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I check my blog’s spam folder regularly for an occasional legit comment. Well, this time around it’s happening to my comments on other blogs, unfortunately.  So if you see I liked a post on your blog recently, there is a good chance you’ve got my comment in your spam folder.

If you are experiencing similar inconveniences, here is a remedy recommended by Cee Neuner in her comment to my previous post.

“You are being caught up in Askismet spam. Here is their contact form. Write in “my comments are going to other people’s spam”. And a form will pop up…just fill it out and you will be fixed in a couple of working days.

http://akismet.com/contact/

In the meantime, you can put out a blog that asks for everyone to check their spam mail and accept your comments…and from that point on that person will get your comments and you will be able to comment on their blogs too.”

Thank you for your great advice Cee! And thank you all awesome bloggers who responded to my previous post and unspammed my comments!

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image via morguefile

After actively blogging for about half a year and having tankloads of fun, I suddenly got hit by blogger’s blues: I am not as enthusiastic about blogging as I was just a couple of weeks back; an occasional thought of throwing in the towel crosses my mind; I ask myself once in a while: what’s the point? And is it really worth my while? In other words – I FEEL TIRED.

I understand it’s just a phase, which shall pass, and all the colours of rainbow will return to my blogging puddle. Eventually. Meanwhile, I am trying to think of remedies for this condition.

  1. Time-machine: Going back in time to the blog’s humble beginnings and recalling the motivation and inspiration behind it. What was the blog’s initial focus? – To provide a creative outlet and find a spot under the blog-o-sun. I don’t think I lost my focus. What’s lacking then? Maybe because some days it feels more like a chore than fun?
  2. New direction: Writing a post on a different topic or posting a video or doing something totally different than usually. I could write about topics I haven’t touched yet like fashion/makeup/politics/dating/war criminals/cooking/celebrities/religion – but the problem is I don’t feel like it. A video might work, although that would take more time than any other type of post and I will end up even more tired.
  3. Fresh look: I have already made some changes to the right-hand side panel and poked around trying on new themes. I may try changing the header, although I really like the swans. Or is it too much water? According to some oriental views, excessive water can make you feel depressed.
  4. Editorial schedule: Writing NO MORE than two scheduled posts a week can provide some sense of control. And only after that writing more if time permits. But the very fact that I am writing this unscheduled post (while thinking of another two) demonstrates how hooked on blogging I am.
  5. STOP WATCHING THE BLOG STATS and FRETTING OVER THE BLOG TRAFFIC.
  6. Partner(s): I’ve been mulling over this concept for quite a while, but I am still not sure whether I like the idea of partners or multiple authors. It certainly works in business, but does it work for personal blogs? I’ve seen some examples, and I think where multiple-author blogs gain in numbers, they lose in individuality. I also noticed that blogs run by sisters, brothers, a married couple or two friends are doing better than blogs with three or more partners/contributors. If you’ve got any good examples of multiple-author blogs, please do share.
  7. Guest posts: That may work for blogs that already attract huge crowds. Mine is not there yet, and I doubt it will ever be. As a reader, I actually tend to skip guest posts (same as reblogged content), believe it or not.
  8. Reblogging: That’s like re-tweeting, although less conspicuous. It would surely look odd if two or three blogs that I follow reblogged the same post. Plus finding posts on other blogs worth reblogging may take some time. Yet there is no denying that reblogging can be useful.
  9. Awards: I have a very positive view on awards as they help build a sense of community and strengthen ties with other bloggers. On the flip side, the process itself may become quite onerous. I totally understand why some bloggers don’t do awards. And I totally understand why other bloggers enjoy them. There are a lot of creative ways to show your appreciation for the award, ranging from a simple thank you comment, to reblogging the award post, to including award badges with links on a separate page or side bar, to writing a full-fledged post that follows the rules to the letter. I also noticed that some bloggers ignore nominations entirely. That’s fine with me: bloggers are very busy people and I know it firsthand.
  10. Taking a break: As simple as that. You might lose some traffic and comments in the process, but when you are ready to return, you and your readers will really enjoy your fresh perspective.
  11. Things that make me tired: I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. And I have to admit I avoid really long posts like a plague. This post is about 800 words. And it already feels long to me. So, if you are still reading it, you are my hero! Thank you!!!
  12. Things that don’t make me tired: Punchy headlines; inverted pyramid format (used by journalist when the most important information comes first, less important second – it doesn’t always work though); intriguing opening with a hook; great photos or art; sound bites (a short quote and a photo to go with it); and simply awesome (not very long) posts.

Do you get bogged down in some aspects of blogging? How do you conquer blogger’s blues?

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I am sure most bloggers will agree that conversation and community are as important to blogging as writing, creating art, journaling, and sharing. And what is the best way to engage in conversation with other bloggers if not comments? Although commenting on other blogs may seem like a lot of work (and it certainly is, especially if you strive for quality as well as quantity), the rewards of such engagement are great, and not only are they backed up by the blog stats, which I am sure every blogger watches like a hawk, but also by building relationship with others in your blogging niche, and finding inspiration and ideas for your own posts.

