Wasted Days and Wasted Nights?


A Word From Our Sponsor
A Word From Our Sponsor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, a word from our sponsor (just kidding–it’s only a message from me): If you haven’t already had an opportunity to check out my new Photo Blog, “Canada and Beyond“, please have a look and let me know what you think. Do you like looking at/reading photo blogs? Would you be interested in a spot as a ‘guest contributor’? I’d love to know. Thanks so much.

And Now, Back to our Scheduled Program:

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately; in fact, I’ve been wasting entire days and nights on my computer, browsing and searching for ideas and tips to emulate (a much gentler word, I think, than copy) in my own blogs.

Basically I’ve been searching for ‘best practices’ and ‘reader appeal’, since I would really, really like to write a great blog that appeals to a wide range of readers. Makes sense, right? I imagine that, deep down, all bloggers want the same thing. Otherwise, why bother writing a blog in the first place? Why not just write in a journal?

When I first began my blog in 2009 I jumped into the pool with all my clothes on–boots and everything, without even checking the water depth or temperature first! What a silly idiot I was. (Not like the original idiot, whose blog I follow and chuckle over almost every time I read a new post), but my own modest idiot-self.

My first posts contained quite a few of my favorite recipes that have been passed down to me by my mother, and they also included personal background stories to accompany the recipes–I wanted readers to know why my family ate mom’s pumpkin pie every Christmas morning for breakfast, and why the smell of cinnamon buns fresh from the oven still evokes images of a certain house-keeper we had one summer when mom was recovering from major surgery.

Along with the desire to share mom’s delicious recipes I wanted readers to get to know me by reading my posts. I wanted readers to feel connected to me.

Eventually I began to add other categories to my posts–my warped views of the world we live in, my thoughts and concerns about aging, my overwhelming grief at the death of my husband, my bittersweet joy at my daughter’s engagement. Most (but not all) of my posts contain touches of humor, just because that’s the way I am wired and that’s the way I am inclined to write.

Gradually my blogging world expanded; I now have blogger ‘friends’ that I will most-likely never meet, but I feel that if I ever did have that opportunity we would most likely spend hours in a coffee shop or wine bar and chat as easily as if we’d known each other since kindergarten. (Of course, I could very well be wrong, but unless proven otherwise I’m sticking with that premise–it’s my premise and I can do what I want with it!)

During the past couple of years I’ve learned quite a lot about the art of blogging and about the blogging community. My blog has been fortunate to have been ‘Freshly Pressed’ twice, and that was an awesome thrill! But I still have tons left to absorb and figure out, so that’s why I’ve been scouring web sites and ‘popular’ blogs for help.

What I’ve found during my ‘wasted days and wasted nights’ is that blogs vary immensely–in their depth and scope, in their audience, in the number of comments their posts elicit from readers, in their tone and subject matter. It seems that anything and everything that can be written about is being blogged about. And that’s actually quite wonderful. Something for everyone.

This morning I was considering a topic for my post today, and without actually planning to, ended up writing this. That’s the way I tend to write anyway–I’m never quite sure what I think or what I want to say until I begin, and I am often surprised at how quickly words form on the screen in front of me. Then I edit until I’m fairly certain my words and thoughts will make sense to other people. (Of course, I could very well be wrong, but unless proven otherwise I’m sticking with that premise–it’s my premise and I can do...)

Big Questions
Big Questions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now for the test questions I mentioned at the beginning of this post (just kidding again, I didn’t mention a test–but here it is all the same).  I would truly appreciate your responses to any or all of the questions, because who better to help me in my blogging quest for excellence than my own fellow bloggers! So, thank you in advance. (And no talking to your neighbor during the test.)

  1. Why do you blog? What do you hope to accomplish?
  2. What is the ideal length (word count) of a great blog post?
  3. How often should a blogger post new content–daily, twice a week, weekly?
  4. What subject matter do your favorite blogs cover?
  5. Do you like to see relevant or humorous pictures included in blog posts?
  6. Is one day of the week better than another to post?
  7. Do you read posts only during weekdays or on weekends, or both?
  8. How important is spelling and grammar to you when you’re deciding if you enjoy a blog enough to ‘follow’ it? Would errors make you stop reading and move on to another site?
  9. How often do you comment on blogs? What triggers make you decide to spend the time to comment?
  10. How much time do you devote to your own blog?
  11. How much time do you devote to reading other blogs?
  12. (Optional Question for BONUS Points): How many questions in a blog are too many to answer? 🙂

Thanks again for your help, fellow blogger friends. I really appreciate any feedback you have and will compile the answers (or make them up myself if nobody answers at all), and present them in a follow-up post.

Happy Blogging!

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19 thoughts on “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights?

  1. Hi Sylvia… thanks to Tess, you now have another follower… I was looking through your ebooks and I gotta say $.99 ebooks ROCK!!!
    nice to meetcha!!! I may just get a new post out of your questions, I’ll put that on hold for a bit…
    🙂
    janet

    1. Hi BuddhaKat–nice to meet you, too! And I’ll check out your blog-if Tess is a fan then it has to be great! And I’d love for you to sample my ebooks and let me know what you think of them. Hope to see you again soon!

