I apparently completely missed this Best Practices stuff the first time around. But Peter over at UU Growth blogged an tweeted about it, and I saw Sarah over at Finding my Ground post about it recently, so I figured I’d give it a go.
1. Why do you blog? What goals do you have for your blog?
Why do I blog. Interesting question. I started because Chutney nagged me to do it, so I did it. But of course the why has changed throughout the years. I love going back and rereading my old posts, because I can see the journey I’ve been on over the past five years. It’s pretty cool to see. I now blog in part so I can keep a record of my personal journey, in part so the ideas I have floating about in my head can get on paper and out of my mind, and in part because I want to change Unitarian Universalism. The goals? First and foremost though, this will always be a personal blog. But I also want my ideas to get out there, for people to read them, critique them, mull them over, etc.
2. Who is your intended audience?
Unitarian Universalists of all walks of life, but in particular other Young Adults/Millenials. Other folks wanting to live a spiritual life. Other UUs who love American Idol.
3. Who owns your blog? Does it belong to you as individual or to your congregation or other organization?
I suppose I do. It could be that wordpress.com owns it technically speaking, but it’s mine. No congregation or organization. And nothing I say should ever be interpreted as being an official anything, whether official UU or coming from my congregation unless it is very clear, VERY obvious, otherwise. That just will never happen on this blog.
4. How frequently do you post?
Heh, tough question. Sometimes I go through periods of months where I don’t blog, but I’m trying to be better about that. I’ve been pretty regular as of late. I don’t write on a schedule, but I try to post a fair amount of times a week when I’m active. Sometimes life just gets in the way.
5. What is the tone of your blog?
Uh, snarky? contemplative? reflective? I dunno.
6. What steps do you take to make sure that your blog is a safe space, both for you and for other participants? Do you have a code of conduct?
I have no formal code of conduct. Generally, keep it nice. In comments, keep them relevant. If you want to post a comment that critiques of a post of mine or of UUism, thats perfectly fine, as long as it’s relevant to what the original post was. It bugs me to no end comments that have nothing to do with the original post. If there are hardcore personal attacks on another commentor then I of course retrain the right to click that little delete button, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it. I recognize this blog, despite it being personal, is also in the public sphere. Because I have a blog, I know it’s public. So I am generally fine with public comments, because the nature of blogging is public. I have put posts of mine private before because they *were* too personal, but if I didn’t write about them I’d go nuts. I think there are only like, 3 completely private posts though. I’m generally a pretty nice guy – I may get opinionated on here, but I tend to get more fiery on here than in person.
7. What kinds of boundaries do you observe around confidentiality?
Well, everything I post is a product of me. I will not post things that people email me saying “hey, have I got a story to tell YOU.” This is a blog of personal reflections. Now, this gets trickier because I have also blogged about decisions made at my church that I haven’t agreed with. And that does get into some murky territory, I acknowledge (and have been bitched out for.) But I can’t stress this enough, this is a blog of my personal journey first and foremost. If something happened to me that involves other people, I pretty much never call them out by name and I use pseudonyms. Heck, this is a pen name after all. I have to keep my true name confidential, because I’m gay, in Georgia, and could be fired for it.
8. How do you respond to comments and email from readers?
It’s rare I get emails, but when I do I think I’ve always responded. Comments I will sometimes, especially if there’s a point I found intriguing. *shrug* There’s no policy in my mind on that one. I tend to post at least one comment in reply though. I do *read* every comment though, rest assured of that.
9. What are the most challenging aspects of blogging in your experience?
Coming up with new and interesting ideas to blog about on a regular basis. Sometimes I want to blog but man, I’ve got nothin’ to say.
10. What are the most rewarding aspects of blogging in your experience?
I can look back four years ago, see what I was blogging about, see the highs and lows I’ve been through in the past four years. I can see how I’ve changed, and how I haven’t changed at all. I can see patterns in my thoughts that I didn’t know before. And that’s pretty cool. I also love it when ideas of mine get put out there on other blogs, get people talking about things I’m bringing up. That’s pretty rewarding. It is a weird feeling knowing my penname is better known in UU circles outside of Atlanta than my actual name, but there you go.
11. What advice would you give to Unitarian Universalists who are new to blogging and want to get started?
Just write. Don’t worry about depth, don’t worry about content, just write about what you are experiencing. Don’t worry about how many hits you’re getting per post, cause you might go nuts. Check out uupdates and discoveruu for ideas on what to blog about and get yourself listed on those.
12. How do you evaluate the success of your blog? What have been your most successful blog posts or series?
There are two different answers here.
a) The most successful blog posts are in part ones that I post and feel really good about. That something really clicked in me. They are deeply personal, or they took a lot out of me to write. Invariably….these won’t get a lot of hits. And sure, it’s annoying sometimes, I’m not going to lie, but it’s still extremely rewarding, and successful for me, when something comes from my mind and my fingers that I had never thought about before.
b) The second way of looking at success is, of course, hits. The biggest hit series I had was my Bad Unitarian series. And I also had a friggin’ blast writing those. The page that gets the most hits is the home page, but, the individual posts that have had the biggest hits? Let’s pull up my stats…
1) Breaking! Dumbledore’s Gay! This got a lot of hits because I posted right after it leaked. So, all those hits came in like, 2 hours, and never got hit again.
2) Living a Principle Centered Life – #1 This mostly gets up there because of the large amounts of people that google “Principle Centered Life.” Every day I get hits from that search term.
3) Am I too stupid to be a UU? This one got a lot of hits because of the uu blog awards, which I wish could be resurrected
What do you wish you had done differently in your blogging?
On looking at those stats, I kinda wish I hadn’t done the Dumbledore post. Screws up my stats :D I love the wordpress platform. Maybe getting my own url? I can’t think of anything. I guess I wish I hadn’t taken months off at a time from blogging, but, well, real world does exist.
What other online tools do you use to promote your blog? (i.e. social networking sites, Twitter, social bookmarking tools, etc.)
Twitter, kind of. Not facebook (although others post links to my blog on facebook according to my stats.) Most hits come from UUpdates, Search Engines, or DiscoverUU
Do you use an Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed? How many subscribers do you have?
I do have an RSS feed and I have no clue how many subscribers I have. I can only tell how many e-mail subscribers I have. (6 whole blog, 38 unique comments)
Do you track site traffic? How many unique visitors do you have per day (on average)?
I do track traffic. Average number depends mightily on if I have a new post or not. Looking at the July, the average was 87. But that was a pretty active month a well. So, *shrug*
Do you find Unitarian Universalist Association resources helpful to you as a blogger? What additional resources could we provide to Unitarian Universalist bloggers?
Uh, I can’t say I’ve ever looked at sources from the UUA – I did get listed as a GA blogger, but other than that…can’t think of much. The UU World’s Interdependent Web is pretty awesome. Nothing compares to UUpdates and DiscoverUU though. I don’t need any resources – this is just a personal blog. I don’t even know if I would want any resources from the UUA.
Can’t think of anything else. I did have trouble with the tone part, so if you want to leave a helpful suggestion of what the hell my tone is, leave a comment.