Monday, April 24, 2006

Improve your blog!

Back on track, I want to write about some excellent postings on the Problogger site. I discovered this site via Dave Lull, and though it has the off-putting (to me) subtitle of "helping bloggers to make money" I find it has many excellent posts about how to improve your blog and your blogging techniques, which are applicable whether or not one wants to make money out of one's blog ;-). It has been on a roll recently. Here's a posting about sending readers deeper into your blog. In this post, Darren Rowse (Problogger) links to a page offering advice to new blogs on Liz Strauss's "Successful and outstanding bloggers". Darren continues: "Simply search through your archives for key posts that would be relevant to first time readers and put them together as a post that ties them together. Then it's a matter of linking to that page in key places on your blog." Well, I couldn't agree more, though I imagine it will not be easy to do, but I will try. I still have not managed to collect postings on Petrona by tag (Tribe's blog does it fantastically), but Darren's method sounds possible for the technically marginally competent. So I will give it a go, as I would like to collect up my themed posts. Another of Darren's posts is on how to grow your blog's readership. (See what I mean: another worthy goal irrespective of trying to make money.) In the post Darren provides comments on each of 10 things Guy Kawasaki has learned on "evangelising" in his first 120 days of blogging. These include: "think book not diary"; collect email addresses and links; acknowledging and responding to commenters, and so on. The posting is worth reading for its common-sense advice, even if some of it ("getting a scoop") is a bit ambitious. Next in my collection of Problogger posts is on blogger credibility. One of Darren's readers asks this question: how to make yourself a credible source? For example, when I came across your site, I got the impression that you had no experience with blogging, but found your niche in making money from blogging. But since you had never actually done it, I'm curious as to how you made yourself the source that you are now. You have very good tips and information, but obviously didn't have them to begin with. Darren's answer: "I think it gets to the heart of a really important issue for bloggers and one of the things that is often at the heart of a blog's success or failure - the credibility of the blogger." He says : "Obviously when I started blogging three and a half years ago I had no experience in blogging and started out like a newbie like everyone else - but my first blog wasn't actually on the topic of blogging. It was a personal (ish) blog. Then over time I added new blogs to my blogs and learned as much as I could about blogging and blogging as an income. Gradually over a number of years I built a way to make a full time living online through a variety of blogs. It was at this point that I launched (in September 2004) after I'd been blogging almost two years." Darren says that over the next few days he is going to post on items that can add to a blogger's credibility. First up: longevity. The "money" question here is whether you are committed to your blog for the long haul. Second: experience. This is the "write what you know about" advice we all received at school -- but this does not make it less true, particularly for those of us who are not regular writers. There will be more of this series ("expertise" will be next), so if you like the style, follow it on Problogger. The last Problogger posting I want to mention for today is on two styles of blogging. My subtitle on Petrona is "linking and thinking", as that's essentially what I like to do -- find interesting material on the internet and write about it. Darren discusses the two "classes" of blog, the "linker" blog (I think of Instapundit, for example) which is largely an information-provider collecting up links on a topic of interest for the reader to get a snapshot of an area and save time; and the more personal, "thinking" site -- many of the literary, library and science blogs I subscribe to (see Petrona 2) are like this. Darren calls these styles of blogging "referential" and "experiential", and posts his thoughts on them and their various degrees of overlap.