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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Three years and 1000 blogs later

     Tomorrow marks the beginning of my fourth year of blogging.  Looking to get more involved in the local community, after being mostly involved outside of Howard County for 10 years, I was unsure how I could accomplish this.  Reading about a session sponsored by HoCo Blogs explaining how to blog I thought I would give it a try and see what happens.  I was not aware of the active blogging community in HoCo (or even that Howard County had this convenient shortened name!).  HoCo Blogs is the anchor that gets blogs known in our community.  Without HoCo Blogs and Jesse Newburn the audience for blogs in our County would be very limited and HoCo would be poorer for it.
     Why blog?  As more people became aware of my blog I was frequently asked why I started a blog.  While there is no one single answer to this question I would mostly answer that it was using the new internet technology to interact on a regular basis with people in our community.  We all interact in a variety of ways with the people around us.  Clubs, work meetings,  phone calls are just some of the ways we communicate directly on an everyday basis.  Blogging reminds me most like writing letters to the editor of local newspapers.  Blogging simply takes out the role of the editor determining which letters to publish.  Who needs editors and newspapers when the internet is open to anyone who is venturesome enough to try it.  Blogging is just another way of keeping a daily journal and sharing it with the community.  It is still strange to bump into people you know or just met for the first time and they know something about you or something you did that was communicated through your blog.
     Most people to whom I have talked say things like, " I wouldn't know what to blog about" or "How do you think of things to blog about?"  My response has always been to try it and see if you start to develop the mindset of a blogger.  Bloggers (and writers) tend to see everyday events as potential blogs. While we share these observations with our blog readers our gain is really to make us think a little more deeply about our everyday lives.  Small events can lead to making more significant connections in our community and our lives.
     When I started to blog I was fortunate to have the chance to talk with Tom Coale and Dennis Lane about the mechanics of blogging and they helped me decide what type of blogger I wanted to be.  Tom stressed that I had to decide on the subject matter of my blog.  Most blogs have a consistent theme like politics, food or just personal observations.  I quickly found out that I am too eclectic to have one consistent theme.  I decided on the name HoCo Connect because I wanted to be a place for people to connect in the community.  I am one of the few bloggers that encourages people to send me information on community events that I will post.  Dennis stressed that it was important to be a frequent blog poster.  If I blogged infrequently or inconsistently people would tend to lose interest in reading my blog.  He mentioned that Facebook was so popular because people knew that there was new information posted to Facebook all the time.  He explained that he posted almost everyday and that he didn't need to have something profound to post a blog.  Simple daily observations kept him in the "blogging mindset." It is still hard to look at Dennis' last blog post and think about how there will never be another one.  I took this advise to heart and I am one of the few (if only) daily bloggers out there in our County.  If I get an idea for a blog post I save it in my blog draft file and then go back and look to see if I want to expand the information into a blog post.  Presently I have 45 saved blog topics.  That is the only way I could blog frequently.
      I have taken some criticism for only re-posting information that I have received or read some days.  My response can be summed up with the phrase "different strokes for different folks."  Some bloggers can spend considerable time and thought into each blog they post and some of us can knock off a daily blog in 30 minutes or less each day.
     If you have been a reader of this blog you have noticed how often I use the P.S. format to add information at the end of many blogs.  Many of these P.S. posts were potential blogs that just never developed into more extensive blogs.  I couldn't develop enough of a post out of the information but thought that it was worth sharing in some way.  I know that I am not using the P.S. format correctly in that I have just simplified the format to P.S., P.S.1, P.S.2, etc.  I always thought that the usual format we learned in writing term papers was too complicated.
     Finally I learned that the secret to gaining blog readers was to get linked with other bloggers.  Getting links on Tom's and Dennis' blog helped getting views for my blog.  Getting mentioned by HowChow is also a driver to anyone's blog.  But getting posted on the Baltimore Sun's "blogs of the day" gets the biggest increase in blog views.  This is especially when your blog is the 'featured blog of the day."  My blog post on whatever happened to Linda Tripp was the featured blog of the day and has almost a thousand views.

P.S.
There are still free tickets to attend tonight's Blog Party at the new White Oak Tavern in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center.  Blog parties are fun for both bloggers and blog readers.

P.S.1
From HoCo Library:

     New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman presents The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Set in the volatile early twentieth century in New York, her mesmerizing new novel tells the story of young love between two vastly different souls. Hoffman's acclaimed body of work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions, and includes Practical Magic, made into a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; and Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club selection.
      Hoffman is currently a visiting research scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. She lives in Boston.
     Books available for purchase and signing. Sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library. Registration begins February 1. "A Meet the Author" event.
      *Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

P.S.2
   Whew! Today's blog post took way too much time.  Almost an hour!  Back to shorter posts.

hocoblogs@@@

1 comment:

Jessie Newburn said...

Congratulations, Duane. I remember well the day you came to the panel discussion about blogging. Wow! What a transformation from then to now. (And what great advice both Tom and Dennis gave you.)

Thanks for the shout-outs and kudos for HoCoBlogs. The ecosystem of bloggers and readers in Howard F'n County is amazing. See you at tonight's party!