THE WRITE BRAIN: Essential Blog Content Development Workshop


AUGUST 5, 2011

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>> BRITT BRAVO: Hi, everybody. We're ready to start. We have such a long title, I have to look at it to see what session I'm in. Welcome to The Write Brain, Essential Blog Content Development Workshop double slot.
(Cheers and Applause)
So I just wanted to give you guys a quick overview of what's going to happen during this large chunk. From 1:15 to 2 p.m., I'm Britt Bravo, and I will talk about generating blog posts. And then we'll have a 15 minute break from 2 to 2:15. And then 2:15 to 3:00, Elizabeth will talk about creating great blog posts. Then we'll have another break from 3 to 3:15. And then from 3:15 to 4:00, Julie will be talking about blogging practice makes perfect. That gives you an overview the day.
I would love it if folks would turn the ringers off on their phone. I have been in the session this morning, and it was a little bit distraction.
Also for my part of this session, I will be having you do some writing, just some reflection questions. So pull up a Word doc or take out a paper and pen.
Let me just check. Do we have a mic wrangler? No. Okay? Could someone see if that mic is live?
>> BRITT BRAVO: What I really wanted to do to start, and I would love it if you would use the mic. For these 45 minutes, I want to start just by hearing before I take you through a process of reflection questions and some exercises you will do by yourself and with others to generate blog post ideas, I wanted to hear from you first, just for a couple of minutes how you come up with blog post ideas.
So if there are folks who want to share their process. I know, it's scary, you have to walk all the way over there and stand in front of the microphone, but if there are phones who want to share, this is how I come up with ideas, I would love to hear from them. Would anyone like to do a little shutout.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay. Let's get this going. I get most of my ideas from links on Twitter and Facebook to news articles. So I don't actually read newspapers. I only read stories that other people link to and then research the topic and write my own piece.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Wonderful, thank you. She gets from links on Twitter and Facebook.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: This mic is for like 6 feet tall people. I have Google alert set up on my topic, as well as following people on Twitter who tweet about my topic, and newsletters, like because I write about research sometimes. So the American academy of pediatrics, from that to the American council on exercise, I use those to promise to find out about new newsworthy things.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Great so in addition from Twitter and Facebook, she gets ideas from newsletters and Google alerts.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I like to look at different blogs within my niche and see kind of what some of their top posts are, just to get some ideas and write on different points, you know, that maybe they talk about and expand on it. And I also just constantly learning and growing personally with personal development and that kind of stuff.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Wonderful. So she reads blogs. It's amazing how many people don't read blogs, but they write their own blog. I'm glad you mentioned that. Yeah.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Sky and I love Pinterest.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Can you spell that out for folks who don't know what that is?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's like p and interest. It's p i n t e r e s, and it's crack for me. I write a home improvement design DIY blog and so talk about photos that inspire, it's amazing. The one thing that I did hear, if anybody knows what is the I'm trying to remember the site right now. It's not Cost of Sugar. One of the sites were is commenting that they need to really be careful about Pinterest that you refer back to the original photographer. That's the only tough part about that.
And the other one is on Facebook, I like the types of bloggers that come up with some great ideas, and I research them that way too.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Great. Thank you.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I would like to add we now have a microphone wrangler, my husband Martin. If you are going to speak, please raise your hand and he will make his way to you.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Thank you. I wanted to add a few more sources of content. So the folks who just came in at the last minute, folks get blog post ideas through links on Twitter and Facebook, through Google alerts, for the topics that you are interested in, newsletters, reading other blogs, Pinterest, and so a few other places, and I would love it if you guys jumped in, is to check Google blog search. So using Google the specific blog search engine on Google for whatever you are looking to research about, to also looking on the Google blog search home page. What are the current stories and the current events of that time. Also using Twitter search, so the actual search engine to see what other folks are writing about for the topic that you are interested in. Google trends for what are the trending topics of that day.
There's a workshop on Saturday for vision board, for those of you who are visual and don't want to be writing lists about blog post ideas, creating a vision board, a blog board can also be a great way to tap into a different part of your brain for blog post ideas. And I'm going to in just a few minutes, I will give you a list of different types of blog posts. So, you know, you can do a give away. You can do an interview, things like that, putting all of those and all of your blog post kind of ideas on a stack of index cards and then putting them in a hat, putting them into a drawer. Then when you get stuck pulling one out, write a post about that type or that topic.
Looking through your comments, what are the things that your readers are asking about? Or if you find that as you are writing a comment, it's getting very, very long, clearly that's a blog post. That's not a comment.
And then I really like this quote from a wonderful new book by Jenny Doe called art saves. It's called create what you seek but cannot find. So what is the thing that you are trying to find when you are reading blogs? What is that thing that you are looking for and can you create it on your own blog?
And then the final tip for places to find inspiration for a blog post, go do something. I think sometimes as bloggers, we are like, what shall I write about? What shall I write about? Go do something and then you will have something to write about. Do you have other things that you wanted to add before we go into the exercises.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Definitely draw from your life. Write about what you know. If you are not an expert in US foreign policy, probably that's a subject to stay away from. You can try, you could write about it from your perspective, but look for things in your own life.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: And I think finding your passion is a big difference. If you are passionate about any subject, the ideas will know very easily, whether you are a mom blogger or corporate, if you love it, it's easy.
>> BRITT BRAVO: For folks who just came in, I love it if you would turn off your cell phones. We will do reflections and whip up your Word doc or whatever you need to write.
The first question I want you to answer is why do I blog? This will lead us to creating some blog post type ideas. Why do I blog? People blog for a lot of reasons being right? They might be building a platform for a book. They might be creating a regular writing practice. They might be trying to create an online community. Maybe they are just there to entertain. They are just doing it for fun or to make people laugh. Maybe they are there to inspire. They are trying to express themselves. They want to be famous. They want to share they want to sell a product or sell a service. They want to educate. So there are a lot of reasons for blogging. So I just want you to take we'll give you like a minute or two to write down, why do I blog and what goals do I want to achieve with my blog?
So just take a moment to jot that down. Why do I blog? And what goals do I want to achieve with my blog?
So take the next minute or so to finish up. For folks who just walked in, we are writing down where do I blog? What's my what goals am I trying to achieve by having a blog and that could range.
Okay. Now, I want you to ask yourself and answer the question: What does success look like for me? What does it mean to have a successful blog? You have taken the time to come here. I'm guessing you have some goals and aspirations and ideas about what that might mean. Again, that will range for people. For some people, it's a certain number of subscribers. For some people, it's page views, it's sales, it's a thank you note from a reader. That's one of my favorite measures of success, it's getting press, it's maybe to get jobs because that's your vehicle to find work. Maybe it's just to build community, to make new friends. So what does success look like for you? How will you measure that? How will you know you got there?
There's some seats in the front for folks who are coming in. There's two seats here. A couple of seats over here. So you don't need to lean in the back. If you could raise a hand if there's a seat near you, so folks know where they can sit.
Great. Thanks, everybody. So take the next couple of minutes to finish that. Let me check in with folks. Do people have questions, observations, reflections and where is our mic wrangler. Raise your hand if there's something you want to share, like, I've had a revelation. Yes?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I don't know what success looks like for me. So that was an interesting question.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Would you feel comfortable with why you blog?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I don't blog, and I'm thinking of blogging. I've been an editor a long time and it's different writing my own stuff versus correcting everybody else's stuff and pondering that, what would success look like, I have no idea.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Thanks for sharing.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: We had one in the back.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I write to keep when I was a girl, my dad died when I was young, and he left nothing behind. So I didn't know anything about him, and one of the things that I just longed for was just to know about his everyday life, what was he like? What did he think about? And so blogging, for me, is that. It's to leave words for my kids so that they know me and not just, you know, the big, long, lengthy dissertations, the lectures, that's what they know. Some day they will want to look back and look on those words and say she was funny. She was this. She was interested in these things. That's why I write.
But it's evolved into more than that. It's turned into a great creative outlet for me and I found a group of people who get me. For me, success is when you have people actually reading what you write, and leaving a comment. Oh, that was a funny story. That really is wonderful, you know, to get those kinds of remarks, that it helps me to know that I'm improving and what I'm writing about is interesting to other people.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Thank you.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Can you scrapbook or did you scrapbook?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, but I hoard paper.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: How many people scrapbooked before they started blogging. It's in the same vein.
>> BRITT BRAVO: We can take one more, if people want to share why they blog, and a question for them. Then we'll move on.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: For me, success isn't about the numbers or readers or anything like that. It's just about blogging more consistently is what I want to do. And so I don't have a certain number of posts I want to hit a week or anything like, that but I just want to be better about actually documenting the things that I want to see on my blog which is kind of why I came for the content development so I can blog more consistently, but also authentically without, you know, feeling like it's a forced blog post.
>> BRITT BRAVO: I'm so glad you shared that. There was a wonderful, I don't know if people went to last year, called small blogs. It was all about just blogging to blog. Yes, even if you have five readers, yes, the community that you have and the richness of that and just doing it for the joy of it and so I appreciate you sharing that.
