Blagging advice!

I love blogging. Ive learned a ton, Ive had a helluva lot of fun, Ive made great connections with people all over the world– Its been a very positive experience for me.

So I thought Id share a few tips/tricks Ive learned over the past couple of years for readers who are thinking about taking up blogging:

1. Write for yourself.
Write for you. Make blagging a journal, something fun, not ‘work’. The second posts become an ‘obligation’, youll stop doing it. So write about something funny your dog did that you want to remember forever. Write about a paper you have to read for class anyway (blogging=STUDYING=justified procrastination! WHOO!!!). Write about something you learned in class that blew your mind. Write about how woomeisters have taken advantage of your field. Take something you know thats super complex, and explain it in a way your mom could understand it. Post a funny LOLCat, or a song from YouTube you just fell in love with. Vent about a stupid work situation (but for the love of gawd, dont name names!).

Post 20 times a day, 20 times a month, or 20 times a year– whenever you want to. Blagging is not a goddamn job. And when its starts to feel like one, take a week off.

Write for yourself.

This also means you should write in your own style. I am not a ‘professional’ writer. Occasionally I write something in a more ‘academic’ voice, but it is very difficult for me. I like to write exactly how I talk. I like to write exactly how I think. Even if you want to write ‘sciency’ stuff, dont feel obligated to write as if a post is a friggen term paper. If youd rather write like youre talking to one of your classmates or an old friend, its okay :) Forcing yourself to write in a voice thats not your own is a fast way to make blogging ‘work’, and just plain ol uncomfortable.

2. Its nice to write for you, but its nice to get comments too…
The really fun part about blogging is the comments. Whether its a geek fight on an innocent post about an actress, or the first author of the paper you just trashed showing up, its always exciting to get a ‘NEW COMMENT’ email.

So how to drive up readership? Leave comments on blogs you like! hehehe For months I was so ashamed of Blogger ERV being so ‘new’, I wouldnt put its url on my comments. Dont do that! If people think your comment is funny or helpful or educational, they will click on over to your blag to read more!

3. But dont get obsessed over site hits.
Sign up for Sitemeter or Technorati if you want… BUT DONT CHECK IT! LOL! It will be too depressing, and youll stop writing (even though you are supposed to be writing for you, see #1), and just get cranky about the whole experience.
Look, the first, say, 6 months of blogger ERV, I would get 15, 20, 30 hits a month. Seriously. But I kept chugging at it. I tried to fill some blogworld voids, picked on some people ‘bigger’ than me (classic blagging trick), and now my visits are a couple of orders of magnitude higher than I was getting when I first started :)

Those are just the first three ideas that popped into my head. As always, suggestions from readers are welcome in the comments. :P

Comments

  1. #1 Gobaskof
    June 16, 2008

    Whether its a geek fight on an innocent post about an actress

    Woot, I started that! xD

    But I may take up your advice and start blogging again. I enjoyed it, but I then got depressed that no one ever read it.

  2. #2 The Chemist
    June 16, 2008

    Yes, blogging is so much more fun with comments. I myself haven’t been blogging long and so far the two comments I have received are like manna from heaven.

  3. #3 Michael Clarkson
    June 16, 2008

    For a while I checked my hits way too much, but now I only look once every couple of weeks or so. It can be pretty interesting to check content-specific hits, though, especially if you blog on pretty disparate topics. The all-time biggest draws on my site (relative to other posts on my site) are mostly about science, but some of my video game posts crack the top ten, and my all-time fastest to 100 hits (this is a very high number of unique views for me, to give you an idea of my traffic) was an essay about The World Ends With You. Which I guess just goes to show you that Michael Abbott trumps BPR3 or Sciencebl√§gs at directing traffic your way any day. Then again, I’ve never done anything that makes PZ angry.

  4. #4 Michael Clarkson
    June 16, 2008

    All I wanted was one little umlaut… I guess that’s the sign my html skillz are beginning to fossilize.

  5. #5 Coturnix
    June 16, 2008

    Getting 10-30 hits over the first 6 months is not bad at all. But do not be shy about using Sitemeter and Technorati tools to see who links to you and who visits you, and to which posts.

  6. #6 efrique
    June 16, 2008

    Good advice, erv.

    I started my blog just over 8 months ago, getting almost no readers, then it picked up a bit in December and was stably simmering away at a lowish level (maybe 30-50 hits a month, but for a couple of months I was only posting about once a week, then it picked up a bit as I posted more) until three weeks ago; then it just seemed to go nuts (for me, at least), and I seem to have been getting a good number of daily hits from the same ISPs over and over – that is, I have a couple of dozen regular readers now, plus I seem to be getting a good lot of other traffic, and in the last three weeks I’ve had a couple of thousand page views.

    It’s a real egoboost to see people actually read some of what I write. I’m /glad/ I got onto sitemeter and started looking at my sitemeter results… because I wouldn’t have realized I had as many readers as I do; my posts are often lucky if they generate a single comment, so it doesn’t look like I am getting many readers, but some of my 0-comment posts have had many dozens of hits, and those with only 2 or 3 comments can get hundreds of hits.

    So for me sitemeter was encouraging, because it made me realize I was getting read, even when I wasn’t getting comments.

