Category Archives: Blogging Tips

Launching a New Blog

As this blog is very new, I would like to share some of the start up knowledge that I have learnt, or wish that I had thought before I began. 21 Surefire Tips for a Successful Blog Launch is also a very good article if you are thinking of starting a new blog and are looking for some advice.

Before launch

Get at least 5 posts ready

You really don’t want to launch a new blog with less than 5 posts. So you really need to get writing and and get some good content ready. If you have another blog, that has the odd post that relates to the topic of your new blog you could export those into the new blog.

Familiarize yourself with your blogging platform

Make sure you are comfortable with how things work, for example: how you send a track back, what your RSS feed is and how it works, how commenting is set up and how to write posts etc.

Make sure RSS is available

As a new blogger your main target for readers will be other bloggers. Bloggers use RSS readers to track other blogs. You need an RSS feed set up before you begin. Setting up a feed burner feed is the best option as it adds all sorts of extras which allow you to promote your feed, and all sorts of statistics which enable you to track the progress of your feed.

Select a theme

First impressions last, you want your blog theme to be appropriate for your intended target audience, and you also want to consider usability. Pick a theme that suits your needs then stick with it. You want people to remember your blog, and you don’t want returning visitor to be confused about whether they have visited before. The odd tweak is fine, I know I like to play with presentation, but don’t change the overall look.

Plug-ins and extras

Install all the necessary plug-ins. For a good list of some options you should consider looking at: Top 30 WordPress plugins

Everything else

For a complete check list to look through after you have installed WordPress check out: WordPress – Complete post install guide. For other blogging platforms there are similar tasks which need to be worked through, however I won’t go into detail as I highly suggest that you use WordPress as your blogging platform.

After Launch

Share your best posts

Share your best posts on social media and bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit and Netscape. If your post is a hit, it will bring your blog some much needed traffic.

Leave comments on other blogs

Remembering that other bloggers are your main target audience when you are starting out, and you need to let them know you exist. Leaving a comment on their blog that is intelligent and adds to the topic is a good way to get started.

Include tons of outbound links

Although lots of outbound links aren’t good for your page rank, when your starting out you won’t have a page rank anyway, so it’s not like you have anything to lose. Also, you want to send out lots of links to other bloggers to let them know you like their work, and also, to get track back links back to your site.

Start real relationships with bloggers in your niche

Start communicating with bloggers with-in your niche in ways other than via your blogs. Send them an email, IM them. You need all the friends that you can get in this game. It’s probably a good idea if you look for people that are on a similar level to you. Darren from Problogger probably doesn’t have time to chat with you via MSN about ways to boost your blog traffic, so focus on other bloggers with blogs that are about the same size as yours.

Build incoming links

Most people with a blog or Web site know the value of incoming links. You need to work out tactful strategies to get links to your site.

Ask a friend to give you feedback

When you spend a lot of time working on a project you can lose perspective about what is good. Get a friend to have a look at your blog. They don’t need to know anything about blogging, just get them to have a look and see what they say. Also watch what they do. Maybe they will point out things that you hadn’t thought of. Maybe they will have problems figuring out what the purpose of the site is. Maybe they will find it hard to get around the site. This is a great tip for improving any blog, and it is better to get that sort of feedback earlier rather than later.

Summary

I hope this article has given you some ideas about paths to success when starting a new blog, there is no sure fire set of instructions that will work for every blog. At the end of the day, you are going to need to keep producing good content day in day out to be a success. But there is always the odd exception to the rule, and the odd case that changes the rules for everyone else. Good luck with your blogging.

www.pingable.org

Blog Traffic Quality

I have been thinking about blog traffic quality a bit lately. There is definitely good quality traffic to a blog, and then there’s traffic which isn’t so good. What I mean by good traffic quality, is traffic that comes to the site and does more than just leave straight away. An example of typically poor quality traffic, is traffic from social bookmaking sites. Now don’t get me wrong, social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit are great, and they can bring in some serious traffic if you get dugg. However, if you analyze the traffic that typically comes in during a traffic burst from digg, most readers load the page that they came see, then they leave. If your blog is in the beginning stages like this one, you really need to look for high quality traffic, where users want to read more, and will ultimately contribute something to your blog.

