Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kickin' The Blog Up a Notch

Some good stuff on tap today. First, some tippage on hosting a better blog, because don't we all want to improve our web presences to show ourselves in a better light? Sure we do, boys and girls! Here's a few things we can do to kick our bloggy homes up to the next level:

  • Think about removing that aggravating word verification thingy from your comments form. I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating. I've had no spam incidents or other negative fallout since I removed that extra step, and I've had several visitors comment on how much easier it is to leave comments. [And isn't that what we want...our readers to feel at home and want to leave a few words?]

  • A good rule of thumb: Visit unto others as you'd have them visit unto you. Ya know...if I visit your blog and comment daily or several times a week, isn't it just good bloggerish etiquette and form to return the favor? Tit for tat goes a long way in the social networking world.

  • Keep it fresh. Our home environments can become stale and unappealing when kept static for long periods. Same thing goes for our blogs. I'm no Martha Stewart [just call me Erma], and admit that my Christmas tree is still up, but I do try to keep my Gumbo Writer content updated and appealing. It never hurts to tweak your settings and layout to better serve your friends and loyal readership. I'm not saying to redecorate for every holiday or season, or to top load your blog with so many buzzers and whistles that visitors go nuts from overstimulating graphics, or bored to tears waiting for everything on your page to download, but a little spiffing up never hurt anyone.

  • Lagniappe is a good thing. [Come on, y'all. You been hanging around long enough to know what lagniappe is, but in case you're a new visitor, it means a little something extra.] There are lots of groovy widgets and things you can add to your blog including polls, photos, and trivia, or hey, what about a little fun contest now and then?
  • Now, for the love of Pete, could ya put your email contact in your profile so that I can email you after I read your complete ID or straight from the automatically generated email I get when you comment? So many times I want to say something private or give a suggestion...and the return email address says, "" Argh!

  • I'll be the first to admit I'm no expert. I'm just sharing a few things I've picked up along the blogging trail. For some even "betterer" advice, stop by Helen's Straight From Hel blog to learn some social networking hints. [This is a two-part post, so bring your favorite beverage and a pen/pad to take notes. It's a quick read, I promise, and easy to absorb.]

Now, a little shameless self promotion. I got an email last night from someone at saying my blog had been nominated as a reader favorite or some such [thanks to whichever of my friends put my name in the hat!], and would I come fill out an interview form. It was quick and didn't strain my brain, so why not?

If I'm understanding correctly, I'm to ask readers and friends to vote for Gumbo Writer as blog-o-the-month for a chance to win $50. Isn't that exciting? And if I do happen to win, I'm going to buy some of Kimmi's The Unbreakable Child and Kathryn's Tender Graces books for contest prizes! Oh, and also some grits to send to you poor souls who haven't had the opportunity to try them yet!

So, if you're in a mood and of a mind to help three writer womens out, go pull the lever for me. You can vote once per day. [See icon at the top of my sidebar. The blue one with the LSU purple & gold colors. It'll take you to the short interview.] Thanks in advance for your vote. My campaign promise is this ~~ "A chicken & dumplin' in every pot!" :)

And speaking of Kathryn, stranded somewhere in Texas after visiting me here in Baton Rouge...her soon to be released book TENDER GRACES has a new page at publisher BelleBooks' site with a pre-order form included for those of you who've been waiting. [And it's also a cool look at what an indie publisher can do for your own future novel!]


Lori Tiron-Pandit said...

What great advice. I also removed the word verification a while ago and had no issues. Keeping it fresh is another thing that I subscribe too. Very true.
I voted for you! Hope you win!

giddymomof6 said...

I VOTED! I VOTED! I LOVE your blog!!! And congrats so much for the nomination! Love the blog advice! Jenni

Janna Qualman said...

Shoot. I think I pulled a muscle when I pulled the lever... ;) Just kidding! *hugs* Great advice.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the nomination! I have to confess, I've not given the attention to the 'widgets' and whatnots as I could have. Maybe I will.

Go-go-gadget Blog!

kimmi said...

I voted, Angie and thank you!! I need to clean my blog! I'd change the theme, but I worry it deletes everything, if anyone else from wordpress knows let me know. Also Angie, mext time you are at my blog tell me if I have word veri or not. : D Techny challenged here...

Hugs to Kat and hope she is home soon!

Embee said...

I voted for ya...and thanks for the tips!

Linda said...

Good info, Angie - thanks! I voted too!

Sharla said...

Done deal, chickadee. You got my vote. I deleted the word verif thing a while back, too, realizing it was giving me a twitch. I have to go FIX my blog today (grrrrr) because my stupid self somehow deleted the "cutest blog on the block" background yesterday. And I loved my background! And I don't know the name of it, but I have to go find it again.

