Tag Archives: Blogging

IntenseDebate: The Solution We’ve Been Waiting For?

Automattic, the company backing the WordPress blog platform, recently purchased the hosted commenting system IntenseDebate. Like they did with Gravatar, they will likely make it ridiculously easy to make the service work with your WordPress blog, while keeping it open to other platforms. Gravatar had a big leap in usage after Automattic purchased the service, perhaps we’ll see a similar effect with IntenseDebate?

Now why is this important?

If you create an account with IntenseDebate (totally optional when you comment on IntenseDebate-equipped blogs), you are given a profile that keeps track of your comments. This means that you can easily see where you’ve commented, allowing you to go back and read followup comments.

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Why Your RSS Subscribers Are Valuable

Many new bloggers wonder why RSS subscribers are such as widely referred-to statistic, seeing as a lot of them don’t visit the actual site, but read the article in a feed reader, therefore robbing them of traffic and ad impressions, and reducing the likelyhood of commenting. Sometimes that idea pushes them to use partial feeds to force people to come to their website.

Darren Rowse has come up with the best response I have seen so far.

A subscriber that never visits is better than a one off visitor who never returns.

I had one blogger recently tell me that he’d removed the option to subscribe to his blog via RSS from his blog because he didn’t want to ‘give away’ his content. He wanted people who read his content to ‘pay’ him by visiting his blog (and earning him money from his advertising) and he saw RSS subscribers as ‘freeloaders’.

My response to him was that I’d rather have a subscriber who rarely visits my actual blog than a one off visitors who never returns because they have no way of keeping in touch.

RSS subscribers are your most loyal readers. When they subscribe they see every single one of your posts (though they may skip reading one here or there if they’re pressed for time, or just not interested). They may visit your blog some days, if they want to leave a comment or browse your archives. The point is: If your blog is good enough your RSS subsscribers will visit the website now and then, and more frequently than most non-subscribers probably.

They read your posts, and that’s the real point of blogging.

Preparing Your Blog For Easy iPhone Usage

I’ve previously talked about scripts that make it easier to develop iPhone web apps, or parse blog RSS feeds into a format easily navigable format for the iPhone. But that’s a lot of work, isn’t it?

What if you just want to make your WordPress-powered blog easy to use on the iPhone? Pro Blog Design has the answer. It covers the usage of a WordPress plugin to automatically reformat your blog for iPhone users, as well as how to create custom Web-Clip icons for your site.

Reading text off a colored background isn’t always a great experience at iPhone level, and given that very few people on a small screen are going to read your ads, there is little gain in showing them.

The iWPhone plugin provides a clean, simple interface that’s easy to read from. It also has a pretty cool feature where tapping anywhere on the content of an excerpt will load the post page.

However, the iPhone web browser is great. The vast majority of sites look great on the iPhone, and yours is probably one of them. If so, keep your custom design. It’s much more unique and much more memorable than the iPhone theme will ever be.

You may or may not want to go through the trouble to do it, and it’s not necessary for a lot of blogs. But if you run a blog updated multiple times a day, with content that people want to see right when it’s added (news comes to mind), you definitely have a situation where the iWPhone plugin could be useful.

Read the full post for the rest of Michael’s info and tutorial.

WordPress vs. Movable Type: Who’s Winning?

Hendry Lee of BlogBuildingU recently published an article comparing WordPress 2.5 and the latest version of Six Apart’s Movable Type. It seems thought out fairly well, and seems to be fair comparision.

Though a lot of people may be getting tired of this little fight, it’s not going to end soon. Movable Type was the de facto standard before WordPress came along (coupled with that period where they charged for the software) and became the more popular option. Movable Type isn’t going to go down without a fight, I can tell you that, but WordPress is a few steps ahead. They’ve built a strong community during their time as Blogging Script of Choice, and the architecture is better. To quote the article:

WordPress is entirely developed in PHP, while Movable Type uses a mix of PHP and Perl (but mostly Perl).

Though there are a lot of Perl fanatics out there, PHP is, in my opinion, a better language for web publishing, and is easier for newbies to grasp. Movable Type has some cool features that WordPress doesn’t, but it’s reliance on Perl is a major handicap.

Today’s Lesson: Maintain and Protect Your Blogging Workstation

A couple days ago, I missed a day blogging because I had to remove malware from a computer (not mine). Though it wasn’t the computer I use for my blogging, the main idea still stands: Maintain your computer, and take care to avoid having harm come to it, or you could spend a day (or a week) dealing with an issue.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the epic saga unfold: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12.

The malware that invaded the Dell laptop, which is mainly used by my parents, though my younger brother used it that day, is known as “VirusWebProtect2008.” It’s one of those “Smitfraud” faux antivirus software packages that installs itself via a compromised website, causes mayhem, and trys to sell you “antivirus software” that will supposedly remove the virus. Essentially it

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Blogsessive: Obsessed With Blogging

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found quite a few interesting articles on Blogsessive.com. I haven’t subscribed quite yet, but I’m considering. They have some interesting posts, and it might be worth your while to check some of them out. Here are a few noteable posts of theirs:

Maybe I’ll subscribe once I finish weeding-out the feeds I could do without from my aggregator.

“Push-Button Publishing”: Why It’s Important

I spend so much time writing on how to move beyond Blog*Spot, and how to run a more professional blog, that I sometimes forget the importance of what Blogger.com calls “Push-Button Publishing.” And more often, I forget that I once was at a similar level to Blog*Spot users (though back then I hand-coded “GeoCities-style” HTML pages that probably looked worse than some of the Blog*Spot blogs…).

The internet is what can be called a “two-way medium.” This implies that anyone can create content and publish it online for others to consume, and they can do the same. You don’t just consume canned content provided by SuperMegaCorp, you can actually be involved in the publishing.

In contrast, TV and radio are one-way mediums. The evil supersized corporations (e.g. CBS, ClearChannel, ABC) own everything, and all you can do is consume the content they shove at you.

In the early days of radio and television, they were two-way mediums. Anyone with the expertise to build a radio transmitter and reciever could talk to other such people. (Give HAM Radio a try if you’d like to see what it’s like.) Then the FCC (or if you live outside the U.S., you probably have your own local equivalent) came along and sectioned everything off, licensing only a select few to broadcast. Then those companies merged and merged, eventually monopolizing the broadcast industry.

Free blog providers, like Blog*Spot and WordPress.com, help make the internet the two-way medium that it is. Anyone can set-up a blog and put their message online. That’s important. Very important. The ability for anyone to publish content to the internet is part of what makes it so special. Free blog providers put that ability into the hands of many more people, who wouln’t otherwise have blogs.

Yes, I know saying this sort of goes against my message that “you need a good design” and that “you should host your blog yourself.” But that message goes more toward people who want to become authoritative sources of information. If you’re not into all that, and just want a personal blog to put your thoughts out there for whoever, go ahead with Blog*Spot. I write more for people who want to write seriously and professionally, not personal bloggers. I’m not discounting personaly blogs, as I hope the above text has shown. I think they’re pretty important, since they put the power of web publishing in the hands of everyone, but I have to point out that there is a distinction between personal blogs, and blogs such as FreelanceSwitch, CNet, and this one. There’s a place for both types of blogs, and anyone can start one of either, but understand that creating a topical blog is an undertaking that requires careful planning, a bit more web experience, and a few dollars for a domain and hosting.

“Push-Button Publishing”

Anyone can have a blog, what with all of the instant blog services like Blogger and WordPress.com. But just because they can have a blog doesn’t mean they should.

I believe that it’s important that it be possible for anyone who has something to say to publish their thoughts online. However, the key part is “anyone who has something to say.” I don’t like the idea of an internet full of narcissistic personal blogs and ad-filled John Chow wannabes. If you have something real to say, or if you’re an unusually interesting person, go right ahead and launch a blog. Plan it out though. Don’t just throw something together in five minutes on a whim. (Also, I recommend getting a domain name if you want to be taken seriously.)

I like the idea of web publishing being fairly easy, but sometimes I wonder if it’s a little too easy.

My general rule of thumb is “if you have something interesting to say, and the initiative the keep the blog going for longer than a year, go right ahead.”

“Make Money Online”: Blogging Is All About The Content

There are countless “Make Money Online” blogs. Blogs attempting to make money by blogging, blogs trying to teach how to make money blogging, and blogs trying to make money online by teaching how to make money online. Many of the latter hadn’t made a cent off blogging before starting a blog on making money online.

Enough all ready!

Blogging is all about the content. You can have the coolest design ever, and some good monetization options in place, but if your content isn’t any good, you won’t be making any money. Repeat after me: Blogging is not about making money. Blogging is, first and foremost, about the content. Yes, if you have good content, and can build up your user base, you can make money. But it should not be your prime focus.

Shift your focus to producing interesting/funny/useful content, and building a following. Yes, you should put some thought to monetization, but don’t dwell on it. The dollar signs are an optional, pleasant side effect of blogging, not the important part. The content is the important part.

When you start a blog, pick a topic that you have a lot to say about; a topic that you can see yourself writing about for a long time into the foreseeable future. And please, do not write about “making money online!” Trust me, it’s not a good niche to get into. It’s overcrowded with John Chow and John Chow wannabes, not to mention it’s kind of ludicrous anyway. Blogging is about content, not making money, therefore it’s not a great topic to blog about.

Just remember: Blogging is all about the content. Focus on the content, and the money will follow.

Photo by Tracy O

Do You Have a Tagline?

A tagline is a short line of text that runs underneath your site’s name. It says something about your site, and adds to the first impression. In my opinion, the best taglines are both humorous and descriptive. (Of course, humor may not be appropriate for some sites, but it still pays to be descriptive.) Your tagline should sum-up your blog in one sentence.

Taglines are by no means exclusive to websites. Traditional publications use them, corporations have them, and even movies have taglines. Who hasn’t heard (or heard references to) “Think Different” or “Yo Quiero Taco Bell”? What about “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”? Just run a Google search on “tagline” and you’ll find plenty of corporate taglines. Or look at IMDB.com, and you’ll notice that they list the tagline(s) for all your favorite movies.

If you don’t already have a good tagline for your website, get one. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

For more funny taglines, check out The Best Website Taglines Around the Internet.

Consider adding a tagline. Whether you decide to be funny or not, be sure to check out Copyblogger’s guide to writing taglines.