An example of some high quality traffic is the recent traffic I got by submitting an article to Probloggers 31 days to building a better blog group writing project. The users that came from this link browsed through my site, many linked to the article and some left comments. Overall, it proved to be very high quality traffic, and worthwhile for this blog.

What makes traffic to your blog good traffic?

In the case above the reason why I feel a lot of the readers from Problogger stayed and read more was that the subject of this blog is very similar to Problogger. Traffic from sites from with in your niche, with readers that will be interested in your content is good traffic to get. That’s is also why it is so important to leave comments on other blogs from with in your niche.

So what was the point again?

Although social networking sites are a good source of traffic, the readers that come from those sites may not be the types that will contribute to your blog or become regular readers. However, readers that come from referrals of sites from with-in your niche are likely to be very good contributors.

www.pingable.org

Using forums to boost your blogging profile

Kevin from Blogging tips has written an article about using forums to promote your blog, there is also an interesting article on Pro Bloggers Matrix about the same topic with a slightly more extreme title. I think this is a very interesting topic to discuss. A lot of readers will probably have used forums on the Internet. I have been using them for years. Although you can come across the odd ugly incident, most of the time forums are an interesting place to discuss topics.

So how can you use a forum to promote your blog?

What forums provide you with is an opportunity make connections with other bloggers and readers. Be friendly, help people out, sell yourself and you may find that some of the people who you talk with on forums end up following your blog.

Also you can put the address of your blog in your signature on forums where this is allowed. This may get you the odd link from readers of the forum.

Here are some forums to consider that are about the general topic of blogging or web design:

www.pingable.org

Express Blogging – What Is Your Time Best Spent On?

Often during busy times I find it difficult to set aside time to work on my blog. For example the last four days I have been away on a road trip around England. Even when I am not on holiday, there are times when I just can’t make it to the computer. This got me thinking on what time is best spent on if you only have a little each day. 

If you only had 1/2 an hour a day to blog what would you time be best spent on? The two key aspects are:

One – Writing Content

If you are limited to only half and hour a day, you are not going to be able to write seriously good, well researched  articles each day, half an hour just isn’t long enough. So you are going to have to start using drafts. I think drafts are a great idea even if you have a lot of time anyway, but they are very useful to record you thoughts and progress if time is limited. When you are using a lot of drafts, The Clean Cut Blog suggests to Beware of  not to letting your articles go cold in the draft.

Two – Reading articles on other blogs with-in your niche + posting comments

It is important to read other articles and post comments for many reasons. Firstly, it is like research for your own work and this is important. Secondly, building relationships with other blogger’s by commenting on their blog may bring your blog to their attention, and you may also get the odd link through from your name signature in their comments. There are thousands of great blogs out there, and you want to know what they are blogging about and what topics are working well for them.

Ok, so what mix of the two?

I think most people would jump in and say writing content for your own blog is most important, and although I think that is true, when it comes to the ratio of time to spend on each, plenty of blogger’s would suggest you spend more time reading. This article by Chris Marshall: Read more – Write less – The Key to Blogging Growth goes into this subject in more detail. He uses the term BMI (Blogger Mass Index) similar to a weight index, and uses the analogy to suggest that you should be reading more.

Final make up – 12 / 12 / 6

Here’s what I think is a good final make up.You would be best to spend about 12 minutes working on content, not necessarily a single article, have a few drafts in progress. 12 minutes reading other articles from other blogs in your niche, making sure to leave comments if you have something interesting to say. And 6 minutes sorting out random bits. Perhaps moderating comments, fixing something, writing an email, checking statistics to see where your traffic is coming from.

A tool to save you time

If your blogging time is limited you are going to need to use some tools to help save you time. One that I would suggest is Google Feed Reader. You can easily subscribe to thousands of blog feeds, and use folders and tags to track blog articles. This will save you from visiting the actual blog site to read articles.

Final thoughts

If you really only had half an hour a day to blog, you may not be able to have an amazingly great blog as good things take time. However, ensuring you keep up with good practices like the ideas mentioned above, should at least keep your blog ticking over. Then when you do have a bit of extra time you may be able to really get things going. Good luck with your articles.

www.pingable.org

Blogging Mistakes to avoid

David Airey has written an article called Top 7 blog mistakes to avoid. I think there are some key points here that are very important for beginning blogger’s.

