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Monday
Sep122011

Better Blogging: The Proposed List Of 50

flexible computer keyboard

I am working on a series about better blogging, and I've been tossing all of my ideas into a giant master list. So far, I've got 50 ideas, and they are as follows:

  1. Register your own domain name.
  2. Ditch the free templates that came with your weblogging service.
  3. Make your site easy to navigate.
  4. Have a good portion of your content showing above the fold.
  5. Have your contact information where people can see it.
  6. Make sure that your archives are accessible from the home page.
  7. Do not have things on the page that actively do stuff outside the reader's control.
  8. Font size should be large enough to be easily readable.
  9. Font colour can make or break a reader's ability to follow your text.
  10. Light text on a dark background should never happen.
  11. Have a search box on your website.
  12. Have a comments section, and make it easy to comment.
  13. Have an RSS feed available and use Feedburner.
  14. Have a permanent link posted for each weblog entry.
  15. Organize your weblog into categories.
  16. Keep unnecessary gadgets/widgets to a minimum.
  17. Keep your sidebars clean and uncluttered.
  18. If you have ads, make sure that they don't overtake your design or content.
  19. Regularly check that all of the links in your template work.
  20. Choose a good handle.
  21. Do on your weblog what you love on other weblogs.
  22. Think about what makes you different and let it show.
  23. Write an About article and link to it.
  24. Write on a regular basis.
  25. Write about things you like.
  26. Keep a running list of things to blog about as you go through your days.
  27. Create titles that indicate what you are writing about.
  28. Edit, edit, and re-edit.
  29. Spelling and grammar always count.
  30. Read your entries aloud to yourself before you publish them.
  31. Write short paragraphs.
  32. Include pictures in your content.
  33. Write posts of varying lengths.
  34. Stop worrying about always being right.
  35. Be aware that someone you know will read what you write at some point.
  36. If you write about friends and acquaintances, don't use their real full names.
  37. Enjoy what you are doing. Pretend that you are your own audience. Entertain yourself.
  38. Bare yourself, but set reasonable boundaries.
  39. Remember that your commenters are human beings.
  40. Be generous.
  41. Don't write about work.
  42. Don't speak ill of other bloggers.
  43. Don't use apologetic language.
  44. When you write about something that not everyone might automatically know or recognize, link to further information about it.
  45. Read other people's weblogs and comment on them.
  46. Do not leave comments solely to spam another site with your own website link.
  47. Perseverance is key. Write. And then write some more. Do this for years.
  48. Use less words to say more.
  49. Don't overuse your thesaurus.
  50. Read Tony Pierce's "How To Blog" and Rebecca Blood's "Weblog Ethics" and Mark Bernstein's "10 Tips On Writing The Living Web" and Elizabeth McGuane and Randall Snare's Making up Stories: Perception, Language, and the Web.
Is there anything else related to better blogging that you would add to this list before I dive into the series?
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Reader Comments (13)

Interact with your commenters/followers no matter who they are. If people ask you questions, answer them. If they send you nice notes, thank them. Kindness can feel pretty lost in the blog world, when there's not a face-to-face interaction to hold us accountable. I don't know if that makes sense, but appreciate your readers and a lot of that appreciation comes by just acknowledging you "see" them.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

As way of note-taking from a response over on Twitter from @outnumberedisme: "Tell the truth."

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie

And more note-taking - @Astrogirl426 says "Use your own voice. Always."

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie

limit the use of "lolcat"-type speech and other insider jargon.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjdg

More of a question than a suggestion: What about image sourcing? I see this sometimes and not other times. If it's from a search engine, would that mean it's a free image and if it's from someone's personal site (photog, business marketing) then it's appropriate to source?

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavina

Good list, but...

BlahHumbug to #45: Commenting on other blogs, IMO, doesn't have anything to do with having a better blog or being a better blogger.

Call it a personal issue, but I've not liked that commenting, for so many bloggers, has turned into a quid-pro-quo system. "You comment on mine, I'll comment on yours." IMO, people should leave comments because they're moved to do so -- not because they hope to get something in return or have their "CommentLuv" link clicked by new people. I think so much sincerity/integrity has been lost by this type of "community building" that it's sad.

I recently read an article that told new bloggers that the way to get "ahead" was to spend hours a day reading, commenting and hoping for an exchange. Ack. The comments have become more important than the content to some.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJD

For a suggestion to add to the list, I'd expand on "use your own voice" to include "be original". There are so many bloggers now who are calling each other biatches, using every sort of occasion to talk about their vaginas or balls, using strike-out in their text, or The. Incomplete. Sentence. Then there's the throat punching and stabbing.

If you've seen other people do it hundreds of times? It's no longer original and, really, can't we do better?

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJD

YES. This. And so this.

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Wilson

nice list, and thanks for the reminder to check for broken links. do you have a tool you use for that?

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermagpie

Great list-- I'm new to blogging. Very kind of you to share your years of experience. I have a lot of work to do!

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

I tweeted this the other day, but I think it's important: Never, ever put anything on the internet that you don't want critiqued. If you believe in it enough to hit 'publish', be it words or images, you've gotta have a strong back. What you've also gotta know is that you are not going to be everyone's cup of tea: No one is.

In other words, don't blog to be liked. Blog to be a working part of history.

Stand by your words. If you have a change of heart/reversal of stance later, write new words and stand by those, too.

If you are publicly wrong, then publicly apologize. People will be surprisingly gracious most of the time.

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJett

Well, this suggestion may be a bit odd (and it comes from something else you've written) but it's something like: remember that as a blogger you are a writer. Your words and how you use them MATTER. It's as simple (and complicated) as that.
This list radiates what I've come to expect from your work: direct, clear, generous, useful. Articulate, too. (And yes, I realize that's not a complete sentence.)

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdeborah quinn

Hm, you had me until the content things. Then I was like--what? No writing about work? No writing about other bloggers?

The rest, I say is a big yes! Except editing. I understand this is important to some people and I know why. And yet I say let a thousand ungrammatical flowers bloom.

I'm trying to do a normal blogging site that will not require anonymity. And what do you know, there's a guy in my life who's an a-hole and who reminds me I may always need anonymity. Also, I cannot seem to write about ANYTHING normal.

Here's my new handle Snoz Berry

I want so much to not be anonymous. But the only things I find interesting to talk about are things I don't want other people in my life to know about. Like my regret I don't know anyone who will supply with marijuana (at the very least) and so on.

I mean, I think you once said 'be authentic.' But I though it would be more amusing to try to be as much like The Pioneer Woman as I can. The very idea makes me chuckle and gives me something to shoot for. But you have to be there. The absurdity, etc. No one else will get it but me.

I decided Schmoe was too (inadvertently) derivative of you. So Snozma 'Snoz' for short. Well, that's for today. I may change my mind tomorrow. Hooray for the internet!

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersnoz

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