The evolution of a blog

Have you ever done an inspiration board? 

When I was planning this blog (and emailing back and forth with Schmutzie at Ninjamatics who did the design - yay for great designers! And great service! <---- completely unsolicited free plug), I put together an inspiration board. I wanted to capture both the look and the feel for this blog. At least, as best as I could in those early days.

I had an idea about this blog but it was still a bit fuzzy. 

inspiration board mood board

I suppose it's like anything that you want to create in that it needed a few iterations. Many iterations to get from here to there.

Since I've been creating this blog for almost 10 months now, I thought that I would do ANOTHER inspiration board. Something to see where I am now with it. And where I may want to go next.

I'm much more clear about what I want to use this space for. I rewrote my "about" page to better reflect my more focused direction. That's another "in process" bit - let me know what you think, okay?

inspiration board mood board

So what has changed since I started? I think I'm more "me" in not so much WHAT I write about but HOW I write it. I feel like I am able to more easily inject my own personality into each post no matter what the topic. And you know why that is? I think it's YOU. No, I KNOW it's you. Interacting with my readers in comments that you leave here, on twitter and also by email. I learn from you and I learn from trying to put my ideas on paper.

My taste in blogs has changed too. I am attracted to blogs where I have a strong sense of the person behind the blog. Don't just show me 5.cute.things. Tell me WHY I should care about them. Tell me what YOU think about it. Have an opinion. Take a stand. I might agree or I might not but it'll be more likely that I'll come back again.

I am a better writer and photographer. Am I where I want to be with either of those? Not even close! But getting there. As long as I am moving forward, no matter how small the improvement, I am happy. You know, outside of those moments where I am IMPATIENT about my progress.

I have both boards pinned on the bulletin board above my computer where I see them every day. The girl has added her own artwork here and there too.

inspiration board mood board

That's one of the things that I love about blogging - it's a process. It changes, it evolves, it grows. 

How has your blog or blog reading evolved?

Blog Hygiene - twitter

 

It's time for a social media house cleaning here at the blog. Some tidying up. Some paring down and getting a little leaner and little more effective. Something that I call, "the lazy man's way". How can I get to where I want to be with the least amount of work? Not saying no work - we're not slackers over here - the least amount of work over HERE so that I can do more over THERE.

I was scribbling away yesterday at a coffee place while the girl was at a birthday party and decided that I REALLY need to make this happen. I know it's summer but I want my proverbial ducks in a row before fall hits. I'm not going to go crazy with it - I want to enjoy the sun and hanging out with the girl and the man and friends and family. That's actually one of my motivations for Blog Hygiene - I wanna live my life AND have that charming blog for all my bloggy friends. So let's get started.

First up, it's twitter, baby.  

What do I want to get out of twitter?

Like anything, I figure that I'd better know WHY I am spending time doing it. That'll drive HOW I use it.

First, building friendships and community. Twitter's probably my favourite social media thingy. Maybe it's a bit of ADD but I love the banter and the back and forth. Love the quick check in. It moves fast.

Second, the business-y side of things - blog promotion. I use twitter to promote my most recent blog posts. I use Timely to schedule regular tweets during the day for that day's post. Because you can only schedule them once your post is live, I am considering switching to Hootsuite instead. Then I can set up tweets ahead of time.

Third, information that I might otherwise not find. Some of the people that I follow are gate keepers for me - they are fab curators of all sorts of links and articles that just don't have time to keep up with. And they aren't necessarily in areas that are directly related to my blog - I follow all sorts of people.

Fourth, support my bloggy and real life friends. When my friends have a blog post that I think my followers would find interesting, I retweet away. 

Let the clean up begin

Right now I am following about 750 people on twitter and have almost 400 following me. It's that 750 that I am curious about - that's a lot of tweets to read! Since it moves in real-time, I am sure that I am missing a lot too.

Keeping in mind WHY I am using twitter, I want to pare that down. Do I really need to follow corporate tweeters? Or how about those whose tweets I regularly scan and skip over (not yours of course, never yours).

Melanie of Inward Facing Girl pointed me in the direction of Twit Cleaner. I used it yesterday to clean up who I follow and also to analyze my own tweets. 

I'll also sit down while watching tv and zoom through my "following" list and make sure that each of them fits within my own twitter goals.

Don't know if I am going to make sublists or not. Do you? Why or why not?

Twitter resolutions

I need some to stay on top of twitter. And to manage my time on twitter too - of all the social media, it's my biggest time waster. See me procrastinating? That'll be me hanging around on twitter.

I'll start by limiting my time on twitter to 15 minutes three times a day. I'll let you know how that goes of course - I think it'll be a challenge but I KNOW that I'll find more free time.

First of each month I am going to zoom through my pared down list of "following" and see if I am happy with it. Anyone to add? Anyone to delete?

Do you have any twitter resolutions that I should consider?

Twitter etiquette

Ah, yes, how NOT to be annoying on twitter. Be kind my friends, as although I aspire to these, I don't always hit the mark.

I don't zoom my tweets to FB. I know, some of you do but for me, I feel that there's enough overlap between the two audiences that they don't need to see my tweets once...and again. Also, twitter is more of a cocktail party/link/banter medium and FB more visual, more dinner party so I like to keep the two separate.

Golden rule of retweeting. I try and only retweet what I would want someone else to retweet to me. You want to be visible and you want to add some value to your followers but you don't want to drown them in retweets.

Thank my followers. I am embarrassed to admit that I only recently started doing this. I know - how rude! But it only takes a few minutes once a week to thank them.

Add value. In addition to the retweets, when I do tweet, I do try and say more than just, "thanks" or "great post". Like with commenting on a blog post, stop before you tweet and see if you are adding to the conversation. At the same time, be you. Don't hold back and second guess and fuss over the tweet til it has no life at all. Show your personality.

Don't inundate. Try to have a reasonable number of tweets - too few and you are invisible and out of the conversation. Too many and your followers will be drowning in your commentary.

So, are you going to join me in some Blog Hygiene? Any other ideas for twitter that I have missed?

More Blog Hygiene to come over the next few weeks. 

More Alt

Again with the Alt??!! Yup, more about Alt Design Summit. A little more. 

When you go to Alt it is IMPOSSIBLE to forget that you are with almost 500 other creative people. From the fab clothes and the stylish hair (the messy bun was THE "do") to the incredible business cards, it is a constant stream of inspiration. I am STILL digesting how much fun it was to be with a huge group of people who love stylish things and spaces, for whom blogging is not a four letter word!

Here are some beautiful cards that I collected from a roundtable that I attended on the second day. For one hour on Friday right after breakfast we had a choice of 17, yes seventeen roundtables. I chose to go to "Bit Bloggers: The Why's and How's of Small Blogs" hosted by the lovely Margot Harrington of Pitch Design Unionand Kate Singleton of Art Hound. They run a site called Bit Bloggers that is all about being a little-engine-that-could blogger delivering quality content.

Being a roundtable, we went round.the.table and each blogger talked about their challenges. Together we brainstormed. Don't you find better solutions when collaborating?

Here are links to the roundtable attendees. Each unique and creative. Each living an interesting life with passion. Check them out. I know that I will.

Unstitched

Shayna Kulik

Joy of All Crafts

Studio-Sweet-Studio

Soda Pop Girl

Margaret Edith

The Blog Fairy

My Hyggelig

A Lifestyle Craving

Hello Moxie

Buckets and Bunches