Monday, January 14, 2008

How To Blog The Cyber Highway

Opal Tribble, at Addicted to Writing, has tagged me for a meme. She's asked me to share tips with my readers on how to be a better blogger. I've only been blogging since July, 2007, as you'll notice from my archives listed at the right. Some of you may snicker and scoff out loud, yeah, that's evident as you see a new blogger shining through; yet my loyal readers brag on me so much it sometimes feels weird trying to live up to the standard that's evolved.

All in all, I'm just a gal who loves to write and not too long ago realized I must have been born to blog - if only for my own personal gratification!

Like I mentioned earlier in a post titled: Wisdom Gained from 2007 Failures, I made mistakes with this blog in 2007. That was to be expected. When we're new at something, we have to learn through trial and error and we become better and better in time, right? I'm just thankful for my loyal readers who have stayed with me through the ups and downs and are giving me time to learn and who are helping me build a comfortable community here. (Thanks everyone!)

Now, for the tips.

1. Treat your blog like you live there. That's right. Would you invite a guest to your home and not offer them a cool drink on a hot day? Would you plan a Christmas party and not prepare or buy snacks or a meal for your friends to feast on? Imagine a familiar ole pal stopping by to visit you and you don't even ask them to come in, or even if you do invite them in you make them stand around feeling awkward. Remember how nice it is to wear your favorite pair of comfy shoes, or lean back in your favorite chair, or curl up with your favorite pillow? That's how you want your readers to feel - at home!

To be a good host(ess) you simply must find your manners! Invite your readers in with your friendly words. Offer them refreshments by delivering fresh, creative content. Make them want to kick off their shoes and stay awhile by asking questions at the end of your post to stir up conversation and bring your blog to life! Dazzle them with your cyber smile! In other words, have a genuine personality and don't hide it!

2. Reply to comments. In keeping with tip number one, reply to comments. Once you invite your reader to comment by providing a friendly post, follow up and respond. Perhaps they asked a question, or maybe they just complimented your writing style. Respect the fact that they took time out of their own busy day to reach out and let you know they "got" your message, or that they appreciated your wit. Even better, after you reply to them visit their blog and actually read a post (or more) and leave a thought-provoking comment for them. You'll be glad you did!

3. Polish your post. Okay, I know I'm far from grammar perfect - although I try to improve daily. Sometimes I republish a post once or twice because I notice I repeated myself or forgot to punctuate a sentence. It hurts me when I see the letter i as I just typed it. Even if we don't all have English degrees, we can capitalize the letter I. It's just that easy. There's nothing complicated about it. And it looks so much better. :-) Maybe you notice if you made certain points stand out by making those sentences bold, your message would be easier to read. Go back in and make those sentences bold. Write, rewrite, edit, polish your post!

4. Forgive your failures. No one is perfect. We all misspell words at one time or another. Most of us (pointing finger at myself) could improve on the grammar skills. There are books we can studyto help us. There are times that life's circumstances keeps us away from the computer and we can't blog or respond to comments. It's not the end of the world. Okay, so maybe those aren't really failures but sometimes we feel like they are, don't we?

And don't worry if you don't understand html, widgets, or how to link to another blog. There are books to teach usthose things too!

5. Enjoy blogging and networking for what it is. Have fun, be creative, sit back in your chair and relax! Be proud of yourself for even figuring out how to create a blog, publish your posts, and for being able to comment - especially when you have to dance around all sorts of things just to get to the point of being able to type in a comment. Blogging is fun. It's a great learning experience - a tool you can use to enhance your computer skills, your writing skills, and to meet new people. And if you want, you can even take it to higher levels and become a problogger like Darren Rowse. That would be the ultimate accomplishment in the blogosphere!

A few awesome bloggers I feel have successful blogs and will share great blogging tips are:

Rebecca Laffar-Smith, at Writer's Round-About. She is an extremely talented writer, blogger, and she even knows html and has programming skills!

Katharine Swan, at Swan's Blog, who writes and blogs with passion and shares her wisdom in a friendly, yet professional voice.

Melissa Donovan, at Writing FORWARD. Melissa's blogging skills are impressive and I'm sure she has some great tips to share with us.

Jeanne Dininni, at Writer's Notes, who has a nack for maintaining an informative, inspiring, and friendly blog.

Anyone who wasn't tagged either 1) is someone I've tagged recently or 2) someone I felt was too busy or wouldn't be interested in participating.

I hope you can take these tips I humbly presented and successfully blog the cyber highway!