In the UU blogosphere, enthusiasm has been growing for a second round of answers to the UUA’s survey, Best Practices for UU Bloggers. Here are my answers.
- Why do you blog? What goals do you have for your blog? I blog as a writing practice, but also as a way of connecting with the larger UU community. When I first started blogging, I wrote mostly about food and farm issues, so I also have connections with bloggers who are interested in those kinds of things. The two largest tags in my tag cloud are “community” and “conversation,” and that’s about right.
- Who is your intended audience? I write to figure out what I think, so in a way, my first audience is myself. But then I’m also writing for people who can deepen or balance what I’m thinking, so I guess my broader audience is anyone who wants to talk back.
- Who owns your blog? Does it belong to you as individual or to your congregation or other organization? My blog belongs to me. It’s not a public space like a park or a community center. It’s my writing home. Obviously, it’s online, so it’s not a completely private space. But I do feel like it’s mine, in the sense that I get to set the rules about civility and appropriateness.
- How frequently do you post? Several times a week, more or less.
- What is the tone of your blog? It’s a thinking, exploring, storytelling, critiquing, wondering kind of blog.
- What steps do you take to make sure that your blog is a safe space, both for you and for other participants? Do you have a code of conduct? I don’t have a code of conduct, and I’m beginning to think I should have one. After all, there are many kinds of blogs, and it’s helpful for both blogger and readers/commenters to know what kind of blog mine is. Without a code of conduct, a reader might come to my blog expecting that it’s a completely public space where any kind of commentary is OK. Frankly, if my blog begins to feel unsafe, I stop writing, so I’ve got a vested interest in maintaining it as a safe place.
- What kinds of boundaries do you observe around confidentiality? I don’t use names when I’m telling stories, and if the person I’m talking about would be easily identified by the details of the story, I get permission from the person I’m writing about. When I write about my partner, I always have her read what I’ve written before I hit “publish.”
- How do you respond to comments and email from readers? I try to respond to every comment or email from readers. I see it as part of community building.
- What are the most challenging aspects of blogging in your experience? Keeping motivated. Finding the right amount of self-revelation. Dealing with the feeling of “Why did I post that?”
- What are the most rewarding aspects of blogging in your experience? Connecting to other people. Getting and providing support. Feeling the clouds of thought coalesce into words, sentences, paragraphs. Getting to know more about UUism, both from writing and connection to other UUs.
- What advice would you give to Unitarian Universalists who are new to blogging and want to get started? Just do it. Connect with one of the UU blog aggregators. Let your blogger persona be your best self, the self you’re becoming in real life. Forgive yourself if you write a terrible post. Or more than one terrible post. Keep writing. Don’t be intimidated by the technology.
- How do you evaluate the success of your blog? What have been your most successful blog posts or series? Success is a funny thing. If I worry too much about it, it ties me up in knots.
- What do you wish you had done differently in your blogging? I try not to think about things this way. Every choice shapes our life, even “mistakes.” Trying to avoid mistakes is a surefire way to stay stuck.
- What other online tools do you use to promote your blog? (i.e. social networking sites, Twitter, social bookmarking tools, etc.) None, yet. Still working out how to keep various parts of my life separate.
- Do you use an Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed? How many subscribers do you have? I use an RSS feed, but I don’t know how many subscribers I have.
- Do you track site traffic? How many unique visitors do you have per day (on average)? WordPress.com tracks site traffic. I watch trends more than actual numbers. Sometimes it’s fun to try to write a provocative blog post that will boost numbers, but for the most part, it’s hard to predict what will draw attention.
- Do you find Unitarian Universalist Association resources helpful to you as a blogger? What additional resources could we provide to Unitarian Universalist bloggers? This survey is helpful. When it first came out a few years ago, it was helpful to read the responses of the early UU bloggers.