    1. Thanks for mentioning my post! I think there are a ton of us trying to juggle a lot of blog-balls in the air every day. At least it’s nice to know that I’m not alone…

      Sent from my iPad

  2. I loved this. I blog to express myself and I hope that a few other souls will get pleasure from my posts. I don’t think every post has to be a “winner” but if one or two brighten someone’s day or inspire or motivate, then all the better.

  3. Hi Sylvia: Just bumped into your blog today and really enjoyed your posts. Fellow Canadian right? I live in southern Ontario. I just started blogging about 6 months ago, so I’ll follow the answers to your questions with great interest. My BOOMERRANTZ blog is about (boomer rants) – about aging boomers and the issues we face about getting older, downsizing, health and a myriad other things about how I see the world around me. I write a new rant/post about twice a month and the word count varies from 600 to 1000 words depending in the subject. I love reading all kinds of blogs; serious, funny, poetry etc. it doesn’t matter if there are pictures, but the writing has to be good. Looking forward to staying in touch…

    1. Hi Pat–so nice to have you drop by my blog! I look forward to reading yours too! And yes, I’m a fellow Canadian…on the Atlantic Coast…let’s stay in touch, for sure!

  4. I always admire your willingness to flex with the changing tides. You sure aren’t stuck in any ruts. And I love your wisdom seasoned with humor.

    Now, back to your “market research”…

    1. Why do you blog? What do you hope to accomplish? At first I wanted to get my memoir jump-started and to see if anyone would be interested. Now I blog to keep connected to the community of friends and to maintain my reputation as someone at least a few people like to read and think is funny. (Ego.)
    2. What is the ideal length (word count) of a great blog post? Not longer than about 1,000 words. Too much scrolling and I begin to skim-read because I’m still subscribed to many blogs.
    3. How often should a blogger post new content–daily, twice a week, weekly? 2-3 times a week is quite manageable. Daily is pushing it and more than once a day is over-the-top. I know I’ve done that a few times and you have every right to come over here and scold me over a cup of tea!
    4. What subject matter do your favorite blogs cover? Personal accounts with a moral at the end (preferably humorous ones), experiences with writing or publishing, or observations about life/current events. I don’t like ones that are just accounts of “what I did today/how I feel today/ or why I’m angry today”).
    5. Do you like to see relevant or humorous pictures included in blog posts?
    Is one day of the week better than another to post? Yes. Absolutely! pages of just text–even well written text–on a computer screen need to be broken up visually–at least for me.
    6. Do you read posts only during weekdays or on weekends, or both? Both.
    7. How important is spelling and grammar to you when you’re deciding if you enjoy a blog enough to ‘follow’ it? Would errors make you stop reading and move on to another site? I know I make silly errors no matter how many times I proof what I write, so I’d be a hypocrite to say they turned me off. Glaring mistakes or posts that I feel were thrown together without much effort are ones I will avoid if I see that lack of attention repeatedly.
    8. How often do you comment on blogs? What triggers make you decide to spend the time to comment? I comment on most blogs I read. If it’s a real controversial topic, I might just hit the “like” button or if it is really long and I just skimmed it, I may do the same.
    9. How much time do you devote to your own blog? Not as much as I used to! About 15 hours a week now; probably 40 when I was posting daily.
    10. How much time do you devote to reading other blogs? 25 at least.
    (Optional Question for BONUS Points): How many questions in a blog are too many to answer? 10. I’d go for 5 in one post and 5 in another! 😉

    1. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Lorna…and I love your blog, too. I’ll take all your answers to heart next time I ask readers to take a test…I think you’re right about the 5 and 5….10 really is a lot of questions to answer. (See, I’m not too old to learn!) 🙂

  5. Why do you blog? What do you hope to accomplish? I started out wanting to touch others in a human way but it has turned into a healing journey that appears to touch others in a human way.

    What is the ideal length (word count) of a great blog post? Not sure but shorter is better is the mantra out there. Perhaps no more than 300-500 words.

    How often should a blogger post new content–daily, twice a week, weekly? Probably weekly is fine by subscribers but as a writer, when I cannot sleep, I go blog manic and can post three or more a day. Sorry for any inconvenience to anyone but it’s my coping tool right now.

    What subject matter do your favorite blogs cover? Writing, struggling against life challenges and staying the course, humor, inspiration, motivation, real life stories, daily trials and triumphs of others.

    Do you like to see relevant or humorous pictures included in blog posts? Sometimes. Depends. I can get so lost in the words, the pictures fade away for me anyway.

    Is one day of the week better than another to post? I find weekends slower for readership than weekdays. Most probably have more of a life than I do, lol.

    Do you read posts only during weekdays or on weekends, or both? I read a bit whenever I can, it’s always challenging though because I’ve just spent three hours reading and it’s nearly 5 am. I meant to go to bed at midnight, lol.

