Tag Archives: bloggers

Jill, this One Is for You

Jill Weatherholt and I have been following each other for about seven years now. She’s strong and kind and lovely and a published author. You can visit her site at https://jillweatherholt.wordpress.com/

She’s also an orchid whisperer. She keeps orchids in her office and they love her as much as she loves them. There’s lots of growing and blooming.

So when I saw this delicate light green orchid, I immediately thought of Jill. I don’t know what it’s called, but to me it’s Jill’s Orchid.

🙂

Blogging Insights – Stats and Readers

Salted Caramel is asking further questions about our blogging habits. You can visit her blog here and browse answers to these and additional questions from a number of other bloggers.

1. How often, if at all, do you check your blog statistics?

2. What methods do you use to increase reader engagement, (provided you care about this)?

I think that checking blog statistics is something that we all probably do fairly frequently in the beginning, kind of like our first days and weeks of involvement in any new organisation when we’re wondering how we can get on and with whom.

I started blogging more than seven years ago and in the beginning, I checked a lot. It was pretty amazing to me that anyone was stopping by at all and of course, it was all very exciting. But over the years I’ve wondered why a rather mediocre blog will take off like a rocket and another doesn’t move much, even though the content is interesting and well presented.

I’ve thought about that a lot where my own posts are concerned as well. I’ll check the stats and be blown away by the number of visits on a piece that I was dubious about posting. The opposite happens, too. I’ll think I’ve done a good post, and poof! As my blog-friend Brian would say, sit and watch the tumbleweeds blow through.

So, after all this time, I don’t have any great insights into generally, what types of posts work and what ones don’t, even though I do check stats in an attempt to try to figure this out.

Increasing my readership is not something I’ve worried about. My blog is quite slow moving, probably because I’ve never bothered with that, and this has also been a blog that I’ve done for myself. It helps me to think, sort and organise, and it’s always been a de-stressor, a place to socialise and visit. I limit the number of blogs I follow because I want to read them, and I only have so much time. But when I do have the time, I travel all over the blogosphere and I will like lots of posts without necessarily following the blog. I want the blogger to have the like or likes, but I don’t expect a return visit.

How about you? How often do you check your stats? Do you do much (if anything) to increase your readership?

Let’s Get Personal?

Salted Caramel is asking readers to get personal. Here are her questions:

1. Do you blog under your own name or do you use a pseudonym?

2. Do you share personal details like gender, nationality, race or faith?

3. How much of your personality shows through your writing?

4. Do you share personal experiences to illustrate your writing?

I am not big on telling lots of personal details on my blog because I have a narcissist in my background who still likes to check up on me, and I would really rather that he not find any extra tidbits on how to contact or find me.

An airplane photo, similar to my gravatar.

So, as a result of that, I do use a pseudonym – my actual first name and my grandmother’s surname. I have never bothered to specifically share my race, gender, or faith, although if you’ve read enough of my stuff, you likely will have figured these things out. To me, these things are incidentals.

I definitely share personal experiences, but I try to remove or alter any features that might definitively identify me, so there’s a smudging of the lines.

My blog is me. I don’t try to blur or change who I am, so yes, I believe my personality is here. But the thought that comes up for me when considering these questions is around how much of ourselves we should be sharing.

The online world is funny that way. It encourages people to share, but then, how much is too much? Many people drop off lots of personal information, far too much, I think. They feel safe in doing so. They feel that there’s nothing about themselves that they should hide or keep private. That there’s no need.

Unknowably deep waters.

Until it’s too late and they need to keep themselves private for a very private reason. How do you turn that off? Is it even possible to turn that off?

It’s almost expected that we give up our privacy now, for work, for pleasure, for being able to just operate. And privacy is one of those things that’s precious; it’s been fought for and died over, many, many countless times. Shouldn’t we be a little more protective and respectful of this great costly gift that we have?

I know of people who, through WP, have met and become friends. That’s pretty great. People who otherwise would have never met, especially across oceans and continents, become lifelong chums.