Like many of you, I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands, and I wish I could do more in terms of commenting and visiting other blogs, but I try to do my best. That’s why the Top Recent Commenter award is so dear to my heart. I would like to thank Marcy at Orples.wordpress.com for her generous gesture. She is a top commenter on my blog, and I think she has a special gift for creating articulate and uplifting comments.

Thank you Marcy!

Now I am supposed to nominate six bloggers, top recent commenters on my blog. If you choose to accept the award, congratulations! If not, please look at this post as a token of my infinite gratitude.

  1. TBM at 50 Year Project
  2. Cath at Instant Affection
  3. Jenny at Jenny’s Serendipity
  4. Jake at Jakesprinter
  5. MindMindful
  6. Judy at JayJays Favourites
  7. Lynne at Beyond the Brush

Thank you all for your comments!

————————————————–

The rules:
Thank the person who nominated you.
Nominate  6 bloggers who comment on your blog the most frequently and notify them of the award.You can find your Top Recent Commenters on your site stats page on the bottom, right corner.
Nominate one more person…the 7th. This person can either be a brand new commenter on your blog, the very last comment you have received, or the one who has posted your most favorite comments Tell us why you have chosen them as your seventh.
And answer the following questions:
1. Tell us about one of your most cherished childhood memories.
2. Tell us about one of your most cherished memories with your child(ren). If you do not have children, then share one of your pet(s). If you do not have pets either, then one with niece(s), nephew(s), or any combination thereof.
3. Tell us one thing you have learned from one or both of your parents that has stuck with you throughout the years.
4. Tell us one thing that you have taught (or intend to teach) your child(ren) that hopeful will stick with them throughout their lifetime
5. Tell us about your favorite job, whether it is one you hold now or one from the past, and why you enjoy(ed) it.
6. Tell us what you are doing in pursuit of achieving an attainable goal.
7. Tell us about one person who had the best influence on you in your life (teacher, neighbor, friend, etc.)..

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If things keep going at this pace, pretty soon I’ll have more awards than I know what to do with, but I am not complaining, and please keep them coming! 🙂 This time it’s the Sunshine Award! This sunny nomination I owe to Mouse , whose delicious recipes add a considerable amount of sunlight to my day. Thank you, dear Mouse  for both the recipes and the award!!

The rules of this award are

  • Place up the award picture, link back to and thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the ten questions posed to you
  • Pass on the award to 10 or more bloggers

 Q&As

  1. Favourite colour: Lavender
  2. Favourtie animal: Dog
  3. Favourite number: It depends on what that number is attached to.
  4. Favourite non-alcoholic drink: Green tea
  5. Facebook or Twitter: Twitter (for now)
  6. My passion: Visual arts, fiction, fantasy genre
  7. Getting or giving presents: I love the giving part. What I don’t like is the shopping-and-choosing-a-gift part.
  8. Favourite pattern: Golden spirals
  9. Favourite day of the week: Saturday
  10. Favourite flower: Cherry blossoms

And the awards go to:

http://instantaffection.wordpress.com/

Dear fellow bloggers, I would like to take this opportunity and introduce Cath at Instant Affection. She is a friend and the only blogger I know in person. Cath just moved her beautiful blog from Blogger to WordPress.com. Congratulations Cath and welcome!

Other Sunny Nominations:

http://northernnarratives.wordpress.com

http://maggiephotgraphy.wordpress.com

http://antenehseifu.wordpress.com/

http://jennysserendipity.wordpress.com 

http://ceeslifephotographyblog.wordpress.com

http://orples.wordpress.com

http://jayjaysfavorites.wordpress.com/

http://positiveboomer.wordpress.com/

http://davidrwetzelphotography.wordpress.com/

Congratulations! 

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Photo credit: Jarod Carruthers (Creative Commons)

Since my blog is a fairly new addition to the myriad of existing and already established blogs, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information and the very process of blogging. Although classes and books are helpful, I believe the only way to learn is by doing it (rather than talking about it), as well as by trial and error, and from experience of those who are successful in the field.

I have no problem taking care of the doing part and learning from success of others, but first I would like to get a better understanding of what success looks like in personal blogging. At this point, the concept in my head is somewhat fuzzy.

So, I would appreciate if dear fellow bloggers could share some of their knowledge and answer some questions:

What does success look like in personal blogging?

What are the most important indicators of a successful blog?

  • Is it traffic?
  •  Search engine rankings?
  • Number of comments? Quality of comments?
  • Number of Likes?
  • Community?
  • Awards?
  • Ability to profit?
  • All of the above?

It sounds like a lot, but in fact all I want to know is when I land on a blog’s home page, what is the most important indicator that would tell me that the blog “has made it”? Or, is it even fair to ask such a question? Do you think there is a common denominator of success, or maybe there isn’t?

