The art of blogging

WISHING: To all you mothers, moms, mums, mimis, mamas, grandmas, grannies, grandmoms, mommies, grandmommies, and all others who have brought new life into our world, thank you! Here’s wishing you a Happy Mothers’ Day!!

Hi everyone,
David as bookends IMAG2753
This week I posted sketches and a brief interview featuring Melanie Hope Greenberg. We met last week when I was a Skype presenter at Larry Dane Brimner’s writers’ workshop in the 2015 series of Highlights Foundations Workshops. The title of my one hour presentation with Q/A was, “To Blog or Not to Blog . . . Some Thoughts.” Larry’s charge to me was to address the idea of maintaining a blog without breaking the time budget.

My webmaster, Kathy Temean, designed my website in 2009 and then added a blog. Although I resisted the idea of blogging, here I am six years later, slogging and blogging away. Over these years I’ve experimented with format, content, and length, but I’ve stuck to my original intention of posting something every day with occasional short breaks for just cause. Counting today, I’ve answered the bell 1,671 times.

The math of that? At one hour per post, the equivalent of about forty 40-hour weeks. At half an hour per post, around twenty 40-hour weeks. Divided by six, somewhere between three and a half to seven 40-hour weeks per year. I told Larry’s workshop attendees that I shoot for half a hour on most days but I can’t always make it and there are numerous occasions when the time stretches much longer. Today’s post is an example of that.

I formatted my presentation as a Q/A session with myself, something from which I might have benefitted six years ago! Here are a few of the questions I asked my six year younger self.

Q: Why on earth would you even think about doing such a thing?
Q: What do you hope to gain from your blog?
Q: Would you invite people to your home without a plan? Guests need to know what to expect when the come to your house, or your blog.
Q: Starting a blog is something like adopting a puppy. Can you spare the time to be a responsible care giver?

I spent quite a bit of my allotted time responding to the second question: What do you hope to gain from your blog? I presented five options:
1) I want to establish a professional site.
2) I want to become better known as a writer.
3) I want to expand my circle of writing friends.
4) I’m friendly and I just want to talk.
5) I have no plan but will figure it out as I go.

One of the members in Larry’s group asked how I would characterize my blog. Another asked if my blog has benefitted me and, if so, in what ways.

I’ll tell you later how I responded, but today I’d rather hear from you. According to my little blog clicker, more than 2,000 people follow my posts. I have no idea how close that is to being accurate. I certainly don’t receive that many visits on a given day and rarely have more than a handful of comments so it’s hard to judge how many people remain aware of what I’m up to on a regular basis.

So I’ll throw out this question and hope that at least a few of you will take a moment to tell me. “How would you describe my site to someone else?”

As for the second question, I don’t sell my own work directly and have only tried one e-book. I find it difficult to relate how or whether my blog has increased my book sales. I hope it has. I think it has. I don’t know that it has. But I have received some speaking engagements as a result of the blog, and they have produced income.

I look forward to hearing your responses. Thank you.

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10 comments on “The art of blogging

  1. What a great post, David, and a topic that’s very interesting to me. The number one reason to blog is not to benefit financially (which is extremely difficult to do through blogging), but to build community and hopefully help that community in some way, and that is what you have done here. I’d describe your blog as a friendly and generous place to learn, write, and laugh with like-minded people and fellow poets, all aided by your diverse post topics. I don’t comment or even visit the blog every day, but I do read your posts every day from my email.

    Being genuine and building a community is what leads to your answers to “What do I hope to gain from blogging?” And you’ve clearly gained all those things, so you must be doing something right!

    Those are all the same reasons I started blogging in 2012. I only post once a week (even less now!), but those posts can take me anywhere from 6 to 18 hours to produce considering the video recording and editing, interviews, research, making all the graphics, writing the content, and bringing it all together. It overwhelms me, but by now it’s become a labor of love and I can’t seem to stop. I just do less of it these days. 🙂

    And yes, eventually there ARE benefits to all this work. For you it may be speaking engagements; for me, invitations to submit to anthologies. But the best benefit has simply been getting to know — and being known by — all the wonderful people in the kidlit blogosphere. What a fantastic community it is!

    • Dear Renee,
      I love your thoughtful response. Many thanks. With so many of us posting on blogs these days, the subject of why we do it seems like a good one to discuss. Your blogs are major productions and they must be exhausting to produce. You are creating a body of work that both entertains and preserves the efforts of many others. I have always applauded you for what you do. Thank you again for your kind words. I appreciate them, and you!

  2. I blog about myself and that is my only formula. The only time I went out of this formula I was burnt so never again. I am appreciative of those who blog about other people (like yourself, David) and the *exchange* for doing so when you blog about me is to send that link to my large personal databases. I do not see much exchanges within collegial circles so I stopped doing favors for free because it’s too much work with a rare return. I do not look at nor care about the blog numbers or followers. I use my blog as a creative artistic outlet that’s for me and my target audience (parents), and as a secondary website I can control. I post whenever the spirit moves or I when have something I wish to say. If I were paid to blog I’d do it more often but blogging has become another required job of the author that is not paid and is all experimental when I need to focus on getting work, eating, and paying bills. I have no cravings to be a book reviewer, nor a book scholar, nor a Hedda Hopper. I just wish to paint and write. Does blogging pay off? Not really sure, why I keep it small. Cyberspace holds the links forever so it’s a good way to use these blog post links in other interviews or on Facebook. I rarely read blogs (sorry folks) but they are useful when researching on querying and submissions. I do blog for Huffington Post and I accepted the offer (no pay) because it brought attention to my books to a much wider audience than fellow colleagues. I stopped using other book creatives to buy my books, and to get attention to my books further out in the world.

    • Dear Melanie,
      I’m glad we met, thanks to Larry Dane Brimner, and now I profit from your input to this conversation. You have a clear vision of why you blog and what you mean to accomplish. Thank you for sharing your philosophy and reminding us of how a blog can be used as a marketing tool. More and more publishers require their authors and illustrators to maintain blogs so they can help promote their work. Your would please any publisher!

  3. 1) I want to establish a professional site. Yours is replete with courtesy!
    2) I want to become better known as a writer. Internationally!
    3) I want to expand my circle of writing friends. The loyalty is resplendent!
    4) I’m friendly and I just want to talk. On a daily basis, you encourage.
    5) I have no plan but will figure it out as I go. Still flexible after all these many years.
    I read your blog every day because it is not too long or wasteful.

    • Dear Jeanne,
      What a lovely comment! Thank you very much. I love it that you find my blog worthwhile and support it with your presence, your comments, and your participation. We have built a community.

  4. David,
    I visit your blog because of its personality. It feels like a friend. Conversational and homey.

    I’ve had fun joining in the challenges over the few years I’ve been following and even when I don’t take the time to join in, I enjoy seeing what others have contributed.

    It’s been interesting to connect with some of the other writers and poets who frequent your blog.

    I love hearing about your tree and about Goose Lake.

    A thought in case you ever quit blogging and need to fill some time: Work on your trumpet skills and go on the road as a musician/storyteller. You could play a tune and then tell a few stories about Goose Lake. I’m joking! But I always get a laugh when I think about your reading of “In the School Band” in Renee’s Video Library at No Water River 😀

    • Dear Penny,
      I’m grateful for your sweet remarks. Thank you. I’ll tell the old tree in my yard is has a fan. I’m sure it will be pleased! I have a friend from my days of playing professionally who is always pushing me to get out the horn and start playing again. That won’t happen, but it is fun to think about. I’m much too content living on Goose Lake, writing my poems and stories, and enjoying life.

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