Last August Amanda Socci, my friend and creative writing "drill sergeant" had profiled me and posed 9 questions to me for each of my five blogs (3 of which are retired), as part of her 10 month "I know I Can" training series for Nina Amir's Write Nonfiction Now and Write Nonfiction in November efforts.
I am now answering those questions at last (Series introduction).
Social Media for Critter Bloggers: A 365 Day Project
(1) Social media is a great topic to explore. Have you enjoyed this forum?
Yes, I have, to the extent that I have time to engage those social media I belong to and been able to learn how to use them.
Not sure I’ve used them successfully, as a way to increase my audience, have my work shared by others, and bring me new opportunities.
I still have a lot to learn.
(2) Have you been able to teach people social media tips?
I know that, over the years, people have told me how what I do has helped them in various ways. Some bike bloggers were even inspired to become so by my early work and I’ve given people advice a few times, that must have worked since they are still online.
As for how much the posts on this blog informed and educated I have little clue. The audience was miniscule. Not even sure how many people knew I had stopped posting last May.
(3) It appears as if you have discontinued this blog. Do you have plans to resurrect it?
At this point I have no plans to resurrect it.
This has been the first time I’ve returned to look at it in months.
(4) You note many interesting observations about social media tools. Do you really use all the tools you wrote about? Which is your favorite social media tool?
Many of the posts were about sites I had yet to seriously use and am unsure I wanted to.
I like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and want to actually, finally, add more to my Pinterest on a regular basis. I have a feeling sharing my photos there might help bring attention to my writing. I also think the Blog Paws website and Community are great resources for pet bloggers and want to become more engaged in that community.
(5) Have peoples’ comments inspired you to write blog posts about social media?
You inspired me to tackle THIS project and I am proud of the material I produced. Over the years I’ve been inspired by comments, emails and the writing of others to, a few times, write about social media.
2nd place belongs to a lengthy chat and pep talk I received at that conference.
I learned a lot from both.
3rd place belongs to attending the inaugural CATS for Cats benefit musical in Los Angeles, in 2011.
I also attended one of Mashable's annual Social Media Day Event's, this one in Santa Ana, CA, a couple of months before I moved to Houston, in 2012.
At one point I was among some attendees that were taken up to the 3rd floor pressroom, and sat at a table with Register journalists for a chat about using social media.
I mentioned my blogs and, so far, inefectual efforts to attract interest from OC shelters, rescues and pet stores, in my cat blog, wondering what could be done to turn that around.
Their responses were interesting.
Favorite learning: classroom edition -- In 2010 & 2011 I took classes on Photoshop Elements and PowerPoint and using Word.
The first led to my making a Slideshow I posted on YouTube that I called Opinionated Pussycats – the Movie, and the 2nd led to a 6 page, simple, fun, PowerPoint Presentation, featuring Elvira, inviting readers to explore this blog and the 3rd led to a downloadable flier about the Opinionated Pussycat blog that I am thinking of updating and seeing if I can distribute it in pet stores, shelters and rescues, in Houston and Harris County. I also am thinking of putting a link in the sidebar to the powerpoint.
Much to my regret I’ve not done anything more of a similar nature, creatively, since.
(7) Are there things about social media that you are having trouble with? What do you want to learn about?
To be honest I have probably been really just winging it in my usage of various social media, over the years. I know just enough to get by, not yet enough to make them really work for me in expanding my audience and attracting interest that will help me as a writer/blogger.
I want to learn ways to do better at successfully using social media.
(8) Who are your favorites or heroes in the social media world? Whose advice do you follow in your own social media strategies?
I owe great debts of gratitude to a collection of friends on a long defunct message board, from 1998 to 2001.
We called each other the Howling Wolves and they encouraged my initial cat writing and humor and helped me come out of a self-imposed shell of many years. They invited me into their lives on several occasions, including a wedding in Phoenix and a Sept. 2001 trip to Chicago. We eventually drifted apart but I am eternally grateful.
From the same website came friendships with 5 others (2 have since died) that continues to this day and their encouragement to become and grow as a blogger, writer and person is something I also owe great debts of gratitude for.
I had the pleasure of spending time with one of the 2 who died, a wonderful, opinionated, writer/ex-journalist named Carolyn Daily O'Connor, on the trip to Chicago. Being a former journalist and interested in genealogy as well, she encouraged my blogging wholeheartedly, and did me the honor of giving me a tour of Chicago when I visited.
Glenn Reynolds, the legendary “Instapundit” (author of the book An Army of Davids); in addition to several Instalanches (a plug on his blog that led to massive traffic on several of my blogs) over the years, in my blogging infancy I had the honor of a nice response to an e-mail I wrote him about an old article of his that gave a then new blogger much food for thought about being a writer, and blogger.
I have been encouraged and advised by many fellow bloggers and writers, including you Amanda, over the years, some I still connect with today, and have much to be grateful for.
Strategy? I don’t know if I ever really had a “Social Media” strategy as such. I’ve been winging it in many respects because for years I felt I didn’t have the time, skills, resources and connections to do more than the simple things I tried.
Many of the things I tried were the “in’” thing to try, or became the “right” thing to do as early rules and tools to build an audience were developed, such as not being afraid to comment on , link to, and trackback posts of others.
I remember being a part of a group of political bloggers called the California Bear Flag League, I remember N.Z. Bear, of the weblog The Truth Laid Bear, and creator of the traffic building site known as The Blogosphere Ecosystem, and being a “Large Mammal”, “Flappy Bird” and worse on said site.
I remember learning the benefits of building blogrolls and of Blogrolling.com as a place to keep them organized and get code to share my lists on my blogs.
The Godfather of all blog carnivals, Carnival of the Vanities, is still alive and well as is a website that keeps track of every sort of weekly carnival you can think of. I remember hosting a spectacular edition of something called The BEST OF ME SYMPHONY.
I remember discovering the Cat Blogosphere website and the friendships begun and still maintained, because of it.
The debt I owe to all of the above, and more, is why I have pages of website resources and play an important part in keeping the godfather of pet blogging share-fests, Carnival of the Cats, alive to this day.
(9) You discussed having attended the Blog Paws conference. How was it for you? Did you learn a lot of new things? Have you put your learning into practice?
Attending Blog Paws was one of the greatest experiences of my life; eye-opening, educational, entertaining, inspirational and fun. I met many new people and met many I’d only known online including you. I was given a creative pep talk that led my taking a tiny step forward as a writer by accepting a sponsorship to join the Cat Writers’ Association, and one meeting eventually led to being paid for my writing for the very first time (a series about the new Ideal Balance cat food.)
I have let everything else going on in my life the past year keep me from putting much that I learned about to use, and even reaching out and connecting more, such as through finding an opportunity to get involved in volunteering.
It’s a struggle, both frustrating and embarrassing, yet with its rewards, however, I am not giving up.
I'm prancin’ in the rain
Just prancin’ in the rain
What a wondrous feelin'
I'm happy as sin
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
Joy’s in my heart
And I'm ready to create
Let the clouds open up
All over this place
I’ve got a future to obtain
I've a smile on my face
As I walk down the street
To me life is so neat
Prancin’ in the rain