Monday, March 10, 2014

A Question for My Blog Friends

Later this week I will be teaching a class on beginning blogging at the Timpanagos Storytelling Conference. And I thought, "Why not ask my blogging friends why they blog?"

So here are my questions, and I hope you will have time to respond. There are also questions for those of you who may not blog yourselves, but who read blogs.

So first, I'd like to know: what is your blog about? Why do you write on a blog? Do you find it difficult to keep up with? How often do you post? Who reads your writings?

And for non-blogging friends: why do you read blogs? What do you think is the best thing about blogs?

Please leave your answers in the comments section, and thank you in advance for anything you might want to say about blogs and blogging.

Your input will inform my workshop; we'll be visiting this post during our workshop, so you may find a few new readers coming your way this weekend).



Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

17 comments:

Michelle said...

Initially I started blogging as a way to share photographs with my parents and some friends. But, now it has become more like a family journal that I hope my children will share with their children some day. A way to show what our life was like on our small farm.

I enjoy learning about people from all over the world, through blogging. People from all over comment/read my blog and will often e-mail me with other comments or questions about my small farm or photography. I post four times per week. I rarely ever watch television, so blogging is my late evening activity.

I hope this helps!

Jenny said...

I'm not a blogger - just a reader but I read a lot of blogs. I read blogs for entertainment, to learn, to find new ideas, for fun, to understand others' viewpoints & to make connections with people around the world.

Angela said...

Before I started blogging I was looking at a lot of different blogs with corgi's. That was before I got my own corgi. I really enjoyed reading the different stories and seeing pictures of the corgis. I started looking at other blogs that the corgi blogs were following. From there I decided I could do this. To me it is a good way to document things in my life and my family's life. (I like the idea that if for some reason I loose any of my pictures I can always go to my blog to see them!) My blog is about the different Treasures in my life which is why I named my blog West Virginia Treasures. I mostly blog about the different things that we do and see in West Virginia, the crazy weather we have, the beautiful scenery, animals and our travels outside of West Virginia. I don't blog as often as I used to. Mostly because of time and things going on in my life. If I don't have time to visit other blogs I don't want to post and not be able to visit their blogs. I hope to get back to where I blog more often. I really enjoy it and I enjoy seeing the different things that other people blog about. I will have to say that you will make some very good friends from blogging. I have blogging friends that I have never met in person who are more like family to me.

Mark Goldman said...

Hello Susanna & Students!
Here is my (somewhat lengthy) response to your questions, but first, a disclaimer:
I do blog, but I also write a newsletter every week. I am not sure if the newsletter could be categorized as “blogging”, but perhaps it is “close”. So here’s my story and your questions (in reverse order).
Who reads my writings?
Approximately 60-100 people each week. This is based on Google Analytics. It’s less than many other writers (like Granny Sue) but acceptable for me at this time. Most log onto the page on Monday when it is posted. Others trail along during the remainder of the week. Mostly, they are storytellers or students of storytelling. Most are from Arizona, as the newsletter focuses on the events in Phoenix and Tucson. But each week there are also “tips” and “tidbits” about storytelling that are read by people across the country (and a few from Europe). I also have a few non-storyteller friends/colleagues who find the tips useful in other areas (i.e., lawyers, teachers).
How often do I post?
I have been writing a weekly newsletter for almost two years now. My latest post was #98. I also have a traditional “blog” that I use for longer posts about my trips to England, storytelling in general, and storytelling with a class of fifth and sixth graders. I tried to post about the elementary school every week, but that frequency has diminished to about once a month or every two months, depending on whether I feel there is something noteworthy to say.
Do I find it difficult to keep up with?
EXTREMELY! I often wonder in the middle of the week, “What will I write about? Why do I force myself to do this every week?” Sometimes, I can write on Sunday, but I am a procrastinator and usually wait until early Monday, and then work under pressure. I always seem to get it done, but I always fret.
Why do I write?
Ah…the $64,000 Question (that reference may be lost to most of the younger students).
I write because I believe I have something to contribute to the storytelling and teaching community. Perhaps that is the same reason I teach. When teaching, I love it when a student gets that, “ah-ha” moment. I feel the same way when someone responds to my writing with (most often) an agreement. When a reader responds: “Yes, I have been doing that for years.”; or, “I never thought of it that way. I will try it.” I am ecstatic. It makes me feel like I have “hit the bull’s-eye!” I also like it when a reader challenges me to defend my position. It means I have touched a nerve. I also believe that I am a good writer. I think this is an important part of writing and/or blogging.
Another purpose in my writing was to “get my name out” to the storytelling community. I believe I have accomplished that. I get responses from all over the world. When I attend our annual conference, many people already know me just from reading the newsletter or the actual blog posts.
I originally thought I would have to come up with 100 “tips” before I could start writing. It’s actually the reverse. I write my tips based on things that I have done or observed in the previous week(s) that inspire me. Now that I have close to 100, I am compiling them into a book.
I hope this has helped, or at least inspired some secondary and/or tertiary questions. If so, I am open. Thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion!

