Tag Archives: blogging

Blogging the Moment: Riding the Wave On a Hot-Button Issue

Photo used under Creative Commons from nathangibbs (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathangibbs/).

Photo used under Creative Commons from nathangibbs (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathangibbs/).

How quickly do you put your thoughts together when there’s a hot-button issue? Do you take a few days to think about what you want to say, then carefully structure and write 500 words on the topic? Or do you dive in and let furious waves of eloquence bombard your blog and its readers, concerning yourself more with timeliness and instinct rather than restraint and premeditated point-making?

Recently, a friend chose diving in with fury regarding “YA as Guilty Pleasure” controversy, first holding forth on her Twitter account then translating her tweets into a blog post. A popular internet blog had posted an article slagging off adult readers of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction (here’s looking at you, Hunger Games readers over the age of 18). The piece hit a nerve with a wide swath of the internet, because – as I’m sure you’re aware, if you haven’t been living under a rock since the 80s or even earlier – adults like well-written stories, no matter who the publisher things they ought to be marketed to. The result of my friend’s righteous anger was an impassioned, shoot-from-the-hip piece that not only spoke to the issue being debated, but also swept its readers up with its pure and forceful emotive oomph. From her blog:

 I don’t care whether you’re fifteen or fifty; if something brings you joy and causes no harm to others (which, memo to the intelligentsia: that does not count readers’ love of MG/YA hurting your feelings), you should do that as often as you possibly can.  Adulthood is serious business, and to get through it all and take on the responsibility of making the world what we want and need it to be, we need to feed our whole selves — we need those reserves of hope and joy, we need that catharsis, we need those reminders of possibility and who we were and who we could be.

Just a few days after posting her piece, my friend’s blog was picked up by Freshly Pressed (a WordPress.com feature that collects pieces the site’s editors consider worthy of being shared with a wider audience), and a piece that had already garnered significant attention was suddenly exposed to far larger audiences. Would this have happened if she’d waited a few weeks before posting her piece? Maybe, but my guess is the chances of it would have been significantly lower, simply because of the internet’s rapid news cycle and lack of ongoing attention span.

This bears out my own experience. When, on its second day, I posted my reactions to the #YesAllWomen hashtag, my blog experienced a surge of both organic search results and referrals. When I posted about David Tennant just after the Gracepoint trailer was revealed? Same thing. It’s the same reason TV bloggers often post their recaps within hours – or even minutes – of the end credits of a show. The internet has the attention span of a mayfly. Even this piece, from a legal site looking at criminal procedure via a certain recent event concerning Joffrey on Game of Thrones, already seems dated – just two weeks after the events the blog discusses.

Emily Suess, one of my blogger touchpoints for years now, recently wrote a piece titled Your Content Will Be Devoured, discussing how hungry internet readers are for content – and yet, she highlighted that even the most schedule-happy blogger must leave room to adjust around the news of the day.

As illustrated by both my and my friends’ experience, this is absolutely something bloggers should be aware of. Being able to quickly organize your thoughts and distribute a coherent take on an unfolding event is a skill every blogger should develop and use – otherwise, you risk missing hits and losing credibility when it comes to your selected field of interest.

Whatever your blog is about, try picking a news piece that relates to it and is currently being debated. Get fired up, write a blog piece, and post it before you give yourself enough time to calm down. See what you come up with – and feel free to post the link in the comments!

Akismet vs. Disqus – A Tale of Two Comment Management Systems

439076-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Woman-Overwhelmed-With-Junk-MailA few weeks ago, I posted an entry about how I felt like I was being failed by Akismet. Since posting that, I noticed an upswing in spam comments – to the tune of at least one spam comment per minute.

 

 

When I despaired about it on Twitter, Akismet told me to email them – but several days passed without a reply, and I was taking way too much time looking through spam to make sure no comments got lost in their journey to being posted.