    How important is spelling and grammar to you when you’re deciding if you enjoy a blog enough to ‘follow’ it? Would errors make you stop reading and move on to another site? If there were MAJOR speed bump errors to my eye, I would move on. But, if the blogger has good content, the gift of engaging me, I stay and read no matter what.

    How often do you comment on blogs? Daily but not all blogs I subscribe to because I cannot read them all daily.

    What triggers make you decide to spend the time to comment? Something I relate to or something moves me, I feel something.

    How much time do you devote to your own blog? Probably too much. Two to three hours a day on WordPress.com.

    How much time do you devote to reading other blogs? Probably half of my time daily is spent reading.

    (Optional Question for BONUS Points): How many questions in a blog are too many to answer? Not enough. lol. 🙂 I like answering questions that make me think and yours did, Sylvia, awesome. Thank you. You gave me a good think and a new blog post idea 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. 1. I have two blogs, one a health blog, and the other blog is where I just complain…mostly. Some blogs are nice. I don’t think I can accomplish anything that will make the world better, but I enjoy talking to people.
    2. I don’t know…too long and you lose people and they won’t finish. Too short can be good also.
    3. To keep readers, I think you should post something as least once weekly. Although I have gone longer when I have been sick.
    4. I follow lots of blogs written by chronically ill women. Comparing stories really helps, you learn that you are not the only one suffering. Then read a couple blogs like yours Sylvia…funny, sad and real. (I love your blog)
    5. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is…for writing or reading.
    6. I read everyday depending on how I feel…but mostly everyday.
    7. All the time, days don’t matter.
    8. Spelling and grammer don’t really play a part in following a blog. But I do admit that the “their, there, your, your’s grammer mistakes drive me crazy!
    9. I try to comment on almost every post I read. If not, I at least “like” it or make smiley face.
    10. I don’t know…if it’s interesting I’ll answer them all. But generally more than 15 question is little much

    Looks like I missed some…I came up with only 10!

  7. Sylvia, I am certain if I met you, we’d feel like kindred souls. I blog for my own satisfaction, but I do have followers, and so I feel I owe readers frequent posts. My blog is eclectic, usually random thoughts, self-deprecating humor, family news, and especailly writing news. I like reading humor, so I try to be humorous, poignant and real. I spend way too much time reading everyone else’s blogs, don’t always comment, but almost always read the one;s listed on my blog list. People are busy, so I try to not babble (like now). I enjoy your blog!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment here, Linda. I appreciate it…I read your blog often, too, although I don’t always comment. But I certainly do enjoy your writing. And yes, I’m sure we’d be kindred spirits, too.

  8. Thanks, Sylvia. You don’t need to come up with a prize, BUT if you INSIST, Timmy’s is good. Chapters I still have gift certificates for and iTunes I haven’t crossed paths with (yet).

    This is what I mean about #9:
    “There will be people you have immediate rapport with that get picked first when striking a balance.”

  9. Great idea you’re researching:
    1. I started blogging when I moved in with my daughter and her family to keep tabs on the temperature of our new relationship (more on that later)
    2. So many posts are so LONG, I’m having a hard time giving them my full attention. Recenty, I started cutting mine down to around 500 words in the hope that I would get read since so many people read so many each day.
    3. Some people blog numerous times in a day. I die when I see that because I can’t keep up.
    4. Any and all as everyone can pick what they favour at any time.
    5. Any kind of picture the blogger choses is fine with me.
    6. I think being consistant is the name of the game and works best for me regarding times / days. Scheduled activities get done.
    7. If I don’t read some EVERY day, I’m overwhelmed and start hyperventilating (no fib).
    8. My teeth hurt like nails scratching a blackboard when grammar and spelling don’t shine (unless someone is trying and English is their second language).
    9. I like to comments on all IF I can. If someone takes the time to say something, it’s the thoughtful thing to do but not always possible. There will be people you get immediate rapport with that get picked first when striking a balance.
    10. Hard to say how much time devoted to blogging (total). I squeeze out as much as I can.
    11. A little here, a little there and lots of late nights: squeeze, sqeeze and squeeze some more . . . sometimes its overwhelming but there are connections you make that you want to keep and more keep coming every day. Is my glass half-empty or half-full? Time will tell.
    12. More than ONE.

    I can’t believe I answered all of these. I was going to just pick a couple but got carried away. See what I mean? This is important stuff here. I get the feeling people don’t know how much to do or not do so as not to lose friends or fall out of the loop. This should cause the electrical circuits to cause a lot of sparks. Good one, Sylvia. Let the games BE-gin!

    1. WOW! Way to go! You are the very first blogger to respond to my questions! I think I have to come up with a prize to send you…do you like Timmie’s coffee? Chapters.ca? iTunes? Let me know your preference and I’ll see what I can do! I’m serious here, by the way. Really appreciate your comments.

      I hope you’re right about my post generating some buzz…I truly want to know what other bloggers like and what works for them. I’ll let you know the results.

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