Assessing the impact of blogging on writing goals

cyberscooty, a basketball about to enter a basketball hoop https://openclipart.org/detail/205569/basketball

cyberscooty, a basketball about to enter a basketball hoop https://openclipart.org/detail/205569/basketball

I love writing. Always have. I usually confess that I am a better writer than a speaker.

I like the time that I can take to choose a word or phrase and combine them to mean just what I intend.

I like the opportunity to check a word’s appropriateness before using it. Often when speaking I leave my sentence hanging embarrassingly in mid-air while I grope around in the murkiness of my mind for the “correct” word.  Why can my fingertips find the right word, without any thought, and the tongue cannot?

And of course there are all the opportunities that writing provides for self-expression, creativity and sharing ideas with a wider audience.

I started out writing stories, poems and songs, as most children, do and tried my hand at short stories, children’s stories and poetry as I got older. As I became more involved with my career in education, and in raising my children, I had (or made) less time for those creative pursuits.

There are many reasons I loved being a teacher and one of those was the opportunity it provided for me to be creative: creative and innovative in the way I worked with children to encourage their learning; and creative in writing resources to assist my teaching and the children’s learning.

I was fortunate in having a variety of opportunities to write materials for educational publishers at different times during my career, and I am currently writing documents to support curriculum implementation for my state educational authority. But I really wanted to be in control of my own writing.

At the back of my mind there was always the thought of sharing my teaching and learning resources with a wider audience. (Just a little bit further back, or maybe even close to equal footing, is the thought of publishing children’s stories, short stories, and maybe even a novel . . . one day.) I had had no success with submitting unsolicited manuscripts before and couldn’t think what publisher might be interested in the variety of educational resources I had made, many specifically for use on a computer.

So a couple of years ago I decided that a website of my own was the ideal platform for sharing my resources.  Getting that website up and running is my primary goal. However, observers could be mistaken in thinking that writing a blog is my primary goal. The path to establishing a website has taken a side-track via blogging.

venkatrao, A butterfly flying with a dotted path over a hill background https://openclipart.org/detail/69967/1278212857

venkatrao, A butterfly flying with a dotted path over a hill background https://openclipart.org/detail/69967/1278212857

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media were recommended me to right from the beginning as a way of targeting and establishing an audience. At the time I was familiar with none of these and set off learning how to become involved. It has been an exciting journey. I have learned lots and made many wonderful online friends.

However I am not sure how far it has moved me towards achieving my website goal. In fact, I think very little progress has been made.

  • I have not found and established my “target” audience and am really none the wiser about doing that.
  • The time that I am spending writing, reading and commenting on blogs is time that I am not spending on preparing materials for my website.
  • I need to be more proactive in finding illustrators for my work.
  • When I discovered the Teachers Pay Teachers site and established my Teachers Pay Teachers Store I had thought this may be an alternative avenue for sharing my work. But I haven’t been as successful there as I would like either. This may be telling me something about my website goal. What is it telling me? Should I listen?

So my dilemma comes down to these questions”

To blog or not to blog?

How to blog?

How much time for blogging?

The answer to the first one is easy:

Yes! I very much enjoy writing my post and receiving the almost immediate feedback from the wonderful community of writers I engage with.

Yes! I love reading and commenting on others’ blogs and joining in the discussions that ensue. We are a S.M.A.G. group: Society of Mutual Appreciation and Gratitude. What’s to not like?

The second two questions are a little more difficult.

The focus of my blog is education, but my audience consists of writers. Educators have shown little interest in developing a relationship with me online. I haven’t been able to figure that one out, but I have a few hazy ideas, none of which I think I want to address at this stage. If I change the way I blog I would quite likely fall out with the community I have become part of; and there is no guarantee I would pick up a teacher audience. So I’ll have to keep mulling this one over for a while.

The third question is the one I have been “researching” for close on five months. As time is limited and I need to devote more time to achieving my primary goal, it is important that time spent on blogging activities is worthwhile.

I decided to find out who is keen to engage with me and who isn’t.

I began keeping a record of the number of comments I made on others’ blogs, and of those they made on mine.  It wasn’t always as I expected, and highlighted some interesting trends; the main one of which I have noted above:

Writers have a wonderful sense of community.

The record helped me ensure that, if someone visited and commented on my blog, I would visit and comment on theirs, maintaining a balance as much as possible.

This key explains how to interpret the information on the tables below.

Table legend

I have removed names from the tables to respect privacy. (I don’t really expect you to look too hard at the tables. You have better things to do. But they do look pretty!)

November 9 2014 – Jan 24 2015

Slide1

 

Jan 25 2015 – March 26 2015

 

Slide2

I have not included all blogs I “follow”, or even all the ones I have ever commented on. Only the ones on which there has been some consistency in connecting.

I have also not included the comments of those who follow and comment on my posts but do not have a blog of their own on which I could reciprocate.

I generally post twice a week.

Others post more often.

Sometimes the number of comments I make on their posts in relation to their comments on mine is affected by the greater number of times they post. If someone chooses to post more often than twice a week, I will not necessarily read all their posts, regardless of how much I enjoy reading them, as there are other ways I must use my time, including a reading greater variety of writer’s work, and getting more done on my own. I’m sure they have enough other readers to not miss me!

Sometimes when a blogger posts less frequently than I do, their comments on my posts may tip the scales in my favour. I can’t do much about that either, but I do try to catch up when next they post.

I have found that it can take a few weeks of commenting on a blog I like to get a return visit and comment on my blog. Frequently I don’t even get a response to a comment I’ve made on theirs. I guess that’s how it goes. Some bloggers blog to develop community. Others blog to broadcast. I just need to decide how best to use my time.

If you have walked with me to the end of this post, thank you. It is rather longer than I intended. I had intended to respond to Anne Goodwin’s invitation to join in a writing process blog hop , Sherri Matthews’ invitation to join a workspace blog hop, and Sarah Brentyn’s questions for writers, as well as explain my writing goals to Sacha Black, thank Julie stock for her Sisterhood of the World bloggers award and draw on Paula Reed Nancarrow’s wonderful survey about Twitter #hashtag days and blogging. But they will have to wait. We all have others things to do.

Contributing partly to my procrastination with responding to these wonderful invitations, which I do very much appreciate, is that I have already nominated the majority of bloggers I follow, or if I haven’t someone else has. And the remaining ones don’t wish to be nominated. What is a girl to do? I’d appreciate your suggestions.

Thank you

Thank you for reading.

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts and advice, especially about how to increase time. If anyone knows a good time alchemist, I’d love to meet her!

60 thoughts on “Assessing the impact of blogging on writing goals

  1. Pingback: Well I declare | Norah Colvin

  2. Bec

    Very interesting stuff – I hope the adventure in learning about blogging trends has been helpful in understanding your goals! I certainly am glad you found this lovely community as I enjoy the shared appreciation and gratitude of your friendships!

    I have to point out this beautiful sentence as testament to your skill as a writer:

    Often when speaking I leave my sentence hanging embarrassingly in mid-air while I grope around in the murkiness of my mind for the “correct” word.

    So well put! And I think we’ve all been there.

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    1. Norah Post author

      It is a lovely community and I am so pleased to be a part of it, your own self included, of course. 🙂
      Thanks for bringing that statement back to my attention. Just what I needed – reminding me of my inadequacies! 🙂 LOL

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  3. Ellen Hawley

    The community aspect of blogging surprised me when I started, and like you, i love it. I’m baffled that educators aren’t responding to your blog. I wonder if it’s a problem of not fitting one of the well-defined blog categories–travel blog, food blog, lifestyle (I hate that word) blog, blogging blog, etc. Or maybe I’m just transposing a question I wrestle with to your struggle with the questions. Anyway, thoughtful post, even if the graphs did terrify me.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for popping in and leaving a comment, Ellen. I’m sorry the graphs terrified you. They have been useful in helping me understand my blogging habits.
      Your thoughts re educators not responding to my blog are definite possibilities, but maybe I’ll never know unless I do a survey. It might be difficult if I don’t get any responses though! 🙂

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  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    An interesting post Norah. My thoughts on your thoughts. Firstly I’m glad we are not going to lose you. Like Sherri I thought initially this was where you were going. I find your education posts interesting although not something that I can use other than to become even more opinionated than I already am. Educators should be flooding to your site as you have so much to offer. Have you tried putting education into your reader category and then reading and commenting on those that are educators. Even if a percentage read and follow over time this side of things should build up. It is possible that there are more writers out there and being writers are more inclined to comment.
    I loved that you said you are a better writer than speaker. I am the same. I can hardly string two words together and it worries me in trying to sell my book that they will say “she can’t talk so how can she write. It is probably really bad..”
    I started off doing all the statistics and things. In fact it was research I was tempted to complete my masters in so I religiously kept details. I even at one point had two blogs going using different tactics so I could compare the two. That was just a nightmare. Now I attempt t follow no-one by email. Blogs I want to connect with regularly I put in a folder in my bookmark bar. Others I access via reader when I have time. This year I have had no choice but to limit my visiting and commenting. I should also limit my posts but I find it is a good way to start my writing day with a post that requires little or a small amount of writing. I take very little time on my posts. I may read the prompt (for the writing ones) when it is posted but sometimes not until the day. Apart from possibly thinking about them when I walk the dog I usually write them in less than half an hour. I budget my blogging time. I allow myself from 4am or whatever time I might wake until dog walk time to post, respond to comments etc. I then do not return until around 8.30pm until maybe 10pm in the evening. I sometimes prepare posts and schedule them if I know I have a busy day coming up. The rest of the day I do my other writing and research. It really depends on how many comments I get and how long it takes me to respond to them, post my posts and then any other time will be spent visiting. I budget my visiting also. I like to visit every person who writes a flash for Carrot Ranch (this can take me all week and I don’t comment on Charli’s post until I have completed that), I attempt to visit at least thirty people from Friday Fictioneers, ten – twenty from weekly photo challenge. After that I visit people in my folder then I visit Reader – these depend on how much time I have left in my allocation. I have at the moment 23, 566 unread emails which will probably never be read but I don’t delete just in case I ever have the time or I want the statistics.
    I see all writing posts as practice for writing. I started off trying to develop an author platform. I think the important statistic is not how many followers you have but how engaged those followers are. It is a great community which I feel I sit on the outer edge not quite as engaged as I should be but engaged to the limit that is available to me at this time. I think each blogger has to work out their own way of keeping their sanity, their real life relationships and where they are happy in the blogging community.
    Any way Norah, although I mightn’t visit as frequently as some I have you in my folder and value highly my visits to your page. I can always be assured of a thought provoking post when I do.
    Cheers Irene

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Irene. I am honoured that you do visit and comment on my posts as often, and with such thoughtful comments, as you do. I know that each of us has limited time and other priorities, and that time given in this way is a gift, and not to be taken lightly.
      23,566 emails! Now that’s a number to contend with! I was never that popular! 🙂
      I am in awe of a few other things you have revealed – up at 4:30! I have never been one of those people who can survive on little sleep. It is such an advantage for those who can. Even one to two hours a night is the equivalent of another day’s work each week! I’m behind the eight ball there straight away. And it takes me much longer than half an hour to write a post!
      I am also amazed at the number of blogs you visit each week. You must get a huge number of visits and comments on yours. That’s a lot of comments to respond to!
      I am pleased to receive your visits and comments whenever you have time, and I always enjoy popping over to read and comment on your posts, especially your flash fiction. I often check out your photography on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays too, though I don’t usually comment on those.
      Thanks for the gift of your time. 🙂

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      1. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        And I thank you also for your time Norah. That 23,566 is two years worth. I hope nothing goes to that email address that I should read as I never look at it. I had assumed that gmail would delete items after a month as TPG used to but it doesn’t seem as though they do. As I told you once I’m a hoarder and can’t get rid of anything. I’ve always been an early riser but I used to go to bed early as well. Now in the effort to sleep later I stay up later but to date it hasn’t worked — old habits die hard.
        The number of comments is where it becomes hard. I don’t get the number that you get or Sherri for eg but I get enough and responding to them does take time. But I love it when a thread gets going that really gets me thinking. Sometimes these cement ideas that were merely seeds in my head. Others make me sit down and formulate what I actually think and that is when there will be the odd post that just happens. A post is being formulated as several posts (but one in particular) has really made me start thinking about literary writing. I love it when these threads get going – I think it is a bit like Ernest Hemingway in Paris having long discussions with fellow writers, artists and Gertrude Stein about technique, life and philosophy. Aren’t we just so lucky that we can sit and feel this kind of connection with people so physically removed from us and gain perspectives that living in another country gives us. Like life, with blogging you have to prioritise and you look after family and friends and then aquaintances and strangers.
        Thank you for your visits. I appreciate them greatly.
        If you were marking this you would probably red line it and say most is waffle but you get what I mean.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you, Irene. I do get what you mean, and both appreciate and agree with the sentiments. I don’t use red pens so you are safe in that quarter!
          I agree about the threads and the way the different parts of the conversations and ideas help us to work out what we really think, to take a different view and evaluate where we are. Sometimes it takes just one simple word or an idea from another to set us off on a different path or train of thought. Always fun! Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

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  5. Christy Birmingham

    Very interesting post here, Norah. I like the term ‘S.M.A.G. group’!! Yes, it’s a wonderful community here of supporters 🙂 I find it difficult sometimes to stay on top of comments and reads but I do my best and hope all understand life gets busy outside of blogging land sometimes. I know we all feel sometimes like we love blogging but some days there just isn’t time for it… I like your use of charts and presentation of this article, my clever friend!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your kind words and support. Although it may not conjure up more time, it is reassuring to know I am not alone! Enjoy the weekend. 🙂

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  6. Ula

    What a great post and wonderful conversation. I’ve been struggling with this as well.

    Here’s my take and my tactics (I don’t know if they’re good or proven, but seem to work for me for now): I rarely subscribe to blogs via email. I prefer reading through my wordpress feed. Does this mean I miss some great posts? Yes, unfortunately. If I have an email that has been sitting unopened in my inbox for some time (more than a few weeks), I delete it. I haven’t read it. My loss, but I just don’t have the time. I wish I did.

    I only do #MondayBlogs and #1000Speak on twitter. It’s not enough, but I know that I cannot devote more time. I try to RT people who RT me. I used to thank religiously, but now I think that maybe RTs are a better way of saying thank you. I have chosen to focus on people associated with Carrot Ranch and #1000Speak and some that I’ve discovered through MondayBlogs. That will continue to be my tactic for now.

    Paula’s post was an eye opener on hash tag days and RTs.

    I post about 5-6 days a week, but I usually write and preschedule my posts in batches. Some posts require more work than others, but I feel that all this is work towards my writing goals. It is helping me improve, figure out the best approaches, and experiment. I don’t expect anyone to read all my posts. The only person who may do that is my mom (I noticed she reads my blog through linkedin).

    I’m definitely not as generous with my time and commenting as you are. I’m working on it and trying to strike a balance. I think I may dedicate an afternoon or two a week to reading and commenting other blogs. At the moment I read many more than I comment on. Maybe I should reduce the amount I read. I don’t know.

    I hope you figure out a way to make it all work for you. I really enjoy your posts and flash fiction. Thank you for such a thoughtful posts, as you’ve given me more to think about.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Ula. It is wonderful that so many are willing to share their practices. All the ideas swirl around in a melting pot in my head as i try to extract the goodness out of them. The conflict between time and desire seems to be a very common one, and each of us are trying to find a way of managing them. Desley Jane also said that she doesn’t get email notifications and reads blogs in her reader. It’s an idea I’ll consider and maybe give it a go. I was amazed that even after turning email notifications off a lot of blogs yesterday, I still got almost 100 today, a few personal ones and some advertising, but perhaps 70% re blogs and comments (maybe I need to turn comment notifications off too!)
      How lovely that your mum reads all your posts. That is very special.
      I like to leave a little comment on most posts I read, just to acknowledge I was there and read it, but not always. I used to “like” them if I couldn’t think of anything in particular to comment on, but a blogger told me he didn’t like the like buttons. He thought it didn’t mean anything, so now I try to say a few words at least. I still think the like button is good to acknowledge that a comment has been read, and to maybe end the conversation; a bit like my daughter used to do on the phone “You hang up first”, “No, you hang up first”. Continuing a conversation on blogs can sometimes be a bit like that. 🙂

