Sunday, November 28, 2004

Win my attention!

With the recent upswing in traffic here at SSTOL — much appreciated, incidentally, and welcome to all the new readers, cruisers, and random drop-ins — you may well be asking yourself:
"How could I entice the SwanShadow guy into perusing my blog for more than the 30 seconds required by BlogExplosion, and possibly even into becoming a regular visitor?"
I, being an accommodating sort, will be delighted to share the keys to the Magic Kingdom (or at least, the keys to my criminally brief attention span) with you.

First and foremost, you should not care whether I frequent your blog. Or whether anyone else does, for that matter, unless your specific purpose in blogging is to keep in touch with family members, loved ones, and/or friends — in which case, you should only care whether those specific people frequent your blog. If, however, you are not targeting your blog for a select audience, whose members presumably are already interested in you and therefore will visit your blog regardless of its content, you should blog for your own amusement / entertainment / catharsis / whatever, and to blue blazes with what anyone else thinks about it.

Given that you've read this far, I'm supposing that you still crave my input. And you shall have it.

Here's a five-point strategy to get SwanShadow to read, and perhaps even enjoy, your blog for more than half a minute:

1. Learn how to write, and use the skills you learn. Maybe it's because I use words for a living, maybe it's because language and the verbal arts are one of my highest passions, or maybe it's just because I'm an anal-retentive, persnickety nitpicker. Whatever the reason, if your blog reads like an illiterate third-grader composed it, I'm out of there. Run your posts through spell-check, at the bare minimum. Write in complete sentences unless there's a clear stylistic reason to the contrary. Don't pretend you're e.e. cummings — capitalize the letters that require capitalization, and don't capitalize the ones that don't. Learn where the punctuation goes, and put it there. Learn when to use, and not use, apostrophes, especially in the words "its" and "it's" (which, contrary to increasingly popular usage, are not interchangeable). Divide complete thoughts into paragraphs. Pretend I'm your high school English teacher, and my grade will either get your blog into Stanford, or condemn it to community college.

2. In the words of sports talk host Jim Rome, "Have a take, and do not suck." Far be it from me to tell you what to blog about. Blog about what pleases you — I'm interested in many things, and even if I'm not especially interested in your topic of choice when I arrive at your blog, I may very well hang around if you have something original and intriguing to say about whatever it is. Tell me something I don't know. Tell me more about things I do know. Just have an opinion, and express it cogently and with flair. I'll be all ears. And you don't get points just by posting links to other people's content. Link away, but add something fresh. Share a thought. Have a take. Grow some funk of your own.

3. Don't hate. If you really don't like something, say so, but say so in a respectful way. You can make all the snide japes you want about "the other side" and whoever happens to occupy it — I'll laugh if you're funny, even if I'm on the other side. But I'll weary of a constant barrage of bashing, even if I staunchly oppose whatever the bashees represent. They may be evil incarnate, but I'm more interested in your alternative perspective than in unadulterated vitriol.

4. Go easy on the profanity, willya? I'm not a prude — okay, maybe I'm a bit of a prude — but I've heard all the words and you don't know any I've never encountered. Seriously. I've heard people insult each other on three continents. Your constant use of vulgarisms, however, will soon convince me that you can't communicate any other way. Invest in a thesaurus. Clip and save the vocabulary quizzes in Reader's Digest. Find new ways to express yourself that don't make you look like you're wading in the shallow end of the genetic pool.

5. Use a decent template. That doesn't mean mind-blowingly artistic — it means legible. I really don't care how fancy your blog is. I just want to be able to read what you've written. If it hurts my eyes to look at your neon green, calligraphy script body text against your fluorescent pink Barbie-and-Skipper background, you could be the second coming of F. Scott Fitzgerald and I'll never know. I'm off to find my Visine. And for pity's sake, lay off the cutesy flashing animated graphics. We're all adults here.

That's it. Do the above, and I'll be glad to check you out. If I find something worthy of comment, I'll even drop you a note. Convince me you'll be interesting more than once, and I'll even link to your blog.

Oh, one more thing. Moms (and some of you dads too), if I have to scroll through fifty photos of your adorable little moppet(s), please tell me something unique about little Mitzi or Perseus that I can't discern from the pictures. I have a daughter myself, so I know a cute kid when I see one. But tell me why yours is/are special.