  7. #7 Bert Chadick
    June 16, 2008

    I write for myself, but I’m an annoying wise-ass. When I comment some writers think I’m a troll. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a jerk.

  8. #8 alison
    June 17, 2008

    Thank you everyone, reading your comments has led me to take the plunge & join technorati. My institution does supply me with a weblog but it’s only monthly & also for the month-before-last – I crave instant knowledge! Even though I blog for my own enjoyment as much as anything.

  9. #9 Doctor Spurt
    June 17, 2008

    Hello. I am leaving a comment on a blag that I like in a shameless attempt to drive up readership of my own very new blag.

  10. #10 Andy Holroyd
    June 17, 2008

    Yes Doctor Spurt it is shameless, so I will do the same.

    And thanks for the good advice erv.

  11. #11 Nick Gardner
    June 17, 2008

    Well, I’ll do the same then.

    Those are some nice and simple tips, erv. All blatantly obvious, but good to see re-stated as a reminder. :-)

  12. #12 J-Dog
    June 17, 2008

    Psst! Hey Abbie – You forgot to mention Teh Very Bestest Way to pick up traffic – Make Dembski & Behe cry like little girls, by PWNing them on line and/or in person.

    Ah !! Good times!

  13. #13 Blake Stacey
    June 17, 2008

    Every once in a while, I get tired of the fame of being a Y- or Z-list science blogger, so I write a post to drive away all my readers.

  14. #14 Sili
    June 17, 2008

    Well, I’ve recently started reading the papers again (I’m remarkably un-busy at my job-proofing job, so I have to spend the time somehow. But to my surprise I found the science reporting to be pretty good.

    The only thing I’ve wanted to mock so far has been a op-ed about the sad state of spelling in the public sphere and classrooms.

    I guess I should get around to joining the Simplified Spelling Society at some point. Only I don’t think I can forget my silent letters. That’s one of the severe downsides to having learnt most of my English from books – my pronunciation is wayyyyyyy off at times.

  15. #15 Rystefn
    June 17, 2008

    Is good advice. I know I’ve found more than a few blogs by following commenters back to the source, as have many others I know.

  16. #16 John Kwok
    June 17, 2008

    Hi All,

    Have decided to post this review of the latest book from Michael Ruse and William Dembski in the event Amazon.com decides to remove it. Over the past week they have removed, then restored, and then, removed again, two reviews I wrote which are humorous parodies of the Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing” and the Elton John song “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” of Behe et al.’s “Intelligent Design 101″ and David Berlinski’s “The Devil’s Disciple”. Amazon claims what I wrote is offensive and contrary to their guidelines, but frankly, I think they were pressured by the Disco Tute. If you have a chance, please ask Amazon.com to rescind its decision – I’ve just alerted them to the fact that I have sent copies of our e-mail correspondence to journalists at SEED magazine, the Washington Post and the New York Times. And if you haven’t done so already, please take a look at my other reviews, especially those of Ken Miller’s new book and Lauri Lebo’s too and please vote accordingly.

    “Where to Now, Bill Dembski?”

    Kept reading about Intelligent Design till my eyes were paralyzed.
    Thought Bill Dembski’s comments were most strange.
    Recognizing that his defense of explanatory filter and
    specified complexity were so queer.
    Gratified to be reading the real truth from Nick Matzke.
    Reading the science truth from Wes Elsberry too.

    So, where to now, Bill Dembski?
    If it’s true, I’m in your hands.
    I may not be a Christian,
    but I’ve done all one man can.
    I understand I am on a road
    where all that was is gone…
    So where to now, Bill Dembski?
    Show me which road I am on.

    Recognize that Intelligent Design is
    pathetic Klingon Cosmology
    Recognize why it’s just queer
    mendacious intellectual pornography.
    Understanding why you’re so wrong Bill Dembski
    Your mind paralyzed by your Christian God.

    Specified Complexity, Irreducible Complexity,
    Just all the same to me.
    Mendacious religious nonsense,
    Pretending to be scientific theory.

    So, where to now, Bill Dembski?
    If it’s true, I’m in your hands.
    I may not be a Christian,
    but I’ve done all one man can.
    I understand I am on a road
    where all that was is gone…
    So where to now, Bill Dembski?
    Show me which road I am on.

    (with apologies to the person formerly known as Reg Dwight and his long-time partner Bernie Taupin)

    Regards,

    John

  17. #17 CL
    June 17, 2008

    Thanks for the advice…I know nobody reads my blog, and that is fine…it’s a diary for me. Although, It would be dishonest for me to say that I don’t want comments, obviously that would be cool. In the meantime, it’s a good way to remember what is going on in my life and the world around.

  18. #18 Jonathan
    June 18, 2008

    “So how to drive up readership? Leave comments on blogs you like!”

    Excellent advice! So good that half the commenters here are doing it. Including me, obviously.

  19. #19 Kristjan Wager
    June 18, 2008

    One advice I can give bloggers is to use feedburner to get an impression of how many readers you have through feeds – I directed my readers to use my feedburner feed, and found out that I had more readers than I thought (approx. 75 daily readers, plus whatever google throws my way).

  20. #20 mark
    June 20, 2008

    On the other hand, if I spent more time posting on my own blog and less time leaving comments at other blogs, folks might return to my blog more often and comment.

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