Monday, December 2, 2013

What to Write About

Something that seems to make people shy away from blogging is that they "don't know what to write about" like a successful blog can only be run by someone who has a really interesting life.  Not true.

A blog is only as limited as your creativity.  You don't have to write anything.  You can use it as a medium to post pictures you take every day.  Or even videos.

Web serials or web fiction are other popular blog styles.  If you don't think your life is interesting enough to write about then make up some fictional characters.  Each post can be the next installment in your story.

Review things if you have lots of suppressed opinions.  Tell the world what you thought about a TV show you watched or a book you read.  With ebooks and self-publishing changing the entire book industry, reviewers are highly sought after by emerging authors.

If you're good at something make a how-to blog.  Explain the steps and explained what you learned from the last thing you created.

A blog doesn't have to be a journal of your personal activities.  It's a medium.  A way of sharing your ideas with the world.    

Monday, November 4, 2013

Non-Techie Blogging: Getting Started

This e-book is available for $1.99 on:

Barnes and Noble

A short startup guide for those that know next to nothing about blogging. This manual will give an overview on large-scale concepts that the average non-blogger does not know but needs to understand in order to run a successful site.

This manual is approximately 4,200 words.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Advanced Settings on Blogger Template Designer

Monday, September 2, 2013

Making a Static Website with Blogger

I wanted to make a "hub" author website where people could connect and find links to all of my work.  After considering/toying with my options I decided to with Blogger.  The only downside to Blogger is that the end result will not look as sleek as some other design engines such as Wordpress or Joomla.

For me, this was an acceptable tradeoff.  And the result so far is this:

So certainly not the swankiest looking website but I'm pretty sure I've seen worse.  I plan to eventually improve the site with a custom designed header and whatnot.  I do feel like the information I wanted to convey is clear and easily found.  It's also really easy for me to update which was important.

My first step was registering a .com domain name with GoDaddy.  I feel like that alone goes a long way in making the site feel less blog-like.  Even if you're using Wordpress, people will immediately assume they landed on a blog if they see a mysite.wordpress or a mysite.blogspot.

To keep it feeling more like a website, I limited the number of posts that appear on the home page to one.  So that eliminated the trademark blog look of scrolling down to older posts.  I went to the post layout and and got rid of a lot of extra information like post date and post author.  I also removed the about me and blog archive gadgets that come standard on a fresh Blogger blog.  I do want people to know who I am but, again, I felt like these looked a little too blog-like.

Instead, I replaced the about me with an about page.  I also stripped out all the ways to subscribe to the blog and replaced it with the subscribe by email gadget.  I called the email subscription a "newsletter" but really all they're getting is my latest post.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory.  I made sure to include html buttons of all the ways I wanted people to connect with me on the sidebar.  Again, the purpose was to make a website, not a blog.  I didn't want my audience to spend hours sifting through old articles (blog).  I wanted them to have a way to find my stuff (website).

Monday, July 1, 2013

How Many is Too Many Blogs?

Lots of people like the idea of blogging.  Sometimes it's difficult to get started but once you do it's easy to get hooked.  Blog post ideas lead to more blog post ideas.  Your blog is doing well and before you know it you find yourself wondering if you should start yet another blog.

I know this type of person exists because I happen to be one.  I also know that I am nothing compared to many professional bloggers (people that make a living off of blogging).

Why even start a separate blog?  Why not just blog about anything you feel like on one blog?

You could.  No one is stopping you.  However, a blog that covers a wide range of topics is going to have a hard time attracting traffic.  If you want people to read your blog, your posts must remain focused.  Magazines sell because they cater to a specific audience, not all audiences.  A blog is no different.

Ok, so you're staying focused and you're going to start another blog.  You're tired of only blogging about new recipes you've tried and now you want to blog about funny cat pictures you've seen.  Now what?

Before you hit the start new blog button (which is surprisingly easy to do), stop yourself and consider for a moment if you could talk about your new topic over an extended period of time.  One really good post idea does not make a blog.

Now consider that if you start a new blog you are literally doubling your post writing commitments.  If you want to keep up with your current blog and get a new blog started, you need to double your efforts.

