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I'm considering doing something strange, sick, and unnatural...blogging

EmperorSethEmperorSeth Registered User regular
edited January 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I want to write a daily or almost daily blog/journal of some sort. Some of it will be "here's my life and how it does/doesn't suck" stuff. But I want to expand on shit I care about as well. You know, video games, methodology of art, reviews of games and other stuff. I'd even consider posting my video game ideas, at least the lower key ones, if I don't get too paranoid on that subject.

I need some suggestions, though. Has anyone else ever tried this before? Have you found it easy to find something to write about and, more importantly, make the time to write about it? Finally, I don't know where to start on the technical issues. I don't think I even had an official website for a decade or so. What's a good place to get a blog started, registered, etc. and preferably on the really cheap? And how to attract any attention from there?

You know what? Nanowrimo's cancelled on account of the world is stupid.
EmperorSeth on

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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Start with livejournal or blogspot. Make sure you post something every day or so, multiple times if needed.

    Don't worry about readers, worry about your own interests. And, more importantly, after a week, a month, 2 months, go back to the beginning and see how you're writing. Are there obvious spelling errors? Do you make sense? Would *you* read the blog if it was about someone else?

    The hardest part with doing a blog is having something to blog about, and more importantly, actually blogging it. The successful blogs have a point (they're about something) and they're updated frequently (often more than once a day, unless they're more personal in nature). But the free options are great for getting in the habit of actually writing.

    EggyToast on
    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
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    Sci-Fi WasabiSci-Fi Wasabi Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Eggy got it. Begin your posts like a journal = encapsulating events you yourself find interesting. Make it literally a log of how your feeling, with the intent of looking back at it in 5 years with a grin on your face, because you know just what kind of place you were in all that time ago. For most people, that should be enough.

    Don't be discouraged if you don't become an internet celebrity. If you want random strangers to read it, first, make the page for yourself, but make it interesting or accessible to people who might not know you like a friend would. The trick of course is to be more interesting than the hundreds of thousands of blogs out there already. But if it was meant to be...

    This is my favorite blog.

    Games for Lunch

    It's interesting, concise, albeit not as updated as frequently as I'd hope. But see, that's what this guy could only hope for. Everyone who has it bookmarked slapping F5 over and over again to see what's next!

    Sci-Fi Wasabi on
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    DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I kept a blog for a number of years on Diaryland. The service is dated but still quite capable; it was set up more for article-style blogging (one entry per page) rather than the sort of continuous stream of consciousness that LiveJournal supports (although they added that feature in later). For $30 a year you can upgrade to "gold membership" which gives you the ability to put comments on your blog and also they'll host some images for you. They also let you fully control your template at the HTML level. I found it quite nice.

    A neat feature they had was that along with the gold membership you got a number of ad impressions. You could also buy impressions for hella cheap. So, you could design a banner ad for your blog and it would randomly show up when users were browsing their member pages and looking at their favorite diaries to see if they'd updated. If you had a creative ad, that was a good way to get readers, especially if you were anonymous like me. At the height of its popularity I think I had about 50 regular readers, all strangers.

    Mine started out as completely anonymous and remained that way for a couple years. This is really a decision you have to make early on: is your blog going to be overt or covert? If overt, then don't write anything you wouldn't want a future employer to read. If covert, you have to be very, very careful never to reveal the existence of your blog to anybody, even people you know, and never include any specific personally-identifying information. Basically you have to create and maintain an identity as a blogger completely divorced from your other online and real-life presences: no shared usernames, no linking back and forth, no shared IM account names, no shared email, etc. It's like a superhero's secret identity.

    I got found out twice: the first time, I had started dating somebody who read my blog (and this is the first and last time in my life I will likely ever have a 'groupie.') Her blog was NOT anonymous and a friend found me through hers. Second time I accidentally IMmed a curious person with the IM account I used for blogging. That was pretty much the end of that.

    My advice: 1) be creative and 2) be serious. Keep your template attractive, unique, and easy to navigate. Write each entry as you would an article. Make it flow. Edit. Put in any necessary background information. If you just post "lol today sucked lol," 1) nobody cares and 2) if you come back to it in two years you won't even remember why. Remember that people you write about in the blog aren't just names, they're characters in the story of your life. Write them that way. For god's sake don't use single-letter abbreviations for people. This is impossible to read:

    "So today me and A went over to Q's house to meet with T and B. Then T got in an argument with B about going out with G last year, and it just made A and me sad, and I remembered that thing that B had done before T started hanging out with us."

