Monday, May 28, 2012

Five Blogging Lessons Plus One

Mita-san's father's awesome chopstick rest.
I missed one of the Blogathon theme days while in America last week, and so I'm opting to share my thoughts on the group topic today instead. The question posed to the group was, "If you began blogging today, what would you do differently?"

I started this blog to prove to myself that I could still write a series of paragraphs in a compelling and meaningful way. I worked at a non-profit back then where most of my writing consisted of bullet points, brief emails, and letters to donors and volunteers. It was good work and I loved it, but I worried that I'd lost the one skill I truly loved: my ability to write. Since that day more than three years ago, I find myself writing nearly every day either here or in my journal. Articles, reviews, and more come pouring out and I'm grateful for each word as it emerges. I learn something new every day. And if I were to start today, here are a few things I might do a bit differently.

1. Use photos with every post. 
My earliest posts didn't always use pictures, and looking back over them now they simply look dreary. The information is pretty good, but without an enticing visual the posts lose me almost immediately.

2. Create a schedule and write regularly.
Writing is hard work and ideas don't come in a flash. Yet, a blogger needs to post regularly to get readers and keep their attention. Sporadic posts don't exactly inspire or impress. Even the most dedicated readers will stop checking back if the posts become too infrequent.

3. Schedule topics.
This Blogathon felt particularly daunting as my schedule is busier than ever with farming, other writing assignments and Japanese lessons. Let's not even think about the various fruit and vegetables ripening even as I type and crying out to be pickled, jammed, or shu-ed. I made a schedule that kept me focused, allowed me to write ahead, and didn't leave me crying out for my Muse in despair.

4. Focus.
Honestly, I still struggle with this one. I write about gardening, farming, food, and travel, which is about three topics too many. I should choose one and run with it, but then I always find something intriguing to write about in regards to one of the other three. I'm learning to narrow these things down, i.e. travel writing here about gardening and farming places I visit, but I still remain a bit scattered. If only the world wasn't such an interesting place!

5. Move to a more professional look.
I'm in the process of shifting things to a more official looking and sounding website, which is something I should have done much earlier. Better late than never.

6. Spend more time networking.
I know I'm only supposed to do five, but I always like bonus tracks. If I were starting out today, I'd spend more time reading and exploring other blogs. The Blogathon is quite good for that, but I should be doing it more the other eleven months of the year, too. I never regret it, and I often meet people and learn things I never would have discovered otherwise. Plus, it gets them reading and commenting on my blog, too. Heavens, what's not to gain?


VP said...

Excellent lessons learnt.

I'd add another for myself - have another blog name. When I started, Veg Plotting was a good name because I intended writing solely about my allotment and growing my own food. However, I quickly changed my writing to cover so many other topics. By then it was too late to change as it's a name which sticks in people's minds.

I'd also choose a name much earlier in the alphabet!

Van Waffle said...

Hi Joan. I've included your blog in a list of resources: Sustainability: Reflection and Blog Roll. Thanks for the great content!

Julie Farrar said...

I didn't get my "lessons learned" post done either because I was out of town. However, you've hit on one of my main issues. I, also, could use more focus. I mean, in my mind I have focus as defined in my tagline "traveling through the world, the second half of my life, etc" but it's not the laser focus of those just on gardening, or writing, or vampires. Like you, I just don't want to narrow it any more than that.

Anjuli said...

As I looked at what you said- I was nodding my head- these are the very things I am wanting to do- I've been trying to stick with the photos for each post- but don't always get there. The posting regularly and getting topics and being focused- this blogathon has really showcased to me that I have been lacking in those areas.

I have been thinking of moving to a more professional look- but am in a quandary as to what it should be- or if I really want to go there- inotherwords, what is my blog about anyways- I feel I don't want to showcase it until I really get my focus down. Your blog has always seemed VERY focused to me- and I've admired it for that reason!!!!

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Veg Plotting, I have many times thought the same thing about my blog name! And I think it more and more as I focus on farmers markets here in Japan. Such is life.

Van, Wow! How cool is that!! Thanks!

Julie and Anjuli, I think many of us really struggle with focus. Life is just so darn interesting, isn't it? I have given some thought to zombies in the garden, but no post on that yet. ;)