Tag Archives: Blogging

Why I Blog About Multiple Topics

Nine speech bubbles in a variety of shapes and pastel colours.Edited on May 13, 2020 to include two responses to this post: On Blogging and Requiem on Blogging

I’ve been blogging on various sites more or less continuously since I was in college.

It started after I read a friend’s blog and realized I could do that, too.

Several of the blogs I worked on solo or as part of a group of bloggers no longer exist, but PK Stories is an exception to that.

I was a preacher’s kid growing up and spent a few years sharing amusing stories from that part of my childhood. (Please note that I’ve learned a lot about writing, blogging, and storytelling since that site was last active. It’s pretty old).

Blogging has changed quite a bit over the years. The best practices for it these days are generally thought to include picking one topic and only writing about that.

So why don’t I follow that rule? Well, there are a few reasons for that.

Content Fatigue

Image of a puzzle in the shape of the profile of a human head
Actual footage of my thought processes after a couple of years of writing about the same topic every week.

I’ve learned through trial and error that I experience content fatigue on single-topic blogs after about two or three years.

It’s tricky for me to know where to go next after I’ve covered everything I want to say, especially since I dislike recycling posts or repeating myself.

Rather than building a new site from scratch every other year, I now prefer to stick to the same site and bounce around among a few different topics instead.

Kudos to those of you who can blog about the same thing for years or decades.

I admire your constancy, but my creativity eventually struggles under those circumstances.

Overlapping Interests

Blue rectangles and squares that are overlapping each other. There may be some people on this planet whose interests all exist in well-defined bubbles that never intersect with each other, but I’m not one of them.

My fitness posts often reference science fiction or fantasy because I think about topics like Frodo’s long walk to Mordor or what it would really be like to use a Holodeck  for my workouts. (Yes, I will actually write that post one of these days).

Sometimes I need to share childhood stories when I talk about the magic of Halloween so my readers will understand why it’s so important to me.

Yoga is both a workout and an exercise in mindfulness. That still blows my mind and may require a few more posts to fully explore.

So why not talk about all of the fascinating things that move between and connect these seemingly-unrelated topics?

Simple Human Curiosity

A group of human-shaped figures in every colour of the rainbow - brown, orange, yellow, green, red, and more!Look, would I ever tell someone else what to write about on their site? Absolutely not!

But I do quietly love it when bloggers reveal new pieces of their personal lives and interests that may or may not be related to the main topic(s) of their sites.

There’s something delightful and surprising about everyone once you get to know them well enough.

It’s amazing to learn that someone you’ve followed and interacted with for years has this whole other side to them that you’d never would have predicted whether that’s a hobby, interest, or something else entirely.

So one of the other big reasons why I jump between topics is to give my readers a better understanding of who I am as a person. Yes, half or more of my posts are about the science fiction and fantasy genres in any given month because of how passionate I am about them, but those aren’t my only interests by any means.

My hope is that by sharing these parts of myself other bloggers might be encouraged to do the same thing.

How did you all pick the topic(s) for your sites? What made you stick to one topic on your site or include multiple ones on it?

8 Tips for Developing a Social Media Calendar

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a list of things I could give impromptu speeches on including developing a social media calendar. Several of my readers showed interest in that topic, so this is what I’ll be discussing in today’s post.

Twitter and Instagram are the social media sites I’ll be focusing on since they’re the two I use, but rest assured that much of this advice can apply to any social media account you may be managing.

Why Develop a Social Media Calendar?

The Twitter logo. It's blue and of the outline of a flying bird. Why is it important to develop a social media calendar? Well, there are a few reasons why this is a good idea.

One, posting on a schedule helps you to attract new followers and readers. For example, I know that my friend April Munday always tweets about her new weekly post on Sundays.

Two, you can write and schedule content ahead of time if you use one of the many platforms out there that were created for this purpose. While this should probably be a post of its own one day, pre-scheduling posts can come in pretty handy in case of illness, travel, or an Internet outage.

By developing a social media calendar ahead of time, you’ll still have something to say even when life reduces how much time and energy you have for coming up with new material.

8 Tips for Developing a Social Media Calendar

Tip #1 Stick to a Schedule

No, developing a social media calendar does not mean that you have to come up with something to share every hour of the day. I generally aim for three tweets set to go out per day.

If I have a post going live that day, the link to it tweeted out first thing in the morning. If not, it might be a funny story from my life or some other lighthearted conversation starter.

Three blue bars of varying heights against a black and grey background.A little before lunchtime, I share something like a quote, link to an interesting news article, or photo.

The final tweet is always my question of the day in the afternoon.

Tip #2: Post at High Traffic Times

For Instagram and Twitter, high traffic times seem to be 8-9 am before people start work or school, lunchtime, and about 5-6 pm once they’re winding up their days.

