Dear friend and now new blogger,
So you’ve decided to blog. Congratulations! I have to say I find the experience quite rewarding! It’s just a great place to be reflective, entertain, to wonder, rant, express joy–to all around show your passion to the world.
You’ve asked for some constructive criticism so I’ll do my best.
The site itself
Your blog is very much like a garden. You have to take care of it. That means keeping it fresh, and on an infrequent basis, weeding. Your sidebar is a place to store widgets and more, and they speak to your personality, beliefs, passions, likes, dislikes, and more as much as the “you” in person does. It should also be representative of you and your readers. So periodically comb through that information and rake out links and widgets that are dated, dead (yeah, surprise, bloggers will eventually abandon their site), or no longer in alignment with your passion. (I probably need to take care of that tonight on my own.) Don’t be bashful. Change your theme daily until you find one that works for you!! It’s your space so you should play dress-up until you are happy with the look and feel.
Wordiness is a significant problem I have, and I can see you might have it too. I don’t apologize for being wordy, and you shouldn’t either. But I have had friends tell me they start a post of mine, and after seeing how long it is, decide to return later to digest that mammoth amount I have put there–that it is just too much for quick reading. Many of my devoted readers read from a service (like Netvibes, Feedly, etc.) Those services work great for the short posts, but not so much for linger ones. If it requires a reader to scroll, there’s a chance they’ll never read it completely at all. Only your most loyal readers will patiently scroll on to read in full. The impatient ones will will mark it to come back to or read later, and then that’s a big IF they decide to come back. Dangerous ground and risky business. Better hope you have devoted readers who are loyal.
Since I know I’m wordy, I tend to chunk mine, and use subheadings. I took that suggestion from guru blogger Sue Waters. Sue is one of the primary bloggers over at The Edublogger
(http://theedublogger.com/) and this is a worthwhile blog to subscribe to, read, and follow–and while you are at it, follow her (@suewaters
) on Twitter too. She’s awesome and full of great blogging advice for the educator and for the educator wanting to blog with students.
I would also suggest adding visual interest to your posts with some pictures. Best case, use your own. But if you don’t have a picture to match your post topic, head on over to places that offer creative commons licensed content. I don’t always do it, but we should aslo provide an attribution to give credit to the picture source. We are librarians and therefore we should be modeling ethical use and respect the property of others. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a formal one. That is why original artwork is usually best. Pictures are not the only way to add flash and pizazz, you can get that with embeddable content too (youtubes, slideshows, etc.) Start noticing shared content that offers an embed code. Blogs are the ideal playground to learn about embedding.
Don’t assume your readers are aware f everything. Hyperlink anything that has additional content elsewhere. Hyperlink to content and PEOPLE. My own blog received a nice ping today because you linked to it. THANKS. Not only did my blog tell me, but it drove your readers over to my blog. Smiles.
The Comments Feature
Moderation is Key
I noted today that you are running comments as moderated. I think that is safest, especially in the k12 arena. You can try out unmoderated. I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I am STILL keeping it moderated. This is one of the ways to keep spam off my blog. There are other ways too in the dashboard.
Spammers are savvy these days, and they will find a way to get onto your comment page. Beware. Notice URLs for those that leave comments. Often times spammers simply try to get visitors by commenting on blogs. If their site seems fishy or not in alignment with your post or reason for being a blogger, mark them as spam. Just be vigilant and check each one out. It’s okay to go back and “unapprove” a previously approved comment. Eventually you’ll get a feel for the spammy ones.
Commenters often want to extend the conversation around the topic of your post. Don’t be afraid to interact with them there in your own comments. Sometimes you will get push back on ideas. Don’t take it personally. Just agree to disagree.
I’ve tried to pattern myself after Doug Johnson
and his handling of vistors who comment on his blog. He ALWAYS eventually will email a personal note of thanks along with a response or reaction, and post that same sentiment on his blog in his comments. It’s nice to be acknowledged, and visitors appreciate knowing their thoughts were valued by you as the post author.
If a response to a comment becomes very long, consider it as a new post. Sometimes that happens.
Lack of comments
Don’t get discouraged or take it personally if no one comments. It doesn’t really mean people aren’t reading. Many just lurk long before they are ever ready to comment–it’s just so public! It takes a lot of nerve to jump in with a comment. Remember how nerve-racking it was the first time you decided to publicly comment on a post out there? Different posts will generate different interest. I always tell myself many posts were written for my own reflection. No comments is okay. Some posts just get more attention than others. I’ve also discovered the way to get comments is to comment on others’ blogposts. Often they return the favor or direct their readers over to your posts.
Construction Criticism Done
Now that I’ve exploded with wordiness….
Okay that’s all I can think of tonight. I hope you find this more helpful than critical. And just as I suggested to you, since I knew this was too long for a comment, I decided to make it my own blog post. So GLAD to see you join the blogosphere. I can’t wait to learn from you.
Image: ‘Rosie the Blogger’
Found on flickrcc.net
Image: ‘Thank You’
Found on flickrcc.net