Monday, January 11, 2010

Bloggiesta Finish Line!

Wow. What a weekend!

I found out about the Bloggiesta just a day or two before it started and figured it was as good of an excuse as any to do some of the work I had been planning on the blog. Well, only one of those pre-planned tasks were completed; I was distracted by reading about all of the mini-challenges, and then the task of finding lots of new blogs to comment on!

Before I get into exactly what I accomplished this weekend, I first wanted to share some of my thoughts on Bloggiesta and why a weekend of nothing but blog-work was actually incredibly fun.

Some background: I love internet communities. In middle school and early high school I was an active participant in the Animorphs fan-communities centered around FanFiction.Net and my own webpage at the time (one of those GeoCities pages that met its final doom last year). After the end of the series, my chosen internet communities became focused more on fanfiction mailing lists and communities for various fandoms on LiveJournal.

What I loved about these very focused communities was that at almost any given time you could post on your site or on the mailing list or hop on your IMing service of choice and find other community members there. You could rant and complain about something that wasn't working, or brainstorm your next brilliant idea, or ask someone to look over your work.

When I started book blogging, I wasn't expecting to find that same community-feeling that I've had in the past. I realized quite quickly that posting reviews isn't the sort of blogging that creates a real community feeling. It's kind of a solitary existence, the life of a book blogger.

But the Bloggiesta changed all of that.

The book blogging community is huge. And I saw a lot of people expressing the same thoughts that I have had: I wish our blogs were more social. I wish I had more people commenting; not because it's an ego boost, but to encourage conversations about the literature that we love. By participating in events like the Comment Challenge, a lot of us are stepping out of our comfort zone and posting where we never thought we would necessarily be welcome before - and I think we're being rewarded for taking those risks.

It was incredibly fun and energizing to know that I wasn't the only one stretching myself this weekend. It gave me permission to comment on blog posts where a conversation hadn't started yet; I could drop in unannounced on someone's blog, say "Hey, I found you through the Bloggiesta!" and instantly know that we had some sort of connection, and more often than not a short blogging conversation was sparked. I knew I wasn't the only one trying to figure out favicons, and my twitter feed was constantly updating with people sharing resources and success stories using the #bloggiesta tag.

The Twitter community was probably the most exciting and helpful aspect, because it allowed for a type of immediate gratification you can't get from posting one comment to a single blog post. Posting to someone's blog, you have no idea what the original poster is up to at that moment: maybe it's the middle of the night for her, or she's taking a lunch break. Posting something into the Twitter ether meant that surely someone, somewhere was checking Twitter at the same time and could respond within minutes, if not seconds, and you could mine the wisdom of the crowd and seek multiple answers from a single post. Plus the 140 character limit was perfect for short bursts of encouragement from the @Bloggiesta account.

So, to Natasha, our Bloggiesta host, and all of the hosts of the mini-challenges, and everyone who has stopped by this blog over the weekend to say hi, please accept my most heart-felt thanks for your help and support this weekend. It's totally geeky, and a little cheesy, to be so excited about an online event, but I truly believe this has made my blog stronger and created an overall more positive internet experience for a lot of us.

Now, for my Bloggiesta goals and accomplishments:
In my first Bloggiesta post introducing the challenge, I mentioned that I had "lots of things I've wanted to add to the blog over the past year - this weekend I'm finally going to get them done." I didn't enumerate them, but among those were an "About Me" page and some commentary posts, including one on my thoughts on Twilight after I actually read the first damn book. Well, as you can see in the header of the blog, I accomplished one of those tasks - the other, not so much. In fact I only have one post ready to use at a future date - and it's scheduled for Tuesday, a post about a reading challenge I signed up for that also contains a Book Thoughts-esque short essay fulfilling a mini-challenge requirement for the reading challenge. So I kind of let myself down there, but maybe next weekend?

Friday I also accomplished making my first 5 comments in the Comment Challenge.

Saturday I posted that I had already succeeded in analyzing my blog and creating meta tags, as well as cleaning up out-of-date widgets and creating templates and cheat sheets in Google Docs. By 6:15 PM I had also completed one of those goals I set out earlier in the day: clean up my tags. I eliminated a few tags, renamed others, and updated the tags on a lot of older posts.

My additional goals were to organize my link lists and start on those commentary posts. Again, missed the boat on the commentary, but the two blog rolls I keep at the bottom of this page are up to date with a slew of new blogs in both categories (Author/Publishing blogs and fellow book bloggers).

I also created the About Me page on Saturday, as well as adding the subscribe via RSS feed and follow me on Twitter links, and added a Twitter widget to the bottom of the page so my latest updates appear on the blog.

As for today, I didn't make an additional update post, but I still accomplished a lot. I created a new page, linked in the header, highlighting some of my favorite posts. I added copyright information in the footer, and joined three reading challenges for the year. I also did a lot of the smaller mini challenges today that aren't reflected directly on the blog: adding my blog to various directories, setting up vanity Google alerts, and brainstorming future posts. The brainstorming is something I'm going to do on a semi-regular basis and hope to create a habit out of it, just like I'm hoping the comment challenge will make commenting on other people's blogs a habit!

The full list of mini-challenges completed:
(old challenges from the first Bloggiesta)
Create list & opinion posts (Best of Blather page is a list of my best/favorite posts)
Creating vanity alerts
List your blog in several directories
Create a favicon and a gravatar
Get your blog analyzed

(Current challenges)
Create cheat sheets
Add copyright to footer
Clean up labels (I think this may have been the most popular challenge!)
Show off your best content
Brainstorm new post ideas

And doing all of that, plus my comment challenge comments, took approximately 24 hours of my weekend, from Friday until now. Wow. That's a lot of blogging, but I enjoyed every minute of it!


Booksnyc said...

Community was my favorite part of the Bloggiesta too! Being new to book blogging I haven't established much of a following but a lot of people (including you) stopped by to offer encouragement - I really appreciated it!

the trick will be perpetuating the community without bloggiesta but I am optimistic!

Alexia561 said...

Bloggiesta was fun, wasn't it? Really enjoyed finding new blogs, helping each other out with the challenges, and updating my blog. And the #bloggiesta tag on twitter was helpful as well, as we could get immediate feedback if we had a question. All in all, think it was a great experience!

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