Okay. So we don't have a lot of time. I want to keep going. The so the next reflection question I would like you to answer is who are my ideal readers for my blog? Now, maybe you already have these folks, you know what they are like, you know what they are about and you just want more of them. So you are just describing that. Maybe you just have a thought in your mind of who are the people who, one, wish would read my blog. My blog is called Have Fun * Do Good. I sometimes think who am I here to serve. I have a gift for communication in words. Who is the audience that really needs my blog?
Sometimes that can help when we are starting to feel fearful or I don't know what I'm doing and I'm not good enough. Well, if you don't write, there's somebody out there who isn't getting what you need. Ask yourself, who are the ideal readers of my blog. What need does my blog fulfill for them?
So the need might be advice. It might be resources. It might be education, or how toes. It could be a community. It could be a virtual friend. It could be a laugh or inspiration. It could be beautiful images or a funny video or beautiful writing, or niche news. Niche or neeche, you are the person who can gather the information.
So take a minute to describe for yourself, who is your ideal reader. Think of one or two real people who personify that. Jot your names down and you could put your photos by your laptop or desk. When we have someone in mind, like this is even if you are trying to reach thousands, you know, but this is the type of person who I'm trying to reach. So just take a moment to jot down who your ideal reader is.
Who needs you?
Does anyone watch "Burn Notice" and she says, somebody needs your help, Michael. That's what I always think. Somebody needs your help. Your blog is there for them. Somebody needs your help.
You have your purpose, who you are trying to reach, who you are here to serve and so now we are going to start talking about blog post ideas and I'm going to have you do some brainstorming. Before you do that, I want to kind of give you a list of types of blog post content. I think sometimes as bloggers we can get in a rut. We either only write personal stories. We only pot up photos. We write in a neutral journalistic voice. We are only funny, we are only serious. This is a list of types of blog posts so as you do your blog post after this, you can think, I can do this type of post.
My favorite is the 100 word post. I think this is a wonderful anecdote to writer's block and I think it's great for new bloggers in particular, just to create a lot of content if you are trying to write consistently, the 100 word post.
Ask for readers questions. So answer questions, ask them for questions, or check their comments. Ask a question. That's good for two posts. The first post is asking the question and then everybody writes their questions and then you can do the following posts compiling their questions, answering their questions. That's good for a whole bunch of posts.
Ask for help. Everybody wants to help and I think, you know, sometimes I I teach blogging and people say, well, why don't I have any comments. And there's a lot of reasons for that. One of them is, well, you sound too perfect. Nobody feels they can add anything to your question. If you ask for help or advice, it gives people a reason to comment.
Audio posts, video posts, photo heavy posts. So for those of us who tend toward only the written word. Best of lists. You know you love the best of lists. Any lists, really, how to lists, numbered lists, best of lists, I think there's some psychological study why we love lists.
Challenges. You know, those blogs like, I'm only going to do this for 29 days. I'm going to do this for the year, whatever. You know, setting a challenge for yourself, documenting that challenge and then other folks join in often and say, oh, I'm going to do that too or they give you that's when you can ask questions, how did you do this to complete this challenge.
Commenting on current events. Okay, whatever is going on, those first of all, those are things that people are searching for. You know, whatever is in the news at the moment. If your blog is relevant and there's a way you can tie that into what's going on in the world, it can also bring you traffic. Contests and give aways. Click lists. So linking to other blog posts and other blogs and other articles or link love lists if you like that term better.
Click list or link love list. Guest posts. So whether that's you have someone write a guest post for you or you write a guest post for someone else's blog and in your bio have a link back to your blog. How toes, I mentioned, interviews or profiles. Memes, how would you describe a Meme?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: It's something that asks a lot of questions and it gets passed around.
>> BRITT BRAVO: How many did reverb 10.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Or back in the day, Facebook used to send around or talk about your first born child and would you just replace the answers and things like that. That would be a meme.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Or 25 things you don't know about me. Memes.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: That's what I used to call it, the Mimis. No judging.
>> BRITT BRAVO: What I call from notes from the field, going and doing something and talking about and taking picture or taking video or writing about whatever it is that you did or experienced. Numbered list we mentioned. Opinion, that's another thing when folks say, I don't get any comments. Maybe you are being nice and neutral. And there's nothing to add. If you go one way or the other, sharing your opinion. Personal story. I know for some folks, that's all they write about and so then if that's all you write about, what's the opposite? Can you write something a little more professional or journalistic.
If there's folks would write in that way, adding a more personal tone.
Series doing a regular series, meatless Mondays or fun Fridays or fashion Fridays or wacky Wednesdays or whatever it is, it's something that then your regular readers come to rely upon and also then you don't even have to worry about that day and you are knowing that that day will be about that topic and you are collecting those ideas as you go.
Reviews of books, films, music, products. Roundup of news, about a field or a topic or an issue, if there's something that you are you know, folks would said they use Google alerts, if there's something that you always follow, you know so much about whatever that topic is, we are so overloaded with information right now, readers really appreciate if you can curate for them and you can be the person to sort through that information for them.
So you are the curator of here's what's going on this week this month, about that topic.
And your news. What's new with you in terms of if you are, you know, speaking. You have a book coming out, whatever that might be. I read some blogs and say, please stop telling me your news. I'm tired of your news. And there will be some people, you were in my town. I didn't know that you were in your town. Well, I wanted to know because I read your blogs. So it's a fine balance.
That's a big list. That's the one that I was mentioning that you can write it on a bunch of index cards and put it in a box and say, oh, today is the day that I have to do a numbered list. Today is the day that I will ask for help or write an opinion piece.
So what I want you to do now, now that you have some of those topic ideas, post type ideas in your head, is to look at your what you have written as your purpose, your audience, how you measure success, and think about what blog post topics would help you achieve your goals and appeal to your ideal readers.
I will give you a couple of minutes to look at this. Really try not to edit yourself. It's just brainstorming. Whatever that is for you, whether it's a list or a mind map, there's no bad idea. It may be, oh, why am I thinking about it. Don't question it. Just write it down.
So what topics would help you achieve your purpose and be of value to your ideal readers?
Just take a couple of seconds to finish up.
Okay. So now what I want you to do is find a partner. And with that partner, you are going to share, what is the purpose of the blog. What is your ideal audience, a smidge about what your blog is about, because you are only going to have about five minutes and then your partner is going to brainstorm for you. Your partner is going to help you and say, hmm, if that's your goal and those are your ideal readers, here's some great blog post topic ideas. Or I would love to hear about this.
And you as the recipient of your ideas, you will not say, no, I tried that. You will say, I love you, thank you, thank you. And you write it all down. Okay. So find a partner and then I will tell you when to go when it looks like folks have partners. Okay, go!
(Working in groups)
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: If you don't have a partner, raise your hands so you can pair up.
>> BRITT BRAVO: One minute until you switch. One minute until you switch. One minute until you switch.
Switch! Time to switch!
Take the next minute to finish up. One more minute. One minute to finish up.
Okay. Let's all come back together. Coming back together. Hello. Hello, ladies. Hello?
We are going to have a break so you can chat it up more in just a couple of minutes. Okay. Great. So a couple of things. One is this is a great exercise to do with your blog buddies. When I teach classes, I do it with, you know, groups of five. So you have five people listening to what your goals and audience are in coming one ideas. So if you have a group of blog pals, even if it's one other one, I highly recommend you do this process with each other. I think when other people hear what your blog is about and who you are trying to reach, they can come up with different ideas than you can, because it's so personal to you and it's in your head. That's the first thing.
And the second thing and the last thing that I would like you to do is that we have talked today about goals and audience and value and strategy and all of this stuff, when you are going to hear, you know, in other sessions but really, the most important thing for creating blog content is that you are passionate about it, and you love writing about it and it makes you excited. So the last thing I want you to do is look through your list of ideas that you came up with and that your partner came up with and I want you to put hearts next to the ones that make your heart sing.
So take a moment to put a heart next to your favorite topic ideas. I want to see heart making. I want to hear markers squeaking.
Great. So this is that's the end of this portion. I don't know if I mentioned, I'm Britt Bravo.
And my web site is up there, and my Twitter bbravo. And my blog is Have Fun * Do Good. I have cards up if you want to ask me questions but you want to
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: No, there's no other running to another session. I'm sorry you all have to say.
>> BRITT BRAVO: I'm sorry.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: It's the first time she's been wrong all year. So don't worry.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Right, right, yeah. Okay.
And then from 2:15 to 3:00, Elizabeth will be talking about the basics of writing great blog posts and we'll have another we can from 3 to 3:15, and 3:15 to 4:00, Julie will be talking about blogging practice makes perfect.
Thanks, everyone. We'll take a short break and come back for the next part.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: All right. Are you guys ready? Hello. Good afternoon. Hi.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: My name is Elizabeth Soutter. I'm the second panelist today. I will talk about how to build the great blog posts from all the ideas that Britt gave you. This is Britt Bravo who did the first panel. She talked about how to create ideas and to know who your audience is.
I will be here from what time is it now? I will be here for 45 minutes at the end of which there will be a short break and then my friend over here, Julie, will talk about how to maintain a blogging schedule, a blogging practice, which is a really good thing because after a while, you start to wonder what you possibly could have to say.
No one cares what you think. They care whether you can make them think. That's what's called a lead, and every single blog post you write should have one.
