Saturday, August 02, 2008

When being wrong feels right

This week I found myself at an Advanced Blogging Workshop run by New York City Webgrrls, a group of women working in technology who network and run classes like this. In this workshop I discovered that everything about my blog is "wrong", from using the Blogger platform to my page layout, from the erratic nature of my posts to my content which is too personal and not professional enough.

I was told that "the blogging community does not respect anonymous bloggers" which is a pretty amazing claim considering the millions of blogs that exist...did the Worldwide Bloggers Association hold a meeting and not tell me about it? I never got a chance to vote!

My initial reaction is to think, if being right is what everyone else is doing, I want to be wrong! When I conveyed these sentiments in the workshop, that being "different" could attract readers, I was told that Internet users make judgments about whether they want to read a blog in 1/20 of a second and that if I didn't have the right pieces in their proper places saying appropriate things, these valued potential readers would turn tail & run and never, ever, EVER come back. Whoosh! Millions of missed opportunities!

I don't know about you, valued readers, but this is not how I read blogs. I do wander into some blogs that are on a subject matter that is not of interest to me and leave...for example, I'm not a computer scientist and I don't have a baby so if I go on to sites that have these as their primary material, I don't stay.

But through Twitter, I am exposed to literally hundreds of blog links every day and, unfortunately for my academic work, I follow quite a few of them back to their source. It doesn't matter whether it is a blog with tips for success or a blog that describes a party someone went to, if it looks mildly interesting, I'll give it five minutes of my time and even scan through older posts. I usually notice that some layouts are more inviting than others but I read some blogs that almost qualify as ugly! But content rules!

Because I'm basically a humanist and I follow a lot of people on Twitter who work in marketing & PR, I often find myself at odds with some of the consumer/corporate ideology in the material I come across. Unless the person is offensive or dismissive, this doesn't stop me from revisiting this blog if there is another entry posted that sounds interesting. Once again, content rules over presentation, at least in my world.

So, I apologize if having the menu on the right side rather than the left side forces the reader to have to shift their glance from one side of the page to the other but you know what? I think you guys can figure it out!

I am actually going to consider some of the suggestions that were made to me because I don't want to be closed-minded to criticism. But they will be considered each on their own merits. If being popular means looking like everyone else, I'll stick with my frizzy hair and oddly-shaped toes. I mean, if it can't be personal, why even have a blog?


Blue State Cowgirl said...

Hey, in response to your critics: I thought being on the web was all about being quirky! Don't worry about the "rules". I don't think there are any. THere were some amazing techie types at BlogHer who ran technical panels to help you get the most of your software. That was worth the price of the admission. Also Amy Gahran who ran an inspirational panel on writing -- which applied to writing anywhere. Ditto Me Ra Koh who had a wonderful photography panel. But the "A-Listers"? Don't listen to them. All the "rules" they seemed to be setting down. Well, they were all breaking them. Just keep keeping on and your audience will find you, if indeed they haven't already.

M said...

From one "blogspot" web address having blogger to another:

Read your comment on Left Coast Cowboys and really appreciated what you had to say. I'll have to check out your blog further but one comment I can make w/o having read it yet is there is no "wrong" when it comes to all this (and most things in life really).

It all has to do with your intentions for your blog and foraging a path that works for you. For every rule that's out there, there are plenty of exceptions of those who've done it the "wrong" way and had the success they sought *for themselves* (i.e. what they considered success to mean to them).

Liz said...

Thanks for the sound feedback. I haven't decided whether to make all (or some) of the changes that were suggested to me.

Since the workshop I've come across some very successful blogs with blogspot addresses. And I like the clean layout even if the menu is on the right-side not the left. I really liked my original template (I think it is called "Scribe") but it had an old-fashioned look. This one has more color contrast & white space so it is easier to read.

Sanford Dickert said...

Liz - very simple response. Be honest, be true, be yourself. All others that want to find you - will.