10 October 2008

Further to my 'good blogging' guidelines

Earlier this week I posted 10 blogging guidelines.
Check the blog post itself for an explanation of these.
  1. Decide what the focus of your blog is.
  2. How often to blog?
  3. Watch the layout of your posting.
  4. Use links in your posting.
  5. Proof read your posting carefully before publishing.
  6. Don't make your readers jump hurdles to leave comments.
  7. Get copies of your own postings.
  8. Feel free to add gadgets to make your blog more interesting.
  9. Use labels and tags.
  10. Set up some sort of counter.
I'd like to acknowledge some comments left on that post.
  1. Mack, Mack Pitches Up and The Listening Librarian, suggested tracking who refers to your blog and registering with Technorati.
  2. Janet Rudolph at Mystery Fanfare and Mystery Readers thought she would try to add a sitemeter and make her postings a bit more concise.
  3. Maxine (Petrona and Maxine's Book Reviews) said that in relation to the focus of the blog, the personality of the writer is really important.
Among the blogs that I watch there is one called Blogging Basics 101. It is a daily blog that often comes up with terrific tips on how to do things. I've learnt lots there. Often they simply link to other blog posts.
Today's tips:
  • State of the Blogosphere 2008 via Technorati.
  • 3 Easy Ways to Get More Mileage from Your Blog Posts via Findable Blogs.

    * Help readers find related information.
    * Share the love with other bloggers.
    * Highlight your best posts - I have to do that manually, but you'll see a little block on the right.
    * Repurpose your blog posts (that's what I am doing here).

  • 21 Ways to Make Your Blog or Website Sticky via Problogger.
  • 7 More Techniques to Make Your Blog Sticky via Problogger.

    A sticky website is one where a first time reader arrives and finds it difficult to leave. Not because the site owner captures them in a ‘RickRoll’ or a series of windows asking them if they REALLY want to leave - but because something about the site motivates them to explore it further - and more importantly to make a decision to (and takes some steps to ensure that they) return again to it.

    * make invitations to subscribe prominent (did you notice mine on the right?)
    * good blog design.
    * make your blog personal (someone said I write 'conversational' book reviews)
    * get interactive (did you see my poll to the right?)
    * monitor your stats.
    * create a debate.

So what do you think of those? It is worth reading those links to get some of the detail.
Not everything applies to "amateur" blogs like this one, but there's lots of good advice there.

One of the things that worries me is that my blog is tending to get a bit cluttered. I have lots of gadgets running, and that blog roll now lists 75 blogs. But I think pointing people to what others are saying is important too. And there are things about my blog that I want to highlight. I'm not sure what to do apart from create yet another blog with a lot of the static stuff on it. Blogger doesn't have a "new page" function.
I have already created a new blog that exists only to list my book reviews at Smik's Reviews simply to get the full list off this blog page.
I could try creating my own menu bar across the top of the page I suppose. That might solve the problem.


maxine said...

Great post, Kerrie.

On what you write about gadgets, when asked for blogging advice, as well as the "cluttered" point I suggest to people that they try to access their blogs (logged out) from various places. Adding a lot of widgets and other "heavy" material can slow downloads tremendously. If you have good bandwidth and a powerful server in the place where you usually access your blog, you may not be aware of slow access times for visitors. Often bloggers don't consider their blogs from these kinds of aspects (what it is like for the reader on a range of platforms, etc).

Your blog seems fine to me from this point of view (I access it from home where I have wireless broadband).

Kerrie said...

You will notice that I have been playing around: I've created a menu bar at the top, taken a few blocks out, added a recent comments feed, shifted some of the blocks around. I've learnt to go outside what blogger offers in its gadgets/widgets, so just now I'm feeling pretty pleased. Thanks for the generous feedback Maxine. I do test it out occasionally on other places, and have been surprised by the fact that it seems to load fairly well.

Bernadette said...

While I don't have any trouble loading your page I can honesly say I don't look much at the right hand column because it's a bit too cluttered for me. Don't take it personally - I am a bit of a freak for no clutter and I find widget clutter a problem with lots of blogs, especially on the blogger platform (wordpress allows page creation which enables some of that static information to be separated out). As a general rule I never scroll down past the main text...i.e. if where the blog posts stop I stop, anything in the side menus that is below that is never going to get a look in.

