Blogging for Beginners - Understanding the Glue

I'm a relative newcomer to the blogging game. It's not rocket science, but there are a few things that I wish I had been told when I started. I'm aware that there are a lot of new bloggers in East Lothian - this post is for you guys! I'll explain how you can help your blog to get connected to the bigger world of blogs.

The blogosphere (a hideous term used to describe all the blogs out there) is held together by the connections between blogs. These connections do not form by themselves - you have to get out there and make them yourself. It's like going to a party - if you stand in a corner and don't speak to anyone then you are unlikely to have a good time!

Technorati is your friend

Technorati sits at the centre of the blogging universe. Register with Technorati (it's free) and claim you blog. You will then get to something like this:

technorati clip

Not particularly impressive stats, but the number of links is an important measure of how widely your blog has been noticed. It's nice, as time goes by, to see the numbers go up :)

Write some posts

Before you launch yourself onto the world of blogging, try to have several posts on your blog already. When bloggers become aware of a new blog, they are very likely to have a look at it. If they find an empty blog, or one where the last post was written 2 weeks ago, they may never come back! There's good advice on launching your blog here.

Learn about RSS

RSS feeds are tiny files that each blog produces. They list all the recent posts on a blog, and can be used with an RSS reader to keep an eye on lots of blogs without having to go visit them all every day. Register with Bloglines (free) and add feeds from your favorite blogs. If you're in Scottish Education, you might like to use this OPML file as a starting point. You can import this into Bloglines and you'll get feeds from a whole bunch of education related blogs. More on the importance of RSS on edu.blogs.com.

If you want to get comments, make them

The most important way to get noticed is to start commenting on other people's blogs. Be sure to enter the address of your blog in the relevant field, so that readers can easily get to your blog. Commenting on each other's blogs is the central means of communication in the blogosphere. It's good to talk :)

Learn about Trackbacks

The exact workings of trackbacks depend on what blogging software your are using, but basically a trackback is a message from one blog to another, saying "I mentioned this post on your blog." If you look at the comments on some blog posts, you will see these trackbacks at the bottom. If you read an interesting blog post, and feel inspired to write about it, be sure to put a link to the post, and enter the address into the trackback field in your post editor if such a thing exists. That way the author of the original post and other readers of the post will become aware that you have joined the conversation.

Use you Blogroll

All blogs have some form of blogroll - a list of blogs that the author recommends. Use yours! Every blogger you list will notice that you've done so (via Technorati or a similar tool) and may potentially become one of your readers.

Have fun

Blogging is fun. Don't let it become a chore :)

Comments

  1. Great post Robert – Like you I wish a new about all of these things when I started blogging. I was thinking that maybe we should make a resource section on the exc-el site? We could include on-line handouts like this, copies of presentation screencasts etc.. What do you think?

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  2. Cheers Ollie. Great idea. I'll keep going with this nascent series of posts, and we can talk to David and Ewan about putting something together on Exc-el.

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  3. This is a timely idea. Now that we're forming ideas of where the gaps are, it's feedback from early-adopters like you that will help us get it right. I'd appreciate a note of where you think the problems areas are.

    BTW, if you've read Robert's post, and you want to subscribe to the RSS feed from any of the Exc-el WordPress blogs, there are two feeds for each, one for Posts, one for Comments.

    They're always of the same form:
    Posts: http://exc-el.org.uk/blogs//feed
    Comments: http://exc-el.org.uk/blogs//comments/feed

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  4. Thank you; this is just what I need! New to this blogging lark & I've been mentally compiling a list of questions. Posting was straightforward enough but as I've ventured into the whole new world of the blog universe that I never knew existed I've been wondering - how do I know if someone's put new posts on their blog? Commented on mine? Get lists of blogs I'm looking at on my blog? WHere was that interesting blog I came across by chance? What's Flickr & how do I use it? Why do I get spammed when I try to comment on someone else's blog? And a whole heap more besides.

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  5. Glad you found this useful GM!

    I'll be talking about CoComments in my next post - it helps you to keep track of all the comments you post on other blogs.

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  6. Good Evening.

    I was just reading Ewan McIntosh's blog and that led to you. I love your blog and learned a lot of little things that filled in the gaps I had about blogging. I do have a question for you. I really like the way your blog is set up. I looked but couldn't figure out what site you are using to host your blog? jim

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  7. Cheers Tess. Looks like snowboarding is still ahead, BTW ;)

    I'm glad you have found this useful Jim. I'm hosting this myself, and am using Wordpress with a modified version of the 3K2 theme. Security concerns prevent me going into any more details about the hosting in public, but if you email me - jonesieboy at gm@1l.c0m - I'll tell all!

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  8. [...] It’s my first anniversry today.  I’ve been blogging, in fits and starts, for a month!  As I was warned it can be very absorbing and waste (or perhaps consume would be a better word) a vast amount of time.  I’d never even read a blog before and I’ve discovered a whole world that I hadn’t realised existed, with lots of interlocking communities. So I’ve probably spent longer scooting around the edges reading everyone else’s contributions, admiring their blog spaces and following their links than I have actually posting anything myself.  blogging for beginners [...]

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  9. Great advice here. Im still fairly new to it and have lots of knowledege gaps. Im using one of the templates (wordpress) and cant seem to get plug ins to work. It would be great if there was an easy Q and A post by ex-cel perhaps.

    The stuff on blog lines is great I will get started on that soon.

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  10. Hi Bill - I hadn't noticed your blog - rest assured that it's now in my Bloglines :)

    A lot of the plugins work as sidebar widgets, so you'll need to switch to the 3k2 theme (template), and enable the sidebar widgets plugin.

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  11. Blogging is fun! Thanks for being willing to take your readers through the basics like this. It helps a lot.
    Can you say something about what sort of posts work best, and length of posts and comments?

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  12. It's a pleasure LIz :)

    I'm not sure if I have answers to your very sensible questions... I'll do my best to answer them in the next post in this series, which I'll try to write tonight.

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  13. Excellent series of posts. Has helped me understand things in the blogosphere and also gives food for thought. Keep it up!

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  14. [...] Give this a click and a read. Well worth your while I promise [...]

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  15. This is EXACTLY what I need. A huge thank you. :)

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  16. It's a pleasure :)

    If you want a quick view of who is saying what across Scotland, check out the front page of Scotedublogs.org.uk - oh I just noticed that your blog is already stored in the system, so I guess you know about it already :)

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