Steve Ferendo said...

I blog to share my passion about nature and to encourage others to experience it, either in person or through my blog.
I try to post at least once each week. Yes, sometimes it can be hard to find something new to post.
I have had visitors from 114 different countries which truly amazes and encourages me.

I read blogs to learn from the experiences and perspectives of others. I enjoy blogs about history and things gone by. I know that in the not too distant future I will be among them.

Country Whispers said...

I enjoy blogging! I learn from fellow bloggers. We used to go to the library for everything that we would ever want to know. Now we have a "library" at the tips of our fingers. I also love the fact that my blog creates a photo timeline of our life. An online scrapbook of sorts.
I post when I feel like it. If you make yourself post each and every day then it kind of takes the fun out of it. For me it is a pleasure ...not another task.
I have learned so much from blogging (recipes, gardening, crafting and so forth) and have met some wonderful people along the way.

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

What is your blog about?

When I first started writing it seems to me it was mostly show and very little tell. As I learned I worked on taking sharper photos, worked on content and presentation and finally settled in to writing about what I do (I am a reseller in an Antiques Mall, I am a proud Grandma, I am an artist and a business woman as well as a sister, mother, wife). So now my blog is about projects, thrifted finds, personal collectibles, a bit of gardening, a bit of visiting, writing and photography, some tutorials and sharing on a blog. I am much more comfortable with my blog then I was when I started in 2009. Blogging is also about learning. New skills. Exploration. Seeing things differently. Growing as a person.

Why do you write on a blog?
It is like a journal with lots of photos. I am very careful about sharing private information. I don't reply to emails from people I haven't commented with or received comments from and then only after a friendly blogger relationship has grown.

Do you find it difficult to keep up with?
One year I wrote once a day for a year just to see if I could. I scaled back to one post a week and then raised it to two posts a week. Sometimes I don't have anything much to say so I might post a few pictures and a bit of text, I don't force a false post, I don't copy other bloggers work, I keep myself and my blog honest. My pictures, my words, my work. (watermarking your photos is a good idea too).

How often do you post?
Twice a week currently. I publish at the same time each post (7 a.m.) and stick to my Monday and Thursday posting days. At then end of each post I write when I will next post. Occasionally I will write an extra post if something just shouts to be shared. I find that I am currently writing in patterns; once a month: Thrifted Finds, Embrace the Eclectic, four times a month on Projects (this is my goal for the year, may or may not happen as planned), 2 times a month sharing finds that are related (this month is is cameras, rotary phones). My post plans change frequently when something interesting occurs or I get ambitious and get an unplanned project finished. I am very flexible in content within my areas of expertise.

I do link up with Linky Parites that match my type of posting. This is, for me, a good way to let others know my blog exists and a good way to meet new bloggers. I am on Pinterest, Google+, Hometalk and Bloglovin as part of my blogging time.

Who reads your writings?
My blogging friends (Suzanne is one of them and I admire her writing, her kindness and her absolutely fascinating finds that she resells in her booths. I love seeing her photo updates. This is true of so many fellow bloggers. I know several bloggers who are also resellers. There are so many blogging friends who are kindness personified, Brenda, Judy and Claudia and Donna, Ed, Kathy, Rob, Gail, Denise, Kathe, Sally, Linda, LaVoice, Lorraine, Colleen, Donna, Jilda (prayers for Jilda), Rick and so many more. Blogging friends. I know that about 200 people a day check out my blog based on my stats. We get to be first name friends. As I wrote earlier, I don't share personal information but I do share the heartfelt love from so many wonderful bloggers and we pray, send good thoughts, mourn, celebrate and live our blogging lives with respect.

