Monday, January 3, 2011

A Balanced Approach to Blogging (Get It? Balanced...)

As I write this, I'm balanced on a big exercise ball. No, you will not see a picture of me doing this, although my husband would probably be happy to take one...from the rear. This is merely a personal challenge to see if I can write my blog posts before my tailbone starts to hurt.

Too much information?


So I'll transition to to my topic of the day -- blogging and how we choose the blogs we like to visit.

Here are the things I like the most:

1. A pleasing and restful appearance, easy on the eyes, and no irritating jumping, hopping, or fluttering parts. A photo or graphic banner should be small enough that it doesn't slow down the screen loading process.

2. Even if the blog's focus is book reviews or guests authors, I still like the blog owner to occasionally post a personal article about what's going on in his or her life. For instance, I would enjoy knowing the blog host is writing her posts while she balances on an exercise ball.

3. A regular schedule of posts, at least two or three times a week. Posts that aren't too long.

4. A little humor once in a while.

5. Friendliness. I don't expect my blogger friends to read every single post I write or to visit every day, but when they do stop by, I love receiving a comment that relates my post to something in the visitor's experience.

6. I like to surf my blogger friends' blogrolls to search for new friends, so neatly organized lists is a plus. Please don't point out that my own blogrolls could be better organized. I have that on my To Do List.

Now it's your turn:

1. What convinces your to add a new blog to your blog-hopping circuit?

2. What turns you off?

3. How much time per week do you spend visiting and commenting on your favorite blogs?


Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - Interesting question! First and foremost, I visit blogs where I can learn something and where the blogger and I have some kind of connection, either because we're both doing similar things or we share a sense of humour, etc.. I don't have a lot of time for blog-surfing, so I, too, like blogs that are organized, easy to read and so on. I also like blogs with a "clean" look, so I can get to the post I want quickly and not get distracted. And most definitely I like bloggers to welcome readers, either by responding to comments or through a pleasant, warm writing style. Like yours.

Clarissa Draper said...

Well, I know you come and visit my blog often. Thank you for that. I like your new approach. Shorter posts are better for me.

1. What convinces your to add a new blog to your blog-hopping circuit? Mostly if they follow me, I follow them back.

2. What turns you off? People who add long excerpts from their novels. If you want to do that, create a separate blog just for your book.

3. How much time per week do you spend visiting and commenting on your favorite blogs? Too much. Probably 20 hours.


Karen Walker said...

Hi Patricia,
Oh how I'dlove to see you blogging while balancing on an exercise ball.
I think my list is identical to yours in terms of what I like in a blog and why I keep visiting certain blogs. I especially agree with your suggestion that even reviewers post personal things once in awhile. The reason I love blogging so much is because it makes me feel connected to others and I don't feel connected if there's nothing personal to connect to.

Jan Morrison said...

Hmmm...what do I like - I think, like in a novel, if the protagonist (poster) is engaging I can put up with almost anything. I like short blogs but there are some I go that are long BECAUSE I love the blogger. I like humour and I like it when there is personality showing. I also want to be wanted - I go to some blogs that are huge and I never hear from those folks on my blog but generally I'd rather have a small community that stays close.
I like your blog - you keep it simple and graceful and I like that.

Jenny said...

Good luck with the ball, Pat! I might try that, too, if I can get my ball out from under my son, who likes to bounce around the house on it.

I enjoy blogs with some humor, some wisdom, and not overly long posts. I have gotten lax about searching out new blogs to enjoy. Maybe I should put that on my own to-do list.

Happy New Year!

Michele Emrath said...

This is a fantastic way to start the new year in blogging--a challenge to yourself and your readers!
1. Interesting posts.
2. Simple, on-point graphics. (If it's a writing blog, a lot of links to fashion or political sites are not appreciated.)
3. A blogger who cares about his/her readers--commenting back ON THE BLOG (not via email) and taking the time to visit the blog's of those who visit his/her's.

On #3 I have been failing for the past 2 months. But my NY's resolution is to get back to my old ways.

Thanks for challenging me to think about this, Patricia.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

It's always a pleasure to read your blogs Patricia. I try to read everyone as I seem to learn something from them.


Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, everyone. I've been over at Twitter and Facebook, posting notes about the "Where Do You Get Your Leeches? contest at Chiseled in Rock and the post on goal setting at The Blood-Red Pencil. If you're a writer, check out that'll want to participate (applying leeches to your body is not required).

Margot, Clarissa, Karen, Jan, and Jenny -- thanks for being my first visitors as we get back to work (because I sure didn't do much over the long weekend). I think the comments about making a connection with a blogger are right on. The blogs I visit are hosted by men and women I'd love to meet in real life. Sort of like a big family reunion!

Patricia Stoltey said...

And greetings to you, Yvonne. It's always nice to see you here.

Holly Ruggiero said...

Are you still balancing?

