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32 ways to make your blog suck less
 

32 ways to make your blog suck less

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From http://hanselman.com/suckless

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  • http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BlogInteresting32WaysToKeepYourBlogFromSucking.aspx
  • http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BlogInteresting32WaysToKeepYourBlogFromSucking.aspx
  • Use analytic tools like FeedBurner or Google Analytics to figure out who is reading your blog, so you can occasionally post things that certain folks might like. Also, try using Google Maps Guestmap. (Hello Afshin in Iran and Rad in Kenya and Merrill in Sri Lanka!)Personally I also avoid blogging too much local (to my town) stuff because most of my readers AREN'T in my town!Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=1398250243&size=l
  • I enjoy posting about my son and my spouse, as many of you have (or will have) similar situations. However, I avoid blogging things like "I had a cold today" and "I need to change the oil in my car." Anytime you can tie personal stuff into the 'point,' (whatever your blog's point is) that's a good thing. Personally while I may like you a lot, I do find ongoing stories about this wonderful man/woman/emu that you met on match.com to be a little dodgy if I started reading you for your deep knowledge of HTTP.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/cococait/1690493172/
  • I enjoy posting about my son and my spouse, as many of you have (or will have) similar situations. However, I avoid blogging things like "I had a cold today" and "I need to change the oil in my car." Anytime you can tie personal stuff into the 'point,' (whatever your blog's point is) that's a good thing. Personally while I may like you a lot, I do find ongoing stories about this wonderful man/woman/emu that you met on match.com to be a little dodgy if I started reading you for your deep knowledge of HTTP.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/cococait/1690493172/
  • Don't bother posting things like "I'm sorry, I've been busy doing stuff, I'll try to blog more." If this happens all the time readers just might float away.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/amishah/207978613/
  • I've found, after blogging about a certain election, that politics on non-political blogs (as well as religion) are not worth digging in to. Just as with my VERY good friends with whom I disagree, as well as my boss, I just avoid these topics.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/knott/66465750/
  • I know that it might be thought of as a cop-out to say "if you can't blog anything nice, don't bother blogging," but that is a personal rule. It's a useful rule for life in general. Your blog is not only a record of who you are on the 'net, but it's largely indelible thanks to Google Cache and the Wayback Machine (not to mention all the USENET Archives) so try to avoid bashing or bad-mouthing folks. I googled a fellow who submitted a resume recently, found his blog, and while perusing his archives found a post with a title like "Fred Jones, the CTO of Some Company is a dick and an ass-hat." Let's just say I didn't need to follow up with a phone screen. Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/sam_scholefield/49378638/
  • Know what kind of blog you have. Are you a food blog? A generalist? A newsperson? A link-blogger? This doesn't mean be constrained by labels, but it does mean you should think "what am I trying to accomplish by blogging this..." before you post.
  • I try to have a minimum length to a post. If you don't think about your blog post, likely no one else will either. If I want to save a link, rather than posting "I want to save this link, so I'm blogging it to remember" I use a service like http://del.icio.us/shanselman. Unless you're a link blogger, but then you'd batch them up.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=288184214&size=l
  • Some popular bloggers can get away with this, but I think that quotes make up more than 30% of a blog post (or, gasp, 70% or more) than you really have to ask yourself "am I providing value here?" Notice how I didn't link the the words "Some" "Popular" "Bloggers" to some of the ones I'm thinking of? See Rule 5 Above. :)Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/apotheker/107665469/
  • 'Nuff said.
  • 'Nuff said.
  • A blog is like a garden, it should be tended to and one should pay attention to the little details. I believe that formatting is important. That means everything from having a little whitespace around your images, rather than butting text right up against them. That means taking the time to include relevant images or free stock photos that help illustrate the point. That means using a picture or visualization when it's more appropriate than prose. Honestly, a thousand words aren't even close to as good as a nice visualization.
  • If your blog doesn't have comments, is it a blog? I know that Comment Spam is a problem, but don't give up quite yet. A blog without comments is a telephone with no earpiece.
  • If you have a problem with comment spam (and who doesn't?) consider paying the folks at Akismet and use their API. DasBlog and SubText and WordPress include this support out of the box. I love it. Getting rid of CAPTCHA and switching to Akismet was one of the best things I ever did to this blog. I get more comments now (that's why I feel more connected now (because folks hate doing CAPTCHA) and I get virtually no spam.
