Hello Quaker-Quaker,

I am new at blogging. Do you have any suggestions for my site?

My first few blogs dealt with a variety of topics from the Lamb's War to destiny.

Thanks,
Daniel Wilcox

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Hi Daniel: I hear this question a lot. I'll answer it generically, as advice to new bloggers, rather than specifically talk about your Infinite Ocean blog.

I think the success to any kind of writing is to first and foremost write about what interests you. Don't worry about whether there's an audience or not: with millions of people on the internet every day there's bound to be plenty of others who share your interests. Don't be afraid to be personal, quirky and idiosyncratic, as people come to blogs looking for personality.

The most interesting blogs have an intimacy and honesty to them. My blog posts are the kind of discussions I would have around my dining room table. Friends have a tendency to downplay our opinions in public settings. The Quaker blogs have given us a place to be respectfully honest, open and inquisitive. That openness has led many of us into surprising friendships.

I'd also recommend that you keep your blog open to development. I was four months into my QuakerRanter blog before I had the first post that I would now consider a "typical" QuakerRanter piece. It often takes time to find a voice you're comfortable in and many people find themselves interested in different topics than they initially imagined. Blogs often end up being very different than the one they thought they were starting! Most blogs last about two months and are abandoned: if you're blogging because you think you should be, then the motivation won't be enough to sustain you over the long term.

Finally, blogs are social. They're conversation. Encourage conversation on your blog. Respond to comments, on the blog and also in direct emails if people have provided them. Sign up to blogs you like using an RSS Reader like Google Reader or Bloglines and read them and comment on thoughtful posts. Get to know people and try to attend the events we're now listing here on QuakerQuaker. About half of my QuakerQuaker time is actually private emails and IM conversations with Friends and the comments I leave on blogs (some Quaker, some not) are often more involved than my blog posts. It's a social medium and the public blog is just one piece of that.

Thanks for the question. I'd love to hear what advice others have!
Martin got a lot of what I'd say, but here are a few more.

Don't be surprised if blog entries come and go. I did one blog where I wrote a post every day (eventually except Sunday), but that kind of burned me out after four years. My Quaker blog is bursty, with posts coming quickly and then nothing for a while, and then.... and sometimes a post may spend months in contemplation before reaching the public.

Definitely be yourself on the blog. Writing a blog post is a challenging thing to do, but it's not the same thing as a leading or speaking in meeting. I'm not always as plainspoken as I wish, but I have a hard time writing one of these in a voice different from my own. (Sometimes I start writing and have to pause to ask if that's what I really mean....)

Comments are critical as well. Comment on other blogs, talk back and forth with commenters on your blog, and try to make things a conversation. Most of my posts that have really stood up over time are posts that started from a reader comment. Some of them were reactions against opinions from the comments. It's all a part of the conversation.
Hi, Daniel--

Like Martin and Simon have suggested, I agree that commenting on other (Quaker) blogs is an important way to (1) interact with other Quakers online and (2) develop your own voice. It also helps others get to know you a bit, which in turn will help draw readers to your blog.

For me, I have found it helpful to identify the purpose or scope or central theme(s) of the blog. I use that central purpose as a sort of touchstone, and it helps me "listen" and "watch" for things that I might want to post about.

Another thing that's been important for me has been to put aside time to reply to comments that others post on my blog. This increases the interactivity of the blog which in turn helps the relationship--even if you've never met the person who is commenting.

That said, don't beat yourself up if you have dry spells or need time to reply to comments.

Lastly, if you find yourself staying engaged in the Quaker blogosphere, if it helps feed you and inspires you to grow in your Quakerism and in your relationship with the Spirit (however you name that Principle), then do by all means allow for the possibility that you'll find your way to a "meet-up" at some point. You'd be welcome to join the conversation face to face as well as online!

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up
Good morning Liz,

Thanks for the suggestions.

