Nagoonberry

This world. This place. This life.

UU bloggers: How to catch–and keep–my attention

12 Comments

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Write great titles for your posts.  That’s your first chance to catch my attention.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?”
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
So (see that flaw?), that’s it for now.  I hope it’s helpful, particularly for new UU bloggers. If you have thoughts about UU blogging, curation, and the Interdependent Web, feel free to share them in the comments section here.
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12 thoughts on “UU bloggers: How to catch–and keep–my attention

  1. Pingback: Experiments of the heart, UU Christians and more « uuworld.org : The Interdependent Web

  2. I think it’s great that you’ve written this and are spelling it out for people. I didn’t know how my blog looked in Google reader (although I did know I specifically went with something that had black text), so added it to my reader to check it out. It was fine, but that’s a useful tip for anyone to do. I often give up on blogs that are not black text on white or light backgrounds faster, too. I found WonderTwisted’s hot post difficult to read on her own blog, and probably would’ve given up if it weren’t for the fact that it was so obviously a hot topic right now (I had no fewer than 10 Facebook friends posting it). I’m interested to see if you’ll include it in the future, since, well, she’s not really a UU blogger anymore, eh?

    I can see where my blog falls short (long-winded, long paragraphs, sometimes no good summary sentence, willfully ignoring my recurring flaws like the “So,” sentence starter. But fortunately I’m in UUpdates, in black font, aware of your publishing schedule, presumably in your Google Reader, and occasionally jump in on those larger conversations–although often after the initial interest has faded, perhaps. Maybe trying a particular point of having a one sentence summary that’s easy to pick out would be a good thing to focus on. Thanks!

    • Thanks, RevCyn! Glad it’s helpful, even for a veteran blogger with lots of Interdependent Web appearances. As a blogger & composition instructor, I bet you could come up with your own list for improving UU blogging.

      I don’t mind your long posts–you’re often explaining something I didn’t know about, and there’s definitely still a place for that, even in our overloaded world. Maybe particularly in our overloaded world. Your long posts, as I remember them, tend to have enough structure and trajectory that I don’t get lost or lose interest.

      There was far more response to WonderTwisted in the comments on her post, and on Facebook, than there was from bloggers. Critique, in particular, seemed particularly restricted to Facebook. Maybe because it’s a bit more private.

      Interesting world, the blogosphere & other social media!

      • I’m hoping to do a blog post response to WonderTwisted this week (hopefully earlier than Thursday, LOL). I’ve been letting my thoughts congeal a bit first. I’ve often got a week’s lag time on the hot topics. 🙂 But since I linked to her on the RevCyn Facebook Page, I’ve had a member or two of my congregation talking about what they think of it, so I think it might be interesting to them to hear my response, which is what’s prompting me to make a public response.

      • As for the helpfulness for veterans, yes, and I can see of course that it would be helpful to newbies. When I started out, I immediately contacted UUpdates to get listed, and contacted the UUWorld to find out what the procedure was to get noticed. I was a bit shameless, really. But it worked, and I seem to have gotten in regular rotation. I think it’s great to make the process clear, and to tell what makes posts more quotable for you. Kenneth had mentioned that “sentence summary followed by block quote” format to me, but you’ve spelled it out more about the quotable sentence.

      • Nope, looks like that blog post I was planning is going to be Thursday. Just not going to get to it tonight.

  3. Pingback: Can God Get Heather’s Attention? « Sunflower Chalice

  4. Great points in a short format. By demonstration, I assume you like the bullet approach of clear action steps.

    Your point of remember your reader probably cannot be over empathized.
    Damian

    • Hi, Damian. In the comment-conversation above with RevCyn, it occurred to me that a post can be long–if it’s got good structure. Bullets & numbering are one of the ways to give structure to a long post. Glad to see you here!

  5. Have I introduced myself as a blogger? Does being FB friends count? Just thought that I’d point out that I’ve gotten good feedback on my Valentine’s Day post on Patheos today: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uucollective/2014/02/valentines-day/

    • Yes, I caught the beginning of your Valentine’s post, and will read it more thoroughly later. 🙂 I didn’t now you had your own website–do you post different material there, or does it all go to Q4M now?

  6. Pingback: How I curate UU content | Nagoonberry

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