Simple blogging help for newbies to get started creating a good weblog.by Dave McAwesome
- Blog Checklist
- Blog Thunderdome
- Bloggination must be stopped
- Google Page Rank (beginners)
- Google Page Rank (advanced)
- Web Hosting (beginners)
As you know, by having an internet connection, you are REQUIRED to have a blog. It's the law. I know, I checked.
At their best, blogs are a great expressive outlet with real-time (immediate) feedback and an easy way to proliferate links to sex pills. At their worst, blogs can be boring, hate-filled, thoughtless garbage. But, hey, it's the internet, not the Encyclopedia Britannica. And that brings me to my first major point: Enough of this "blogs are the new journalism" crap. No they're not. Journalism involves sources and facts and grammar. Blogs do not. (By the same token, I think mainstream media like CNN, Fox News, The New York Times, etc. fail the criteria of journalism as well, but that's quite another rant we won't get to on this site. Ever.)
Good. Now that we've gotten this "new journalism" junk out of the way, it's time to blog. For my money (and by "money" I mean "poverty") Blogger is the easiest way to start. It's a free hosting service. You sign up, pick a template and start posting. Each post is kinda like an email to your site. If you know how to use email, you know how to use Blogger. Blogger isn't the only site. You could check out Blog-City or LiveJournal or whatever. I find LiveJournal to be ugly, and Blog-City is not as customizable straight out of the box like Blogger is. Most likely, you'll never want to customize your template, but if you do get that sick urge, Blogger is the easiest. Blogger Forum is a great resource. And I'll let you in on a little bonus...I heavily customized my own seldom used Blogger site to include a three-column format (instead of the standard two columns). I dig three-columns. A lot. If you want the code, sign up on my forum and make a post requesting it. I'd be happy to share. After all, I'm an incredible human being.
If you're not sure about WHAT to blog about, try thinking about any subjects that really interest you. What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What makes you hold on to 25-year-old Ponch action figures and write about them and take photographs of them and make them a focus of your life? I don't know, man. I don't know. But, damn it, I had a dream and I pursued it. Before long, I had a wondrous site of puking action figures, G.I. Joe-centric articles and Ponch. Hopefully, you have something more meaningful in your life to write about.
Once you've got things going and you're regularly updating your site with content, check out as many other blogs as possible. What are they doing that you like? What are they doing that you hate? What are they doing that's Ponch-related? If they're doing something cool with their design, remember that you can right click on their page, select "view page source" and steal their code. If you're not proficient in HTML code, post the site on a blogger or web design forum and ask the members there for help.
Blogging should be fun. Yes, it's work, but the balance between fun and work should tip towards the fun side of things. If not, step back and ask yourself why you're blogging in the first place. Remember, if you never step outside your apartment or home, you will be a very boring person and will have nothing to blog about. Cocooning around your computer screen is very detrimental to the writing process. I'll say it right now: if all you do is sit at a screen and blog, you suck. There. I said it. No, I won't apologize. You suck. Life is OUT THERE, not on a blog, not in reading 437 blogs a day, not in EverQuest. Now go kick yourself out of your apartment for a while. Have a beer for me.
Hey, look! You're back. I hope the beer was cold and refreshing. Let's get started again. Perhaps we should start out slowly: Blog is short for weblog. Okay? Let's speed things up now. If you post an entry that refers to another article on the web, please link to it in your blog. That's called a hyperlink and if there's anything people like to do when they're on the web, it's click hyperlinks. It's an easy way for visitors to see what you're talking about in your post. Then they can point out how off-base you are.
But what's this? Trouble in paradise? You're no longer satisfied by the 4 hits per week you get from your relatives and/or friends visiting your site? You want to be the greatest, biggest, most self-important blogger in the universe? You arrogant bastard. Alright, I'll point the way...but I do so grudgingly. You'll want to add your URL to three search engine directories: Google, Yahoo and Open Directory Project. That's your first step. Don't worry about the other search engines like Lycos or Alta Vista. They get their stuff from Google or Yahoo anyway. That's step one.
The next thing you should do is submit your site to my directory. Hah! How's that for self-promotion? Now that you've done that, you've just swapped your first link. Link-swapping is a great way to connect with other bloggers and Web sites. Ultimately, it will generate more traffic and readership to your site. BlogLinker and Link2Blogs are two good sites that facilitate this process in case you don't want to personally email every website owner on the planet. During your linkswapping quest, you can decide to only trade links with sites that have similar interests to yours or you can be a link whore, someone who swaps links with anyone and everyone.
My next step if I were you (and I'm not, thank goodness...god, you're such a link whore) would be to sign up to Exchange-a-rama. I know, I know, more self-promotion. But I did this for you guys--to give something back to the community. It's a button exchange, and I think it's so good it's a mix of fabulous, fantastic and delicious. It's fantabulicious. Okay, that's hyperbole, but it's still pretty cool. Basically, you submit an 88x31 button and put their code on your site. By having their code on your site, other member sites will display your 88x31 button on theirs and hopefully people will click on it to visit your site. Big deal, you say? Okay, chumly, let's get to traffic exchanges. (Note: I discontinued Exchage-a-rama, but that doesn't mean there aren't other button exchanges out there.)
Traffic exchanges are slightly more complicated. You sign up (duh). And you surf member sites in return for credits. Based on the number of credits, your site is viewed by other members of the traffic exchange. If you surf enough, the number of visitors and hits on your site will soar. Unfortunately, most of these visitors are greedy traffic whores like yourself and don't read or click on anything on your site. A few members, and naturally I consider myself in this category (what a great human being I am; really, what an incredible f-ing example of the human male I am), will check out your site in more detail and may actually become repeat visitors. And that's really what you want: a core of regular readers--a cadre of blindingly loyal sycophants who will nod their empty heads to your every utterance. Man, how good does THAT feel? Pretty damn cool. That's how.
I've used a bunch of traffic exchanges. I recommend two: BlogAdvance and BlogExplosion. I've also tried WolfSurfer and you're more than welcome to test drive it, but I thought there were too many pyramid scheme type sites enrolled. BlogAzoo is another one I've used, but it needs some more time to grow. I don't surf as much as I did the first two weeks I joined these sites. It was like heroin at first, man. Not...that...I would know...ahem, what heroin is like...cough. But it can easily turn into a time suck. If you're the opposite of me and you have money, then you can buy credits outright and never have to surf. Jeez, so far you’re an arrogant, traffic whoring, stuck-up, rich-ass dictator. Not traits you generally want to cultivate on a public blog. But whatever.
So concludes the McAwesome Guidelines to Bloggination. Let's review: you suck, Ponch is awesome, blogs can either be good or totally suck, I am an incredible human being. Hope that helps. Now that you've started, you can proceed to a bitter little rant about what I truly despise about blogs. You're welcome.
Before you go, let me give you a link for reliable inexpensive hosting, if you choose to go that route.BlogAdvance