Michelle Raftner, whom you may recognize as the brains behind WordCount’s
For those who care, here are the more detailed answers to her questions:
Name of blog:
Conrad Zero – Dark Fiction Author
What is your blog about?
Tips, tricks, inspirations and motivations for all authors and writers, and the occasional day-in-the-life revelations of a dark fiction author.
How long have you been blogging?
I’ve been blogging since 29 Jan, 2004. At first, my blog was more entertainment-based, and I did reviews of movies, music, books, video games and occasionally, self-important bullshit that I mistook for “life.” Over time, I’ve changed to become more of a mix of useful writing information and entertainment (infotainment?) spiced with interesting website links, news and technologies that I hope writers would find interesting or useful.
What have you learned about blogging?
1 – Know the difference between facts and your opinions
I once had a commenter who kept flaming me because I made fun of Naomi Watts performance in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong. No, seriously. I tried to get him to understand that we simply had differing opinions on the matter and that was OK. But he valiantly attempted to “prove” me wrong, and made an ass of himself in the process. Luckily for him, comments got reset when I moved from Blogger to WordPress, but it made me realize that some people will read your blog and think you are giving them real, objective facts when you’re just stating your opinion.
If you are clear with your readers about what you feel vs what you know, you can prevent some (but not all) angry responses. For those that manage to be pissed off at you anyway, if you know the difference between subjective and objective you’ll be better equipped to defend yourself against the flamethrowers.
2 – See both the good and bad in your reviews
Cynics can be funny and even entertaining, but if you are one of those snide reviewers who think its fun and funny to be anti-Everything, why do I need to read your blog? I already know what your opinion is going to be, and I’ll never take your reviews seriously, because I wouldn’t trust you to find the good in anything.
Remember that there are real people behind these projects (movies, books, music, whatever) and they worked really hard to create them.
As a member of the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group, one of the things that impresses me about our writing critique workshops is that our members always try to see both the good in writing submissions as well as the bad. Authors who are diligent enough to finish a piece of writing and brave/conscientious enough to share it with a crit group deserve at least a charitable interpretation. That includes both constructive and destructive criticism. Few bloggers do this, because it takes more work and requires thinking. But, if you can do this, you will raise your blog from stand-up comedy to a useful source of info that helps artists make their own works better.
3 – The Very Best PR You Can Get
Lots of bloggers fuss over colors, keywords and SEO, meanwhile they ignore, or even snap back at their audience, missing out on the very best PR they have at their disposal: their attitude towards their audience.
I sent an e-mail to an up-and-coming author telling him I really enjoyed his new book. Six months later I got a confused reply, ‘Did I ever thank you for this?” I was thrilled to get that much, but I decided that I would do better when it came to my own fans. [Editor’s Note: Tell that to Michelle Raftner! LOL]
Last week, I received an angry e-mail from a reader about my recent post comparing online file sync systems Sugarsync vs Dropbox. The reader was angry that I didn’t include anything about online security. I replied calmly, presenting the reader with my OPINION (See above) and the research I’d done on the matter that backed up my opinion. The reader responded saying he had never considered the points I presented, and he mentioned how nice it was to receive an intelligent thoughtful reply “for a change”. People may not expect a personal reply, much less a thoughtful one, but they certainly do appreciate it.
4 – No, it really isn’t all about you.
Most bloggers favorite subject is themselves. This is great after you’ve sold a million books, because people might actually care. Till then, the only people who are going to read you going on and on about yourself are your mom and your psycho ex, (neither of which are going to buy your book, btw.)
A tip for the unfamous: if you can become a resource of a specific kind of info (not yourself) you will get all the linkage, comments, and SEO you could want.
5 – You are no expert, but you don’t have to be
Here’s a great bit of blogger humor:
Q: How many bloggers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Tell us what YOU think in the comments below.
Many of the more successful bloggers aren’t necessarily the best knowledge sources on a subject – they are enablers. They find, filter and focus content and are able to pull together like-minded people who can help with the answers. Look up crowdsourcing, and then see how it’s done on sites like lifehacker, digg, imdb, problogger, etc. The truth is that anyone with a passion for something can make a website that will draw like-minded people, regardless of their credentials.
The goal is not to be (or pretend to be) an expert on things and to have all the answers. What’s more important is meeting people on the same journey you are on, and to share and grow wisdom along with them.