Forget the Blogging Formulas

Write what you want to because the rest is bologna” was a post I wrote about breaking the blogging formulas.  This is a followup post to make a different point.

Forget the blogging formulas.  Blogging is not an exact science.  That is why we are all different.  As human beings there are no 2 bloggers who write exactly the same. Writing / Blogging is an expression of one’s thoughts and ideas.  Some bloggers are good at it and some are not.

I read a post today from CopyBlogger titled “3 Things to Consider When Deciding How Long Your Blog Posts Should Be.”  There are no three things to consider when determining the length of your blog post.  The CopyBlogger post listed “TONE, POSTING FREQUENCY, and POSTING SCHEDULE” as the three things to consider.

I could not disagree more with the Copyblogger post.

Formulaic Consistency

The three things suggested seem to center around creating a consistency for your blog.  Consistency in posting, in style and topic, and in posting schedule.

If I read 100 feeds in my feed reader I do not expect consistency from all posts of the blogs I read. I like the fact that when I open Google Reader I will get a new post with a different take.  I do not expect consistency and really do not desire it.  I like variety, new, and different content from the same sources.

Consistency is one of the formulaic things that can limit content.   I want fresh content.  I want fresh ideas.  I want bloggers that I read to write when and what they want to.

Blogging Motivation

Another problem I have with the CopyBlogger post is there are not 3 things to consider when determining post length.  Blogging with a blogging formula seems to me to be a misplacement of motivation for writing.

Why do you blog?  Who is your blogging for?  Do you blog only for SEO?

I do not think content should be geared solely around SEO.  What will my readers like? What will be popular?  What is relevant for post success?  Those are questions that are not valid to me.

Forget the blogging formulas.  Are you blogging because you like to write or is there some other purpose?

The only thing I consider when writing a blog post is did I get my point across.  Do I need more words to express the point of the post?  If the answer is “Yes” then I continue to write and if the answer is “No” I am finished.

Mythical Blogging Rules

The CopyBlogger post stated:

“Many bloggers are afraid of breaking the “rules” because they want to succeed so bad. Conformism is a social more many are afraid to break across many spectrums; not just in business. But, sometimes success comes when you break all the rules.”

I agree in part.  You will be successful when you come to the realization that there are no rules.  The “rules” are a myth.

Forget the Blogging Formulas.  Write what you want when you want because the rest is just bologna.

My Blog Has Been Louis Grayed!

Yes this is a good thing.  In fact it is a very good thing.   Louis Gray is one of the premier Tech bloggers writing today.  I visit his site daily and even have an email subscription to make sure I do not miss a post.

Louis has shown great interest and respect for the small unknown blogger.  Since March he has been profiling 5 Blogs a month.   March, April, May and June.  The small blogs he has spotlighted have taken off and many are must reads in my google reader now.  These blogs have included Hutch Carpenter, Charlie Anzman, SheGeeks, Julian Baldwin, Michael Fruchter, Mark Dykeman, Colin Walker, Alexander van Elsas, and many other outstanding blogs.

I am honored to be included in the list for July.  I am included in great company.  I already subscribe to two of them.  I have already been reading Nathaniel Payne’s NerdFlood and David Risley but can not wait to check out the other two as well.  Here is the list:

1) Bob Warfield / SmoothSpan Blog (smoothspan.wordpress.com)

2) Jesse Stay / Stay N’ Alive (www.jessestay.com)

3) Franklin Pettit / FPettit.com (www.fpettit.com)

4) Nathaniel Payne / NerdFlood (www.nerdflood.com)

5) David Risley / DavidRisley.com (www.davidrisley.com)

Thanks Louis for the link and mention.   I am honored to be in the company of your monthly featured bloggers.  I better get posting.  I currently have 33 open drafts in WordPress.  It is time to finish some off and put out more content.

Zemanta Pixie

FriendFeed Temperature Taking

Early Adopters

Louis Gray recently wrote his feelings about the stages of an early adopter. Early adopters may be fickle at times but many are currently on the same page it seems in love with the lifestreaming service FriendFeed. I admit FriendFeed is the place to be in my opinion.