But it bothers me when I’m told that I “should” be using such social media as Facebook and Twitter. For starters that would probably unleash the narcissist. And apart from that, I don’t want to. How much updating and tweeting can one person do? How do people find the time? Frankly, I find a lot of it boring.

I know that information is not only power, it’s money. And lots of companies want us to spill our guts so that they can make money from a raw material that costs them nothing but has the potential to be very costly to us.

They want us to use invasive devices such as Siri and Alexa.  They get into our homes and cars and are inside our heads, mining for gold.

Is there gold in these waters?

I don’t want to live in a society that more or less requires us to have one of these in our homes. Ten years from now, here’s the instruction on the side of a box: You will “need” Siri in order to complete the following task … 

No.

I don’t care if you want to have lots of Siris and Alexas all over your life. However, I want that to be a choice, not a pseudo-requirement that gradually eases its thin edge into our lives and over time evolves into a necessity.

Because of that, I think that these companies should be regulated. I think that AI should be regulated. And sooner rather than later.

What do you think? How personal are you with your blog? How far do you think technology should be allowed to go?

 

Do You Suffer from Blog Stress?

Can blogging, like anything else, become a chore, a requirement, a source of stress? Can the life be sucked right out of it because we’ve made it be something we have to do?

I first began thinking about this after reading a post from Melanie B. Cee of sparksfromacombustiblemind who reprinted and answered questions from Salted Caramel. You can read Salted Caramel’s original post here.

Here are the questions:

What, in your opinion, is blogger burnout?

Have you ever suffered from blog-related stress?

What steps could you suggest to prevent blogging from becoming a stressful activity?

In my opinion, burnout is extreme mental fatigue caused by stress. This fatigue can manifest in very serious physical concerns as well – insomnia, a lowered immune system, blood pressure issues, heart attacks, strokes, and lots of other health problems.

Can bloggers become burned out? I believe we can. If given the right context, anything can be mentally fatiguing, as most of us know very well.

We have such a period coming up soon; in much of the world, December can produce a lot of stress. There is pressure to produce “perfect” gifts, meals, and happy family events. A lot of this pressure comes from advertisers but there are other avenues of cause, including the pressures we place on ourselves.

If the stressors are continuous and/or intense, there’s going to be a point at which we become exhausted by them and can’t go on or are only firing on one mental cylinder. We have to take a holiday, or a stress leave, or a “mental health” day, or maybe several days. In the aftermath of extremely stressful situations, people can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

I am in my second year of a very stressful job as a CEO. It’s action-packed and very fluid, no matter how much anyone tries to impose a schedule on it. We have detailed, major inspections that we have to pass. We often deal with unhappy people who might head toward wigging out. I’m not afraid to get tough and I have that card stowed in my pocket. My “office time” when I get caught up on paperwork and emails occurs when most people have long gone home.

In my first year, there were periods when I recognized that I was nearing burnout, and I had to take action on it. I reorganised, I decentralised, and I reassigned duties and tasks. Not only did I have to create space for my employees to relax, I had to create space for me to do the same.

The idea of “productivity” has produced a false economy, in my opinion. We’re supposed to make use of all kinds of tips and tricks for reducing stress while on the job (do you see a contradiction there?) when the real stress reducers are reasonably simple and mostly instinctive: spend some time away from work doing other things and being with the people who love you. Having some time to yourself to do yoga is better than squeezing in some yoga between meetings. If that’s what you have to do, then the yoga just becomes another stressor. Does that make us any more productive? Or do we just become used up and unable to have a life outside of work?

So, do you need to take more vitamin D or do whatever the latest stress-reducing fad is or do you need to draw a boundary around some space for non-work?

Some stress is good for us, of course. It can keep us on our toes, alert and ready to go. But like anything else, too much can really be too much.

Blogging is the same. There has to be a boundary around it so that you don’t burn out or find it stressful. I’ve noted lots of bloggers who step away for a while, or who close comments on their posts or who still read but don’t post any more. I’ve done the same at times. One year, I was away from my blog for four months.

For me, blogging is a stress reliever. It takes me away from work, gives me a change of scene and I get to see what my blogging friends are doing. I like watching basketball for the same reasons (well, I’m not friends with any b-ballers, but you know 🙂 ). I don’t let those things consume me, though. That would take all the life out of them.

