A lot of people enjoyed the resources on my post about writing prompts on blogs, so I decided to make this follow-up post in case you decide to take the plunge and join in any of those adventures. Here’s a few hints and tips for making the most of prompts on your blog!
5. Follow the Prompt Rules
If you’re new, it’s understandable if you don’t get prompt rules, but to everyone else reading those entries can still feel like getting a CV when you asked for a resume.
A lot of prompts have complicated rules (I think the Terrible Poetry Contest is probably one of the most complex), but most prompts have rules to do with 1) word counts and 2) word usage.
Following prompt rules can help other people know what to expect and not be disappointed when they click on your work. Like I tell people: there’s nothing like drinking from a glass expecting Mountain Dew and getting milk. It’s not fun to click on a link thinking you’re getting a nice, quick, 100-word story and finding a 1000-word story.
Moreover, some curators won’t post your contribution on their round-up if you didn’t follow the rules. If you want your work to be showcased at the end of the submission period, it’s safest and best to fit in the expected form.
4. Leave a Comment on the Prompt Page
You can leave a pingback (let me know if you want a post on pingbacks). You can also post a comment that is just a link to your posted story. But I suggest a little more – comment on other people’s work, perhaps say something about the prompt or something encouraging. Show sympathy when you should, excitement or praise when you think it right.
Comments show you’re interested. Be interested.
Even if you’re just in blogging for your own self-interest, this interest can get people looking at your own site.
3. Respond Quickly
This is the one I’m saddest to put up here, but it’s true.
Even if a prompt gives you a week to respond and be included in the roundup, the sad fact is that a lot of people will respond, look at the comments currently in play, and not use the roundup to see what they missed. The earlier you comment, the more likely people will see it.
If a prompt goes live on Sunday, you’ll probably have until Monday to get full effect and Tuesday for most effect. Don’t feel afraid to respond if it’s later – it’s definitely worth it to post later rather than not at all – but you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck if you post and comment quickly.
2. Don’t Impress, Express
So, I just said to post quickly in order to drum up views. There’s a little problem with that…
If you post too quickly, you may not post your best work.
It’s the ol’ fiend of blogging – quantity vs. quality. Blogging for the sake of blogging, for the sake of ‘impressing’ other people, might not keep people coming to your site. If you aren’t able to come up with something good on a quick timeline, it’s probably still better to hold off. If it’s not meaningful to you, your work probably won’t be meaningful to other people.
1. Ignore Most of My Advice
Sometimes, it’s just hard to follow ALL this mess. You’re tired, it’s been a crap day, and you just want to do something on your blog so you don’t fall off the edge of the earth.
On those days, you can do none of the above.
In some cases, you might not be able to come up with something meaningful, no matter how much effort you put in (for example, Tenderloin was a post I think was terrible on my part, but I wasn’t going to come up with a better response for ‘travel’ at the time). In these cases, do something. Just something. Show your prompt-giver that you want to try, that you’re still there to support and encourage.
Sometimes, you might not want to read others’ posts or leave comments. Don’t do it – don’t burn yourself out. Let yourself have that leisure if you need it.
There are times when you read a prompt and get inspired to do something outside the confines of the contest rules. Write that – let your inspiration guide you, and only fit in the rules if you can.
All these tips are so malleable, and meeting your goals, having fun, and meeting other people is truly the main goal.
Are there any blogging questions you have? Little tidbits you’ve learned from responding to prompts? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!