The next thing that it needs to have, of course, is a nut graph which is a summary of what you will be talking about. I will give you some basic rules on how to write excellent blog posts. Blogging is a relatively new form, that's true, but writing has been around forever and personal essay writing has been around since the beginning of time and there are rules that you can follow that will make your writing so good and your content so excellent that all of those goals that Britt talked about will be achievable.
Okay. So the first rule is, shorter is better. Mark Twain said, I apologize for the length of this letter. I did not have time to make it shorter. Blogging is a short term. And the bad news my friends is that does not mean that you have to work less hard at it. It means you have to work harder. It is very hard to make a blog post short.
Writing is the process of figuring out what you think. So that takes some time. So the average length of a good blog post is about 650 words. Not a whole lot longer. Can you break that rule? Sure. Absolutely. But when you are starting out and you are getting used to this process of building a blog post and doing it regularly, 650 words is a good target.
I love Britt's, the 100 word post. That's a great thing to do. It's a great exercise and it speaks to the challenge of getting your words, your thoughts, your ideas down to something that is easily digestible.
Okay. So how do we do that? How do you make a blog post shorter? When you are all done, when you have your draft, because you work in drafts, because you are good solid workers, you take a look at your draft and there's two quick ways to shorten a post. First, you play word elimination, which is literally to go through and say, okay, this sucker is 700 words. Liz says it's got to be 650, where am I going to cut 50 words?
Another quick trick that is actually a really simple trick is to watch for echoes. An echo is a word or phrase that appears more than once in a sentence, and too frequently in a paragraph or a page. Not only is it irritating to read, but it's a sign that you are not refined your ideas. So one quick way is to look for echoes.
All right. So let's take a peek here. We actually had reader submissions. So we're going to take a look at a piece of writing. This is from a woman who submitted from her blog to me for us to take a look at. And I would love to have your input on how we can make this shorter. This is the opening paragraph of a post she wrote, and it's 198 words.
Your job is to help me knock this sucker down to three sentences.
All right. We have a mic wrangler. Raise your hands if you are going to cut this.
Do we have a mic wrangler.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I will start with the first sentence, it's time for the secret recipe club. Kind of unnecessary. There are other details to back it up there.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: And it's in the title too. So great suggestion.
And this is also if if you have an editor or someone works with you, tracking changes, this is a great feature. If you start by making your post in a Word document, when you play around with it, you can see what you did. So you will not confuse yourself, if you are like me and you have children, which means you can't think as well as you once did.
All right. Somebody else. Raise a hand.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I would sorry, I would totally wipe out the second sentence. I usually don't spend a lot of time on blogs, why even then why am I reading this post?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Excellent. So the next sentence? Okay, are we going to keep it or cut it?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: We have to have you on the mic so we can record it.
Okay. This is shortening down here. What else?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi! Hey now!
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: We have you.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I don't really scare to scalpel, could I just say I decided to try the gluten free banana oatmeal cookies because I know my kid could make it and my husband could love it as a gluten free person.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: If I were editing, this I would say tell me why this recipe was good. It fleshes out why this blog was interesting.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Maybe I'm being too brutal.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: No, we cut. We cut. Let's take a look and we say, this month I want to cut this down. I want to say after finding or fonding, that's fine goodness, gracious. There we go.
After finding Judy gluten A to Z, I have become interested in gluten free eating. How about that?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: How about you say, I'm now more interested in gluten free eating after finding Judy
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I like putting Judy first if she's the subject of post. We know what we're talking about.
>> BRITT BRAVO: If folks can raise their hands because people can't hear what you are yelling out.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Raise your hands. I agree. I want to get to the gluten free banana oatmeal goods. Does anyone else think that sounds good.
I decided to try I decided on these. So if you see that in your post and you see that phrase, I decided on, what's the word? It's an echo. If you see the echo, it's an irritating repeat as you read it, but it's also a sign that you have not refined your ideas.
I decided to try the gluten free banana oatmeal cookies because they sound great and because I have been looking wait, what's that? Echo. So I have been looking for new recipes that kids can easily make on their own for a snack. Do we need to know about the peanut butter cookies? Nope.
What have we got?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I would take out the "to try."
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: When you are going to "to" anything, something more active voice. I tried.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Active voice. I tried. I like that. Okay. And then we would look into, and if I were editing this for her, which I will do later. I will say I want to learn more about the keen what. That's an interesting tid bit. I'm interested in that recipe. We have a question over here.
So we are down to about three sentences depending on whether or not we keep the quinoa this is a more interesting start. This is a more focused start. This is a process of refinement. Through this process, we figured out what this post is about. It's about this interesting new recipe and it's about the fact that it's for her kids to make for themselves.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, I would suggest that maybe the bottom part of the post is at the top because you want to talk about the recipe first.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: And then the post, in talking about, you know, her Judy's site, you could talk about it at the bottom and take you could look at Judy's post here.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I'm glad you brought that up, because that goes to the subject of the next rule. How great is that? Okay. Next rule is organize your posts. Blogging is a free form in the sentence that, yes, you can do it. Anyone with a computer can blog, however, it is not free form in the sentence that just typing up some words and hitting send will get you the goals you are going for.
The more organized your post is, the better your chances of getting your message across and getting them across effectively. This is not the only organizational method that works, but it is a really good one, and it's based on a conglomeration of different known methods. Has anyone here done the inverted pyramid in journalism? Okay. You've done the modification of that as the five boxes. This is the four boxes to writing a blog post.
The first one is the lead. This is the hook. This is the grabber. It doesn't have to tell anybody what it's all going to be about. It doesn't have to impart any information. What it needs to do is hook the reader. The lead is that exciting tid bit that puts your feet in the story and says, oh, this is going to be interesting.
Next is nutgraph. This is a journalistic term. It refers to having the entire nutshell of your post in one paragraph. That's the second box. These things don't have to be paragraphs. If your lead is two paragraphs, that's okay. If your nutgraph is one, that's okay. They are boxes. They are chunks.
Some where shortly after your lead, you need to tell your reader what the post is about. There is this temptation that you are going to write it and save all the good stuff for the end. Oh, this is really good, I will build up to the big moment. Okay, that's okay, but you can't lose people along the way. Eventually it's possible to get so completely frustrated that people don't know what the post is about that they are done.
Nutgraphs are complicated because their audience is complicated. If you are going to say what your post is about in a couple of short sentences, you have to consider the two sides of your audience that you will always have. One is the familiar reader would has been reading you since you had a baby in 2002, and one is the reader would found you completely by accident, doesn't really want to be here, doesn't know anything about you and you are trying to hold that reader.
The nutgraph takes a lot of work if you are going to do it carefully. It's not impossible, but it's something to keep in mind in every post that you write, that you need to remember both of those sides.
Nest is the body of the story. Now, you think when you first sit down to write a post that the body of it is the whole thing, but if you break your post into four chunks and three of them are not the body, then the body is suddenly a smaller part of it than you thought it was. So you need to spend a lot of time refining your ideas and making sure that whatever you say between your nutgraph and the end make sense.
Does anybody have any questions? Wrangler? Oh, questions.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) this information that's shown here, will it be on the replays and stuff?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Yes. You cans email if you have any questions. I'm happy to answer.
Last is the kicker. This is not really the conclusion. Don't go back to elementary school, I'm so glad I have now explained George Washington's mission. That's not what we are going for.
The kicker brings the reader back to the nutgraph it says, see, I did what I said I was going to do and it answers the question, why was this worth my time?
Kickers can be funny. They can be quotes. But it ties it up. It's the bow at the end. It's how we know the post is done. It's a finished work.
Okay. One of my favorite bloggers is Julie at a little pregnant. My favorite post was my father, the body. She wrote it the week that her dad died. This is what she wrote, beefalo, rockumentary, Brangelina, manwich.
Let's look at this, this is Julie. Her posts are always really well metabolized by the time she writes them. Her lead goes to the end of this paragraph. She talks about cremains. The funeral director settled for cremains, and I can only assume that bofrags didn't make it through the focus group.
This is the grabber. You know that he has died. You know that something is going on. You are hooked.
Next is the nutgraph. I'm not sentimental about my father's remains. In fact, I'm almost the opposite. The only part of his funeral service, Catholic, but not a mass, that truly offended me were the repeated refences to the small wooden boxes. So implacably do I believe that he's gone, that seeing people bow to a few pounds of dust upset me. That isn't him. He's not there. Stop acting like that's my father. That box contains no magic.
So in the body of the nutgraph what the blog is about. What is the post about? Experience at the funeral, what else. Who he is. But it's something specific about who he is. Can we get the wrangler so we can get the mic.
I'm sorry, another question, another comment?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Who he's not.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: And who is he not according to the nutgraph. Not a box, not a body, not ashes. She's set this up for what this is going to be. She could have said my dad died, I'm really sad. I'm sitting in my room thinking about how he's not a body, but that would have been a lot less interesting. She's talking specifically to this relationship to this body and how she felt upon seeing in a box.
The post goes on. It's a beautiful one. Take a look at it. It's called my father the body at a little pregnant. It's one of those laugh through tears kind of posts.
