Top Five Blog Tips

Yes, you can be happy with a blog which doesn’t have all of these but we are all just a bit greedy for a little fame. Here is what you can do.

1. Content.

Content is still king. It is what you have to offer. Have something to say. Say it in a way that is readable. Have a look at how news stories are written with the point of the story first and clearly stated right away. Afterwards come the facts, the spin off points. By the end of the story the information has trickled down to minor details which could be cut off should the news editor not want to give the space for them.

2. Layout.

There is a lot included in layout: navigation, colour, white space, avoiding clutter, etc. A blog needs to be easy to read, easy on the eyes. Having a dramatic or exotic (technologically) layout/ template does not always work out well. Your layout should showcase your content, present it all to be read, found and enjoyed. My favourite layouts are simple, clear and don’t include much colour or scripts. Not that I do that on my personal blog. I love colour and trying things my own way and that is my place to experiment.

3. Links.

Some blogs have no or very few links. Links are how we share and discuss new things, they matter! Isn’t it great to wander into a blog and find some great new thing, a blogging group, an interesting new kind of art/ craft, even another clever blog widget/ gadget. The best part of blogging is the adventure of the discovery of new things and ideas.

4. About.

It’s not just who you are or what your blog is about. Write it as a guide for yourself, to keep you focused on what you plan to do. Include a whole FAQ if you get ambitious.

5. Promotion.

Promoting your blog is not just a marketing scheme using SEO tactics, joining pyramid linkback schemes and piling on keywords. Commenting on other blogs (and giving feedback to the comments on your blogs) is better and gives you the chance to shine, show off your writing, and who you are to the blogger of your choice. Don’t pick a blog to comment on based on phoniness and traffic. If you want real, sincere readers show yourself to be the same.

With each comment you leave your link on another blog. Write something relevant, interesting or an opinion or experience you have had. If you lure someone to your blog from your comment on another blog, you’ve just successfully promoted your blog. Comments take time but so does any kind of blog promotion. However, you can choose which kind of promotion speaks for you.

Meme about Blogging

  1. How long have you been blogging?
    Since sometime in 1998.

    2. Any advice to beginners?
    Keep it fun. If it begins to be a job you need to take some time off.

    3. What are the good things blogging has brought to your life?
    I’ve used it as a journal during some hard times. I have met a lot of people (even though it is just online) who I would not have met otherwise. I’ve also found new creative ideas and outlets, more all the time.

    4. What would you consider the pitfalls?
    The commercialness which started a few years ago and is building up like a giant puss-ball zit these days. I expect it will keep getting worse until someone finds the next great idea in spamming.

    5. Tell us about your blog name. Ever think of changing it? If so, to what? Why?
    That Grrl. It’s had a few other names (I’d have to think really hard to remember them) but I don’t think I would change is again now.

    6. Knowing what you know now, was starting a blog a good thing for you? Why or why not?
    I think it was a good thing. I love the creative aspect. I like seeing what I can do with my limited abilities in coding and graphics.

    7. How do you think blogging, bloggers, or the blogosphere has changed since you started?
    I started a long time ago. Things have changed in huge ways. I miss the old days when blogging was personal. I’m pretty sick of the commercial blogging stuff and the fast, fake friends in social network stuff now.

    8. Ultimately, what would you like your blog to accomplish for you or others?
    I don’t have a plan with a lot of goals and accomplishments. I’d like others to find something interesting maybe even useful. Mostly I blog for myself. To stretch my creativity and give myself a place to write when I want to tell myself something.

    I found this one on Sunday Stealing. It’s from a couple of weeks ago.

Sneaking Out of Your Cubicle

Your whole body is tired. You’re just dragging yourself through the day and then, in the evening, you’re expected to attend an event for work, with all your co-workers. Missing it is not an option, if you want a job to go back to on Monday morning.

Coffee and the usual perk you up ideas are not helping. Your car is parked in the lot at work, if you could just sneak down during lunch and disappear for an hour or three in the afternoon… surely you would be ok to finish the day and then get through the evening. How do you sneak out yet make it seem you will be back in your cubicle any time?