I don’t really look at other people blog rolls for me it too much clutter. I usually find new blogs by reading comments on the blogs I visit. If someone’s comment was insightful or humorous I’ll check out their blog. Then I read 3-4 posts and if I like ’um I’ll start following.

Turn offs? I have them but I don’t really know how to articulate them. I don’t like pointless posts.

I spend a boatload of time visiting blogs.

Marian Allen said...

I like a blog that loads quickly, and doesn't have too many bells and whistles on it. I love your design, for example. I like to know something about the blogger. I like a mix of professional and personal posts, or in the same post.

If a post has a bazillion comments, I probably won't leave one of my own. If the blogger never responds to comments, I almost certainly won't leave one of my own.

If a blog is never about anything but the blogger's product, I won't subscribe, though I'll check it every now and then if I'm interested in the product.

I spend entirely TOO MUCH time visiting blogs, because the ones I like keep recommending other good ones!

Marian Allen

Holly Ruggiero said...

Oh, a big turn off is music that automatically plays when I visit.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Holly, no, I'm not balancing at the moment. I'm in my comfy easy chair with the laptop, drinking coffee and catching up on e-mail. It's about time to start the laundry, though, then head to my office to do my 500 words. Then back to the exercise ball for tomorrow's post. Such fun.

As for music that automatically plays, I guess for me it depends on the music and the blog's theme. I like the option of turning it off, but there are a couple of blogs I visit where the music goes with the post, so that's a treat.

Hi, Narian. I too sometimes don't leave comments when I see so many have been there before me. Also, I usually pick 3 days a week to do my blog-hopping, and then may read 3-4 posts at each blog I visit. It helps me manage me time better to do it that way.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Crap, I need to organize my blogroll as well! And I think there's a certain blogger background style that creates those jumps and skips. I also prefer shorter posts and usually don't have time to read writing blogfests.
And how much time do I spend blogging? Probably too much - 3-4 hours a day!

Anonymous said...

My preferences are very similar to yours. Easy on the eyes. Simple. Posts that aren't very long. And I like variety, not just one subject matter. I need to organize my blogroll too. And I curtailed my blogging but am still visiting sites every day. Anywhere between 1-3 hours a day.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Humour is good. Brevity is good. I've always been a big believer in less is more. I can't stand the exploding, dancing graphics. I'll follow a blog that makes me giggle, think, or shares a new viewpoint on a topic that interests me.

By the way, thanks for the visual of you on the balancing ball. That's a winner on many, many levels.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Agree. Agree. But I think I'm going to be spending less time in the blogosphere. The days don't seem to have expanded beyong 24 hours.

The Golden Eagle said...

I can do questions!

1. A blog with titles that pop out at me--I tend to base opinions on the rest of the post based on the title of it. I also like a blog with humor, as you said.

2. I'm often turned off by posts that have a lot to do with the blogger's personal life--I don't mind updates, and those can actually be nice to read, but long ones that go on about what's happening I usually skip.

3. Time, ack! I usually spend around 2 hours per day, so that would be 14 hours.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Alex, 3-4 hours a day is a lot. Do you have time to write? Do you get enough sleep?

Hi Steve -- I agree, variety is good. Although there are some book review sites I visit from time to time, I don't go there every day. I can scan a week's worth of reviews and pick the ones I want to read and spend less time.

Elspeth, are you laughing at me? For Pete's sake, don't get me started giggling while I'm sitting on the exercise ball. Next you'll be able to picture me falling off...

Hi Kay, I could use a few more hours, too, but I'm not willing to give up any of my precious beauty sleep...

Eagle -- you made me chuckle. I also love questions at the end of a blog post...makes the comment part so much easier.

I never answered my own question about how much time I spend each week. I blog-hop about 3 days per week, and may spend 3-4 hours each session, so maybe 12 hours a week on average.

Mary Vaughn said...

It's had to answer with you sitting on that ball.

What attracts me to a blog? Eye catching titles and content in the writer's natural voice.

Dark backgrounds with white type. Light backgrounds with light type. Busy, busy busy templates. I'm adult ADHD and I can't focus.

How much time? 2-3 hours a day.

Jemi Fraser said...

Good questions! And I'm glad I'm not the only one who multi-tasks while blogging - I'm currently prepping dinner :)

I don't like when blogs take too long to load either. Easy on the eyes works for me.

I have great difficulty finding that balance. I've organized most of my blogs into folders for days of the week so I can get to most people at least once a week. It doesn't always work, but I'm trying! :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Mary -- I'm a distraction, am I? Can you tell I'm just trying to get attention? --

I also have trouble reading some blogs, especially those with light type on a very dark background. My old eyes and trifocals can't take it.