Obviously, the precise times will vary depending on which time zone you’re in and when your followers are most active. These are only general guidelines to get you started until you’ve figured out the unique rhythms of your audience.

Tip #3: Mix It Up

Yes, consistency is important, but you don’t want to post the exact same sort of material every single day. That can get repetitive after a while.

Here are a few of the many different types of updates you could share:

  • Quotes
  • Polls
  • Questions
  • Updates
  • Relevant Articles
  • Jokes
  • Photos

Tip #4: Ask Open-Ended Questions

Ask “what is your favourite colour?” rather than “do you prefer purple or yellow?” It leaves room for improvisation and for answers you might never have expected to receive.

Drawing of two heads facing each other who has speech bubbles on their heads. One head has question marks floating out of their speech bubble, and the other has bright lightbulbs signifying ideas floating up.Tip #5: Keep a File of Ideas

I kid you not, I have a file of stuff to share on social media that stretches out through summer of 2021. It’s organized by month for this year and season for 2021. Some of it is season or holiday-specific. Other ideas are simply things I’ve jotted down but haven’t yet used.

Each month I look through the material that I’ve already gathered for that time period and decide what to share and when.

Tip #6: Check Idea-Generating Places Regularly

Obviously, idea-generating places are going to vary quite a bit from one person to the next depending on the topics you plan to post about.

I generally discuss sci-fi/fantasy, mindfulness, food, fitness, and all sorts of random bookish stuff, so the following sites give me plenty of material to work with:

National Day Calendar 

The Quotes, Discussions, Events, and New Releases sections of Goodreads

And relevant subreddits like:

If I find something in February that would be perfect for a Halloween post, I’ll squirrel it away in my ideas folder until then. It’s a great way to make sure I’ll have things to share weeks or months from now.

A collection of the word "like" written in many different colours. They are arranged in the form of a hand giving a thumbs up. Tip #7: Engage with Your Followers

As far as more immediate ideas, talking to your followers can be a good way to come up with them.

This really should go without saying, but if someone asks a question on your site or social media page, answer it if at all possible!

Not only is it good for your brand and reputation, I’ve gotten ideas for future tweets, blog posts, and stories from interactions with folks online.

Tip #8: Keep Experimenting

One of the things I love about developing and cultivating a social media calendar is how often it can be improved upon. What worked last month might not be as effective now. There is always room to try something new and see if it works better.

If you’ve developed a social media calendar, what other tips would you give?

Calling All Bookish Folks to the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop

Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop Banner

This event is so cool I decided to dedicate a full post to it today.

On October 31, blogger Patricia Lynne is going to be hosting a Trick-or-Treat blog hop for anyone who is looking for free, new e-books to read.

Authors, you have until October 31 to hop on over to her site and share a link to your free book or books.

Bloggers, readers, and reviewers, the full list of free e-books will be available on that site on October 31. Be sure to go check it out then if you need something new to read. The hashtag they’re using on Twitter is #trickortreatreads, so keep an eye out for that, too.

I’ve already added the link for my books. If I find any titles there that fit the theme of my blog, you may see reviews of them here in the future. A big part of the reason why I wrote this post is so that I can link back to it over the coming months to explain how I gained access to so many free books at once if this pans out as well as I hope it does.

Happy reading, everyone!

We Need More Response Posts

Woman sitting on edge of white concrete stairs and looking at her laptop.I started blogging back in the early 2000s when most of the bloggers I knew used Blogspot. One of the things I miss the most from that era are response posts.

If you don’t know what a response post is, here’s an example of how this sort of thing works.

Finley: Here are seven reasons why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all. 

Rory: The other day I read Finley’s post about why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all. Here’s a link to their post for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. While I agree with most of their points, today I wanted to talk about why Captain Sisqo was an even better example of top-notch Star Trek leadership. 

That is, Rory noticed something in Finley’s original post that made them decide to write a response to it in order to dig more deeply into the topic of which Star Trek captain is the best of them all or to explain where their opinion differed from what Finley thinks about that universe.

Just like WordPress today, some blogging platforms back then had notification systems that would let the original blogger(s) know someone had linked to their work. Other bloggers could read both of these posts and then write their own replies about which captain they thought was the best. Sometimes this sparked conversations that lasted for weeks or months and took place over many different sites as new people added in their opinions and the original participants replied again to clarify their point of view or ask a question.

I’ve seen echoes of this phenomenon on occasional Tumblr posts, but I’m not seeing it happen in the blogosphere much at all these days. If someone strongly agrees or disagrees with a post, they tend to create Twitter threads or leave a comment instead. 

Comment sections and Twitter threads are fun, but I prefer blog posts for discussions like these for a few different reasons.

