Saturday, October 02, 2004

A Basic Guide to Power Blogging


Computer art copyright 2004 Steven Streight. Posted by Hello



Whoever You Are, You Need a Blog!

Everything from teen diaries to U.S. Presidential campaigns are now using the hip, new, effective format of blogs. There are, at last count, about 4 million blogs in existence. Media forecasters quoted by CyberJournalist.Net (API) predict that "by 2012, citizens will produce 50% of the news peer-to-peer."

A revolution is noisily occuring in journalism and in many other spheres. Blogs and bloggers are invading, waving manifestos of fast response, accumulated expertise, no profit motive, and free thinking in the liberated air.

Blogs are the next new thing, beyond conventional web sites. You can't afford to keep thinking, “Blogs? I don't get it. What's the big deal? What's a blog? What good are they?” Look at how marketing expert, Laura Ries, uses a blog (http://ries.typepad.com).

New Technologies are Slowly Appreciated: Alexander Graham Bell had to be persuaded that the telephone would be used for interpersonal communication. He thought the phone would ring, you'd pick it up, and hear news updates and symphonic music concerts! (MTP Music TelePhone?)

WHY blog? It's now almost mandatory for every consultant, corporation, club, candidate, every individual and organization, to have a blog. You can start now, or look foolish playing catch-up later on. Hello...????

Blogs are fresh communication tools. While a few are one-way broadcasting blogs, the vast majority are two-way, interactive, inter-personal blogs that enable users to congregate, learn, debate issues.

You post a sentence, paragraph, URL, or article.

Users respond by posting a comment, or emailing you. Users can also respond to other users, via comment debates.

Blogs act as an outlet for your ideas, and a way to form an online community of shared interests.


8 Easy Steps to Power Blogging:


1. Pick a topic: a product line, club, career field, philosophy, politics, social concern, technical field, hobby, news/current events, recreation, spirituality, whatever you already like to talk about, whatever interests you, professionally or personally.

EXAMPLE: Amid Rushes and Reeds (www.eleran.blogspot.com)

Here we have a nice poetry blog. The background is evocative. Eleran's poetry is profound and porously opaque. His poems are referenced by first lines. He uses very imaginative labels: “Antecedent” = Previous Posts, “Dictum” = Comments, “Portfolio” = Archives, “Skald” = Profile, “Missives” = Email activation, “Ingress” = Back to Homepage.

2. Create a title and URL: what you want to call your blog, and what will be easy to remember and to type in as a URL (web address).

EXAMPLE: Photo Matt unlucky in cards
(http://photomatt.net)

Matt Mullenweg publishes an extremely popular blog, with an easy to remember title and URL. He's the founding developer of WordPress, the widely used blogging software.

3. Find a host (like www.blogger.com). Blogger, from Google, is FREE, simple to create, easy to maintain, available for posting and reading 24/7, and full of great features.

EXAMPLE: Blogger (www.blogger.com)

4. Choose a template. This is the basic framework, or design, that provides the structure for your blog. You can go into the template and change colors, type sizes, blogroll listings (“Check out these sites”), add copyright post footers, and extra "sidebar" paragraphs.

I currently use templates by Jeffrey Zeldman (A List Apart) and Douglas Bowman (StopDesign). I have modified my blog templates a great deal and have added lots of extra sidebar paragraphs, plus recently, an EServer Technical Communications Library search engine to expedite information foraging for my users.

5. Configure your settings. These include comments enabling, formatting, time/date stamp, archiving, site feed, publishing, email notification of comments posted, and revision of blog name or URL if desired.

Be sure to enable each post to have its own distinct URL, so you can provide people with direct links to specific articles.

EXAMPLE: http://www.streightsite.blogspot.com/2004/09/customer-service-is-profit-center.html

Notice, in the above example, how Blogger.com, who configures my post URLs, left out the word "a" between "is" and "profit center." When giving a specific post URL to someone, be sure to type it correctly, which means possibly slightly different from the exact post title. Long post titles are truncated, i.e., the last few or several words are deleted for the URL.

6. Start posting. Write and publish your articles, opinions, news updates, announcements, member communications, poems, stories, photos, paintings, rantings and ravings, corporate promotions, marketing reports, publicity statements, whatever.

TIP: Your blogging responsibilities can stimulate, challenge, and discipline you to learn something, even one little new detail or factoid, about your topic, industry, specialty, hobby, or cause. Then you put it in your own words, or quote someone, citing your source, and put it up on your blog site.

Your blogging, if you take it seriously and ethically, can actually prod you into expanding and enriching your expertise.

7. Start promoting. Put your blog URL(s) on all outgoing emails via the signature file, on all ads, direct mail, brochures, letterhead, flyers, business cards, web sites, and occasionally (not constantly!!!) with intelligent comments at other blogs (push a specific posted article URL, not just the blog itself).

WARNING: DO NOT spam other blog sites. Blog comment spam or "flyblogging" is suddently rampant. Spam a blog, and you'll be hated and banned from accessing them.

Bloggers are contemplating new, more effective ways to block comment spam.

Comment spam issues forth in such comments as: "Nice post. I read almost the entire thing. Will return to finish it later. I have written an interesting post on the same topic, go check out my article at [URL]."

For some reason this exact wording, or similar, has become a classic blog comment spam. I'm not sure why the "almost read the entire thing" phrase is in there. Probably to ward off any expectation that the comment spam will be relevant to the actual topic.

8. Keep posting. Stay committed to your blog(s). Add fresh content every few days, at least once a week. If you're interested in your field, this shouldn't be a challenge. Make time to get it done.

Maybe just a nice photo and a clever caption for it. Seth Godin often publishes just a few sentences, along with the URL for an article on some other site that he likes. Old last posted posts suggest that a blog may have been abandoned.

FINAL ADVICE: if you can post digital photos, especially your own original work, or art you have created on a paint program, post them. Text-only blogs tend to become a bit dry, while art and photography really enhances them.

If you are really on fire about an issue, a field of knowledge, a hobby, a philosophy, a belief system, a marketing angle, a product line, whatever...you can quickly and easily be the proud operator of a Power Blog!

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