Thursday, August 5, 2010

People who are smarter than me

Insert joke here about how this is going to be a long post. Go on, I’ll wait.

In all seriousness, a lot of what I’ve learned about blogging these last six months comes from other bloggers who’ve been kind enough to share their wisdom.

I can’t possibly list every post that’s made an impression on me, but here are my top three:

From Jamie Harrington at Totally the Bomb
Jamie did an entire week of posts on building your online platform, but my favorite of the series was this one about Gravatars.

What’s a Gravatar?

It’s a globally-recognized avatar, and if you’re commenting on blogs or interacting in online communities, I can’t tell you how much you need one.

Until I jumped into the social media circus, I didn’t realize how crucial it is that people use consistent photos, user names, and Twitter handles to identify themselves. If you’re commenting on my blog as Jane Smith using a picture of a frog, but chatting with me on Twitter as Spudeatingmama with an avatar that looks like a potato, I might like adore both of you very much, but I will have no earthly idea you’re the same person. Not even if you tell me. Sorry, but my brain has a limited capacity for faces and names. You don’t get more than one.

Get a Gravatar. Be consistent with your user names. And go read Jamie’s blog post.

From my beloved agency sistah, Kiersten White
(and if you haven’t yet preordered her debut, PARANORMALCY, what are you waiting for?)

This post on the difference between blogs, blahgs, and blarghs clicked with me the instant I read it last November. I had it tattooed on my forearm so I could remember every word of it when the time came to start a blog of my own.

In addition to giving great information about tone and content in blogging, she provides an important wake-up call for writers – editors and agents WILL read your blog if they’re considering working with you. Keep that in mind with every single post you write. Every. Single. One.

From social media guru Kristen Lamb
Her post on whether authors must blog only went up a week ago, and it quickly became one of my favorites on the subject. Here’s a highlight:

Words are our “product.” And blogs are the samples to taste. Just like at Costco, I have a choice of 20 different frozen pizzas. Totino’s doesn’t have to hire some lady with a hairnet to fill the air with the smell of pizza yumminess, but they are smart enough to know that it will make people buy pizza who had no plans of buying pizza that day in the first place. Better yet, free samples will encourage consumers not just to buy pizza, but to buy their pizza.

Amen, a million times AMEN!

Go read the rest of the post for more words of wisdom.

How about you? Do you have any favorite blog posts about the fine art of blogging? Any tips or tricks that have really resonated with you? Please share in the comments.

And lastly, I want to thank you all for making my first six months as a blogger truly, truly amazing. Without you, I’d just be sitting here talking to myself, and that would be – well, that would be like any other day.

So thank you. I love you. Don’t forget to brush and floss.

31 comments :

KO said...

hmmm- this week's blogging blogs by you! The Gravatar one is especially useful. I've only been blogging a few months and the learning curve can be steep. This is a big help. I've also run into a few blogs about remaining professional in the blogosphere-- an important message every time I hear it.

Alexa O said...

As I write, I'm corralling a two-year-old with my feet and putting off her increasingly persistent requests for food...

But I had to take a second and say thank you for this post! Just yesterday I was contemnplating putting out a global call for some more good blogs. Now I have THREE more, and I didn't have to lift a finger.


Annah at "Red Means Go" is a very funny blogger. Well, she's more of a blahger, but she's so funny she has 1000 followers. She wrote a post about how to get more followers that I liked a lot. Good advice is hidden within the hilarity.

http://www.whenredmeansgo.com/2010/07/how-to-get-followers-and-lose-them-too.html

Matthew Rush said...

Lots of great advice here, thanks Tawna!

Linda G. said...

So, basically, we're supposed to approach this whole online thing professionally? Uh, can I get a do-over? ;)

(Great advice round-up! Thanks for passing it along.)

Jessica said...

I'm semi-consistent with my user names/blog photos. That is an eye-opener for me. I had a *palm-forehead* moment because that should be something that's obvious... shouldn't it? I thought: Hello, how long have businesses used "logos?" Thanks Tawna, AWESOME post!

Candyland said...

I always use the same photo/name. I think it's the best way to get people to remember you. Another great post with some links I need to check out...now.

Patrick said...

It's very hard to carry my fence around when I meet people in public. No one ever recognizes me.


I wonder what my blog says about me. Screw it. Who cares. I have a pool.

abby mumford said...

favorite posts on blogging? every one you wrote this week.

thank you!

