Sunday, December 16, 2012

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedershen, Goodbye:Violante Departs with One Last Word on Blogging

It is with a heavy heart that I bid goodbye to the Sisterhood, this blog and my anonymous audience. After two terrific years, the time has come to leave. Due to circumstances beyond my control, it will be impossible for me to continue contributing monthly posts.  So, I must cease being a blogger, which by no means stops me from being an avid follower, reader and commentator.

Looking back with affection, I realize that belonging to the Writing Sisterhood has been an über experience, one that has taught me plenty and not only about writing and writers. It has taught me about blogging and what to expect from it. I am tired of hearing that the Blog Age is over, that only video blogs have any hope in the age of Tumblr. Hey, I once heard Facebook would die with the advent of Twitter, and that blogs would kill forum life forever. Time has proved wrong all those prophecies.

Undoubtedly, there are more blogs than readers out there, but blogging is still a fairly respectable activity, as long as you abide by certain rules. First rule:  never blog about “everything.” The days of blogs that covered every subject under the sun are passé. A blog must always stick to a particular topic, but don´t make it too general or too specific.

My blog Latinas Del Ayer was meant to cover a myriad of issues concerning how women lived in Latin America in the first half of the Twentieth century.  The amalgam of subjects, ranging from fashion to entertainment, turned out to be too broad.  It confused the readers and I never got faithful devotees.

Around that same time, I began to compose another blog, this time I devoted the place to Fantasy Fiction.  Although the posts covered film, books and television series, I soon recognized that “thronies” and “fangbangers” were my audience. I began to pen weekly recaps of “Game of Thrones” and “True Blood.” Even after the seasons were over, I continued increasing my clientele by devoting 80% of my material to A Song of Ice and Fire matters. Since there are several” Game of Thrones” blogs around, I didn’t want to turn mine into a GOT site. My solution was to alternate the ASOIAF entries with posts on fictional vampires, witches and, that ever lasting favorite, Harry Potter.

As a blogger, your most important concern should always be your audience: who do you write for? What do they need? Thanks to Google search terms you may attract tons of visitors, but what matters is to entice them to become permanent guests. I absolutely agree that in order to gather a large following, the blogger has to visit and participate in similar blogs. It´s how I built a nice set of devotees in my first blog, but for some reason it didn’t work with my Fantasy Blog. Either some bloggers were not aware of the “reciprocal visiting card” rule or were not into creating a community.

There are many misconceptions and Murphy´s laws about how to blog properly, but one point that everyone agrees upon is that a blog is nothing without constant visitors. Apparently, there are three steps to achieve traffic and followers:  post often, post brief and post new.  Hogwash!

Sure, tons of people visit blogs every morning to watch the hottest video. In our audiovisual-oriented, semi-illiterate, attention-deficit afflicted culture, videos are fantastic. They demand less time, less intelligence and less attention to enjoy them. However, if a hundred blogs (plus YouTube) are showing the same video, who could want to visit them to watch the identical thing over and over again? It just doesn’t make sense.

This problem applies to written news as well. With so many places devoted to newscast activity, it´s a waste of time to wander from blog to blog reading similar accounts. Back in the early Twentieth-First Century, blogging revolutionized journalism, because blogs added editorial comments to every scoop. Soon users flocked to blogs just to share or challenge the blogger’s opinions. This is what made blogs so popular and so exceptional. Alas! That art seems to have lost its way in the days of up-to-the-minute, condensed, and frequently blogging.

Joining the race to get the “latest” bit in your blog seems like a futile exercise.  I am not an advocate of the “new” especially if your blog is, like mine, a place in search of “unique.” That is a term used in my last job to refer to regular customers who commented regularly on whatever you posted. Those people are rare, precious and difficult to fish. From experience and observation, I can assure you, they don’t care for “the latest.” They crave inventive opinions, a good blogging voice, and shared tastes rather than flashy and bizarre posts. They don´t mind reading a page or more when the content and writing are of quality.

When it comes to length, I have to declare myself guilty. I do tend to get carried away, but I also like to read meaty and comprehensive posts. Although I´m trying to condense my articles, I have come to the conclusion that half-a page posts, regardless of its subject matter, are useless.  An effective piece should take you a page and a half to express it, but unless the topic merits a longer exposition, keep it under the four-page limit.

Regular posts are also an issue. Although, the consensus among the Sisters is that we are extremely proud of our blog and its achievements, I think that if time had let us, we could have posted more often. However, work, family obligations, and the fact that some of us are joggling personal blogs as well as this one, prevented us from bringing more frequent contributions.

Nevertheless, beware of the word “frequent." Three juicy weekly posts are more than enough. Daily long entries will exhaust your creativity and drown readers with too much data, thus diminishing your chances of getting useful sensible comments and encouraging the desired debate.