FriendFeed is currently the hangout du jour for early adopters. But the broad early adopter appeal for FriendFeed goes far beyond mere lifestreaming. The service has become a place for community, a sounding board, a peer hangout, an industry watercooler, and certainly many more things.

As a result FriendFeed is being used as a place for research, analysis, and early adopter community feeling on many social media issues.

Early Adopters are the heavy social media users of the Web 2.0 products. Start up developers like Toluu founder Caleb Elston are able to use Twitter, FriendFeed, and a specific FriendFeed Toluu room as an avenue for user feedback, feelings, and product appeal.

With a community freely giving feedback an opportunity exists via the web that previously did not. Web 2.0 start-ups can gain valuable user opinions earlier in the development cycle with no cost to the start-up by utilizing a social network like FriendFeed.

Blog Post Material

From the obvious department let me just state: If you need a blog post idea hop on over to FriendFeed. The conversation is on every topic and you can begin the conversation yourself.

Many have taken conversations that occurred on FriendFeed and expounded upon the conversation to become detailed blog posts. This is good. Fractured conversation on FriendFeed is often conversation that would have never taken place otherwise and leads to more content.

Taking Temperatures

In the realm of gathering research many are using FriendFeed for direct research by temperature taking the early adopters. I am seeing this practice grow. Mike Fruchter in particular has used the discussion for later blog post material.

I have seen him ask direct questions on several occasions directly in what I would describe as a user polling temperature taking method.

This is a fabulous concept. If you have a group of people that have similar interests all in the same place it certainly is a good opportunity to ask them a question. Asking a question like this one:

“Research post – What are your dislikes about del.icio.us? What features is del.icio.us lacking?”

This was asked today by Mike Fruchter and generated beneficial discussion to Mike for post research but could potentially be great feedback for the del.icio.us team. It also was very beneficial to other users like me who might want to weigh and measure a product like del.icio.us against its competitors.

I commented the following in the middle of the conversation to Mike: “I like the way you have been using FriendFeed for research and early adopter temperatures. It is a good idea.” His response:

“@Franklin thanks. Friendfeed has truly become a powerful research tool, in some aspects more powerful then Google. It’s amazing watching this rapid transformation take place.”

I agree with him the power of FriendFeed as a research tool is astounding. The current merit, usefulness, and value of FriendFeed seems to be nearly boundless with potential appearing limitless as well. Early adopter temperature taking is just another benefit of the simple but complex addictive life-streaming service FriendFeed.

Write When and What You Want To: The Rest Is Bologna

Write what you want and when you want to because the rest is just bologna. I read posts all the time with hints, tips, and these grand thoughts about blogging. They instruct you on how to grow your readership, encourage visitors, and some even give pointers for monetizing your blog.

You are either adept at writing interesting content or you are not. Some people are good at writing and some are not. I read blogs that are absolute CRAP everyday. I love FriendFeed and enjoy the noise to a certain extent but let’s get real. The river of noise is full of poorly written bad content. That is fact. Crap existing in the stream of the blogosphere. But it is ok, this is what can distinguish your blog from the noise.

Blogging is more about luck than anything. These hints from the blogosphere are just pointers to increase your chances to be successful. It really is all about luck. Don’t believe all the problogger & copyblogger stuff. Did you read the words let me type them again: It really is all about luck!

I read several blogs not in the tech field that are very well written but not very interesting to most. They have a consistent readership under 20.

Does it matter what they write about? Not really they write because they want to. They are not in the obsessed tech blogger mode of checking stats 10 times per day. They could care less about publishing breaking news or timely posts.

They write to record their thoughts. What they post is thoughtful and interesting to their small audience. But even with readers under 20 because the content is well written all 20 readers hang on that bloggers every posted word.

So how does that apply to tech blogging. Write what you want to when you want to. If you write content that is well thought out and well written you will grow a following. But it will take time and luck as well.

Another thing I read about is posting timely. This really does not matter.

I posted today right after a product enhancement roll out and announcement. I posted literally 1 minute after the launch time. But I am a small blog. My exposure is limited.

