Sunday, March 18, 2012

Apparently, I'm Not Blogging Correctly

So I hit the milestone of 1000+ views! YAY! Well.... actually, not really.... There were a LOT of hits to the blog that were just me checking in on stuff or bringing it up so I can make sure I got the website address correct when trying to link to it. I was at about 500 views when I finally figured out how to turn off the times *I* look at the page. So I can probably cut off about 300 views that way... And then I super-goofed last week when I used a meme face to express the emotion ChibiSunnie made me feel with her note to me. I was super shocked to discover the next day that I had over 100 hits to my page.... and then realized it was because people were searching google for the "Mom Please" meme face and one of the top image hits was my blog. So I have over 200 hits for last week's post, and yet I doubt any more than my normal 20 hits are people actually READING my blog. So I hit a milestone, and yet I didn't....

Lesson learned: If you don't want arbitrary views on your blog don't post something that most people are googling for....

I went back and custom made my own "Mom Please" face using the LycoRogue emotes I was making back in January. From now on I have to just keep doctoring that giant emote to make my own meme face. That way it won't be titled what people are searching for and I won't have random hits anymore. I do have to say two things about this plan:

1 - The emotes I was making were way too small for the image I wanted, and so I had to completely re-build the LycoRogue emote-face about six-times larger. Therefore taking me about all day rebuilding it and then re-designing it to get the meme-face. Seven hours later I have something that looks like an ugly alien as opposed to the adorable "mom please" meme face.
*shrug* oh well...

2 - The girl that offered to beta for me back in like December is still friends with me on Facebook and popped up randomly when I complained about the false milestone due to the meme-face. She replied that "If it's on your blog, it's legit!" *Shrug* Perhaps she's right, but I'd prefer to know the number of people READING my blog, not just the number of people who brought the blog up. Then again, prior to this blunder the number one reason people found my blog was because I had a post about Castle fanfiction and people were looking for that....

I guess I'm just an odd duck when it comes to blogging. Most people WANT their blog found - legitimately I do as well - and therefore are part of the SEO mindset. Having 200+ hits simply because people are searching for a picture on the blog is "great trafficking" by most people's standards. On the other hand, I sincerely want only those who actually read my blog. I want to know my audience. Sure, there may be only five of you, but I appreciate the fact that you are here and reading and truly care what I say.

In fact, I recently added Google Analytics so I could really pull a Big Brother with my blog stats. I now know how many are repeat readers and how long the average reader is staying on my blog. It's cool stuff! ^_^

Anyway, in regards to my readers, I had another comment just last night. Which brings me to another point. Wednesday I did it again; I sat down to work on my story and ended up spending the next five hours reading blog posts instead. First, it was a newsletter from Ali Luke - the blogger I'm now faithfully following - commenting on a guest blog she did for Copyblogger. Copyblogger is one of the top blogs with tips on writing. Aliventures is apparently a small fish in comparison. Soooooo.... I then spent hours reading tips on Copyblogger, and more tips from Aliventures, and then some from about five other blogs that were linked to Copyblogger via guest blogs. All of them brought me to a similar consensus. I'm not blogging correctly.

It seems I'm still stuck in an age of blogging long since passed - a time where any Average Joe could start up an online-diary for others to read and the author would somehow feel connected to the world now that the diary was out for all to see. I knew that blogs were becoming more professional over the years. Bloggers would get book deals and make a living doing nothing but blogging. Somehow, when I wasn't looking, this evolved in to blogs becoming professional-quality, online magazines. Blogs - much like the seven-or-so that I spent Wednesday reading - now inform people. It seems that I am still in the dark ages in which my blog doesn't inform anyone. I'm still journal-writing. Which would explain my lack of readership.

Yet, I don't wish to change. It's well known that blogging is good for writers; especially when the blog has set update deadlines. It keeps the writer from procrastinating, and sometimes forces the writer to grow his or her vocabulary as well as master editing. The last two are especially true with today's use of blogs as professional publications. Couple that with the fact that I actually AM working through my writing issues in this journal form, and you're left with me certainly not closing this blog down. As well as me not changing the format - well, content wise at least.

So what if this is an unprofessional, out-dated way of blogging? It helps me think things through, helps me gather up all those fluffy plot bunnies, and it really does force me to fall in to a pattern of writing regularly. Sure, I'm still not taking that practice to include writing my FANFICTION regularly, but baby-steps. Plus, the whole point of this blog was for my readers to know where I am at with a story and to find out neat "behind the scenes" info about each story and chapter. This blog wouldn't work if it wasn't in journal form.

