Thursday, January 16, 2014

Coffee Chat 4.1 with Author S.K. Anthony: What Makes a Blogger Interesting?

We're back, as promised! Coffee is brewing and it's a great day. We decided to discuss social media a bit further, so today we're blogging our chats, chatting about our blogs, and not rambling at all.

ER: How's it going, S.K.? This week, I'm no longer freezing with well-below-zero temps, so I feel like a new person. I look like a new person, too. I really hate wearing ski masks inside the house, but when it's cold, what's a gal to do, right? At least the kids know who I am once again . . .

SKA: Compared to last week, I'm ready to hang outside with a Margarita or something. Thank goodness that's over! Was that kind of temperature really necessary? I'm just glad the internet didn't freeze on us. I don't think we would have survived that, Social Media Animals that we are.

ER: Last week's chat about the Social Media Monster got us thinking about the avenues available to authors—or anyone, really—when promoting their work, themselves, an important cause, a one-time event, or a host of other things. There are an impressive number of blogs out there! In 2013 alone, WordPress reported over 13 million new blogs, a jump from 2012's total of more than 10 million. No wonder we feel as if social media has taken over our lives! That's not even counting blogs from other hosting sites, Facebook, Twitter, and all those other things I'll get exhausted naming.

SKA: So now, not only will my book be lost in reader-space (see what I did there?), but my blog is also lost in the blogosphere. Fantastic. The internet just gets bigger and bigger.

ER: Of all the ways to reach people on the internet, I think blogs are a good place to start, don't you? Or am I deluding myself? It wouldn't be the first time, so I always feel I should ask to be sure.

SKA: I think blogs are the perfect place to start. It's probably my favorite of them all. You might still be deluding yourself in one way or another, though, so no happy dances yet.

ER: Before I started editing, I already had a Facebook account, because I'm a social creature about 75% of the time. (It's best not to ask about the other 25% of the time...and my kids are forbidden to talk about it.) However, when I started my business, the first thing I did was set up a blog. Part of it was to make sure my information was out there, but I found I really liked having an outlet for the part of me that likes to talk to strangers. And strangers on the internet don't look at me in the same weird way that strangers on the street do, so that's good.

After getting tricked into signing up for a WordPress blog when I commented for the first (but certainly NOT the last) time on Raymond Esposito's blog, I realized I didn't mind having another one. My first blog is for my editing stuff, and the other one is for the rest of my life. 

How about you? What's your blog experience so far?

SKA: I love blogging. Maybe I don't post as much now, but years ago I was active in my personal blog and enjoyed the dynamic very much. Reading and commenting on blogs that I find interesting, to me, is like reading a novel but with real people in it. This way, I get to interact with the "characters" and they do the same with me.

And most definitely it's an outlet—one of the best. You can focus on a variety of subjects, or you can pick one and stick with it. It can be a how-to, a life experience, a journal-type, informative, or an advice blog. And if you feel like mixing it up? Go right ahead. That's the beauty with blogs: for the most part, people read them because they connect with you on some level, and you can write about any part of your life you wish to share.

ER: I just realized I have a third blog, on SparkPeople. I mean, not that I didn't know about it, but I'd forgotten. I've posted on occasion, but I try not to veer from the fitness angle. I'm very irregular with that one, but it's not a public blog—only visible to SP members—so I justify my irregularity by telling myself that people aren't waiting for my posts each week. 

I'm still trying for a predictable schedule for my personal blog. I write when something strikes me as important, and I don't want to manufacture "important" things just to post because the calendar says I have to.

This blog is the one I feel most responsible for, as far as regularity and content. I aim to provide helpful advice for authors by blogging Editor's Notes each Monday, and of course our chats are the highlight of my week. What's not to like here, really? Fun conversation, coffee, and telling people why our advice on current topics is the best around. It's the trifecta of bloggy-ness!

SKA: I have two blogs as well. My very first one is suffering since my life has changed and I've had to keep up with the "writer's" social media life, more so than the "real" me. But I still don't have the heart to give it up because so much of me and my life is in there. I either have to stop it altogether or get more active. I would have to make sure I go and comment on my other friends' blogs more; otherwise, why should they come back to mine regularly?

What are your thoughts on that aspect of blogger etiquette? Do you feel you have to comment back to those who took the time to do the same on your post? What about replying to your commenters?

ER: I do feel a good blogger should make it a point to visit other people's blogs regularly, and to comment just as regularly. I love comments! I live for the day when I get so many comments I can hardly keep up with them. Really. 

