Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My (so-far) Adventures in a Blogging Wonderland

"They've got nothing on blogging." (Thanks to Julitofranco for donating this to the public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...BLOG! I hesitantly enter this anything-goes world of instant publication.


I’m a pack rat. It has to be said. I have a binder full of papers I hope might one day be ‘useful’ – bits of information on how to save money on X by substituting Y or trying Z. I also have numerous other papers stuck to my refrigerator and pinned to a cork board. And I have books and magazines, also full of great tips. But is any of it in a location/position to help me or anyone else? Not really.


Enter first-year P.R. class in Creative Communications at Red River College. Write a blog, says instructor extraordinaire Melanie Lee Lockhart. Pick a topic that interests you and might interest others, and update it at least once a week with posts of varying length.

No problem, I thought. I have years’ worth of material on how you can save yourself from huge dry-cleaning bills, carpet stains, expensive cleaning chemicals, and culinary disasters. Why not package it as a ‘thrift’ blog? The theme of saving money is always popular! Not to mention that a blog is a nice cost-free way to organize all these scraps and book hints lying around. Pick a ‘subject of the day’, ‘research’ through all my material, hit “Publish” and – VOILA! Organization at its finest.


It’s really not that simple. I have tons of ideas for what to do with the blog, but some are far more complex than can be dealt with in a week – hence they get pushed to the back of the pile in favour of faster posts that can meet the weekly deadlines. Suddenly I feel I can’t deliver on topics I think are important: which stores offer student discounts, how to get the best deals on laptops, the wonders that are secondhand clothing stores. And another thing, just as important as content, is AUDIENCE.


Originally I thought to myself – here I am, just another blogger, why would anyone care? How do I generate more interest? I can have the most relevant information ever, but if I can’t interest people in it, I am lost. Once I started envisioning this blog, it became a sort of forum where people could exchange helpful tips, coupons, and garage sale announcements. It still can be, right? I just need the people.


Step 1: Tell people. Shout to your classmates and instructors and other students in the hallways “I have a BLOG! About thriftiness!” Maybe practice “thriftiness” in the mirror a few times before you attempt this step. Add classmates’ blogs to your blog. Once you show up as a follower of their blogs, they’ll want to know who the weird girl in the ‘Story of the Year’ shirt is, and maybe they’ll like what they read once they arrive at your blog.

Step 2: Show people. Paste the link to your blog into all your chat room names so that either accidentally or on purpose, people will be encouraged to click on it. Add the link to your email signature so that everyone you contact via email gets a dose of your blog. Mention all your blog posts on Twitter and feature a link to the blog on Facebook (which I will do once I get around to joining these sites, Scout’s honour!).

Step 3: Tell more people. Mention to clerks at discount stores that you want to feature their location on your blog, and write down the link for them. People will take interest in your blog if they know the information is connected to them in some way. Let your relatives know what you’re blogging about and encourage them to contact you if they have relevant information – make the blog work for them and they’ll be more interested in it.

Step 4: This one’s still in the works for me, but it’s also important. Find other bloggers who share an interest in thriftiness and link to them. Hopefully, they’ll link back, eventually growing that forum I so naively hoped for when I began to blog.

When I feel uninspired to write in the blog, it’s usually because there’s a topic I feel passionate about, but it doesn’t relate to the subject of ‘Thrift.’ I’ll attempt to find some connection between the two, but if I can’t, often I’ll scribble down my ideas somewhere else and neglect the blog. Such is the way of a narrow focus – cluttering the blog with too many “Off-topic” posts will look unfocused and unprofessional. One possible solution might be to have TWO blogs, but then my blogging focus would always be divided. Better to stick with the one blog and keep the off-topic posts to a minimum.


The solution to my blog confusion is to PLAN. Make a list of topics to put in the blog, put them all in a hat, and draw them out one by one, assigning each one to a particular week. This way an entire month’s worth of blog posts can be planned out ahead of time. Longer topics can be re-arranged to the end of months to allow for advance research. And along with the ‘marketing’ strategies – PRESTO! You have a happy, organized, forum-style blog.

Well…we’ll see how it goes. =D

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