Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The New Blogger's Rulebook

This is from a cool blog i recently came upon from Boudicca's(who i read ALOT!!) blog roll. I thought it might be helpful to those beginning blogger's and funny to those of us who have been at it awhile and can still relate. If you're reading this and you realize there are no links associated with what he is talking about and you'd like to see more, feel free to click on the above link (i.e. "cool blog") to go directly to the original page. Now, i'm off to give him prop's for the post and see if my grovelling will help make his blog roll. And now without further adieu...

Jay Tea of Wizbang recently had a woman ask for help on how to start blogging. Brilliant though Jay is, he had no help to offer. Even the commenters were a little sparse on advice, which was both surprising and disappointing. So, for the sake of this unnamed reader, I'm going to toss out my thoughts on starting blogging.

YOUR NAME: Surprising as it may seem, the first step is NOT "run over to Blogger and sign up". The first and most important step in blogging is to choose a name for your blog. Although it seems like such a small task, it's actually the hardest part. Once you choose your name, you're pretty much stuck with it for your blogging career. It's possible to change names later on, but it means throwing away the name-recognition you worked so hard to build up over the course of the previous months.

Take your time with this step. Think carefully about the name you want. Sleep on it. Mull it over. When you finally come up with the right name for you, you'll know it. There'll be an almost-audible "click" in your head. Write that name down, then set it aside for a while. When you come back and read it again, if that click is still there, that's the name for you.

YOUR TAGLINE: This should expand on or explain your blog's name or your blog's general theme. It can be something witty that you create yourself, or even a quote that you find to be particularly appropriate. You don't have to be quite as selective as when choosing your blog's name, since taglines are easily changeable, but do give it some thought, as it will be the second thing your new visitors see, and it will, to some degree, affect how they interpret what you've written.

START WITH BLOGGER & BLOGSPOT: There are lots of blogging software options to choose from, but for your first blog, I recommend signing up with Blogger and being hosted at Blogspot. Why? Because it's free. If you decide later that blogging just isn't for you, you can quit and be out not a single penny. Also, it's user-friendly and has extensive help/FAQ resources

YOUR FIRST POST: Should suck. It's a tradition. Something like "Hey! Look! I have a blog now!" is a good way to test your posting ability.

YOUR SECOND POST: Should be a paragraph or two, introducing yourself to the world at large. Your name/pseudonym, where you're from, why you started blogging, and an overview of what you'd like your blog to be about. It's not your whole life story, just a good, solid "Howdy".

YOUR THIRD POST: And every post after that - whatever you want. It's your blog, and you can do with it as you please. Don't let anyone ever tell you different.

BELLS & WHISTLES: There are three things that Blogger does poorly or not at all, and I recommend that you use third party services to handle these things.

1) COMMENTS: Although Blogger DOES offer a comment feature, I personally find it slow, clumsy, awkward, and unreliable. I suggest using Haloscan. Not only are they faster and more trustworthy, they also give you trackback capability. All it costs you is the time to sign up, and using it is as simple as copying and pasting a single line of code. You can even use the "Autoinstall" option and not have to do any template-tweaking at all.

UPDATE: 1-16-06 - Since this entry was first posted, Blogger has improved their comment system - by allowing people without Blogger accounts to leave comments and by offering a word-verification spam filter - to the point where you probably don't NEED to use Haloscan unless you want to. Over at Alliance HQ, Basil makes a good case for using Blogger for comments and Haloscan only for trackbacks, and explains how.

2) PAGE VIEW COUNTER: Blogger doesn't offer one. Sitemeter does. It lets you know how many people have visited your site & how they got there. Free for the sign-up. Serves no practical purpose, other than allowing you to obsess about how many people are or aren't visiting your site. By which I mean it's the most important line of code you'll ever copy & paste.

3) IMAGE HOSTING: Eventually, you will feel an irresistable urge to post a picture of something. Probably your cat. Don't worry, it's normal. But how do you get that image from your computer to your blog? Blogger doesn't offer image hosting, and the service they recommend - "Hello" - is a cumbersome, unwieldy, user-antagonistic piece of crap. Don't bother. Keep it simple. Use ImageShack. Very simple, very free. You can even use it without registering if you want, but I recommend registering, since it's simple, non-invasive, and makes it a LOT easier to manage your images.

UPDATE 8-10-05: Blogger now offers image hosting, which I review briefly in this post.

That should be enough to get you started. Once you've got a few posts under your belt, then it's time to get yourself noticed, tips for doing which can be found in my "Fighting Invisibility" post.

The thought I'll leave you with is the thought I started with. Before you take the plunge, spend some time thinking about your blog's name and theme, and what you want it to be about.

In tribal cultures, young teenagers are often put through a rite of passage, after which they are given adult names. A blog is like that. Forget what your parents call you. Forget the names you were called in school. Forget the names your family & friends call you now.

This time, you name yourself. Listen to your soul's whisper, and become who you already know you are.

UPDATE 5-24-05: [If you've found this post useful enough to blog about, send a trackback or e-mail the permalink to me at and I'll add you to my Bad Example Groupies blogroll. See this post for details]

Was this helpful? Comical? Lemme know... The Piper


Dawn said...

helpful,looks like I may have started off a little better than I thought. but then again who needs it, I always got you :)

Bou said...

Harvey is a WONDERFUL man. He is the one who really continued to prod me into blogging. I'd not be blogging if not for him. I'm coming up on 4 years.

He has a lot of tips he gives out to new bloggers and may even have a whole category on it. (I thought he did.)

Anonymous said...

.... indeed, Harvey is one helpful guy....


the friendly neighborhood piper said...

He's got some fantastic stuff on there! i've actually been incorporating some of those ideas, we'll see how well they pan out for me.