What Matters to You Most as a Blogger?

I’ll follow Darren Rowse’s lead over at Pro-blogger, and start with a couple of his “most importants” that I share.

USEFUL CONTENT: The exchange of useful tools, websites and of specific technical help was crucial in 2002 when I started out and needed so much hand-holding. I’ve tried, in turn, to pass along some methods, ideas and software discoveries to my readers. But the crowd has changed, and the techy stuff seems to not get much response. So my USEFUL POSTS of late has turned more to the “check this out” variety, and more often than not, the topic has to do with air, soil, water, and health in general, planetary more than personal maybe. In coming months when setting up collateral pages is easier, I may set aside a page devoted to southern Appalachian natural history and environmental awareness. That seems to be where my heart is these days. And I consider my photography “useful content” from an aesthetic and educational perspective; but I could be wrong.

STIMULATION / CONVERSATION: This was probably both my end and my means early on: to stimulate my own thoughts by writing them out, and to cause my readers to turn their heads and look at the familiar in a different way. Looking back at my archives from the first two or three years, there was lively dialogue and interaction between commenters at Fragments. Friends met there and there for a while, it was truly the front porch conversation I had intended it to be. But over the past year or so, I feel the blog has become more of a one-way platform in which I expose my strong feelings about one topic or another, and that that intensity of passion almost guarantees it will be avoided for comments. So I do less of this, or at least post them less often, even after having written them. I still find the blog a wonderful repository for ideas I come back to, pick up again and follow a little farther. These from time to time become newspaper columns or maybe radio essays. So blogging stimulates my mind, whether it tweaks somebody else’s buttons or not; and that’s reason enough to keep it up.

SUSTAINABLE MODEL: I have to confess that I haven’t given much (probably not nearly enough) thought to the “model” for Fragments from Floyd. It has been hacked, restarted, moved and morphed so many times that I have never sustained any momentum in one direction for very long. I truly hope that becomes a thing of the past. And in the future, while I don’t intend to write to the audience, if I can keep my “brand” a bit more focused, spend more time getting to know today’s bloggers, and work with a little more zeal and passion in the good parts of life on Goose Creek, I think readership will grow beyond where it has been stuck for more than a year. Yes, I’d like to do better at “sustainable” in terms of the blog paying its way. A stable platform in WordPress, as I learn the ins and outs, should let me branch out into other kinds of monetizing. AdSense is paying the DSL, but there are so many other options to explore, given a blog that works consistently over the long haul, and grows.

AUTHENTICITY: I set out to be as close to 100% fully Fred in FFF as was possible. That has meant venting, whining and an occasional mild rant. It has gotten me in trouble with my wife who would NEVER tell publicly the tedious or embarrassing foibles of our domestic life. I’ve also brought to the center of the blog whatever was in the center of my life at the time, and unfortunately for those who see it as crass commercialism, the writing, then marketing of the book and notecards has cropped up here rather often–because it crops up in my daily routine rather often. I’ve assumed, perhaps wrongly, that those who have come to know me are interested in following along in this uncertain entrepreneurial journey conducted from a very back road from a county with 15,000 people. Genuine, personal, mundane daily rambles will continue to be the source for most of what goes to the keyboard here.

How ’bout you? Where’s your blog-center? Has it changed over time?

Well, that about does it for me, and crimminy, those paragraphs are way past the average bloggers dwell time | attention span. Soon, I’ll be able to let you click a “read more” link to open the whole thing, then hide it again, like in the old Moveable Type days.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I never get tired of reading your entries, no matter how long. They just interest me. Your whole life is something I either relate to or would like to relate to. Your interests and activities are satisfying and worthwhile. I would be happy to trade lives with you, even though I like my life just fine.

  2. I prefer it the way it is, Fred – and not with the “read more” links. I didn’t lose interest because your post was longer than usual. I like it when you speak your mind; I learn from you. I may not always comment on posts like that, but I do read them.

    My blog focus (which is varied and casual, to say the least) has not changed – even though the name and look of my blog has changed. I still pretty much tell it like it is and as it happens. I would welcome some of that interaction you mentioned – but if it doesn’t come – I’ll still blog because I like to write.

  3. Someone else out here agrees exactly with kathy b and kenju (despise “read more”!) Keep going. And thanks.

  4. I noticed that after my first year I was losing focus on my blog which led to a long weekend of rethinking and redesign…I’m sure it wont be the last time. Now I’ve opened shop in another location to handle the new focus and refocused the old blog.

    To be sure, I agree with the rest when it comes to a “more” button. It aggravated me so much on some of my early reads I finally quit. If you write it and it catches my interest, I’ll stay for the long article. But a lot of what I read is in a feed reader (Google Reader mostly), so the more button or the short feeds will leave me hanging on some stories.