On another me some grits. With butter. Now I have to also admit a fondness for cream of wheat...sorry. With sugar and cinnamon and butter. It's my mother's fault.

Anonymous said...

Thumbs Up Angie! Placed my vote. Love the tips and plan to incorporate them. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the nomination!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Thanks, Lori. Love your writing.

Jenni & Jana, thanks for voting. Loves to ya.

LOL, Jamie. Love ol' Inspector Gadget.

kimmi m'lady, the word verif. dragon has been banished from your kingdom! Thanks for the vote.

Embee & Linda, I appreciate ya!

I'm scared of tinkering with my blog template for that reason, Sharla. I'd cry if it poofed into cyber space. And Yay on the grits (both sweet and savory.) :)

Ang, thanks so much.

Nannette said...

Congrats Angie. You've go my vote. So you want me to drop the word verification––oookay. But can I sue you if I get spammed?

Michelle H. said...

*koff-koff, as she raises her hand* All right, I admit it. I did an interview there and stuck your name in the hat as a blog to visit.

*Blushing furiously* I also admit that I haven't been visiting as much as I should at everybody who comments on my blog. I'm trying, but things have been so hectic lately. The other info is great advice, and I've been tinkering as I go.

colbymarshall said...

I 100% agree with the word verification thing...I still leave comments with them, but I'd rather not have to, and I haven't had spam problems, either.

Good luck on the bloggy contest--off to vote!

Anonymous said...


I will remove the verification. I have had some really annoying spam, so every now and then I re-add it to the blog to stop that.

Now to vote :).

Angie Ledbetter said...

Nannette, thanks for the vote, and yes, you can sue me if you get spammed AND thank me when you have happier/more contented readers. :) PS Send me the info. for your new biz so I can post here!

THANK YOU, Michelle. You're a sweetie. I love your blog and completely understand about visiting time cut short. Experiencing it myself lately. You're a regular visitor and comment-leaver, so you're covered. :)

Thanks or seconding the Word Verification removal, Colby. And 'preciate your vote.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Love your post today! I was making a list last night of ways to make a better blog and be a better blogger so your post came at the right time! I'm jotting down all your suggestions and on the move to "redecorate" and "get around" to other blogger friends. Thanks again for your help!

Nita Lou Bryant said...

Happy to vote for Gumbo Writer!

Is your Christmas tree really still up? Aren't we talkin' fire hazard by now?

Mrs Parks said...

These are ALL such good tips and we all need some reminding now and again (me)!
After the whole Velveeta and RO*TEL thing I'm not going to tell ANYONE that I've never had grits.
I have to go pull a lever now, ciao'!

cherokeefox said...

I think I will try taking out the verification words. I just tweeked my settings a few days ago to get more traffic. I also gave you a thumbs up vote!

Barbara said...

I VOTED!! And I'll be back tomorrow to vote again!!!!!!!!!! And again, and again, and again.....

Kathryn Magendie said...

Hey! I was nominted and did the interview too - haven't put up the link or anything yet - have to find it - I'm discombobulated right now....

and thank you for the "plug" of my book (blush, teehee) -- I've sold FOUR books *LAUGHING!* I'm all excited over four books - but, still - that's four people who I know will be reading my book! *laughing*

I'll go vote for you!

Suldog said...

I voted for you. Will you vote for me? :-)

I started out with no word verification, but was spammed almost immediately. I've had it ever since. Maybe I'll give it a go, but I truly don't relish the thought of having to go in and delete a whole bunch of sales pitches if it doesn't turn out as nice as I'd like.

Literary Nut said...

Congrats on the nomination and thank-you for some great tips about improving our blogs. Hope you are well!

Kasie West said...

Thanks for the good advice, Angie. I'm going to go take that annoying word verification thing off right now. I didn't realize you could. And add my email address to my profile. Awesome. Congrats on the nomination too. I'll be voting.

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks for the mention, Angie. 'Preciate it.

When I first started blogging, I used word verification, then took it off. Got one or two spam messages, but that's it. None since then. I swear, either my eyes are old or some of the squiggly lines are squigglier than others 'cause some take me several tries to get correct.

Thanks for the reminder to spiff up. I put up a new pic in the header not long ago, but I should look at what else I can do. Also, I have no idea if I have an email link. I'll look at that too.

Helen Ginger

Melissa Marsh said...

Excellent advice on keeping the blog fresh! I hate those word verification things, too. :-)

Jenn Johansson said...

I voted! yay! Okay now I'm off to make sure my blog meets gumbo writer's specifications asap! :) I heart Angie! LOL

Jessica said...

