Monday, January 9, 2012

What I've learned from Blogging

My blog has been up for about a year and a half now, but since it's the new year I thought it was about time I actually talk about my experience and what I hope others gain by blogging themselves.

I started blogging when I was still an intern. Everyone was talking about how important platform is, and just as many people refused to do it. It was too hard, they said. I don't need to know when people are going to the bathroom, others said. And some, like me, didn't like the dependence on technology (I still don't). So, lowly, wide-eyed intern that I was, I decided to give it a try. So I could say, "if I can do it, you can do it."

I opened a Twitter account and started my blog. It was rocky at first, but I found my footing easily. My biggest surprise though: it was fun. People on Twitter rock. It's not like Facebook in which you talk about yourself and tag pictures of friends. Everyone on Twitter--at least the publishing sector--is in Twitter for networking reasons. And that's how I use it. Likewise to blogging.

So here's a quick list of things I've learned from blogging:
  • Pictures are fun, but use few and keep them relevant
  • Bulletpoints are a great way to convey info fast and effectively
  • Keep your posts short--aim for 300 hundred words until you hit your stride
  • Have a common theme (mine was wide-eyed publishing beginner talking about new things as she learns them--to an extent, it still is)
  • You'll always be surprised by which blog posts become favorites--mine is a post on how to format your ms so it looks pretty on an e-reader (and in general). Another is about death. Who knew?
  • Target your blog to your audience. Go to where your audience is and advertise your blog there
  • Twitter is a fast and effective way to advertise your blog
  • Connect with other blogs similar to yours. Interact with them with insightful--not self-centered--comments. If you're around enough, people will recognize your name and flock to your blog
  • Contests have a way of getting people irrationally excited--it reminds me of college when events advertised "free food"--guaranteed to get people in the door (I haven't done contests on my blog but it's always a future option).
  • Do not use your blog as a place to complain. More than one author recently has lost chops because of a hot temper.
  • Do not only talk about yourself--remember, you're writing for other people, not just yourself
  • Give yourself opportunities to learn from your readers; ask questions
  • It's easy to tell in a query when someone has actually done their research. My blog is linked in my bio on the agency website--if a querier says they saw my bio but doesn't mention my blog, pretty sure they didn't do their homework properly. If someone mentions they like my blog but no specifics, they might be trying to take a shortcut (I will give them the benefit of the doubt half the time). I pay better attention to those who actually know what they're talking about--we already have a connection and that makes me pay a little more attention. It's my shortcut through the slushpile, if you will.
  • Keep your writing blog up to date, especially if you link it in your query--if I have time and feel like it, I will check your blog out. And it does help tip the scales to a request or rejection. Agents are looking for writers who stick to their decisions and follow through.
For the rest of January, I'll be starting a monthly topic. January's topic: QUERIES. I'm starting with the basics and going step by slow step. And I'm going to see if we can have some fun at it too.

Happy writing!


Hope Roberson said...

Thanks for the tips, I've added this post to my writing links page on my blog, very helpful! I've only been blogging for a few months and feel the need to revamp, I'll be using your ideas :)

Kelley Lynn said...

Thanks so much for these. I feel like I follow most of them...

Very excited to see what query month brings!

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent tips. I try to always follow these, but it's nice to be reminded. Looking forward to your posts on query letters, something I always feel I can use help on.

Sari Webb said...

Thanks for the tips, Vickie. I've learnt some of those the hard way, myself.

Looking forward to the Query Month tips!

Mart Ramirez said...

Awesome tips, Vickie! Thank you. oooh looking frwd to the query post. Can't wait to read!

Unknown said...

It helps to hear advice from an experienced blogger. I finally have the blogging thing down (almost) but need to get going with Twitter. I have a profile but haven't actively worked it. You have inspired me to start "tweeting" :)

~Peace & Love~

Unknown said...

Ooh, I'm really excited about the monthly theme. That's a great idea! Can't wait to see what you come up with. Ciao!

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the tips! And any insight you can give on queries will also be appreciated. :o)

TL Conway said...

Can't wait for the query month. One of my 2012 writing goals is to learn, write, re write, then keep re writing my query letter until I think it's ready.

Then I'll rewrite it again for good measure.

Katy Upperman said...

Your first bullet point may or may not have been written specifically for me. What can I say? I'm a fan of pictures. :)

Great hints and reminders... Thanks, Vickie!

Heather Marsten said...

I appreciate your tips. I have a question regarding photos. I know it's okay to post photos you take yourself, but is there a place to get clip art free and if so, how do you cite it? Thanks. Heather

Huntress said...

A year and a half? Wow, congrats.

I thumbed through your followers to see where my pic was located. Awaaay back there :)

Your choice of topics for this month is timely. Brother do I need help!

Vickie Motter said...


I don't worry about citing photos. Usually I Google what I want and use that. If it's someone else's personal photo, I will cite it. Anyone is welcome to correct me if I'm doing it wrong.


Tyrean Martinson said...

Those are great tips . . .my problem with my blog sometimes is that I try to tackle too many topics in a month, but I'm getting better . . .I think.

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