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Need Feedback? Hone Your Blogging with a Workshop

If you want to get better at anything — playing the violin, swimming, building scale models of historic buildings from…

If you want to get better at anything — playing the violin, swimming, building scale models of historic buildings from sticks of gum — you need feedback on your work. Blogging is no different; feedback on writing, photography, or blogger skills like layouts and editorial calendars helps you improve those elements. There’s a reason people studying writing and photography “workshop” their stuff.

Is it hard to open your creative output to direct, potentially not-so-glowing feedback? Heck yes! But you learn, and you get better. Why not try an informal blogging workshop? You’ll get helpful insight into your work and make some great connections along the way.

This isn’t Santa’s Workshop, this is BLOGGING!

My favorite writing workshops involve the abuse of multi-colored post-it notes, but your mileage may vary. (Photo by jaycross, CC BY 2.0.)

My favorite writing workshops involve the gratuitous use of post-it notes, but your mileage may vary. (Photo by jaycross, CC BY 2.0.)

First things first: what does it mean to “workshop” something? Basically:

  1. You write something.
  2. When you think it’s ready, or you want help with something you’re struggling with, you share it with a small group of other writers.
  3. They read it andĀ give you candid, respectful feedback.
  4. You discuss the feedback openly, and toss ideas around.
  5. You revise, it gets better, and you publish it.

If it seems a little scary, remember: you already publish your thoughts for the world to consume, and let anyone comment on them. If you can do that, you can do this. The Editorial Team here at WordPress.com does it every day — everything we write is posted for the team for review before it’s published, and it makes us all better for it.

Pick your workshop flavor

So how do you actually workshop your stuff, if you’re not already part of a group in real life? You do it the way you do so many other things: on the internet.

  • To get your feet wet, try something like the Community Pool here on The Daily Post. It’s filled with bloggers just like you who take the time to review your stuff and offer detailed, helpful reviews. It’s informal, doesn’t take much time, and is a great way to connect with other bloggers who care about their crafts.
  • Go bigger at sites built around mutual support and feedback like Scribophile. You can post your work for review, review others’ material, and chat with other writers in their forums; they’ll also give you a crash course in how to review and offer feedback effectively. If the Community Pool is the vanilla of workshops, this is the Rocky Road.
  • Become a full-on workshopper by building your own small group of bloggers. It’s the most intensive option, but it also gives you a trusted group of critics who are able to see your work as it evolves. Think of it as the banana split of workshops, with an extra cherry.

The Daily Post can neither confirm nor deny the efficacy of Soapine in keeping your workshop clean. Maybe just watch your language. (Photo by the Boston Public Library, CC BY 2.0.)

The Daily Post can neither confirm nor deny the efficacy of Soapine in keeping your workshop clean. Maybe just watch your language. (Photo by the Boston Public Library, CC BY 2.0.)


I’ll take chocolate; now what?

Once you’ve got a group, you have options for how you want organize things.

First, you’ve got to share your drafts. The simplest way is with email, either in the body of a message, or as an attachment. A step up from that are tools like Editorially, which keeps everything conveniently web-based and accessible for anyone with an internet connection. If you know and trust the bloggers you’re working with, you can also consider adding them to your blog as users so they can access previews of your posts — make them “Contributors,” and they’ll be able to see your drafts but not edit, publish, or take any other action on your blog.

Second, you have to talk. Again, there are lots of ways to do this online, with different time and energy commitments:

  • Circulate comments via email. If you’ve got a blog, you’ve got an email address, so you’re all set. It also lets you write and respond on your own time.
  • Start a private blog; a blog lets everyone see the discussion and respond when they can, and threaded comments make it easier to see who’s responding to that (which often gets messy in a long email chain). The P2 theme is perfect for this — in fact, that’s how we do all our collaborating at WordPress.com
  • If you use a tool like Editorially, group members can leave comments, notes, and edits in your drafts while preserving your original version.
  • Try the WordPress.com feedback tool to keep everything centralized on your blog. Send a feedback request and secret link to your draft to anyone, and let the comments accumulate right in your dashboard.
  • With a tool like Skype, you can chat in real time either via voice, or in text. Circulate your drafts, and schedule a chat time where you can all sit down and hash out that tricky plot hole.

Ready to workshop? Let’s do it

To make it easy, go ahead and use this comment thread to get organized. Here’s our suggestion:

  1. If you want to create a workshopping group, post a comment indicating what you’d like to work on (writing, photography/visual art, or blog design and tools).
  2. To join a workshop, comment on someone’s reply.
  3. Once a workshop request has four or five comments, consider it closed — move to the next one, or post your own request.
  4. The blogger who posted the original request takes responsibility for contacting the other group members.

To make it easy to contact and be contacted, ensure that your blog has a contact method like an email address, or a contact form. After that, you’re on your own. Continue the conversation via email, start a P2-themed private blog, or open a forum thread to share ideas — that’s why the Ideas Forum is there, after all — and figure out how you want to organize yourselves. How much and how often you communicate it up to the group.

If anyone has other online resources they find helpful, please share!

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    1. I’ll happily join up with you. I’m on Blogger though so I’m not sure if that will affet anything but I will link by blog anyway because I’ve been writing for about 2 years and I’ve never really gotten any comments on my blog or anything so I’m not sure what is the issue.