Fast forward to today. I mentioned again that I couldn’t get my comments to work correctly, and so had limited posting to just those who were logged in and registered. @The7thMatrix piped up:


I was hesitant to go check out Disqus because I hate having to learn new blogging tricks (I’m still stuck on working out how to make AdSense work on my site, because the last time I tried it was very confusing and frustrating, but a few minutes later a friend PM’d me on Facebook to say that she hadn’t been able to leave a comment on my last entry.

Well, that was the final straw. What was the point of not getting spam if real commenters were going to get blocked, too?!

Signing up for Disqus was so easy that at first I wasn’t sure if what I’d done had worked. But sure enough, I went back to my page and not only did the comment field look different – someone had already left a comment using the new software! Without me having to personally approve it!

So if you’re looking for an easy way to get your blog comments working more efficiently, I recommend Disqus. Highly. Will keep everyone posted if I run into any hitches, but so far, I’m pretty darn pleased.

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Geek Girl Con & a Podcast Appearance!

geekgirlconThis time next week, I’ll be coming at you from Seattle, WA and Geek Girl Con.

The conference is focused on celebrating the female geek, and I’m super-stoked about the panels I’m going to be checking out. Geekdom and Race, Women and STEM careers and Romance as a Feminist Genre are just a few of the ones I’m looking forward to – plus there are opportunities to see Bechdel Test Burlesque, costume competitions and more. Those attending will also have the chance to hear Jane Espenson (Husbands, Once Upon A Time), Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and others speak, as well.

On Sunday at 7pm EST/4pm PST, tune in to hear my thoughts on the con during the Black Girl Nerds podcast. I’ll be appearing with Jaz from the LxL – League of Extraordinary Ladies – and maybe even a surprise guest panelist from the con. From the BGN site:

GeekGirlCon celebrates and honors the legacy of women contributing to science and technology; comics, arts, and literature; and game play and game design by connecting geeky women world-wide and creating community to foster continued growth of women in geek culture through events.

Attendees Rachel Brody and Jaz will be featured on the podcast to provide us up-to-the-minute information about the event and how important this con is for nerdy girls.

–  Black Girl Nerds

If you’re free, I hope you’ll listen to the podcast and call in to discuss Geek Girl Con with us next Sunday afternoon (October 20th). If you can’t listen to the live show, make sure you download the podcast after the broadcast after it airs!

 

Site Stats: Why Analytics Are Awesome

If you follow me on Twitter (@girl_onthego), you may have noticed that I’ve been testing out scheduled tweets over the last week or so. Ranging in frequency from every hour to every two or three hours, I’ve re-posted old blog entries. Here’s what I’ve learned from watching the statistics on my site:

 – Those blog entries I re-posted did indeed see an upswing in hits

– The search terms that were finding my blog started to include older terms – for example, older theater reviews were picking up new hits when they hadn’t for a while.

– Depending on the frequency of updates, my blog saw traffic as much as 2-3 times higher than it would have on days when no new entries were posted.

– Nobody on my twitter complained about the extra posts. (Critically important, as it’s not worth pissing off loyal readers to get a few more blog hits.)
 

The fourth bullet point brings me to the main reason I chose to try this experiment: on Twitter, the stream of information can be such that users who aren’t logged in at the exact moment of a new blog’s posting may not see the link, particularly if they’re in a different time zone (or on the other side of the planet).

Thanks to Google Analytics (different from WordPress’ Site Statistics information in that it runs far deeper and allows multiple perspectives on statistical data) I can see where my site views are coming from – and this helped me to understand that while I have friends and readers on all but one continent, chances were that they weren’t seeing my tweets about new posts. (Of course, the best way to guarantee you never miss a post is to subscribe to new updates, per the link to the side of this entry.)

The costs of the re-posting experient? Time; about ten minutes’ worth a day to schedule a re-post every hour. The mental effort was minimal – choosing what to post, and how to frame it for new relevance. The benefits were positive – I tracked retweets via my phone’s Twitter app, and found new followers along the way. Plus, it relieved some of the burden on days when I was too rushed or too stressed to write up a new post by keeping my blog entries fresh enough to continue showing up in search results.