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  7. Carol Hedges

    Good post. I also blog regularly, now twice a week, like you. I use the blog as an outlet for short pieces, maybe on literary topics, maybe just fun. It’s a break from the tyranny of a long novel, and a chance to (I hope) showcase my writing. I have to say, when I started, blogs were in decline and not popular. Now, when you see how many people use the # s to promote their blogs, you wonder whether any body is writing novels any more!! I find the actual blog writing a pleasure…what I lament is, as you say, the lack of time to visit, read, anjoy and comment on other writers’ posts.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for popping over and sharing your ideas, Carol. We do brush by each other frequently on Twitter and Facebook, but we tend to move in slightly different circles, occasionally popping over to each others’ blogs. Time is the big prohibitor, not interest.
      You were one of the first I had a decent conversation with on Twitter when I joined. It was about a beautiful pink (to match a green?) leather jacket you were thinking of buying (I think). I hope you are still enjoying wearing it!
      I’m always pleased when I see you (and others) promoting your books, and especially pleased to notice the stand you take for things you believe in.
      From one L-Plate Gran to another – it’s always lovely talking to you. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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  8. writersideup

    Norah, you are most definitely not alone. This is the most common problem of anyone online for the purpose of building an “audience.” It’s what pushed me to finally doing it after avoiding it for years because I KNEW it would be a giant time-suck. It’s the time I truly hate. There are only 24 hours in a day and we have many other things we need to be doing. My social media/blog activity, no matter how I continue trying to streamline it, is WAY too time-consuming. Writing fiction? What is THAT? It’s non-existent for me and it’s what I want and need to be doing.

    I love your spreadsheets and your way of trying to determine where to cut back. I haven’t gone so far as doing that because I don’t have the time, but it’s my line of thinking, too. I get really annoyed that there are people I actually know (in person) whose blogs I follow and they rarely, if ever, comment on my blog when I always comment on theirs. And there’s a part of me that really gets irritated when they may, once a month, “like” my post and not take the time to leave a quick comment. So many other people have no trouble valuing their own time.

    Anyway, this is an extremely difficult thing to figure out when you’re aspiring. The only people who don’t HAVE to blog, etc. are the ones who are successful enough to have a following without having to do so.

    I’m shocked to hear you are connecting with writers more than teachers. I was always under the impression that your commenters were largely teachers! Your posts are mostly about education!

    What I’m curious about is what the difference would be between your website and this blog. I also wish I could suggest a way, other than connecting on Twitter and Facebook (I rarely use Facebook) through the chats for educators like #titletalk . There’s another one but I can’t think of it. I’m sure there are many. Anyway, we DO need to have more down time away from social media. I’m totally burnt out by it! Great post, Norah 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Donna, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, as you always do. It is great to belong to this community, though I think we have few others in common, we certainly share a love of #kidlit and writing. I was talking to Sherri Matthews about a new acronym I have coined: S.M.A.G. Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude. You are part of that group too. It is a great group and one that I am very happy to belong to. It is wonderful to be able to support and encourage each other. I think I will have to get a logo made up and we can put it on our blogs in recognition of our support and encouragement. No posts to write. Noone to tag. Just SMAG!
      The website I am planning will offer a variety of resources for early childhood teaching and learning, similar to what I already offer in my TeachersPayTeachers store, but the resources will be of my own making and available through subscription.
      Thanks for your suggestions. It is thanks to you I have already joined SCBWI and I am grateful for that! 🙂

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      1. writersideup

        I love the idea of S.M.A.G.! And thank you so much for including me in that! 😀 As you may recall, I’m not an “awards” kind of person, in general, and blog awards are included in that, but this is not an award–it’s a badge of honor that I would proudly display 😀

        And I’m SO glad you joined the SCBWI 😀

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  9. Pingback: Making choices | Norah Colvin

