28 May 2010

Kyle's Blogging Tips (80% of which are too specific to be useful)

I am probably the worst kind of blogger (OK, maybe not the worst kind: see Exhibits A, B, and C). I know a lot about blogs (I used to evaluate them for Newstex) and about blogging best practices (having edited many words on the subject), but I don't put that knowledge to very good use. For better and worse, I primarily write posts that explore rather vague and abstract notions of complementarity and wholeness, because these are ideas that seem central to my life/work/ministry/interests (it's hard to resist the forward slash when your life/work/ministry/interests have something vaguely and abstractly to do with complementarity and wholeness).

Thus, CSC has a theme but no focused topic, except maybe the worst topic any writer can have: him- or herself (e.g., the experiment with video blogging to keep in touch during my first year of seminary, regarding which experiment: thanks for all the good feedback this year, friends). Prompted by a couple of recent incidents (a retweet by David Meerman Scott of my post about BEA and then a very minor burst of secondary exposure on Twitter because David also mentioned in another tweet that I was the one who filmed this video), I took a look at the CSC stats today to try to glean what (silly) tips I might have for bloggers (silly because, for the reasons outlined above [and more], this blog is no example to follow). Here goes:

  1. Name your blog after a snobby Latin expression. Almost all of my traffic from Google comes from people searching for the phrase "Contraria Sunt Complementa," presumably trying to figure out what it means. Sorry, y'all, I'm afraid you'll find only very opaque, inductive help here (I guess with the exception of my first post, which actually does do a decent definitional job and is--probably not coincidentally--my most popular post).
  2. Know some important bloggers. I know two, sorta: David Meerman Scott--whom I rather shamelessly mention here from time to time and who as I said has been very kind with comments, retweets, etc.--and Freakonomics co-author Steven J. Dubner. OK, I don't actually know Steven J. Dubner, but I know (and currently live with) his pirate-obsessed research assistant, Ryan Hagen. And Ryan once saw my post about the Wikipedia article for "real life," which in turn prompted a post about what fantasy is for. The h/t traffic from that post has made freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com my fourth-largest all-time referrer, although I now believe that stat to be skewed because of a rather hideous record-keeping blunder on my part (see No. 4 below).
  3. Have lots of time off and/or periods of isolation and a desperate need for concrete goals during same. As the last two weeks have reminded me, I am--like Sports Night's Dana Whitaker--terrible at having "unstructured time on my hands." Blogging has typical been for me a great way to manufacture some structure. I first got into blogging during a summer when I lived with my aunt and uncle in Cold Spring, NY, worked a pretty mindless job as a totally unqualified assistant to a medical equipment company field engineer, and had pretty much no friends and nothing to do. I started this blog during a Christmas break from grad school, by which time most of the high school friends I still kept in touch with had stopped coming home for more than a couple of days at the holidays, and anyway my parents now live pretty far from "home," or at least where home used to be. Point being: I do my most productive blogging during long school breaks. I recommend getting some of those.
  4. Keep your counter's URL information up to date. This one is only silly because it's sad, though it's also only a problem if you care about your visit stats. When I bought my own domain name about a year and a half ago, I went ahead and moved http://contrariasuntcomplementa.blogspot.com over to http://blog.kyleoliver.net. However, I failed to enter this piece of information into my profile over at Blog Counter. Thus, I have like sixteen months' worth of statistics wherein the only recorded visits are via an outdated URL. I only discovered this blunder when I checked to see how many people had visited the site after David's recent retweet of my post, only to discover that only one person had. David currently has 40,558 followers on Twitter, so that number seemed pretty unlikely. (If only tinyurl.com, which I use for all my tweeted links, offered statistics the way tiny.cc does. Perhaps I should switch my allegiance.)
  5. Write about your adventures wrangling household bats. What can I say? My most popular post not about physics (or about BookExpo America, but see Nos. 2 and 4 above) is about my adventures trying to usher bats out of St. Francis House while working as the House Fellow there. I guess it was funny.
So there you have it, my probably-not-at-all-helpful blogging tips. By the way, in other news of blog traffic suddenly and rapidly expanded, the secret is now out (thanks to the enthusiastic and tech-savvy clergy and parishioners of New York's St. Luke in the Fields [the former parish of my favorite VTS professor, incidentally]) that my smart, observant, and unusual-adventure-having girlfriend, Kristin Saylor, blogs about life as a port chaplain, St. Luke's parishioner, Wisconsin transplant, and amateur urban anthropologist at Wisconsin meets NYC. Since the cat's out of the bag, I can now offer a whole-hearted recommendation. It's a highly entertaining read, and she's got lots of interesting insight on the challenges of port ministry.

(P.S.: Apologies to any cat bloggers, cat lovers, or cat blog lovers reading this. You all can and should continue to blog or read about whatever you want.)

1 comment:

Kristin said...

thanks for the shout out! you flatter me :)