Tag Archives: Blogging

On Being The Hero Of My Own Story

1 Oct

Or: The Blog Is Back

True Story sign

Photo credit to NCinDC.

In the last few months, this blog has taken a bit of a hiatus.  True, it’s because I’ve been lazy, but it’s also because I’ve been busy.  I got a new job and move to Chicago!  (Yeah, I know, way to bury the lead…)

So, what’s the new job?  It’s digital marketing for Baxter Credit UnionSo, basically, now I get paid to do what I love – and what this blog is about.  And it’s fantastic.  I’m part of a great team of people who are smart and funny and passionate about what they do.  I couldn’t ask for better co-workers.  But, man were they intimidating the first week.  (“I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so scared.”) Continue reading

Searching for Meaning in Spam

4 Mar
Delete Button by .::HMU::.

Photo Credit to .::HMU::..

I get a lot of spam – on this blog, on my work blog, and my corporate website.  It feels like the snow that’s still coming down even though it’s March.  (When will it stop?!)  Most of it is rubbish, utter nonsense that I delete out of hand, easily recognizing it for the gratuitous references to Viagra, work from home jobs, or off-shore e-mail providers.

But, sometimes there’s something about it that makes me stop and pay attention.  The way that, even though it’s cold and you wish it would hurry up and get to spring already, perfect snow can still make you think of Santa and Christmas magic.  There’s something about them and the way they’re written than makes me think that they can’t all be from a computer program in China.  And maybe there really is a long lost Nigerian prince who needs my help. Continue reading

Ugly Ducklings and Social Media Success

16 Sep

Or, I’m really good at Facebook.

Swan DucklingsRecently, a lot of people have been asking me to explain Klout.  What is it?  Why does it give me free stuff?  And, I’m left to say, “I’m really good at Facebook.”  There’s no better explanation, and it’s true.  I’ve figured it out.  I know how to get comments and likes.  I know which types of content will engage my friends.  It sounds terrible to admit that it’s as calculated as that, but it is.  And here’s the secret: everyone that works in digital strategy or social media marketing does the same thing.  We all use our personal accounts as a way of testing follower growth and engagement strategies.  (Will following Crowdbooser’s suggestions improve my retweet rate?  Will Twellow’s directory help me to get targeted followers?  How far can I push mass follow/unfollow efforts without getting delisted?) Continue reading

40,000 Words and Counting

27 Aug

Or, I like it, I really like it

Birthday cakes shaped like presents, fontant

This is my 100th blog post.  TV shows get a party when they reach their 100th episode, because it means that they’re ready for syndication.  What does is mean for a blog?  Do I get a cake with my face on it?  (Can we have a reverse blog giveaway contest where you all send me cakes?)

Joking aside, I’m strangely proud of myself.  I’m not usually big on the concept of “follow-through”.  (Last time I moved, I found like four journals with the first page written in them: “Dear Diary, This time I’m really going to do it…”  Never happened.) Continue reading

Updating Word’s language canon… though social media tracking?

11 Aug
SPY by twicepix

SPY by twicepix

Or, you can’t always get what you want… but you can still complain when you do, right?

I’m always logged in to Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Evernote, and WordPress on pretty much all of my devices.  (Thank you tab browsing!)  I check my various accounts on my personal laptop, my work laptop, my iPad, and my Droid; and I’d bet that at least three of my four devices are logged into most of those accounts at any given time.  So, I get that my activity is tracked across all of my devices in all sorts of ways.

Sometime that tracking’s even helpful – like  when I go to search for an address in my phone and it knows which store I’m looking for because an hour ago I used my laptop to check if there was one near my route home.  But, today I saw such an egregious example of tracking and targeting based on my internet activity that even I was shocked. Continue reading

Social Media and the evolution of language

10 Aug
Or, Microsoft Word and the angry little green squiggly line

This is a scene from my house in about 1995.

Mom: Maggie, you need to practice your spelling words so you can get a better grade on your test this week.

Maggie: Why?  Spelling doesn’t matter.

Mom:  Yes, it does.  It’s important that you spell things correctly so that people know what you mean.

Maggie: Mom, I hate spelling words!  Spelling doesn’t matter.  Soon everything’s going to have spell check anyway. 