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    2. @themadmuslimah, quick tip — when you comment here (and in the forums), you name is automatically a link to your blog, so there’s no need to include the address in the comment itself.

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      1. Oh sweet! I was having trouble when i first started because I created then deleted a blog and my profile was linked to the profile that was deleted so that is why I copy and paste my link so thanks for telling me, I just got used to it.

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    3. Hi- me too! I haven’t written anything longer than a text message in years, but I love writing the blog. I feel a little rusty, and my time is very short, so any constructive criticism would be much appreciated.

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  1. My blog covers sewing garments and quilting. While I only blog for fun, I would like the content to be good quality. I would also like to clean up and redesign my blog page. Anyone else with the same concerns?
    Ramona

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    1. I don’t blog about the same topic as you (but I do follow a lot of sewing and historical costuming blogs — living vicariously!), but I’m definitely interested in kicking my page into better shape and getting feedback about the blog itself. My current problems are layout, picture quality, and trying to make my posts more concise.

      I’d join, if you don’t mind the blog topics being all over the board. Anyone else?

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    2. I don’t blog about quilting but I do blog about sewing garments. And since I just started blogging I would love some review and feedback from an experienced sewer/blogger. So if you don’t mind having a opinion from a teenager then I’ll be thrill to join you! :-)

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    3. Hi! If you guys haven’t filled up your feedback group, I would love to join – I’m also interested in streamlining my blog and making it more accessible/user-friendly. I primarily blog about food, cooking and restaurant reviews and that sort of thing!

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      1. You will make our fourth! yay! We have a varied group, but I think it will work. Let me figure out how to contact all four at once and I will get a message out so we can decide how we want to comment and help each other out.

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    4. [http://kingofstates.com/] Michelle, We seem to have our group together. Based on our comments, do you have a suggestion/preference for us when working together? P2 or Editorally??

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  2. My blog is about a teenager that is from a small town and trying to fit in and market herself in a metropolitan area. Although I think my blog is FREAKING BOMB, I would really like some suggestions on how to make it AWESOME! Anyone else have this problem? Hit Me Up! lol

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  3. The SCRIBOPHILE site is great… though my objectives are on a different, less personal scale (Writing workshop teacher to bilingual mexican highschool students) the site’s Writing Academy will help me out a lot! thanks for the link, alexandra

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  4. I would love some feedback on my blog!! Definitely looking to connect with don’t like minded people! I’ll check our these other links tonight after work.

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  5. I love this post! Workshops– quickly assembled or permanent, light-level or intense– are great ways to make things especially shiny.

    As an invitation…

    My hubby and I host a “tough” writer critique group which acts as an ongoing workshop for more serious pieces of writing (blog or otherwise). Because of the taking-turns aspect, it’s not for pieces that you need edited immediately. There’s a sign up, just to make sure that everyone who joins understands what’s going on– but everyone is welcome so long as they’re looking for real-in-depth, non-placating edits. http://DiamondsOrDust.wordpress.com

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    1. I would love to join DiamondsORDUST’s “tough” writer critique group — the same ole, same ole’s are getting tired of me lol. I going to write my first blog using a poem from a journal entry the other day. Thank you.

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      1. @Michelle – Thank you! I wasn’t sure if it was okay to just paste in a link, so I’m grateful you chimed in. And no worries on the post inclusion, it’s a small group — and I have no idea how y’all keep track of all us anyway. :)

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  6. I’m also keen! I literally just started last weekend and if someone could take a look at the basics it would be appreciated. My blog is based on local interest and I define it as a “travel within your own city” blog on which I plan to post photos of things from my city that I love and write articles on things of interest plus theatre reviews etc. Thanks! Keen to connect with people.

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    1. Hey, some of my blog posts and interests are the same as yours. Would love to comment give feedback on your blog :)

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  7. I had a trusted friend (who is a fantastic writer) edit one of my pieces – and I was amazed at how much better she made it! I’ll admit that I was skeptical of “editors” before – but now I am not only a believer, but a big fan.

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    1. If would like to be in a workshop with you if you are interest. I have contacted several other people who are interested in joining a workshop. Possibly with the two of us and them, we can have a workshop. I am fairly new at this, and need to improve my writing/blogging/photography skills. My email is pricelessjoy@gmail.com

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  8. I just switched from blogger to WordPress.com and am still trying to figure things out. I am hoping my blog is user friendly. Debating on transferring content over, eventually. If anyone wants to check it out, I don’t have a lot of content yet here- it’s all over at blogger still. But, I would appreciate inout or feedback ! ;) Thanks.

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  9. I’m brand new to blogging, I’m a Life Coach and recently started sending out email blasts to my contacts (those who request the FREE e-book from my website) http://www.MPowerCoaching.org. Got a bunch of things happening and on the horizon and I need to begin a dialogue with my clients and potential clients.. READY FOR HELP & FEEDBACK :)

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  10. this is my first time to join blogging ! we are required with our education technology teacher to have a blog account with word press. it’s quite difficult for me :) what would be a good topic i should post?

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    1. Are there anything you are particularly passionate about? Bullying? Education? Mental Health? Relationships? This is how I base my blog and many of my posts — things I am passionate about.

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