Monday, March 07, 2005

Hop Into the Blog Bloat


...try not to make too small a splash! Posted by Hello



This verbose post will help you make a grand entrance into the bloat-o-sphere. What is this bloat-o-sphere? It's the sphere of blogs that has expanded hideously, and now you want to get in it, too.

This old buzzword, something you should consider arguing about, is “blog”, a shortened version of “weblog.”

The meaning is: a [pre-surfed] web list of relevant links, with brief or prolix commentary.

Blogs are the Next to the Last Big [paradoxical] Thing to hit the internet, after conventional web sites.

Blogs are a special kind of [hypothetical] mini-web site.

Blogs differ from traditional web sites by [theoretically] being more interactive, containing more user-generated content, being more intimate in tone, and more dynamic in nature, due to frequent updating (“posting”) by the blog author (“blogger”).

Blogs, that allow users to add comments, are a new, democratic, collaborative form of online content publishing.

Blogs that don't allow users to add comments are generally symptomatic of an old-fashioned uni-directional broadcast concept forcing its way into a new-fangled bi-polar communications medium.

Bi-directional blogs are para-revolutionary: they tear down the walls that separate site owners from site users.

Definitions of Blog

The English dictionary company Merriam-Webster has declared the word “blog” to be the 2004 Word of the Year. This ranking is based on online user lookups, that is, the number of times users have visited the Merriam-Webster web site to find the definition of “blog”.

I'm just glad the 2004 Word of the Year was not "bleg" or "blob".

(1) The Merriam-Webster definition is: “a web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often, hyperlinks provided by the writer.”

(2) My definition is: “a minimalistic, text-dominant web site that primarily contains frequent, chronologically ordered (most recent is first, i.e., at top of site main page), generally brief messages or articles (“posts”) by one or more authors, preferably with a comment posting function that enables user generated content to be added to each message posted by the blog author (“blogger”), and lists (“blogrolls”) lists of linked titles of other blogs and Web sites.

Creating a blog is easy if you know how, hard if you don't.

A blog and can increase good will and sales, by letting the public enter into a candid conversation with your company.


Lazy Steps to Creating
Your Very Own Blog!


1. Pick a topic

Take a long, leisurely time to decide what you’d enjoy discussing, ranting, or arguing about.

Might it be a hobby, recreational interest, career field, personal pursuit, historical interest, vocational skill, or domestic talent? Let's hope not.

Do you know a lot about something and want to share it with others? That might be a good topic for a blog.

Then again, if your discourse makes you sound like a Know It All, you should forget blogs and run for political office.

A blog can also be an embarrassing way to display your digital photos, digital art, fiction writing, poetry, and other activities in which you feel you have some talent or expertise.

If you have no talent, consider disabling user comments, unless you want to hear all about how bad you suck.

2. Create a title and URL

Choose a dumbed down title, like "All About Me.Com"

Be sure to invent one that'll be easy for idiots like me to remember, and that has spitting image relevance to your topic.

The URL (web address) should be the same as the blog title, but many bloggers have not followed this guideline.

For example, the poet Eleran has a poetry blog titled “Amid Rushes and Reeds” but the address is www.eleran.com. Although I find this confusing, it is common. Perhaps the blogger wanted to change the name of their blog, but not the web address.


3. Find a host

Many Internet Service Providers charge a monthly fee for blog hosting, and include sophisticated features.

But think: do I really need sophistication? Might that ruin my humble image?

I like Blogspot from Blogger/Google, which is free, easy to use, fast to update, reliable, and includes a variety of blog templates, Hello/Picasa digital image uploading, comment posting, email notifications of user comments, and many other free and valuable features.


4. Choose a template

Templates are pre-designed layouts that provide the visual structure for your blog.

Some ugly templates are easy to alter, in terms of colors, font size, blogrolls, and other tweaks.

Choose your template carefully. Try to imagine what your title and contents would look like in a particular template. If you have an impoverished imagination, skip this step.

If your template is ugly, try to make up for this fact by writing brilliant, long-winded essays instead of short posts.

Do you want side columns for your profile date (“About Me”), post archives, blogrolls (links to other blogs you recommend), advertisements (if you include any), and buttons for services such as blog directories? Why?

To gain a listing in blog directories, a reciprocal link, such as a graphic link to their site, is usually required on your blog.

Some blog hosts will allow you to change templates, but generally you’ll lose the modifications you made to it, including blogrolls and sidebar text.

Note: I advise against adding gimmicks or fringe features such as chatboxes, externally hosted, pop-up window type comment functionalities, site meters, hit counters, and calendars to a blog.

These add-ons can make the blog appear amateurish, and the price you pay for free add-ons may be pop-up advertisement proliferation, advertising the other services offered by the company.

5. Configure your settings

·Comment enabling (on, off, off for old posts only, registration required prior to posting, moderation, etc.)

·Format number of posts on the main page, the rest of the posts will be stored in your “archives”

·Archiving (by date, topic, or other category)

·Time/date stamp (what time zone you’re in, and how you want dates to appear). I recommend February 5, 2005 and not 01-05-2005 to avoid ambiguity.

·Distinct URL for each post (So you can promote an individual post by its URL. The first rule of blog promotion is to promote the individual posts, not the entire blog. More on this later.)

·Site feed (if you want users to be able to stay updated on new posts headlines via RSS feeds).

I've heard you can read posts in RSS, but not comments.

I don't understand RSS and don't have the inclination to try. Have at it, but don't say I didn't warn you. Did I warn you? I dunno.

·Email notification (the host will send you an email whenever a new comment is added by a user). This can help you monitor and eliminate comment spam.

6. Start posting

Most blogs contain short posts, usually one to six brief paragraphs.

It depends on what you want to accomplish, how much time you have to kill, and the interests of your readers.