If this still doesn't sound like it will be an issue for you, go for it!  The important thing is not to overextend yourself.  If your current blog is doing well and you want it to continue doing well you can't neglect it for newer, shinier objects.

Yes, it is possible to adjust how frequently you post and not have a blog suffer.  How much flexibility you have depends on the topic you're writing about.  Non-Techie Blogging, for example, covers "evergreen" content.  In other words, the material will be applicable for a long period of time.  I could schedule this post to appear at any point in the year and in will still be relavant.  Evergreen content has more flexibility.  Topics that are time dependent are less flexible.  Politics or media would be a good example of this.  If you wait too long, the issue you're discussing may no longer be relavant.

Point being, you need to know your audience and you need to be clear about your blogging goals if you want to increase readership.  Having more blogs can help alleviate boredom or writer's block but it's also more work. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wordpress vs. Blogger

Due to my involvement with a writing group I belong to, I've become quite a bit more familiar with Wordpress as of late.  For those of you new to the blogging world, there are two major (free) blog hosts that seem to consistently dominate the heap: Wordpress and Blogger.

Well, I apparently can't commit to just one so I freely admit to being a switcher-back-and-forther.  The general consensus between the two hosts is that Blogger is more user-friendly while Wordpress is more customizable.

This is sort of true.  Sort of.  If you've never blogged before both platforms are going to have a learning curve.  I also feel that the general consensus is somewhat flawed because Wordpress is only more customizable if you switch over to the paid version.

To help you decide which is for you, I decided to make a more detailed list of what I like and don't like about both.  Keep in mind that this list is only of noticeable differences.  I'm not going to list things that I like that both platforms have.  Also keep in mind that I am only comparing these two platforms.  

So here it goes:

  • Overall, the blog will look sleeker. 
  • You have the ability to make a static site (like a regular website, not a blog)
  • There aren't a whole lot of free themes (the way it looks) to choose from.
  • If you're using the free version, there's not much about the theme you can adjust (so you're stuck with default fonts, colors, etc.)
  • You can automatically have your blog send new post updates to a Facebook fan page
  • Lacks the ability to upload pictures from your computer and place them in your sidebar(s).  Requires you to get your image from an online URL.
  • Dashboard that you use to make blog changes is not user-friendly at all (this is coming from someone who already knew how to blog). 
  • Spam filters are really good at default setting.
  • Can look sleek but takes a lot more work.
  • Dashboard is far more intuitive.
  • Requires you to find a third-party program in order to send updates to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Owned by Google so easily syncs with other Google programs such as Google+.
  • You can adjust just about anything you want with your free blog (background, colors, font, tab sizes, etc.).
  • EasiER to monetize.   Google AdSense is already built in.   
  • As the blog ages, you get lots of spam comments.  Can be avoided but requires some tweaking with the security settings.
Those are the main things that come to mind.  Do note that this list is my opinion of these platforms as of right now.  There is certainly a possibility that features can be added and taken out in future updates.
To sum up:  Even after becoming comfortable with both platforms, I find I still prefer Blogger.  The only real advantage Wordpress has is the swankier vibe.  But overall I find myself annoyed with how limited the free Wordpress blog is.  If you want to pay the small yearly fee, however, the number of Wordpress options does increase.  But I think it's saying something that you have to pay money to get features that Blogger already offers for free.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Should Your Blog Title Ask a Question?

I don't always do this with my blog posts but it is a useful trick for attracting attention to a blog post.  People are curious and if they see an unanswered question for a topic that interests them, there is a higher chance that they will click on the link to find out more.

Don't believe me?  Use my go-to default realty check: how would you respond if you saw these two articles:

Giant Shark Found on the Beach


Giant Shark Found on the Beach, Researchers Puzzled

Ok, so yeah, maybe you'd click on the first title.  But all the information is already given to you in the title.  So the only reason why you'd want to read further is to find out which beach or maybe a picture of the shark.  Very little is left to the imagination.

The second title is more open-ended.  Researchers puzzled?  What the heck?  Puzzled over what?  So now you have more motivation to read that article because you not only want to know which beach and maybe see a picture but you also want to know if researchers are puzzled over the possible alien glyphs they found written on the fin (or whatever).

