Sunday, May 29, 2005

"Here be dragons!"

Blogging tips, and a warning, from the Sunday Times:
The absolute golden rule of blogging — it is literally made of gold — is: “Do not blog.”

Who are you trying to kid? There were 70 billion blogs in the world yesterday, there will be 70 billion billion by next week, and what crazy hubris makes you think you have anything new or interesting to say? Yet you, like all the other lemmings, assume your blog will be one of the tiny fraction that is brilliant, and you’ve already got your gleeful little paws over the edge of the cliff. So all Doors can do is offer a few invaluable tips to stop you embarrassing yourself, ruining your love life, alienating your friends and getting the sack. If you follow them. Which you won’t...

(Tip number one: does the world really need to know what you had for breakfast?) A recent Gallup poll showed that, in spite of Time magazine declaring 2004 the year of the blog, half of America’s supposedly wired population had never heard of blogging. On the other hand, most Americans couldn’t place America on a map of America, so what does that mean? Well, it means this: don’t assume your friends and family know what blogging is. This is important because, when you start, these are the only people who will read what you write. Whether they keep reading or not is up to you...The easiest way to ensure your blog does not look noticeably awful is to start with a free template (see box). When your blogging delusion has deepened and you want the extra credibility of designing your own page, make things easy by using a dedicated program such as Movable Type (

A survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests you will probably join the 80% of blogs devoted to “personal musings”. It is easy to mock the drones writing about cats and shopping — see, I just did it — but the American Heather Armstrong, whose won several Bloggies this year, says that this shouldn’t put you off. Since you can’t control your audience, “you should always write for yourself”, she says. “If what you’re saying has a heart and a soul to it, the audience will come.”

She carefully adds that there is nothing wrong with having nothing interesting to say... There is room for everyone in cyberspace, and mundane, boring blogs aren’t hurting anyone — just don’t expect an audience.
More advice:
If you choose a collection of words that people are likely to search for, you may be able to cheat your way up Google’s charts. Try possible future headlines (“War with France”) or song lyrics (“Way to Amarillo”).

It is also helpful to keep an eye on who is reading your musings, so you can pander slavishly to their prejudices. Check up on your visitors through Technorati...

If your sex life is not much to write home about, there are other ways to attract a burst of helpful fame. One is to blog so unwisely about your work that you get sacked. Armstrong, who was fired after writing about her co-workers, now tells others, “Be ye not so stupid”, but the press certainly helped her towards blogging fame and glory.
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