You’ll hear a lot of talk about “stats” (aka statistics) when it comes to blogs and web sites. Some blogs have areas that provide statistics for counting all kinds of items related to your blog like page views (when a page is viewed by a reader), number of external links, number of visitors, most popular blog posts, and so on. For those who are just blogging for fun, numbers may not be that important, but if you are trying to earn money or just want to make sure you are reaching a lot of web users for other reasons, then stats can be pretty important. Where you’ll find your stats depends on how and where you are blogging. If you are on blogger.com, they don’t already have stats set up. Instead you have to use other services from the net (some are free). WordPress.com (another free blogging network) does offer statistics under the Dashboard area, but they are pretty limited. If you are really into knowing your stats (some bloggers become obsessed with this), then you’ll probably want to check into other places to help you collect and keep track of your stats. A quick Google search offers a few free blog stats services:
Most people who eventually become bloggers start out by reading other people’s blogs first. Even after joining the blogosphere as a blogger, it is important for bloggers to continue reading other blogs in order to be part of the conversation. Blogging is all about community and cooperation. If you basically blog in a vacuum then you miss out on this and really aren’t part of the blogosphere. But, how do you find blogs in the first place? How do you manage to find blogs on topics you are particularly interested in?
Here are few tools available on the Internet for tracking down blogs:
- http://blogsearch.google.com/ – Yes, you can use straight Google to find blogs, but even better is Google Blog Search. It operates the same as Google; just type in key words of phrases and click “Search Blogs,” and it will bring up a list of blogs in that topic. If you are already familiar with Google as a web search engine, then this is a good place to start.
- http://technorati.com/ – This is a blog database. You can search through the blog directory using key words, much like a typical search engine.
- http://www.feedster.com/ – Using RSS feeds to monitor blogs all over the web, this is another blog search engine.
- http://www.blogpulse.com – Also a blog search engine, Blogpulse, though, also attempts to concentrate on blog trends.
- Other blogs – Finally, a wonderful way to locate blogs on topics you are interested in is by checking another blog’s blog roll or also reading through comments posted on a blog. The blog roll will have blogs listed on similar topics. The comments will often have links back the blog of the person who commented. Usually, this person will be writing about the same or similar topic.
Bloggers have started to develop their own jargon. Below is a list of blog terminology you’ll see all over the web.
Aggregator: This is a feed reader. (See RSS reader below).
A-List Blogger: “A” is in top of the heap, big time, super famous blogger that gets a ton of traffic and press.
B-List Blogger: “B” list bloggers are right behind the “A” list bloggers. They are still pretty well-known.
Blog: Short for weblog.
Blogger: A person who blogs
Blog Network: A group of connected blogs housed by one company.
Blogosphere: A term used to describe the blogging community. )If you are a blogger, then you are part of the blogosphere.)
Blog Roll: A list of links selected by the blogger and included on a blog. (Normally, these will be related to the blog topic or just favorite blogs of the blogger.)
Content: This refers to any sort of writing used on the Internet. If you write an article, then that is content. If you write a caption, then that is content.
Dashboard: In most blogging software, this is the area were your control panel is at, allowing you to add posts, edit, alter a template, etc. In blogger.com, however, this is your profile page, where you’d add information about yourself.
Indie Blogger: Person who writes their own blog independent of any paying network
Link Farm: A web site made up simply of links (has no real content) used to draw in search engines in order to make money off ads. Often automated, no real “person” runs these.
Link Love: Linking to other bloggers’ related posts.
Page Views: Every time a reader sees your web page, as in clicks on it, this is considered a page view. (Many networks pay based on this number; more page views equals more money.)
Post: An entry or article written on a blog
Ranking: This refers to how high up on the search engine listing your blog is.
RSS Feed: Real Simple Syndication – This is a way to get notification of when your favorite blogs are updated. You can do this by using an aggregator. (For example, there is Bloglines.com).
Stats: Short for statistics (Find out how many page views, feed subscribers, links, etc you have.)
Strikethroughs: This literally marking a line through words on a blog post. It is used to make corrections, thus allowing the reader to see previous mistakes and how they have been corrected.