Point being, that your blog post title is going to be the selling point for most readers.  It will be the first thing they see and it will be the deciding factor in whether or not they want to read more.

Monday, March 4, 2013

How To Get Blog Traffic: Have a blogging schedule

A blog can be approached one of two ways:

  • As a personal diary OR
  • As a source for public news

If your blog is more like your diary, feel free to update it whenever you like.  It's for writing down your own personal thoughts so whether or not anybody reads the posts is not important.

Regardless of topic, if you do want people to read your blog, you must treat it as a source for public news.  A blogging schedule is crucial if you want to increase your readership.

Think about it: a magazine or a newspaper cannot become a trusted source of information if the news they provide is sporadic.  One day they report on a political announcement, you don't hear from them in months and then they decide to report on election results.  This is not the way to gain readership.  Even if the readers neglect to read every article, they need to know that the articles are at least there.

The difficult part is that a blog is usually run by a company of one: you.  It's exciting when first starting up a blog but eventually life will get in the way.  Hence, the blogging schedule.  It is better to have your posts follow a predictable schedule rather than posting at random.


If your readers suddenly receive a slew of email notifications from you saying there have been four new posts, chances are they will only read one or two.  So much of your hard work will be lost on them.  It's ok to have a space of time between posts, so long as your readers know when to expect the next one.

A blogging schedule also makes your blog look more active when new potential readers stumble across it.  If you post all four at once and then nothing for the rest of the year, it's discouraging to see that the last entry you made has last year's date on it.  Why read a news source that has already shut down?

A blogging schedule will also help from an SEO perspective.  When people type in keywords, search engines are looking for the latest, most relevant content.  A blog that has updated recently will be more desirable than one that last updated years ago.

In order to establish a blogging schedule, start small.  Take what you think you can handle and then cut it in half.  Think you can post every week?  Aim for every two weeks. Every day?  Every other day.  Start easy because you are planning for the times you don't feel like blogging.  Take advantage of the times when you feel inspired to write.  Write several posts in one sitting and then schedule them to appear at future dates.

What you want to ideally happen is have posts scheduled out for several months.  This will give you the leeway to write when you feel inspired and not have the blog consume your whole life.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Get Blog Traffic:

The site is a useful tool for those that use Blogger.  On Wordpress you can have an option to push your posts through to Facebook.  Blogger has no such feature, unfortunately.  As the site's name indicates, twitterfeed may also be used to autopost links to your blog on Twitter.  As of right now, you can use twitterfeed to update Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and

The way it works is you input your blog's feed to twitterfeed.  Then you tell where you want the feed sent and how often twitterfeed should check for updates.  When you post a new blog, twitterfeed will detect it and then send the post's title and a link to your FB page or Twitter (or whatever).  That's it!  So it's a really easy way to get extra blog traffic and save you the hassle of manually posting the link everywhere manually.

As far as third party programs, twitterfeed is fairly reliable.  I use it for all my blogs and only occasionally do I have problems.  It sometimes forgets to "check" a blog for updates so the latest post does not show.  However, the problem usually corrects itself by the next post.  I've investigated several other services and so far twitterfeed has been the easiest to use/most reliable.

On the most basic level, people need to know about your blog if you want more blog traffic.  Having your blog merely exist in cyberspace will eventually get keyword-related traffic but if you want to speed the process up, you need to share your blog link with PEOPLE.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Blog Author Bio

The "about you" portion of a blog is extremely important if you are trying to brand yourself.  If you enjoy basking in anonymity, then by all means please ignore this post.

For those of you that eventually want others to talk about your blog, the bio should but be placed prominently either close to the top of your blog or with its own page.  Your explanation of yourself does not have to be especially clever or funny but it should be succinct.  If your blog is about cooking, say something about your interest in food, not that you live with fourteen cats.

As you blog you can share more about yourself but the author bio is a quick way for people to get a 2-3 sentence impression of you.  Allowing people to associate an author name with a blog will also help if you choose to expand in to different projects such as starting another blog.

So don't be ashamed.  It's your blog and you should let people know it!