Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tips from a New Blogger

When I started blogging I said I would share what I have learned. Although, I am still a toddling blogger, here are a few tips for those who are considering blogging.

Use a news reader
Before you start blogging, start using a news reader. For those in my organization, use Internet Explorer 7 and click on the little yellow news reader button. Eventually, you will want to migrate to something like Google Reader which is more versatile and integrates well with other Google applications. Ben posted a how-to use a news reader for his mother.

News readers are efficient, convenient, and useful in keeping up with developments in your favorite blogs. News readers are less intrusive than email lists. You will soon start wondering why more websites are not using news feeders (Atom or RSS feeds). Besides, most people who will read your blog will be using a news reader to prompt them that you have posted an article.

Consider the name of your blog
Think of a name you can stick with. My blog name is AAfromAA. That name has now become an identity and I really need to think of a good name for my blog page. Daily Blog Tips gives some tips for creating an effective names. I need to consider those tips, and I am looking for suggestions.

Create your own domain
Your own domain gives you a one-stop place. Also, the domain name makes it easy for you to share your blog address. When colleagues ask for my blog address, it is a lot easier to say "blog.aafromaa.com" than to give the blogspot address. The domain name helps readers associate you with your blog.

A Daily Blog Tips post also says to make a decision on www or no www (i.e., http:/ /www. domainname. com or http: //domainname.com. By settling on one, then you solve backlink count and search engine indexation problems.

Or you can use a redirect code. This is an important point if you are analyzing your site's search count. Decide on the front end of your process whether to use www or no www.

End your links with a slash
When using links, use the slash / after the link. The slash indicates the end of the address so it will load a little faster.
The improvement on the loading time of links ending with a slash will not be astronomical, but when it comes to speeding up a website every small bit helps!
Make paragraphs short
Reading on the web is different than reading on paper. Most people scan the web; they do not read the web like a book. Forget what you were taught in 8th grade language class about paragraph formations. Breaking up the paragraphs makes it easier to read. Also, use headings to help direct the reading.
A 100-word paragraph looks pretty long on a Web page. Long paragraphs send a signal to the reader: This will require effort. .... Short paragraphs send a different message: I'm easy! This won't take long at all! Read me!
Though, I have not investigated its applicability, this tip seems very pertinent for writing email messages, too.

Your blog is your own
Your blog is your own (unless your organization has limitations on your writing freedom). Write about what you know, your opinion, and what you want to express. Remembering anyone may read it, including your mother. Absolutely do not write in an offensive fashion--there is no reason too. You will be more effective if you keep your posts to a professional level of respect.

Blogging is your opportunity to share your knowledge. More people are interested in what you have to say that you may think. Do it professionally and readers will keep coming back.

Write to a particular person or a small group with similar interest
This is favorite my blog tip. When writing a post, think that you are writing to a particular person. For instance, I am writing this blog to any of my colleagues in my organization who are thinking about blogging. In particular, Tim who is particularly accurate in predicting gas pump prices could easily post his predictions in a blog. His short paragraphs of explanation would make for a quick, easy read in my news reader.

When Kevin Gamble in our dinner conversation was encouraging a colleague to blog, he responded to my question "Who do write to? The world?" Kevin gave this advice which I later found on one of his posts.

If you've been thinking about blogging, and don't think you have anything to say, think about your closest colleagues and family (think of your list of eight) and write for them. They really do want to know what's got your attention, what's important to you, and what you're thinking.
For every post, I keep this tip in mind.

Use links
If you read something that sparks your post, link to it. By linking to it, you are 1) giving credit for your inspiration and 2) giving the reader an opportunity to delve into the topic for more detail and explanation.

Other considerations
Questions that I have not answered are 1) do you need to stay with a certain topic area? and 2) does length matter? A colleague once discussed that he did not read a particular blog because the posts varied widely.

I like reading a variety of topics. It never occurred to me that variety would be a major problem. Though you might stay within a certain arena, variety should not be a big problem. The answer probably lies within the purpose of your blog.

My guess is length does not matter. If you write to a particular person or a small group with similar interest, then you will write effectively and length does not matter. Though, Missouri Small Business Center suggests that web text should be 75% of printed text.
Reading online is 25 percent slower than reading on paper. Therefore, web content needs to be about 75 percent the length of its paper equivalent.
This indicates that I need to work at taking out an extra words. That is going to be hard for me.

An example of a blog that can get lengthy, but interesting is The Fischbowl. I like the perspectives that Karl Fisch provides, albeit they are a little out of my professional arena. His perceptions make me think; I'll keep reading his posts.

His presentation, "Shift Happens / Did You Know?", is one of my favorites. The Scott McLeod version can be found on YouTube.

These are only tips
I don't consider any of these tips as absolutes. Do what you want. My only rule is respect the readers which means never be brutally offensive.

I need to learn more about Creative Commons Copyright and I need to develop my domain, http://www.anneadrian.com/ (it's there, but does not have the effect and information I want on it).

Do you have tips? Or would you consider sharing your mistakes and corrections on Dailly Blog Tips.

8 comments:

Beth Kanter said...

These are excellent tips and I'm going to link to these! I'm working on a webinar about web2.0 for Extension professionals and discovered your blog -- I'm glad I did.
http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2007/04/extension_20_in.html

Anne said...

Thanks Beth for the compliment.

I hope to continue with other tips, possibly a step by step guide of suggestions.

I look forward to your discussion on the webinar.

John Dorner said...

I loved the "Shift Happens" presentation!!! Wow! - Scary to think about the changes we will see in the next few years.

Anne said...

Thanks John, I love that video. I found that from Fischbowl, he also has one on cyberbullying that is appropriate for middleschoolers and junior high students.

After following your profile link I saw the Master Gardener blog--excellent. I am looking for Extension program blogs...this is a great example. Looking for others, let me know if you find other good examples.

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Jennifer Texada said...

These are great tips! I am going to share them in a workshop I am doing for cancer patients and caregivers on blogging

Go-Gulf said...

Finally, a technical guide that speaks a simple layman language. For the non-internet savvy people like me who are still grappling with internet terms, your guide is a refreshing change.
Easy to understand, and very detailed step-by-step guides. There is something for everyone as your tips are about making our blogs look fun and exciting. Thanks.