Posts Tagged ‘Blog

06
Apr
09

If your blog died today… what would it be remembered for?

Darren Rowse
Image by BenSpark via Flickr

Over at ProBlogger.net, Darren Rowse’s “31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge” starts today.  It has been extremely successful in the past couple of years he has done the Challenge which lasts 31 days and almost guarantees improvements in the creative content of your blog if you follow through with the Challenge.  It is so popular among bloggers not only because it apparently really helps bloggers to focus on and achieve their blog goals but because Darren has earned a reputation worldwide for being a bit of a “blog guru” — he has a knack for focusing on the problems that plague us all and presenting exercises that are at once challenging and gratifying (not to mention unique).

For example, one of his most popular blog exercises called “If your blog died today… what would it be remembered for?”  On the surface, it sounds horribly morose but he actually presents the following challenge that forces you to really ask yourself what you want out of your blog, how you’d like it to be perceived and the impact you think it will make versus the impact it is actually making in people’s lives.

In the post, he asks Bloggers to:

Project yourself forward 10 years, imagine that at that point you decide to end your blog having achieved everything that you want to achieve with it and write a short obituary about your blog as you’d like other people to have seen it to that point.  Keep in mind that your blog has been as successful as it can be and you’re ending it at the peak of its game.

The thought of that alone is a bit overwhelming but extremely thought-provoking.  It is also the tip of the iceberg as Darren presents a set of questions (a road map) to help us through the exercise:

  • What do you want people to say about your blog?
  • How do you hope it will have been perceived?
  • What will people miss about it the most?
  • What ground has it broken?
  • What has it achieved?
  • How has it helped people?

This is a timed exercise.  He gives us 10 minutes to answer the above questions and write our Blog Obituary.  It seems like a woefully inadequate amount of time but, then, if you can’t say what your blog is and how you want it to impact the world in ten minutes, then that would indicate a huge problem that needs to be worked through.

That was only the first part of the exercise.  The second part really brings the first part home:

Write an obituary for your blog as it stands TODAY.  Write an obituary for your blog as you think others see it now.

  • What would they say about it?
  • What would people miss about it?
  • What has it achieved?
  • How has it fulfilled a need or service in people’s lives.
  • What ground has it broken?

I have to admit that, for me personally, this exercise is not easy at all.  I read through many of the Comments to his post (77 total) and was not surprised to see others had struggled mightily as well.  It is so easy to open a blog account with a blogging service (as easy as it is to open a box of cereal) that I believe people very seldom put this much thought into what they really want to say with their blogs.  But if we did this work first, imagine how much better our blogs would be!

I’m going to do this exercise tonight.  You can read the original “Blog Obituary” post here.  Is this something that you think would help you?

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23
Mar
09

A Deceased Soldier Blogs His Goodbye

andrew-olmsted

It would be, without a doubt, the hardest blog post that anyone would have to write in their entire lives.  It makes our struggles to blog about the mundane things in our lives (while they, too, have their special meaning and purpose in life) seem small and irrelevant in comparison.

Major Andrew Olmstead began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army.  His writings were posted at four blogs:

(1) AndrewOlmstead.com (2) Obsidian Wings (3) Winds of Change and (4) his local newspaper The Rocky Mountain News (Colorado Springs) where he blogged a column called From the Front Lines (his perspective from the front lines in Iraq).

He also blogged constantly throughout his service in Iraq (no matter what the circumstances).  He outlines eloquently his reasons for blogging on the “About Me” section of his personal blog.  I’ve reposted it below:

This is a vanity site that gives me the opportunity to comment on current events, or anything that catches my eye. What I post here is intended to put my thoughts on particular issues up for discussion; I do not pretend to be infallible or anything close to that. When I post something, it is what I believe, but it may be based on inaccurate information or faulty analysis. Where that occurs, I look to my readers to help me find the facts and improve my analytical abilities. As this is a vanity site, I have no regular publication schedule, (although I generally post daily), nor do I receive any editorial guidance. But thanks to the magic of the Internet and the kind souls who’ve gone to the trouble of linking here it does provide me the opportunity to contribute in some small manner to the philosophical and political questions of the day.

