Friday, July 14, 2006

My Blogging Smarts Again

I promised a third installment in my series on blogging tips and this is it. For reference, my two previous posts on the subject can be found here and here.

For readers who find the mechanics of blogging boring and/or irrelevant, I encourage you to scroll down for the good stuff just below this post.

For everyone else, I'm no expert, but I've learned a good bit about blogging over the past nine months. As with the Spanking 101 tutorials, my sincere hope is that you can learn the easy way some of the lessons that were difficult for me.

Here’s a six-pack of blogging tips.
  1. Work to build a critical mass of regular readers. Everyone likes participatory activities. It’s fun to share perspectives and compare notes. In fact, this interactivity might be the best part of blogging. However, these techniques work best when a blog has attracted a loyal core of readers. Even if you’re not interested in serving a large reader base, you can improve the quality of your content simply by attracting more visitors (and better content, in turn, brings in still more readers!).

  2. Prepare some articles in advance. If you strive to retain readers, it’s important to post regularly. Stale content spells trouble for any blog. Yet, real life circumstances can prevent a blogger from being able to write something every day. The answer is to prepare some posts in advance. These posts can then be used when time and energy are at a premium. It reduces stress on the blogger and keeps the blog fresh and original.

  3. Know your filler. The word filler connotes something undesirable and of low quality. In the world of blogging, however, a little filler is essential. If you expect to post more than once or twice per week (and enjoy a life beyond the Internet), it’s unrealistic to think you can post your very best, most creative work every time.

    Hence, there is filler. For me, this means top ten lists, references to clever or noteworthy happenings on other blogs, search keywords, polls, and so forth. These are quick, easy, and if done well, entertaining. It’s ironic that more than once readers have told me that what I considered to be filler was their favorite post.

  4. Learn some basic HTML. For many bloggers, HTML (you know, that funny code with all of the greater than and less than signs) can be intimidating. Yet knowing some HTML is the key to making your blog more attractive and more functional. Here are a few basics:

    To make text bold, use the tag <b> before the text and the closing tag </b> after. For example,

              <b>This text is bold</b>

    To make text italicized, the technique is the same, except the letter ‘i’ is substituted for ‘b’ inside the tag.

              <i>This text is italicized</i>

    To create a link within your text, the <a> tag is used. For example, if I want to add a link to my blog, I can do it this way:

              <a href="">My Bottom Smarts</a>

    Unlike our previous examples, the link tag requires us to specify the URL of the page to which we want the link to point. You can use this linking technique for text almost anywhere within your blog and you can link to any valid Web address.

    To center text or an image, we can use the <center> tag.

    <center>This text is centered</center>

    Finally, pictures make any blog better. The <img> tag allows us to insert pictures. In its simplest form, it looks like this:

    <img src="">

    Again note how the tag provides a means to define the location of the picture to be inserted. You will want to replace the example image URL with the one corresponding to your picture.

    There are many more tags, but these five are very helpful for bloggers.

  5. Beware of burn-out. In just the few years that blogging has been around, thousands of brilliant bloggers have come and gone. Like meteors, they flash against the sky and then vanish. Our own community regularly mourns the exit of a favorite blogger. Sometimes they leave because of changing life situations, but just as often the cause is burn-out.

    Burn-out is by no means limited to bloggers. Anyone who is engaged in tedious, difficult, or stressful situations can suffer from the exhaustion, lethargy, sleep problems, and disorientation that characterize this condition. The biggest danger for bloggers is becoming addicted to the thrills inherent in entertaining an audience. Like a siren's song, the positive vibes derived from blogging can drive people to sacrifice their quality of life and their relationships.

    The key to avoiding burn-out is maintaining a proper perspective. Blogging should be scheduled around life, and never the reverse. I try to avoid hard and fast guidelines. While I want to post every day, missing a day simply can't be a catastrophe. Life is too short to allow my recreation to make me miserable.

    In the end, there must be a time to walk away. Nothing lasts forever, least of all blogs. I vow that if this blog ever becomes a heavy burden or comes between my husband and me, I will set it aside. Real life must come first.