  • Many sites like Bloglines, DiggPodcasts (if you have a podcast), Technorati and others have a "claim" feature where you can get an account at their site, then "lay claim" to your blog. They'll typically give you a token or globally unique id that they will then have you add to your site, usually within an HTML comment so folks won't see it, but they'll be able to retrieve it, thus proving that you have control over the site. Once you've claimed your site or RSS Feed on a site like Bloglines or Technorati, you can re-categorize the site, consolidate subscribers (especially useful on Bloglines) and manually redirect subscribers if you've moved blogs (It's better to use 301 redirects, but not every spider respects them.)Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=1176513034&size=l
  • For a while I tried to get www.computerzen.com to catch on for this blog, but for whatever reason folks used www.hanselman.com more.  Over the years, largely due to sloppiness on my part, there ended up being 11 ways to get to my home page.  Use URL rewriting via mod_rewrite or ISAPI_rewrite to decide what your blog's main entry page is. Use it consistently everywhere, especially when you comment on other folk's blogs. I've decided on http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ as I've decided that Blog URLs are Important. (See also 301 redirects)
  • If you've been keeping a blog up for any amount of time, you've likely had "The Popular Post." Sometimes this'll be something simple that you've written and didn't give any though to at the time, but for whatever reason when folks out there in the world Google for "Scottish Interracial Cake Topper," you are right there on the first list of results. If you can, try to use simple URLs to make those popular posts more accessible. Mine ended up being the Ultimate Tools List, but the first version had a ridiculously long URL and that cost me traffic. Now it's always at http://www.hanselman.com/toolshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_Razor This is often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the right one." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristicmaxim (rule of thumb) that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity, often or especially in scientific theories.
  • If you've been keeping a blog up for any amount of time, you've likely had "The Popular Post." Sometimes this'll be something simple that you've written and didn't give any though to at the time, but for whatever reason when folks out there in the world Google for "Scottish Interracial Cake Topper," you are right there on the first list of results. If you can, try to use simple URLs to make those popular posts more accessible. Mine ended up being the Ultimate Tools List, but the first version had a ridiculously long URL and that cost me traffic. Now it's always at http://www.hanselman.com/toolshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_Razor This is often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the right one." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristicmaxim (rule of thumb) that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity, often or especially in scientific theories.
  • If you've been keeping a blog up for any amount of time, you've likely had "The Popular Post." Sometimes this'll be something simple that you've written and didn't give any though to at the time, but for whatever reason when folks out there in the world Google for "Scottish Interracial Cake Topper," you are right there on the first list of results. If you can, try to use simple URLs to make those popular posts more accessible. Mine ended up being the Ultimate Tools List, but the first version had a ridiculously long URL and that cost me traffic. Now it's always at http://www.hanselman.com/toolshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_Razor This is often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the right one." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristicmaxim (rule of thumb) that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity, often or especially in scientific theories.
  • If you've been keeping a blog up for any amount of time, you've likely had "The Popular Post." Sometimes this'll be something simple that you've written and didn't give any though to at the time, but for whatever reason when folks out there in the world Google for "Scottish Interracial Cake Topper," you are right there on the first list of results. If you can, try to use simple URLs to make those popular posts more accessible. Mine ended up being the Ultimate Tools List, but the first version had a ridiculously long URL and that cost me traffic. Now it's always at http://www.hanselman.com/toolshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_Razor This is often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the right one." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristicmaxim (rule of thumb) that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity, often or especially in scientific theories.
  • I haven't done this yet and setup a Code Garage Sale, but if you have a large chunk of code lying around, or projects that you've never gotten out the door, make a site or section of your blog and fill it with those code remnants. I posted a list of great Garage Sale Coders earlier this year.
  • If you're going to take the time to write a blog, take 10 minutes and pick a license. I use the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license that says you can, Share or Remix the work as long as you Attribute the original work to me.
  • Way more people read this blog via a Feed Reader than by visiting the home page. That's why I want to make it EASY to subscribe. Here's what I do to make subscribing easy: Every post include a Subscribe to this Feed link. There's a large standard Feed Icon at the top of the blog linked to the main feed. I support Feed Autodiscovery, an important and sometimes overlooked option, by adding:to every page's HTML. This single line lights up your browser's Feed Icon in orange, allowing for easy subscription.
  • Way more people read this blog via a Feed Reader than by visiting the home page. That's why I want to make it EASY to subscribe. Here's what I do to make subscribing easy: Every post include a Subscribe to this Feed link. There's a large standard Feed Icon at the top of the blog linked to the main feed. I support Feed Autodiscovery, an important and sometimes overlooked option, by adding:to every page's HTML. This single line lights up your browser's Feed Icon in orange, allowing for easy subscription.
