Writer’s Corner at Edmonton Public Library

Last Sunday I escaped the house and family (kids were napping, don’t pity my husband too much) to talk about blogs with other adults  at a Writer’s Corner event. I love Riverbend Library, but usually I’m there wrangling a three year old while wearing a one year old, so sitting in my own chair with only my self to keep track of was BLISS.

Our host, Omar Mouallem, is the Writer in Residence for Edmonton Public Libraries. The panelists are two very successful bloggers, Sharon Yeo of Only Here for the Food and Dave Cournoyer of Daveberta. Neither of these blogs are in my regular rotation, but, I have a lot of respect for them. They are passionate and knowledgeable about their  subjects, and they both just seem genuine. They don’t seem to be in it for the social media fame (such as it is in #yeg) or the ad revenue or to get a book deal (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but just really want to write and have an audience for their writing.

The audience of 20 included many familiar faces… most of them familiar from their Twitter avis. The discussion was about “finding your niche” in the blogosphere, but there were plenty of general tips. Here are my favourite pieces of advice:

  • Blog post titles should be straightforward. Puns and wordplay don’t come across very well like they might in print. This makes me sad, because I love coming up with clever titles. I don’t always succeed, as this post proves, but a good title helps focus my thoughts and set a tone for the piece. But Dave is absolutely right. I see it in my own stats. Clever titles don’t draw people in. My most popular post to date is one of my Reading Roundups. Nothing fancy there. Which leads me to my next lesson…
  • People love lists. Sharon posts a Food Notes list of updates and news every Monday. It helps her be consistent, and provides a valuable service for her readers. I see this on my blog too; it’s not my meandering essays on David Foster Wallace that are getting page views, it’s the Reading Roundup lists and the reviews. The basics.
  • The crowd was quite divided on whether links should open in a new tab or replace the existing tab. Things almost got ugly. I think we reached a consensus on opening links in a new window.
  • Blog rolls are old fashioned. Does anyone even call it a blog roll? I have a list of blogs and websites, but it’s not always that up to date. Dave admitted he hadn’t looked at his list in a while… or ever, since setting it up.
  • Dave suggested using categories and tags to drive traffic to your posts, and that having the tags directly under the title makes it easy for the reader to see what your post is about. If love this one. I often get a little cheeky with my tags, and I can’t run the risk that someone doesn’t see my handiwork! Now if I can get WordPress to comply…

It was a great event. And did I mention it’s FREE? Writer’s Corner happens on the last Sunday of the month, and will be at Stanley A. Milner library from now on. The next one is about travel writing. One of you who actually travels should hit that up…

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4 comments

  1. Kristilyn

    Thanks for the recap, Laura! 🙂 I’m glad you had a good time.

    I think that all links should open up in a new tab — that’s something I try to make sure happens with ALL LINKS on my blog.

    I have a blog roll, but you’re right. I rarely check it. I usually keep some of my favourites in there AND it’s kind of hidden on my Links page, so I’m not too concerned about it. A few times a year I go in and update it!

    I’ll have to keep my eye on these events in the future! Could be fun to go to one. 🙂

  2. Brie @ Eat Books

    Aww, I wish I had known about this and had been in town for it! Thanks for the recap though. I will totally go to one with you next time, if you like 🙂

    I don’t get it – there were people there who actually like when you click on a link and it replaces your current tab??! I find it soooo annoying when this happens because usually I’m not done with the current tab, or the page I’m on has several tabs I may want to click on so then I have to keep hitting back. I’m frustrated just writing about it!

    I found the bit about blog titles interesting – I always feel I should make my titles more interesting and/or clever, but what you said above makes sense. People don’t like to be mislead. A few book blogs I follow don’t use the title or author in the title of a review post and while sometimes I really like it, other times I open the post expecting something only to find another book review (which isn’t bad per se, but just not what I was maybe hoping for?).

    Great food for thought, Laura! Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    • lauratfrey

      I guess some people always right click and “open in another window,” so they never thought to default open in another tab. But someone else pointed out it’s hard to do that on a phone or tablet, hence we concluded that you should ALWAYS open in another tab 🙂

      Yeah, I’m going to be a lot less fancy with my titles, for the most part. I can’t resist a pun once in a while though. Just wait till I start Moby Dick this summer…

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