Helping bloggers pursue their passions

AdriannaBlogWhen Adrianna Lypecky entered through the doors of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab in Ypsilanti yesterday, it was like a ray of sunshine peeking through the heavy Michigan clouds we’ve become accustomed to this winter. She was bubbly and excited to be there, and grateful for the help. A travel blogger linked at The News-Herald and Press & Guide websites, she was relatively new to the Blogger platform and was looking for design help.

And that’s where Monica Drake, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, came in handy.

I had been in e-mail contact with Adrianna. She was looking for some feedback on her blog, and I gave it to her. I wrote:

Add hyperlinks to places you reference — beaches, hotels, restaurants, landmarks, etc.
Add locator map embeds
Include photo galleries or photo slideshows
Incorporate YouTube videos of these destinations
Ask readers questions such as have they been there or ask them about their favorite destinations. Start a conversation. Get some comments.
Encourage readers to share your posts on social media. You should be sharing them on all of your social media channels, as well. Feel free to post a link on all of our channels.
Include an “About Me” page so readers can relate to you as a person. Give your background and explain what qualifies you as an expert in travel.
Suggestions on changes: Eliminate all the white space around photos and text, and stay with one color of type/text. It looks a little crazy.
I like the recipes from the different locales. Great idea. I also like that you blog more regularly than some, but keep in mind our goal is three per week.
You may want to look into the different templates Blogger offers and find one that better suits your goals.
You can call me if you want to talk more.
But sometimes when people ask for help, they don’t really want it. They want to hear you say great things about whatever they’ve produced. But Adrianna was different, and her sincerity was apparent in her reply.
Thanks ever so much for all your suggestions. I really appreciate it. Is there any chance that I could meet you at your office in Ypsilanti and go over the details in person? It would be much better to meet one on one rather than talking via the phone.
Please let me know if this is at all possible. 
I really want to make my blog much more dynamite and entertaining. With your assistance I think I can make major improvements which will give me more enthusiasm to be creative and inventive. I do need some pointers on how to use software so that the blog is more eye catching.
I thank you for your assistance and hope that sometime in the near future I can meet with you so that you can help me make my blog reader friendly.

So, of course, I welcomed Adrianna to the media lab and introduced her to Monica, who knows Blogger like the back of her hand. In the next two hours, Monica helped transform Adrianna’s blog into a visually-appealing site, with a custom header that featured a photo reel of Adrianna’s travels and the name of her blog at the top, a new background photo, a new template and layout, incorporated some of Adrianna’s videos, made her “about me” box more prominent, and she linked Adrianna’s Twitter and Facebook feed to the blog.

In addition to Adrianna, Paul Rodman, a regular gardening columnist at The News-Herald in Southgate, came in after I approached him about turning his print column into an interactive blog. He, too, was excited about the prospect of going digital. Paul understood the value of digital, which will enable him to add hyperlinks and embeds of documents, photos, videos and information he is referencing. His newspaper column is called DigIt and he’s thinking about calling the blog DigIt Digital.

Paul’s visit was short. We talked about the various blogging platforms available and decided on Blogger. He then set up an account and decided he wanted to go home to digest all of the information before getting started. The plan is for him to start posting his weekly column, as well as a photo, video, aggregated content or a tip from him twice during the week.

One of the perks of working in the media lab is helping others pursue their passions, and discover how much fun it’s to express their creativity on a digital platform, where they can add all kinds of bells and whistles, interact with their audience in real time, and reach a wider audience from all over the world that they couldn’t have reached in print.


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