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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tips for New Bloggers

Posted by a4g @ 6/21/2005 06:53:00 PM

Now that Point Five reaches literally tens of readers a day-- maybe even you-- we get lots of questions about how we transformed our sleepy little blog into a Top 1000 powerhouse. Of course, there are a lot of answers to that question, but most of them are proprietary, so we generally delete those emails.

However, I thought it would be helpful to new bloggers to discuss some of the finer points of starting a new blog.

  • Try to think of a clever nom-de-plume. This is a french word that means "name of plume." I don't know what the hell that means, but I know you need to have one to be taken seriously. Oh, but be careful. You'll want to stay away from names like "Hindrocket" or "Big Trunk", unless you want a lot of Google traffic searching for gay porn. I chose "a4g", which has the mysterious, intriguing connotations of a randomly generated password.

  • Make sure to let everyone know that "blog" is short for "web log." This will solve a lot of problems.

  • Make sure your blog has an editorial theme. Pick a topic that interests you and craft your blog around it. It can be politics, hobbies, pets, family, anything! But it should be politics, because that other stuff is lame.

  • No satire. The field is getting a little crowded, and that means ideas are getting scarce. There's nothing more embarrassing than getting accused of "ripping off somebody else's idea" just because you ripped off somebody else's idea.

  • Try to inject your unique personality into every post. This can be challenging, because most people are annoying, including you. I mean, you like yourself, sure. But me? I can take you or leave you. On second thought, inject somebody else's personality into your blog. Maybe pretend you're a character from a movie. Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic was pretty cool. Well, no, maybe he was a dick. Maybe like Hannibal Lecter? I don't know, I don't watch a whole lot of movies.

  • If you have a cat, your blog should be full of cat pictures. You would think that all cats are pretty much the same, but if you've spent any time reading blogs, you'll know that every cat sleeps just a little bit differently. And any given cat will sleep differently each time it sleeps. Remember: that difference can mean monster traffic to your site.

  • One great way to get more traffic to your site is to drop in on the comments sections of other blogs and post links to your latest post. Try to really talk up how fantastic your analysis is. And don't worry if you are off-topic. Remember, your blog is worth the trip!

  • Don't quit your job to blog full time, unless you have enough money saved up to cover your bills for the first few months. After that, you can be pretty sure advertising revenue will take over. The Evil Emperor Mindstation suggests running up your credit cards for a couple months as a great alternative, and then you can pay them back down when the big money really starts rolling in.

  • If you're having trouble coming up with material, one great blogging technique is to say "Here's so-and-so's take on the latest controversy:", and then just lift their post and put it on your blog. This fills up the blog with nice long posts, which makes you seem really smart. Oh, but make sure to copy only about 90% of their post, and finish up with a "Read the whole thing." This will also make you seem authoritative. If you're feeling guilty about stealing somebody else's work, just remember: all they had to do was write it-- it took you to see that it was worth reading.

If you're in the rarefied air of "Top 1000 Blogger" (I assume there must be at least three hundred) and you have any other tips for the newbies, leave a comment to help them out.


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Abusive, hateful or irresponsible comments were probably posted by one of the contributors.
At 6/21/2005 08:10:00 PM, Blogger Citizen Grim ...
You'll want to stay away from names like "Hindrocket" or "Big Trunk", unless you want a lot of Google traffic searching for gay porn.

hahahaha... laughed at that one for a good 5 minutes... so THAT'S how they built their readership!
At 6/22/2005 06:49:00 PM, Anonymous Buckley F. Williams ...
Pick a great name for your site. Something like-

Stay away from nasal references in your site's title. Not cool.
At 6/25/2005 07:42:00 AM, Blogger Dymphna ...
Thank you so much for all these helpful tips.

I have started a new blog but I forgot about the cat pictures. OTOH (I know all these neat acronyms which make me look cool, at least IMHO). I DO have a picture of Howard Dean, though, so that's almost as good.

And I have the cat from hell who has to be taken to the vet every week and dipped in lime sulphur --or is it sulphured lime? -- anyway, he comes back each time looking bright yellow and smelling literally like Hell. Or its outer environs. Maybe I could blog about him. And then there was the calico who was supposed to be a girl but turned out to be a genetic sport (XXY). But they cut off his cojones anyway. Said he wouldn't know he wasn't a real boy and would spray everything. In revenge, he used his little atomizer anyway. His name was George, though had we been thinking, we'da called him Newt.

The editorial theme is harder, though, since my other blog already has an editorial theme. So this blog will be about...ummm...recipes. Poems. Book reviews. Things that piss me off. Sometimes family since they fit into recipes, book reviews (I sometimes read the books they're reading before they finish them), poems, and things that piss me off.

The politics part is accidental. Like the picture of Howard with a machine gun.

I don't have the constitutional strength for satire. People take you seriously and it's soooo boring one could break out in a rash. Is that one of the occupational hazards of satire? Can you spot satirists by the rash on their arms? OTOH, I am a wise-ass, which is almost as good...and no rash. Actually, satirists are like long-distance runners while we wise-asses go for the 100 yd dash. Usually because someone with an attitude is chasing us. Someone with a sharpened, gleaming attitude.

Instead of a blog, I think I'll call mine a blug. Sounds nicer. Or maybe a blag. And "a-fer-g" does not sound randomly generated at all. I recognized it istantly. Some disguise *that* was...

I did put up an Amazon link bleg on my new blug-blag. Not that I think anyone will get the books I put there. But it's a wonderful chance to talk about books I love without being interrupted. For the moment it's Ferrol Sams' "Widow's Mite" which if you haven't read, don't: you should get the tape instead so you'll get the flavor of his work.

In my blug, I'm pretending to live in God's neighborhood, right down the street. Normally I don't approve of gated communities, but hey, for Him I'll make an exception. In fact, when I mentioned this little problem to Him, he pointed out that it wasn't *He* who put up the gate. Hmmm. Hadn't noticed that before.

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