I will greatly appreciate your thoughts and comments. I understand that blogging is becoming more competitive, everyone has his or her own priorities, there are no formulas and recipes for success, and you would certainly want something from me in return. I could offer to follow your blog, read your posts and provide my comments, but you likely already have more followers and comments than you can handle. Yet I think it’s still a win-win, because if you reply to my post or press the Like button, I get an opportunity to learn from your blog and join your community, and you get an opportunity to demonstrate your magnanimity, the spirit of sharing, and sense of community. On top of that you’ll have my sincere gratitude and appreciation.

As a side note, I realize that some bloggers do it full-time, some – as a hobby. So, here is my last question: Where is the line you must cross to call yourself a pro?

I look forward to hearing from you!

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What readers want

I just got a severe bout of writer’s block. Funny it should happen right after my post about taming it. It must be a jinx.

To break the spell, I decided to do some research about personal blogs and their readers. My previous experience as a reader was predominantly with specialized blogs, like photography, design, writing or social media tips for business. Because personal blogging is still a whole new ball game to me, I figured it might help to poke around with some questions.

As a first step, I visited an online forum that I had frequented before the advent of Twitter, Facebook and blogging. It’s the only forum I’ve participated in for a number of years, and it’s so ancient you may call it a social media fossil, with the only difference that this fossil is still alive and kicking. It’s a tightly knit online community whose regular visitors are mostly women between 25 and 55 years old, who like to share their musings and who read blogs regularly. So I opened a new discussion asking what kind of blogs they like and how they find them. Within a couple of hours I received my answers.

It came as no surprise that my respondents had pretty high expectations. They liked the blogs that had:

  • interesting, thought-provoking topics
  • fresh ideas and original content
  • passion and candor
  • authenticity
  • a sense of humour
  • good images and video
  • good writing
  • easy to read presentation and relatively short posts

Surprisingly, no one mentioned usefulness and practicality of posts as a make-or-break quality, unless it was a cooking recipe or a Photoshop tutorial. Some of them said they hated post titles like “7 deadly sins of …,” “10 sources of …,” “20 books you should read,” “5 mistakes you should avoid.” You get the idea.

According to the results of my poking around (I wouldn’t dare calling it a survey), I divided readers of personal blogs into three categories: the first one sticks with a few select bloggers, who are on the same wavelength as the reader, and ignore the rest. Those in the second category don’t favour a particular blog or author, but read whatever grabs their attention at the moment, or whatever is being discussed in online forums. The last and the smallest category includes those who read only blogs by people whom they know personally.

Obviously, my quick-&-dirty findings reflect bias of only a fraction of a fraction of the vast online readership. Yet, I maintain, any information is better than none. 🙂

How about your experience and habits as a blog reader? Are your expectations of personal blogs as high as those mentioned in this post, or are you willing to cut bloggers some slack? What, in your opinion, is the most important attribute of a good personal blog?

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While I gingerly dip my toes in the cool waters of blogging, I can’t help but ask myself: Why am I doing this? What’s the point of personal blogging? I don’t run a business; there is nothing to sell. I am not an expert in any given field, but more of a generalist; there is no expertise to share and no eager clients lining up for my advice. What can I possibly give to the blogoworld that anyone else can’t? Besides, there are millions of blogs out there.  Who needs one more personal blog?

I guess I do.

I am sure that anyone familiar with the subject of blogging would have to admit that a blog, personal or otherwise, is an investment with a very sketchy promise of return or no promise at all. Although, with free hosting and basic blog service, you often don’t have to spend a dime to get your blog started, your contribution can still be hefty as you invest your time, effort and passion. So there must be some incentive apart from an instant gratification (which can be sketchy too, if your blog, like mine, has no readership to speak of, at the moment.) I obviously can’t talk for the rest of the world, but I can try to explain what’s goading me into the terra incognita that blogging is to me.

Sand Castle at the Beach; Photo credit: thath (Creative Commons)

Sand Castle at the Beach; Photo credit: thaths (Creative Commons)

1. Blogging as a creative outlet
As an ordinary person leading an ordinary life, I am not extremely overloaded with creative challenges that make me stretch my imagination and flex my creative muscle. I view a personal blog as my sandbox, where I can build my sand castles. And like any good kid, I will gladly share it with others. (Some conditions apply🙂)

2. Blogging as a workshop and a lab
Over the years, I’ve had numerous creative aspirations. Some of them have evolved into a career, and others remained at the level of a hobby. Naturally, I’ve invested more in what helped me advance in the workplace — within the constraints that came with the territory. Yet I need a playground, a workshop, and a lab to master what skills I’ve got and to explore new avenues outside of work; a personal blog seems to be a perfect venue for that.

3. Blogging as a way to connect with kindred souls
Of all reasons for blogging the most important one for me is the opportunity to connect with kindred souls. I  recently finished an online writing course, and what a great experience it was! It proved once again that there is no substitute for a supportive community of like-minded individuals. You can bounce ideas off each other, provide feedback and reviews, share tips and resources, and overcome the sense of isolation that a blog-loner may experience from time to time.

So, these are my main reasons for blogging. How about yours?

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