The people who read my blogs seem to range in age from 30 to 90's.

Joy

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Another question might be:

What blogs do you read the most?
I read blogs on frugal living (huge number of wonderful, thoughtful bloggers), decorating (more like 'how to make', 'how to ... type of posts, bloggers who have booths in antique malls, etsy shops...

My favorites at this time (and have been since I began blogging are Pioneer Woman, Miss Mustard Seed, Funky Junk Interiors, Young House Love, Mockingbird Hill, Cozy Little House, Granny Sue (these were my first blogs that I read, loved and read every post they write). I read about 100-200 posts a day and comment on about 25 a day - more if I have time, spread throughout the day so I can get on with normal life tasks (cleaning, working on my business stuff, Grandma stuff, cooking, laundry, etc).

As I blogger I have had to learn to NOT steal time from my daily life although it is very tempting.

Joy

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I started blogging because I read your blog! I found it gave me a better idea of what living in your part of the world was like. That's pretty much why I still read blogs from around the world. I blog because I like to show people around my neck of the woods. I also enjoy taking photos and there's not much point in doing that if you don't show somebody the results. The great joy of blogs is that you never know what's coming next, either as you flick from one blog to another or as you follow one particular writer. Even more remarkable perhaps I never really know what I'm going to write about next! The blog makes me get out and visit all those places I've always meant to revisit or even see for the first time. I'm amazed at the standard of both the writing and photography on many blogs.
That's all a bit garbled, Sue, but I hope you can find some sense in there. Enjoy your workshop.

Granny Sue said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. Interestingly, no one has said yet that they blog as a way to promote their business, for publicity or other business uses. I started this blog to make myself write, and to have an online journal, but also to have a way to introduce storytelling to people who might not be familiar with the art. I have met several of you along the storytelling trail since then, and others have attended their first storytelling events after becoming a reader here, so that goal is being met, I think.

But I also wanted to share the richness of life in these West Virginia hills, to combat some of the stereotypes often associated with Appalachian dwellers. So often we see only what the media wants us to see--I wanted people to know there is much more to life here.

A benefit I did not expect was meeting so many good people! Some I've met in person, some are still online friends that I hope to meet one day. You have added another network to my life, one that I enjoy very much. I learned about how to start and maintain an antiques mall booth from Joy, recipes from Jessica, and England's byways from my cousin John (actually, I got to know my cousin through this blog!). I've learned about birds and wildlife from Steve, Appalachian ways from Tipper and Appalachian history from Dave. Angela keeps me up on her part of the state, and Michelle shares the beauty of her corner of Tennessee. Ellouise has given us the privilege of glimpsing her life as both an artist and a woman working her way through grief. Mark shares storytelling information in a lively, interesting way, and Jenny reads and comments and makes me want to visit her in Missouri. There are so many others I've met here that have added pleasure and knowledge to my life, and I thank you all.

storytellermary said...

I started my Wordpress blog as a replacement for my web site when Apple stopped MobileMe. A friend helped with instructions on how to create a stable home page. With the blog format, I have found myself reminded to do new pages, about conferences, or sharing some of my dad's stories, or reports on the wild critters around my house.

Mac n' Janet said...

My blog is like my diary where I record the things going on in my life, the books I read, the movies I've seen and our travels. Through blogging I've met others who share my interests and have even gotten a chance to meet a fellow blogger in person.
And sometimes I need a place to just RANT!
So that's why I blog.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I have several blogs - all for different purposes. My first blog was a quilt blog http://piecefulquillting.blogspot.com/ - and it was started because I wanted to share with my quilting friends, literally around the world.

As I came to the close of my quilting time, I began to concentrate on my photography and started my second blog - http://scenethroughmyeyes.blogspot.com/ - this is, naturally about my photography, which is mainly centered on nature, but I also blog about daily life, grandsons and other thoughts that pop into my head. I started this blog because I wanted to get feedback on my photography - and perhaps some good pointers. There are lots of memes out there in blogland and they help me concentrate on specific subjects or a new process.