Longevity

 It’s been my experience that responses last longer and are easier to find if they’re turned into a blog post. Few people scroll months or years back into someone else’s Twitter stream, and I’ve had experiences in the past where old comments on my various blogs disappeared with site updates. 

Blog posts have a way of sticking around on the Internet for years after their publication date. Occasionally, I still find references to posts that went “viral” in the blogosphere many years ago.

In addition, one of the first things I do when I discover a new blog is to poke around their archives and see what they were talking about months or years ago. There can be posts there that I’ll then share with the people I know who are interested in comparing Star Trek captains, for example.

More In-Depth Discussions

There are many things I appreciate about social media, but it’s hard to fit complex ideas or discussions into a few 280-character tweets. The beautiful thing about the blogosphere is how much more room there is in a blog post to add subtley to your point of view. 

A tweet might only have room to mention one or two things you loved about Jean Luc Picard. In a blog post, you could mention everything you admired about him, compare it to the strengths and weaknesses of other captains, and respond to someone who had complained earlier about how silly is it for him to specify every single time that he wants his Earl Grey tea to be hot when that’s something that the replicators on the Enterprise really should be able to assume based on that captain’s long history of drinking hot tea.

Any Trekkie who stumbled across this hypothetical response post could share it on social media and ignite an entirely new round of discussions on the strengths and weaknesses of all of the Star Trek captains.

Community Building

Image of legs of people standing in a circle and pointing their toes to each other. Yes, communities can and absolutely do exist on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites.

One of the biggest differences between building an online community on social media and in the blogosphere lies in how easy it is to keep up with everyone. I’ll take a step back from my Star Trek analogy for a moment to discuss something serious that actually happened in one of my social circles recently.

Without giving away too many identifying details, a friend of mine recently went through something difficult. They talked about it on social media, but because of the time of day they shared them as well as some of the silly marketing gimmicks on that site I – along with many other friends of theirs – never saw their updates. 

It wasn’t until they shared another status update talking about how lonely they felt that most of us realized something was wrong. Had this been a blog post on my RSS feed instead, I would have seen and responded to it within a day or so of it being published. 

I Want to Write More Response Posts

As the saying goes, “be the change you want to see in the world.” While that phrase was originally coined to describe far more pressing issues than this one, I think I’m going to start shuffling my editorial calendar around on this blog a bit to allow for occasional response posts.

Maybe they’ll come back into fashion again if more bloggers realize just how useful they can be. If you write something thought-provoking, your post just might be the one I pick! 

For those of you who have experience with them, what do you think of response posts? Are you also interested in bringing this style of blog post back? 

We Need Movies About Blogging

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. As I’ve said here before, I don’t believe in stretching out my words if a few hundred of them will suffice.

Someone found this site recently by doing a search for movies about blogging. Normally, queries like this happen because of something I blogged about in the recent or distant past.

This time I couldn’t figure out why that search led them here other than the fact that I have multiple posts about movies and blogging as two separate categories.

Sometimes the magic of Google combines unrelated words in new ways when someone searches for something that doesn’t have a lot of hits online.

The more I think about that original query, the more I agree with this person.

The first movie I remember seeing about email was You’ve Got Mail, and it came out shortly after this form of communication became more commonly used.

Blogging hasn’t gotten the same treatment so far as I can tell even though it’s been around for about twenty-five years now. This post is old, but the demographics of blogging also make me think that there are a lot of people out there who would be interested in seeing such a film. At least as of 2010, the average blogger was young and almost a third of them lived in the United States. That tends to be the same demographic that goes to the movies regularly!

This isn’t even to mention the fact that blogs exist for every niche out there. A story about bloggers who were all dealing with chronic health problems would have a completely different narrative flow on the big screen when compared to bloggers who wrote about playing poker, rescuing abandoned pets, restoring vintage cars, reviewing books, or trying to convince toddlers to eat their vegetables.

The possibilities are truly endless.

True, it probably wouldn’t be very entertaining to have an entire film about someone typing away on a laptop or tablet.

The director and screenwriters would need to show other sides of the blogging community like conventions, small group meetups, the things bloggers go through to get that perfect picture for their site, or what happens when you have a post ninety percent written, forget to save it as you work, and then your computer crashes right before you tap that save button.

Raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you!

What do you all think? Would you watch a film about bloggers?

 

 

Blogging Advice: Finding and Using Visual Images for Your Site

Welcome back to my series on blogging that Ruth Feiertag asked me to write late last year. This is the third instalment, and today we’re talking about the important of including visual images in your posts. (There are  links to the first two instalments at the bottom of this post). I’m going to be spend… Read More

Blogging Advice: How to Begin a Blog

Last month, Ruth Feiertag  left a friendly comment on one of my posts asking for blogging advice. Not only did I have far more to say to her than would fit into a comment, I thought her question would be an excellent jumping off point for a new series on this site. Today I’m going… Read More