So we come to the end which is the kicker which starts at, I'm quite familiar with the disappointments of the body, both its expected failures and its shocking betrayals. What does the kicker do? What is it referring back to?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: She's talking about what she said she would talk about. But there's something even more interesting in this post that make it's incredibly compelling. Julie writes about infertility. She writes about the failure of her body to give life. So in the end of this post, she goes back to her audience, which is women who struggle with bodies that don't do what they are supposed to do. They struggle with their relationship with their bodies.
Julie remembered her audience, and she wrote this post for them, and she made sure that even though she was talking about something that was extremely personal, she brought it back to all of the things that Britt identifies, what are you writing for? Who is your audience? What's it about? It's also a funny post. I definitely recommend it.
So anybody have any questions about the format? Yep? Sorry, wait for the mic?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: So the body is typically the longest part, right? Goes into two or three paragraphs?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Yep, it depends. If you stick to the 650 word, you need to get it down. It makes you get to the point fast.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just had a question about the kicker. I mean, just summing it up, I find that I write these posts that are really good and everything's all put to go, and then I get to the end and I'm like... okay, the end. You know?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Have you ever just written the end?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I feel like I should because it would be better than the crap that I write at the end to try to close it, you know?
I can't quite close it because I kind of feel like I don't want to do the George Washington end of like repeating the the lead sentence, but at the same time, I want to get, like and that's the point of the story.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Does anybody have any ideas for how to generate a kicker?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Possibly whatever your title is, sometimes it's kind of cool to bring in the title.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I'm so glad you said that. I'm lousy at titles. I'm always like, a post about my cat. That's a great idea.
How would you think about a kicker?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sometimes I will go back through my post and see what I tried to emphasize on the most and kind of wrap it up in the ending to try to tie the whole thing back in together.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Make sure you went back to the beginning.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I like to do a play on word sometimes, you know, pun intended, something like that to end with.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Can we get over here?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Right in the back.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I often like to end with humor or a quote from somebody else that's funny or just kind of leaves a thought.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Humor. Quote is a very popular one. Now when you sit and read "The New York Times," actually they do it less but a lot of local papers end with a quote. It's a great one.
Anybody else? Yep?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sometimes I think that when ending a post, I just think of how I would say it if it was a conversation talking to somebody. You know, the end I have told the story and I'm like, but you know, none of it actually mattered at all. When you are talking to a friend, you say, remember way told you at the beginning.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: The one that I have to be concerned about is, you see Timmy. Do you know what this is? At the end of a sit com where they sit the child down, and say, you see Timmy. More posts than I care to admit to end with the you see Timmy. That kicker is a lot more important than it looks when you start.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Sometimes I found I have already written the kicker. I just have to go back and read it and pull it and it's part of that going back and looking within your body and rearranging and editing and all of that fun stuff. So I always encourage people as your first step to read it, because you may have already written it.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Yeah, a lot of sometimes too, this is another one you run into, sometimes your lead is your kicker. That happens a lot.
Like, you look at the end of your story and you're like, oh, the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. The kickers and leads can trade places pretty easily.
We had a question about editing in terms of how do you live with the editorial process when was a blogger, you are the writer, the editor, the publisher. I think and I would love to have you guys weigh in on this. I struggle with that. How do you know when the post is done? How do you feel good about the typos, you know, unless you have lots of money to hire a team of professional editors, you are going to have to live with it. It's the work that you have done and you kind of have to stand by it. I think one of the big things is to draw a balance between, you know, spell check it please, spell check it, you will lose people if you don't. But don't kind of lose your mind over it. As you go through the process of writing, your posts get better.
>> BRITT BRAVO: There was a question over here.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: There is a question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Would you oh, sorry. Would you consider maybe a challenge to the reader as being a kicker? If you spent sometime maybe talking through tips or how to do something and then put the challenge back out to the reader?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Definitely, yeah.
How do you guys sort of know when to send a post, when you are the only one writing and the only one reviewing it?
>> BRITT BRAVO: A couple of things. I think one, for me is and I know you are going to be talking about time and and we have talked about goals. So if I know, especially for my personal blog, since I I'm not paid to write my personal blog, sometimes it's just personal limits.
So I know I want to write this many posts, and I know that I can spend this much time. And and so sometimes it's about that's it. It's done. Like I mean, not that I would put it out there without proofing or anything like that. That's how I keep my perfectionism in check, because I definitely can do that to say I have an hour and a half, two hours or whatever it is, and I want to write this post today and that time is done so fix it, Bravo and get it up there. Sometimes it's by setting the limits.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: I think of myself more as a story teller than a blogger or writer or journalist, although all of that is part of my background, and before I sit down, before I start, I know, I want to tell a story and all the stories have a beginning and end, and maybe they don't. At least I know the direction and that's part of the next session, if you are here, I talk a little bit about that. But it's just sort of stopping and reading what I have written so far.
And sometimes that includes stepping away, like you said with the time, stepping away and coming back 15 minutes later, a day later, maybe a week later and seeing if my perspective has changed and that has helped create a better ending or a better lead or a better body.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was going to make a comment about knowing when my post is finished, I read it out loud.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: And sometimes just hearing myself say the words out loud, it helps me come up with a beginning, middle and end and it helps with editing. A need a comma there. So just a thought. My husband a lot of times has to listen.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Definitely that process of reading it out loud, what do I have to do. I'm almost ready to go and I think ten words, I will take ten words out. And just that process of trying to take ten more words out refines it down further and helps me know.
Go ahead.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I had a question about commas. I see a lot less of them. What do you think about commas. Should we use more or less? I mean, I just see a lot less commas. I'm wondering are commas off putting, people aren't using commas anymore? What do you think about commas?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love commas!
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: It depends what you are talking about. I know when you read something academic, there are commas all over the place. I have been trained as a military journalist according to The Associated Press style and they don't want the commas this as much.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I would go back to the question of refining your work. Blogging is an amazing tool. It's an amazing voice. And as we are getting further along in the Internet age, one of the things we are finding is that writing is becoming more refined and shorter.
So when I said at the beginning it's harder to write shorter, this is not a dumb form. This is not it may be a fast form. Your reader may be on your blog for a minute 20 seconds but in that time, you've got to convey your message. Commas tend to be part of a longer form. They tend to be more literary and complicated.
No offense to the comma lovers. We love commas.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: There's a time and a place.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Don't eliminate them.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm a professional copy editor. They are not seasoning. You don't throw them in when you think they need. There are actual rules. You can do a quick pass style AP style and that would tell you where they are appropriate. The only one that is necessary is a serial style. You don't need a comma at the end of a list of similar things. You can leave it out if you think it helps your reader read quicker without snagging on all the commas.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: We have a hand over here.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: We have two. All right.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I will just add one resource that's used in communications writing a lot is "When Words Collide," by Kessler and McDonald has a really good section. There's only about seven comma rules. I sort of I agree with it's not the seasoning. There are just some basic rules and I think your point is if you are writing concisely and often shorter sentences, then those aren't sentences that require commas, but I think what you are trying to do especially if you are trying to market your blog, oftentimes you want to have the accuracy in your writing just like the spell check. Again, I just recommend that as a good resource for learning those limited number of comma rules.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I definitely take a firm position on, yes, you need to spell check and follow certain basic rules. They take time and practice and getting the AP style book is the right place to start. They are good online resources. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it looks like you cared enough to take a second pass at it.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sometimes when I write, I don't know why, but I always do the dot, dot, dot, it's some kind of way of
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: A humor, a transition. Something about it just feels write, and I don't know. I'm very new to that thing. I don't know if that's completely off the charts, the right way or the wrong way.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: No, it's not off the chart, it's an ellipsis, and it's a space on either side. It's counted as a word, considered as a word and it's only three. I do get really excited when I see bloggers would are very dramatic and they've got a lot of dots because it was a really big moment.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Because they are speechless.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: It's like, wow! Okay?
So try not to be too creative with that, go to the AP style book. In terms of what it is specifically, the ellipsis denotes the absence of something. So you use an ellipsis when the sort of trail off sentence, but what it actually means is the absence of something. So there was something there but isn't.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I find myself using the ellipsis almost as a way of vacillating. I think it's sort of something that women might be more prone to, actually. At the end of a sentence, when I feel like I've said something very authoritatively or something controversial, or even something where I'm sort of inviting the reader to consider it, and weigh it, I'll end with an ellipsis as a way of saying I'm not really done. Let's keep talking, please.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I use it as a deep thought.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: The ellipsis means we are all thinking.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, I also think it's a dramatic pause, no? Yes? In a way, I think what I'm seeing in other blogs, which I am drawn to, is, of course, I'm very much interested in proper grammar, spelling. It drives me crazy when I don't see it, and you your, and you're is you are!
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Oh, I feel like it's 100 of my closest friends who understand me!
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, and any friends like fanatics as in the TV show would know that quote.
I did want to say that when it comes to aside from the grammar, I think crediting crediting a quote because, of course, in school with what we did was we had the footnotes. Now can you speak to the proper crediting of a quote to the original post, et cetera.
If you are going to quote someone and I get this a lot because I tend to quote my children and I feel like I can be their spokesperson, so, you know, technically did they say that exactly? Maybe I touched it up a little. That's a great question because in journalism, you don't get to mess with somebody's quote. The quote is as it was. You can do some grammar cleanup if you are being nice to the person but really if you are going to put it in quotes, it is exactly what the person said. That is the journalistic standard.