I think blogging and sites such as Quaker Quaker sure offer modern Friends a great way of interacting. However, I am disappointed that more Friends don't participate. Think of the hundreds of thousands of pamphlets that early Quakers wrote in the first years of the movement.

Daniel

Liz Opp said:
Hi, Daniel--

Like Martin and Simon have suggested, I agree that commenting on other (Quaker) blogs is an important way to (1) interact with other Quakers online and (2) develop your own voice. It also helps others get to know you a bit, which in turn will help draw readers to your blog.

For me, I have found it helpful to identify the purpose or scope or central theme(s) of the blog. I use that central purpose as a sort of touchstone, and it helps me "listen" and "watch" for things that I might want to post about.

Another thing that's been important for me has been to put aside time to reply to comments that others post on my blog. This increases the interactivity of the blog which in turn helps the relationship--even if you've never met the person who is commenting.

That said, don't beat yourself up if you have dry spells or need time to reply to comments.

Lastly, if you find yourself staying engaged in the Quaker blogosphere, if it helps feed you and inspires you to grow in your Quakerism and in your relationship with the Spirit (however you name that Principle), then do by all means allow for the possibility that you'll find your way to a "meet-up" at some point. You'd be welcome to join the conversation face to face as well as online!

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up
Thanks Simon.

Daniel

Simon St.Laurent said:
Martin got a lot of what I'd say, but here are a few more.

Don't be surprised if blog entries come and go. I did one blog where I wrote a post every day (eventually except Sunday), but that kind of burned me out after four years. My Quaker blog is bursty, with posts coming quickly and then nothing for a while, and then.... and sometimes a post may spend months in contemplation before reaching the public.

Definitely be yourself on the blog. Writing a blog post is a challenging thing to do, but it's not the same thing as a leading or speaking in meeting. I'm not always as plainspoken as I wish, but I have a hard time writing one of these in a voice different from my own. (Sometimes I start writing and have to pause to ask if that's what I really mean....)

Comments are critical as well. Comment on other blogs, talk back and forth with commenters on your blog, and try to make things a conversation. Most of my posts that have really stood up over time are posts that started from a reader comment. Some of them were reactions against opinions from the comments. It's all a part of the conversation.
Hello Martin,

Thanks for the advice and suggestions, and for responding to my post.

Daniel

Martin Kelley said:
Hi Daniel: I hear this question a lot. I'll answer it generically, as advice to new bloggers, rather than specifically talk about your Infinite Ocean blog.

I think the success to any kind of writing is to first and foremost write about what interests you. Don't worry about whether there's an audience or not: with millions of people on the internet every day there's bound to be plenty of others who share your interests. Don't be afraid to be personal, quirky and idiosyncratic, as people come to blogs looking for personality.

The most interesting blogs have an intimacy and honesty to them. My blog posts are the kind of discussions I would have around my dining room table. Friends have a tendency to downplay our opinions in public settings. The Quaker blogs have given us a place to be respectfully honest, open and inquisitive. That openness has led many of us into surprising friendships.

I'd also recommend that you keep your blog open to development. I was four months into my QuakerRanter blog before I had the first post that I would now consider a "typical" QuakerRanter piece. It often takes time to find a voice you're comfortable in and many people find themselves interested in different topics than they initially imagined. Blogs often end up being very different than the one they thought they were starting! Most blogs last about two months and are abandoned: if you're blogging because you think you should be, then the motivation won't be enough to sustain you over the long term.

Finally, blogs are social. They're conversation. Encourage conversation on your blog. Respond to comments, on the blog and also in direct emails if people have provided them. Sign up to blogs you like using an RSS Reader like Google Reader or Bloglines and read them and comment on thoughtful posts. Get to know people and try to attend the events we're now listing here on QuakerQuaker. About half of my QuakerQuaker time is actually private emails and IM conversations with Friends and the comments I leave on blogs (some Quaker, some not) are often more involved than my blog posts. It's a social medium and the public blog is just one piece of that.

Thanks for the question. I'd love to hear what advice others have!

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