean that nobody really knows the answer and/ or that it depends on ‘context’. When you read about a subject that is relevant to something in your life you will very likely take it in better than a topic you can’t relate to. You will have all the time in the world for something interesting and but you may drift asleep after seconds when being exposed to boring stuff. Kind of logic, isn’t it?
Age may have something to do with it. Anyone who has children knows that the attention span of a toddler can’t possibly be more than 2 seconds and teenagers… well, who knows what makes them tick! Some figures show that the average attention span in kids varies from 3-5 minutes and adults may be able to give you 20 minutes max! www.reference.com
When I see figures like that I am again amazed that blogs are being read and the internet is being explored at all. It must have to do with people’s focus. The latest way the human mind has developed and adapted must be that we have learned to become better ‘skimmers’ and can sift with ease through the enormous mountain of information that is thrown at us. Some call it scanning and there are websites that teach you how to scan in the most effective way. Scanning can be defined as quickly looking over some information and selecting what is important to you www.webdesignerdepot.com.
How can you facilitate scanning?
Not all information is suitable for scanning. When blogging it is important to keep that in mind. If you write a blog post and there is a fair of ‘waffle’ at the start while the most important bit are further down you might lose your reader. There are ways of avoiding that by using some of the following:
- Lists, bold text, underline, Italics, headings and sub headings
- Combining text with pictures and illustrations
- Make your first sentence and last sentence ‘to the point’
By using the above you can highlight and emphasise what you consider important and your readers will be able to pick up better what is relevant to them. Off course – as bloggers we don’t want readers to scan or skim over our pages. We like them to read whatever we write from beginning to end and love it.
Unfortunately that is not going to happen all the time and people will skim and dismiss. There is just too much stuff to choose from. By producing ‘scannable’ content you may be able to capture your audience in such a way that they will come back for more.
After all you can’t deny that it is a nice feeling to find out that another reader has subscribed to your blog!