I have been a newcomer to more communities than I care to count. Whether they were towns or churches, it was hard to find doorways to real connections and relationships.
As an outsider-turned-suddenly-insider in the UU blogging community, I feel strongly about installing bright lights over the doors. I want my curating process for UU World’s Interdependent Web to be transparent and accessible. I want UU bloggers (particularly new ones) to know how to increase their chances of being among the fifteen or so bloggers featured each week.
So here’s a list of things that catch and keep my attention. It’s not rocket science. In fact, most of it is just common sense. After I’ve been doing this for a while longer, I may post a second list.
- First and foremost, write well. This is, far and away, the best thing you can do for your blog’s visibility. Find a friend who will critique your writing honestly. Join a writers’ group. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are as a writer. Write every day, and post only the best of what you write. Read about the art of writing.
- Make sure you’re in UUpdates. This is the easiest way for me to find you. I scan UUpdates daily, looking for new blogs to add to my UU folder in Google Reader.
- Know how your blog looks in Google Reader. Some UU blogs are almost unreadable. If the text color on your blog is something other than black, there’s a good chance it’s hard to read. If you blog is set to summary mode, it means that I have to leave Google Reader to read the whole post. Also, in summary mode you lose most formatting, including paragraph breaks. If your blog post is difficult to read, I may abandon it before noticing how brilliant your writing is.
- Think about how a curator reads. My favorite metaphor for how I read is that of a whale scooping up huge amounts of seawater, filtering it through its baleen, keeping what’s good, spewing what’s not. As of today, there are 179 blogs in my UU folder in Google Reader. From those blogs, some of which post several times each week, I choose fifteen posts for the weekly Interdependent Web. That’s not very many.
- Write great titles for your posts. That’s your first chance to catch my attention.
- I’m a big fan of short paragraphs. Maybe that’s not your style. Feel free to ignore my advice. But in the age of information overload, there’s a lot of power in a concise, clear idea.
- Know what you’re trying to say, and say it clearly, at least once. This is good writing advice in any situation, but for the Interdependent Web it’s particularly helpful. The IW‘s basic format is a summary sentence, followed by a block quote. Sometimes the hardest part of my work is finding the quote. You will do both of us a favor if you ask yourself, “What am I trying to say in this post? Have I said it clearly at least once?”
- Brevity is the soul of wit. Make a game of it. How many unnecessary words can you find? Check the word count, and cut it down by one-third. Be merciless.
- Know your flaws. I write long sentences that should be three short ones. I prevaricate. I use the words “and” and “so” too much. What habits do you have?
- Don’t fall into the deadline seam. Most weeks, the Interdependent Web gets published on Fridays. Since Thursday is my compiling day, that day is a deadline seam. By then I’ve started to get an idea of how the posts fit together, and your post will have to be extra wonderful to catch my attention.
- Your self-promotion should be (almost) invisible, and thus seem rare. There’s a lot of advice online about how to get more visibility for your blog––heck, this post is just that. But be careful. A little goes a long way. Often it’s safer to be a generous promoter of others, trusting that eventually your generosity will find its way back to you.
- Join the conversation––if you have something to say. The UU blogosphere is a community, and I enjoy highlighting the conversations that occur among us.
- Vary your tone. Some people have figured out that being controversial is a good way to get included in the Interdependent Web. You know what? Sometimes it backfires.
- Introduce yourself. If you’ve been doing all these things, and still haven’t gotten any notice in the Interdependent Web, maybe you’ve slipped through a gap in the baleen. Feel free to contact me through the Interdependent Web, or the contact page here on my blog. Let me know who you are, and what you’re writing about. I’d love to hear from you.