When you are telling a story on a blog, that's harder because it's really more sort of to your recollection, but then you start to get into complicated things about misquoting people or misrepresenting someone. So there's two tricks for that. The first is just as a responsible writer, if you put it in quotes, that's what the person said. Make sure it's right. If you don't remember it, the best trick is don't use quotes.
So say this is, you know, oh, my goodness, she said, but then you don't actually have it in quotes. That's what you think she said and that denotes it. If you are quoting something from the Internet, link back to the source. It's just a nice thing to do and it covers you so you don't look like you are messing around. Yeah?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Just just on that note, in terms of linking back and giving credit, and I know that's particular to quotes but even like images or links, do you often can you just do that, or do you often have to find the author of that and ask if you can link back?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: That's a great question. The best person to address that question to is a copyright attorney, but I can give you the basics, which is that you anything that is published, fair use of something that is published, you can quote it. So if something appears in a web site like which is a great blog. If something appears there, you can cut and paste it and use your quote functions, good etiquette is that you link back to it, and that's also a way to promote that that blogger might say, oh, look, I was quoted today. So you want to do that as a matter of courtesy.
In terms of photographs, the rule is that the photograph belongs to the person who took it. The copyright belongs to the owner of the photograph. So you can't use any photographs for which you don't own.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Usually for that, I will email that particular person and say, can I use this?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I will link to your site. Is that a good standard?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Yes, that's a good standard. Most people want their work to be used. There's a big difference between, wow, this person just took my photograph and put it on their blog, and wow, they asked me to use my photograph! As a matter of courtesy, just drop an email and say, would you mind? Typically they will say, you can use it but link back to me.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: For quotes
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: You cannot do the entire body of the post. You can quote it. You cannot and this is important, you can't it is it is a violation of copyright to take the entire body of a post and repost it, even if you credit the person. It doesn't matter. You can't take the whole thing. You can quote it.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Definitely I'm not a lawyer. Don't consider this legal advice.
>> BRITT BRAVO: You can use Flickr photos that have the attribution creative commons license is. Do you know what creative commons is? It's a nonprofit that has licensing. If I took photos and put on it Flickr. Then I put this particularly very open license. There are three or four licenses on there, on Flickr. If you Google, Flickr creative commons. You can remix this and it has all of these things you can do. It's saying you still need to link this is a Flickr photo by this person, and this is where it comes from and then I have to email the person and used your photo. Those are some photos you have access to, but you should still link and let the person know.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: And if it appears on the blog somewhere, you don't have the right to take it.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Elizabeth can we get your Twitter handle?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Damomma, and that's also the name of my blog. Bl11content is the hashtag.
So this is Fandango Travelers. This woman submitted to me. I thought I would have a little more time to do it. This woman drives a tractor trailer around the country and blogs about it. Is that not fantastic? Yeah, it's pretty fun!
So let's take a look. I have it up here and we're going to go back to this whole how do we edit a post? Okay? Let's take a look. Does anybody have any preferences? Do you want to do a lead? Do you want to look at the body?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: You want to look at the kicker. All right. It's Fandango Travelers, if you are online, and it's the block spot, yawning chasm of death. I should have her write my titles. She writes about parking her tractor trailer for the first time in the inspection bay.
And she has a fantastic photograph followed by this fantastic caption, which I think conveys the experience beautifully. One of the reasons I like this post is because the pictures are such a huge part of what makes it work.
Let's take a look at it live here. Check that out. She took a picture of herself in the side view mirror of her truck after she parked it.
Here's her kicker. This is what we look like after we're all the way in. It's nice to take a break while they inspect and/or repair the truck and trailer. The shop does a good job chasm Of death. It's a fantastic title. You should use it maybe twice in the whole thing. Maybe not more otherwise it becomes on echo.
Surprisingly, it's much easier to did if you are not looking at it. There are yellow lines that are painted on the cement that you need to stay inside of. This is really easy if you breathe and stuff. Leo even likes to look.
We need her to take a look at the nutgraph. Each time we go through Joplin, Missouri, we are asked to take our truck and trailer through the inspection bay. How do we feel about this as a lead?
Got it's a significant problem with it as an opening to this fantastic post. If I were just wandering on to this blog and read we are going through Joplin, Missouri, and no offense to Joplin, Missouri, who likes commas, I'm sorry. What would be a great way to start? Can we get the mic wrangler. I mean, this is a post about driving a tractor trailer over a chasm Of death, don't start it in Joplin, Missouri!
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: One of the things that at a session last year, I don't remember which one it was, but it was the panel had said a lot of times you can just scrap the entire first paragraph, and when I'm looking at that, I'm seeing when you pull up to the inspection bay, the doors are shut, somehow reworking that and scrapping the entire first paragraph because it's just
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Do we need to know it's in Joplin, Missouri. I mean, I like it as a punchline. No offense to anyone from Joplin, but I agree. Like, where does this start in where are your feet in the action? Where do you go, wow? You said it. You had it.
Here's what I would do, when you pull up to the inspection bay, the doors are shut and you have no idea what lays behind them.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Yep, that's really good.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Okay we have another question.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just had a suggestion, start with the photo. Oh, my God, oh, my God.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I like the photo as a bunch line. This goes back to the idea that you have to put your feet down in the story. You've got to know what you are looking at. When you pull up to the inspection bay, the doors are shut and you have no idea what's behind them. What happens next? The doors open.
So when you go to this, we say then the doors open, and then what comes after that? Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God. Are you hooked? Are you totally wondering what's going to happen now. Here comes the body of the story where she describes, okay, let me we were in Joplin. Now you can tell me where you are. Now you've got me. It's okay that it's Joplin. Now I want to know, oh, I was learning to drive a truck. Say what? That's great, right?
And if you are a reader that's been reading her for forever, you don't mind that she said she was learning to drive a truck. Oh, this is back when she was learning. If you are new to the blog, you are like, this is a blog that is learning to drive a tractor trailer. That's great. And then Leo at the end is just fantastic.
I have three minutes.
Does anybody have any questions on this in the last three minutes? Anyone?
Okay. So I think well, I think if we don't have any questions oh, don't forget to rate the session. One last question.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It was funny when you guys were talking about commas. I thought you were talking about comments. So I was I do I love comments too. But I notice on
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: We like lots of comments. Those are good.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm thinking why are we asking about that. I thought that was like fans and so on.
But on this particular last blog that you just put up, the post, I noticed that she the way it was a great blog, there was only one comment, and so I'm sure all of us have had that moment of, you know, pushing publish and saying, yes! I just posted a great, great post. I'm really proud of it. I'm excited for all of the conversation that's going to be coming. And then we get one, two comments, like, great idea. Or whatever, you know? So how do we engage? I mean do you have anything to speak to why that's happening?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: It goes back to what Britt said, what's your definition of success. If 500 comments, then, yes, you failed. I think we all want to produce quality content and be the best writers, bloggers, so, yes, it stinks when you put so much out there and you don't get it right away, but if you follow the steps and you feel so proud that you have put out a great thing, embrace that, because eventually it will come. You know, maybe not that particular post, but
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: But there's also that's the reason why you have an archive. You know, people will continue to read it.
I sometimes get comments on stuff way after the fact that people found. And it's like, I told you that was good! For me personally, I freak out when I don't have comments. I can't go to sleep until I get a couple.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: That's why you go on Facebook to your friends, saying, please help me here.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: I'm dying here. Comment.
Anyone else? Yes?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: What is the third rule?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Keep it short, the second is organizing it, which is the blog. And the third one is, ready?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Ellipse, ellipse, ellipse.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: The third one is no one cares what you think. They care whether you can make them think. Write for your audience. Write for your audience, write for your audience. No one is coming to your blog to hear what you did today. They are coming to have your refined ideas, your finished thoughts. You are offering them something specific. And when you go through and you organize your posts and you tighten it down, you will know what that was. They will know what it was. And they will be coming to you for a refined idea that has gone through a process and is giving them something more than just random ideas of what you did today. Okay?
Great. All right.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: So now it's time for a break and we'll start up again in 15 minutes.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Okay. Ladies, we are going to start our third and final session. So if you could find your seats.
Wow! I think that's the fattest that everyone has gotten quiet. You get a group of women together who love to talk and share.
So my name is Julie Weckerlein and I will be discussing manifestation and when BlogHer asked me to talk about manifestation, I immediately went to the dictionary to find out what that was.
In the course of talking and preparing, we decided I would talk about developing a blogging practice. Do we have our microphone wrangling ready to go. I would like to find out what a blogging practice is.
No? My definition is whatever process you have in place to blog. Who is blogging? What are you blogging? When and where? And all of that comes together and becomes your blogging practice. So my first slide here is just pictures of a little bit of insight into my blogging practice. I have microtweeted from Disney World. I blogged from Iraq. I blogged from the comforts of my living room.
I have two kids. I have a third on the way I'm married. I work full time and I managed to keep a blog for the past ten years, and so great, it works! All right! My personal blog is Julie and He was the mic wrangler before.