Weblog: A log on the web, in reverse chronological order. There are different types of blogs:
- Journal Blog: An on-line personal diary
- Filter Blog: Content of info, sorted from other areas on the web & linked
- K-log: “K” is for knowledge, a compilation of information
- Mixed Blog: A mixture of all of the above
For a more extensive list see: Quick On-line tips at http://www.quickonlinetips.com/archives/2006/06/the-giant-blogging-terms-glossary/
- If you don’t blog but think some day you may want to get paid for blogging, then start a blog immediately. Just like any other kind of writing work, you need experience, and unless you are Stephen King, you need blogging experience. Other writing work, even web site work, may not cut it. Potential employers want blog savvy bloggers. They don’t want to pay someone to learn the ropes. So, use one of the many free blog sites out there and set one up as soon as possible and start blogging now.
- Make sure you are an active member of the blogosphere. That means, blog regularly and well; link to other bloggers both in your blog roll and in your posts; and read other blogs in your field and leave comments.
- Be part of the web conversation. It’s great to write original content, but don’t write in a vacuum. When you write a post, try to find other people who are talking about what you’re talking about and link to them. Do your best to have a minimum of one relevant link in each post. Feel free to quote and provide sources for these quotes. Show that you are part of the conversation. Oh, and don’t steal other people’s content. Provide sources, just like if you were writing a term paper.
- Look for a niche rather than talk about everything in the whole wide world. To be an expert or at the very least someone who has something worth reading, you can’t cover everything. That leads to rambling and no one (not even your mom) is going to want to read that. Find a topic that you know a lot about already, and carve out your own niche in the blogosphere. Look for niche ideas in your every day life. What sort of magazines do you subscribe to? What kind of hobbies do you have? What kind of activities do you do on a regular basis? What is already happening in your life on an on-going basis that you could write up every day?
- Search engine rankings and page views don’t appear overnight. It’s a long haul up the Google ladder, so be patient. Unless you are already well ranked from other sites that you may write for, don’t expect to see yourself up at the top for six months to a year. Obviously, blog networks will find you much more attractive if you are already known by search engines and you have a good ranking. If you already have a web site (or two) link to yourself. Nothing like your own link love.
- Speaking of link love, what goes around comes around. Don’t become a link farm, but be a good link neighbor with link-minded blogs. This is not a competition. That’s one cool thing about blogging. You help other bloggers by linking to them, posting about something interesting you saw on their blog, adding them to your blog roll, and they’ll link to you. Like I said, though, don’t be a link farmer. Be choosey. If you really like someone else’s blog and it has any kind of connection to yours, then link.
- Pick a topic you l-o-v-e. You’ll hear a lot about passion from blog how-to-ers, but they are right. I’ve been there and done that. There’s only so much you can squeeze out of a topic if you don’t have a pretty big interest in it. Professional bloggers normally blog a minimal of once a day per blog. After doing this month after month, you can really get fried, especially if it’s a topic you are only “so-so” about.
- When pitching a new topic to a blog network, be as specific as possible. If you were pitching a book idea to a publisher, you wouldn’t email them and say, “I want to write about jewelry making. What do you think?” You’d write a book proposal, providing a thorough outline of what you propose. Same with a blogging network – you need specifics. They don’t know you or your work. Telling them you want to write a blog about “nutrition” tells them zip. At a bare minimum, give them the name of the proposed blog, a few sentences describing it, and 3 to 5 sample posts. A step above the minimum would be to start blogging about the topic; set it up on a freebie blogging site, and blog. Locate some available URLs to suggest to them. Then approach them with your current blog as a reference to your brilliant idea. Bottom line – they need something to gauge your idea by.
- To make any sort of decent income from blogging, expect to blog a lot. Very few professional bloggers only write one blog. One reason for this is because it’s really hard to make a living from one blog. Normally, you need the combined income from different blogs added together to make any kind of real money. Of course, there are exceptions to this (see www.dooce.com), but these are usually bloggers who have been blogging for years and have a huge audience. So, start with one paid blog gig, and then start adding on until you find your own balance. It can be a tough juggling act because (on average) you have to blog daily to keep it going.
A Note on Indie Bloggers: If the idea of freelancing for a blog network doesn’t appeal to you, but you still want to make money with your blogging skills, then there is the option of become an independent blogger. There are actually a surprising number of A and B list bloggers out there doing just that such as www.dooce.com, www.shoeblogs.com, and http://www.fashiontribes.com to name a few. However, this road is for the super hardy blogger who doesn’t mind the long journey to google-love and who can wear all kinds of hats while making her way there: writer, programmer, ad salesperson, etc. Like I said, bloggers do manage to do this, but if you look at their archives, you’ll see they didn’t start a few months ago, probably not even just a few years ago.