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 :)

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