I will play Devil's advocate a bit...Do I (your reader) need to see your site stats? I'm not interested in how much your blog is worth or how many visitors you've had. I use feedburner to monitor my blog's stats and I don't use the widgets I just log into feedburner and can see all sorts of nifty things about subscribers and referrals etc so I still get all the information without cluttering up my blog. IMHO The only people who are interested in site stats are other bloggers and you can share that info on feedburner or technorati without bothering your readers with it.

I ignore blog rolls longer than about 10-15 names in length because I assume it's just bloggers showing love to each other which is nice for them but not useful for me as a reader. I'm not going to click on 20 or 40 or 60 links in the hope I might find one of interest.

I am interested in the stuff that is about the subject of the blog - in your case books - your current reading, your progress on your challenges, your favourite authors. The stuff that is about the blogg-iness of the blog (site stats, referral lists, frappr maps etc) is of far less interest.

Having said that, one thing that is missing from your side menu I think (although maybe blogger doesn't offer this) is a 'search this blog' box. One of the things I look for in my book and movie review blogs is a quick way to search them...that way if I'm pondering reading a book or seeing a movie I can go to the blog and quickly find out if the reviewer has reviewed that book/movie and see what they thought. That makes it a place I come back to on my own rather than a place I only visit when the blogger posts something new. The search blogger box at the top doesn't seem to do the job I'm after.

OK I'm done. This is just one tired (Don't ask why I am up and reading blogs at 4:45), neat-freak's opinion which you can happily ignore.

Kerrie said...

Your comments are always valued Bernadette. Thanks for going to the trouble of so much analysis. I'll try addressing some of the things you mention.
In Blogger the Search this blog box is a default right up on the top left above the banner, but it is easy to miss. I'll see if I can find another way of doing it. Yesterday when I was playing around with what looks like a menu bar now, I found all sorts of tips and tricks for doing things that are not generally available through the widgets, so maybe someone has come up with a search box for the side panel.
Thanks again. Feel free to let me know your opinion on my "improvements" too.

Kerrie said...

More improvements: I've added a Search on the right, and moved the statistical stuff to a less prominent location. I'm still toying with the idea of relocating the blog roll, but I often use it myself to check for new postings by those on the roll. I find the format makes it easy for me to see who has been posting recently.

rob, BtG said...

sticky blog ideas for increased readership-

Kerrie said...

Thanks for that link Rob. I think I have the sticky blog pointers covered with the gadgets and links I have put in place and Sitemeter does a pretty good job of telling me how long people stay around.
Blog to Greta (http://www.blogtogreat.com/) certainly looks like a useful place for ideas.

Kerrie said...

Some other postings to check on The Lost Art of Blogging:

Mack said...

Thanks for starting this discussion Kerrie. I've made a few tweaks but need to do a more complete assessment of my blogs.

I would like to add something to the list of guidelines: carefully consider what you call your blog. I created mine as part of a demonstration for staff and the title was the first thing that popped into my head. I started adding to it, and find myself with a title that doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm not sure what to do about it.

Kerrie said...

I just read your explanation of "pitches up" on your blog Mack. It's funny but I originally thought you must be a baseball fan.
I think title is pretty importnat because with Blogger you don't have the option of changing it later.
I find the balance between "leisure" blog and "work" blog an intersting one too.
I actually now have 3 book blogs now: this one, Smik's Reviews, and Crime Fiction Journeys which I created yesterday to accommodate the blog roll.
The fact that Blogger doesn't have a "second page" function has forced me into that. Each of the book blogs does something different.
Then I have an IT focus blog that I don't use a lot - Smik's Learning Space - then my work blog You Are Never Alone.

I don't think I've ever written so much.

I have them all listed in my Useful Links list.

I notice you are thinking of re-purposing The Listening Librarian. Your original purpose there was podcasts. I'd be tempted to feature podcasts by others, and YouTube videos about libraries.


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