Blogathon 2012: lessons learned, and organizing the scatter

Travel Chinese Checkers

As we come to the end of another annual Blogathon, it’s time to reflect on what worked this month and what didn’t. At least, that’s what I do at the end of May. I imagine everyone else is celebrating and getting drunk.

Hardly a surprise, I’ve had difficulty sticking to a single topic since I first started blogging in 2004. For a while I had multiple blogs, each with its own theme. A couple of years ago, I consolidated all of these into one space, separated by categories—and that’s still the case; just check out the “categories” list for specific topics. More than once, I’ve wondered if this seeming “scatter-focus” was keeping me from gaining a more regular following. For instance, there are particular blogs I visit for writing advice; others are my destination when I’m looking for a good laugh or am interested in sharp-witted political criticism. In comparison, my blog seems a bit more . . . well, I suppose eclectic is the polite description.

Maybe it’s my inherent commitment problem (that’s kind of an inside joke, folks), or simply the fact that I really am interested in an awful lot of different things. Sure, I could blog about only belly dancing or meditation techniques, but I really do want to tell you about the Venus transit, e-book publishing, and the environmental hazards of fireworks, too.

This is the first Blogathon year that didn’t have me scrambling for material at one point or another. Maybe it’s because in previous years, I’d limited my focus to a single topic for the full month—writing a blog entry every day for the “Green Soul Guide” was a particular challenge. I realize this contradicts what I said above about narrowing my focus, but I think what was especially helpful this time around was setting specific days of the week to cover different topics.

I’d started down this topic-per-day path a few years ago when I began blogging on Thursdays for the Oregon News Incubator with writing prompts and thoughts. This month, I’ve found that I like doing a weekly round-up of astronomy stories on Fridays, too. Saturdays were for haiku. Mondays and Tuesdays were (usually) for iPad tech talk. I imagine that if I organize an editorial calendar that includes each of the subjects I’d like to cover—and if I stick to it—that will be the way my blog gains more focus.

And there are a few items I didn’t get to this month, even though they’d initially been part of the original plan for May. For one, I still haven’t started posting entries to the Valhalla glossary—something I thought I’d rely on heavily to get my posts done each day for these 31 days.

Of course, every year at the end of the Blogathon I say I’m going to start using that awesome editorial calendar plug-in. Maybe this time, it’ll stick.

Apart from organization . . . I still think I’m playing it too safe on my blog. Even though I really am shy and diplomatic, I’m much more of a smart ass in person. One of these days, I’ll finally get tired of playing nice all the time—Erika Napoletano is a great role model for this. Maybe perimenopause—yeah, look for more discussion of that here; you’re going to love it—will kick my butt into gear on that score.

In the meantime, thanks for following along this month. Your feedback has been encouraging and helpful, and I hope you’ll stay tuned for what comes next.


Creative Commons photo by laura.bell.



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5 thoughts on “Blogathon 2012: lessons learned, and organizing the scatter

  1. Since you blog about so many things, I like that you stick to a topic on a particular day. That way, your readers who like that topic, specifically, can show up on only those days. You can attract specific traffic on different days. That might work. Keep it up and let us know how it goes.

    P.S. I would never peg you as a smart ass.

  2. That’s a good word, diplomatic! I say rock those hormones and get snarky. I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to the PDX gathering to meet you in person. And I love the variety of topics you talk about, too.

    Congratulations to you!
    j

  3. I liked using the Google calendar spreadsheet this month, but that plug-in looks so much better. I’ve added it. Congrats on finishing the blogathon.

  4. congrats! I think that weekly themes make it so much easier and probably readers like them too. this calendar plug-in looks great. I actually used a traditional paper calendar for planning posts in May. I have to try Google calendar Van mentioned, since I don’t use WordPress.

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