Our blog originally started in 2001 as a wedding planning web site. At the time I was active duty Air Force at Ramstein. He was a German tank commander in Germany. I come from Cincinnati, and a large family. And then 9/11 happened and all of a sudden the purpose of my blog changed. So we have been going strong since July 2001, just documenting our life as a multicultural military family and it's been featured here and there over the years.
My day job is as a professional blogger for the Department of Defense. I manage Armed with Science which is the official science and technology blog for the military. It's what pays the bills, and, I mean, it is a full time job. We have more than 20,000 followers throughout social media. We have millions of visitors a week and I have no interest whatsoever of my personal blog getting that big because it is a full time job.
This one, no pressure, it's award winning and it has a lot of people watching it and so that's that's my pressure cooker, I would say. So that as a little bit about my background.
So over the course of the past ten years, I have obviously learned a few things and I'm going to share with you some little tidbits. A lot of it you may have heard before. A lot of it you may be doing yourself and I like to think that a lot of it is common sense, but, you know, especially as working women, whether you do have a job or you are at home with your family, or you blog full time or you don't, it's so hard. You know, this is not a class on how to find 48 hours within 24, but hopefully some short cuts here will help you so that when you go home after being at BlogHer and being overwhelmed with all of these good and inspiring ideas, you can actually sit down and apply this to your blog.
So here are my six steps and I will talk a little bit about that and hopefully if you have any ideas or feedback or anything, please raise your hand so we can hear them.
So this is it. This is six tips if you write anything down, prepare for it, prioritize it, give yourself assignments, create a village, action and reflection, and keep at it and have lots of coffee as I do in that picture.
Oh, oh, this will be available for download on the BlogHer site.
Okay. Can I click? Are we good? Okay? And this will be repeated throughout, I promise.
So I just included some photos showing how I have applied these steps. One of the things I will talk about is creating your space. How many people have read the book "Writing Down the Bones." How many people love it? The writer talks about creating a creative space, creating your own corner where everything is inspiring and comforting to you and I included a picture of my Mac and editorial calendar hanging up. This is in our family room.
One the things I also talk about is keeping a notebook or post it pad with you at all times. I know a lot of people use their iPads or Blackberries for everything. I'm old school. I still have a notebook and I have a pen attached to it. And that notebook is from 1999 when I was 18 years old and it was a bit of a journal, but I also used it to to document any creative ideas I had and so I also will speak about how to keep all of your equipment with you so that whenever inspiration does hit, you have it with you.
How many people blog from their phone or iPad. So it's with you pretty much all the time. I show in the two corner pictures, I have a camera out as my husband is on the phone next to the laundry. It's just there. It's part of our daily life. That's my 8 year old using our video camera. I don't really care for scuff marks. Cameras can be replaced. I like to have her include her point of view as well. Always carry a pen with you. That picture of me and Christiane Amanpour, I was at a dinner with Hillary Clinton, on the part of the Air Force reserve, which I'm still a part of it.
Secretary Clinton and Christiane were speaking to each other and we were hovering in the background and they were exchanging information, and this world famous journalist did not have a pen on her at all, but the pregnant airman did. So so that was kind of like, oh, that's really awesome.
And then one of the tidbits I will hit home is have a power song. How many people have a power song here? Can you call out, please, what is your power song?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: "College of Glory."
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Very good. I'm a big DMX fan. I also like Eminem, you know "Lose Yourself." A power song is a song that you listen to and you are like, oh, my gosh, I can totally take over the world and that that's that picture. That's one of those superimposed Facebook pictures, you know, yearbook yourself and stuff.
When I listen to my power song, I'm thin again, a bit of a bad ass. I can do anything, and that includes great write excellent blog posts. So whenever I'm feeling writers block creep in, I turn on my play list and play it and I can become as excellent as these women up here. That's why I say get a power song if you don't have one already.
Okay. So prepare for it. Here are little tidbits. You ladies all know how to read, I won't read everything, or maybe I will. I pretty much discussed everything here. Keep a notebook small enough to fit in your pocket or purse. How many still carry a notebook with them? How many people still use it? Awesome! I'm so excited to see that. It shouldn't be like the chap stick that you buy thinking you will use it all the time but you never do. This one is mine. It's sturdy.
It goes with me everywhere. It's actually almost falling apart, especially this week here at BlogHer because I'm so inspired by all of these sessions and everybody I'm meeting.
Of course, that goes into all carrying a pen. Collect all the ingredients first. How many are "Madmen" fans here? Do you remember that episode when Paul Kenzie is coming one a new marketing strategy for the telegram and he stays up all night drinking and doing other things to stay inspired and he's up. It's like 3:00 in the morning and he goes into the break room and he meets this janitor with this strange Greek name. And something that the janitor says inspires him and he's like, oh, oh, okay, this is the best idea in the world. I'm done. This is great. He's so intoxicated that he stumbles back into his office, high on life, high on creativity, falls asleep and next morning he's like, hey, we don't have to work anymore. I have the best idea ever. He looks in his notes and he never wrote it down. And the meltdown that followed really should have won an Emmy all its own because we have all been there, where we have the best ideas and then life gets in the way and we forget it.
That's why I emphasized, write down your ideas. While you are here, don't get back to your home and think that you suddenly have to be the best blogger in the world, and you have to do everything all at once. Write down what's inspiring now so that later you can look at it. Avoid feast or famine. How many people have heard that term before? It seems like at work you have nothing to do. That's the famine phase. Then all of a sudden, everything is coming at you and you are feasting. You have so much work. You have so many ideas. Stretch that out so that you never have to go through a feast or famine phase.
And use an assignment or content calendar. For my professional blog, I have an editorial calendar. I know what's coming up ahead. I know when NASA is going to launch something. I know when it's going to be month of the military child. I plan ahead. That way months in advance, I can start gathering content and information. That's my professional blog. I have also applied that to my personal blog. I know when Christmas is coming. I have written about it ten times. I will think about creative ways to write about it in July. Those are some things to consider as well.
Prioritize it. Find the time. How many people here have kids?
Okay. So a lot of you. How many of you force your children to sit down for at least 30 minutes to do their homework or else? Okay. A handful. Do you apply that to yourself? Do you force yourself to sit down for 30 minutes to do your blogging homework and why don't you why don't you do that if you don't do it already?
Think about your blog. And this goes back to what Britt was talking about during her session, is your blog your source of income? Is it a hobby? Is it an artistic release? Where does it fall? Family comes first, then work, then your blog or maybe you are lucky enough to have your blog be a priority. Yes, microphone? We have a comment.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question about an earlier thing, how do you keep track of your assignment or content calendar? What tool do you use?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: I got that from Office Space. Not Office Space. That's a movie.
Pregnancy brain. From Office Max. It's your boring old calendar and I fill in the blocks. That was a new month so it's a little naked right there. But, I mean, I know at least iPads and stuff come with a calendar feature. You can keep it online. That's for my personal blog.
For the professional, I use base camp or focus or even Google Docs. We have calendars on there so everybody can access that. So find whatever works for you. If it's using the same day planner that you track all of your appointments, when you give yourself an assignment, you know, plug it in there and hold yourself accountable.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Also if you Google blog plan, blog calendar and blog template, there are a fair number of graphic designers who have blog planners some are yearly and monthly. And they have all type of cute things, I will have a guest post and different ways they have organized it. It's another cute option.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: How many people have heard of Chase's Calendar of Events? I'm going to assume you are an editor of some type. Chase's Calendar of Events is a big catalog that I discovered. I was the editor of the American newspaper when I was stationed in Italy and we used this big book to keep track of random holidays, observances. There's a fish festival in Iowa every February and they write about it, and I have the link at the end of my last slide where you are order it, and it is awesome! Especially if you are forecasting up ahead. You mow, maybe some random event like national macaroni and cheese day inspires a great blog entry for you.
I love reading it just because it's full of gee wiz information, but that's a great resource when you are developing your editorial calendar and that applies to both personal and professional blogs.
You want to forecast the topics and events that are going on, and, oh, I just have in my notes, I will reiterate, you don't have to implement all the good ideas you are getting this week right now. Stretch it out. Write it down. And I saw that there was a question here.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. I just discovered what an editorial calendar was yesterday and I think that's going to help a little bit.
My question was as far as your planning, how far in advance would you recommend starting? Because I'm kind of, like, sit in front of the computer and watch the cursor blink and hope I get inspiration that way. I would like to be more organized in my planning but I don't want to overwhelm myself with the planning.
I'm one of those people who will sit for two or three hours and write lists and never do a single thing on it. I do not want this to happen here.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: But it makes you feel better having those lists.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I feel so much more organized with this great list. The floors aren't cleaned, but I have a great list.
>> Blog post.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It is. How far do you get started, for the week or smaller sessions? How do you do it?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: I know this is a cop out answer, but it's whatever you are comfortable with. For my professional blog, we we generally are about six months out. Obviously I'm going to be going on maternity leave and so I have known this for the past eight months and I have been planning for my absence so my coworker can just carry on without me being there although I'm so important she needs me there, right?
But personally, my family directs a lot of the content. You know, whatever our family is doing, that's it. But I know I'm going to give birth pretty soon, so I have been thinking, you know, this is my third kid.