Jemi -- Getting the time schedule right for all these things is tough. As Kay mentioned, a few extras hours in the day would sure be nice.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

1) Blogs I follow most:
- Ask direct questions, indirectly inspire me to consider questions, or provide information on global socio-political issues, travel, or books.
- Are short enough so I can read them in a few minutes, but long enough to provide some depth (maybe 500 to 100 words)
- Have great pictures &/or make me laugh
- Promote on Twitter & Facebook, or via RSS email (not just a feed, which I often forget to check)
- Respond when I visit &/or visit my site now & then
2) Blogs I'm less likely to follow:
- Regularly feature posts longer than 1000 words
- Talk a lot about household life or daily routines
- Never acknowledge my existence
- Engage in vitriolic attacks on people who disagree with them
3) I visit one or two blogs a day about six days a week, and usually leave a comment. But because I like a lot of blogs, this means I may only drop in on my favorite blogs about once a month.

Monti said...

I love it that you are writing balancing on a ball! That has to be hard. I'd probably manage to pull my computer screen off the desk on top of me or some other catastrophe!

It's nice to check out the titles of the blogs other people feature. Confessions of a Mystery Novelist from your sidebar attracts me, but I don't have time tonight. That's what bothers me most about blogging is wanting to check out so many different blogs, but not having time to do many, make comments, write blogs, write books, have a job (even a part-time one), etc. How in the world do you all do it?!!!


Terry Odell said...

My chiropractor recommended writing while sitting on an exercise ball (somehow, I pictured you standing on one as you wrote, but I'm pretty sure that's not the case.) I had just invested in an ergonomic chair, so I have resisted the ball route.

To answer your questions: (I agree with what you've already said)

1. I like variety, slice of life, plus writing tidbits in blogs. I'll add them to my following list and scroll through them if the headers look interesting.

2. Turnoffs: hard to read pages. If it's white text on a black background, I rarely read them. Simply too hard on the eyes. Also, I tend to avoid or skim reviews and interviews (which is terribly hypocritical, because I am happy to get reviews and give interviews), but unless it's something I think I might be interested in, I probably won't read. So, I don't visit if the genre doesn't match my taste.

3. How much time? Usually first thing in the morning, over coffee, and then mid afternoon for a break. An hour or so total, I'd estimate, although I have been known to linger far too long.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery


Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Cara -- thanks for dropping by. I don't always stay tuned and respond to comments here, but I try to do it once in a while, especially when I've asked questions. Like you, my list of favorites is very long these days. We just have to do the best we can do.

Monti, sitting on the exercise ball is a powerful incentive to write fast and to the point (before parts start to hurt).

As for how I do it all...I don't. Last year I didn't get much writing done, partly because I had a lot of promotional activities in the mix. I'm calling 2011 "the year of writing," and that means I'll probably neglect something else.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Terry, I'm sitting, not standing. Standing would surely lead to disastrous results, and then I'd be needing the chiropractor.

Time gets away from me when I'm reading blog posts, so I even bought a kitchen timer to keep upstairs. It makes a loud, jarring noise as though it means business.

bfav said...

I add a blog to my must-read list if I find it linked from several directions and if I leave happy every time I click. I'm a huge blog stalker, I need to be better about commenting.

Sheila Deeth said...

I spend too much time, and I'm working on organizing myself--google reader certainly helps. I just read Sage Cohen Productive Writer and she has some hints too. She's on my blog today with a free book on offer.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. I am concerned your bouncing ball turned you into the chicken??!! The thought of bouncing on a ball while typing is a bit much - when you want to briefly cogitate .. lean back & splat .... spread across the floor.

The most important thing is a feeling for the other blogger and interesting content, varied too ..

Definitely replying to commenters .. and I tend to find new bloggers via their comments, recommendations - as some bloggers say - you or even Hilary - might like to pop over and meet this blogger. I tend not to look at blog rolls .. & I don't use FB or Twitter - but I should .. another way of finding interesting people to read.

I'm going to pop to Sheila's blog and find out more about her suggestion in the comment above - another way of looking elsewhere ..

Good luck with your ball .... bouncing happily into the New Year .. Hilary

Anonymous said...

1. I enjoy blogs that are about reading and writing, with some personal info, and that are updated regularly.

2. I don't like posts that are too long. They should be clear to read, therefore easy to absorb and comment on. I'm also turned off by too much "junk" that slows the loading of the page.

3. My guess is that I average half an hour a day commenting on blogs.

Patricia Stoltey said...

bfav - Thanks for stopping by. It's great to leave a comment once in a while because that's how we all get acquainted.

Hi Sheila -- I've just ordered Sage's book, so I'll be over pretty soon to read her post.

Good morning, Hilary. You're the first person to comment on the chicken...I'm just trying to get attention. If you click on the chicken photo, it should take you to a photo essay I did last year when I was feeling silly.

Medeia -- If I could stick to a half hour per day, then I could do a daily round of favorites. maybe first thing in the morning. I tend to get carried away, though, and go on and on.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

My list of what I look for in a blog is almost identical to yours. Maybe by expecting a lot, I miss out on a couple of good blogs, but being a little picky helps me have a decent blog-life balance.
And my blog roll is ready for an overhaul too :-(