Friday, November 30, 2012

Blog Thoughts

I've been trying to reassess my "life" blog here at Fig and Thistle and I think I really need to exam what it is I want this blog to be and how I want to share my life.  To do this I've been mulling over what I enjoy reading in blogs.  What do those blogs have that I immediately go to in my feed reader even when I'm overwhelmed with unread items.  These "kindred spirits" are my inspiration for some blog tidying, sprucing, and planning.  As the new year approaches I find myself eager to find my own "clean, well-lighted place" in all areas of my life. 

Looking to others

The blogs I enjoy have these threads in common

-- an individual voice:  informal, passionate, humorous, creative, strong.  Less formal and stiff
-- variety:  even though some of the blogs I read may be strictly about books or baking or crafts, there is still an essence of variety.  Whether is is mentioning kids or a good recipe, extolling the virtues of a warm cup of coffee, or remarking on odd weather, I want to read it.  I'm one of those weirdos who enjoy hearing about sandwiches... the mundane details of life.  Even if it is a mere sentence or two outside the realm of the blog's "theme" it makes the reading experience more personal.  Basically I wish I could hangout in a coffee shop for a few hours with all the bloggers I enjoy.
-- emotion:  cool reviewing (of books, food, life, etc...) is not for me.  I want knowledge and depth, but also passion. 
-- interaction:  the author comments back or checks out my blog or emails or does a giveaway or something.  It needn't be all the time and it needn't necessarily be with me.  But knowing that a blog author reads comments or writes another post based on response or wants to swap books or whatever deepens that connection.  I'm not reading Suzy's blog, I'm communicating with a friend.
-- pictures:  I like pictures of books, animals, tea, kids, bread... everything.  Make that blog a picture book.  The pictures do not have to be beautifully photographed and edited magazine snapshots... just a visual aid when I plunge into a blog author's world.
-- a system:  even if there isn't a day by day theme, many of the blogs I enjoy have a definite pattern.  For example, ,most blogs I enjoy have a craft up every week or reading notes or a recipe... something wonderful I can count on in addition to all the unexpected wonderment. 

Looking to Myself

I also have some very definite opinions about my own blog:

-- I hate advertising:  I'll write about a brand or a local business if I have something to say.  I will -- however -- not allow random ads on my blog.  That is one reason why I didn't like WordPress.  I don't care to make money off my blog.  If I made even a teeny amount I would feel pressure to make my blog my job.  In the future you may see local ads for shops in my area, but that is it.  I also have no interest in selling "ads" to other bloggers.  Nope.  Even the blogs I enjoy I enjoy via a feedreader so I don't have to look at the crazy bombardment of ads and buttons. 
-- I'm cheap:  I don't need to make money off of my blog because I put $0 into it.  Okay, I'm sure my coffee consumption should be categorized as an expense.  I don't pay for templates or widgets or fancy things.  I also take all of my pictures with my Android.  No money for a fancy camera and kids on the move mean that a quick snapshot is all I can manage. 
-- I hate tagging posts:  I think I'm about to delete my tags and just let folks us the search box.  My problem is that I have too many tags because I have library brain.  I want to correctly label each post and I have trouble just limiting to "baking" or "family."  Hence far too many labels and many of those end up overlapping. 
-- Scheduling:  In order to maintain creativity I need both order and chaos.  When I write a consistent number of posts per week and/or at a specific time during the day I find that I'm able to write "freer."  It is almost as if my brain goes into scheduled blog mode.  I also like to have a rough idea of what I want to write about so I have time to mull things over.
-- Flexibility:  Because I have a family and a full time job, I need to be flexible and by flexible I mean realistic.  I will not be able to post seven days a week.  Sometimes I need to take time off when things are hectic.  I need to let blogging be a hobby and an outlet and not just another responsibility. 

The Result

I plan on implementing some blog changes through the month of December with the end result being a spiffier looking blog by January.  I can share a few of my plans right now:

-- changing the layout and look a wee bit
-- eliminating tags
-- embracing variety and structure by having a set time for blogging and a loose blog schedule.
-- get better at commenting and engaging
-- become a more active participant in the blog events
-- upload most of my pictures on my phone so I can easily access them in posts
-- do more themed weeks.  Charles Dickens month was popular as was Introvert week.  Not only were they popular, but I really had a great time exploring the topics and actually felt more connected to readers. 

If anyone has tips, recommendations, or feedback about how you manage your blog or feedback on what you like to see here, drop me a line!


Heather said...

Well, I for one, can't wait to see what you do. I often feel this way. Isn't it amazing after all these years, to still (kind of) feel like you need to find your voice? I do!

Jennifer Hartling said...

I'm just sneaking around your blog reading some stuff and this post spoke to me. I found myself nodding along while I read it :)