I don't want to write about the same things all the time. So I have
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: You are going to freshen up the birth a little?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: It has been happening since the beginning of time, and I have a lot of pressure to write something new. I would say probably a week or two weeks is as far out as I go in regards to my personal blog. It really depends.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Just to follow it up, how would you plan what you are going to write? Like, is do we go back to that list of things that we looked at?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: So, like, do on this date, I will do a series.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: I'm so glad you brought this up, because, again, pregnancy brain, I would have skipped over this. My husband and I, we celebrated our ten year blogging anniversary on July 28th, 2001, is when I went live. And so to tell operate it, we did a tin and tin podcast series where for each year we did a podcast and I went back and digitized all the old VHS tapes, back when we were hot and sexy and I scanned in all the old pictures and I put that together as a movie being right, and then recorded we discussed it. We talked about it and oh, do you remember this? And it was kind of funny because we recalled stuff that we had forgotten about.
And we always incorporated how the blog played a role during that particular year. For example, he actually started blogging for our personal web site in 2007, when I deployed. I wrote about life in Iraq and Afghanistan. He wrote about life being at home with our daughter. And so that podcast was obviously a little bit longer. It was more emotional and all that, and so we had to plan for that. Of course, he works full time. I work full time. We have our kids. We live in Washington, D.C. We sit in traffic a lot of the day. So where are we going to find the time to do this?
So I started planning for that two two and a half months in advance, and then just whenever we had a free weekend evening. I mean, there were sometimes we were up at 2:00 in the morning doing these recordings and we were a little slap happy and just having fun with it, but that obviously took more planning than a normal blog post.
But, yes, definitely think about developing a series and giving yourself time to create that. And I also put up here, in the second column the random places that you can be blogging without actually blogging, without actually sitting in front of a computer and I like to throw this question out where is the strangest place you've ever blogged?
On the toilet. How many others? Come on? Circle of trust here.
Any other strange places?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: The shower.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: In the shower, with the water falling on you? Wow, I thought I was going to be weird. I do it in the bathtub. My daughter's potty training chair is perfectly level and since I can't exactly totally submerge myself, I flip myself on the side and I train my arm over and I surf the Internet. Anyone else?
That's pretty funny. Well, I listed some places where you can be taking notes in the note pad with the pen that you are always carrying or you can update your tablet, and that's sitting in traffic, being on the bus, toilet time, did you see that? I put toilet time. Early in the morning, late at night when the kids are asleep, the grocery store line. Sometimes I get inspired just walking through the mall and I'm also a photographer. I was trained as a military photographer and I love all the different colors and textures at different places and I find it very inspiring. So I will take notes there at the mall.
And instead of doodling when you are talking to your mother in law not that anybody ever does that, you may attention, right? You can write down blogging ideas and things like that.
And give yourself time blog. You guys are worth. It the words you are going to be putting out there is worth it. If it's 30 minutes, awesome. If it's an hour, even better. Of course, communicate with your family, saying, hey, this is my time and no interruptions, of course, that doesn't always work out. But at least they will know where it falls on your priority list.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Can I just jump in about the editorial calendar, just for the process that I use, I do it once a month, and I sort of ask myself several questions. So the first is the questions we talked about in the beginning, what's your goal? What's your audience? And what's some topics that would be of value to them? So you start there. You have those topics and the second, what is going in the world. That gets to
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: The Chase's Calendars of Events.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Or you can Google special events for the month. This is catfish month, who knew? What are things going on in the world. And what's going on for me? I'm having a baby. I'm going on vacation. My child is starting school. There's the fodder of topics. You want to see how many times you want to blog. This week, I know I can do three times. That will be busy. If I want to do three, I should write a bunch to begin with. Okay, it will be this number and then go through your big brainstorm that you just made and then plug that into your calendar.
I do it by month so you know what's going on for yourself and what's going in the world.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: There's another thing I would add, which is looking at this as a form that's a conglomeration of a lot of forms. If you are doing a lot of personal narrative, if you are talking about your life, pay attention to story arc. That's something that does come up. If you you know, okay, I have done a lot with my struggles, with separating from my 8 year old and how I'm trying to do that. Okay, I will finish that off. I need to give my reader the conclusion that I came to. So look at that, sort of look at your organization over the long term, not just the post and, remember, if your readers have invested in your story, you you have to honor that. You have to respect that they care and you have to even if you don't necessarily want to finish the story, you need to at least acknowledge the story and put the kicker on the the arc as it went overall.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Exactly. Exactly. So that leads into giving yourself assignments and a lot of these bullet points I already talked about, but going back, exactly what Britt said and we were amazed that they paired the three of us together. We don't know each other beforehand but it felt like we went to summer camp years ago. We are all on the same page.
So think about doing a podcast or a series or a story arc. In 2009, I gave myself an assignment to post one photo every day for 365 days and that was actually pretty hard. The truth was I was kind of the burnt out on writing. I was back from my deployment and I was having problems getting pregnant, and I took photos. It turned into a bigger project than I anticipated. It was very challenging. But at least back in my archives, I have a picture every single day of that year. It was something quick and easy technically, and by the time I was done with it, I was so proud of myself.
Be thinking, you don't just have to write. And then also, when I say think about different angles, think like a journalist. My training, of course, is journalism and photography for the military and I have been trained in The Associated Press style book and how they write news stories and I have resources at the end of this to read up about how to become a news writer. Think about a different angle. One example I get is when I was in Afghanistan, we were at this military location and we were supposed to bring about a project that people have been writing about so many times before and I was very demoralized. I'm here. I'm away from home and there's nothing really big and exciting going on at the moment. And then I noticed that they had set up a volleyball net on the base and they actually invited these Afghan young gentlemen on to the base and it would be the American service members playing volleyball against the Afghan gentlemen from the local village and they did this every week and they had been doing it for years. I actually wrote an article about that and it got picked up by volleyball magazines and sports web sites and people that normally wouldn't use military publications like that, but it was just kind of by being frustrated, I let myself kind of think outside the box, and come up with something that was very interesting.
So, yes, I have written about Christmas ten times and birthday parties ten times already. How can I approach this in a new way? So be thinking of that and apply it to your blog and reward yourself when you complete an assignment and that could be a shopping spree. It could be a spa trip. You have my permission. Martin, did you hear that? All right.
So create a village, and this is creating your own editorial board to have on standby. And I know some of you have come up here and asked, you know about the editing and I just don't know if this is a good idea. Have a small network of friends and family, writers, fellow bloggers who are there on standby and you can send them a draft and they can take a look and they can say, hey, am I about to make an ass out of myself when I hit publish? Does it sound good? What do you think? I have an extensive amount of people who do this, but I don't use all of them all the time. Some of them are great. I'm about to post something that maybe a lot of mom bloggers are going to see and I'm kind of scared of mom bloggers a little bit. No, I'm just kidding. I'm a mom blogger too.
I have some mom bloggers, am I making my point? And they will come back and they will say, hey, that's great. When I was preparing this slide show, actually, I had a photo that if you looked at it a certain way, it looked X rated and I didn't mean to. It was just the way it was cropped and I had a fellow Air Force person say, look, my mind is not normally in the gutter, but you have to get that out. She saved me from embarrassing myself. You know, it takes a child to raise a village, and it takes a village to raise a blogger.
Oh, create a backup plan. Someone asked about backing up your blog. I use BlogHer and I'm sure Word Press has a similar thing and it's like an HTML file or XML file, that way if God forbid your blog gets hacked and you lose years worth of work, you can pull that file back and repost.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I had this happen to me just a couple of months ago and I use Word Press and I have been hosting with host gator and I called them and back up every Saturday. So check with your hosting company too because they totally saved my bacon.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Yes, absolutely. Oh, we had some hands shoot up. Yep?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: And on that same note, I have a hosting company that I paid a little bit extra for that it can back it up every night at midnight, and so you can pay a little bit more to do that.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's blue Host. They work very well with Word Press.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Okay, great.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I want to say, don't rely always on your offsite backup company. We had a huge travel blog with ten years of travel photos and stuff and we were paying them a lot of extra money to back up, and have redundant systems and they lost it all.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Oh, that's horrible.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fortunately we had backups that we had made. So make sure you have more than one source.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: When you back it up like that, does that include the comments as well? I work in a document and cut and paste. So if you are using a backup like that, does that save all the comments?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: BlogHer saves the comments. I don't know about the other ones, but BlogHer saves the comments.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: So it will save the comments?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Everything. That way if you go and start up a new profile, it has the option, import blog and you upload that file and it's all there.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: And there's one in the back. Way in the back.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sorry, I'm short. If you can raise your hand really high.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's also worth having somebody who's a little bit technical to help you out. You have the database and then there's the whole huge gigabyte files that are all of your photos and the integral heart of your blog and so there's different levels of it. Word Press, it emails me my database once a week and it lives in my email and I keep the last three and delete the previous ones, but there's the larger, you know, FTP based. You have to import things and download them and burn them to disk. There's a lot of different levels of backup.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Right I agree with you. I pay a very small amount of money, it's a minimal amount. It's like $100 a year and it's backed up. I mean, I get a hard copy. It's on a server. It's and I think if you are going to do this for a long period of time, and the content is important to you, it's worth that to get that professionally done.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Yep. And I also encourage you to have a hit by a bus plan. You laugh, but two months ago, I got hit by a drunk driver, 20 year old who was more than double the legal limit. It was also the weekend that NASA was about to launch its last shuttle, which with my Armed with Science professional blog, that had to go on. You know, because the military the Air Force takes care of the launch pad and we were highlighting their activity during that whole thing.