    If you are an attention whore [TINY]like me[/TINY] and want readers, I can offer some advice there. First, advertise. Put links in your sigs, and if you're on a place like Diaryland, develop some creative ads. I had one particularly good banner that got an obscenely high 3-5% clickthrough rate. Second, use feedback loops. Put a sitemeter on your blog and see what gets hits and what doesn't. See what people are searching for on Google that leads them to your site. Optimize a little bit. Third, participate. Every comment you leave on somebody else's blog is an invitation for them to come read yours. Fourth, update. Updating too often is bad, since people miss entries, but updating once a week or once a month is death. When you do update, have something useful to say.

    DrFrylock on
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    EmperorSethEmperorSeth Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Well, shit, blogspot does look easy to get into! I may have to seriously consider this. I'll probably give it an official try this or next weekend. Hell, I've done stupider things than this.

    EmperorSeth on
    You know what? Nanowrimo's cancelled on account of the world is stupid.
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    DekuStickDekuStick Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I'm not big on blogs but Apotheos has one that keeps me coming back. He must be doing something right.

    Simple design, interesting posts, good all around.

    www.apotheos.net

    DekuStick on
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    amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    blogspot is pretty cool. I had one going there that my friends read, but I haven't updated it in a month.

    amateurhour on
    are YOU on the beer list?
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    LewiePLewieP Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Blogspot is easy as pie, it helped having basic knowledge of HTML, but really I think anyone could use it.

    LewieP on
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    LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I like Vox the best right now.

    Lewisham on
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    nizlopinizlopi Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I use livejournal almost every day, Ive been using it for about 3 years, maybe a little longer, I really enjoy it, I used to have a lot of random friends on it, and be involved in a lot of communities but a few months ago I trimmed it down and I find it a lot more enjoyable now. It gets a bit myspacey if you have loads of people on there you dont know/care about.

    Also, theres a great comm on there which points you in the direction of people who have said something stupid. I get a lot of pleasure from that, hohoho.

    nizlopi on
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    MurphyMurphy Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I use LJ as well. Like any journal system it can be as formal or informal as you like. But Blogger works just as well.

    Murphy on
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    EmperorSethEmperorSeth Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Well, my official plan at this point is being established. I'm thinking of officially starting on Monday 28th. I plan on updating 5 times a week, at least on average, and having themed updates for each day. One day might be posting about an earlier creative work, for example, and another could discuss an earlier inspiration. Quite a bit, at least initially, will probably be sort of historical, but I will alternate between that and modern rants, life stuff, reviews, etc. At least, that's the current idea; I do have over two weeks to get the system worked out after all.

    Once done, I'll probably toss a link in my signature here. It needs updating anyway, since still having a Nanowrimo counter is getting a bit embarrassing.

    EmperorSeth on
    You know what? Nanowrimo's cancelled on account of the world is stupid.
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    MurphyMurphy Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Honestly, you're probably overthinking it. Just write. Don't feel obligated to follow a pre-set structure, unless you really really want to. You're writing for you, not other people.

    Murphy on
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    KVWKVW Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I host mine on blogspot as well. It's definitely easy, quick and painless. Lots of upload room (gig or something from your gmail account) and you can modify it a great deal.

    Tips for blogging from my experience:

    Pick a topic. It's not necessary to be super niche, but if you talk about your girlfriend one post, school work the next, gaming, then penny arcade, sports and politics, very few are going to come to your site. If you don't care about traffic, and some don't, then feel free to go nuts on any topics you feel like talking about. However, most people go to specific sites for specific things. You don't go to 1up for politics. You go for video games. You don't go to cnn to get the latest tech news. While it features it sometimes, most go with engadget or so on.

    Basically, try to limit the scope of your topics. Entertainment, like movies, music and games could be a broad topic that many would enjoy. Mix in politics and people coming to read about those topics probably won't care or will be turned off. Slice of life blogs can be good, but it will come down to your personality, writing ability and humour if you have any desire to increase readers.


    DONT feel the need to post a 100 times a day or even everyday. Seriously. Don't worry about the frequency of posts. The key is consistency. MWF is a good schedule for some people. Penny Arcade uses it. M-F is another solid one and leaves you with free time on the weekend. Early on, people feel the need to post 20 times a day, get burnt out by the 2nd week and quit by the end of the month.

    Honestly, I'd try and start out small and increase the frequency of your posts as time goes on. I started with one a week, expended to 3 a week, then started daily, sometimes multiple times a day, and, after getting burnt out on that, I dropped it down to a once a day / mon-fri schedule that I find works really well for me. You may have more smaller posts or maybe just are able to handle a bigger posting schedule. Note though that you will be posting to a void for the first month or so and posting a 100 posts a week will only be for yourself. You may have different ambitions, but, while I love blogging on my topic, I'd like to know someone is reading and appreciating it.