Patty Blount said...

Yours is one of the first blogs I followed that wasn't related to technical writing and I've learned so much from you.

My goal is to blog more often, though I'm not sure I can ever post daily updates! You're a blogging ANIMAL!

kd easley said...

Thanks for your hard work this last six months, Tawna. I look forward to hearing your words every day and am always disappointed when the weekend rolls around. You give very sound advice. Now I get to see if I can make my blog a little better.

Thanks

Danica Avet said...

Probably the only advice I can think of would be to blog daily. If your words are you there on a regular basis, people get used to seeing them, expect to see them, and therefore will want to see what you're talking about this time. I spent a lot of time at Nationals talking to other newbies about blogging and how important it is to writers.

Sage your advice is, young Tawna. Love the blog and I'm very glad you post regularly!

LR said...

I really should get a gravatar for this google account. I have one for my Wordpress. Will check out your gravatar link!

Sharla said...

found you from Kristen Lamb, and I'm following you now....sounds very stalker-y doesn't it? LOL! Love your blog, feel free to visit me as well. I write rom/com/wf/paranormal....really hard to query that. But I will be looking up your books when they come out!

Steve Ulfelder said...

You're such a good blogger. I'm a lazy blogger. Will you please blog for me? I will pay you a dollar.

Upon further review, I see it's even worse than I thought: I lack a gravatar, as this race car pic proves. I will pay you a dollar fifty.

Kiersten White said...

It's true, Patrick--without the fence I'd never recognize you.

Tawna, thanks : ) In fact, THANKS. Because I was all set to write about online presences today, and you totally reminded me that I could just quote myself and get back to procrastinating edits full time!

You, as usual, are the best.

Kelly Breakey said...

What a great week of blogging tips and tricks. I love how I learn more from blog buddies than I do out of how-to books.

Again, congrats on your blogiversary.

Margaret said...

A lovely conclusion to your week on blogging. I actually do have one tip to share that you may not have seen: When including a blurb with a link to your blog, use the permalink. It can be confusing to readers when they're following a tagline but they get to the blog and it's a different post all together. You're fun enough to read that I'll just read down to the post I'm looking for most of the time, but there's always a moment of disconnect when that happens.

I read your blog exclusively from your Twitter links (thanks for those btw), so I thought this tip might come in handy :).

Terry Stonecrop said...

More good tips. Thanks:)

SM Schmidt said...

Having a sense of humor really helps when explaining anything. I can read a dozens of how to's but yours stick with me because I laugh as I learn. Thank you & looking forward to another six months of awesomeness.

Lara Zielin said...

Wow, great info. Also Jamie and Kiersten rule. I mean, I'm sure the other peeps do too. But those guys especially.

~Jamie said...

Awww Thanks! (Also, Lara rules too, just FYI!)

Do you want to know something funny? Kristen Lamb and I belong to the SAME real life writer's group :)

Tawna Fenske said...

KO, no joke, the Gravatar thing is so simple, yet I never knew about it until Jamie discussed it. This is what I love about bloggers!

Alexa, thanks for that link! I'm off to check it out as soon as I wrap up my post vacation catch-up.

Matthew, no problem! I should probably come up with a clever way to archive all this, huh?

Linda G, professionally? What's that?

Jessica, great comparison re: businesses and logos. Wish I'd thought to draw that parallel in the blog post!

Candyland, you're memorable, that's for sure :)

Patrick, I can't repeat what your blog says about you because my mother tells me not to repeat dirty words.

Abby, aw, thanks! I wasn't sure when I set out to do this if I'd just come off as a know-it-all, or if people would grasp that the take-home message is "I don't know much, but here's what I've learned." Hoping the latter came through OK :)

Patty, daily isn't necessary -- just consistency. I enjoy your blog, btw.

kd easley, keep me posted on any blog changes you implement! It's always good to know what's happening.

Danica, I'm so glad to hear blogging was a popular topic at nationals. I feel pretty confident I'm doing the right thing, but it's good to know the industry pros back me up there.

LR, the Gravatar thing is super simple. I remember thinking it would be tough, but it only took a couple clicks.

Sharla, isn't Kristen Lamb terrific? I'll go check out your blog.

Steve, make it $2 and throw in a nice bottle of Chianti and you've got yourself a blogging deal.