My last advice has to do with “unique voice,” a rather abstract concept that keeps coming to my mind when I ran into a blog so welcoming that makes me want to tarry. I believe that each of this Divine Blog’s founding Sisters owns a personal voice (opinion, writing style, etc), and that is our greatest asset. But if you are running a one wo/man blog then you’ll have to find your own way of making it an outstanding place. 

Talented bloggers may enhance their place with their own visuals whether is artwork, personal photographs or home-made videos, and then there are those that are constantly coming up with contests and games.
What happens if you are not artistically gifted or lack the imagination to create contests?  Then you have to rely on subtler ways of making your blog unique. Look around at similar blogs.  What are they lacking? What it’s missing from them that could attract customers? What demographic group they are not targeting? Fliling a gap can make your blog stand out among others that address analogous subjects.

One last word before leaving this fabulous spot.  If I learned something from the company of my Sisters, it’s the importance of courtesy and hospitability in running a blog. I was terribly moved when a dear friend and former boss described the Sisterhood as “a cozy, warm place where ladies could drop for tea.” So I strongly advise those who read me to continue enjoying the welcoming atmosphere of this blog and to recreate it when building a space of your own. G-d bless you all!

Do you blog? Share your experience and tips on how to make a blog a special place.


  1. I send you my love, hermanita Violante. At the moment, I am so burnt out on the subject of writing anything -- blogs included -- that all I could do was read this excellent post with a weary, sympathetic heart.

    Still, I wanted to honor your last two years with a comment, however feeble, and raise my glass to you.

    Eres unica, Malenita.

  2. Dear Violante. What a shame life has moved you on from blogging. This is a wonderful post, full of wisdom. I do enjoy visiting the Sisterhood--there's always a meaty post to browse.
    I've been blogging for 4 years, and trends come and go. I really think we are in the midst of 'keep it short' but not necessarily 'simple'. I struggled to find my blogging focus, but now I have honed it down to flash fiction, occasional book reviews and writing craft.
    There's no point in blogging if you don't enjoy it, so I set out to enjoy my blog and give something to my readers.

    Best, Denise.

    Happy Christmas!

  3. My lovely Violante, I am so sad you are leaving us. *sniff* But I completely understand that life gets overwhelming and sometimes we just have to weed out what we can. I also understand the fatigue that comes with blogging and sometimes just writing in general. I, for one, will miss your thoughtful, insightful posts each month, but I do look forward to seeing you around in the comments. Blessings to you, dear friend, and best of luck with what you set out to do!

    ♥ Mary Mary

  4. Dear Violante

    You'll be missed, I've always loved your unique posts u.u
    Don't quite know what else to say, It's always been a pleasure reading you. You're great, dear friend :)

  5. Sorry for my delayed answers, but it´s obvious that some matters, more urgent than just writing exhaustion, pressed my departure. And those damned matters kept me busy yesterday.
    First of all, thank you very much, but please, I’m not going anywhere. Unless aliens abduct me, I’ll stick around as commentator and devotee of the Divine Writing Sisterhood. Hope others will follow my example.
    Dearest Hermanita Suze, you are unique. And you may, G-d willing, continue reading me in my other blog.
    Dear Denise, I’m going to miss you as my reader, but I look forward to continue debating with all of you. Blogging is a very enjoyable activity, but only if you share it with a faithful audience. I’m glad you have found your focus. It´s hard to find. Several bloggers never do, and others never care to.
    Dearest Sister Mary Mary, at the risk of sounding redundant, it has been such an honor sharing space with you, and I will continue reading and making remarks on everything you and the others Sisters write on this Divine Blog.
    Sweet Scarlet, don´t dare say goodbye to me. You and I have a long trek ahead (and together) on this Earth (since G-D is so unwilling to le me go.) I hope you remain a follower to this great blog, as well a being the patient and loyal friend you have been so far . Difficult task since I demand so much from my friends.
    A Merry Christmas and a Lovely 2013 to everybody!

  6. Dear Sister,

    I'm so grateful that I got to work with you for the last two years. It's been wonderful. I'm not going to say goodbye because I know I will continue to communicate with you frequently, but I will definitely miss your insightful posts.

    Besos gigantes!!

  7. Dearest Malena: thank you so much for the time and thought you put into this and all your posts. Your unique voice added so much to the Sisterhood. I am glad you'll be contributing to the comments, but we will miss so much your monthly posts! :'(

    Take care and enjoy the holiday season.

  8. You know, Sisters what I´ll miss most? (aside from the interaction) Scanning YuTube for movie trailers and scenes to illustrae posts After so much kvetching about it, I have become audiovisually oriented.
    Love and Long Life to the Siserhood!

  9. What Suze said. I'm sorry I'm so late in seeing this - I've had to virtually stop visiting blogs, even the ones I've loved in the past, as other parts of life got in the way! So I do relate to your comment about there being more blogs than readers out there.

    What a wonderful post to go out on, though.

    Best of luck in your other endeavours, and may the advice you've given here be widely followed!


    1. Thank you very much, Adina. I do hope you continue visiting this blog, it stands on a class of its own.


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