Advice, wisdom, and insights for a new blogger, for anyone who just started, or is "getting ready" to start a blog.
Any person or organization.
In no particular order, just a random riffing:
(1) Get, buy, or create a custom or at least non-default, non-generic cookie cutter blog design template.
(2) Have a purpose for your blog and an intended audience. Family and friends? Employees and customers? Potential clients? Other musicians? A niche market? A specialty expertise? Art lovers? Voyeurs and nosey busy bodies who love to drill into other people's problems and confessed shortcomings? A people of the future?
(3) Focus on what really matters to you, to your company, to your customers, your peers, your readers, your fans.
(4) Use a Post Quality Test: "Does this post REALLY satisfy any known or guessed needs of my readers, or is it just an idiosyncratic tangent or vain confession that need not be publicized?
(5) Don't imagine that people are searching for you.
People are searching for rich, rare, relevant content, task-accomplishing functionalities, answers to questions, good deals on quality merchandise, expertise on difficult subjects, fully customized products, fully personalized service, truth, honesty, and value.
(6) Be aware that the MSM (main/morbid stream media) is your enemy, with a few exceptions.
Some exceptions are Business Week, Fortune, US News & World Report (because they interviewed me), Business Week, New York Times, CBS MarketWatch, PBS, NPR, and C-SPAN (e.g., Book TV). There may, and I stress that word "may", be, and I don't stress the word "be", others.
(7) Blogocombat is fun and builds mental muscles. Attack the MSM every chance you get, except for the exceptions I mentioned earlier, of course.
(8) Blogocombat is a good use of your time, defending the blogosphere and the core values of blogging.
(9) Blogocombat is calmly, intellectually, giftedly, gently and gingerly clobbering your debate opponent. I think I've only lost two or three fights, but that's because I was tired and sleepy.
(10) Practice blogocombat never. Just use it when absolutely necessary.
(11) Avoid it whenever possible.
But face it, one day you'll read a blog, and something will jump out at you. You'll feel a delicious shiver of hate pulse up and down your spine.
You hate a lie, a stupidity, an unbearably smug hubris that you detect in a post by some blogger. You fill out the comment form and pass the Turing test to put your comment into moderation, hoping it gets published by the spambot fighting blogger.
(12) Get a book on HTML, the code that web sites are built with, though other code is also used.
Learn enough to be able to get into your design template source code and fiddle around with it, changing colors, adding images, creating blogrolls of recommended external sites, feedrolls (like I used to have with Digg and Lockergnome), polls, Technorati tracking code, various sidebar category links, podcast players, video players, custom search engines, games, news rivers, and other embeds into your blog.
(13) Change your photo, blog colors and design, and other things once in a while, to stir things up, and keep it interesting.
(14) Do unexpected things, blog about some tangent, some odd topic, again: to add spice and variety to your blog, to keep it from getting stale and predictable.
(15) Use some comedy, self-parody, and all the grand unquestionable principles of Winning Through Self-loathing which dovetails into Miserably Servile Customer Pampering which can easily run on the platform of Zero Budget Marketing for Mass/Niche Market Triumph.
(16) Choose your blogroll entries carefully.
One of the best ways to judge a new or unfamiliar blog is by the blogroll. If it's a blog about online marketing, universal content utopia, absolute switched-on user empowerment, and the new share economy, for example, does the blogroll contain the established thought leaders, marketing practice (not consultant) bloggers, and business book authors?
(17) Remember you want to blogroll those who practice and succeed in their field, not ivory tower speculators, or armchair salesmen. You want to link to experts who are experts not by thinking and writing about something, but by thinking and DOING and writing about it. A list of clients or accounts is nice, if you can verify the veracity of it.
(18) Craft your post titles with utmost care, perhaps spending more time working on the title that you do on the post itself.
That title is what search engine spiders will see, it's what will show up in your Recent Posts sidebar display, it's what will probably/hopefully appear in your post URL (the web address of that specific post, rather than the main index home page of your blog).
It's the post title that is the advertising ambassador of your entire blog. The post title will be what decides an RSS subscriber who is seeking relevant, helpful, useful, interesting, shocking, or entertaining content.
Treat that post title with the respect it deserves. Shorter is generally better, and numbered lists convey substance and organized information that is easy to skim quickly.
Use bizarre, poetic, absurd, or surreal post titles once in a while, to stir things up and strike an off-key chord.
See Carrie Snell for post titles that are imaginative, provocative, and usually totally irrelevant to the posts themselves, which is a good avant garde blog technique.
(19) If you want traffic and comments, there are only two ways to get them: (a) be famous and sought after already, or (b) post rich, relevant, funny, polite comments at other, comment-reciprocating, or high traffic, or niche influence, blogs.
(20) Interact swiftly, politely, and completely with your readers. Reply quickly to their emails and post comments. Never attack or censor commentors.
Comment moderation with delayed posting and email notification of comments in moderation is the way to go.
You DO NOT need to use a captcha, a word or character verification device. In most cases, your blog will not be under relentless onslaughts of spambot attacks, which is what captchas block. When you have to answer a simple math problem, or type in the letters/numbers you see in a fouled background box, that jazzes the characters so it's a real pain to decipher them, you're in a captcha botkiller.
Don't annoy your readers with a word verification test. Just moderate comments, not censoring, but deleting spam comments, comments that are off topic, vague, stupid, and contain a link to some web site that usually is pornographic, pseudo pharmacy, attaches spyware or viruses or other malicious attacks or dubious if not criminal practices.
Filter out ALL and IMMEDIATELY the comment spam and abusive comments that try to fight its way into your blog. Learn about abusive comments and spambot prevention devices and techniques.
Do not allow anyone to use your blog as a free billboard for their products or services, by posting opportunistic comments, comments that contain links to their sites, whether commercial or informational. Unless you know and like them.
(21) Understand what "blog residue" is. Blog residue is what remains inside you when you walk away from the computer: your connecting with other bloggers, and your increasing skills in debate, research, networking, writing, web design, HTML, CSS, RSS, credibility evaluation, and even improvements in your appreciation of diversity, democracy, and free thought.
(22) Evolve your blog. Come on, learn something, okay? Put a podcast "welcome" message in your sidebar. Put a photo of you on it. Why? To humanize your blog, make it more personal, more intimate, candid, transparent, authentic, that's why. Think of new ways to get more of you into your blog, not for narcissistic, myopic, or selfish vanity reasons, but to connect with other real human beings transmitting their thoughts and visions via networked overwrought computers.
(23) Never post "boilerplate" comments on other people's blogs. "Boilerplate comments" are basically press release type remarks, defending a company or product or person, and paid or somehow incentivized by a third party, like a company. Also, you don't want to kill your credibility and ethics by being a PayPerPost spambot, littering the blogosphere with pollutions in the form of insincere or sincere, but paid, compensated, incentivized, or coached comments attacking or promoting a third party or product.
(24) Don't believe everything you see in the blogosphere.
Some blogs are NOT HUMAN. Yes, the threat is at its greatest when you do a search on a word or topic. You'll run into RSS feed blogs, vampire blogs, inhuman blogoid objects that do not enable reader comments, no About or Contact page, floating like an aggregated lump of exploitive cyber sewage. These blogoid monstrosities will suck a post right out of your blog and re-blog it, re-post it to their authorless blog. Your post then sits there, linking back to your blog, as can be seen in a Technorati Other Blgos That Link Here search. It sits there, staring at you like a kidnapped child in distress. And there's nothing you can do about it.
What other blogger reveals such blogospheric estoterica to you? Name one.
your pal Vaspers