Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So.... Apparently This Blog Is Boring

A close friend of mine  who doesn't normally read this blog visited a couple of days ago. She was showing the blog to another friend  of hers.

And apparently, my friend found Storypot dated, boring and not engaging at all. As she put it, she "cringed" when she and her colleague/friend went through the blog.

Of course my gut response was, "how dare you call my baby ugly?"LOL!

I had the good sense not to say that to her though, because that would have shut down the conversation real fast.

So I considered the source. My friend and I have very different tastes in all manner of things and rarely agree on anything on the first try. Most days, we agree to disagree,  because we have a huge respect for each other.

I've been known to call her when I hate what I've written and she'll reassure me that it's highly unlikely it all sucks, go through it with me and help me identify and fix weaknesses in the project. Even then, we'll spend hours arguing about each point until we find a compromise that works for us both.

She always makes me question what I do, how I do it, whether I'm giving it my best. She says I help her consider things more diplomatically, instead of jumping into battle feet first.

Anyhoo, my point is, she says this blog sucks. And yes the critique was all-encompassing. Sometimes she is harsh like that. Probably because she was nervous offering the criticism in the first place.

My second, calmer response  was, "I know it's  not very engaging. I used to spend more time online chatting with readers and had a social media plug-ins to stream content from that onto the blog, but I haven't been on facebook or twitter in more than a year and it would be pointless to stream old content there. It would just show how out of date my accounts on those platforms are."

Sounds like an intelligent, not-so-defensive response, doesn't it? Her response to that? It's not about the social media. The blog is blah!

She also offered to  get her friend/colleague, who  is apparently a social media guru, to give me a critique. I said yes, please.

I don't know what will come off that critique. There will probably be suggestions I agree with and can implement, those I agree with but it's not worth spending my time on, and stuff I just plain don't agree with. That's just life. Still, I'm grateful that someone who is knowledgeable on making blog appealing/interesting has offered me her expertise.

I already know I need to update some of the pages which became dated when I stopped blogging for more than a year. My time is extremely limited, and I'd rather use it to work on client projects and my own projects, as well as posting good content on this blog.

Still, this blog is how people who don't know me well get to know me and my work. This is where people get their first impression of me as a writer. So it is important that I put my best foot forward.

Here are some of the things that came out of my conversation with my friend:

1. Critiques are very important to a writer and blogger

Without them, how will you know what areas you can improve? It's easy enough to get into the habit of making the same mistake, without seeing it.

2.  People who will fearlessly criticise your work, knowing that they could hurt your feelings/antagonise you/even endanger your relationship are more precious than gold.

I'm not  talking about people who give harsh criticism so they can hear themselves talk, or who hate seeing other people succeed and are just criticising you because they are jealous. What I'm talking about is friends who help you identify weaknesses, point them out and offer solutions.

3.  Readers offer an important voice to a writer's work

They'll help promote your work, telling their family,friends and everyone who'll listen about it. Which is good when they're spreading good news and a career-killer if they hate your work.

So. Moving forward, I'd like you to share with me:

a) Things about this blog that you find uninteresting/ boring/you don't like
b) Topics that you'd like me to blog about

This  is request doesn't have a time-limit, so please comment on this post whenever it is you read it.

P.S. The client writing is going extremely well. I feel as if the creative wasteland is history. And Mma is still doing very well.


po said...

I really think it depends what a blog is for and what you want from it, Damaria. Some people blog to make money and to do that, you really need engaging content - I guess people write quite intimate details about their lives with pictures and readers get hooked on this artistic representation of this person's life and keep reading. But those blogs need to offer something that will hook others. Parenting blogs are an easy example, they tend to hook readers who are parents too, who can share in the difficulties of parenthood etc.

But your blog can just be for you too, and then it does not really need to be engaging. If it is just for you to note and remember things then what you put on does not matter so much. It is your blog in the end and really it is for you.

If you really want to hook people in though, I think you could write about the things that are unique about your life - moving from the city to the countryside where you grew up - that transition. Also stories from your childhood - those are very interesting especially in the political and social contexts in which they occurred. A balance of personal detail is always good, obviously it is up to you how much to divulge.

Also if your blog is about writing, then of course, blogging about your processes are useful.

I don't know what you think, but your blog as it is is not boring, and it initiated the potential for you meeting people online. I think you just ned to decide exactly what you want from it :)

Damaria Senne said...

Hi Po

Thank you so much for your suggestions.

Storypot is mostly a place for me to meet people. I think of it as my online livingroom, where I can hang out with old and new friends and we can share about the writing life and inspire each other to reach our goals while also contributing something to society.

But, I do think that I want to hook people, as you put it, so I can make new friends. Living in Phokeng, where I'm very far from a lot of creative people I know, making online friends has become increasingly important.

I also want to connect more with my readers,especially the ones who read my ebooks (published and those that will be in the future).

I do have a lot to think about and plan, don't I :-)

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