In Search of the Snot Otter

I was listening to NPR as I was driving home the other day and just as I turned into my neighborhood the announcer gave the teaser for an upcoming feature story. It was going to be about saving the snot otter. The announcer couldn’t help but chuckle as he said the words “snot otter”.

I pulled into my driveway just as the story about the Saint Louis Zoo’s attempt to save the Ozark hellbender, also known as the snot otter, began. It might have turned into a driveway moment but for the fact that I was so curious to Google “snot otter” to find out what the creature looks like. (You can check out a video of the slimy creature here.)

All of this was fascinating; it was also a good lesson for those of us hoping to attract new readers to our blogs.

First, a bit of my own blogging history. My first blog, started 2008, was My Own Velvet Room. In 2010 I started a companion blog called Arms of Adoption. Around that same time I put up an author webpage at this url and last year I combined all three into A Slice of Life Writing.

The blogging climate has changed over the course of these four years. In the beginning I got to know some amazing bloggers; we followed one another and I am proud to count many of them as friends still today. My Own Velvet Room was a Blogger blog and I used the Blogger dashboard to keep track of the blogs I was subscribed to. I also had a blog roll that moved a blog to the top of the list when it was updated; that also helped me to keep track of my favorite sites. It felt like I was part of a cozy community of like-minded women. It was great.

Fast forward to 2012 and the world has changed, as has the way I keep up with blogs I follow. Today, I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I visit regularly. In addition to the blogging friends I’ve had since the beginning, I’ve been honored to get to know a number of new writers who inspire me. I follow publisher blogs, agent blogs, and farm blogs,  to name a few.

How do I keep track of them all? How do you keep track of all of the blogs you follow?

I turned to Google Reader. With Google Reader everything is in one place and updated posts show up without me having to do a thing. I do most of my blog reading on my iPad using the Reader app or the Flipboard app.

But what does any of this have to do with our friend the snot otter?

Well, consider how the announcer’s teaser reference to the snot otter captured my attention. Hold that thought as you consider a long list of posts from blogs you’ve subscribed to and the limited time you have to read any of them. Enter the snot otter.

While there are blogs I read faithfully, there are others I pick and choose the posts to read. As I scroll down the list of posts every day it’s a catchy title that will cause me to open up a post and read more. A post titled “How to Title Blog Posts” probably wouldn’t catch my attention. A post about a snot otter, well that’s entirely different!

The point is that to attract and hold readers it’s key to make your blog available as a feed and to carefully consider what title you give every post. You may have readers who faithfully visit your site, and you may have others who receive your blog via email (don’t forget to make that option available also). I guarantee you will have other readers who browse through a long list of blogs and you have only seconds to capture their attention so they want to read more.

That’s the job of the snot otter.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. I so relate to this! It happens to me all the time; and not just with blogs.

    I go to the cupboard to get something and I’m distracted by something else – something more compelling. Same with books, or internet sites, or TV programs. Someone told me only really, really, really bright people do this. They were lying, but I believed them 🙂

    And here I thought you were going to share with us how to cure the common cold in otters.

    1. Lol, Kathleen. I’m right there with you.

  2. I fall down in naming my blogs, I know. I can’t even remember what they are about when I see the title, so they must not be very inspiring to others. But I’m also not looking for a huge following. I like the size I have now and am glad to follow (through Reader) somewhere around 100 blogs. 🙂

    1. DJan, your posts are inspiring to me just the way they are!

  3. Oh dear, now I have to come up with good titles? Gee, this blogging is starting to sound like work. Unfortunately I gave that up when I retired. I’m thinking I’ll come up with just a few good titles and rotate them…Latest Snot Otter News; More On the Snot Otter; Snot Otter Update; Is This the End of the Snot Otter? It might trick a few people into reading.

    1. Ooo Jann…the possibilities abound!

      Snot Otter: Friend or Foe?

      Around the World in 80 Days. With a Snot Otter

      Snot Otter, Where Art Thou?

  4. Just as I am terrible at titling my novels, so I am with titling my posts! *laugh* — I recently moved my blog and don’t have the “blog roll” there anymore, so I need to get myself over to google reader!

    What I do now is subscribe to blogs and that helps me – it does make for more emails, but my hotmail account is just for that and I keep my “private email” less crowded.

    That snot otter looks pretty gross *laugh*

    1. It sure does look gross!

  5. Great advice Linda, you are absolutely right. As I was scrolling down my Facebook news feed today, the words “snot otter” caught my eye and I thought, “I have to find out what the heck she’s talking about!” And thanks for the tip about Google reader.

  6. What a great post! And you had me at snot otter. Love it!

  7. Dear Linda,
    I know how right you are about titling. I used to work in a publishing house and often attended “titling” meetings. I was never good at coming up with a catchy title for a book. The talent for doing so seems to elude me. Fortunately, I’m happy with the number of readers who come to my blog and the number who comment. And yet, it is satisfying when a new reader stops by. What attracted that person? I have no idea. Certainly not my titles!


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