  10. Sherri

    Okay Norah, here is what you do, I’ve got it all figured out. Firstly, SMAG rules, LOL! Secondly, I love your charts, you are so clever and thirdly…oh wait, there is no thirdly because I am as quandrified as you (is that even a word?) 😮
    Seriously though, I hear you on every level. But what I’m doing now is making sure I get my writing done every day before I get blogging. This is making me slower at catching up and posting less but I can’t let myself get stressed about it anymore. I’m not on Twitter because I am afraid of taking on new social media at the moment. My Facebook Page hums along, slowly, and Google Plus, well, I haven’t set up my own circles over there because I haven’t figured out how to use it properly yet.
    I think of my ‘author platform’ for when the time comes to market my book, but while I’m building up my blog, I’m spending time away from the actual writing and achieving my writing goals, just as you explain here. It occurred to me recently, what is the point of having an author platform if I haven’t even written my book?
    But…and here’s the proverbial HUGE but…along the way,,,just like you, I found an amazing community here and have made genuine, real friends, you included. Writing is an isolating and lonely business so for me, blogging is a lifeline so far as keeping in touch with other writers. But I hear you with your target audience as well. What about the silent followers who read us but who never comment or like, who don’t have blogs, but somehow find our blogs and read along? Finding the right home for a specific market is definitely key. Just thinking for you, so far as reaching educators, are you in any groups on LinkedIn? I wondered if you might be able to find some contacts over there? Just a thought…I’m not au fait with social media at all, like you, have had to learn it all myself as I go. Still am 😉
    Since I’ve slowed things a bit on my blog, I’ve noticed that I’m getting very few new followers and that worried me at first. But then I thought I would rather have the interraction with my community than be spread out too thin. I simply can’t do the work on my blog that I did in the early days.
    I was worried when I started reading your post Norah, as I thought you were going to say goodbye, so I’m very glad that you are staying with us. But I also hope you find the way forward so that you can achieve your ultimate goals. I’m sorry I can’t be of much help, but at least you know many of us are feeling the same way. After all, we are all just doing our best and what we can…and we can truly support and encourage one another while doing so 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much, Sherri, for your lovely support and encouragement to continue. I appreciate that. I also appreciate that you are as quandrified as I am – lovely new word – goes well with SMAG! Your suggestion about LinkedIn is a good one I think. I’m not much good at those other forms of social media though. LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and circles, I don’t quite get it. People seem to post the same things everywhere. I have, I think, joined each of these but haven’t done much with them, which could be a bad thing. It might have been better to not join. Twitter I get (I think). I’m always disappointed that you are not when I share your posts to Mondayblogs and wwwwblogs, but I understand and respect your choice. We all have to do what works for us.
      I agree with you that the connectedness, the sense of community is perhaps the most wonderful thing about blogging. I have met some people whose company I really enjoy and look forward to meeting up with and hearing what they have to say, albeit online. You, of course, are one of those. I love my visits to the Summerhouse for a cup of tea or glass of wine. 🙂
      It is interesting too what you say about ‘author platform’. That was the recommendation given to me also. But it is readers that you need to make that connection with, not other writers. So, what are we to do? I think you have nailed it: we are all learning, trying to find our ways. The fact that we are doing it together, offering each other support and encouragement as we figure this thing out is what is important, for now. We’ll probably all synergize and there’ll be a huge lightbulb go on around the world, and we’ll all get it! 🙂 Woohoo! Bring it on!

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      1. Sherri

        Ahh Norah, at last getting the chance to read your lovely reply. Firstly, that is so sweet what you say about Twitter and I had no idea you shared (or would like to share) my posts on Mondayblogs, thank you so much for that! I don’t participate in that either, but I know about it from Charli and keep meaning to go there but just never seem to get the time. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get on Twitter after all, at least I know I would have ready-made friends over there with whom to tweet 😉 I keep thinking ‘when I’m further along with my book’ but then I keep hearing voices telling me that it is never too early to start marketing and promoting and making our writing more visible. Oh dear…hope this isn’t making you even more quandrified, it is me o_O Since our discussion about ‘author platform’, as you know Charli has returned and I am so excited to see what she is going to share with us about this very subject, armed with all she learnt in LA. I think she is going to be able to really help all of us, for you are right, it’s the readers of our work that we need to reach. I am now going to read your follow up post to this with eager eyes 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you, Sherri. I would love it if you were on Twitter. I must admit that I don’t do much other than have conversations with our lovely S.M.A.G. group and #Mondayblogs and #wwwblogs. It could take a lot of time but I quite enjoy the bit of banter that can be had there.
          I am so looking forward to finding out everything I can learn from Charli. She will be even more of a font of wisdom than she always was! I will see you at the Summerhouse, or Carrot Ranch (or maybe Twitter?), whichever comes first. 🙂

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  11. Annecdotist

    Extremely interesting post and discussion stream, Norah. I have the impression that you are more generous than many in giving feedback on others blogs and I’m glad you are therefore starting to think about whether this is achieving your goals. As someone who has begun to blog more frequently (but never quite at Geoff’s level) than the twice a week I used to (I think that’s a good level) I’m happy to accept that this might mean fewer comments per post. I also feel that there are some kinds of posts that require more comments than others (for me, I’d be disappointed if no-one commented on a particularly personal post, but would mind less for a book review). It seems that many of us are starting to think along the same lines about how we maintain the connections we value while safeguarding time to work towards our primary goals.
    I’m not sure why you haven’t managed to connect with the educators, but I wonder if you’ve had to water the teaching element down a bit to keep it interesting for those of us who aren’t specialists. Would it work for you to have two types of post a week: one to keep connecting with the community of writers (we’d hate to lose you) thereby pursuing a longer term and more nebulous goal of maintaining and improving your writing skills with the potential to publish your fiction; the other much more education focused so at least it’s there for your target community (even if the ungrateful wretches don’t acknowledge it)?
    Regarding twitter, I don’t know if this would be more trouble than it’s worth, but I have noticed that some people have two accounts – would it work for you to have an additional teacher account (and you could always tweet between them). Might be a stupid idea, but who knows?
    A final point, like you, I enjoyed the reciprocal nature of blogging but it might not be about that for everyone. I haven’t done the stats, but I do think I leave more comments than I get back (although that could be due to some blogs being more straightforward to comment on the another’s) but when I look at the page view stats for my blog, I don’t think I’m looking at as many pages as I get back.
    Sorry about the ramble, probably using you as a sounding board to begin to think through my own strategy. Helpful to me that Paula have started this and then having your post follow-on.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Anne, for sharing so much detail in your thinking about these issues. It is good that Paula got this conversation going, but I think I have read similar concerns many times on a number of different blogs. Getting the balance is difficult. There is just too much we want to do and not enough time to do it all. Life’s greatest dilemma, I guess. Choices have to be made.
      I have set my blogging target at two posts a week so I am happy to (try to) reciprocate by commenting on two posts of others. When the posts are more frequent than that I sometimes ignore the emails, and if I find I never get to them, or they don’t reciprocate, then I cancel notifications so their emails don’t clog up my inbox. That’s just me. Having made the decision today to be more ruthless, I have just been through my inbox and deleted all those emails re posts I thought I might get to but haven’t and have now decided against following up. There are still a few there, but I pared back to not many more than a hundred (from six hundred!) My goal is to deal with all emails each week, or (perhaps) delete those that I didn’t make time for. My record will help me ensure I get to those I don’t want to miss, like yours.
      Thanks for your suggestions re different types of posts, and different Twitter accounts. I don’t think I would do the twin twitter thing. I’m having trouble keeping up with anything other than mentions and RTs as it is; and haven’t got a clue what to do on Facebook, but I’ll keep the suggestion in mind as a possibility for the future. The posts I’m not sure about. As long as all my lovely friends don’t get tired of my rants and continue to visit and respond, I may continue as I have been for a while. You have been one of my most loyal visitors and most prolific in commenting so I very much value your feedback and advice.
      Please don’t apologize for the rambling. I always appreciate hearing your views and considering your suggestions. I think the blogosphere is the appropriate place for us to come to some understanding of what it’s all about, how best to engage and how to make the most of choices and what we do.