    So, as you work out how you want to blog, start slow and try to curtail the itch to post every hour, every day for the first while. Put some ideas to paper and just let them stew for a bit in the early days and go back to them later.

    Relating to this advice, post length is important. People frequent certain sites for certain content. Kotaku is short, direct to the point news articles with links to other sites. I go there because I dont want to go to news sites or the various sites around the net and read through 1000 word articles. Others like 1000 word articles and hate the small 200 word fluff. If you want to make short posts, don't all of a sudden start throwing out war & peace length stuff. Your readers won't want that and won't expect it and probably skip it and wait for a 'normal' post. Once ina while is okay if its something different. Drastic shift in direction of blog is not typically a good idea.


    Check out ProBlogger.net. This is an incredible resource if you are interested in tips or learning more about the finer details of blogging, like setting up analysis programs, search engine optimization, design and layout tips, etc. I find I can always come back to this site and find new things. Early on, it was simple stuff, later I added tracking software, even later I dabbled in SEO and revenue generating techniques. I used a lot of tips for my hacked design of a blogger template as well. Invaluable resource in my opinion.

    Beta Blogger For Dummies is another must see site if you are goign to use blogger / blogspot. I don't know why the site looks so bad, but the amount of information is staggering. Easy to follow instructions for making expandable post summaries (think "click here to read more and then the rest of an article shows up), getting rid of the blogger bar at the top of your site so it doesn't look like a blogspot default, related post widgets, setting up social network links (digg, etc) at the end of posts, modifying the template for width, heights, adding more columns to a template and the list goes on and on. Ignore the almost geocities-like look of the site and make use the huge library of hacks for your blogger site.


    Final piece of advice is to have fun blogging. Don't feel like you have to follow rules (some guidelines do help though). Don't feel like you need to stick to some insane posting schedule because people tell you to. Some of the most popular bloggers barely even post and many of the bigger sites have a team of a half dozen guys posting short 200 word posts. Keep it simple stupid will go a long way. It's a hobby, don't make it a job (unless you miraculously start making $100 a day or something).

    KVW on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    What is the purpose of your blog?

    Who is your audience?

    You need to answer these questions first.
    Some of it will be "here's my life and how it does/doesn't suck" stuff. But I want to expand on shit I care about as well. You know, video games, methodology of art, reviews of games and other stuff. I'd even consider posting my video game ideas

    I strongly recommend having a different blog for more personal things. A person who comes to your blog to read your opinions on methodologies of art will not be interested in how much your life rules/sucks. There will be entire sections in your blog that will alienate parts of your readership.

    Anyway, if you're completely clueless, I recommend reading DoshDosh. Here are some articles to start with:

    The Secret to Building a Popular Blog (and Getting Tons of Readers)

    The Importance of Social Media Marketing: Why You Should Learn and Master it

    Are You Using the Right Content Development Strategy for Your Website?

    Overall, DoshDosh is full of useful stuff. It's more aimed at people who want to make money off their blog (and hey, that might be your thing too, I don't know), but there are a lot of general tips there every blogger can make use of.

    Good luck.

    ege02 on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    ege02 on
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    AoiAoi Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Since it has been a few days, and this is a similar type question, I thought I might hijack this thread for my own purposes, since it's a similar question, if a touch wider in scope.

    I've actually been looking through prices for web hosting and blog software. What I'm looking to do is actually set up software so a group of us will be blogging, both individually, but in a sort of site akin to something like Engadget. Something that allows for multiple users, posts that go together, but at the same time are easily searchable through keywords like they do on an Engadget or Gizmodo type site, in addition to some podcasting functionality should that come around later.

    It's interesting to see sites like Godaddy charging the same amount for their Blog/podcast accounts, while offering considerably less space and bandwidth (I guess it's an "easy blogcast" tax?) when compared to their regular hosting accounts. So that's why I was probably going to go the do it yourself software route. I had considered Wordpress, but a couple of the friends I would be writing with had said they heard it was a bit offputting as far as ease of use for the user, so I'm kind of curious about opinions on Wordpress too.

    Anyway, enough rambling, and if the thread hijacking isn't appreciated, I could definitely start my own thread, I just wasn't sure if that was completely welcome considering how similar the subjects were, and how recently this post was.

    Anyway, thanks for the help in advance.

    Aoi on
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    EmperorSethEmperorSeth Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    And, now that it's officially up and running, I wanted to bump this thing. Thanks for all the help, though I sort of picked the path of least resistance for now.

    EmperorSeth on
    You know what? Nanowrimo's cancelled on account of the world is stupid.
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