Category Archives: Blogging

August 26, 2010

Guest post: Kyla Roma on maintaining a successful blog

This post comes from fellow Winnipeg blogger Kyla Roma.

Oddly, we’ve never met in person but continue to connect online.

I adore Kyla’s blog and admire her committment to great content and connecting with her readers.

For this guest post, I asked Kyla to share some of her blogging secrets with us. Here’s what she had to say.

Starting a blog is easy enough, but after the honeymoon period of finding a look and a voice that’s just right, maintaining a blog and drawing in new readers can be a daunting task.

I’ve been blogging about my life, photography, and DIY for two years and my blog has always been a project that I love, but keeping it fresh and new while keeping it from taking over my time has been a challenge.

Liz kindly asked if I could share some of the things that have worked for me, and these are a few of my favourite strategies:

1. Put high value, unique content first

No one is an island and being in touch with your community is vital, but the only thing that will get people coming back to your blog is excellent content.

Stay on top of trends and news in your community and find a way to speak to them that demonstrates your strengths. From an ability to build a strong narrative to unique presentation, finding a strength and an angle that gives you a unique position inside your community is a great way to get noticed and have people looking forward to what you bring to the table.

2. All blogs are personal

Personal blogging has a funny reputation but with huge companies changing gears from having One Consistent Impersonal Corporate Message to having a number of distinct, trusted individual voices, all of our social media is at least a little personal.

This can be scary territory for small business owners, especially because so many seem to equate a blog with an avenue to vent about bad days, but pulling back the curtain (even just slightly) gives clients someone to connect to, and that feeling of being an “insider” can go a long way toward building an invested client base.

Even just showing a collection of your favourite things, or linking to your favourite inspiration sources gives people a sense of who you are – no dredging up family drama or venting about bad days required.

3. Choose your weapons

I get hit with inspiration at odd times, and I found out quickly that feeling like I have to blog every day is more of a stress than anything.

Now that I blog five to six times a week, I’ve started exploring more tools that let me take back my time and ramp down my stress.

Some of my favourites for WordPress are Twitter Tools, which tweets your posts when they publish, Dashboard: Scheduled Posts, so I can see my next set of scheduled posts at a glance when I log in, and Editorial Calendar for a monthly at a glance view of my posts and the ability to drag and drop them in any order I like.

My favourite offline tool is simple and probably my most useful: a notebook that I keep with me for when I have ideas for posts.

4. Jump into the conversation

If something is going on in your community that you have opinions on, speak to it. If you’re on Twitter but aren’t starting conversations, start talking to people!

No one is involved in blogging or social media because they’re looking to build walls- everyone wants to feel noticed, valued, and part of something. Simple acts of inclusion can go a very long way.

5. Try making a plan

This one isn’t right for everyone, but I love having a rough idea of what my blog content will look like in a week or two.

I find it takes a lot of (self inflicted) pressure off me, and it helps make sure everything flows nicely from one post to another. A plan could be as simple as starting a series that you post on once a month, but planning in advance can help you to pull together beautiful, insightful posts that you might not feel up to if you only blog after a long day of work.

Kyla Roma is a 20something lady living in the Canadian Prairies under the biggest sky she’s ever seen.

She’s a life-long vegetarian, blogger, black tea aficionado, photography nut, knitter, puppy mama and wife. Her beautiful blog is a collection of stories from her life and things that make her swoon.

August 12, 2010

Is your blog kinda crap? This might be why …

Upkeeping a good blog is bloody hard work.

I’m no saint. My blog might look pretty but I don’t put in as much time as I should writing regularly or with great purpose.

A couple of days ago I was reading a post on Adam Singer’s blog. In it he talks about how most agency blogs are crap. That’s right. The folks that you pay to develop and implement your marketing and PR campaigns can’t walk the walk.

In fact it’s not just agencies that are to blame.

I see plenty of folks who call themselves ‘experts’ in marketing / communications / PR / ALL THAT STUFF who clearly aren’t practiced at what they preach. Now, that doesn’t mean to say they aren’t to be trusted but, come on, faced with two ‘experts’ one with an up to date blog and an active Twitter account with a healthy following versus a blogless, Twitterless dude – which one are you more likely to trust?

Back to Adam’s post.

One of Adam’s readers challenged him to expand on the reasons that many agency blogs fall short.

In response Adam wrote a second post highlighting some key things that I think apply to all blogs. Not just those written by agencies.

If your blog is kinda crap, then this might be why.

I’ve taken Adam’s main points and sort of re-interpreted them for all bloggers.

1. Your posts are wishy-washy

2. Your writing lacks passion

3. Your blog has no personality

4. Your content fails the ‘so-what?’ test

5. You haven’t written a blog post since 2001

6. You’re. Trying. Too. Hard.

7. Your blog doesn’t stand out from the crowd

8. You’re scared of upsetting people

9. Oops. You have no focus so your posts are over the shop

10. You don’t make an effort to connect with other bloggers

There are lessons for us all in this list.