12 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

Related to BE: I'm a photographer not a writer. And my husband uses this a lot, "because English is your second language." My 20 years of Alabama edu did not help. I can go on and on.

Not related to BE: you mentioned "Keys to the [Magic] Kingdom" either you are a Disney fanatic, or you are/used to be a cast member. Or both. I used to work at MK Guest Relations so I know what you were refering to.

:: Mona ::

p.s. I have DSL and sometimes it takes more than a few minutes to connect to Comments via "Or Post Anonymously." Therefore, if the blog on Blogger, I skip commenting because of this lag time.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Meg offered these pearls of wisdom...

LOL - quite reasonable advice.

5:59 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Hi, Mona. Thanks for visiting.

On photos: I didn't intend to dismiss photobloggers -- that is, people who use legitimate creative photography as their form of expression. "Every picture tells a story, don't it?" as Rod Stewart once sang. I enjoy a blog with interesting photography (especially given that I am 100% inept with a camera in my hands). I do like at least a little context, though, and your blog provides that remarkably well.

On Disney: Never a cast member, just a fanatical wannabe. I've been passionate about all things Disney for as long as I can recall. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first movie I saw in a theater.

On comments: It's one of the things I like least about Blogger. But it's the best option for those of us who are (a) cheap, (b) technically challenged, and (c) lazy.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

Came in through BE.

Great advice - I just wish more people picked up on the whole capitalization and grammar idea.

Have a good day!


10:39 AM  
Blogger Sugar offered these pearls of wisdom...

oooh your a hard man to please!
Don't read my blog i swear way too much, have no interest in correcting my grammar and only occsionally use spellcheck...:-)
I liked yours though!

6:45 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Hi, Meg, Sweetface, and Evie, and thanks very much to all three of you for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated!

And Evie, never forget the Sly Stone rule: Different strokes for different folks. I'm sure your blogging style works for you and for the people who frequent your site, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. I tried to be careful in composing this post not to say, "Here's what makes a blog good," but rather, "Here's what will get me to read your blog." I'm not every blog's target audience...and that's okay. Keep blogging your way, and have fun!

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

One other suggestion--and I say this with all due repsect, because I like a lot of the posts on this page, particularly the Bob McLeod one--is to go a little easy on the promotional blurbs. Would one of the most mercurial minds on the planet actually take the time to sit down and type "one of the most mercurial minds on the planet"? It's basically the problem that Austin Powers has...if you call yourself an International Man of Mystery, you sort of end up not being one...


4:12 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Point taken, Greg, and sincerely appreciated.

In my (admittedly flimsy) defense, I'm an advertising writer. Superlatives and hyperbole are my stock in trade. ;^)

And, after all, the header blurb is intended to get people in the door. Once they're here, either they'll be sold on the content, or they won't. The Coke commercial isn't for the person who already buys Coke — it's for the Pepsi drinker.

At any rate, I hope you'll keep dropping in...even if the man behind the SSTOL curtain isn't really a wizard.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Kimberly offered these pearls of wisdom...

Your criteria for multiple readings of a blog are much the same as mine. I might order them differently (and I write this having no idea whether they were listed in order of importance to you). While good writing is my first requirement, where the writer falls on the vitriol scale is photo-finish close.

While I have taken up the blogging tradition of posting photos of our cats every Friday, I write about many other things. Feel free to stop by and let me know what you think.

Regarding the comment you received about Blogger's comments, I have a free suggestion (offered freely, and the commenting service is free): Haloscan. I started using it before Blogger had commenting capabilities, and I find it both simpler and more powerful than Blogger's commenting.

1:14 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Thanks for the nice words, Kimberly. Thanks also for the Haloscan tip. It looks like a great tool; I'll investigate further.

Love your blog, by the way. Beautifully written and interesting, despite all the pictures of your McKittens. (I kid. They're very cute. We can still be friends if I'm a dog person, can't we?)

1:25 PM  
Blogger FilthyRottenAngel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Yeah, I curse too much and can't spell for shit. BUT I LOVE YOUR BLOG. You're funny and witty and ~insert fawning comments here~!

7:14 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Thanks for the nice compliments, Angel. Hey -- everyone's welcome. I won't criticize your spelling in my house, and if we can meet in the middle at, say, PG-13, it's all good. ;^) Hope you'll keep finding funny, witty goodness worth fawning over here!

12:09 AM  

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