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  12. Paula Reed Nancarrow

    Thanks for linking to my post, Norah. I absolutely love finding someone who is as obsessive about spreadsheets as I am. 😉 Between the senior services grant I was working on all last week and getting ready to go visit my elderly parents (where I am now), I had next to no time to visit other blogs last week – in fact I still have to answer one or two comments on my own blog. Unfortunately given the personal issues I’m dealing with with my parents now my mind is mush, and I can’t suggest more in the way of strategies for you at this point, but I loved reading through others’ posts – we’re all essentially having the same problem. This suggest to me that it might not be just a question of finding the right strategy; the model of online reciprocity may in itself be flawed.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I hope all goes well with your parents, Paula. I understand how supporting them can turn one’s head to mush.
      I’m interested in your suggestion that the model of reciprocity may be flawed. I think finding the “right” model could be difficult. Maybe the writers who don’t engage but simply post have figured that out – for them anyway. It seems a bit anti-blogging in the way I think of it. It seems more broadcasting. “I have something to say. You listen. If you have something to say, I don’t have to listen back.” I can see how that would work if you just want to write. And we all want that. But it is the conversations on blogs that I most enjoy about blogging. If I didn’t want the conversation I would choose another genre! But that might be just me.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing further wisdom. I had intended to include more of it in my post but got carried away in telling my own story. Maybe another time. 🙂

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  13. lorilschafer

    Interesting analysis, Norah. It sounds as though you’ve come to the same point I have – recognizing that interacting with your community, which is supposed to help you to achieve your goals, can also prevent you from attaining them. I’ve made a conscientious effort in the last few months to reduce the time I spend on social media, including blogging and related activities. Because the blogging is one thing – it’s the related activities that get you. For me it’s like this. The more I blog, the more followers I get. The more followers I get, the more people I discover whom I want to follow. The more people I follow, the more blogs I want to read. The more blogs I read, the more comments I leave. The more people who read my blog, the more comments they leave that I have to answer. It’s a giant spiral of activity that, while enjoyable, leaves me little time for my actual goals.

    I have the same experience with Twitter. I love Twitter and it has worked very well for me, but again, it isn’t possible to just spend an extra ten minutes on Twitter and be done with it. Those extra ten minutes mean even more new followers that I have to follow, and mentions to which I have to respond, and RTs for which I have to give thanks. My extra ten minutes turns into thirty. Except for #MondayBlogs and #wwwblogs, I’ve basically abandoned Twitter the last few weeks just to make room in my schedule, which kills my website traffic as well as my book sales. But I see no way around it. Between tweeting and reading posts that interest me, Monday Blogs in particular can really take up a whole day. Some time ago I realized that I could just never keep up with all of the blogs I enjoy. Geoff Le Pard is a great example. There’s someone whose writing and intelligence I really admire, but who is so prolific that it makes my once-a-week posts seem lonely and sad. Lately I’ve adopted the tactic of just checking in with the people I like once a week and only saying something if I really have something to say. And I’m actually really glad I never got involved with the flash fiction prompts. Sounds like fun, but also one more obligation that isn’t really serving my purpose.

    But this wasn’t the main point of your post. I’m actually very surprised that you haven’t had more success connecting with teachers through your blog, because I think WordPress is a good platform for making those types of connections, no matter who your readers – or target readers – are. I will be very interested to hear what your ideas on what the reasons for this are when you’re ready to share them. Have you considered restructuring your WordPress site to accommodate the goals of your intended website and making the blog into a sideline? It might be a way to keep the best of both worlds without having to start finding an audience from scratch. I would also suggest trying to forge new connections on Twitter. It may be that because you have so many writer-ly types in your following already, you keep getting more of the same, whereas if you pursued more people directly affiliated with education, you might get more of those readers you want. Tweets aren’t a great way to interact on their own, but they do make it easier to discover new posts and new people that might be more closely related to where you’d like to be going.

