The Improved A to Z Plan

I’ve scrapped my original A to Z plan. I am not doing the challenge at Just Gene’O. I’m only doing it here, and I am throwing a generous amount of Tolkien into the mix so I can link to some of my Tolkien pals who I’ve promised to promote during A to evil

If I’ve invited you to do a post, you are still invited. If we reached the point of a topic discussion, your topic is still good if you want to do it.  If you’ve changed your mind or decided not to accept, but haven’t mentioned it yet, please let me know.

Here is how Sourcerer will do A to Z.

  • We will run our regular features in April at their normal morning times.
  • We will follow those up with afternoon A to Z posts.
  • I may post late photos and use them as a teasers for the next day on some days.
  • This eliminates the need to rigidly structure the A to Z topics.

They still need to be pop culture posts. But, for instance, we don’t necessarily have to make all our Wednesday A to Z posts comics posts. So everyone who’s agreed to write one can keep their topics if they still want in, but I’m committing to writing as many of the posts myself as necessary.

These posts will need to be short and light so as not to step on the early post and hopefully generate scroll-down reads. Ideally, they’ll be less than 400 words and will link to one or two other posts either here or at a friend’s blog

sourcerer_imageReasoning, etc.

  • If some of our contributors need to take a break to get through A to Z at their own blogs, me guaranteeing A to Z here ensures we will have at least one post a day in April.
  • Our contributors and the people I invited are welcome, but I’ll do any or all of the posts and if you’d like to adjust days or topics, I am open to that.
  • I’m not straight-up asking any regular contributor for more posts, and I do not want to suspend the morning post routine once we get it rolling again.
  • The original idea is way cool, but it has too many moving parts. We can pull it off, but we aren’t to the point of doing smoothly yet. I don’t want to overextend myself or anyone else.
  • My concern here isn’t lack of support. I have the support, but not sure the original plan is good for us long-term.
  • Given the changes I’ve made at both blogs, their relative sizes, and the Facebook progress, posting every day in April at Just Gene’O will only help a little and it will only help me.
  • Bringing A to Z readers to Sourcerer every day in April will help the larger project and will help a lot of other bloggers.

Keep in mind my goal here. It’s Sourcerer I want readers for the most. My entire social media is set up to serve that end. I’m happy with 30 to 60 daily views at my personal blog forever as long as a high percentage of my readers are friendly bloggers and as long as Sourcerer is growing.

Sourcerer is now set up to be inviting and mobile-friendly. The archives are so well-indexed with pull-down menus that a person who is interested in any part of what we do here can get lost in them for hours. It’s designed to attract social media followers and to help people discover contributors’ blogs.

Close friends and contributors who do the challenge can have their own A to Z headlines displaying in sidebar widgets at Sourcerer. I am already set up with lists to give A to Z and friends who do it my full support on Twitter and on Facebook. I am primed to register the second the list goes live. Think about that for a minute.

The best course is to only register one blog, make sure it succeeds without overtaxing me or anyone else, and reblog selected A to Z posts at my own blog for friends. I want an A to Z Survivor badge for Sourcerer so much I can taste it.

This is my personal survivor badge. I earned it fair and square. No one can take it away from me. Sourcerer needs one of these.

This is my personal survivor badge. I earned it fair and square. No one can take it away from me. Sourcerer needs one of these.

Just a note about my planning methods for those of you who follow along. When I plan months in advance, I always make the biggest realistic plan possible with the full knowledge that it will probably need to be scaled back. I do that because I never know when 100 people might jump on board and help me pull off something huge. When it’s time to get serious, I think about contingencies, take stock of my capacity, and adjust. I don’t get bummed out when I need to scale back. I’m just grateful I have enough people on board with me to make the planning worthwhile.

This is a minor adjustment. No worries.pirateflag

But do let me know where we are on the A to Z if you’ve been involved up to this point.

