Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thinking about blogging

I've been playing around a little bit with the design of this blog and the V-formation blog; nothing drastic, but a slight change of color and style.  Lately I've been thinking about blogs and blogging and decided to share a few thoughts with you.

Blogs seem to come and go. Most begin as a means of interacting with a specific group such as family, followers, those who share a particular interest, or as a means of promoting sales or a certain ideology. Some have taken the place of telephone calls, some are an outlet for frustrated writers, and some merely form a linking bond to keep a specific group together and informed. Some are a means of sharing information with those who are just learning a specific field. There are two types of blogs; those open only to a small closed group and some which are open to anyone who wants to read them.

Many writers have latched onto the blog concept to stay in touch with their fans, to network with other writers, and as a means to share ideas and concepts with like-minded readers. Some blogs are owned and written by a single individual, some belong to a small group and each blogs when the mood strikes or they have something to share, and others are shared by a group with a set calendar for when each member should blog. Blogs reduce the time spent answering individual letters, provide a means of announcing new releases and other industry news simultaneously to many people. A blog also provides a means of getting feedback on ideas and viewpoints in a more personal way than through the larger social networks such as Facebook. Writers also use blogs to maintain their presence before their readers between releases. And not to be overlooked, there are blogs which are written simply to entertain and in some cases the writer actually makes money from the ads attached to the blog.

Most bloggers worry about increasing their readership unless their blog is a closed/by invitation only blog as many family blogs are. A favorite means of increasing readership and encouraging comments is to sponsor a contest. Some bloggers work out a complicated formula for blog contests and others simply have a drawing. Prizes for most writing blogs are books, but some give away gift cards or some item related to the blog. Others use their blogs and build their readership by reviewing what others write, by imparting news, or providing a service to their readers.

I read a limited number of blogs. Some are blogs of a family nature or of close friends. Others keep me informed of the changes and direction of the publishing industry. Many help me stay abreast of the careers of other writers. Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the blogs I follow is the helpful information I glean concerning writing and publishing. On my own blog I love the opportunity to feel like I have a real relationship with the people who read my books. I love hearing what others think and the ideas they share not only about my books, but about life in general.

Almost every blogger I know reaches a plateau where it's hard to think of something original to blog about. This burn out spells the doom of many blogs. Personal circumstances change and committing one's self to a regular blogging schedule often becomes unworkable. The instant interaction of social networks lures both bloggers and readers away as well. Some bloggers take on different interests and are no longer a good fit on shared blogs. Many blogs taper off, then just quietly disappear.

One of the most read and loved group blogs bid their followers farewell last week. Six LDS Writers and a Frog appealed to many people, especially writers because of the diverse group of individuals who blogged about various aspects of writing and personal happenings as they related to their writing and because the members of this group are particularly gifted writers. This group will be missed, but most of the writers have started personal blogs (most of their personal blogs can be accessed from the sidebar of this blog if you missed their farewells where they posted their blog adresses).

A few years ago I had no idea what a blog was. I guest blogged for Kerry Blair on the frog blog a few times, then started my own blog. Shortly after, I joined with a group of friends to form the V-formation. I've discovered that sometimes blogging is a chore, sometimes it's a great way to express a viewpoint in a shorter format than a book or magazine article, and it's a great way to stay in touch with the many great friends I've made and continue to meet through my writing. It's also provides a great opportunity to learn more about other writers, other view points, and sometimes to be delighted by another person's clever words, to encourage someone who is at the beginning of his/her writing career---and reading blogs is a marvelous way to put off doing something I really should be doing like working on my WIP.

One more week to enter to win a Wish List book.


Lisa said...

I agree with the transition of blogs. I initially blogged to provide a medium where my photography clients could review their pictures and share them with family and then I have branched out into my other life interests. Currently my focus is relating my humanitarian opportunity aboard the USNS Comfort. I'm wondering if it's time to change the blog to a more generic name, other than one with "fotoz" in the title. I love following your blog and connecting with other writers. Thank you.

Stephanie Black said...

Jennie, thank you for your kind words about Six LDS Writers. It was sad to see the Frog Blog end, and it was a great thing to be part of.

Primarymary said...

I initially started out as a "blog stalker". I would read the blogs of the parents of my Nursery kids, to see what fun things they did during the week. That gave me specific things I could talk to each child about.
Then I expanded to stalking the blogs of family, friends and favorite authors.
I was never going to be a blogger, but somehow I ended up starting 2 blogs. One for random stuff and family parties and one for book reviews.

Scotty & Emily said...

Our blog rarely has a dull moment since I write the things the kids say. I'm sure that time will end!! I love blogging, and I love going back through the years I've blogged (since Scotty was less than a year old, so five years) and remembering the little things I recorded.

I know my blog has morphed dramatically, from being told from my baby's point of view, to being a kind of journal about our days, to now, I put in conversations, things the kids say that make me laugh (and things they say that make me mad, too!) I've morphed along with my blog. I'm less worried about who is reading it, and more pleased with the time I have to write, to record, and to remember.

I loved the thoughtful things you had to say. :)

Danielle Thorne said...

What a nice blog! It's great to connect with other authors. I tried to follow but the window wouldn't come up. I'll try again soon!

taylorfamily83316 said...

Jennie~ I also see and experience a plateau in my blogging, and can relate that to life also. That occurs to me in projects I am trying to complete, like now, I gave myself the task of making homemade Christmas gifts for family and friends for this year, and have to get started. I know that there will be that plateau coming, so I have started early, but will still find myself rushing to get things done as the holiday approaches. Sadly, I also have hit that plateau while reading my scriptures. A couple of times over the years actually, as many do, I begin again when I cannot find my place, and like many others know the first scripture in 1 Nephi Chapter 1 very well. To combat this plateau, I find myself, giving myself a few days to step away from my task or project and taking a breather, then I can come back to that task with a renewal and a refreshed outlook. That is just what works for me, so I thought that I would share. Thank you.

Mindi said...

I enjoy reading a variety of blogs for various reasons. I am glad there are blogs out there - each one that I read helps me in some way!

Jennie said...

I appreciate the thoughts you shared on blogs. Sometimes it is hard to be creative and original, but it's always good to know those efforts are appreciated--or at least read.