Blogging Lessons from a Match up

by Meryl K Evans | Category: Blogging, Business, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech, Writing 6 comments

I survived my first Writing Blog March Madness match up. However, it was no easy win so advancing rounds will be nail-biters. As if the first one wasn’t.

Community: The weakest spot in this blog is the lack of community. John‘s right about that and it has puzzled me. For a while, I tried posing open-ended questions to invite comments. That didn’t work. I stopped because the blog entries looked pitiful having a question with no comments.

Gaming: I was relieved that John realized the gaming section was separated out. I worried he’d think I had something irrelevant mashed in with writing and business. I broke out gaming as much as I could from a technical standpoint (if you go through posts by clicking “next” and “previous,” you’ll see the games entries.). I was going to set up a different site for gaming, but as Mark of TheDiamondGames pointed out … meryl.net is established. Why start from scratch (in terms of SEO and ranks)? I thought he had a good point and took the route that I did.

Design: When I worked with Blue Flavor on this site’s design, we tried to make the site feel professional yet personal. With this design, I could stand to look at my own site… for the first time ever.

Usability & Navigation: The reason I provide a summary is based on my experience. I became frustrated with scrolling through some bloggers’ long entries and thought scanning ‘n clicking would be better than scrolling. But I could be wrong. What say you? I’m willing to change this and consider any other annoyances.

Purpose: I’ve always admitted that my blog has never been niche-based. It’s evolved over the years. I don’t think I can do better here unless I pick a niche.

Personality: I don’t want this blog to be about me, me, me. In promoting the business side of things, I try to show what’s in it for the prospect. In writing blog entries, I try to provide information you can use and not make it about my opinions. Personality matters as it gives the blog life, so I try to do that without crossing the line or getting too personal. Some things shouldn’t be out there for the world to see.

Content: Whew. John captured it, “She has a nice habit of giving tips and then illuminating them with examples from her own experience.” I’ve learned well from others’ examples plus examples help show instead of tell.

What can I do better so you leave this blog glad that you spent a little time reading it? How about enticing you to leave comments. What compels you to leave comments on a blog? That’s the missing link here.

The biggest reason I’m afraid to give presentations is fear of not being able to interact with the audience. My lipreading skills are imperfect and I don’t want to frustrate the audience by repeatedly asking, “What?” when they ask questions. A blog doesn’t have that problem and I respond to almost all comments — some are in private. But the interaction isn’t happening.

You’d think after eight years of blogging that I’d know the answer?

I admire John for taking the time for doing in-depth reviews of 32 blogs and including mine. Thank you, John.

Lest you think this is a brownnosing post — it will most likely not even be covered in the next round as I should have at least five posts by then. I want to understand how to improve on the weak areas. Who better to ask than you?

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6 comments

  • Posted by John Hewitt on April 8th, 2008, 10:20 AM

    Hi Meryl,

    Thank you for not throwing tomatoes at me. To be honest, community is something I keep working on too. I get a lot of traffic to my blog , but I see others with substantially less traffic getting 20+ comments per post, when I am thrilled to get half a dozen. Part of the appeal of this contest for me was to take a look at what other sites are doing well so I can figure out how to improve.

  • Posted by Meryl on April 8th, 2008, 10:33 AM

    Never even considered throwing anything at you except “Thanks.” I also appreciate your reading this post so you can understand why I did things a certain way. Everything you’ve commented on — I’ve considered my options.

    The one thing I might change is stop using summaries on the blog’s main page to save a click.

  • Posted by Patsi Krakoff, The Blog Squad on April 9th, 2008, 9:26 AM

    This is a great review, Meryl, and I like the way you’re transparent about the challenges and decisions one has over one’s blog.

    I think many of us struggle with lack of comments, especially in fields that aren’t usually controversial such as writing about writing. The most comments I’ll get sometimes refer to grammar or typos just because there are rabid writing police out there…go figure.

    I try to ask for comments even though I don’t get many, because if I don’t, for sure they won’t feel like they can comment. People are in a hurry, and many don’t understand yet how important it can be to a blogger to hear from readers. I think that’s changing though.

    I even run contests and give away free books but don’t always see responses. Our other blogs have much more traffic and get lots of comments, so I wonder!

    Thanks for sharing this analysis of your blogging decisions.

  • Posted by The Freelance Writer's Blog on April 10th, 2008, 1:28 AM

    Meryl:

    First, congrats again on your first-round win. I left you a congrats on John’s blog the other day.
    Just writing to say that I too struggle to get coments. I’ve been on the web since 1999 and have been blogging since 2005 – yet I’m lucky to get one or two comments. SOOOO, here’s my take: on bad days, I wonder and kvetch about it. On good days I just tell myself that no one can “interact with” perfection :-)

    Best,
    Yuwanda

  • Posted by Meryl on April 10th, 2008, 3:34 PM

    Congrats to you, too, Yuwanda! Yeah, we’re old timers. Got my meryl.net domain in 1995. First web site in 1993. Since John mentioned the lack of comments — it made me wonder if I was overlooking something… as if I should be able to reel in more comments.

  • Posted by Karen Putz / DeafMom on April 17th, 2008, 8:52 AM

    Meryl, this post is making me chuckle, because I came over here this morning after viewing your Linked In profile and seeing your many connections to my few.

    Liz Strauss has a great session on how to build a community around your blog and get people talking:

    http://www.raproject.com/reader-appreciation/liz-strauss-at-wordcamp-dallas-transcript/

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