Major Olmstead took the time to write what would be the last blog post he would ever write in his life — his final thoughts about his life, people, love and… yes, the war.  He then instructed a friend to upload it to his blog (AndrewOlmstead.com) if he were killed in combat in Iraq.

On January 3rd, 2008, Major Andrew Olmstead was killed in an enemy ambush in Iraq.  His final post was uploaded to his site shortly thereafter.  I won’t say anything about the post.  I believe that, if you choose to read it, you will certainly come to your own conclusions (which I welcome discussions on).  I will say that Major Olmstead’s selfless service to his country and people reminds me that there are no excuses for not doing what you really want to do in life (even blogging).

Major Andrew Olmstead’s Final Blog Post to the world can be found here.

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23
Mar
09

Your Blog – How to make a great first impression

First impressions are crucial

Good first impressions are crucial

We all know that first impressions are short and precious.  We make up our minds about another person within seconds of meeting them and, if the impression on our brains tells us the person is a schmuck, they may never recover from our judgement or be given a second chance.

The same holds true for blog posts (even more so actually, since we are far quicker to click away from a blog know there are no consequences for the rejection than we are to turn away from someone in person).

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net has reposted one of his most popular blog posts where he offers great tips on how to make a great first impression on people who are visiting our blog for the very first time.  Here is the original video clip:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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22
Mar
09

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Blog

Blogging Readiness
Image by cambodia4kidsorg via Flickr

We all have our reasons for doing it (or wanting to do it).  But very seldom do we conciously think about why we blog.  And for those people who have never blogged and have no desire to do so the question is, “Why should I blog?”

According to Technorati‘s State of the Blogosphere 2008 (an annual report on the changing landscape of blogging) where they interviewed over 1,000 bloggers on why they blog, the main reason most people blog is as a form of self-expression and to share information, followed by networking and getting a foot in the door in traditional old media.  Other reasons people blog included:

  • activism
  • book publicity
  • personal satisfaction
  • self-promotion
  • share my passion
  • to become known as an expert and
  • “to bake half-baked ideas

Here are the numbers from Technorati’s research reflecting why bloggers said they blog:

Why Do You Blog?

why-do-you-blog-chart1

Reading The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, I came across their Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Blog:

To Blog or Not to Blog:  Top Ten Reasons Why You Should

  1. To build a reputation as a wise, thoughtful expert on family values.
  2. To destroy someone else’s reputation as a wise, thoughtful expert on family values with one drunken photo from the all-nude male caberet.
  3. To entertain the fantasy that a baby-model scout is looking at photos of your child in a too-cute Burberry two-piece toddler swimsuit ($55).
  4. Pure exhibitionism.
  5. To vent about your halitosis-plagued boss and boneheaded corporate policies.
  6. To establish cred for a new career after being fired by your halitosis-plagued boss and bone-headed HR minions.
  7. To let the world know that your babysitter is trying to extort $1.5 million from you.
  8. To stop a rumor that you sexually harassed said babysitter.
  9. Grandma gently suggests that you share your rants about (pick one) the last election, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the need for a border fense, or the “Klintoons” with someone other than her.
  10. For the opportunity to make an additional $1.65 per week through Google AdWords or the Amazon Associates program.

Did Technorati or Huffington Post miss anything?  Do tell.
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17
Mar
09

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

confusion-computer

There is always confusion for beginner bloggers over the differences betweeen Worpress.com and WordPress.org.  I was also confused when I turned to WordPress as my blog platform of choice.

There is a lot of information online about the differences between Worpress.com and WordPress.org with various opinions about which one you should use.  In almost all cases, the author of an article will suggest that your usage of either platform depends entirely on the kind of blog you will have (personal journal or business blog), your monetary restrictions and monetary goals (advertising on your blog) and your technical expertise.

