Things You Should Know About Surviving When Your Blog Goes Viral

Well, mini-viral anyway.

1) Don’t feed the trolls . . . but maybe poke them a little.
So trolls suck and generally I am very much against feeding them. But. . . a few arguing trolls can really up your comment numbers. I’ll admit that I argued with a few of them to make them keep commenting and fuel the fire a bit.
NOTE: Don’t do this if the horrible comments trolls make bother you. You will just get sucked in to an argument you won’t win. Seriously, you won’t win. Trolls just move on to another comment or part of your statement if they get backed in to a corner. It isn’t legitimate conversation or conflict.

I suggest you develop this attitude if you want to poke your trolls.

2) Decide on a comment strategy asap.
Comments are going to start pouring in fairly quickly, so you need to decide how you are going to handle them. It became pretty clear to me that babysitting the comment section was just not going to be an option. I decided to delete violent comments (yes, violence over introverts), but not remove the insults various comments were slinging at each other. I edited my strategy just a bit when a commenter used “retard.” Totally unacceptable on my blog. This laissez-faire attitude might not work for you – especially you have a brand or image you are tying to protect/grow. Try to make your decision early so you remain consistent.


3) Be prepared to be saying a whole lot more than you thought.
I wrote a silly little blog post about introverts that was humorous and – frankly – not very original. I never expected it to take off the way if did. I was very surprised by the depth people could read into my post. All of a sudden a large group of strangers decided they knew all about me and my intentions from that one post. It was a little odd, to say the least. I’m not saying this is necessarily good or bad . . . just be prepared.


4) Don’t change your focus, but do think about what you are putting out there.
This especially came up since I’m dealing with a personal blog.
Okay, so my blog is personal and it is probably always going to be personal. I’m not expecting 2 million readers to stay-on long-term, so I wasn’t going to cater to their interests (although obviously you would want to do that if you are blogging for another reason). I did want to consider what I had scheduled to post during the peak. I made the decision to move a couple of more personal posts. Now, you could argue that I’m putting all of this out there for public consumption anyway – which is true, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be smart about it. My stats were very likely to plummet to a more reasonable number and I adjusted my posts accordingly.


5) Enjoy the ride.
Let’s face it; your popular post probably isn’t going to make you a blogging legend. Remember to enjoy it through all the crazy. I bragged as much as possible on my personal facebook (much to the annoyance of people reading, I’m sure). This probably won’t happen again. When a local radio station talked about my post without knowing a local wrote it? Awesome. I inflicted that brag on my coworkers.
Even if it is stressful, even if you are dealing with trolls, even if you are getting a lost of nasty . . . it is pretty amazing. Something you wrote touched a lot of people. Enjoy it.


Things You Should Know About [US] Copyright

What is it and when does it apply?
Copyright is complicated and the nuances are still argued in court. I’ll give you some basics here, but I am by no means a copyright lawyer. You should not use my informational post as a basis for a copyright claim.

Let’s start with the official U.S. Copyright Office definition (from “A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for “original works of authorship”, including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. “Copyright” literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work.” Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright.”

Copyright kicks in the moment you created a protected work. Automatically, no registration required. The little © isn’t even required. Officially registering your work however, creates an accepted public record of your copyright and is necessary if you need to pursue legal action in the future. This blog, for example, is automatically protected under copyright law, but is not officially registered with the copyright office.

FYI: There is no worldwide copyright law. Accepted practice varies. Have a couple of weeks and want to read the entire U.S. law, you can get it here.

FYI #2: Copyright, patent, and trademark are all different things. You cannot copyright a name for example, but could protect it through trademark. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Department for a simple explanation of the differences.

What is public domain?
A work is in the public domain if the copyright has expired or if the author has explicitly placed it in the public domain. You can use works in the public domain freely without obtaining permission. Generally, this applies to works published before 1923.

But it gets even more complicated: Works published between 1923 and 1977 are all over the place; use  this nifty slider chart to help you determine its status. For works published after 1977, the copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death (after the last surviving author’s death if multiple). Works from corporate authors are protected 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation (whichever is shorter). There are many exceptions however, as changing laws over the years have allowed for copyright extensions. As of right now, no new copyrights will expire and place works into the public domain until 2019 (see the copyright term extension act, also known as the Sonny Bono Act, or Mickey Mouse Protection Act).

FYI: Generally, documents created by the federal government are public domain.

What is fair use?
Let’s start with the U.S. Copyright Office definition again: “Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. . . . The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”

Key points here – just because you cite your source doesn’t mean what you are using falls under fair use. Just because your purpose is education, doesn’t mean it is fair use (I can’t copy an entire book for my research purposes, for example). Another example, a high school student can freely quote from a source for use in a research paper, but cannot quote large sections in place of their own thoughts.

FYI: Your “fair use” of a work should not impact the originally author financially.

What is Creative Commons?
The best way to explain creative commons is to take it straight from their website (which I can do thanks to the terms of their CC license): “Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.” Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.”

What does this mean? Authors can decide to put a CC license for more flexibility in what they allow users to do with their work. It encourages sharing, because the use terms are clearly spelled out and often much more liberal than “all rights reserved.”

My opintion? Creative Commons is awesome.

How I Blog

148I try to keep up a fairly regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday blog schedule, but this can get to be fairly time-consuming if I’m dealing with a little bit of writer’s block. I also try to write at least one meaningful post each week. Whether about family or adoption or parenting or my life, I try to give you a reason to stick around. If I manage to push out that meaningful post, I allow myself fluffier topics for the other two days (unless I’m just feeling on top of things and want to double-up with the in-depth).