That said, I don't feel I have to comment every time I visit somewhere, especially if I don't have anything to add to the discussion. I like the WordPress option that allows me to "like" a post without commenting, so the blogger knows I took the time to visit, at least. I don't stop myself from leaving a comment when I want to, though sometimes it makes me feel like a bit of a sycophant. I visit about 8-10 blogs with purposeful regularity, and additional ones when I have time to catch up.

Once, I asked Raymond—honestly, we need to get him on here soon so we're not talking about him behind his back—if I was being stalker-ish because I seem to comment on his posts so frequently. His reply pretty much changed the way I viewed commenting: "You're supposed to comment. Otherwise I'm just talking to myself." 

I also feel a good blogger should reply to commenters, unless it becomes an unmanageable number. It tells people you noticed they took the time to read and contribute. 

I notice you try to reply to all your commenters, too, and they seem to appreciate that, often replying again, conversationally. That type of goodwill and online friendship goes a long way. To my eye, anyway, you seem like yourself when you comment: relaxed, fun, teasing when you're more familiar with the commenter. 

Do you feel like you're "yourself" online, or a better, improved version? Are you able to relate to people better online than in person?

SKA: Am I myself? Sure, to a point. My personality comes across, as far as I can tell. I'm just as playful with family and friends in real life ('cause apparently the internet is fake). And I'm the same online as I am in person when I'm not too familiar with someone: shy and reserved. So yeah, I'm definitely me. On the other hand, I hardly share much about myself online...as S.K., anyway. 

So do my writer friends know about my personal life, what makes me tick, or how insane I really am? No, but that's okay, because even if they see just a small fraction of me, that part is still true to who I am. 

What about you?

ER: Oh, I am definitely myself online! [laughing] Maybe too much, at times; what I'm like in real life doesn't always translate well to the printed page. I'm a person who enjoys dry humor, but I'm stunned at how many people just don't relate in that manner. I'm part of a family of happy sarcastics (if I can completely make up a diagnosis on the spot) and in most conversations, if you can't keep up, you're toast. It's all good-natured—and we recognize the fine line between sarcasm and meanness—but you have to be pretty quick to even keep up with talking around the dinner table. 

I laugh a lot more than I do anything else, but people can't see it when I'm typing what might look like a snarky response on a thread. So I have to keep that part of me restrained a bit until people get to know me better. Life is seriously ridiculous sometimes, and the things people get upset about are most often the things I find funny.

My personality shows here, but I try not to get deeply personal, because that's what my other blog is for. The other blog is sort of my "Dear Diary" entries. I talk to myself about the things that are on my mind, and if anyone wants to read them, that's fine. If they judge me, based on those things, well...I can't stop them, because I put it out there. It's not all of me, but they don't know that so I can't blame them.

The one thing I won't do on ANY of my social media sites is air my dirty laundry. An occasional rant about the state of the nation or the high price of healthy food is a whole lot different than telling the world about Aunt Helga's family holding an intervention because of her addiction to shoe polish and gummi bears.

SKA: . . . sorry I asked . . .

ER: I write like I talk: all over the place and extended. I'm even flailing my hands all over the place, too, like a good Italian. Makes it harder to type, but it helps me think.

SKA: And that's what we love about you, you know: YOU. Now, I need you to hold on to some of that flailing you've reserved just for our blog topic. We'll have to continue this in another chat, because my coffee is finished and I'm about to freak out. Also, it's time to go and comment on some blogs . . . I know they're just waiting to see what awesomeness I have to add to their posts. ;)

Be sure to check in next week! I'm telling you: you won't want to miss it. You know why? Because we'll be just as surprised as you are when we figure out what to chat about. Maybe we'll touch on some of the blog questions we didn't get to in this round; maybe we won't. Let's all live dangerously and find out together. 

What say you? Are you with us or without us? (Without us is bad for your health. The doctor said so.)


As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 

You can find me here. I'm always here.


22 comments:

  1. I always try to visit those who visit me. (And I won't tell you how many that is every day!) You're right that there are millions of blogs out there and if someone took the time to visit me, I'm honored and try to return the favor.

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    1. I've given up trying to figure out how you find extra hours in a day, Alex. And you, sir, are probably the person with the best blogger etiquette I know. Hats off to you! (Now that it's warm again)

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    2. Alex, you were one of the people I had in mind as S.K. and I chatted. You set a terrific example for the rest of us! It's most likely your ninja skills that allow you to visit so many places each day.

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  2. I love the word "sycophant". I'm not a social creature, but I can pretend I am on my blog, which is my therapy and my seeking editing jobs spot. I keep thinking I should create a Web site for my editing, but I used to have one and I never got a job through the site. All my work has come to me because of blogging. Katherine, if you want to reply to comments about the post with the Kinetic review, please feel free to do so.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. See? So blogging really is the way to go. I'm far more social online as well, Janie! And thanks, I will go comment. I was waiting for my kiddos to give me some free time and so I can reply to most in one shot ;)

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    2. I really do see blogging as the friendliest way to promote others as well as myself. For me, it's more of a passive promo, but the opportunity to lift up others is a wonderful thing.

