Friday, May 23, 2008

bent Alaska

From: E. Ross (

I began my new blog, Bent Alaska, based partly on your suggestion and encouragement. When we met in that pub in Seattle last year, you mentioned that a good way to get into writing is to write online, because there aren't as many gate-keepers. So I took the advice.

Well, in February I volunteered to take over Alaska's only statewide GLBT email newsletter, which has over 500 subscribers. I up-dated the design and developed contacts. When I asked readers what improvements they would like to see, the main responses were photos, online resources and news reports on local people and events. So far, most of my traffic comes from the newsletter and the local progressive blogs. Do you have any ideas?

I haven't found any other openly LGBT blogs based in Alaska, and I haven't had much luck connecting with LGBT bloggers outside of Alaska. That's the next step. I'm trying to find contacts for an article on local gay/lesbian couples who want to get married in CA, so Bent can participate in Mombian's "Blogging for LGBT Families" event and gain some exposure with a national LGBT audience. Also, I'm working on several posts involving local chapters of national or western states LGBT groups, and will send the links to the main groups as the pieces go up.

Otherwise, my main focus right now is writing content, developing contacts, reaching out to potential sponsors, recruiting other writers - and teaching an older, lower-tech audience about blogs and comments and RSS, which is a challenge that I didn't expect. Any suggestions?

I don't have sponsors for the blog yet, and I don't see how I could pay several writers without sponsors, and asking for contributions with only a byline to offer hasn't worked yet. Any suggestions on that point, too?

Are you commenting on others' blogs so they know you exist? I've found that that's a good way to start. And I'm not just talking about Alaska-based blogs, but anything lgbtqi-related, anything political, anything liberal. Post a couple of comments on articles on Huffington Post and see what happens :)

It looks as though you're using a Blogger template. If so, what might be helpful for your more inexperienced readers is a link for them to click to subscribe to posts via email (you can download a widget from Feedburner). I've just set that up on both my blogs. This one uses a form (see sidebar, under 'subscribe'), but Gemæcca uses a clickable link. (I suspect the unintimidating clickable link might be the way to go for your readers.)

Another way to improve traffic is to add a couple of people to your contributors list, so it's a multi-person blog. You don't need to pay them. You lure them in by promising them exposure e.g. up-and-coming writers or musicians or activists who need to get their names/URLs out there. Or just people who like to gossip. Have you tried searching through MySpace for lgbt writers/musicians/artists/booksellers and so on?

Meanwhile, good luck, and keep having fun (because if the writer isn't having fun, nor is the reader).

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here: