Tag Archives: blog

Why Would Someone Want to Blog about Magpies?

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How many of you out there have a brother? I do… and when I recorded this video, I was at his house in Iowa visiting. I received an email from Findlay, asking for help getting interest generated for his brother’s blog. His brother is in the last year of Design school, and is doing a final project on Magpies dotted around areas of historical and cultural importance in London. The problem is, he needs people to see and comment on his work.

The great thing about blogging is that it makes it easy for you to publish what you’re doing. Whether you have text, photos or videos, you can throw it on the Web and get it hosted for free usually. As for rising above the noise, it’s going to be centered on what you’re publishing. I don’t know if your brother has given background notes on his project, or maybe broken out parts of it and gone into deeper detail. Maybe he could give some background even, on where he got his inspiration. Comments will swell around the blog more if there is a story or dialogue, or even by asking questions of the audience.

If this is a visual project, make sure he posts a lot of pictures and videos. Heck, give more background and information on the Magpies themselves. As long as you treat the blog as a kind of pulpit, where you can speak to your audience… you’re going to get attention. Your audience should be captivated, interested, and want to learn more.

The next level is to let other people know about it. Contact some general news sites, or other design blogs. Branch out and visit other places, so you’ll get noticed. If the content is good, people will come.

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How do you Keep up with all Your Comments?

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An old friend from Iowa recently emailed to ask me how I manage to keep up with all the comments I receive on a daily basis. I have comments on my blog, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. He wondered if I have advice for all of you to help manage your comments.

My biggest piece of advice is to limit the number of Social Networking sites that you belong to and participate in. If you have accounts everywhere… you’ll never keep up. I check my MySpace comments maybe once a week. I don’t receive many comments on Facebook, so it’s easy to keep up with them. I honestly don’t read every comment I receive on every network… that would be impossible. I do read everything on Twitter, and everything on YouTube. I receive a mass amount of blog comments, which Kat thankfully helps me to go through and moderate daily.

On Twitter, I plan to start featuring a follower of the day. I love Twitter, because I get to meet people from backgrounds that are much different from mine. When those people comment to me on Twitter, I get to see what I’m doing from a different perspective. Most commentary on Twitter is of high value, and genuine in nature. Ultimately, it’s not about where someone comments. It’s that they are commenting. You get to know each person for who they are.

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Is your Blog Usable, or a Jumbled Mess of Information?

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When someone visits your blog, can they find their way around easily? Is everything neatly organized on your site… or is it more of a jumbled mess of information, links and text? Here are some excellent tips to help you get (and keep!) your blog organized.

  • Be predictable. When we want to know what a site is about, the first thing we look for is an ‘About’ page. When we want to contact the owner of a site, the first thing we look for is a ‘Contact’ page. When we want to leave a comment, we usually look to the bottom of a post. When we want to subscribe to a blog, we look for the subscribe button at the top of the sidebar. These things are so common that they’ve become standards… things we expect. When we can’t find the standard, we look for the next most similar thing. By adhering to these predictable standards, you’re actually making it as easy as possible for your blog’s visitors to do exactly what you want them to do. Sometimes being predictable is not a bad thing!
  • Be obvious. Look down at your keyboard, and you’ll probably be able to spot at least one key that you’ve never noticed before. This is either because you have no need for it, or you don’t know what it does. It could be the most useful key ever, but your hesitation when confronted with the unknown has probably stopped you ever pressing it before. What if it deletes everything you just wrote? We don’t like not knowing what the result of our actions will be, and so it goes with your blog. Non-obvious links and buttons will very rarely be clicked. Would a new visitor know what this does, or where it leads?
  • Subtract the unimportant. By hiding important elements (your most popular posts, your feed icon, your comment button) amongst a dozen other unimportant things (widgets and recent comments), you’re making it harder for readers to do what is truly important to you.
  • Limit options. A category list with 10 categories is a lot more usable than a list with 50 categories. Too many options creates overload, which leads to deferral: a visitor will not engage with that element at all. Your list of 5 most popular posts will get clicked more than your list of 20, and so on. Simplified options make it easier for the visitor to decide where they want to place their attention. Too much choice will actually hurt your blog’s usability.
  • Do the little things. A usable blog, aside from the above, is also made up of many little touches that make your visitor’s browsing experience easier, such as:
    • Does your header image link back to your main page?
    • Does your blog have an about page?
    • Does your blog have a contact page?
    • Do your headlines match your content?
    • Is it clear where your links will lead?
    • Do you use frequent paragraphs in your posts?
    • Do you have comment links at the bottom of your post?
    • Do you use sub-headings?
    • Are your posts less than 2/3 screen-length wide?
    • Are you making your best posts easily accessible?
    • Are your links easy to pick out?

    All of these are things you should think about, and improve upon where needed, if you want your blog to be successful.

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Are you the only Person who Isn't Blogging?

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Thomas is a 14 year old who recently tried to start a Tech blog to make money via AdSense. He didn’t do so well, but learned a lot along the way. He is passing along his tips for starting and maintaining a more successful blog.

  • Don’t think you are going to get rich quick. Blogging takes a ton of effort, work and time. You’re not just going to start a blog, write a few posts, throw in Adsense and make a million dollars! So keep that in mind. I do it because I enjoy it as well, not just for money. But of course, I’m only fourteen and I don’t need to feed a family.
  • Do choose a niche! And no, tech is not a niche, unless you are somebody like Chris. Tech is just too wide of a topic, trust me… I tried it. Also, “about me” is not a niche. Unless I’m your friend, I’m most likely not going to read your personal blog, and it certainly will not make money. Make a list of your top 5 things to do. Those are all potential blog topics. Blog about what you like and know, otherwise it will get boring and become a chore.
  • Do read other blogs in the niche you choose. This is very important. It keeps you up-to-date on the latest news in your niche, and will give you ideas for posts. A feed reader is a good way to do this. I would also recommend reading ProBlogger or LockerGnome for more tips on making money blogging.
  • Do comment on other blogs in your niche. This will help get your name out, and drive traffic to your blog. News Flash: “cool post man!” is not a comment. Comments are well-written tips relating to the post, or an answer to a question in the post or other comments. It’s a conversation.
  • Don’t rush into it. Plan ahead. This is probably the single most important thing when you start a new blog. Choose a name for your blog, get a domain, get a design and get hosting. I would also recommend writing a couple week’s worth of posts to get you started. Do all this before you launch. Also, budget in a little money. You’ll need it for hosting, and you may want to buy advertising.

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Tech Blogs

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I get emailed every minute of every day. Many of the ones I get now are junk emails. I love when all of you send in good questions, though. Vito sent in a question, asking me if “Tech Blogs” are overdone, or not. Have they become too common?

Given that the Internet is technical in nature, and blogs (the setup and management) are technical in nature… it stands to reason that many bloggers are Techie who blog about technical matters. Wow… that’s a mouthful. But yes, it’s a pretty crowded market.

You have to have a unique voice. That is a given. Your point needs to be fresh and new. Even if others don’t agree with you… you need to blog what you know. Be passionate about what you’re writing. KNOW your material. It’s all about doing something different, and being yourself.

I have one word for you if you want to get traffic to your blog: Network. Where are you online? Become active on Social Networking sites, such as Twitter and MySpace. Whose blogs are you reading and commenting on? None? Shame on you! How do you think others will find you? You will have to reach out to others, to bring them to you. More important than the content on your blog is your interaction within the community.

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How to Start (and KEEP) a Blog

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It happens to the best of us. We start a blog with every intention of keeping it up, and then things get in the way and we forget it. Maybe you don’t know what to write. Maybe you just don’t have time… many things come into play. Here are some excellent tips to help you get started, and stay focused.

  • Decide what it’s about If you’re writing for a particular audience, write what that audience wants to read. If you’re trying to reach out to D&D fans, don’t start writing about the Civil War. Only write about D&D and related topics. If you’re going for a more general audience, research what you’re going to update about and see if it’s already been blogged to death. Everyone blogs about politics, so stay away from it, unless your story is less than 12 hours old.
  • Don’t be concerned about comments. Just because someone doesn’t comment on an entry, that doesn’t mean people aren’t reading it, it most likely means they didn’t have anything to say about it. I’ve read tons of articles and blogs that I’ve never commented on, because I felt everything that needed to be said had been said in the entry itself, or was already in the comments. This doesn’t mean completely ignore comments – if no one ever comments on your blog, that almost certainly means no one is reading. I prefer to have comments disabled on my LJ, so I don’t have to worry about it. Instead, I let my readers comment me by email.
  • Let readers know when you’re gone. If you’re going on vacation and won’t be updating for a while, let your readers know. They may think that you’ve abandoned the blog and didn’t update about it, and remove you from their RSS subscriptions. This will decrease the number of readers of your blog.
  • Make sure you like your blog If you don’t like the way your blog looks, or your URL, change it. If you think there’s something wrong with it, there probably is. I’ve gone through this myself, and I changed the look of my previous journals countless times before I became completely happy with it. However, you may just think other people don’t like your look, so you need to get opinions. If you change the look of your blog, people may stop reading due to lack of familiarity.
  • Get a life Instead of worrying about what your next update will be about – get out and do something. If you just sit on the computer all day and tweak with your blog, it’s going to be a very boring read. I’ve learned that the less time you spend worrying about your blog, the more content you’ll have to write about. But make sure it’s interesting, because quantity does not equal quality.

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How to Build an Internet Community

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Building a strong Internet Community is no easy feat. It takes perseverance, dedication and a lot of hard work. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and thought I would pass on some of my experience to you.

Online communities are a commodity these days, but it wasn’t always this way. I started Lockergnome back in 1996. It’s gone through a lot of changes, with the biggest yet to come. We are working on changing it over to a Blogging Network, where you can make money by sharing your information. It works… we’ve been testing it for quite awhile now. People are actually making money, for blogging about what they know. It doesn’t have to be Tech related, either. We have blogs about dogs, blogs about daily life… we even have a blog from my mom!

Abdul sent me an email asking a bunch of questions about how to build a good Internet Community. Building a strong community has nothing to do anymore with having the right type of software, etc. It comes down to where you spend your time. You have to be able to reach an audience of some type. Then you need to stop and think… the people you are planning to reach out to… is there something else they need that you can give them?

I know what I’m doing as far as building Lockergnome, I’ve been at it for twelve years now. I’ve spent more time than I can tell you to get it where it is now, and where I want it to be. I’m so excited that I am going to be able to open up my website to all of you, and give you the opportunity to make money, by sharing what you know.

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Good Blog Comments

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Blogging is just huge. It seems like everyone AND their mom has a blog these days. Commenting on blog posts is a great way to interact with the author. Here are some tips to help you be able to be a better commenter.

  • Actually read the post. To be able to write a decent comment, you’re going to need to know what the blog is about. Just reading the title of the blog and then commenting is not the right way to do it because you may end up posting something that has already been covered in the blog article itself. This may mean your post may end up getting moderated for not adding constructively to the blog.
  • Post relevant information. If you’re going to be doing a post to one of the blogs, then please make sure that whatever you post is relevant to the blog post itself. Do not go onto any blog post and post for example “hello to all the moderators, you all rock.” While this is funny to you, it’s more than likely going to be rejected because it adds nothing at all to the current blog. So make sure that when you make a blog post that whatever you end up saying is relevant to that post.
  • Word Count. Posting something such as “hi” or “you rock” as your comment is more than likely once again to be deleted. If you’re going to leave a blog comment, then please make sure whatever you post is more than just a few words of text.
  • Spell Check. Most people know this already, but making sure you use correct English will allow for people to be able to understand what you are saying. L33tSpeak doesn’t classify as proper English, so please don’t post it. Use proper English, and your blog comment has a better chance of being accepted. If you’re worried about spelling, Google is your friend.
  • Be Respectful. When posting a reply to one of the blogs, please make sure that you are respectful to the people who have replied to the blog before posting. Give people the benefit of the doubt if they post something that you personally don’t agree with or know what they said maybe/is wrong. Don’t spam people with insults.

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Blog Book Questions

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I’ve written a couple of books in my life. I’ve also considered taking some of these videos I do, adding the text we write, and putting them into books. I got an email today from an author who is writing a book about blogging, and he asked me if he could do a chapter on me. I decided to answer the questions using a video.

Why do you think blogging has become so popular, and bloggers so influential? My opinion is that it’s all about the platform. A blog is nothing more than a personal publishing platform. The newer software makes it easier for people to get their thoughts out. I think that’s why it became so popular. Bloggers are influential because of their unfiltered thoughts and ideas. We share thoughts and ideas, create conversations, and link to each other. We have transcended the way publishing used to be.

Who reads your blog, and why do they read it? What is so good about your blog that makes it popular? My blogging style has evolved over the years. I used to do a lot of personal blogging, but not really anymore. Much of my blogging surrounds the videos I create, because that’s what I enjoy, and that’s what people seem to want to read. I do occasionally add in some blog posts with my thoughts about the technology industry. I think my blog has become popular because I’ve been doing this so long now, I tend to catch trends before they even happen at times.

What do you do to drive traffic, or get new readers to your blog? I do my best to create original and compelling content on a daily basis. I could care less about being on the “A-list” of bloggers. I care about attracting people who want to participate, and maybe learn something along the way. Another way is that I love to help people. Whether it’s answering a computer question, helping others make money or save money… I just love to try to help people as much as I can.

What’s the best way for someone to approach you if they want exposure through your blog? The best way is to never approach me. You’re not likely to get the coverage and exposure you want. Friends… occasionally I will help them out, yes. However, I don’t really do this unless I really feel something they have or are doing/writing.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be heard, but doesn’t want to (or cannot) blog every day? The number one key is consistency. Having your own domain name is good, but you’ll lose a lot of attraction and attention if you aren’t very active. Check into blogging networks or forums.

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How to do a Successful Photo Blog

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One of our Lockergnome Community members writes: “I’m headed to the finish line. I’ve only got two more posts to complete my 365 day photo blog. Here are some tips that have helped me get through this experiment”.

  • Make sure you have a measurable goal and track it. I personally use Joe’s Goals to track my posting goals. It is a simple web based goal tracker. I really like that I can set it up to send me an email reminder if I haven’t updated my goal in the past two days. It is also nice in that you can post your goal graph on a web page. I use iGoogle and have the widget on there to remind me as well. The more reminders for your goal the better. Joe’s goals is also nice in that it tracks your chain of consecutive days.
  • Use some sort of software that will let you post in the future for timed release of your photo. This is the best feature of WordPress ever! I tend to try and batch up my posting to save time. This also works great for back posting missing days. If you’re not super hung up on really posting every day and faking it this works too.
  • Reward yourself. Come up with something that if you complete your 365 posts you will give yourself. In my case, I am planning on producing a book (That will be another post). I am looking at using Blurb to do the publishing. It doesn’t matter what your reward is. Some ideas are a new lens for your camera, a new flash, or really anything for enhancing your photography.
  • Get a solid work flow. I personally use UFRaw for RAW conversion of my Nikon D50 RAW files and GIMP for image manipulation. I do have Photoshop but find that I’m using GIMP 95% of the time. It doesn’t matter what you use, just find something that works for you.
  • Join Flickr, PhotoBucket, or some other social photography site to get feedback on your photography. This will help motivate you to keep shooting. Look for a local group that you may be able to go out on photo walking expeditions with.

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