Your Best Greetings

You’ve just been hired to write greeting cards. They expect you to come up with at least 10 good ideas and one great idea each day. Not easy. But, if you can come up with some unique or modern events and situations that might help.

What kind of greeting card could you come up with for a divorce? What about a third marriage? How about a greeting card for a couple who have just adopted a child, not a baby? There are a lot of situations not covered by the standard display of greeting cards. Write 10, and then one more. Pick your best, send it in to a greeting card company and get paid for your writing doodle.

Thursday Thirteen: Your Ad Here

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen things you should do to peeve off readers of your blog. Because readers aren’t everything…

1. Make sure you have a bunch of ads appearing on top of the screen, before they even see a first post. Make them EARN the right to see your greatness.

2. Don’t add a link back to your home/ front page. Really, once they’ve clicked away what do you need them back for?

3. Make sure you show them how much you value them as paying customers. Write “Your Ad Here” all over your blog.

4. Use pop up ads. That will really get their attention, they won’t forget you any time soon. Might even tell a few friends.

5. Make them register to see your site. Think of all the email addresses you can snag that way.

6. Use word verification for any comments they try to make. Make sure it’s in some kind of really tiny (or script) font so it won’t be too easy to read. As an added bonus choose colours like blue on black, or something people who are colour blind or otherwise disabled can’t see. That will spare you from all that reader feedback.

7. Put your Google and Alexa rank in prominent places on your blog. Show off your best achievements. Make lots of posts about your blog traffic, your blog stats and how much money your blog is going to make. People just can’t read enough of that.

8. Run at least one long ad down your sidebar with a graphic that flashes and spins and possibly causes seizures in some people. Just plain motion sickness in others.

9. Add videos and music files that will take at least 15 minutes to load for anyone with a less than great Internet connection.

10. Forget all that spelling and grammar and punctuation from school. It’s much more fun to make your own rules and let them figure it out.

11. Run paid ads as regular posts make it sound like you sincerely use the product and fully love it, don’t let on that you’ve been paid for your opinion and your post. Why spoil it for them?

12. Every now and then, just to shake things up, get an ad that takes over your blog. The kind that loads your blog partly and then changes to another page over your blog which is, of course, just a huge ad. This works really well if it’s an adult ad.

13. Run groupings of text link ads between your blog posts. Just like flossing your teeth, it gives your blog readers that little something extra.

14. (An added bonus) Put up an ad for one of those contests they have already won that sends them off to a second site which collects their email and cell phone number. By the time they actually win a free gift card for $5 they’ve given away enough information about themselves to have their identity stolen. All thanks to you, I’m sure that $5 will come in handy.

15. (Another addition) Run something that causes every fifth word in your post to become a hyper link which sends readers to some spam search engine or other junk or sales stuff they don’t want. This is great camouflage for your real links, no one needed to find those anyway.

Finally, good luck. Get more ideas by looking at other blogs. They’re out there!

May Day

In spite of your best friends, the twins Alice and Claire, telling you they both had dreams about your flight crashing, you go ahead and board the plane to Hong Kong. Well, what can we say… you were warned, double warned even!

Now, sitting in your comfortable airline seat with a tiny bag of peanuts, the Captain announces that the turbulence is a bit rougher than he expected. Meanwhile you can plainly hear him yelling at the co-pilot, something about May Day. Maybe a seat at the back of the plane would have been better, at least you could pretend you hadn’t heard that.

The flight attendant looks a little green. But she puts on a brave smile while she offers everyone free drinks. You take two and wonder what do people do with those little bottles? They probably aren’t much use for recycling. So, what are your ideas? What could you do with those little liquor bottles you get on air planes and at the cashier at liquor stores?

The New Latte

You’ve had caramel lattes, french vanilla lattes, cinnamon lattes and just about every latte ever poured and steamed into a paper or china cup. But, there’s a $1000 prize to anyone who can come up with a new best selling latte, all season. What are your ideas? One more thing, the contest closes in one hour so you have to hustle!

