Blogging 101, Day One: Introduce Yourself

blogging101

Day One’s assignment is to forget about what your blog looks like or even if it has a proper name yet, and to write a “Who I am and why I’m here” post. It may seem a little bit obvious to introduce yourself when starting up your blog, but lots of people don’t do it right off the get-go, and plenty never do it. I’ve checked out tons of blogs that left me wondering, “Who the hell is this person and why should I care about what he/she has to say?”

The fact is, as The Daily Post explains, that writing that introduction post has the joint benefits of letting your prospective audience know what to expect from you, as well as helping you yourself decide what this whole blog thing is going to be all about. You can write exclusively about yourself (pro tip: people care about you more if they feel like they know you), or explain your goals and reason for starting the blog, or even just write about how you honestly have no idea what you’re doing yet. The point is to get words down, to have something available for your prospective readers to look at and (hopefully) think, “Hmm. This person sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll follow.”

When I first started this blog I wrote just such a post, one that – while it didn’t give up much information – gave an idea of who I might be as a blogger. It was a small example of my voice, of what people might have to look forward to if they chose to follow me. In retrospect I may have been a little more forthcoming with the personal information, as this blog has now become a key component in my author platform, but we all have to start somewhere.

So for argument sake, and to be able to say that I did, in fact, do the “assignment”, here’s my new “Who I am and why I’m here” post:

My name is Tracey Lynn Tobin. I’m a 30-year-old wife and mother of one spectacularly cool little girl. I’m trained and regularly work as an Industrial Instrumentation technician, but at the core I am, and always will be, a writer. I’ve been writing fiction since the third grade, and while I’ve had numerous breaks from writing as I’ve grown, I’ve always come back to it. In recent years I have focused a lot more on my writing, on refining my style, on finishing what I start, and on building an audience. I’ve not been published as yet, but I plan to be in the near future, with my first novel being a zombie apocalypse that I’ve been working on for a few years now, called Nowhere to Hide. This blog serves the dual purposes of helping me to build that audience I spoke of, while also being a way to keep myself writing even when writing seems impossible.

Oh, and by the way, I love horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, and I’m happy to talk at length about my many obsessions, which include the Marvel Universe, the Whedonverse, and Super-Who-Lock (Google it ^_~).

There…how’s that for an introduction? 🙂

The second part of the assignment is to ensure that you give your post some good tags, the kind that a search engine will snag and lead readers to your post. For example, for the purpose of this post I’ll make sure that I tag “Marvel Universe”, “Whedonverse”, and “Super-Who-Lock”, because those three things are certain to be regularly searched on the multitude of search engines. The fact that I’ve included them in my post won’t necessarily bring anyone here, but put it this way: if you don’t put the tags in there, search engines have no way to identify your post, and no reason to bring it up in any search results.

Two extra things that I’ll mention that aren’t actually part of the Blogging 101 assignment:

When considering the tags that you’re going to use for your post, remember to identify yourself in some way. As Kristen Lamb explains in Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, there is going to come a time when people are going to be searching for you by name, and whether that name is your real one or a pseudonym, it makes it a hell of a lot easier for people to track it down if it is attached to your blog as often as possible. Step back and imagine what you would type into Google if you were searching for a particular person. For example, since picking up the tip from Kristen, I’ve started tagging each and every one of my posts with the two tags: “Tracey Lynn Tobin blogger” and “Tracey Lynn Tobin writer”. That one little change alone has made it so that now if you go to Google and search for my name, every result on the first page is actually me.

And the last thing that I’ll point out is that the “introduction” post you’ve just created makes an excellent “About Me” page for your blog. As previously mentioned, people are more apt to care about what you have to say if they feel like they know you a little bit, so making sure that you share that information in a way that is easily accessible can be a very important step to creating a successful blog.

That’s it for Day One! Catch you all tomorrow!

You Know What Opinions are Like, Don’t You?

A fellow blogger, one I happen to follow, has started up an interesting project. This blogger is known as Opinionated Man, and on his blog HarsH ReaLiTy he has come up with the idea for “Project O“. Basically, throughout the month of September he is going to be researching and discussing the concept of “opinions”, what they are, where they come from, what factors in our lives affect the ones we have. He plans to do this by way of information gathered from us, the bloggers, the readers, the people around the world connected together by the internet.

opinionsI thought this sounded particularly interesting, so when I saw that he released a template of questions for use in the project, I decided to write a blog post answering them. As per his requests, I will also be emailing my answers to him for use in the project, and I urge you to do so as well, should you decide to take part on your own blogs.

So without further ado, here we go:

Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here.

I’m a wife and mother, and an only child, but I grew up positively surrounded by cousins. I was a book-nerd kind of kid growing up, as well as a bit of a geek (I liked Star Wars, anime, video games, etc). I never had a lot of friends, but I loved the few I did have. I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer since the third grade, but somehow or other I became an instrumentation technician by trade. It’s a very male-dominated field but I’ve had surprisingly few issues in my seven years in the trade. These days I write whenever I can and aspire to become published sooner rather than later.

Question 2: If you haven’t already done so please provide your country of origin, whether you are male or female, an age would be nice, and where you currently live if that differs from the country of origin.

Country of origin and the country I’m currently living in are both Canada. I’m female and 29 years old.

Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you. Do you remember what the topic was about? Did you voice your opinion or hold it to yourself?

The first time I can remember having a really strong opinion to the opposite of my elders was when I first started to realize that I thought religion was hooey. I was in the 7th or 8th grade, I believe, which is when Catholic kids complete their “Confirmation” ritual. It involves going to church every week for so many weeks and doing this and that and there’s a big ceremony at the end…and after a couple of weeks of church (I hadn’t really gone since I was little) I remember thinking, “This is ridiculous, I don’t believe a word of it, and so why am I trying to become a permanent member of this church?”

I did voice my opinion to my father, who more or less told me that I could believe whatever I wanted, but that it would probably be worth it to just complete the confirmation and be done with it since some of my family is very religious and it would likely have ended up in a huge fight. I took his advice and never went to church again after that ceremony.

Question 4: What levels of respect were practiced around you when you were a child? Was there bowing involved, handshakes, “yes Sirs and yes Ma’ams,” or some  other equivalent respectfulness in your culture’s tongue? Is an honorific given to someone older than you and do you often respect and practice that? How might the culture you were brought up in have affected the growth of your own opinions?

There weren’t a lot of honorifics in my childhood. Mostly we were just expected to watch our mouths (no profanity) and our tones (no smart-mouthing). I don’t know if it was a product of my upbringing, or if it’s a general feeling that I absorbed from my environment, but I grew up believing that age has nothing to do with respect, and that it doesn’t matter if you’re 100 years old and I’m five, you do not automatically get my respect if you haven’t earned it. There are, in my opinion, too many older people out there who feel that they should be respected by the sheer fact that they’ve survived for a while longer.

Question 5: How traveled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news? You might also provide an educational background if you wish and if that education was gained from somewhere other than your current location. How available is the news and what goes on in the outside world to you in your country?

I’m not particularly traveled. I’ve only traveled within Canada, and not even all the way across (I’ve started in Nova Scotia and gone as far as Alberta). I obtained my education (Bachelor of Technology) in Nova Scotia. International news is available enough here (if not a little bit “tweeked” by the media), but I can honestly say that the degree to which I keep up with it is minimal at best. I glean my news stories from what others deem to be important (my husband might tell me about something, or my father might post a status update about it on Facebook). It’s not that I don’t care what’s happening in other areas of the world, but I’m the kind of person who can barely handle the events going on in her own life, never mind the lives of people I’ve never met.

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

As mentioned above, I don’t really keep up on the news or international incidents, but if there was one topic that I’d impress upon the world if I could, it would be the stigmas surrounding depression. These days it’s been proven that depression can stem from any number of factors, including physical (hormonal, for instance) ones that in no way reflect a person’s life or situation. I’ve seen people be berated for “pretending to be depressed” because the feeling is that someone can’t be depressed if they have what is considered to be a “good life”. Too many people think that depression is only allowed if the person has “real” reasons (got fired, wife left, someone close died) to be depressed, but there are scads of reasons for someone being depressed. I myself had a doctor check me out for chemical-imbalance depression because of a couple of other complaints I had brought to him, and the reaction I got from a few people close to me was very simply, “you’re not depressed”, as if it was an impossibility. I wasn’t, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to presume to know what’s going on in my mind and body, and true depression – whatever the cause – is a very dangerous thing to ignore and scoff away.

Question 7: What does the right to an opinion mean to you? Is it essential to freedom to have this right? How far would you go to protect that ability? The world is on fire with people of passion, how passionate are you about things you value?

This is a tough one because while I believe everyone has a right to their opinion, there are plenty of cases in which someone’s opinion is clearly wrong or psychotic. For instance, a kid who shot up his school because he was being bullied had the opinion that his tormenters deserved to die.

I do believe that everyone has a right to their opinion, but how you act on that opinion is the real trick.

I’m passionate about a great many things (the depression issue above, acts that I consider to be extremely poor parenting, the current employment insurance scandal going on in Canada, and so on), and this kind of passion inevitably leads to a battling of opinions. It can be very difficult, in these situations, to grit your teeth and accept that other people have different opinions. How does one find a happy medium in this sense when your opinion is that another person’s opinion is wrong? It’s a bit of a catch-22, isn’t it?

Question 8: Is it ever right for you to be allowed an opinion while someone else is denied that same right on the same topic?

In my opinion (haha, this is getting silly…) there are plenty of situations where I would deny someone their opinion. People are going to have an opinion whether you like it or not, because that’s the way that works, but I would deny someone their opinion if they had absolutely no knowledge or experience of the topic at hand. For instance, say I’m yelling at my daughter in the mall for doing something bad, and someone comes up to me and berates me for yelling at her because I’m “causing her psychological issues”. If that person has no kids of their own, has experienced no psychological issues as a result of the same kind of situation, and has never so much as opened a book on psychology, then what right do they have to impress their completely-pulled-out-of-my-ass opinion on me?

Question 9: The last question. upon completing this template and hopefully contemplating the issue what does this project mean to you? How can Project O potentially enlighten or help the world?

Mostly I’m interested to see some of the outcomes of these questions. Opinions are a tricky concept because they can come from so many different places, including but not limited to plain old base emotion. I hope that reading other peoples’ responses to these questions will help people to understand each other a bit, and maybe even help them learn a bit of tolerance.