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Friday, September 16, 2011

BBAW: The "Helpful Hints for Bloggers" Post


The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.

“Tried and true” seems like a strange concept for such a relatively new activity as blogging, but there are some practices within blogging to which it applies. These are a few things I couldn’t blog without:

A feed reader: One reason I’m an inconsistently frequent commenter is that I rarely visit blogs directly. I have the posts come to me via feed subscriptions, and I only go through to the blog itself when I want to comment and/or get the permalink for inclusion in a tweet or post. That person who reads you all the time but never comments, except maybe on Delurker Day, so you don’t actually know about them? They’re probably not really “lurking,” but they’re reading you on their own turf - via their feed reader - and not yours.

Google Reader is probably the best-known and most-used feed reader, but not the easiest to use or the most esthetically appealing. I’ve switched to a couple of different interfaces that sync with my GReader account, but make the reading experience much more pleasant. Feedly is a free extension for Firefox and Chrome (both PC and Mac) that puts feeds in a magazine layout. Reeder is a paid app for the Mac that’s very easy on the eyes. Both readers are user-friendly and easily customized. and both have smartphone apps as well.

Twitter: Twitter got a lot of attention in Wednesday’s community posts, and deservedly so, but it’s an excellent place to share links as well as conversation; there are people who effectively use Twitter as their feed reader. You can set up your posts to auto-feed links to Twitter or share them manually (sometimes I do both, if I want to say something specific about the link), but you need to be sharing your posts there.

Scheduling posts: If you’re less neurotic about your time than I am, the ability to schedule your posts may not matter to you, but it’s a big deal to me. Almost every blogging platform has a scheduling capacity now, and I couldn’t manage without it. I have found that I really dislike blogging on the fly. I like having time to compose my posts, and I’m not one of those people who works best under pressure. If I’m working on a post the same day it needs to be published, I feel seriously behind the curve. My preference is to draft in Google Docs, paste the draft into the blog platform, add in my links and pictures and tags, set a publishing date and time...and then leave it alone until I confirm it did post as scheduled.

I’m always keeping my eye out for new blogging tips and tools, and I'm looking for an excuse to test-drive the new Blogger mobile app. I’ve installed it on my iPhone but haven’t used it yet, because there really hasn’t been an opportunity or reason. I’m not sure it will lend itself to blogging anything lengthy, but it could be useful for impulsive updates, particularly if they’re photo-based - that is, posts that would fit under my “randomness” label and might show up at unexpected times. (Almost-live updates from BEA and Comic-Con next year, maybe?) If you’ve used the app, how has it worked out for you?

I don't find Facebook as essential to blogging as Twitter, but I did set up a Facebook page for The 3 R's Blog (and I'd really like it if you'd "like" it!) a few months ago. My blog posts are now cross-posted and linked there (via Networked Blogs) instead of to my personal profile. I think separating the blog from the personal content has some real pluses, but there's one big minus that you should be aware of if you decide to do the same: your feed-subscriber numbers will drop. It may take a while for the number of people who "like" the page and get its updates to catch up to the number of Facebook friends you have, who were counted as subscribers when they saw your blog posts via your personal status updates.

Tell me about some of your blogging essentials!