Tagged: Sharon Yeo

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…