Granted, at first it was just for simple updates like "I've been struggling with writing the song I need for the next chapter, but I swear I'm working on it," and then it blossomed in to this full-fledged diary. I still don't see too much wrong with that process. Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, also has a journal-styled blog. He posts things like book-tour dates, or where he's at with his latest story, or that he's not writing because he's on a family trip, etc. I love it. I love reading about his life in these little diary entries and feeling like I truly know him. The more I feel like I can relate to him the more I feel like we have similar personalities and similar life situations. This, coupled with his actual writing style being similar to mine, really makes me say "He's really no different than I am. If he can be a professional writer, so can I!"

Now, I'm not saying that I'm this superb fanfiction writer that people should take on as a mentor, however, it's that connectivity that I'm trying to get across. Perhaps my readers are having the same struggles as I am and watching me find a solution helps them do the same. Perhaps some - nudge, nudge - have a lot of self-doubt, but see me as I see Rick Riordan - If she can do it, so can I!

Perhaps someday, when I know what the heck I'm doing, I'll start up a "professional" blog with actual writing advice or something along those lines. Or - more likely - I'll never write a blog post in the professional sense. Maybe I'll fall somewhere in the middle and only write professional-quality guest blog posts. We'll just have to wait and see where life eventually takes me. For now, I'm content with my journal-styled blog, even if it is an outdated way to use this site.

Now, as for the physical format of the blog, I'm still a bit on the fence. I had the comment about the black lettering and white background that I posted about last week. At first I was concerned, but quickly shrugged it off when people commented on both Facebook and DeviantArt that the format was fine, unique, and - most importantly - readable. I even had one faithful reader inform me that she reads textbooks day in and day out and "[associates black text on white background] with something dense and potentially boring." Then I received the second comment I mentioned above. A blogger named "It's Like We're Related" agreed with the first formatting comment, stating "a simple black font on a white background is the way to go." The comment continued with a handy link to a "Top 10 Best Blogs for Writers" list. Although The Creative Penn was listed, I never heard of the other nine, and Copyblogger wasn't on the list. So I'm not sure what the criteria was, but I get what "It's Like We're Related" was getting at. Each of those blogs may have had a design along the top and side, but where the posts themselves were they all had white backgrounds and simple, black font. And the comment did end quite nicely with "Don't worry about it being plain, just make sure it's very easily readable. Your personality comes through from your words, and you don't want anything to distract your readers from that."

So, sincere thank you to "It's Like We're Related" for taking the time to both read and comment with some helpful tips. The fact that the extra mile was taken to gather up that list of examples was just amazing! The time investment - even if it was five minutes - means a lot. It truly does.

However, it still just doesn't feel like me. It doesn't feel like this blog. I like that it's unique and stylized. Granted, I'll probably tweak it over the weeks/months/years, but I don't know if I'll ever go to "black and white". Especially since this truly is a journal-blog. All the examples listed, as well as the majority of the "b&w" blogs quickly scanned on this site, are all professional-quality and informative. I just don't think that's where I am. Sure, I could get more readers if I switched it up and at least LOOKED more professional, but it would feel stuffy.

I didn't want all the advice to go to waste though. So I stashed it away for that one-day-future-point where I might write a professional blog. Plus, I did the tweak to the background here. It's no longer transparent, and so you no longer see the scroll right behind the text. I also attempted the black font, but I just missed the brown "inkwell" look - although, granted, ink was generally BLACK. Baby-steps here. I might get there. I just wish the background had an opacity percentage like in Photoshop.

I also tried to experiment a little bit with fonts to see which one to keep. I like the fact that this looks like a handwritten journal entry, and so I won't use the generic "Times New Roman" or "Ariel" or "Georgia" or "Courier New" etc fonts. But I'm not sure if any of these other handwritten-styled fonts are easier to read, harder to read, or just look like I turned in to one of those My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic fans - no offense to the Bronies out there. Much love!

My blog title font has always been different than the rest. It's currently in Rock Salt. The font for each post title has always been Indie Flower. It's a good font, but I also kind of like that the post title is separated from the post itself by the differing font. Perhaps that's the wrong way to look at it. I had attempted to give each paragraph its own font this week, and then I planned on asking my readers to instruct me on which seemed best. However, after posting fifteen minutes ago I noticed that none of the fonts came up! Which is odd since I only used fonts you can select from the template design section. I guess you can't punch them in as code, so I'd have to choose all or nothing. Anyway, the only thing I could then do was try font families. This is in "cursive". Does this look better than my typical "Corsiva"? Maybe future posts will be entirely in the different fonts - see if they come up then. The only issue is you won't be able to see the "corsiva" as a comparison - unless I change the blog title to "corsiva".... The wheels are turning, my friends. We'll see.

Anyway, what do you guys think of the background as opposed to the transparency to the scroll? How about the font choice above? Any ideas on which one you prefer? Drop me a comment below and I'll keep tweaking to make this an easier read for you.

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