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    3. I agree completely, Lynda. It makes me so happy to promote our bloggers who write books. What an accomplishment for them.

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  3. I loved your chat about the "media monster" that is the internet. I'm at the age, like so many, where I try my best to learn what I need to know but find myself still so terribly frightened of getting lost in cyberspace! In fact, I learned to type on a typewriter not a keyboard and a "thumbnail" is something I polish not post on my blog. My goal for the new year is to finish my writing and then get the monster out of the closet!

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    1. No, no, Deb! You're supposed to keep the monster IN the closet! At least part of the time, anyway. The trick really is to find that balance. Some people find one location works better than another, but it takes time and effort to find out what that is for you.

      I'm with you on the typewriter thing (I learned on a manual one), and I'd never want to go back to the time when a whole page had to be trashed because of one typo. I thought the invention of erasable typing paper was THE BEST, and now I get impatient if my backspace key stutters for a fraction of a second!

      I'm thankful for the changes even when I have to struggle to keep up.

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    2. I don't know girls, I'm curious about that monster now… Deb, you might go insane and learn everything there is to learn about social media in a couple of weeks. Then you would have to come here for a chat and teach us.

      AND I learned to type on a manual typewriter as well. I loved that sound!

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  4. You know I spoke with the Dali Lama and he said that people who comment on my blog enjoy 90% more good karma than they receive when commenting elsewhere. It's really something to consider.

    My social media goals I keep fairly simple - build great on-line relationships with great and interesting people and make helping others achieve their dreams as high a priority as achieving my own. This way the worst case scenario is a more enriched life.

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    1. I'll take that 90%. Heck, I'm on your blog more than I'm on my own.

      I like your goals, and I've tried to incorporate some of them in my own online life. I hope that doesn't take me down to 85% for stealing, though.

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    2. I think I have about 15% good karma from commenting on your blog, R. Must fix this, pronto!…or you know, next post. Great on-line goals. I *think* I help others as well, but I'm sure there is always room for improvement. Hey, if an enriched life is a worse case scenario, you can definitely count me in :D

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  5. I can barely handle one blog - you ladies are super bloggers and so inspiring! :)

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    1. Thanks! Our philosophy is that we'd talk this much anyway, so why not share it with other people? I do admit, though, we spend most of our time laughing about what we *can't* put in the blog.

      Two blogs ARE plenty. I can't keep both of mine up at a parallel pace, so this one gets the priority, my personal blog gets the here-and-there posts, and the folks on SparkPeople think I exercised so much that I disappeared. The poor dears. I'll bet they're worried about me. ;)

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    2. Well I'm hardly handling my two blogs. That's why I escape here once a week: to pretend I'm surviving any blog responsibilities my public image might have.

      Oh yeah, Lynda, they don't know how lucky they are we cut out all of our "LOL's" and "Hahaha's"…goodness! Imagine?

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  6. I found the question about being yourself interesting. I think blogging is something like a reality TV show, the participants want to reflect the best of themselves so they aren't as 'real' as they are when the cameras aren't rolling.

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    1. It's funny, Nana...I always feel as if I'll be "found out" if I try to be something other than myself. Like who would lie in their profile about having a bunch of chickens running around their yard, right? Heck, if I'm going to be something more, I'd be like the guy in Brad Paisley's video, "Online" (which you should watch if you never have yet)...cooler, taller, tight abs and rich as all get-out.

      I do think people get to see the best of me in a way, because I'm being myself without having to remind them to start a load of laundry or feed the dogs. Plus there's the added bonus of not having to look directly at me if I haven't showered yet.

      Overall, I think it's just much easier to keep track of the real facts. I've gotta be me.

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    2. I agree with that, Nana. I know that I am myself, but like Lynda said in the post, I don't air my dirty laundry online nor do I think I should. Private life is that: private. But I'm still me. Think I can get a reality TV producer interested? lol

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  7. I like the thought of blogging and connection with other bloggers is like reading a novel with real people in it.

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    1. What makes it so much fun is that truth really is stranger than fiction! [laughing] At least in my house, it is...

      Thanks for stopping by, Peggy! I've been reading your blog posts and am in awe of the regularity. You may be new to it, but I'd say you got the hang of it.

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    2. Truth really is stranger than fiction, I mean…look at us lol
      Nice to "meet" you, Peggy ;)

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I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog. (Note: if the post is more than a couple weeks old, your comment will automatically go into the "needs approval" folder, but I will still publish it and reply!)