  • Not using a self-hosted blog

Sure if the point of your blog is to communicate to your friends and family what you have been doing while over seas, or to show photos of your pet dog Oswald then a WordPress.com or blogger hosted blogs will do the trick nicely. But if you are serious about your blog and are more interested in developing a publishing platform or brand you need your own domain. The typical start up costs involve: $10 – $14 US for a domain, $6.95 – $10 a month for a basic web host, Blue host or Dream host are both good options for starting out.

  • Expecting people to visit

I guess I never really just expected people to visit my blog when I started out. In fact, when I first started blogging using blogger about 18 months ago my main issue with the whole idea was that I thought it was all kind of silly because I thought no one would visit. Of course my attitude has some what evolved since then. I do feel new blogger’s have to be realistic about visitors though. If you are starting a new blog on a new domain no one else knows about it. It is up to you to get the word around. Post good articles to social media and bookmarking sites, leave comments on other blogs, join communities like Bumpzee.

  • Location of blog on web server

Where is your blog installed? In the root directory i.e. www.pingable.org or in a separate folder www.pingable.org/blog/. There are different thoughts on what is the best location, but I feel as long as the only purpose of the site is to blog, then your blog should be in your root directory. If you are a business or if there is other purposes of your web site, then use a directory called blog. But what ever you decide on, don’t make the mistake of moving all your files after you are established. It will mess with your page rank, which will cost you traffic.

  • Not linking to others

It is important to link to other bloggers, and send track backs to them. It lets them know you are writing about them, and it may even give you a link back in their comments section. This is good for promoting your blog, and it is also good for developing relationships with other bloggers.

  • Time time time

I guess when you put all the elements of successful blogging together (Posting regularly, commenting on other blogs regularly, reading other blogs regularly, working on design, working on SEO, etc etc) It can really eat up time. You need to be realistic about how much you can achieve if you only have half an hour a day to blog.

I hope this posts was an interesting read, feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.

www.pingable.org

20 Tricks To Drive Traffic Away From Your Blog

  1. Use 5 Adsense blocks on every page, especially when you’re blog is new.
  2. Get music to play automatically when people visit…doesn’t everybody love “Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me”?
  3. Have so much blogger bling (plug-ins, badges, etc) that readers can’t tell the difference between content and bling.
  4. Use fonts that are too large, too small or too difficult to read. 
  5. Use a color scheme with poor contrast…light colors on light background.
  6. Don’t optimize images for the web – making your page loading time 7 weeks long.
  7. Use a rainbow colour scheme with rainbow gradients everywhere
  8. Don’t offer RSS feeds.
  9. Use a visible feed counter when you only have 2 subscribers.
  10. Don’t use points or subheadings and write posts that span 10 pages with no paragraph breaks.
  11. Design a site that is only usable in one web browser.
  12. Never trackback to other blogs – who needs links anyway?
  13. Never leave comments on other blogs, never reply to comments left on your blog or emails relating to your blog.
  14. Turn comments off. (is it really a blog if you don’t have comments?)
  15. Delete comments just because they disagree with you.
  16. Use popups…or pop unders for that matter.
  17. Require registration in order to leave comments.
  18. Use flashing GIF’s especially nice big ones that will give some of your readers a fit.
  19. Have a misleading title 🙂

www.pingable.org

Generating traffic from sources other than search engines

1) Submit your unique articles to social bookmark sites

This is huge. As a unknown blogger, I submitted an article to Reddit. The article made it as high as 47, which is the 2nd page, and my blog got over 1000 unique visitors in the day that followed. Digg and Del-ici-ous, are other examples of popular social bookmarking sites that will help generate traffic for your blog. I don’t think it is a good idea to submit every article. However, it will certainly help if you submit the articles that you are proud of, think are good, or if the post is breaking some form of news.

2) Submit your blog to blog directories

Search Google for blog directories, and sign up to some of the directories. This may get some visitors to your site.