Don’t be wordy (like Vaspers the Grate), but also don’t be afraid to fully cover a topic. Just be afraid of smart ass comments from the dufus brigade.

Users will read lengthy articles, as long as they are broken into short, two or three sentence paragraphs.

Ruthlessly chop dense texts into scannable chunks. Use numbered or bulleted lists whenever possible.

Develop a distinct “voice” so that you stand out from the millions of other blogs in the “blogosphere”, a collective term for all blogs.

When you hop into the blog bloat, try not to make too small of a splash.

You need a unique angle, a different twist, an unusual topic, content, slant, or presentation style.

Make sure there’s a reason why easily bored users should visit and regularly return to your blog.

Be creative. Use your enthusiasm, writing style, and subject matter knowledge to pull readers into your blog.

Just don't plant a tip jar anywhere, unless you Easter egg it.

The bloated blogosphere (7 million blogs) doesn’t need yet another “random trivial chatter about my mundane life” blog.

Frivolous vanity blogs merely decrease the overall value of the blogospheric network.

If you want a diary, consider: no one cares about you. Now, do you still want a diary?

Read other blogs in your topic category. Write about interesting posts you found in other blogs. Link to these blogs in your posts about them and in your blogroll. It's exciting to see your name and blog mentioned in another blog.

You start to feel connected and influential.

You max out your credit cards, buying things you can't afford to celebrate your newly acquired imaginary status in the bloatosphere.

Learn what makes the most popular blogs so popular. Study and compare. Is it the entertaining or helpful content? The outspoken and blunt writing style? The reliable links they provide to experts or support material? The odd facts and gizmos? The authoritative tone?

Popular blogs do many things right, and contain idiosycratic secret ingredients. I will reveal these aspects in my “Secrets of the Blogging Pros” book.

Successful blogs have a unique and bold personality behind the blog. Popular blogs consistently provide users with credible, relevant, ususual, and frequently updated content.

Remember: just because it’s online doesn’t mean anybody’s reading it.

Then again, having no comments on your posts doesn’t mean nobody is reading your blog. Only a tiny percentage of readers of online material bother to add comments.

Users may be shy, inarticulate, at a loss to know what to say, afraid that others may “flame” them (verbally attack them personally), or simply be too much in a rush to post a comment.

7. Start promoting

Promote individual posts you wrote, not the entire blog.

Once in a while, when appropriate, leave a comment like “I discuss further ramifications of this policy in my recent post, [URL deep linking to specific post]” Just don't overdo this, or you'll be accused of comment spamming, posting your URL just to drive traffic to your blog.

Identify the pupose of your blog.

Is it a sample portfolio of your writing, digital art, or professional expertise? Is it a means to build an online community? To spur impassioned comment and debate? To let customers enter into candid conversation with you? To counteract bad press? To learn from the marketplace? To attract book publishers? To gain new clients?

List your blog URL in blog directories. Users consult blog directories to find a blog on a specific topic. Submit your blog to some of the most popular search engines.

Submit your blog URL to Technorati (www.technorati.com/live/top100.html), Alexa (www.alexa.com) Blog Street (http://blogstreet.com/top100.html), and other blog tracking services.

Promote your blog URL in your letterhead, business cards, email signature, Web site, wiki, print brochures, catalogs, television/radio commercials, and any other marketing tools you use, including promotional products (swag).


8. Keep Your Blog “Alive”: Post Every Day or Twice a Week

Fresh content is key to return visitors and search engine ranking.

Most successful bloggers post at least twice a week.

Many bloggers add a new post every day.

Event blogs (blogs dedicated to a single current circumstance, like a political party convention or the tsunami tragedy) may post every few minutes during critical periods.

Old content gives the impression of an abandoned blog, a blog in which the author simply lost interest.

Is there a way to build a self-destruct mechanism in blog templates, so if there is no post within two weeks, it vanishes? There should be. Why don't you invent one?

Provide users with your credentials in a Bio or About Me page. If you claim to have published material, provide links to the documents. Credibility, not just content, is king in the online realm.

If your published articles suck, claim that someone else stole your online identity and published the garbage in your name, without your permission. That's what I always do. Sometimes it works.

The speed and simplicity of blogging are great, but anybody can do it. Thus, a blog is of questionable value, unless users have good reasons to trust the blogger.

Then again, even if they trust the blogger, it doesn't mean he or she knows what the heck they're talking about.

Did I tell you that I'm thinking of changing my aka to Leopold the Told?

Consider yourself told.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

This post is half-parody, half-serious.

Some of the remarks are good solid business blogging advice, and other remarks are trying (in vain) to be funny, smart assy, or just strange.

An Easter egg is a hidden code buried in a spot on a software app, a computer game, a web site, that, if you somehow stumble upon it accidentally, or learn about it from the developer, will cause a message, or image, or function to occur.

What's wrong with tip jars. It is NOT panhandling, it's taking advantage of the fact that blog readers, many of them, are stupidly generous, and might donate to a worthy blogger who has the sheer audacity to ask them to pull out their wallets and give until it hurts.

Quit making fun of tip jars. My friends have them on thier blogs.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

This post is half-parody, half-serious.

Some of the remarks are good solid business blogging advice, and other remarks are trying (in vain) to be funny, smart assy, or just strange.

An Easter egg is a hidden code buried in a spot on a software app, a computer game, a web site, that, if you somehow stumble upon it accidentally, or learn about it from the developer, will cause a message, or image, or function to occur.

What's wrong with tip jars. It is NOT panhandling, it's taking advantage of the fact that blog readers, many of them, are stupidly generous, and might donate to a worthy blogger who has the sheer audacity to ask them to pull out their wallets and give until it hurts.

Quit making fun of tip jars. My friends have them on thier blogs.