  6. Draw the line carefully. The very nature of blogging tends to blur the line between our public and private lives. Yet this line must exist. It's not practical for anyone to be entirely private or public.

    Great care must be exercised when discussing private topics in a public forum. Beyond the obvious dangers of being stalked or outed, partners in a relationship may disagree about what information should be shared. When a relationship ends, has either party any right to discuss private details in a blog? These are difficult issues in the best of times. The answer, I believe, is for partners to reach agreement over the placement of the dividing line early in the life of a blog.
Please consider these suggestions as merely a starting point. Each blogger must find their own ideal recipe and the ingredients are likely to change over time. In the end, the best blogs are those that reflect the personality of their authors. In this light, perhaps the best recipe for success is to be yourself.



Cassie said...

Thank you so much! Sky has been helping me and Tigger got me started and this is going to help even more. When things get back to normal next week I hope to have time to play with some of this.

I do so enjoy everything you write, stories, polls, new blog updates, the key work come backs! You add fun to each day!


Tigger said...

Thanks Bonnie,

Your advice and suggestions are always so very helpful and insightful.

I hope to be around for a long, long time but thanks for putting it all in perspective, above all else.

Big hugs,

Rex and Roxy said...

Great tips and a really nice blog. We have added you to our blogroll and subscribed to your feed. Keep up the good work!

--Rex Loves Roxy

SmartNnaughty said...

Another terrific guide to blogging. I fully agree that if my blog ever comes between MG and me then the blog goes. I have made a solemn vow to MG that I will never write about him in a bad light. So far, so good, I think.

When MG and I are having difficulties, I refrain from writing about those difficulties. Until they are resolved and can be put in proper perspective, it isn't helpful to us to have that information there. It will make working things out much more difficult.

So I blog about the ups and downs of our relationship AFTER the fact, if there is a chance I could say something hurtful or inappropriate. I haven't had it be a problem so I guess I'm doing okay.

Thanks, Bonnie, for some terrific reminders


CeeCi said...

Fabulous, I couldn't agree more or have said it better myself. Keep it real, keep it in perspective, keep it in its place! Great advice, Bonnie.


Mistress Sky said...

I always enjoy reading your blog, Bonnie and have already implemented some of your smarts(as you noticed, lol). It's lovely of you to share great tips with us - thanks!

Sky x

Copper said...

Thanks bunches, Bonnie! I think a few of these will help me over some of the bumps I've been dealing with. "Filler" was not something I'd ever thought of. *rubs hands together* Now I have a new toy! That and writing in advance are both great suggestions for me, especially with the rollercoaster effect going on lately. Should make my little blog a whole lot more interesting.

Damnation's Cellar said...

Draw the line carefully, indeed. Thanks Bonnie for your insight and sugggestions.


Bonnie said...

Cassie - You're most welcome. I'm delighted to see how much progress you've made and pleased to be able to assist.

Tigger - If there were only one word of advice I could share with beginning bloggers, I think it would be "perspective." If we can maintain our perspective, a lot of other decisions are made easier.

Rex and Roxy - Welcome, and thank you for your kind words. Best wishes with your new blog!

SNN - I'm glad you enjoyed this edition. It was a different format than I used in the past. This time I wanted to examine a few more complex topics in greater detail.

Lest I neglect to remind our readers, you were the primary inspiration for this series.

CeeCi - Thanks!

Sky - You have indeed, and I love it!

Copper - I'm glad to be able to help. Your blog is already a great read. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

DC - You're welcome. The truth is that I couldn't create and manage this blog in its current form without lots of great suggestions and constructive feedback from my readers. For that, I am grateful.

Grace said...

These are all great suggestions! It's only taken me 2 years to figure out how to put up links. I guess I'm just a little slow..LOL

Anyway, nice tips, I've printed them out so I can use them for cheat sheets!

Pandora Bottomley said...

Hi, see I'm not lurking! Thank you for the helpful and maybe painful advice. My bottom already feels red . . .

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