Thursday 19 June 2008

Advice for New Bloggers

I started blogging by myself.
At the dining room table.
I pressed the button on Blogger that said
What is a Blog?
and before I knew what was happening
I was choosing font design.
It was all very scary and exciting
because I had never done anything on a computer before.

In fact
- if I am being honest -
I had only just learned how to switch on the laptop.

You can do it the hard way like I did
I can still remember the day
that I got the link to 'hide' under the writing
(that would be a hyperlink, folks )

or you can read these amazing posts
which give you all sorts of useful information.

Driftwood has written a great post on this subject
I love the advice on Blog Manners
which was posted originally at Meet Me At Mikes
MrsG drew my attention to these posts
I think that the commentary on Blog Security is excellent.

If you want to get inspiration
you can always sit at the feet of the great artists
and learn from their wisdom.

My advice is as follows:

1. When you choose a Blog Name you should Google it
and check that it will not get lost in a list of similar blogs
or sit uncomfortably close to weird sites.

2. Check out other blogs for inspiration
but do not slavishly copy the ones that you admire.
Have fun and play around with your own ideas.

3. Create an anonymous email account
that you use for your blog.
which is separate from your personal account.
Do not use your personal account to reply to comments.
This is a security issue.
Commenters who appear to be delightful at first
can quickly become obsessive.
I know.

4. Do not make assumptions
about people that you correspond with.
Remember that you only know
what they choose to tell you.

5. Install Site Meter at an early stage
and understand who is coming to your blog
and why they visit.

The second most popular post on the Magpie Files
is one about ties.
I can only assume that there are fabric factories in India
copying MrM's ties for the offices of the world.
I am relieved that pictures of my children
do not appear to be of interest to other people
but I keep an eye open - just in case

6. One day you will discover
that your content has been splogged.
This is an unpleasant fact of blogging life.
Do not burst into tears.
Shrug your shoulders and say
'Peanuts...I have been splogged'
or some similar profanity.

I have discussed splogging with a professional blogger who manages sites for customers and he tells me that there is nothing that you can do to prevent it because your RSS feed is used. I have noticed that it is more likely to happen if the words knitting, quilting or health are used.
So that is triple whammy for this post.

7. Use the spell check button
which Blogger thoughtfully provides.
It is so easy.
It shows you your mistakes in colour.
Learn to love it.

8. Who knows about Technorati Search?
You enter the address of your blog and it gives you
a complete list of everyone who has linked to you.
Then you can visit them and say thank you, thank you.
Unless you are a Big Important Blog
in which case you can take it for granted.

9. Do not forget that there are
cultural differences in humour -
something that you find highly amusing
might not read so well
on the other side of the Atlantic.

10. Don't be afraid to ask other bloggers
In my experience
they are very generous with advice
and glad to help beginners find their feet.

***edited to add***
Dear New Blogger,
finding your way to this post
from all over the Internet
If there was ONE piece of advice
that I regretted missing out from the original post
it was :
PLEASE put an email address in your Blogger profile
or on your blog.

It is very difficult to respond to enquiries from lovely people
if there is no email address to reply to.
All the long term, successful blogs have an email address
and it enables you to correspond off-blog
with the delightful people that you will meet.

And here are some lovely new blogs:

Blogless Kristina is no longer Blogless - hurray!
Go and visit her at
Jolly Hockey Sticks

New to me is
- I can feel the sunshine on my back every time I visit.

Speechless, Mostly is a photo montage of family life
but I am trying to persuade Lynn to write more
because she is funny and interesting
and has such perceptive things to say.

And finally,
if you have managed to read this far
without falling asleep

Do not forget that it is your blog.
You can write what you want to write.
Or not.
Do not apologise for things that you choose to omit.
Do not feel obliged to do anything
that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Always remember
why you started blogging in the first place.


fifi said...

Very informative...I have only just realised I can change the colours of my words! Wow!

I sometimes think that people must think me a lunatic fro such frequent and voluminous commenting. But I honestly can't help it. like in real life, I talk too much and tend to treat my chosen blogfriends like my friends in the real world.

Except I can talk to them in my pajamas If I want and they will never know....

Lynn said...

Well that's a double-whammy: excellent advice AND a plug for my blog!! Thank you, thank you! I will re-read and fully digest all of the information when I'm not nursing a throbbing headache. Words like splogging and Technorati are still new to me.

Now. Can you please produce an equally helpful how-to post on parenting??

Amy A. said...

I don't have a site meter because I thought I would be all obsessed about who was coming and why didn't they comment. But I think I could probably handle it now.

Also, Technorati was a surprise to me. That's how I found that my one and only recipe post had been added to a brunch blog. Very weird.

Thanks for the good advice! I still feel very new at all of this, even though I'm really not.

RW said...

Yes. Thanks for all the tips and good suggestions. I was not aware of technorati.

dragonfly said...

