Weekend Music: I’m Your Man

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Perhaps I should adopt this one as my theme song. 😉

Not much to announce aside from the normal weekend things. #WeekendCoffeeShare at Part Time Monster and #SundayBlogShare on Twitter are about all I have going this weekend.

The last few weeks have been absolutely frantic, and I am in Blogging A to Z mode now, so not much social medial mayhem from me for the next couple of weeks. #AmWriting.

The Feminist Friday discussion should be well under way at Things Matter by now, and I will check in there after work today as usual.

Happy weekend!

We’re in for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge!

I started talking with friends and contributors about doing this year’s A to Z Challenge here back in the fall. We finalized the last few letters over the weekend and I stepped into the ring for us on Monday. We were the 96th blog to register, but we’d moved up to #94 when last I looked.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

Click to Register!

The A to Z blog suggested last week that bloggers use their announcements to offer advice to folks who are doing the challenge for the first time. Last year was my first year, so my wisdom is limited. But I almost did not make it through, and I know why. Here are three things I did and did not do last year before April 1 that almost cost me the survivor badge.

  1. Did not get all the posts written. I planned to do them over Spring Break, but I had an awful March and couldn’t find the time. Not waiting until the last minute this year.
  2. Did not schedule the posts (because they weren’t written). If you can’t get the whole month’s worth written in advance and scheduled, at least have the first 14 ready to go and that leaves you 13 to write during the first three weeks of the challenge.
  3. Built a page to curate links to the blogs I visited. This seemed like a good idea, and I enjoyed it. But it added more work to an already intense month of blogging, and it is not required. I won’t be doing it this year.

    My personal survivor badge.

    My personal survivor badge.

Now a couple of things that didn’t necessarily put the challenge in jeopardy, but kept me from getting as much out of it as I could have.

  1. I revealed my theme too early and published my reflection too late, so I missed the opportunity to link those up with other A to Z bloggers.
  2. I did not discover until well into the challenge that I could get art for every day from the A to Z blog and eliminate the need to go scouring the Internet for shareable images. This cost me a lot of time in putting the posts together.

And a little free advice about the A to Z posts themselves.

A to Z is not just a posting challenge. It is a social event too. Its value is in its potential for discovery. So it’s important to play honest with the visits and to comment when you do. Otherwise, the bloggers you’re visiting aren’t going to know you were there nor have a comment link that they can follow and find you.

With this in mind, be sensitive to the fact that the primary audience you are writing for, aside from your regular readers, is A to Z bloggers who are also trying to post every day and visit/comment on five blogs. No matter what other characteristics your target audience might have, your A to Z visitors will have two things in common.

  • Most will be first-time visitors, and
  • they will all be extremely busy.
Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Posts should be short, catchy, and not include more than a couple of links. 350-500 words is the most A to Z readers are going to have time for, and lots of them going to scan that. The next day, they’re on to another five blogs. If you want them to come back again on a Sunday during the challenge, or try out your blog again in May, best be memorable and not ask too much.

It’s also important to answer your comments and visit some of your commenters. You will get comments. Just from my own experience with blogging over the last year, answering a first comment makes it much more likely that a reader is going to come back. This is another reason to get the post written early and not add any extra work for yourself beyond the bare requirements. Being active on your own threads is essential if you want to benefit from the challenge beyond April.

Most bloggers neither post every day nor visit five blogs per day. Many of your visitors will be doing the challenge just to see if they can. A lot will be hoping to find new readers and make friends. It’s hard to make friends through a blog if you don’t comment, and it’s best to do straightforward, ultra-reader-friendly posts for this.

Here is a list of the bloggers you’ll see here during April if all goes well between now and then. Links go to their blogs and their byline archives. For the sake of convenience, I’ve organized the list by author in order of first appearance. Here’s the alphabetical version with posting dates. Topics will be published on reveal day. (Contributors, if I have double-booked or crossed up any days here, just let me know and we’ll iron it out.)