    But whatever you decide, it sounds as though perhaps you need to take a step back and make more time for you. Or take a lesson from Lisa Reiter, and take some time off for a while. The one thing that’s really clear to me from your post is that you’re not accomplishing what you set out to accomplish, and that isn’t right.

    Liked by 4 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Lori,
      Thank you so much for sharing your support, encouragement and wisdom. I very much appreciate your generosity. You have far more experience in this than I, so it is great to be able to learn from you.
      The spiral you discuss: more posts, more followers, more comments, more time is so true. Many posts I read discuss the importance of the numbers, i.e. number of followers. I have been asked frequently how many followers I have, but I think that number is a hollow number. The real number is those who visit and read. Not all of those engage through comments, but most “followers” don’t visit or read. I know, because there is no way that I can visit and read all the blogs of those I supposedly follow. There are just not enough hours in the day. Since writing this post I have reduced my record to include only those bloggers with whom I actively engage. At the moment that number is eighteen, and is about all I can hope to engage with to the extent that I am now doing. Obviously if I was marketing a book I would want it to be shared wider than that. i guess that’s where Twitter, especially hashtag days, and Facebook comes in to play. I don’t know. I’m learning.
      I do enjoy participating in Mondayblogs and Wednesday blogs and always try to share the blogs that I read and follow (often forget my own!) but sometimes, with my work commitments I can’t do as much on them as I’d like.
      I agree with you about Geoff. There are a few bloggers I follow who post everyday. I couldn’t possibly read everything they write so, like you, try to pick out the posts that have the most to say to me.
      Thanks for your advice about combining blog and website. It’s a good one and I have considered it. I haven’t got enough “stuff” ready for my website yet, but maybe I need to rethink that goal too. Your advice about Twitter is also good but I haven’t yet found the right ones to engage with. The ones so far either simply say “thanks for sharing”, end of conversation, or completely ignore. I’m a bit like the kid left out in the playground. I’d rather play with my writerly friends who include and encourage me! 🙂
      And your final advice is also good. I am certainly assessing what I am doing and what I need to be doing – a little more of that in my next post!
      Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to leave so much detail in your help and support. I am both honoured and appreciative.
      Have a good week. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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      1. lorilschafer

        You’re right about followers being kind of a hollow number – and really, I think that’s true of most forms of social media, in which follower rates can be directly correlated to frequency of activity. A higher number of followers gives you a potentially larger audience, but not necessarily an actually larger one. Even if you’re only following fifty, even twenty blogs, who can keep up with all of those posts? And the same is, of course, true of those who are following you.

        I hope you find some more effective ways of working towards your goals, but I agree that it’s tough. The social media thing is great, but it is a huge time investment – one that I’m not always convinced pays off as well as we would like.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for popping back, Lori, with further thoughts. I appreciate that we are all in this together, trying to work out a solution. The greater the discussion we have, the more chance there is that we will stumble upon a solution (perhaps!)
          I have pared back my blogroll to twenty, as of today. I’ll see how I go following that number. Of course yours is in there! Eliminating the others (there were more than 70 on my list) and concentrating on that number will make me feel less guilty or disappointed that I haven’t read and commented on others I had thought to. Concentrating on these ones is, I hope, a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see if it affects the number of views.

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  14. Sacha Black

    Arrrgh, Norah, this is everyones 64 million dollar question. I have been toying with it myself over the last few weeks. The website has been taking an increasing amount of time, because the more I put into my posts, the more popular they prove, which makes me want to carry on. BUT, just like you, they are detracting from the point, my sole goal is to finish my novel, and make it the best it possibly can be. Every hour I spend blogging is an hour I didn’t spend writing… BUT, it is an hour I spent writing, and finding my voice. It’s an hour I spent talking and communicating with like minded creative people, and its an hour I spent feeling welcomed and like I belong to something worth while. For me, right now, the more I blog, the more productive I seem to be, I seem to write more and focus more on writing through blogging, even if it does detract a little time wise. Whether or not I can keep the pace up though, is another matter. But for now, blogging is giving me more than it takes time away. Only you can find your answers, its a toughy.

    Liked by 4 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much Sacha for sharing your thoughts. It is true for me too, that blogging makes me more of a writer than I was before. It also provides me with a wonderfully responsive and supportive audience. Really, what more could a writer want?
      I wish you success with your novel and hope that you can find the balance between working on your novel and on your blog, because you have great wisdom to share through your blog also.
      And it is so true that we each have to find our own answers, but sharing our experiences helps with that too. Thanks for sharing yours. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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      1. Sacha Black

        Thanks Norah, it does doesn’t it? I seem to have grown as a writer so much more in the last six months because of all the extra blogging. I hope I can find a balance too. I am struggling though, it seems to be one way or the other at the moment :S, and April brings NaNo so I will probably drop off the face of the planet! I hope you find your answer soon

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          1. Sacha Black

            NaNo Official is in November. But there are also camps twice a year where the rules are slightly different – you can do your own word count and they put you in cabins so that you meet like minded people. 😄 im trying to finish my novel first draft