I've written a book about my adventures in Alaska as a young girl, before Alaska became a state - and my third blog
http://walkingtoalaska.blogspot.com
which is a marketing tool. It is also a place where I share photos now and then of readers from around the world, the pictures have the person who read my book, holding a copy of the book - that is an exciting feature for me. My book is self published - through Amazon - so I need to concentrate on marketing - and this blog is one of the tools I use.

And my fourth blog is
http://outandaboutagain.blogspot.com/ , just for fun. It is about a teddy bear, a frog and a rag doll that I made - and the adventures they have when they travel with us. Two of them will be going to West Virginia with us next month, so expect new adventures.

I blog fairly regularly, and find that if there are long lapses between posts you really lose your readers, so I am trying to post every few days on my Alaska book blog - and at least three times a week on my photography blog. I'm no longer posting on the quilt blog as I'm not quilting anymore, except for some hand quilting of tops I have finished - I'll post about them later but I'm sure by the time that I've posted that most of my readers will have diverted their attention elsewhere.

It really amazes me how fast a lot of readers lose interest when you don't post every few days.

The adventure blog with the bear, frog and ragdoll gets the least attention from me, and thus has the least readers. It is simply for fun.

Quilters read my quilting blog and of course photographers and nature lovers read Scene Through My Eyes blog - though many of my faithful quilting friends read this blog too.

I find one way to keep interest up in my blogs is to post a link to facebook when I have a new post ready to go - friends and some of their friends will visit my blogs from facebook. I don't make myself blog regularly but do try and keep things moving along several times a week at least.

Another thing I do, when I seem to have a lot to blog about, it do some postdated blogs and they appear on the specific date that I set them for. I like having several ready ahead of the posting date - I feel more relaxed when I do.

I read blogs that are of similar interest to me - I try to read some every day and don't have a really long list on bloglines.com that I follow. If I put a new blog on the list I read it for a few weeks and then if it becomes "preachy" or rude, or just plain uninteresting I simply delete it.

I've found some good internet friends by reading the blogs of people who comment on a blog that I especially like.


Mary Grace said...

The idea for The Fairy Tale Lobby arose when I found myself feeling on several occasions that fairy tales truly get short shrift in our storytelling community, and that, perhaps, they needed an advocate to speak on their behalf. A lobbyist. Someone who could get some buzz going about what neat and interesting morsels could be found inside them. When I discovered that Megan Hicks had noticed the same thing, our blog and an NSN Discussion Group were born. How convenient that "lobby" can mean both "to advocate on behalf of an issue" and "an entrance or gathering area"! We now had a location, a virtual one, from which to begin discussion! And I had a partner in the endeavor! (You probably know that NSN Discussion Groups are loose and very informal. They don't even have a membership list, and they don't even require being a member of NSN to join in the discussion!)

Each month we set a new discussion topic by having some fake person write a silly, often indignant letter seeking advice from syndicated columnist (!) Vasilisa the Wise. Vasilisa has invited her two Simpleton friends to help her, as she's busy cleaning millet seeds or making swans come out of her sleeve and suchlike and simply can't keep up with her mail! (Baba Yaga's house on chicken feet lacks internet connectivity!) Our fake readers have asked for advice on love relationships, loss of heads for failure to accomplish a goal (Honestly! Isn't that t little much!?), non-traditional families, and about 25 months worth of other topics. Several times they have called for further discussion on articles from other people's blogs or a storytelling magazine article appropriate to our topic.

Here's the scenario: On the magical third day of each month, a letter appears at Simplia and Sagacia's door which they pose to their magical friends, namely other storytellers, and receive the responses in the comments section of the blog. A week or so later, a second blog appears, stringing together all or part of the comments into an episode and furthering the discussion. The next month, a new reader in distress seeks advice on a new topic, and we go around again. When we repeat comments, we also link to the commenter's own blog or Web site so that we can all meet each other and connect.

Besides discovering new perspectives on fairy tales, part of the fun for us is creating the little storyline with which to showcase visitor responses each week. We alternate the writing, so I don't even know what wild things Megan will say one week to springboard me into the next episode, and I hope I keep her popping, too!