Congrats on the blog nomination! Yours is very cool and excellent. Thanks for all those tips too. :-)

Seeker said...

I the blog and hope you win. Great interview too....thanks for the visit and the tips...(i need all the help i can get)

Lynnette Labelle said...

Thanks for the tips. I checked out Hel's series. It's great, too. Thanks for adding that to your blog. Congrats on the nomination. Good luck!
Lynnette Labelle

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Great advice!!!
I am enjoying your blog!


Terri Tiffany said...

Wonderful advice --as always!! And you deserve the nomination! I will go over and vote for you:) You put a lot of hard work into your blog and put me to shame! Enjoy it alot!

kimmi said...

.. and hehee we get to vote for your blog every twenty four hours!!

Anonymous said...

I loved the tips and I voted, too.

Debbie said...

Well, of course I'll vote for you. And I get to vote once a day? I tried that during early voting for the president and for some bizarre reason, the people at my poll frowned upon that. Go figure.
God bless you for asking people to take off the evil, oh so evil, word verification.
And I don't have any fancy gizmos, etc. Do I need to get some?
Plus, I want both those books but I have my own grits. Would that get me an extra entry? What if I told you I ate grits today for lunch, which is the honest truth? They were good. I threw a little mushrooms in there:)
Off to vote.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Robin (The Things...) hope your spam doesn't kick up again. Thank for the vote.

Glad to help, Donna. I don't know much, but love to share the tidbits I come across.

Nita Lou, I appreciate you. (Like the rhyme?) Yep, tree's still up...but it's a pre-lit artificial model, so not to worry. LOL

LOL and thanks, Mrs. Parks. Please go get some grits. I promise you won't regret it.

Yay, CherokeeFox, hope the traffic rolls in. Thanks for your vote.

Thanks, Barbara. *clap clap clap*

Angie Ledbetter said...

Go Kathryn, go Kathryn! (I'll be placing my order shortly, but you KNOW I'm getting one directly from your hand SIGNED too!) You shoulda gotten a follow-up email from the interview, but can probably do an on site search.

Suldawg, I saw your blog listed while I was there and voted for you. Shall do so again! Hope the spammers don't find you. (Do you have all the free AOL spyware installed?)

Thanks, Literary. I think I tried commenting on your blog when you were using a different name, and never could! I'll check back in and see if it's been remedied.

Atta girl, Kasie, and thanks. (Are you back from England yet?!)

Helen, you're welcome. I get the WV's I can't read either! You should be able to add your email address in your contact information and in your profile under one of the lesser Layout tabs.

Hey, Melissa. Hope the writing's going well.

LOL, Jenn. Thanks, and I heart you too.

Thanks & ya welcome, Jessica. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Thank you, Seeker. Enjoying your blog spot.

Lynette, thanks for visiting. I'll be returning the favor shortly.

Ditto to you, Robin. :)

Aww, thanks, Ter. I enjoy your blog too.

LOL, kimmi. How's the book promotion coming? Great review you got up on site now!

JyLnC, thanks muchly.

You always make me laugh, Debbie. (Another reason I'm glad I can reach you by email every time you comment!) And, no, no fancy gizmos needed. Your blog is great as is! You go with ya gritty self. If I win and give away my friends' books, you'll get an extra entry IF you make a non-grits eater eat some. LOL


Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks for the GREAT tips Angie! I've so much to learn yet about blogging. . .mostly I'm realizing how important it is for connecting with other writers for the encouragement and support! Thanks for stopping by my place today too!

Hilary said...

I agree about word verification. It slows down the commenting process and I've noted a couple of dyslexic bloggers complain of difficulty getting past it. Widgets and such though.. I'm not a fan of them. I like to keep as streamline a blog as possible since it's already pretty graphic/photo intense.

Consider that lever pulled!

Karen said...

Girl, I understand what you are saying. I comment and comment, and then no one returns the karma, and I feel so, well, so boring and unpopular, just like high school, hahaha.

Seriously, I try to write interesting stuff, so that readers will want to come back, and I know they do come back, but why won't they just at least post a comment that says, "HI, I was here?"

thanks for the good advice.

Lori said...

I will henceforth remove dreaded verification and be a good blogging neighbor. And I shall comment more often. I visit daily via the feed, but I need to click on through.

bernthis said...

I voted. all done. Good luck and thanks for the tips. It can be very frustrating making your blog popular.

Deb Shucka said...

No one better deserves this award than you. Fingers crossed.

I am so with you on the word verification thingy. I hate it. Sometimes I think it's trying to send me a message with those almost words that I can't quite understand. Truly creepy.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

huh.. really like this !

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