If you’ve a WordCount regular, you know on Fridays I list great reads for writers I’ve discovered that week in newspapers, magazines or online.
Some said it was the best thing they’ve done in a long time. Others stuck it out but vowed never to take part again (yes, it is that hard). Still others used it to run their own contests. Only a portion of the 110+ people who signed up for the monthly-long event managed to post something 31 days in a row. But I feel comfortable saying those who put an effort into it had an unforgettable experience.
Want to hear something even more inspiring: when I visited some of these blogs today (June 3) for some quick fact checking before hitting “Publish” on this post, most of them were still writing every day. That’s the spirit!
Here’s what we learned from the 2010 WordCount Blogathon:
On the mechanics of blogging
- 6 ways the WordCount Blogathon changed my blogging life – Tracy Doerr, of Tracy Doerr 3.0, found her blog’s voice, realized not every post has to be long and came to appreciate the group support.
- Thoughts on 31 days of blogging – A Life Divided blogger Sue Dickman learned the value of externally imposed deadlines – no surprise if you’ve ever worked on daily deadlines, but not everybody who blogs has that background.
- What I learned from writing every day – Andrew Nielsen, a k a A Green Mushroom isn’t a professional writer, so finding time to blog every day on top of a 40-hour work week was a struggle. Still, he was way glad he did it because he’s already seeing how the daily practice helped his writing. “My writing is flowing easier than it was when I started posting a few months ago. I guarantee it’s because practice is the best way to improve skills,” he writes. And did we mention, Neilsen blogged every day even though he got married during May? Bravo.
- Change and progress – Lisa Samalonis, who blogs at Single Parent Savings, appreciated the community of fellow parenting bloggers she found, “many of whom share my mission creating opportunities to connect with our children in a meaningful way, as well as connect with other adults to learn (or practice) some of the principles of good single parenting.”
- What I learned from the WordCount Blogathon 2010 – Citizen bloggers are like the citizen scientists professionally trained scientists have relied on for generations, says Stephanie Suesan, who blogs at Stephanie Suesan Smith PhD, Information Central.
- Things I learned during the blogathon – Make it easy for blog readers to find and connect with you, writes Beth Van Hoose on Writing in the Sand. Don’t make people hunt for your RSS feed or Twitter share buttons – because they won’t.
On freedom of speech
- A beautiful thing – freedom to blog – Kristie Sloan owner of The Beauty Zone blog, says the blogathon made her appreciate the freedom Americans have to write or blog about what they want.
- The Internet experience and blogging behind the firewall – Novice blogger Joe Romano discovered what can happen when you write about a hot-button issue. Less than a month after starting Daily Blogging Perspectives, a post he wrote about the restrictions China puts on its citizens use of the Internet made it to WordPress.com’s Freshly Pressed feature page, which caused traffic to skyrocket. Exposure wasn’t as important as getting the word out, Romano says. “The people struggle to access information from websites outside of the mainland,” Romano wrote me in a personal note. “I’m an advocate for the Chinese in gaining a voice. Everyone wants to be heard….to have a voice…”
On blog contests
- Day 31: What’s next? – Writer/web designer Ron S. Doyle used the blogathon to transform his blog, Blog Salad. Doyle conducted a month-long experiment in crowdsourcing, polling readers almost every day on a new design element. On the last day of May, Doyle posted a short video showing the design iterations the site went through on its way to looking how it does now, which is pretty darn good. Doyle also incorporated his own contest into the blogathon, a drawing for $2,000 in web design work from readers who filled out a short survey.
- Keywords, travel and power words: what a month – Sara Lancaster, a mar/com writer who blogs at No. 2 Pen, ran a contest asking her blog readers to come up with power words. The winners got cool pens that look like pencils – in keeping with the name of her blog. I’m embarrassed to say I was one of them, though Lancaster assures me that it was based on the luck of the draw. Besides bringing traffic to her blog, Lancaster’s ulterior motive was collecting examples of power words she’s using in an upcoming white paper – smart lady.
- 5 lessons from the WordCount Blogathon – Blogging allows a person to see what their best self looks like, writes Jackie Dishner, proprietor of BIKE with Jackie and a three-time blogathoner. “Are you open to exploring other people’s blogs and commenting on their individual posts? If so, they will generally return the favor,” she writes.
- More inspiration, blogathon style – Out and Employed blogger Kathy Murray used weekends during the blogathon to run poems or inspirational stories that might be of interest to the ex-offenders she writes about.
- Blogging lessons for parents – Blogging is like parenting, writes Jennifer Fink onBlogging ‘Bout Boys. You can’t expect greatness all the time, reaching out makes a difference, and sometimes it’s OK not to have a plan.
- How the blogathon changed my life – Participating in the blogathon was probably one of the best blogging decisions I’ve made, writes Joan Lambert Bailey on Popcorn Homestead, her chronicle of gardening and life in Toyko. If forced her to write every day, it pushed her to finish posts she’d been sitting on for ages, and it “opened me up to the idea of writing about things that inspired me or caught my eye on the spot.”
On knowing your limits
- Closing time: 5 lessons I learned from the Blogathon – Posting every day taught food blogger Jennifer Walker, of My Morning Chocolate that it’s OK to mess up. “I can write about mistakes too,” Walker writes. “I like to think of them as possible inspiration for readers (is that right?), so you know if you don’t get something right in the kitchen, try to make something out of what you have or learn some lessons from my mistakes.”
- Six tips for slogging through blogging – Blog when the spirit moves you, don’t be afraid to keep things short and stock up evergreens for times when you’re super busy, writes Susan Weiner, owner of Investment Writing.
- Blogathon brilliance: things I’ve learned – “I am appropriately mediocre. I’m right there in the middle. I’ve determined the middle place is a good place to be,” says Rachel Vidoni, on East Coast Musings.
- What I learned: Blogathon 2010 – After sticking it out for 31 days, Blame it on the Full Moon blogger Heather Faesy realized she doesn’t need to, nor want to blog every day and won’t do another blogathon.
I get where Heather’s coming from, but hope she’ll consider joining us again next year, even if it’s just a couple times a week.
I’d say the same thing to anyone who considered signing up for this year’s blogathon but backed out at the last minute. Try it next year, you might like it. As these bloggers have shown, it’s hard work, but the rewards are abundant.
If you took part in this or any other long-term blogging contest, what did you learn?