We post four times a month alternating, so that's two writings each per month. Posts appear basically weekly, though we don't follow a calendar exactly; we just know who's turn it is next. Sometimes it falls at a tougher time for one or the other of us, but I can't say it's a demanding schedule. It has led to other things, too, such as a Fairy Tale Lobby story swap at the National Storytelling Conference for the last couple of years. I am often surprised (such as at the Texas Storytelling Festival this past weekend) at how dearly and personally others speak of Sagacia and Simplia, too, as though they consider them friends and partners in their storytelling lives. What could be more rewarding than that!

Laura Treacy Bentley said...

I slowly built my website in 2008, and it included a blog feature which I named Open Mic. Since I love poetry and write poetry, I decided to generate discussions about writing and featured many poets and their work on my blog.

At first I was very hesitant to have a website since very few poets did at the time. A good friend encouraged me, and I must say it has been labor intensive but a fulfilling experience. At first, I wrote about things that mattered to me and had some fun along the way, too. I posted a few of my poems and photos that I had taken, but not so much anymore.

I later added a feature called "Seven Things You Probably Don't Know About Me" and award-winning novelist Sharyn McCrumb graciously kicked it off! Now that I have recently published my first novel, I did use my blog to post some good news, interviews, and articles about me and my book.

I tried to post more regularly in the early years, but it was too hard to keep writing my own work (poems, novels, and interviews for WV LIVING magazine) and post something every week or so. Now I post new entries about once a month, and it seems to work for me.

I am currently featuring guest bloggers who are writers and teachers who write. All share their thoughts, fears, joys, and timely advice. I recently showcased a high school English teacher, a memoirist, a debut novelist, and a professor/novelist who just received his MFA.

I love the eclectic mix of people and writing topics, and all my guests take questions from my readers, especially aspiring writers! It has been very rewarding. I never dreamed that my website would grow and evolve over the last six years, and it is so exciting to know that people from all over the world visit my site. I hope that I can keep reinventing it and keep my readers returning for more.

David Kurtz said...

I’ve held a succession of part-time jobs in addition to my full-time job that pays the bills. From 1992 to 2000, I was elected to two terms on the Wood County Board of Education, and was elected as President of the West Virginia School Boards Association for 1999-2000. After my school board experience, I picked up another part-time evening job teaching American Government and Constitutional Law classes at West Virginia University – Parkersburg.

Unfortunately, my federal job changed, and I now find myself traveling to Washington, DC on a frequent but unpredictable basis. This traveling has caused me to take a “sabbatical” from this adjunct faculty position. In its stead, I decided to start keeping a blog, and have been fortunate that some of my stories have been selected for publication in magazines. However, please note that this “part-time job” doesn’t come with a salary (although I was paid $150 for one of my stories!).

My blog is a way to share my experiences, as well as my thoughts on a variety of topics, often with a focus on West Virginia. I usually post about 3 or 4 essays a month, but I don’t lock myself into a specific production timetable (there is less stress that way). I only have 15 people who have officially signed up as “Followers” of my blog, but I know that many other people read my stories, either as a result of my postings on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or simply as a result of internet searches for information. Perhaps surprisingly, my story that has the most “hits” (just shy of 1000) is about the time I took the bus from Morgantown to Washington, DC. Obviously, there are a lot of folks (probably WVU students) seeking information about that Megabus route.

Even if no one bothered to read my stories, I would still keep up my blog. I like throwing my stories out there and then hearing from someone in California who liked it, or someone in North Carolina who “pinned” it to their Pinterest board, or someone else who shared a link on a different webpage about my blog.

For me, my blog is also a way to speak to the future. Even if I die, my stories can continue living without me. Someone (a future descendent?) might want to know more about my thoughts, and this is a way to preserve my thoughts and experiences. I see it as a modern form of the diary or journal. Feel free to explore my blog at http://inquisineer.blogspot.com/.

megan hicks said...

You're probably teaching your workshop even as I type. I ask myself this question all the time. I blog with Mary Grace Ketner because it's a way a friendship can be forged half a continent away…and I love the subject matter -- fairy tales. I've learned so much from the people who comment on Fairy Tale Lobby.

My own personal blog -- Life, the Universe and Everything -- that's just my yawp going out into the ether. I have not idea who, if anybody, reads it. It just feels good to put it out there.

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