National Spelling Bee by erin m

Clearly, this is not me.National Spelling Bee by erin m

Okay, so I was right, but I was also wrong.  (See, Mom, everything does have spell check.)  I’m still a terrible speller.  (Sometimes so bad that even spell check can’t figure out what I mean.)

So to spare all you lovely readers the time you’d spend scratching your heads, wondering what I’m trying to say, I type my posts in Microsoft Word before bring them over to WordPress to publish.  (“Thank you, Maggie.  We appreciate that you think of us.”)

revenge of the spelling be by postbear

revenge of the spelling be by postbear

Word is one of my greatest blogging aids, but it’s also one of my greatest blogging enemies.  Why?  That angry little green squiggly line.  You know, the one that says, “That is not correct grammar.”  And here’s the thing, a lot of the time, it’s my fault.  (Somehow all the AP English classes didn’t convince me that sentences need both a noun and a verb.) Continue reading

Publicness, Persistence, and the case against Real Name policies

6 Aug
Identity by fotologic

Identity by fotologic

Or, If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no record of it, did it really happen?

Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic recently published the piece “Why Facebook and Google’s Concept of ‘Real Names’ Is Revolutionary” in which he presented what may be a novel argument in the debate over real name policies on the internet by showing that real name policies affecting everyone, not just disparate minority populations.

While real name policies do seem to make sense for probably 90% of users (they protect us from trolling and spam accounts, they help us to make sure that we know the people with whom we’re connecting), they’re a real (obvious) problem for a minority of people.  Unfortunately, in the case of the real name debate, the poster child for the minority population is a teenager questioning his sexuality… not someone that the powers that be want to rally behind.  (Off base fears about gay recruiting, egads!) Continue reading

Site stats and the gamification of writing

19 Jul

MarioThis week, I’ve been lucky enough to have my blog featured on Freshly Pressed for the second time.  Both times, I’ve spent most of the day going “refresh, refresh, refresh!” on my site stats page.  I guess seeing the numbers come in makes me feel like I’m not just talking to myself here.

But really, they’re just numbers.  I’m sure a lot of people click on my post and go “That’s boring,” or “That’s not what I thought it was,” and click away.  Cognitively, I get that.  But, sitting here, I feel like Mario collecting coins in one of those bonus levels.  The happy music is playing.  And whenever I reach 100, I get an extra life. Continue reading

Authors as bloggers, bloggers as authors

28 Apr

SocialTimes has an article called “You Are What You Tweet: Writing Your Way into the Social Media Revolution” which argues that social media is helping to balance the (crazy and near complete) control that the publishing industry has over the stories that we read.

“Today more than ever, it’s difficult for creative writers to “make it” in the publishing industry; big-name publishing houses sign fewer contracts, hand out less funding, and allocate smaller advances to writers than ever before. But perhaps publishing itself is an outdated mode of finding your audience.

With the internet boom and the growing popularity of social media, the option of self-publishing is more attractive for writers everywhere. With spaces like Facebook, WordPress, and Blogger, authors can carve out their own online spaces and attract audiences from across the world. While we may still be attached to the printed page, that doesn’t mean that we can’t use the digital tools available to us to promote our work.”

So, it’s not just that bloggers want to be authors; authors want to be bloggers, too.  Blogs help us to learn to write and to find our voice and also to promote our writing once we’ve found that voice.  It’s a lot less intimidating to still down and write a few hundred word (okay, mine usually run in the thousands) blog post than it is to start a new Word document titled Chapter 1.  Although I’d love to do that one day, it seems terrifying.  I can easily convince myself that I have a post worth of interesting things to say, but 200 pages?!  Yikes!

But, back to authors… With so few major publishers that often say “no” rather than take a chance on a new author, (It took J.K. Rowling a year to find a publisher for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.) many authors turn to self publishing and use blogs as a means to find an audience for their work.  “The blog is a space where people can fall in love with you as a writer,” said Vivek Shraya, one of the authors that SocialTimes’ Amanda Cosco interviewed.  It allows authors to connect directly with the audience and to present themselves and their work in their own words (and in real time) rather than going through publicist, agent, etc. Continue reading

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