...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 21, 2007

Annika's Journal Farewell Tour, Part II: I Pass On My Wisdom To New Bloggers

I'm doing some email account housecleaning, and here's something I wrote a long time ago in response to a question from someone who was just starting a blog. It may have been Ted's daughter Mookie, actually. Although she's so smart she never really needed my advice.

This may not be terribly interesting for most of you, but rather than just delete it forever, here it is:

My advice to new bloggers is this: use blogger (aka blogspot). Like most people, I started out there. It sucks but it's free and they keep improving it all the time. It's relatively user friendly and you don't have to know HTML, but it is customizable if you decide to start tinkering with the template later on. Also it's easy for two or more people to group blog on, so you and your friend can do it together. That's actually a good idea, because it takes the pressure off when someone else blogs with you.

Sign up at https://www2.blogger.com/start

Pick a blog name that starts with a letter high up in the alphabet, because when people blogroll you, you'll want to be near the top of their list.

Sign up for Sitemeter, and Blogrolling, they are great, and both free.

Sitemeter: http://www.sitemeter.com/default.asp?action=newaccount

Blogrolling: http://www.blogrolling.com/

With sitemeter you can see how many visitors you're getting and get an idea of where they're coming from. You want to know who's sending you hits so you can return the favor and network that way.

You need blogrolling because it's really easy to add people to your blogroll. Otherwise you'd have to know some basic HTML, and edit your template every time you add or delete someone. so Blogrolling makes life easy.

To build readership when no one knows you, it's very important to leave comments and emails wherever you go, and be nice. Link to other blogs you like whenever they post something that interests you. Bloggers have larger than normal egos, and they love it when people are talking about them.

Leave comments early at big blogs that allow comments. these would be blogs like Wizbang, IMAO, Moxie, and A Small Victory. If you seem interesting, people will click on you just to find out who you are. If they like what they see they will come back, and maybe even blogroll you.

One measure of your success is how many blogrolls you are on, because that is what the Ecosystem measures, and most bloggers view the Ecosystem as the arbiter of blog success. Although I've done relatively well on the Ecosystem, I don't think it's very accurate. Still, if you're serious about political blogging, it's important to move up the ecosystem. It's like the US News and World Report of the blogosphere.

The ecosystem is here: http://www.truthlaidbear.com/ecosystem.php

Most every politically oriented blog is listed. If you do good work, you might be invited to join some blog groups who will add you to their own lists and then you're really on a lot of blogrolls. As you can see, I'm on Munuviana's list, Blogs for Bush, and the Bear Flag League [and the Cotillion]. That gets annika's journal listed on a lot of blogs that I might normally not get blogrolled at.

Another way to see who's talking about your blog is to check Technorati. It's kind of the poor man's Trackback (which is a device that lets you know when someone has mentioned you in their blog) Trackback is not yet available to the basic blogger setup, but if you go to Technorati, you can find out who's linked you. There is usually a delay in their list, but it's still pretty useful to check every now and then.

Tecnorati is here: http://www.technorati.com/

You put your blog's URL in the search box at the top. You can put anything in that search box and it will find out which blogs mention whatever you're looking for. So for instance, if I want to find out what other bloggers think about Britney, I could just type that in there. Or if I'm thinking about doing a post on a NYT article I read, but I want to see what others have said about it first, I cut and paste the article's URL in there. It's great.

Otherwise, have fun, include some humor, and pictures are good too, every now and then. A blog that is pleasant to look at is very important. Never use a black or dark background, light colors are easier to read. Some people (myself included) are annoyed by a blog with a black background and usually don't return unless the writing is exceptional.

Try to stay with the larger fonts, they're easier to read. And very importantly, break up your paragraphs! Short paragraphs are much more inviting to the reader. I almost never bother reading blogs that have huge paragraphs. Thing is, most people are reading at work, when they're not supposed to be, and they want to do it quickly. If a blog post looks like it will take too long to read, they'll move on. Column width and font size are also important to readability, and many bloggers don't pay enough attention to that. But then again, changing the defaults involves some knowledge of HTML, and people don't wanna be bothered with that sometimes.

So I advise you to do this when you sign up for blogger. Pick a template when it asks you, during the sign up process. then finish signing up until you get your blog. Then go into the blog editor before you even start writing, and click on the template tab. Then click on "pick new" right underneath the tab. Then you should see a much wider selection of new format choices than they gave you at first. Pick from one of those, because they are much better than the original choices. stay away from the orange one though. There are actually some bugs in the orange template, which make it hard to scroll on some browsers.

Anyway, that's all I got. I gave you the baby steps version, because I'm not sure how much detail you wanted, but it was fun. Feel free to email me if you need any more help."

If I had to add anything else to that advice it would be the following:

Be scrupulously honest when quoting anything. Perhaps I get this from having studied the Harvard Blue Book, but I think this is very important, especially for political bloggers. Credibility is your most important asset, and if you get the reputation for altering quotes, you're dead. If you take something out, insert elipses. If you change a word, put it in brackets. In short, follow conventional citation rules and you won't go wrong.

Posted by annika, Apr. 21, 2007 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: On The Blogosphere


I wondered what those trackback things were for and what Technorati was supposed to be. That was interesting.

"Pick a blog name that starts with a letter high up in the alphabet, because when people blogroll you, you'll want to be near the top of their list."

I hate to admit it, but that is exactly how I first arrived at this blog. Starting at the top alphabetically, I was just going through Moxie's Bear Flag League blogroll until I ended up here and dug in like a tick.

For a long time, I believed that Strawman did the same thing to get here, but unfortunately....

"Leave comments early at big blogs that allow comments. these would be blogs like Wizbang, IMAO, Moxie, and A Small Victory. If you seem interesting, people will click on you just to find out who you are. If they like what they see they will come back, and maybe even blogroll you."

....he sort of found it this way, instead.

As for me, I regularly visit Chris Roach and Skippystalin's blogs because of something that they posted here before.

Posted by: reagan80 on Apr. 21, 2007

You know, this is turning into a real dilemna: Where are the Lindsay fans gonna post when you're gone?

By leaving, you're denying a forum to a whole generation of aggressive misspellers and non-"I"-capitalizers you know.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus on Apr. 21, 2007

perhaps they need to heed this t-shirt!

Posted by: annika on Apr. 22, 2007

Reagan I just went over to that link - now I need a shower.

What a tiny, pathetic, miserable existence for that contemptible, cumguzzling, cuntaverse corprophilic cocksucker.

Posted by: Radical Redneck on Apr. 23, 2007


Posted by: Casca on Apr. 23, 2007

Good tips.

Now I have to change my name to Antario Amperor. Or Aantario Aamperor would be even better. Or perhaps I can go underground and be Zzontario Zzemperor to get to the bottom of a blogroll.

To try to give my blog some much-needed credibility, one thing that I try to do is to get both sides of the story (or three or four sides if applicable). For example, my leg jigglers post quotes the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation AND Rush Limbaugh. (However, I wasn't that fair and balanced with Maryam Muhammad.)

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on Apr. 23, 2007

Great. Just when I start blogging again and want to add you back onto my blogroll, you shitcan the blog.
I even had a special spot laid out for you in the side bar with several other Sac area bloggers that I like. Too bad, so sad.

Good luck with the bar, and I hope to hear from you again over at 6MB occasionally or anywhere else for that matter.

Posted by: Haz-been on Apr. 26, 2007