The talk about blogging at The Lab last night was a lot of fun. I didn’t feel nearly as deer in the headlights as I thought I would, though I’m afraid my style of blogging meant I didn’t have very helpful answers. (Example: What is your most popular post? My answer: I don’t actually know. (It’s the bacon cups, duh, Megan.)) Also, I got to buy my blog anniversary present, the Gro Bal Baby.
John was a fabulous host for the evening, and I want to thank him for being so generous as to have the events in his store and allowing people to mill around with food and drinks. Thank you John. Velocity is a fantastic store, online and in real life, and I always find myself trying out lots of furniture while I’m there.
Thanks to Paola (MirrorMirror), Elaine (Decorno), and Mary (Shelterrific and Straight from the Container) for being such wonderful girls. I do hope our different styles and goals for blogging gave a varied perspective. An extra huge thank you to Paola for getting this event started and inviting me to be part of this night.
I got to meet Jessie of Cakespy and Tula of Whorange and a bunch of other people. Thanks so much to everybody for coming last night. I ran into Eliza Truitt, who ran a small photography workshop I gratefully attended last month. If she starts starts having regular classes I’ll be sure to let you know, a class focusing on “So, you just bought a DSLR…” would be helpful to so many people I know.
A thanks goes to Dry Soda for providing food and beverages. I’ve begun associating the flavor of Kumquat soda with an evening of learning new things from intersting people.
The next Lab (June) will feature Kristen Rask, owner of Schmancy and creator of the Plush You event and book, Moxie of Made By Moxie and Hansi of hansigurumi. They’ll be talking about the Plush You! show and crafting in general.
The Lab for July will feature Emira Mears and Lauren Bacon talking about their book The Boss of You. If you have or want to run your own business these two have a lot of wisdom to share as they have owned Raised Eyebrow Web Studio for a very long time. I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to read their site The Soapbox Girls way back in 1999, so I’m very excited they’ll be coming through town. (I missed them when they were here on the book tour.)
You can join Velocity’s mailing list to hear about future events.
See Mary’s notes over at Shelterrific.
Here are my notes on what I can recall from what we talked about last night:
Why do we blog?
Elaine – Enjoys the conversation with people in comments. A criticism of Domino magazine lead to being emailed by head editor of Domino. She travels for her job and is able to have a reason to meet with people in other cities that she wouldn’t have otherwise.
Paola – As a way to record life as well as get MirrorMirror up in the Google rankings since the name is shared by a book and movie. After she launched her blog
Mary – Because she was a fan of Budget Living, and a writer, she looked at Shelterrific and decided it was something she wanted to do. She wrote in with enough suggestions that she was made a contributer, and then a co-editor.
Megan – It started as a place to record and keep notes on stuff I’ve made and links I want to find later. It sill is, but I really appreciate being able to connect with people and get candid answers from you all. (See the shoe question from yesterday.)
All of us have met people from having a blog, evidence was us sitting there that night. These types of connections are an incentive to continue blogging.
Is there money to be made?
A little, yes, but it’s not enough to quit our jobs.
Google Ads – Anyone can join, a widget puts text links or picture ads of various sizes on your site. You get a small amount when people click on the ad.
Amazon Associates – You get a percentage if one of your readers buys something from Amazon. There are widgets you can put in your side bar, and you can also construct links to put inside your blog posts.
Paola and Mary mentioned that they have a surprising amount of people clicking on small text ads, like Google Adwords. Elaine has gotten a little criticism after putting one ad on her site, she also has something that looks like an ad, but is actually a banner for a local business she would like to support.
There are many ad networks, I just started using BlogHer Ads. What your site is about and how much traffic you get can affect whether you’ll be ale to join, some you need to be invited to join. Some networks set restrictions on what other types of advertising you’ll be able to do.
How much time do we spend blogging?
The average is about three hours a day, posting and looking at other sites. One entry takes longer than you would expect, about an hour, with adding images and links.
What blogging tools to use?
Megan hosts own site and uses WordPress. Shelterrific uses WordPress.org. Elaine is at Blogspot. Paola uses Typepad (not free). If you decide to buy your own domain name and purchase hosting, many hosting companies have one-click installs of the major blogging platforms. This is something to look for when you’re shopping for hosting companies.
WordPress.org – Free, open source blogging tool you install on the server space you rent from your hosting company. There are lots of templates you can use. You update and arrange everything from a web page.
WordPress.com – Free, hosted blogs so you don’t have to buy a domain name or hosting. It would be yourname.wordpress.com
Blogger – Free blogging tool, owned by Google. You can either have it publish to your domain name, or have a blog at yourname.blogspot.com
Typepad – yourname.typepad.com, there is a monthly fee but this service has a lot of fans.
I use WordPress on my own space (because I’m a bit of a control freak) and am no longer familiar with the good and bad aspects of using a hosted service. I know that a free yourname.wordpress.com blog does not allow you to show ads. If anybody has stuff to add about blogging platforms please do.
What to do about people writing asking for blog mentions of things that don’t fit on the blog?
We all ignore them, if the person sounds a little pushy they’ve probably emailed 80 other people. Also, if somebody is willing to ask outright for mentions they have to understand that they won’t be mentioned on blogs where they don’t quite fit. We all get enough of these emails a day that we cannot respond to each one.
How do you find other blogs to read?
Most blogs have a list of links or a Blogroll, as Paola pointed out often these links are precious to the author. Start visiting those (here are mine, yes, all of them are precious to me). John jumped in as using Technorati as a blog search engine.
If you have a new blog how do you get into a community?
Write a “hey I really like your blog” email with a link to your site. Become a regular commenter on a few of your favorite blogs, you’ll start to develop relationships with other regular commenters.
How do you decide how much to share?
None of our sites are very personal, and we don’t share anything we will be haunted by later on. Paola is very careful to monitor any unusual interest in the pictures she puts up of her daughter.
We talked about RSS. RSS is a way of reading sites in a reader. As the blog publishes it sends an update to the reader which stores it until you have time to see it. Google Reader is a good one, I use Bloglines since it’s what I started using first.
Publishing every day is important to keeping readers interested. I am not as anxious about this, but when I go away I post-date blog entries to publish automatically about once a day. Most blogging platforms will have this feature.
One thing we didn’t get to talk about is stats. I get stats from my hosting company which are dense and detailed and difficult to read. I also use Google Analytics which have a very good interface but, infuriatingly, doesn’t give me specific referrer urls – I get that somebody at www.somesite.com has linked to me, but I cannot tell which page. I also use the free part of Stat Counter which gives me the last 500 referrers. It is notable that when comparing daily or monthly stats each counter gives me different numbers, sometimes widly different.
Let’s see, is there anything else I cannot remember? Anything somebody didn’t get to ask?