Notes from the Peanuts Gallery
I must admit I am quite taken by Notes from the Peanuts Gallery of Palanca Award winner and businessman, Dean Alfar. Just by examining his blog, I learned a couple of things about blogging, including breaking some rules in the service of better readability, stickiness, conversation generation or pure reading pleasure.
- Write long articles on the blog, put a generous amount of graphics. Examining Dean's blog, you can savour the beauty of the well-written word. Showcase other bloggers' writings, or include a good sprinkling of linked jpegs and commentaries to books and magazines, as Dean did in his Paper Trail sidebar. Peanuts Gallery is full of great food for sight and soul.
- Come close to real, authentic conversation with longer posts. I frankly get thrown off by 2-3 sentence posts. Since the asynchronous communication is devoid of the usual face-to-face human cues, a short sentence or two seems curt, impersonal. In Dean's reply to Banzai Cat's ambivalence about joining this year's Palanca Awards competition, Dean sounded like he really listened to, thought of–and respected–Banzai's reservations.
- Blog about something you are passionate about. Dean showcases his passion for writing, his interests, his roles as father, husband, playwright, businessman. Lesson? Write about your projects, your observations. But don't be afraid to write for money either. I'm talking about problogging. I think problogging is a great way to combine both what you love to do or write about, while making some good cash on the side. For as long as your love for writing will outstrip your love for making money–out of problogging, that is.
- When you've done (3), create a community of interest by networking and inviting conversation.With the content, create ways to lead visitors into conversation and build community. Do this online, but do this offline too. Including a chat box widget is a great way to engage surfers to post. Ask questions in your posts. Comment on other writers' works, and let them know you did! Don't forget to use the author's first name, not only his blog name. When you do get a comment, reply as promptly as you can. Timely replies to another's comments will build the online relationship. If you and the reader are part of a common association or group, do get together during your group's event and continue the discussions offline. Suggest group activities, projects (online and face-to-face). Elearningpost's Maish wrote an article that online communities can't exist without an offline one (I hope I didn't take him out of context here). So all talk and no action create dull communities, and most likely dull blogs. What do you think?