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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Boost Your Blog: The Journey Begins

As I was writing yesterday's post on Myths about Blogging, I realized had a lot more to share on the topic than I could ever fit into one post.  I do not pretend to be a master blogger, after all, this blog has only recently come into it's own and I'm still learning new things every day.  I have, however, picked up a couple of tips and techniques (often learning them the hard way... through trial and error).

Enter my new project: Boost Your Blog.  Over the next few days (or maybe weeks) I'll be doing a series of posts on all things blog-related.  I might throw some twitter in there for good measure too.  My goal is to share with you some tips that have served me well with iggi&gabi.  I figure, if I can help just one person avoid the pitfalls I ran into, then this project will have been worth it.

The journey begins with a little history about how iggi&gabi came to be.
I was really late on the blogging scene.  Like, years and years late.  I remember when blogging first started, my friends would say "hey, check out my blog" and I'd say "your what?"  The idea of keeping an online journal that the whole world could see just didn't do it for me.  (I mean, you're talking to a girl who still keeps a pen-and-paper journal to this day, and whose hubby is under strict instructions to burn all her notebooks in the event of her death.)

It was only when I discovered the wonderful world of knitting blogs that it all started making sense to me.  At first, I read blogs to learn about knitting techniques.  (How do you block a lace shawl?  How do you knit cables without the cable needle?  Etc.)  Eventually, I grew to like certain blogs because of each blogger's voice, and I started reading for entertainment as well as information.

At one point, I even tried my hand at a knitting blog but I quickly realized that I couldn't knit fast enough to keep up with a daily (or even weekly) posting schedule.  My posts began humming to the tune of: "still workin' on that sweater..." ad infinitum. Thankfully, that blog died a quick, merciful death.

Around that same time, I decided to start a blog on writing (because one blog just wasn't enough).  I had no idea what to write about so I just did writing exercises.  Online.  For everyone to see.  I later discovered that there's a reason writers don't publish their exercises: because they're usually awful.  The whole thing was an embarrassment.  Thankfully no one read it.

After two failed blog attempts, I swore off blogging altogether.  Then the MFA came along and tons of my classmates had blogs and I really, really, really wanted to be one of the cool kids, so I caved and started yet another one.  This time, things worked out better.  I even got a few comments too!  For a while I was flying high, but two problems lurked in the shadows:
  1. My blogging schedule was very erratic ("feast or famine" as my hubby calls it).
  2. The blog itself lacked focus.  I didn't have a thread or concept to hang my hat on and I just picked topics willy-nilly.
One morning in April, I woke up early with an itch in my fingers.  I grabbed a pen and started doodling and this little guy is what came out on the page:

iggi inspired me to reboot the blog as iggi&gabi and that's when everything started taking shape.  Suddenly, I knew what the blog was about and, more importantly, what I was about as a blogger.  Through the iggi persona I could try out ideas and take risks that I would never have attempted on my own.  I'm like the kid who blames her imaginary friend for breaking the cookie jar.  Having a partner in crime (even though he's just lines on a page) gave me the confidence I was missing in order to navigate the blogsphere.  iggi is the heart and soul of this blog.

What about you?  How did you find yourself on this blogging journey?

7 comments:

Genie of the Shell said...

That's quite a journey you've had! I like iggi&gabi because it's a good source of information and inspiration about writing. Blogs don't have to be personal journals. They can also be resources for sharing practical information.

My blog is a little of both. I started it as a resource for "starving artists" or young, low income people to live fabulous and fulfilling lives before (or without ever) "making it" financially. I added related anecdotes and photos from my personal life to illustrate the topics. Later, my blog took more of a focus on writing. And now, the blog has returned to a combination of writing topics and lifestyle topics for writers and other creative people on their journeys to "success."

Plus photos of my pregnant belly, because my first pregnancy is too exciting not to share. :)

I don't have a huge readership, but I'm having fun and always have something new to post.

http://magicnutshell.blogspot.com/

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I started on a whim--and only because I kept reading that writers should have blogs. For the first couple months I had no idea what I was doing, and my 8 little followers (all family and friends) proved it.

Then somehow I figured it out and it just spiraled out of control from there. Still wish I could do even better with my blog, and I'm always trying to do more. But there just aren't enough hours in the day. Le sigh.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Like Shannon, I'd heard it was wise for writers to blog. I am pretty computer illiterate, so I read a book on blogging and asked my best friend, who runs three amazing blogs, for some advice.

I've really enjoyed the process and the people I've met along the way.

Kerryn Angell said...

Starting my blog was a spontaneous decision made the in midst of NaNoWriMo crazy but I did have some direction. I had been a follower of Holly Lisle's blog for a long time and that's the direction I took my blog. It's all about my writing journey. It can get as detailed as daily progress updates on editing or as philosophical as how live a creative life.

Ghenet said...

I started blogging before I knew it was a good thing for writers to do. I had a blog in college, where I posted funny or interesting things that happened to me and though only a few people read it, it was a great outlet. Then when I started the MFA program, I realized I wanted to write about my experiences so I started ALL ABOUT THEM WORDS. Now that the MFA is over, I want my blog to be a space to write about my journey as a writer, things I've learned along the way, and of course, my love for the written word!

J.A. Pak said...

I love blogs because they let me write about whatever I want. For instance, I have a TV blog, a L.A. blog, a cooking blog, an experimental writing blog and my Serious Writer blog. Sort of like having several private label magazines!

Madeleine said...

Yes that is some journey/learning curve. I started blogging after reading about them in writing mags and seeing Julie and Julia.

I had spent time on writing forums that had left me feeling vulnerable and so I was rather expecting my blog to be unrewarding,too, but instead I found a lovely group of people and a chance to dip my toes into several genres of writing I might never have considered and like you experiment,explore and just have fun! I suppose a blog needs to have a foucs like a website but those that do really well seem to be about the people themselves more than the subject :O)

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