Kiersten, thank YOU! That blog post of yours was one of the first things I read that made me think, "huh - I'd probably better start giving some thought to this blogging deal."

Kelly, you know, when I first set out to research blogging before I started here, I began hunting for books and then thought, "why not rely on BLOGS to teach me what I need to know." Worked pretty well!

Margaret, funny, when I tweet my own blog (snicker) I do that intentionally (i.e. link to the whole blog as opposed to an individual post). I figure Twitter is usually pretty immediate, and I want to catch visitors' eyes with posts besides the one I'm Tweeting about right then. Kinda the same philosophy we used in my newspaper days where you deliberately jump a story so readers have to skim other stuff you want them to read en route to what they set out to find. Or are you not talking about Twitter? Clue me in if that's the case, as I'm sure there ARE lots of ways I can link more effectively!

Terry, I'm dying to go see your blog posts about s-e-x. That's going to be my reward for getting caught up today!

SM Schmidt, if I'm making you laugh, I'm doing something right, so THANK YOU!

Lara, Jamie and Kiersten and Kristen all rule...I want to be them when I grow up :)

Jamie, too funny about you & Kristen Lamb belonging to the same group. Small world, isn't it?

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Margaret said...

Well, I was talking about Twitter, and that makes sense when you look at it in the context of your blog. I'll admit I noticed it more when people were pointing to interesting articles on other blogs than theirs and going to the root rather than the specific page. However, the way I figure it is if your post is worth reading, people will click the top link to look for more of the same.

And here's the kicker... Retweeting. Your blog posts are likely to be passed around. By the time they get to Suzie Q, three days may have passed and she can't figure out why a post about responding to criticism deserved a tagline about missing pants :).

Terry Stonecrop said...

Thanks, Tawna! That's so nice of you. It's only one post but it's about sex and the discussion is good. Even Ernest Hemingway showed up to comment.

I blog once a week on Tuesdays so you have plenty of time yet. You sound so busy. Pour a glass of wine and get to it when you get to it:) And no need to respond to this comment;)

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Since I'm a late Twitter bloomer and newly signed up since yesterday, I second what you said about the Gravatars. It's wonderful to see so many recognizable faces over there, especially when people's Twitter usernames are often different than their Blogger names.

The importance of being recognizable didn't occur to me. I chose to use my Blogger profile pic for Twitter simply because it's the only existing picture of me with my eyes open (I'm terribly unphotogenic). Turned out to be a good choice across the board!

Marsha Sigman said...

Great...now I want pizza.

I keep the same picture and use my own name. Because I don't take a lot of decent pics (I either look scared or mad-what the hell is that?)and I don't want to be called anything but my own name.

You have an awesome blog by the way!

Kristen Lamb said...

Well, I love this blog...and, yes, that was even before you promoted me. I think you do a great job of being fun and likable and real and personal.

Blogs like these prove my point about blogging. Now, because I follow this blog and it provides me with something of value (information/entertainment, etc) I am more willing to buy your book...regardless the genre you write and whether I read it or not. I like you and it makes me feel good to buy your book (which I will).

This is how real fiction platforms are built...not by whacking people over the head with chapters of an unfinished novel.

And thanks for these other links, I will check them out for sure.

Bravo!

Carrie Harris said...

This is so much awesome. And thanks for the floss and brush reminder. I would have forgotten. ;)

What can I say? I'm editing. I'm lucky I'm dressed.

Tawna Fenske said...

Margaret, great point about the re-tweeting. Seems to be happening more & more, so perhaps I'll consider switching my strategy. Thanks for the observation!

Terry, loved the sex post! :)

Nicole, the Gravatar thing (or any other method of using a consistent user name & pic) are a godsend for me when I'm trying to keep so many names & faces straight.

Marsha, thanks for the blog love! I like your pic, and I think it's easily recognizable.

Kristen, aw, thanks! Can I say one more time how much I loved your blog post?! :)

Carrie, tie a piece of dental floss around your finger, then you'll never forget.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Jan Markley said...

Love the blah, blargh, blog link. So true.

My advice - cats, even better if they are cats doing funny things! People seem to love cats! ;-j

Bob Mayer said...

My original twitter name was iWhoDaresWins because it was my company's name, sort of. I've had to go back and start over with my name Bob_Mayer for twitter and also building my name brand after reading Kristen's book. I still see so many authors using their book covers as avatars-- not a good idea. Because book covers can change.