I wish you'd written this last September when I was on the verge of starting my blog!
I found the Technorati thing a couple of weeks ago - who'd have ever thought?!

Mary said...

Goodness. So much stuff I wasn't aware of.

I have a site meter installed but do not obsess over it. I am too busy obsessing over at Flickr!

Unknown said...

What excellent advice. I wish I had known all this before I started blogging. It would have saved me a tear or two...

Can Bass 1 said...

Well, how can I ever thank you? That really is most helpful.

blackbird said...

I wish I could have read it a few years ago - I've made plenty of mistakes.

Florence Knapp (Flossie Teacakes) said...

What a fantastic and interesting post, Mrs Magpie. I had never heard of splodging before either...what a strange thing.


walter and me said...

Interesting much info to take in. And mostly I've done the opposite when I started my blog. Woops!

Anonymous said...

Hello Alice.....well well, I am so very glad and overwhelmed to find myself mentioned on your lovely blog, i like VErY much the thought of delivering warm sunshine to everyones backs :o)

Such a lot of info there, I am still a blogging newby and have not done/do not do alot of what I should by the sounds of it but hey-ho, I'm having fun....hope I survive intact!!

Thanks again Alice, Some lovely peeps have commented on my blog for the first time through your blog, which is lovely.
much love

driftwood said...

what a great post Alice, you are such a star blogger!

Anonymous said...

MrsM is a star at whatever she turns her hand at with the exception of Homer which is why she can be considered a WAG (Without Ancient Greek)

dottycookie said...

Good advice, but there is scary stuff in those security links. Hmmm.

meetmeatmikes said...

What a great post - you've covered lots of good important stuff with succinct style! Is that how you spell succinct?! Pleased to meet you and what a lovely blog you have! Thanks a bunch for linking to mine - I'm glad we are friends now! (I'm not weird, I promise. In fact not a bit stalky at all!)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and worrisome advice. I am a brand new blogger and I am wondering if I may add a hyperlink to this post on my sidebar. I would like to use the photo of the bouquet of blue flowers that you have in your sidebar, if I may borrow that from you, upload it to my side bar with the caption "Advice for New Bloggers" and my visitors could link to your blog from there. Is that good blogging manners to do it that way? I do truly think you have one of the best blogs out there, beautiful in every way.

alice c said...

Hi Mibsy,
How nice to meet you - I looked for an email address to respond to your message but couldn't find one. I am glad that you found the information helpful. There is so much there that if I was you I would take it in small doses. It is more important to enjoy what you are doing - it is supposed to be fun!

The photo is very dear to me because it is a memory of a friend who died last year and so I would rather that you didn't use it. If you would like me to look in my files I could see if I have anything similar for you. My photo style is quite distinctive so you may prefer to use one of your own or find a picture that you like on Google Images.

You are most welcome to link to me - I look forward to visiting your blog

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply, Alice. I will use one of my own photos for the link to your blog, no problem! thank you again, and happy blogging!

Unknown said...

Beautifully put and so well researched. Off to explore all those links a little more thoroughly.

Mrs. G. said...

This is such good information. I installed a site meter a month ago, but I really don't know how to read it-can you give any advice on that. I can only see locations-how can you tell who is visiting?

I started blogging without one thought to security-I'm off to google my blog name. I hope I don't find anything bad. I'm actually a little afraid. I fear this internet I'm hanging out on. Part of me would just rather not know-which is why it took me so long to install a site meter to begin with.

Mrs. G. said...

Oh and that Technorati search section is brilliant-thank you so much!!!

Lydia said...

What terrific advice. I began my blog in February, have some books I bought from Border's - but this from you is like a wonderful fact sheet that I can refer to again and again. (I found you through the link at Mibsy's blog.)
In a totally off-the-wall irony, I see your "a collection of shiny things" tagline - and it reminds me of the quote from Wikipedia that accompanies my blog post for today, June 21!

Fairlie - said...

Excellent advice to new bloggers! It took me a long time and a lot of trial and error to work out some of what you have so eloquently outlined in this post.

LisaAnn said...

Thank you so much for this information. I started my blog last week so you can see how this was very helpful to me. I know I will be coming back to this post over and aver.

jordan said...

Lots of very helpful information and links, thanks for posting this. I found your blog through the comments on tree fall designs' blog advice post. I'm trying to decide whether I want to use google analytics or sitemeter to track visitors to my blog. The whole reason I decided to try site meter was actually because of this post, but I can't seem to figure out how one would go about finding their most popular posts. Does it require a paid account? Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Lucky said...

i just added sitemeter! thanks so much for the helpful tips:)

Ally Jay said...

Great information. Really useful. Thank you heaps. Spell checker is becoming my friend.

alice said...

Thank you for this very interesting post! I will get a special blog-only email address asap

: )

Unknown said...

Good list!'ve come along way..