Below, I’ve listed some of the basic and most relevant differences between both platforms from About.com.  But first, here is the description of the differences between Worpress.com and WordPress.org posted on the Support section of WordPress.com website:

WordPress.com is a hosted blog service. You do not have to download software, pay for hosting or manage a web server. WordPress.com does not permit uploading themes or plugins. WordPress.org is free software. You can install themes and plugins, run ads, and edit the database.

One of the things that is omitted here (and in their more detailed explanation of the differences between both platforms listed here) is something that I believe should be seriously considered when making a decision to use either platform:

WordPress.com is free BUT any content you create on their site legally belongs to them.  In other words, your blog (the name, the content, photos you upload, etc.) is the property of WordPress.com to do with what they wish.  That means if you are in violation of their rules for any reason (i.e., monetizing through Google Adsense which they do not allow), they can delete your account immediately and there is nothing you can do about it.  They can also delete your account for no apparent reason at all and you would have no recourse.  You are on their servers and have agreed to allow them to aggregate and manage your content at a cost to them.  When you create your account, you sign away any right to the content.

WordPress.org is free software but you will need to host it on your own server through a third-party hosting platform (i.e., GoDaddy, Hostgator, LunarPages, etc.) for a fee (starting, on average, at $7 per month) and purchase a domain name (approximately $7 per year) that will be associated with your blog.  While you pay a fee for these services (and a nominal one at that) and you will need to upload the WordPress.org software to your server (which requires a bit of effort – but very little), the important thing to know is that with WordPress.org, because you are hosting your own blog on a contracted/paid for third-party service, you own your blog and all of its content.

So, to me, the question is not: which service is easier to use?  Rather:  Am I creating a blog for business reasons or merely as a journal of my thoughts for myself, friends and family?  Do I mind not owning my content?  I believe that if this is the first of the many questions you have to ask yourself about blogging, then (once you answer it) the other questions will practically answer themselves.

If you are blogging to (1) create a brand for yourself or your business as an expert or voice of recognition in your field; (2) monetize your content (which you can’t do on WordPress.com); or to (3) buil a huge following and grow your blog content-wise and visually with your audience, then consider hosting your own blog with Worpress.org.  The last thing you would want as a business person (or professional blogger) is for anyone other than yourself to own your blog content.

Here are more differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org to consider that I am posting from an article on the topic at About.com:

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com:

Following are some factors you may want to consider before you decide to start your blog on a paid host with WordPress.org or WordPress.com (free):

  • Monetization and Advertisements: WordPress.com does not allow you to include advertisements of any kind.
  • Customization: WordPress.com provides a limited amount of space and customization options (although enough for most beginner bloggers).
  • Knowledge: WordPress.org requires more technical knowledge than WordPress.com.
  • Future Requirements: If your blog becomes popular, switching to WordPress.org requires moving your blog and obtaining a new domain name and URL address.

What Features Does WordPress Offer Bloggers?:

WordPress provides a simple interface to allow even the most technically-challenged people to start blogs. The software includes a variety of features including:

  • Custom themes
  • Integrated stats tracker
  • Spam protection
  • Auto-save
  • Spell check
  • Tagging
  • Automatic ping
  • Various sidebar widgets
  • Multiple authors
  • Plug-ins
  • Support
  • WordPress.org also allows for advertising, a custom domain, custom email addresses and more

As I mentioned at our meetup on Saturday, if your blog is on another blog platform (i.e., Blogger, Vox, etc.) or if you’ve never blogged before and need to familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of WordPress, opening a free WordPress.com account to “test the waters” is an ideal thing to do before committing to the self-hosting option.  You can create a “test” blog about any subject and then fiddle around with it to familiarize yourself with WordPress in general.

It’s a personal decision based on your needs but, ultimately, the blog you create should reflect who you are, what you have to say and be as enriching an experience as possible for your Users.  Whatever you do, don’t sit on the fence!  Choose one and go for it!

In the next post, I’ll have video tutorials on how to open a WordPress.com account and how to install a WordPress.org account on a third party server such as GoDaddy.com.

Happy blogging! : )

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