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  15. macjam47

    Norah, I am with you all the way on the time element. It takes time to write posts, visit blogs, share on other social media, comment on others’ posts, and keep some sort of posting schedule. I am still working on the last one. Some weeks it seems as though I am always a day behind, What started as a hobby, has taken on the characteristics of a full time job with a lot of overtime but without pay.
    Your charts were lovely. Those nifty little things we do, take time too. Awards? I used to do them, but answering questions, linking to other blogs, notifying everyone that you’ve nominated them for an award, is very time consuming. They do give your blog more exposure, and I think they are probably of most value to newbies who are trying to build a following. Challenges? These can be so much fun, but if they are competing for time with regular postings, they can become stressful. I did the A-Z last April and had a fantastic time doing it, but my blog has grown and I have a tight schedule for the next few months. I bowed out of the A-Z this year.
    I think the answer is (and I am definitely not one to follow through on this) is to limit the time we spend reading other blogs and other social media sites, so we have more time for writing, reading, or whatever it is we want to accomplish through blogging. There is a boatload of fabulous bloggers who write outstanding posts, and I find it hard to say ‘no’ to anyone when they are writing about things I enjoy, want to know more about or stay current on.
    How to attract followers from education? I have no idea. Have you submitted any of the articles you’ve written to educational publications with a link to your blog?
    I don’t have any great words of wisdom here, and I’m sure I haven’t said anything new. I hope you keep blogging, as I’ve really enjoyed stopping by. You’ve had some fantastic posts.
    Best Wishes,
    Michelle

    Liked by 4 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Michelle, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. It is reassuring to know that this dilemma is not mine alone and that many of us experience the same frustrations. I appreciate that you are such a regular reader of my blog, often leaving encouraging and supportive comments, like this one.
      The distinction between hobby and work is an interesting one, and blogging can become all-consuming. I’m never as close to being just a day behind. Sometimes I never catch up. This is where my record helps to ensure that I at least read and comment on those who have done that for me. If I don’t get to others, then so it be.
      I think writing this post has clarified for me where the time is worthwhile and where it is not and maybe I need to forget the idea of my blog connecting with educators per se, though education will still be the focus of my posts,
      I appreciate your thoughts about awards. It is a tricky. I do like them. I think it is a good way of sharing interesting blogs with others. However this can also be done through links, reblogging, and following-up on comments.
      I think you do have words of wisdom, and I appreciate that you have given me more to contemplate, and especially appreciate your encouragement to continue writing and posting. What nicer comment could I receive? Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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  16. woodbeez48

    Hi Norah,
    I’m going to leave a comment because this is something I can really sympathise with. I love writing my blog every week and taking part in #MondayBlogs but it has now become so successful that it takes over pretty much the whole day. I don’t mind that except that I wanted that time to write. Writing my blog is writing of course and I am engaging with the community, which for me is also mostly other writers, but my second novel isn’t going to get written that way. It is hard to get a good balance and I’m also trying to market my first book to readers as well. They should be my audience really but I blog about my writing so what’s a woman to do? Same question you asked at the end of your blog post.

    I think you could always try setting up another website for teachers if that is still something you want to do but keep your writing blog going at the same time. You could try that to see if it works and then you will have to try and organise your time so you get to do a bit of everything. I’m working on that issue myself and when I have an answer, I’ll let you know! Good luck with it all.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment, Julie. It is reassuring to know that I am not the only one feeling a little overwhelmed and confused about the best way to organize time and maximize its use.
      I appreciate your suggestion and am thinking of doing that. To get my website ready though, a lot of my materials require illustrations. I’ll need to think a bit more creatively about that aspect now.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it.
      I hope you have a good week with the right writing balance. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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  17. jorobinson176

    Excellent points Norah. I must say that as time goes by I scrabble to keep up. Sometimes I can’t get to my computer for a couple of days and the it takes a couple of days to catch up with comments and blogs – I try mightily though. This world of blogs is the most wonderful, friendly and interesting place to be.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Oh Jo. Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. It is very reassuring. I agree with your summation of the ‘world of blogs’ so much. I can’t imagine a life without it now. I have been very fortunate to fall in with the ‘right group’.
      I also identify with what you said about a few days away from the computer. It is now two or three days since I’ve been able to read and comment, and I’ve missed so many in that time. The email inbox fills and it takes ages to sort through it. Eventually though. It’s definitely worth it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  18. desleyjane

    I enjoyed reading this Norah. I can relate. There is never enough time. Whenever I have a solid block of free time (usually late evening or my self-induced lazy Saturday mornings – although I don’t get one tomorrow) I write a number of posts and schedule them for the week. Mine are probably easier I guess since they are largely photography-driven.
    Also your comment about reaching other educators – that’s something I’ve thought about too. Not specifically, just that we are a group of bloggers communicating with other bloggers. I love that. But how to reach the world outside of here and have the public reading what we write and present is a whole different scenario.
    I don’t have answers but am happy to brainstorm 😉
    Incidentally, I am very interested in getting into the field of education, so I will be looking around for more of you writing about education.
    Happy Friday!

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Desley. I appreciate that you have shared your ideas on the topic. I’m amazed that you can get your post organised and scheduled in advance. I have done that occasionally. Perhaps I should have shorter posts. This one was longer than I like but writing it all down helped me clarify my position with myself so spending the time doing it was of benefit. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.
      I would love to share ideas about education with you. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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      1. desleyjane

        Hi Norah, my pleasure. It’s hard I admit, but makes my life easier. I love this community so I’m trying to make it easier to get things done. I was thinking of switching to less posts but haven’t done so yet.
        Yes – education, actually I’d like to get involved somehow…..

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