I feel like I posted a well thought out solidly written post but it did not really matter. The posts later in the day by more well known bloggers got the majority of the page views. Post when you want. Even if it is old news if your insight or take is different and interesting a well written post can do well.

I was first today but it didn’t matter. Perhaps I should have posted tomorrow. Do page views matter? What is your goal as a blogger? Ultimately to grow your blog. I was happy with the post and the traffic was ok.

However last week I wrote a quick post about a Firefox extension and the post ended up on Scoble’s Google Reader shared items feed. That was the single best traffic day ever for this blog.

This is just a perfect example of the luck involved in being a new blogger. A post that you spend the most time on may not be the highest in page views while a quick post may go viral. You just never know.

But what you can control is quality. If you have the God given ability to write well then write well. Produce quality content.

Now another thing I read about being a successful blogger is to post more posts. Post daily or even more often. Well look unless you are blogging full-time this is not very realistic. Post when you can what you can. I have a day job. Blogging can become a hobby but as a hobby daily posting is nearly impossible for me. Do what you can when you can.

To be successful you need a lot of luck. But what you can control is quality, interesting, well written content. But don’t worry about readership your audience will arrive just be patient.

Always write what you want and when you want to because the rest is just bologna.

Excuses, WordPress, & Blogging

For the past 6-8 weeks I have been tech blogging. Well at least a little. I have managed to post sporadically with a quest to post regularly. Sporadically is probably the best I can do for now. I tried blogging before and had given up on it. But this time I think it has stuck. I will maintain this blog and try to post daily but at least once a week.

As a new blogger I have been working to spruce up the site. I have been researching many WordPress themes, many sidebar widgets, and lots of tweaks for the blog. Several months ago I added the Disqus plugin for threaded commenting. Disqus is great! If you do not use it for your WordPress blog you should really give it a try. Installation is easy and it works great. One of my favorite features is the commenting by email reply .

During the past week I have been looking at WordPress themes and wordpress theme development. The main process in a wordpress theme that displays your posts is called “The Loop.” The loop looks like this:

<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>

<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>

//Code here would display and format the post.

<?php endwhile; ?>

All wordpress themes have the_loop but some have more than one. Some premium themes and magazine style themes may also display post excerpts in a sidebar or else where on the page. They have multiple loops. The following is a list of links that I have viewed as I was researching multiple wordpress loops.

I looked at ways to enhance my theme with category pages. I wanted a specific verbiage at the top of each category page. Here are some relevant links:

As I stated I have been looking at many different wordpress themes. It is good to choose a theme and stick with it. Here are couple places to take a look at themes:

I decided on Cutline by Chris Pearson for now. It is a 3 column theme. But I intend to tweak it further by changing the theme’s pages, categories, sidebars, and general setup.

Here a couple more general WordPress links:

One more thing. So you want to play with new themes, or just tweaking your site. One thing you can try is installing WordPress locally. So you do not have a Linux machine? No problem, XAMPP to the rescue.

XAMPP is a free, cross-platform web server, consisting mainly of the Apache HTTP Server, MySQL database, and interpreters for scripts written in the PHP and Perl programming languages.

XAMPP lite contians just what you need. XAMPP is zipped and requires no install. There is even a portable apps version of XAMPP. XAMPP contains everything needed to run WordPress. Check out the following link:

This link gives you step by step instructions to get your local WordPress install up and running.

I like this blogging thing no more excuses but to post.

Tip: Email Address Of Disqus Commenter

I have been using Disqus for comments for about 1 month. I really love it so far. The WordPress plugin was quick and easy to install. I have had absolutely no problems with it.

One thing I could not figure out was if the commenter’s email address was accessible. David over at the KnightKnetwork hunted around and found out that on the Dashboard view of your Disqus profile each comment has an Admin button.

Click the admin button and the email address and IP address of the commenter are revealed.

I love Disqus but here are my top 2 feature requests.

  • I would love for Disqus to intergrate with FriendFeed
  • I would like to be notified of a reply to a comment I made even if it is not on my blog.

Disqus is great keep up the good work.