David and Holly of Comparative Geeks— A, F, G, M, Q, U

Jeremy DeFatta — B, K, S

Gene’O of Just Gene’O — C, E, L, T

William Hohmeister — D

Diana of Part Time Monster — H, P, Z

Luther M. Siler of Infinite Free Time — I, R, W

Hannah Givens of Things Matter — J

Melissa Barker-Simpson (her blog is eponymous) — N

Rebecca Bradley of Rebecca Bradley Crime — O

Natacha Guyot of Science Fiction, Transmedia, and Fandom — X and Y

A Mystery Blogger — V

Arrr, mateys!

Arrr, mateys!

Thanks to all you contributors, and to our friends who have encouraged us as we worked to get this done. I’ll have communciation for you about loading drafts in the next week or two.

I’m following A to Z on both Twitter and Facebook, so if we’re connected on the other social media, you’ll be seeing a lot of A-to-Z sharing from me once we get into March. If you are a friend or reader here and you decide to take the plunge, you want to drop me a line so I can add you to lists and such.

Several of our friends are also registered already. I’ll have links to some of them in my announcement at Just Gene’O in the next week or so.

Friendly Blogging: Did I Just Fix Facebook?

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I’m behind on some things because I have been spending lots of time on Facebook this week. I think I’ve figured out how to make that network useful to me as a blogger. I finally see the play after a year of struggling over there. I’ve decided to take the shot.

I’ll wank on the whys and wherefores at Just Gene’O once I have the info to do that. This is the post in which I explain what I am doing and link to a bunch of nice bloggers in case anyone wants to come and play. FBlike

Weeks ago, I started tweaking Facebook so I could have more visibility of the bloggers I talk to often and start liking their stuff.  I started out just fooling around in my spare time, but last weekend I figured some things out and decided to get on it and get it done. Here’s what I did.

  • Used custom lists to tune everyone out except bloggers who interact with me, and blog-friendly people I want to interact with, then started liking and sharing only their posts and nothing else.
  • Screwed my privacy settings down tight, so that anyone who I am sure doesn’t care about blogs or who I have any doubts about for any reason, however small, can’t see what I like, share or comment on.
  • Got myself into a position, through a couple of friends, to eventually be Facebook friends with a few hundred bloggers.

Now I am set up to maintain my timeline as a safe, friendly, no drama zone, to add bloggers as Facebook friends, and to share blog posts and blogging-related updates with them.

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My personal standard. A banner for bloggers to flock to. Because it’s a public domain image, and the Internet can always use a little more mischief!!

Here is what I think will happen as I add bloggers to my “plain ol’ friends” list who see what I like and share, and build mutual Facebook friendships with a lot of them. Engagement on my timeline will tick up because I know a lot of good blogs to share. When I comment on what others are sharing, and they comment on what I am sharing, that will put those posts in other bloggers’ feeds. If I am able to get it growing and maintain it without it sucking away too much time, I will eventually have a Facebook network with the ability to drive some serious engagement, and that will be good for us all.

Once I am sure the privacy settings are right, I will spend a little time each week meeting bloggers by following links from Facebook. I will allow some of them to be my Facebook friends, and so they will have a chance of seeing the links I share and building enough trust to get into my circle of close friends.

By this time next year, there will be a lot of us. We will be a merry band. Most of us will also have Twitter accounts, some with thousands of followers, and a few of us will have accounts on other social media like Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and Reddit. How does that sound?

Only “Friends of Friends” can send me friend requests on Facebook right now, but I am paying CLOSE attention to who follows me. Once I am ready to proceed, probably in a week or two at most, I will start contacting the Facebook followers I know well enough to be friends with and asking them if they want in.

P.S: Gretchen, Diana, Taylor, Hannah, Natacha, Rose, Luther, Therefore I Geek, Leather Library, Sisters, CompGeeks, Winter Bayne, Winewankers, Sabina: I think I took a level in badass this year! And just an early heads up. It is too early to say anything more, but Melissa and I are talking about cooking something up for the blog next year.