I need to have this figured out in the next month so I know how many posts I need to write my ownself. 🙂

Brainstorming: Better Blogging

photo by Gene'O

photo by Gene’O

If Just Gene’O were further along, I’d post this there. Since it’s not, I’m posting it here and running my Tuesday Texture at Just Gene’O. I’m thinking about what to do with this blog through the end of the year and I’d love some feedback on the ideas I’m tossing out here.

First, we have to get through the end of the month and still be posting the first week of November. That’s a must-do because I’m planning to wind up the Feminist Fridays, or at least my official role in them for 2014, at the end of that week. November 7 is also the one-year anniversary of this blog. The season finale of Doctor Who is the Saturday after, on Nov . 8, and we must finish the season. It will be the third season of television we’ve blogged, and the first we’ve blogged both here and at Part Time Monster. It’s important that we wind it up in good order. Lots of future-stuff is riding on it.

I’m thinking of doing a near-shutdown sometime after that. I don’t mean going away entirely, but cutting back to a couple of posts per week, re-thinking the design, and revamping the pages a bit. The reason I’m thinking of doing this is because I know how long it took to move my personal blog to Just Gene’O while keeping up the rest of the schedule. Way too long, is how long it took.

Since our traffic receded to pre-summer levels almost the minute we stopped posting three and four times per day here, I’m not concerned with taking a big hit on the page views. I’m especially not concerned about December because December is going to be bad no matter what we do, and we’ll get a bounce in January. So it makes more sense to me to put the time into things like design, reorganization, and stockpiling content in late November and early December than it does to put it into everyday blogging. So, my questions for feedback are:

© Gene'O 2014; original photo by Vicki, 2013.

© Gene’O 2014; photo by Vicki, 2013.

  1. If you were redesigning this blog, what would you do to improve it?
  2. Have you ever walked away from your blog for longer than, say, three full weeks and then returned? If so, how difficult was it to get your traffic back?

I’m also considering posting publicly for a new contributor or two. Doing that has its pitfalls. I’ve hesitated to do it up to this point because I haven’t felt a real need. But I’m thinking that along with the redesign, the blog needs one more regular blogger. Anyone ever had any success with recruiting regular contributors from the blogosphere at-large?

A final thought. This is more a puzzle for me at this point than anything I expect help with, but opinions are more than welcome 🙂  Just looking at what multiple posting every day did for our traffic over the summer, I’m asking myself this question:

Say I have six posts in a given week and that’s all I can do. Do I post them once per day, Monday-Saturday, or do I post two per day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays?

I don’t know the answer, but I am curious about it. I am also wondering how different the last year of my social media life would have been if I’d branded myself a pirate instead of a sorcerer.

Arrr, Mateys!

Twitter-blog: How I Do Follow Fridays

TwitterSuzieYou can find a series about Twitter basics on our Twitter page. Today I’ll explain how I use Follow Fridays to find new followers and help my friends. My method is a work in progress, but on Fridays when I have time to be really active, I can easily gain +50 good followers.

There are three parts to this: Sending your own Follow Friday tweets, choosing the right people to give them to, and paying attention to your followers’ tweets.

How I Send My Follow Friday Tweets

Just sending a Follow Friday tweet and going about your business isn’t going to do either you or the person you give it to much good. But sending too many is bad. The trick is to send enough to get a few of your followers tweeting with you, but not so many you turn people off.

I’ve tried various methods, and this is what’s worked best so far. I send up to 5 or 6 Follow Fridays, spaced at least 15 minutes apart. Sometimes I only have time for a couple. Sometimes, like this past weekend, I’m occupied with other things and don’t do Follow Fridays at all.

I send one, and only one, Follow Friday that’s packed with as many people as I can fit into it. I use only the #FF hashtag – not the longer #FollowFriday, because that leaves me room for an extra person. I usually send this one last.

I send three or four that only include one person, or two at most, and say something nice about them. I send it to #FF, #FollowFriday, and to one general hashtag that matches their main area of interest, like #Music, #Writers, #Blogger, etc. This is to help people who share that interest find them.

The reason I do it this way is because both ways of doing it are useful. Including a lot of people gets a lot of retweets, but I think it’s better overall to focus on one person that you’d really like people to follow.

