Thursday, June 16, 2011

ON BLOGGING ~ When It Is Good To Be Labeled...



Image courtesy christmasstockimages.com

When I first sat down to start this blog, I didn't know anything about blogging. I just wanted a vehicle to interact with other bloggers about books that I had read or wanted to read. But I also knew that there were other things I wanted to share on this blog. So I made a list on a scrap of paper that went something like this:

  • On books

  • On movies

  • On music

  • On sports

  • On photos

  • On family

  • On travel


  • These were subjects that I cared about and thought it might be fun to write about, share or experience. Some were things I cared more about. Others were things Andy felt stronger about. They were a way to categorize our overall interests. In making that list I created the labels that I would use for the base of our blog. This accidental decision led to a structure that was easy for readers to work with and one that helped me to follow a framework and analyze the direction our thoughts were trending.

    Over time, I have added a few more labels to capture some other topics that weren't originally part of the plan - such as On Blogging. A flexible structure keeps things from crumbling, after all. It also allows for creative freedom rather than rigid work.

    The labels that I set in place became the impetus for creating the posts I wanted to write and have helped me to stay on track with my desire for this blog's overall purpose. Having a manageable set of 10-15 labels makes it easy for me to work within but it also makes it easy for visitors to find their way to the topics that interest them most. There are no guessing games or never-ending lists of labels to peruse through and interpret. They see what we offer, click on the label and check out what they want.

    You can be creative with your labels and still have them work in an effective way. No one says you have to be plain vanilla like me. You can be witty if you like. I enjoy labels that crack me up. They make me want to read the posts within them. But I do feel that too many labels is counterproductive. We hear time and again that blog visitors are skimmers. Blog readers have patience and I firmly believe that a lengthy post is not a deterrent. But turning a visitor into a reader is a different matter.

    I have limited time to explore the blogosphere. I want to know what your blog is all about as quickly as possible. I want a snapshot of your personality, your purpose. It helps me to see if you are a place that I want to come back to and spend more time with later. Labels help to accomplish this goal. But if there are 50 different labels to sift through in a cloud my mind turns blurry and off I go to somewhere that doesn't make me work so hard to find my way.

    You can make hundreds of labels that can be useful to you behind the scenes or for your own entertainment. The beauty is that you can pick and choose the ones that get displayed publicly. I've got tons of them living behind the scenes. They help me quickly pull up an archived series or set of thoughts on a specific topic. Depending on the blog platform that you use, they could be called labels, categories, tags, etc. There are ways to keep some behind the scenes and others out front and center by modifying the settings of your tabs, widgets, sidebar, plug-ins or what have you.

    Think about your blog's purpose; your goals. Use those basic ideas to set your overall labels. And let them guide you to inspiration, evaluation and clarity. Let them turn visitors into readers. And enjoy the relationships that brings.

    14 comments:

    Midlife Jobhunter said...

    Labels. I don't even have them. Perhaps why my blog is all over the place - same as me. Course, as someone who does read me, you already know that.

    I admire your organization.

    Matty said...

    You are so organized. I envy you.

    Like you, I didn't have a clue when I started my blog, and guess what? Unlike you, I still don't. Even I don't know what my blog is about, so how can I expect visitors to know. I post about anything, so there really is no "niche" at my blog. I did have a Phillies tab for a while that linked to my Phillies posts, but I wasn't seeing any traffic from it so I got rid of it. After all, mommy bloggers aren't exactly going to see my Phillies tab and go "whoa, I have got to follow this blog".

    stacybuckeye said...

    Did you write this after looking at my subject cloud? Your blog is very easy to use. Very streamlined and easy to find posts of interest.

    Lin said...

    I don't do labels. My blog has sort of been all over the place, but over time I have noticed that there are a few patterns that I suppose I could label now. But to go back over 1000+ posts and label....nah.

    Hey, congrats on the Bruins win!! :) Hooray!

    ds said...

    I, too, envy you your organizational abilities (could use some of them myself--as you know). Have been trying to think of a way to use labels to the visitor's advantage. You inspire me to take a look at what's "behind the scenes". Besides a lot of dust, that is ;)

    Yes, congrats on the Bruins bringing home the Stanley Cup! It's been a while...

    rhapsodyinbooks said...

    I totally agree on the desire to be label-able, and totally agree that I like when other blogs are. I, however, in spite of the fact that my spices are organized in order of genre and then alphabetically, and my books according to Dewey Decimal, I can't stay on any tracks with my blog. I go through "phases."

    Tami said...

    Good thoughts. You made me take a look at my labels list and you're right - it's way too long. Time to do some consolidating. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction.

    kaye said...

    I see a blog tips post in your future . . . how do you display only the labels you want to and still have access to all your labels?

    Sandy Nawrot said...

    You so have your shit together Molly. I have labels, but mostly are used to keep track of my two memes a week, and the types of books I read and review. I'm impressed that the vision you had when you sat down at the beginning of blogging actually still works years later!

    Forgetfulone said...

    My first couple of years, I didn't pay attention to my labels at all, and when I realized it was necessary to do that, it was almost too late. I need to spend an afternoon cleaning up and streamlining my labels. I much prefer simplicity.

    vanita said...

    Wonderful post. And I have to admit, I do stop by for your blogging posts and i'm so happy they are easy to find.

    When i started blogging (again 6 years later) i knew nothing about niches and staying on topic. I just wanted to write and having 4 kids, the only time i could write was After Bedtime, and thats where the name came from. I spent the first year writing whatever was on my mind, whatever i wanted to share that i thought others would find useful. many times over that year, i read posts about organizing your blog, sticking to a topic. but i didnt know what topic i wanted to stick too. Last May, my one year anniversary, I reorganized my topics into two categories, Blogging and Life and added sub-categories. not only is my site cleaner visually, but i'm more focused on what i like to write about and it encourages me to write.

    Susan said...

    I could have just one label..."disorganized" with about a thousand sub-labels. How's that? LOL I admire the planning that went into the formation of your blog, and that you stick to it. If I had given mine that much thought beforehand, I would have been exhausted and probably would never have begun. :) It exhausts me now, and probably the main reason I haven't been doing much lately.

    Julie said...

    Still working on my labels.....

    Kathleen said...

    I am definitely overdue to sit down and re-imagine my blog!