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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fwd: guest blog from Michaele Lockhart

Date: Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM
Subject: guest blog from Michaele Lockhart

Thanks for inviting me to comment, Nan.

Your definitions of web sites vs. blogs were thought-provoking. They were good general guidelines, but often the distinction is not that clear-cut.

A web site is a first meeting, a first impression, and that encounter where we decide: "Do I want to get to know this person better?" A blog is the actual invitation to step inside, sit down, and share in a conversation. It's definitely more intimate.

A web site usually has a purpose, but sometimes graphics and trailers are so convoluted that a casual visitor might have trouble figuring out what the purpose is. The web visitor spends an average of three seconds making up her mind if she is going to stay. A precious three seconds—maybe wasted? Marketing can or may be a part of the overall site.

Here's where the distinctions get fuzzy. A good web site is designed for information sharing, but so is a blog. Are the type font and size easily read? Is the layout calming or distracting? The site or blog should contain contact information. Where can you be reached for an interview? What is your expertise? Why should we move along to your blog (if you have one)? Of course, if you're an author you'll probably be promoting your books.

Who can forget the charming movie Julie and Julia? Julie starts writing a blog about cooking and her self-challenge to create everything in Julia Child's cookbook within a year! What drew her readers in was the blog's central theme. We don't know what happened afterwards, because theoretically there would be no forward momentum.

For those who write personal blogs, ask yourself "Does my blog contain momentum?" This will ultimately help attract readers. Is there a "call to action?" No, you don't need to do anything drastic or start a revolution somewhere. In the personal journal-blog, your "call to action" will be teasers and an invitation to your readers to reflect and respond about issues that you've addressed.

The personal blog, more like a personal journal, can be an excellent medium, providing the writer creates enough "central theme," either by writing style or the responses that are encouraged. The best blogs—in my opinion—are those that first invite me into the writer's life and experience and then, in closing, invite my thoughts in return. There should be a place for responses: if a writer is going to stimulate thinking, a dialogue should follow.

Instead of tedium like "Went to the store today," "Dog threw up on the floor," or "Gee, I have to work overtime tomorrow," a personal blog makes sure that what you offer is of value. The Writers' Table, on my site, is mainly a teaching blog, so it's easy to identify each central theme. I've always tried to offer something of value to my readers. Comments are my validation, reassuring me that I'm on track.

I'm a writer, therefore my blog is connected to my web site. I have deliberately chosen not to place my blog "on top." That means that when people pass by my web site, they first learn something about me and can quickly decide if I'm someone they want to know better. They can easily access a drop-down list of published books. My blog, The Writers' Table, is also featured. If they really want to hear my "voice," listen to what I'm saying, and then follow what others say in reply, I'm there—just a "mouse-over" away.

Some choose to feature a blog "on top," which can feel a bit like you've stumbled into a personal chat mid-conversation. It's preferable to make each blog a stand-alone article, because then you can invite comments. Comments or subscriptions are the only way to know if people care about your blog, whether a personal journal or a teaching blog.

Thanks for inviting me to stop by, Nan. I enjoyed browsing through your favorite links. That's a great policy that acknowledges others who are doing the same thing we are! Keep up the good work.

Author of Hoarding Lies, Keeping Secrets

Thanks Michaele for your input. I enjoyed reading about your ideas and respect your opinion. Please visit again. 
Best, Nan

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Hope you enjoyed your visit and will return again. Be well. Live well. Lead a colorful life! Warm regards, Nan