Saturday March 25, 2006
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Blogging
A common question from newcomers to the blogosphere is "how do I get my blog read?" There are all kinds of ways gather attention to yourself but there seems to be a set of best practices that come out whenever this topic comes up. So here's a rough swipe at a blogosphere visibility FAQ.
- Post Conversationally
Use links to reply to other blog posts, cite sources and define terms. If you just treat your blog as a pulpit, a soapbox in a silo, your only hope of acquiring attention is to be a celebrity a priori. In other words, Arianna Huffington didn't need any best practices when she started blogging, she was already an attention focuser. So what if you're not famous? Don't be a wallflower, converse with links. If you read a blog post that you want to comment on, you can certainly leave one (if the blog permits comments, I don't since I don't have time to administer spam) or better, post to your blog linking to the permalink of the blog post you're commenting on. I don't bother with trackbacks either, too much spam to be useful to anybody.
- Pay Attention To Get Attention
Use a feed reader to keep up with the conversation. I like endo and NetNewsWire but as the readers built into browsers get better and become full featured authoring tools (watch for innovations from Flock and Microsoft IE7), they'll be the read-write tools, the IDEs (integrated development environments) of the web. OK, now make it easy for folks to subscribe to your feed. Set up an account on FeedBurner and dress up your templates with feed-adding URLs (MyYahoo, Bloglines, etc).
- Make Sure A Sound Is Heard In The Forest When Your Tree Falls
- Most blogging platforms (be it the CMS like Movable Type and/or authoring tool like ecto) support sending an XML-RPC ping when you post, use it! Technorati also has a Ping form that you can bookmark. The benefit is that you'll be indexed by Technorati's real-time search system.
- Claim Your Blog
Associate your Technorati profile, picture and tags with your blog by registering and claiming your blog. Your posts will be more visible in Technorati search results (with links to your profile and display of your picture) and with tags assoicated to your blog, the blog directory.
- Tag Your Posts
The blogsphere's posts are neatly bound together by topic on Technorati's tag pages. Pick the top 5 or 10 subjects that your post is about and embellish your posts using reltag, Technorati has the tagging quick-start guide. Editing tools such as ecto and MarsEdit make it easy to add tags.
- Post Often
The blogosphere's attention is focused on right now, not then. As Seth Godin points out:
Take a look at the top 10 blogs and you'll notice that many of them post dozens of times a day.
No, you don't have to be that prolific but if you have something interesting to say, say it early and often. On the other hand, don't prattle. Frequent posters who talk about nothing aren't doing themselves a favor in the over all data stream.
- Be Well Formed and Valid
Your blog is much more palatable to the tools of consumption if they are easily parsable. HTML renderers such as web browsers, indexers like Technorati and feed readers just work better when your output validates. Use the tools at Feed Validator, check your markup and CSS.
So I think that sums up what I've observed in the big contest for attention. Yes, there's more to it than that and no, I don't follow these rules at all regularly 'cause I'm too heads down on building plumbing for the underlying fabric
. But since I get asked these kinds of questions every few weeks or so when someone I know jumps into the world of micropublishing, now I have a permalink to refer them to <grin /> Once you've got these basics, check out Ten Technorati Hacks
. Welcome to the blogosphere!
( Mar 25 2006, 09:26:08 AM PST )