Have you ever participated in a Blog Carnival? Not many have, and most of them are rather mysterious about the whole experience. Thinking about carnivals I’ve attended, they all seem to involve some kind of a festival marked by merrymaking and processions, which sounds like a lot of fun (Kettle Corn, anyone?). A blog I occasionally read (Don’t Try This At Home) is currently hosting a Blog Carnival, spotlighting how and why people blog. There are many (more than 100, last time I looked) people participating in the carnival. The questions are interesting and include helpful tips so if you are interested in blogging and want to meet some new cyber friends, head over to this link and start reading. Face painting costs extra.
I asked Tim to help me answer these compelling and intriguing questions so this blog is from both of us.
â€¢ How did you start blogging?
We were first introduced to blogging by Timâ€™s brother, who was stationed in Korea while his family stayed in Kansas. He found an early copy of Moveable Type and used it as a way to stay in touch. Tim (being the super
geeky cool computer guy that he is) was charmed by Moveable Typeâ€™s ease-of-use (see, only a true computer guy can use â€œcharmedâ€ and â€œMoveable Typeâ€ in the same sentence) and immediately grabbed a copy to host on our domain.
â€¢ Did you intend to be a blog w/a following? If so, how did you go about it?
We didnâ€™t originally, and (for the most part) are not now particularly seeking a following. We mostly write for family, and have a short list of about 25 people who are notified when we post a new entry. There are a handful of others who read occasionally, based on comment volumes.
â€¢ What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? If not, do you have a plan to achieve those goals?
Tim: As I approached my 40th birthday, I began to feel my mortality, and adopted the blog as a way to leave a legacy of all my deep and philosophical thoughts to my children. I have been wildly successful in achieving that goal, except for the â€˜deepâ€™ and â€˜philosophicalâ€™ parts.
Kathy: Being a failed scrap-booker (coming clean here) my plan was to use the blog to capture some of our familyâ€™s daily foibles (complete with pictures) and create a digital scrapbook of sorts.
Obviously we blog in order to show the loftily-intellectual moments in our homeschooling day. Yes, that is ALL the children playing with Playdoh (including a mature 13 year old).
â€¢ Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?
Tim: For a long time, I was the primary author of this blog, waxing eloquently on whatever was the topic du jour. It was wonderful. Usually, when I tell my stories and pontificate, there is much rolling of the eyes and yawning, which tends to put me off my stride. With the blog, I could go on (and on) without being unnecessarily burdened by the question of interest among my readers. Kathy rarely posted, feeling somehow unable to compete with my powerful and pithy prose (and being too busy rolling her eyes). Sadly, this golden era came to an untimely end with the advent of Project 365. Responding to a challenge from another blogger, Kathy decided to post a picture and a (supposedly short) entry about that picture each day, as a way to chronicle the year of 2007. At first I tried to hold my own, posting sporadically, but I was soon overwhelmed by her sheer volume, as she posted dozens of pictures and multiple entries each day. At the time of this writing, she will soon have posted twice as many entries as I, in spite of the fact that I had a two-year head start.
Kathy: I began blogging in earnest in January with the Project 365. As I began to post, I found blogging to be a wonderful way to sharpen my writing. It has been many years since Iâ€™ve taken any time to write (thousands of e-mails notwithstanding) and I am rusty (and find myself in need of pulling my vocabulary and writing out of the Go Dog Go level). Since Iâ€™ve begun to connect with other “Mommy Bloggers”, my writing has shifted. I love receiving comments and creating a dialogue between readers. At times I write for my children (even TO my children). When the Lord is teaching me something difficult or soul-stretching, I blog on it (to share with others and further crystallize my thinking). I always appreciate when other bloggers pass along great recipes and book reviews, so if I come across something tasty or helpful or fun, I post it right on the blog as soon as possible. Just trying to do my part and all.
â€¢ What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?
Initially we disabled trackback pings and comments, because the vast majority of comments and pings were spam. Later, we discovered that comments are a fun way to interact with readers, and can serve as a major source of encouragement in continuing to post.
â€¢ Do you make money with your blog?
No. It is enough that we get to say our piece without adding insult to injury, making people actually pay for the privilege. Some readers have suggested that we pay them, and so Kathy recently had a contest in which she awarded a free CD. Being realists, we anticipate more of these kind of contests in the future.
â€¢ Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why?
Yes, our immediate family members are some of our biggest fans, and many of them read the blog faithfully. We use e-mail notification so that some people are automatically e-mailed whenever we post a blog. In my happy little (delusional?) world I see them greeting that e-mail with delight and joy every day. We set up notifications before RSS feeds became widely used by bloggers. Sometimes we post an entry with the deliberate intent of provoking a reaction from a particular family member, to the amusement of all. We have found that the internet is a particularly rewarding venue for the airing of our familyâ€™s dirty laundry.
Strange as it may seem, readers don’t seem to care if pictures have nothing to do with the text. This suggests that a lot of people don’t read the text, a subject we try not to dwell upon.
â€¢ What two pieces of advice would you give to a new blogger?
The first is not to be discouraged by the 70 million other weblogs that have thoroughly filled all possible public niches. Start your blog, talk about whatever you want â€“ blogging is not about being read, rather about writing. Either youâ€™ll generate some interest or you wonâ€™t, but along the way, be sure to have fun. Write to please yourself, and then it doesnâ€™t matter if others read your posts or not.
The second is to use lots of pictures. About half of your readers (or more, if you move in a particularly illiterate social circle) will not have patience to read every blathering paragraph that oozes off your keyboard â€“ many will need eye candy to hold their interest. You need at least one picture for every three paragraphs, preferably with a pithy caption. Buy yourself a good digital camera and make sure you have blog software that makes uploading pictures easy â€“ then go to town.
Find other blogs that you enjoy. Comment often. Laugh, learn, grow, and share!
Tim and Kathy
Project 365 – Day