How I Choose People to Give Follow Fridays To

This is more alchemy than science for me at this point. Here are my basic assumptions.

It doesn’t do much good to give FFs to people I have long-standing relationships with or tweet with frequently. Everyone in my network who’s Twitter-icon-the-birdactually paying attention and cares to follow those people should have done so by now. @parttimemonster is a perfect example to illustrate this point. Our followings are so entangled, giving her FFs every week is a waste of ammo. I do it once a month, or after a period when I’ve made a lot of new contacts.

It doesn’t do much good to send FFs to the same people every week. Here’s why. Some people use FFs to introduce one another to their followers. I have half a dozen Tweeps who regularly send me 10 or more new followers on Follow Fridays. I’m sure they look at my FFs and follow everyone who looks like a good bet for a followback. It doesn’t do those folks any good if they see me promoting the same 20 people, week in and week out. And it doesn’t gain my longstanding friends any new followers.

So, here’s what I look for:

  1. People who I’m sure check their accounts and follow their followers back.
  2. People who I haven’t tweeted with in awhile, but want to maintain a relationship with. These FFs are a sort of shout-out at a time when Twitter is hot.
  3. People who have followed me recently and seem as though they like to tweet with me often. These are a way of introducing new people to the circle of friends who tweet with me every day.
  4. People who are new, have equivalent-sized or smaller followings than mine, but understand the basics of following back.
  5. People who have added me to lists recently, or who I haven’t talked with for a while and who have shown up unexpectedly and given me some form of help in the last week.
  6. I always include at least one or two of about 25 long-standing friends.
  7. For the tweet that’s  jam-packed with people, I try to include a couple of people who regularly help me find followers with people they might not have encountered yet.

How I Use Other People’s Follow Fridays to Find Followers

  1. As I’m sending my own FFs, I’m looking at my notifications and lists, thanking people who give them to me, and retweeting FF tweets. I’m also favoriting them.
  2. Once I’m done sending my Follow Fridays, or depending on my schedule, sometimes over the weekend, I go through all those favorites. I follow the ones that look like they might follow back. I often favorite a couple of their tweets and retweet something that looks good while I’m scanning their profiles for the first time.
  3. Then I wait for the followbacks. I don’t thank many people for following – my account has too much daily growth to make that possible. However, everyone who thanks me for a follow or otherwise tweets with me just because I’ve followed them gets a friendly response, and I usually add them to one or more of my lists.

This has gotten me as many as 60 followers on a Friday, and it’s gotten me 150 in a weekend before. I have to stress this – it’s the following people after all the tweeting is done that gets me the followers.

Sending the Follow Fridays themselves are important, though. People include me in their FFs because they see me participating, and because I notice people who do that and give them FFs in subsequent weeks. And it’s those FFs I’m included in that show me who to follow once I’m done.

I never go through my notifications and give people FFs just because they give me one. That’s too transactional, even for Twitter. I always know who I’m giving mine to by Thursday night. But I do reciprocate at appropriate intervals, and sometimes it just happens to work out that I’m giving people FFs while they’re giving them to me.

Just to give you an idea of what this can do for you if you do it consistently for awhile. I didn’t send a single Follow Friday last week because I was busy retweeting #YesAllWomen tweets. I did retweet FFs and thank people, though. I picked up 25 followers just by following people I was included in the FFs with.

I have two more of these posts to write over the next few weeks. I want to explain the importance of @MondayBlogs in the next one. Twitter heats up on the weekends. Prime time starts on Friday mornings and builds through Sunday afternoon. Monday Blogs extends the weekend an extra day for bloggers. I pick up most of my followers on Fridays-Mondays. The follows I give on those days typically carry me though to the next Friday, so that I’m always gaining more followers than I’m losing during the rest of the week.

I’ll also have a post that explains how I use lists at some point. I’m still fine-tuning my list strategy though, so that one needs to wait a bit.

Happy blogging & tweeting, and have a great week!

Twitter images via Suzie81’s Blog and Molly Greene. @suzie81blog, @mollygreene.