And so I got hit on a Saturday night, and the stuff had to start posting Sunday morning. Obviously, I'm in a hotel room, released from the hospital, like, juiced up on Vicodin, and fortunately because we planned ahead and because we have that hit by a bus plan, my coworker was able to step up and work on my behalf and nobody knew the difference. That's why, especially if your blog is a source of income, have that plan in place. Have a coworker. Create that village so that if need be, they have access to, you though, whatever they need to do.
And, of course with my personal blog, my husband has stepped up for that. Back in 2007 when I deployed, the military wouldn't let anybody from a government computer access Facebook, Twitter or BlogHer. So my work around was I had access to email. Any US morale tent had email. So I would draft my blog and post my pictures as an email, and send it to him and he would post on my behalf. So build a village if you don't already have one.
And then action and reflection. It goes hand in hand with what these two ladies have been saying. Think about these questions here. You know, did you have a blog entry that was more popular than others, that got all the comments that you wanted? Why do you think that was? Was it because you spent a little more time editing? Is it because you wrote about something relevant or maybe a little sensational? And try to repeat the steps you took to create that entry.
What part of blogging takes up most of your time? Is it sitting down and trying to think of something? Then maybe you should think away from the computer so that you are not intimidated by the blue glow, you know, of an empty Word doc. Is it the photography? Is it editing? You know, look outside and see if there are classes being offered either online or a local community college or community center. Sign up for those classes and say them.
Of course, pump up your library. I know people still buy books or kind it on your kindle, read up on photography or whatever it is that helps you blog. Take notes of your observations, critique yourself and document what you learn through the process and then refer to them later.
And usually sometimes that's a blog entry in itself on how far you have come as a writer and a photographer and a blogger and keep at it. No excuses. Just do it.
We have all been burnt out before. We have all been, oh, I am the least creative person in the world. I must be the untalented writer ever, but that's not true, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Otherwise you wouldn't be passionate about it. Don't stress on perfection. How many people identify as a perfectionist. Pretty much everybody in here, yes. Lower your standards, ladies.
Not for men, but for your blog.
Keep everything realistic and achievable. If you are working full time, if you do have six children, you know, if you are just so busy, okay, fine, you cannot devote as much time as you would like, but realistic about it. Don't obsess with the numbers. One the blogs or one of the books I referenced here at the end, it's called blog blazers and I always mess up his name, Manolo Blahnik, he writes an essay in this book. He says I'm not worried about the number of hits my blog gets. I'm worried about the guy would comes back to read it.
And to me, when I read that, I'm like, yeah! My personal blog was started for family and it continues to be written for family. That's why I don't do the reviews or the give aways because my mom would be so confused. Why are you telling me about macaroni and cheese. Keep writing about the babies.
So just know what your blog means to you and and define your level of success. And if that's I feel like a better writer and producing great stuff then you are successful. If it is you get 20 people locking at your blog a week and that's your goal and you meet it, you are successful. So define what success is, and focus on producing quality content.
And play your power song. I mean, I wrote a lot about this, but really, if I feel like I'm going to write a super lovey dovey post about my husband, I'm obviously not going to play some angry song on my iPad, I will play some song that reminds me of when we were young and sexy, or a happy song or a sad song or a power song. I'm sure for me, and I'm sure for you, music inspires the creativity. Do that.
Bottom in line, keep at it. Keep writing. My husband will tell you, he's not a natural writer. I forced it out of him over our courtship and marriage, and literally the first blog post that he put in 2007 he wrote, this is my first blog post. I hope you are happy. Signing off.
And that was it. But then when I did deploy and he saw how important it was for me to get those updates about life at home with our then 3 year old, suddenly he started writing novels because he knew how much it meant to me and that's because he understood his audience, and, of course, other people logged on then and read it and fell in love with him, and all of that fun stuff.
But it always came back to keeping me in the loop. So know your audience and just keep at it.
And if all else fails, play your power song.
So and then here are my resources. On the PDF that they are going to be putting up, you can click on those links and it will take you to where you can purchase it, like on or something, but there's Chase's Calendar of Events on there, Professional Blogging for Dummies, the big yellow and black book. "Woe is I," which is sort of like that grammar book, "Eat, Shoots and Leaves." It's a fun read.
Associated Press style book, you can order for that. They update it every year. I remember back when what was it? Web they wanted the W to be capitalized all the time. Now it's lowercase. They make those changes every year. So it gets updated. The Associated Press guide to news writing will help you start thinking like a journalist. Even if you are writing personally about your own life and the narrative, you can get into the mind set of developing new angles and learning more about leads and nutgraphs and all of that fun stuff.
"Blog Blazers," awesome, awesome read, mastering the basics of photography. How many people are photographers in here? Photography, it's one of those things, of course it's a writing session but a great photo, of course is worth a thousand words and all of that fun stuff but it also draws people in. When they hit your blog and they see a big box of text that can be very intimidating. So be thinking about your photography as well or any type of graphics that you do for your blog.
And writing down the bones, of course, digital photo processing talks about little photo shop tricks on how you can make your photos better. And, of course, you can reach me at the information below.
I have six more minutes. I would love to hear comments or questions.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just had a question in terms of I have been researching a lot about trademarking and also copyrighting do you have any tips and advice for people who are looking to trademark their names for their blogs as well as copy righting content?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Yes, and no. I I would assume going to a lawyer, trademark lawyer. There's terminology and it's so huge, but essentially and I will paraphrase here and, please, I'm not a lawyer, but anything that you post I mean, you have an agreement with your blog hosting site. So anything that you post is going to be your work and there are laws that protect you. Back when I left active duty military, for a while I didn't have my job. Martin was freaking out and saying we have a mortgage and mouths to feed. I started a photography business, and that's what I was trained in. I own the photographs that I take. If someone wanted to take that photo and say it was their own, I could hold them responsible. So overall, there's protection for people would create, either the written word or if or a photo.
In my light room how many people use Adobe Light Room. Okay. Yep. You can actually there's a little setting there where you put the little C sign, the copyright on your web site. I do that. If you go to my blog, you will see that I copyright all of my photos and it's just, you know, to put it up there so nobody is ever really tempted to pull my stuff.
I don't know, do you ladies have anything to add, based upon that?
I would just say Google trademark law, and see see what's out there.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: So my specific question I asked during the break was about post titles and maybe damomma, you can take this because you spoke about the body in the kicker. My best practices for how to write a really good title?
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Sure. There's the best practice that has to do with the Google crawlers and the metatags which is not my area of expertise. But you want to include if you are interested in upping your traffic, you want to look at search engine optimization and how to write a title. Take a look at that. There are other people in this conference that are going to be better at answering that part.
From a literary perspective, I think your title should be something that conveys what's happening in the post, and something that when it pops up, when you get really good and you are in BlogHer and you are selling ads and it pops up, it's got to be something that grabs the reader. So you need to it's a title and a lead perform much the same function.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Any other questions? We have one.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I had a comment and then a question. Sorry. First of all, what you want to Google is intellectual property lawyer. I am a lawyer, not an intellectual property lawyer.
>> ELIZABETH SOUTTER: Oh, good. Were we wrong about anything?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Since I'm not an intellectual property lawyer, the IP lawyers take a mini exam. I have questions about intellectual property. Are there places on the web where you can get photographs that you can just use without requesting permission?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: There's various stock photos. If you just Google stock photos there
>> BRITT BRAVO: Istock.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN:, and there's so many out there and a lot of it is amateur photographers that want their photographs out there. You have to read the fine print and make sure that that's possible, but, yes, they are out there.
And that also includes video too. I just when I was doing my podcast, I was trying to find footage from 9/11 to include, you know, and a lot of it came from the news stations and you can pull anything off of YouTube but I really wanted to find stock footage and so that includes video.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Just wanted to add to that, if you go to Google and search on images and click advanced, and scroll down, it's near the bottom, it will ask you if you want photographs for free use. As long as you are not using them for commercial purposes, you can sort by that. And you can do that by Flickr. So it's as long as you attribute them and say this is from this site and link back to them, then you are totally fine.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Google is taking over the world.
Any other questions? We have just a few minutes, but I don't want to keep anyone hostage.
Oh, right up here.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Just a quick one. So videos are not copyrighted automatically like photos?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: No, they are. There are web sites for stock video just photos.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: If you put a video on your blog, it's automatically copyrighted?
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: I do. If you have a Mac, I think it's Google copyright Mac and it will tell you which keys to hit at the same time and it creates the copyright symbol. And then it will say copyright Julie and, and it appears throughout the video.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Excellent, thanks.
>> BRITT BRAVO: I think we're done.
>> JULIE WECKERLEIN: Okay. So I think we're done and we are going to put up the screen. Don't forget to let BlogHer know if you have enjoyed the session and it's been helpful, that way they can offer something like it next year. Thank you all for your time.
>> BRITT BRAVO: Thanks, everybody.

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