P.P.S: For those of you who follow my social media blogging. “Friendly Blogging” is the catchphrase for 2015. No more “Blog Traffic and Engagement” as the headline meme, though you will still see those terms in the headlines, because they are good for hashtagging. It’s taken from @Sourcererblog’s “FriendlyBloggers” list, which is one of my two most carefully-curated public lists.

P.P.P.S.: Your weekend music will run at Just Gene’O in about an hour.

Thanks, Bloggers, for all that #SundayBlogShare Love

When Suzie81 asked me to host this week’s #SundayBlogShare, I was torn. On the one hand, I was honored and wanted to jump at the chance. It’s an activity I enjoy. I love that I’ve watched it grow from nothing and have had a small part in building it.

SBS

On the other hand, I thought it might be a ton of work and that I would screw something up. I eventually decided to do it, and I am very glad I did. It did turn out to be a bit of work, but it was totally worth it. It got me a couple of good days on the blogs, I met some nice folks, and it put @Sourcererblog’s Twitter following above 5K for the first time. Needless to say, I am pleased.

Last week, I put out the word to my friends that I was hosting and invited them to join in. I also shared #SundayBlogShare with a couple of groups I am a part of on Facebook. Here’s an excerpt from one of the status updates I posted to those groups.

So, you might be interested to know that I am hosting #SundayBlogShare on Twitter right now. What being the host means, basically, is:

1. I retweet everything that is a legitimate blog post and doesn’t contain hate speech with my @sourcererblog account.
2. I look at most of the links. I comment on the ones that grab me, either on Twitter or on the blog itself.
3. I follow almost everyone who shares a link to that hashtag and they get a solid month to decide whether to follow me back.

Silly me.

Retweeting everything from that hashtag and following even three quarters of the bloggers who use it on Sundays is officially impossible, at least for an amateur like me. That’s how big it has gotten, and I had no idea. I promoted #SundayBlogShare hard the first week we did it and I join in when I can, but I wasn’t able to really pay attention for most of November. I keep up with Suzie, so I knew it was growing. I just didn’t realize how quickly it was growing.

I started monitoring the hashtag around 2 a.m. London time and just watched it. I retweeted the first few links and warned the first few people who weren’t sharing blog posts off. I typically don’t do that, and in general it’s not worth the time, but I didn’t want  to get overrun by non-blog related stuff before the bloggers started showing up. I did retweets and follows for awhile and had no problem keeping up during the early hours. At some point, I went to sleep thinking things were going fine, but it really wasn’t that busy.

When I woke up a few hours later, I jumped on my phone to see how things were looking. At that point, the hashtag was so busy it took me more than an hour just to get caught up with the retweets, and I had to give up on the following just to stay ahead. From that point, I just rolled for the next several hours, scanning blogs and retweeting links with my two Twitter accounts, and chattering as I was able. It was a lot of fun.

Sourcerer had a good day yesterday, but my personal blog, Just Gene’O picked up almost 40 referrals from Twitter, which is unheard of for me, and had its best day in a couple of months. As I was writing this, @Sourcererblog was up by a ton of followers from Sunday alone, and most of them are bloggers. I don’t manage my @JustGene’O account very closely for followers. It’s mostly there to establish that there’s a real person behind Sourcerer and to retweet my friends, but I am assuming it’s up as well and I’ll give a big bunch of followbacks with that account later this week.

Thanks to everyone who joined in with #SundayBlogShare this weekend, and thanks especially to those of you who showed up as a favor to me. I truly appreciate it. The early links and the late links that you guys shared were especially helpful, because the early ones kept the hashtag from being overwhelmed by non-blog content during the first few hours, and the late ones allowed me to extend the day.

The hosting was pretty hectic and it didn’t leave me much time to blog on Sunday. But it was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I’d do it again. Now that I’ve watched #SundayBlogShare closely for an entire day, I have a much better feel for the rhythm of it. I’m an even bigger fan of it now than I was before I hosted, and I hope to see all you friendly bloggers for it again next week.