Blogging, the story so far

Well, this blogging malarkey has been quite a gas. And I've noticed that there's definitely phases that I went through with this blog that maybe of use to people starting off, or those not sure what a blog is or anyone that's just interested in getting a blog going and wants to know what it entails.

1: Get the blog set-up

So, first of all your gonna have to get a blog name that you think is 'cool' AND reflects yourself. This can be a lot harder than it sounds and once it's done, well, it's done - you can play around with the title on the blog but that URL is there for ever.

Choosing your template is also fun as you're trying to find the one that absolutely gets you ... but I'm here to tell you that it doesn't exist and if you absolutely need to have all of 'you' in your blog design you're gonna have to get your hands dirty with some XHTML/CSS coding.

But then come the moment to type in your first entry ... this is just cool.
AND I also found it painless, stunningly easy and so smooth. Ah, the true power of the Web opening up; no more the land of the geeks, the rich or the corporations.

2: Exploring the world of blogs

And there you are, with a blog that has a name you like (hopefully), a look-and-feel you sort of appreciate and one entry. You then check out other blogs to find out what the heck do you do with a blog now you've got one.

And then it's - Oh my golly, there's millions of these things. Literally ... millions. Where do I start, how do I tell people about me? Because, of course, I am special; I am different; I've got something to say ...

3: Trying to get readers

So you email all your family and mates, you put it into your email signature, you even try and find people you know in blog world or at the very least people with a similar subject as your blog - mine's Wellington, NZ so you can see why there's generally NZ blogs on my list.

And then you notice it - they've all got little icon-things ... I want little icon things!

You visit the icon-thing places (Haloscan, Blogwise, Technorati ... the list is endless) and it's like being a little boy in a sweet shop all over again. Most promise something like, "all you need do is simply type in your details and you'll be so swamped by so many visitors you just won't know what to do".

So you sign-up ... and sign-up ... and sign-up. And then it dawns on you - you're gonna have to amend your template ... phase 4!

(Oh, and there's loads of other toys as well: trackback (still don't really use this), comment sites, RSS/Atom feeds, referral sites, website visitor counters, make you a tea when you need it sites ...)
BTW: be careful with external comment systems; once you're into one comment system it's pretty hard switch back or to another AND take all the comments across.

4: Template enhancement

So, we gotta go in! We gotta see what the heck it looks like under the hood. I'm not gonna go into the detail of how - but the common things (ie, what I did) to change are:
  • Add a list of blogs regularly visited
    I've just discovered that is called a 'blogroll'
  • Add links
    Think of them as your top 10 or so favourites/bookmarks
  • Add in all your icon-things
  • Add "On This Day" links
  • Add in a site counter
  • Add in a 'referral sites' code
  • Tweak look-and-feel
  • Add "Google ads"
    Is this worth it? Well, no cheque yet
The template in Blogger is extremely flexible - ie, anything you can display on a 'normal' Web page is possible. And don't forget that this is all that blogs are, websites with an on-line editor and built-in organiser/navigation system.

5: Revising your blog community

At this point you've probably entered a few pages, visited a few of your favourite blogs on a regular basis and even left a few comments. You may even have a list of referers that pop-in and disappear with seemingly no relevance to your site (as we know this site is quiet popular with the 'Latino' countries).

But you want your own community, you want people coming back, you still got unique and interesting things that the world should hear about. Well, my advice to you is content, Content, CONTENT, CONTENT! You need to have a reason for people to come and see you and it better be damn interesting on a regular basis (every day isn't necessary but obviously regular) or you're gonna fade awaaaaay ....

But, there's one other thing that I believe make a community - interaction. Yep, people talking to each other which, in blog terms, that means comments. Leave them, reply to them and monitor them.
You quickly move on from "how many people have visited the site" (although getting over the 1,000 count did, in a sad little way, make the pulse quicken for a second) and on to - who's left a message? It's not who fell into the site, but who read the content, who took the time to actively communicate? Who loves my blog? ... OK, maybe not the last one but that's how it feels sometimes.

6: On-going blogging

Ah, you're swimming along - you've got your regulars, you visit your favourites, you're still putting up interesting content (I hope this is interesting, *ahem*) and you're having a blast.

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy your hard work.

7: ... well, I dunno

As I'm only just entering phase 6 (captain) I don't know what's to come - boredom, moving on, actually making real friendships, slow death of MiramarMike, run out of photo space, links more and more ... we'll all just have to wait and see.

Or you can tell me by leaving a comment :-) - see how obvious I am with comment desire

Also, if you've not got a blog - come on in, the waters lovely!

[Updated: 22-Feb-2005]
Or, is phase 7 all about comments?


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