Learning to network

December 6, 2006

7 simple steps to share your soul safely

Filed under: Learning, Privacy, Publishing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 5:49 pm

(I am still drafting this post – please excuse any hiccups)

One day this paragraph will magically turn into a short but irrefutably compelling piece of prose that will convince you that even your pet dog should be writing regularly to a web log. Then you will be ready to dive into the steps I offer below.

1. Get over the ego trip

Yes, some people have become famous by blogging. Yes, some people use advertising to generate revenue from their readers. The problem is you can’t SET OUT to get rich or famous when you start blogging, they come as side effects of good content – writing well about topics that enough people are interested in.

What everybody can do, however, is share their experiences and discoveries with other like-minded people. And you don’t need to be Joan Collins or Paulo Coelho for people to benefit from it – just be yourself.

2. Protect your identity

This is optional, as some people can’t wait to get their name plastered all over the world. However, most of us are more meek, humble, and prefer for our identities to be protected until we are sure that we know what we are actually doing.

I suggest you consider using a writing pseudonym, so that you reserve the choice to tell everybody that you wrote those things. You can always admit to being SilentDarkHound later if it is to your benefit, but perhaps you might not like it your experiments with satanic rituals backfire on you and your name James Buxton-Smith has become indelibly linked with them in the perpetual archives of the blogoshpere. Of course, if you are choosing to blog as an extension to your career, then you might get value from having your work connected to your real name.

PS: There is now a service Naymz that allows you to clean up some of your online past, but there are never guarentees

3. Protect your inbox

You kind of vaguely hope that your blogging is going to attract some kind of attention at some point, and that will manifest itself in, amongst other things, emails being sent to you. They may come from your own blogging tools, they may relate to comments that people make on your blogs, people may reply to comments that you make on their blogs, or you might find yourself being attracted into email discussion groups. At first you might love any new stream of attention being directed at you, but you might find that it distracts you from the less frequent, but ultimately much more important personal emails your friends or family send you.

I suggest that you create a new mailbox purely for the traffic related to your blogging work. You can sign up for one with any free email provider, but I have found Yahoo has all the features you’re likely to need. If you have decided to use a pseudonym you can choose that as your identity. There are myriad ways for you to see these messages, directly on the mail providers website, by adding a new (POP) email provider onto your existing PC email client, by forwarding the messages into your account if you really must… The main point is that you can abandon such a mailbox any time you get fed up with it, not something you want to do with your real personal email address.

4. Decide what you are going to write about

Some people will always write about the same thing, but others might have a variety of different topics that would be of interest to different audiences. I suggest that you will create more focused interest in your writing if you have a different blog for each different stream. After all, you can always cross-reference between them if you write any posts that enter common ground, and on every blog you can have a link to all the others. You can have a professional blog, a personal online diary, a blog related to a hobby, and because you isolate them there is no conflict.

5. Create your blog

You know what you are going to write about, so I’m sure you’ll have already had ideas for a name. Go into your favourite free blogging host and create a lovely new site to hold all those things you want to share. I happened upon WordPress.com and have been very pleased with it, but there are others. Some pros use paid services, and maybe they can justify the cost, but I don’t think we should impose a barrier like having to whip out your wallet.

Many of the “extras” you get from paid services you can get as free “add-ons” simply by registering your blog with feedburner, performancing.com or technorati. But don’t let that worry you for now, you have plenty of time to learn as you go. Get writing – that’s what counts.

6. Post pragmatically

It is worth taking a little time to try and articulate your points well – after all, its better if people can actually understand what it is you are trying to say. Basic steps like using the inbuilt spell checker can help, and its always sensible to re-read what you have just written, in case your fingers could not keep up with your brain.

You should not worry about absolute perfection, however – 80%-95% perfect is good enough unless your audience is very exacting. Unless you article has a very, very specific purpose, you miss out by spending too much effort subediting. You need to hit that “Publish” button to release your ideas into the blogosphere, because they serve no purpose by languising unshared in your “drafts” section.

7. Spread some link love

Linking to what you have read on other other peoples’ blogs, is good for everyone. When you read something interesting, share it with your readers if its relevant. Mention what its about and why you liked it, and add a hyperlink in the body of your article. There are technologies to improve interconnections between blogs, but don’t worry too much about them at first. Your blog host has probably put Pingbacks on by default, and you can get around to pasting in the trackback addresses from articles you read once you have gained more confidence.

When you find a site with loads of useful content, add them to your blogroll. Maybe one day people will get just as enthusiastic about your site, and add your blog to their own blogroll. Other site that link in to your site, and other articles that link into your articles is what will raise your search profile and generate you more traffic. In blogging, as in life, what goes around comes around – so the more you give to others, the more you will end up receiving yourself.

8. one picture = 1000 words

I know I promised you 7 simple steps, but I thought I’d throw in this little extra. Somebody told me “you should always offer a bonus”, and anyway the title “8 simple steps…” didn’t have the same ring to it as seven.

Blogs are designed for words, but many people like to share pictures too. You might find it easier to upload your images to a photo sharing service, and drop them into your blog using. Set up a Flickr account for free and drop your images in there. You can keep pictures private, but the ones you want to blog about should be shared to everyone. This gives you a good platform for exposing your artwork, and you can reduce your pictures to thumbnails if you’re worried about loosing intellectual property by sharing images.

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2 Comments »

  1. I have no website yet, hence, the reason for visiting “tips”. I find your entry particularly valuable and appreciate the time you took to write it. You practice what you preach; I can see that. Point 7, second graph is particularly good.

    If you have a website, I’d like to look at it.

    ~Hopestone

    Comment by hopestone — December 22, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

  2. Hopestone, you would not believe how simple it is to get started. Just do it!

    Like in life, you are the only thing stopping you – and all it costs you is a little time. As soon as you get started you’ll find out how rewarding and educational it can, and you’ll be amazed how things snowball.

    The great thing about blogging (and joining up for email groups) is that people read what you say and their responses stimulate you to do even more. I’m far from being a pro, yet it seems I can help others. Your comment has prompted me to get on and write some other things I’ve had in mind – you see, its like a magic we all share – and the more we give the more we get.

    Go on – dare – and post me a link once you’ve started (instant readership 🙂

    ~Art

    PS: This blog is my only website – I do not have any products to sell (except my professional consultancy) so I’ve just got this and a LinkedIn profile.

    Comment by artemgy — December 22, 2006 @ 4:52 pm


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