Now you’ve got no excuses for having a crap blog or no blog at all.

Need some help to get motivated? Watch the video I recently posted in which Seth Godin and Tom Peters tell why you should blog. Then study Adam’s article.

Your blog should be ship-shape in no time.

August 3, 2010

Why should I blog?

I recently started following futurist Gerd Leonhard – the man with the coolest job title.

He and I share at least one thing in common: we’re often asked, ‘Why should I start a blog?’

Lucky for me, Gerd posted this excellent video on his site today – all 1 minute and 38 seconds of it in which Seth Godin (an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker) and Tom Peters (business author and speaker) manage to sum up the answer.

If you’ve ever asked yourself this question or been asked, this is the video for you. And if you feel inspired to start your blog today, check out an older post I wrote with details about how you can set one up for free instantly.

June 3, 2010

Girl Geek Dinners: Wanna know more about blogging?

This month’s Winnipeg Girl Geek Dinner is all about blogging and I’m the presenter along with my pal Polly Washburn.

We’ll be sharing our experiences, from the techie bits to the creative stuff of choosing a theme, deciding what to write about, how to format a blog post, and why it’s important to post regular content.

Join us on Tuesday, June 8 (at 6 p.m. if you want to nosh on the delicious food at EAT! Bistro in Aqua Books or 7 p.m. if you just want to feed your mind.)

While the title of the event might be a bit girl-biased – boys are totally welcome.

Everyone is invited; if you plan on attending, please RSVP via Facebook or Eventbrite.

Really hope to see you there.

About us (the gals doing the talking)

I moved to Winnipeg from London, UK seven years ago and work as the digital media manager for the National Screen Institute – a film and TV training school. I author two blogs: Diary of a Web Gal and Hi, I’m Sadie Shih Tzu (nominated for a Canadian Weblog Award). I’ve presented workshops about the social web for the National Screen Institute, On Screen Manitoba, Canadian Women in Communications, the National Film Board and more. I also do web consulting to help develop and improve websites. My passion is the internet and how to best use it as a communications professional. Catch me on Twitter @lizhover @nsicanada @sadieshihtzu

My pal Polly moved to Winnipeg from New York over 10 years ago. She’s a film and digital media producer, owner of the production and consulting company Positron Media. She provides consulting and training in production and web marketing. She’s currently producing three feature films, a couple of shorts, a collaborative online digital media project, an iPhone app and an augmented reality game. Oh and if that wasn’t enough, she’s just launched a new blog ScreenLiving to examine content creation and distribution in a world where screens are both converging and proliferating.  Catch Polly on Twitter: @pollywashburn

January 12, 2010

My dog’s blog gets nominated for Canadian Weblog Award

There was a little rejoicing in the Web Gal household yesterday.

One of my blogs, Hi, I’m Sadie Shih Tzu has been nominated for a Canadian Weblog Award (Life category).

The Canadian Weblog Awards promote blogs from across Canada year-round with interviews, articles, and the nomination, judging, and award process. A jury then decides on a short list and winners are announced in January 2011.

The awards are something of a breath of fresh air: they’re designed to uncover good, but perhaps not mainstream or popular blogs.

Much of the judging criteria focuses on common sense stuff that all web designers would apply when creating a website. The same stuff I use in my job as website manager.

Design

  • Usability — Is the website user-friendly and easy to navigate?
  • Operability — Do all of its components function properly?
  • Interactivity — Are a comments section and author contact information available? Are its interactive components (including comments, audio, video, etc.) effective, appropriate, and accessible?
  • Aesthetics — Is the website pleasing to look at? Is its design original?
Content
  • Originality — Is the content original and creatively expressed?
  • Intelligibility and clarity — Is the content well-written? Are the content’s messages clearly and effectively delivered?
  • Currency — Is the content timely? Is the weblog updated on a regular basis?
  • Transparency and authenticity — Is the author’s purpose and realness both trusted and apparent?
  • Attention to detail — Has the content been edited for spelling and grammatical errors? Is the content arranged for ease of consumption?
  • Engagingness — Is the content interesting? Does it contain broad appeal within its genre?

So we’ll have to be patient for a few months before we find out if Sadie’s blog progresses any further.

This is truly an honour to be recognised among my fellow Canadian bloggers. I’ve never envisioned making money from Sadie’s blog. It’s only ever an online space for her personality to come alive for others. Pure entertainment. And with the deluge of blogs available it’s a wonder anyone ever found Sadie’s.

We’ve no idea who nominated Hi, I’m Sadie Shih Tzu. If it was you, thank you.