Overall verdict:? Success.

Edit: It’s come to my attention that a number of readers are trying to figure out how to install Analytics on their WordPress.com-hosted blog. The lack of ability to install Google Analytics onto a WordPress.com blog was what prompted me to move rlbrody.com to a self-hosted space. 

What Are You Doing Monday Night? (Writer’s Workshop, Yo!)

BLOGGING OUT LOUD: How Reading & Reflection Improve Your Self-Published Work

8:30pm-10:30pm Monday, September 10th

As part of Writer’s Week 2012, Shoshana Martyniak and I will lead a free workshop session in strengthening one’s voice as a participant in the world of self-publishing. Want to participate? Select a short blog entry (under 500 words) that you like, but think needs some tweaking, and bring it to a Google Hangout to read and discuss with other authors.

Please make sure you have an account with Google+ and have tested at least one Google Hangout before the session Monday night. You will need a computer with video camera and microphone capabilities to participate. Some smartphones also support G+.

Schedule (All times EST):

8 p.m:                        Hangout Open.
8:30- 10 p.m.:        Readings & Comments
10- 10:30 p.m.:     Discussion/General Chaos

To register, email your blog entry to BloggingOutLoud@rlbrody.com along with your blog’s URL. If you don’t have a blog, submit any non-fiction piece under 500 words. Spaces are limited.

For more information on Writer’s Week 2012, click here. Or, check out my previous posts on self-publishing:

 

 

The Leather Skirt Diet

What’s the Leather Skirt Diet, you ask? It’s the diet that consists of “whatever will make me fit into the leather skirt” I’m wearing for a thing next week.

When I first ordered the leather skirt, I knew I was taking a chance. Getting it off the internet, no clear size guides giving waist measurements. But it fit. Not only did it fit, but the price-per-wear is already, like, a dollar. Because I have not stopped wearing it since it got here.

This has brought a new aspect to the Leather Skirt Diet: whereas the initial plan was, “run was hard as I can on the elliptical every day until the event,” all of a sudden I got scared. Because if there’s one thing that’s worse than a black miniskirt that’s too small, it’s a miniskirt that’s too big. This goes double when the fabric is leather.

A loose leather miniskirt is, how shall I put this, pointless.

So a few days ago, the leather skirt diet changed a bit. Now it was about maintaining. I mean, yeah, there are a few pounds that can go (and in case anyone’s worried, I put back on the weight I lost while sick and then some) and that’s safe, but at least I don’t have to be worried about the skirt not fitting. This was good timing, because it was around the same time the skirt showed up that I got a package of goodies from my mom.

In other words: MILLIONS OF COOKIES.

So far I’m enjoying the whoopie pies, and will bring the other cookies to work tomorrow. Because love them though I might, as we get into the home stretch before the event Thursday night, they may have to fall off the list of “Leather Skirt Diet” food options.

We shall see.

While out with my friend yesterday we joked about writing different kinds of novelty diet books. I’d write “The Leather Skirt Diet,” then she’d write the “Artichoke Dip Diet” (or whatever it was – if she sees this, maybe she’ll correct me in the comments), and then sooner or later (as many of our conversations do) we had devolved to a level of ridiculousness the likes of which I shall not inflict upon my dear readers. Suffice to say by the end of it we were laughing hysterically and a fully-fleshed-out idea for a series of e-books where we would pick goals and write diet books about them, but the diet books would be actual reflections of what we were eating, rather than aspirational “plans” that might or might not work.

Other than that, my weekend involved glorious weather in Manhattan, chilling on the Hudson, and getting a seriously amazing foot massage for like twenty bucks from a place where they thought I had fallen asleep *so they let me keep lying in the chair* till I opened my eyes. My feet feel so relaxed now.

What’s everybody else been up to this weekend?