3) Post Popular blogs

Post on popular blogs, particularly on blogs with a high ranking on sites like Technorati. It is helpful if your comment is near the top. On uber popular blogs like pro blogger there are often 100’s of comments left. So as I am sure you can imagine most readers don’t bother to read through them all. So getting in early and leaving a comment near the top of a blog will probably get you a few visitors.

Leveraging social bookmarking sites, and becoming a regular on popular blogs should help gain your blog some traffic, and also in the long term gain you as a blogger a higher profile… now for something cheeky…

A cheeky (or silly) idea that will work, but you probably shouldn’t do:

Pretend you are selling your site and list it on web sites that have listings for web site sales. It will defiantly get your site some hits, however it will probably have an adverse affect on your readership as they may find out and think you are abandoning them. You may also run into a small problem if someone wants to buy – so set the selling price as something ridiculously high…I mean don’t be silly, don’t do this at all!!

www.pingable.org

WordPress PHP Code Snip – Assign image to post ID

The following PHP code is some code I use on this blog that I thought some others that don’t program may find useful. What it does is assign an image to each unique post ID from WordPress that is a gif file. If you put a file in the image folder in your root directory of your Website called 8.gif – the 8th post you made on your blog will be assigned that image wherever you place this code. If there is no image for that id (you haven’t put a file called 8.gif in yet) it assigns the image called uplogo.gif. Of course you can change any of the directories, file extensions, and the alternative image name to suit your own needs.You can find the post ID by looking in manage posts from your dash. You should use this code in template files.

<?php  
$image = "$id.gif"; 
if(is_readable("./images/$image"))  
{ 
echo "<img src='/images/$image' alt='alt tag'  />";  
}  
else  
{  
echo "<img src='/images/uplogo.gif' alt='alt tag' />";  
}  
?>

Windows Live Writer Review

Windows Live Writer is offline blog editing software and I really like it.

Why use an offline editor like Live Writer for posting to your blog instead of the built in editor:

1) Plug-ins – there are all sorts of plug-ins that make creating interesting well formatted posts a breeze, with all sorts of functionality, and integration with services  like flickr, live maps, and Google Adsense.

2) No page loading time. Essentially you write your post offline, like you would in a word processor, then when it’s looking just like you want it, you post it to your blog with the publish button.

3) PING. When you publish from Windows Live Writer you can easily set it up to send a ping to all the popular blog search engines. This is a good thing.

4) You can use the “View Web Preview” option to view what your post will like on your blog before you publish it.

5) Easy formatting options. It’s ever so easy to add a margin or text wrapping to an image, or change the alignment of an object.

It’s a great bloggers tool. Well worth checking out.

www.pingable.org

5 things you may not know about WordPress

After recently going through the process of setting up WordPress and this site, I feel I have learnt certain things that may help other WordPress users. This article is a report of my experience.

1) You can post to WordPress using Windows Live Writer offline blog writing software. The software at first glance appears to be just for Windows Live Space blogs, however, you can easily use it for self hosted WordPress blogs. It has the added advantage of posting plug-ins, Automated pinging (sends pings to blog search engines when you post), and because it is offline software there is no page loading waiting time, so writing blogs becomes much easier. There is a beta version 2.0 of the software here: Windows Live Writer 2.0 Beta

2) In WordPress 2.2 widgets are now standard. Widgets are a form of plug-in that are easy to install and use, they tend to require no understanding of any web programming to use. If you are using version 2.2 of WordPress you can access the widget panel under the presentation tab of your admin dash. If you are using an older version you need to install the widget plug-in. The theme you are using must also be compatible for widgets to work.

3) You can organize posts and articles on your homepage/index page using category groups instead of just listing them in reverse chronological order like a standard blog. My homepage is organized this way. Using this method you can organize your WordPress like like a news site or magazine. Investigate yourself using Max.limpag.com

4) You can insert plug-in and php code into Wordpress 2.2’s widgetized sidebar using this plug-in code : Exe PHP. This is particularly useful for adding old plug-ins that don’t have widget alternatives. Install the widget above, then use it to execute the php code that runs the plug-in that you want to use… simple right?

5) You can have Feed Burner manage your rss feeds instead of using the standard WordPress feeds. You only need to install this plug-in: Feed Smith. For more top wordpress plugins check out shankrila or blogigs for some Adsense Optimized WordPress Themes.

www.pingable.org