Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Kidlit 08, Part II: In Which Our Heroine Imparts an Epiphany

In no particular order, here are some things I absorbed at the Kidlit Bloggers Conference last week. This is far from a comprehensive rundown of All I Witnessed, as I didn't want to go all book-report-y on you…but it’s a pretty good sampling of what the conference was about.

From Mark of Just One More Book on podcasting:
Most people have 3 concerns that keep them from podcasting: content, context, and delivery.

Podcasting is simple and doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment. In fact, Mark and his wife, Andrea, record their podcasts at a local coffee shop.

From Gregory K. of GottaBook on self promotion:
Set yourself up for the happy accident. Meaning, small things can lead to big results—you just don’t know when or how.

When titling your blog posts, use strong words that people might be searching for. For example, Gregory posted a poem about soccer and titled it “Goal: A Soccer Poem.” This post gets 8000 hits a year from people searching for soccer poetry. (Which leads to a whole different set of questions…but I digress).

Above all, add value for others. Offer something without expecting anything in return.

From Pam of MotherReader on kicking your blog up a notch:
Blogging is about being part of a community. In order to foster conversation, bloggers should be reading and actively commenting on other blogs in their community. (In other words, don’t ignore everyone else, then complain about how nobody comments on your blog.)

That said, MotherReader noted that overall, comments are way, way down. Theories abound, but she speculates it’s due to the mushrooming number of blogs out there.

Focus on: “I have something of interest to offer,” not “I’m interesting—look at me!”

Discover your niche. Who are you, and what can you bring to the conversation?

Of all the topics at the conference, this is the one that resonated most for me. I’ve blogged before about the purpose of an author blog, how I got started, why I keep going. But I felt that the blog lacked focus. I’d heard the advice “find your niche," a dozen times, but it hadn’t really clicked. This time—maybe because I was spending the entire day with people who think about this a lot—it did. Who am I…besides veterinarian or writer? Underneath those things— the rock-bottom reason I ended up in both those careers—I love to learn. When I come across something that interests me, I get all fascinated and geeky and start talking really loud and waving my hands, because it doesn’t ever occur to me that everyone else won’t be just as thrilled as I am that dinosaurs turned out to have four-chambered hearts, which is HUGE evidence that they are the ancestors of birds, not reptiles (because reptiles have only three chambers in their hearts. AHA! God, that’s cool.)

I love to share what I learn, too, which is how I ended up teaching part-time at a community college for ten years. And the best thing is, I can think of at least a dozen different ways to take that sharing into the blog, which is good because, while I am easily fascinated, I am also easily bored. (My posts will not all be about dinosaur hearts, I assure you).

We'll see what happens. Don’t be shy about letting me know what you think.

What better way to close out this post than a kidlit fashion video, from Betsy of A Fuse #8 Production? (No, I’m not in it. Maybe, by next year, I’ll have learned something about fashion. Doubtful...but stranger things have happened.)


Melissa Marsh said...

What a bunch of great information, Christine. I know I always enjoy reading your blog - it's always so interesting and informative. :-)

Ali said...

Thanks for sharing all this--I'm so bummed that I had other stuff going on that day and couldn't go to this! It sounds like it was a great event.

Christine Fletcher said...

Thanks, Melissa, that was sweet! :)

Ali, I'm sorry you couldn't make it--but maybe the conference will come back to Portland sometime? Or at least be a little closer than Washington D.C. (although I suppose we need to let the East Coasters have their fun, too)

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Christine!
I'm completely geeky in the same way -- which is why I started a spin-off blog called Earth's Greatest Hits, which I haven't been very good about posting on. Ah well. There's just not enough time for everything! My main blog completely lacks focus and I think I just have to live with it for now. Seems like it would be kind of a full-time job to have a really cohesive blog full of interesting content. Oh well. Books must be written!

Christine Fletcher said...

Books must be written!

Amen to that, Laini! ;)

FrecklesandDeb said...

I love this:
"When I come across something that interests me, I get all fascinated and geeky and start talking really loud and waving my hands, because it doesn’t ever occur to me that everyone else won’t be just as thrilled as I am..."

I think we are kindred spirits! This happens to me all of the time and I have to remember to curb some of the enthusiasm when I find I'm the only one enthused!

I had a great time at the Kidlit Conferences, too.