What do you think?

Adventures in WP Land

I was away from WP for a couple days last week, but not because I wanted to be.

I wasn’t able to log on. 😳

It all started on Saturday when I tried to access my WP app on my phone. A new screen popped up and I was asked for my password. I thought, yeah, okay. Many other sites do this every so often.

So I typed in my password. But … no dice. It was suggested that I change my password, a link was sent to my email, and I thought, yeah, okay. That password is quite old. I should change it.

This photo has nothing to do with technology. It’s just a nice photo of a local waterfall here in the Northwest Territories so that talk of technology issues doesn’t ratchet your blood pressure up too high.

So I changed my password. But … no dice. It was suggested that I change my password, a link was sent to my email, and I thought, yeah, this is getting irritating.

I tried again, and … no dice.

But I was able to access WP on my desktop. So until I got an answer from the WP “happiness” gurus, I went there, because normally I use my phone.

Until I couldn’t access my desktop either.

Somehow, I was signed out. It was suggested that I change my password, but … you know the drill.

Yikes. No access. At all.

So there was lots of emailing with WP, and with turnaround being anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, this took a while to sort.

This is a heart attack picture. Er, technology picture. 😉

The upshot is that I sent a  screen shot of the password request loop that I was inhabiting; they came back with suggestions for a retrofit, and then everything started to work after I changed passwords once more and then tried logging in again.

The WP people were friendly and helpful.

But the whole thing got me thinking about our dependence on technology and the bugs that can infect it. In my work I rely heavily on technology, but every time I think about going completely paperless, something like this happens to remind me that it’s not a foolproof system and and then I think, yeah, maybe I’ll go paperless … at some nebulous point in the future.

So, there’s paper in my office. Lots of it. (Although a lot less than there used to be.) And I guess that makes me the worst sort of Luddite schmo because really, I’m worried that there’s going to be some sort of tech blow-up and I’m going to need it.

I also work in a part of the world that’s largely off-grid – the Northwest Territories is a massive land area with a relatively small population. Cellphones can quickly become useless up here and aircraft and vehicles need sat-phones (as well as survival kits) for emergency purposes.

Sometimes, we need to be aware of where we are and how quickly technology can abandon us.

What do you think? Have you gone completely paperless? Would you be able to survive without your cell? Do you worry about a technology collapse?

Blogging Insights

Melanie from Sparks from a Combustible Mind passed on the idea for this post. Please check out her post and the blogger who originated these questions:                                                                                            https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/27669916/posts/55683

How important are images to a blog post?

What is the role of images in blog traffic and reader engagement?

How many images on average do you use in a blog post?

I think that images can be important to a blog post, but that really depends on the blogger and the subject of the post. From a pragmatic standpoint, having the occasional image can be easier on the eye than being confronted by large chunks of text, but I also don’t need the images either. I choose images and imagery because I connect well with them. Since I also do lots of photographic posts, I often like to make the image the focus, but I do use words to enhance the images. Sometimes, the images enhance the words; it depends on the links that I’m making.

Great Slave Lake in Autumn

Most people have become inundated by images and media of all kinds. For some people, especially people who have been raised to expect lots of visuals, not having them could be jarring. For others, having a break from all the imagery could be a relief. I think that in the end, it’s really the content of the post that drives whether or not the blogger wants to use visuals.

Skaha Lake in Summer

On average, I only use one or two images per post, but I have been known to use several. If I’m doing a post that’s not specifically photographic, I will use some of my pictures to back up a point I’m making.

Cameron Lake in Spring

I like these lake photos. Lakes can be calming, menacing, a giver of life, a taker of life. They can be all of these things, all at once. Images communicate. Sometimes just one thing, sometimes many things. Sometimes images communicate complex feelings or ideas that we don’t immediately understand.

To me, choosing images or visuals to add texture or depth to a post or having the images stand as posts on their own is dependent on thinking style, content, mood, and about 12 billion other things that go into making a person a person, because blog posts are what the bloggers are. 🙂