I don’t have time to write every day, so it is important for me to plan well and use the free writing time I have to the fullest. At any given moment, I have a running list of possible topics and semi-drafted posts in my email drafts. I also schedule posts in advance on my blog calendar. This isn’t set in stone and I do move things around quite frequently, but it gives me something to work with and visualize. All of my posts go live at 7am. I don’t have a clue why I do that.]

I also tend to have a number of non-time-sensitive, fluffy, fun posts written and ready to go. I schedule these in wordpress once I’ve written them, but they usually jump around a number of weeks as more important topics come up that I want to discuss. For example, the Wordless Wednesday post I have scheduled for this week was originally planned for May 7th. I didn’t need it there though, so it kept getting bumped to a new date.

I have my main topics I like to write about: parenting, the little man’s disability, my day-to-day life and tendency to over-schedule, fatness, adoption, and my thymectomy. I’m trying out the Saturday review posts. Outside of that, I’m completely flexible. My desire to write about the thymectomy actually started this particular blog, as my googling to find personal stories about the surgery turned up a whole lot of nothing. Some of my early posts are the most raw and emotional for me and I plan to share them again for my new readers as the blog continues to age.

This is a personal blog. I’m not out there looking to gain a following, reel in advertisers (although I’m always open if you want to send me free stuff!), or make money. It is my outlet. I have always loved to write – I was the kid penning stories during our free time in class instead of zoning out or drooling on my desk. I authored little poems like my life depended on it. Every single bit of that stuff sucks, but it was – and is – a big part of me. Some people garden. Some people play an instrument. Some people dress up as comic book characters. I write.

A lot of friends and family who know my interests well ask if I ever plan to write a fiction book. Truth is I would love to, but I just don’t think I have a story inside of me. Maybe one day I will, but for right now I don’t think I’m that kind of writer.

A-Z Wrap-up

APRIL-CALENDAR [2014]Well, April is officially over and I successfully blogged twenty-six A-Z entries. It was hard and the blog was on my mind this entire month. Overall, I think it was a good thing. I ended up telling you a whole lot about me and I met some new people who stumbled over here through the various A-Z postings.

I tried not to overwhelm myself with the posting, so you may have noticed the longer entries were about the same # I write each month. I added in more fun and fluff to meet the requirements.

My favorite posts from this month?
A = Alter Ego. This one doesn’t seem to have been that popular with you, dear readers, but I really enjoyed writing it.
C = Clutter. This was a simple post, but I enjoyed sharing the contents of my purse with you. I’m even considering revealing (confessing?) my collection of lipsticks and glosses in a future post.
P = Parenting, Tween Edition. This was a completely new topic for me and it felt nice to get some of the thoughts out. Again, blog traffic was a little low on this on, so maybe I’m missing the mark.
V = Voice. I’m never comfortable writing about writing, so this one was difficult for me to conceptualize. I like to be challenged.

The most popular A-Z post, stats-wise?
D = Discomfort. The post about the little man’s baclofen trial. I expected this post to have high traffic, as I shared it on a couple of special needs sites. A good post, I think.

What were your favorite posts? What would you like to see me write more about? Share in the comments.

Would I do this again?
Yes, I really enjoyed it. Maybe next year I will try to stick to a theme. That seems a lot harder though, so I’m not sure. I don’t even know what my theme would be.

Would you consider doing this? Do you have suggestions for me if I do it again next year? Share in the comments.

V = Voice

VBlogging voice, that is.

I like to write [no surprise there [I also like brackets, no surprise there either]] – informal, formal, blogging, work-related, a book.* You name it; I probably like to write it. I also feel like I have a fairly strong writing voice. This is one of the reason’s I am a terrible editor; I will always think your writing needs to sound like my writing and have trouble making unbiased suggestions. Another reason I am a terrible editor is because I only have a basic grasp of grammar and don’t really care to get any better. Can you understand what I’m saying? Good enough.

So what is voice? Well, according to Wikipedia (yes, even historians reference Wikipedia occasionally) a writer’s voice is “the individual writing style of an author, a combination of idiotypical usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). Voice can be thought of in terms of the uniqueness of a vocal voice machine. As a trumpet has a different voice than a tuba or a violin has a different voice than a viola, so the words of one author have a different sound than the words of another. One author may have a voice that is light and fast paced while another may have a dark voice.”

My writing voice is not exactly how I talk, but it is how my ideal, anxiety-free, extroverted self talks. It is how I talk at home with my husband and close family. It contains a great deal of humor – sometimes funny, sometimes not – with way too many asides and descriptive phrases. While my blog writing is informal, it still has the same voice qualities as my more formal history writing. I say “more formal” because I rarely write anything in you might consider 100% formal – I just don’t like it. And the blog is relatively unfiltered. Tipsy and angry Playfullytacky cusses like a sailor. I try not to let that slide in, as it doesn’t represent the everyday me. But aside from that, I rarely spend a great deal of thought on how my writing comes across. Maybe that is a bad thing?

Over the years, I discovered that having a strong writing voice covers all sort of sins. Using the passive voice? No problem! Split infinitive? You silly, don’t do that again! When you sound like you know what you are doing, the regular reader overlooks a lot. Not editors though. Don’t try to pull a fast one on your editor.

How do you develop your voice? Damned if I know. Jack Kerouac knows though. These aren’t writing tips, but more of his guide to a writing life or a state of being. Here is his “Belief & Technique for Modern Prose” to get you started.

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In Praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. Youre a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

*Yes, I wrote a book. But I can’t tell you what it is because this blog is semi-anonymous. It’s a history book though, so you probably don’t want to read it.