Outside the Envelope Bloggers

Gave it a space of its own on Outside the Envelope. Will see how it goes.

I thought about doing this as an award but… that makes it seem everyone who gets it should actually be professional, polished and really good at it. I don’t want to exclude people like myself who don’t have any real skill just blundering along and having fun trying. So anyone who tries is welcome as well as those who really are good at creating, coding, drawing and illustrating and make people like me jealous or at least very wishful.

So, this is here for anyone who wants to join up a group of creative bloggers. Every Monday (not for any good reason) create a blog entry which uses some other art form, not the standard typed post. Think along the lines of mail art, anything you can stuff into or onto an envelope. But, in this case it has to fit into a blog post.

I think it’s a step in the direction of re-making blogs as they once were. Long ago in the dinosaur age when blogs were about fun, creativity and trying it out in order to learn HTML and testing your own power as someone who can bring their own ideas and adventures to the Internet through web publishing.

Just let me know so we can build a list, visit back and forth and roll it up into a blogroll when it’s more than just me talking to myself.

It’s Okay to Lose Your Mind

Next time you’re on the bus or taking a shower or any one of a dozen things and places where you can let your mind wander, write down at least three of the things your mind comes up with. I always get interesting ideas while in the shower or waiting for the bus to get me where I’m going. I don’t always write them down. Sometimes I just don’t have pen and paper or I am just too busy once I’m at my destination. I regret it cause the best ideas come when you just let your mind have free reign.

Getting Ideas

How do you get ideas? It’s not like you sit down in front of your computer and automatically you know what you are going to write about and how you are going to write it. Not each and every time anyway. There is some planning and organizing involved.

I keep a messy idea file. Most of it is in a notebook which I keep in my purse. I use it to note down the ideas as they occur to me. But, ideas tend to pop up at the worst times, as far as being able to make notes. That’s because its usually when I’m doing something else that I get my best ideas. Driving along to work, running a bit late, suddenly I have a great idea for a new story. I can’t just pull over and start writing. Traffic would be in a mess for one thing.

So, I try to remember my idea until I can write it down. Usually I do this by focusing on a key word and depending on that to jog my memory later. It doesn’t always work but it’s something.

Anyway, back to how you get ideas. If you’re lucky you find an idea in something already published. Those can be kept easily enough. Just get a copy of the article and store it in an idea file at home. Try to keep them organized so they actually are useful and not just a collection of paper you will use ‘someday’.

Other ideas can come from freewriting and brainstorming. Two versions of the same thing. Freewriting is just letting yourself write, without stopping to think too much along the way. Write until you’re finished. Ignore proper grammar, don’t check spelling and leave punctuation nitpicking for later. Just write everything that comes to mind about a topic or don’t even start with any one topic in mind. Brainstorming is the same but I always think of it as making a list of points more than writing in sentences.

Need more ideas? Read! Start with the newspaper and work your way along to magazines, books, newsletters, cereal boxes and so on and so on. The more you know about the more you will bring into your range. You could be writing about buttery toast and add in all kinds of information from what you know about butter, safe use of knives, etc. But, if you don’t know about using a knife to butter toast you won’t know to write about it. If you don’t know what to look for you won’t find it.

Something I do when looking for ideas to add links to my column is randomly combining words. Just think of topics, things you are interested in and put them together in ways you’ve never thought of before. It’s really interesting what you can come up with. Sometimes you find really unique ideas this way. Best of all is finding a group of people who have had the same ideas. That is always a gold mine to a writer, a research gem.

However you get ideas, don’t forget to talk to people. Talk about all kinds of stuff. Everyone has different life experiences, you can’t experience everything yourself. So learn to pick up what you can along the way from the people you bump into. Great ideas are all around you it’s just a matter of keeping your senses open to them. If you do get stuck, take a break. You’re most likely to come up with something when you stop trying too hard.