  • Blogging should be two way. Have a way for folks to contact you. I use a re-mailer via my I-name which happens to be =scott.hanselman. It freaks a few folks out, but it reduces spam and lets folks talk directly to me.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mylesdgrant/495698908/
  • Blogging should be two way. Have a way for folks to contact you. I use a re-mailer via my I-name which happens to be =scott.hanselman. It freaks a few folks out, but it reduces spam and lets folks talk directly to me.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mylesdgrant/495698908/
  • I haven't done this yet. Perhaps I'll do it next. There should always be a "Who the heck is this guy/gal" link, in the form of an About Me page. This page will typically link to the Contact Me page. Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/babblingdweeb/532676582/
  • A great way . If you use del.icio.us a lot, you can configure FeedBurner to regularly (one a week, day, etc) create a rolled-up post of all the links you've bookmarked during some period and it'll inject the post into your Feed automatically. Social Bookmarking is also a great way to get and give links that is a lot less invasive and a "check this out" email. Folks can send me links via http://del.icio.us by tagging them "for:shanselman." Yet another way to receive information without spam and email.
  • Design your blog for 1024x768 and consciously decide what appears "above the fold." The above the fold rule (no one scrolls down) isn't as valid as it was 13 years ago, it's still all about first impressions. What appears on your blog when one someone just arrives, before they scroll. I've included my picture, my charity, my contact info, my feed, a menu (in gray along the time), a search box, and my sponsors - all before you have to scroll. Those were important to me, and were conscious decisions. Just be aware, rather than letting your blog theme automatically decide.
  • I personally like using Google to search my site, rather than my blog engine's built-in search. Here's an example (Of course, the URL could be much prettier, and that's on my todo list). The point is, make your stuff easy to find, and if you can get Google to include an advertisement or two on your search page, even better. It should look integrated though. Take advantage of Google's theming features and make your search results page look like your blog, not like Google.
  • Lots of folkswere suspicious about outsourcing their Feeds to FeedBurner. Of course, they've been bought by Google so I think we're all less worried about the company going away. What FeedBurner offers is fantastic stats about what folks are reading on your blog, and how they are doing it. It also takes on all your RSS bandwidth, which for me, was crushing.
  • If you host your own blog, do think about how your bandwidth is used. Analytics tools can help, but so can just looking at your Page Weight. I found out that my Favicon.ico was my problem. All you have to do is check. For others it might be graphics, so they might tune those graphics, or outsource them to Flickr. For folks who host large files, consider using Amazon's S3 for hosting.
  • There is little sadder (considering that a blog is sorted by date descending) than visiting a blog with thousands of fantastic entries and years of great content, only to find the most recent, and final post, is a one liner declaring that "This blog has moved. Please update your bookmarks and subscriptions." Sadly, that's more often that not, more effort than I'm willing to expend. Lord only knows how many readers Scoble lost early on when he changing blogging hosts. He eventually figured it out and got some redirects in place quite a bit later. (No, this doesn't count as Blogging Bile, as I'm just reporting the factual news and Robert and I are cordial. :P )
  • This is kind of a continuation of the last tip. Remember that they are called Permalinks for a reason. They aren't Tempalinks. Maintain them. If they are down temporarily and you're hosting elsewhere, issue an HTTP 302, temporary moved. If you need help, ask someone. If your links are moved permanently, issue HTTP 301s, permanently moved. This is just as important for your feeds.  Don't blog that you've moved your feed, just move it. (I am exempt from this, because I blogged about it to spread the word. ;) )Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisbertram/475535007/
  • Avoid maintaining two blogs. It's just as tacky, if not more so, as having 5 phone numbers on your business card. It makes it hard to find you, and your two blogs will always be fighting each other on Google, splitting your virtual  personality. Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=281996204&size=l
  • If you want folks to find you, try to keep all your content in one place. While "crossposting" is an attractive concept, ultimately it just waters everything down. If someone really wants your content, consider posting the first 100 words, and a [Read More] link. This not only gives you traffic, but also puts you in control of the article for spelling corrections, updates, etc.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=37600175&size=o
  • If you want folks to find you, try to keep all your content in one place. While "crossposting" is an attractive concept, ultimately it just waters everything down. If someone really wants your content, consider posting the first 100 words, and a [Read More] link. This not only gives you traffic, but also puts you in control of the article for spelling corrections, updates, etc.Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=37600175&size=o
  • Very veryvery few bloggers can live off the money they make from their blog. Folks who aren't making lots of their blogs also sometimes think that folks with popular blog are making way more than they really are. For most of us, myself included, Blog ads won't make you wealthy, but it can buy you lunch and perhaps an iPod. Don't let money affect your content. Blog well, don't blog for dough. Picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/lomion/1299362563/
  • This is a huge deal and encompasses number's 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 21, 22, 24, 30, 31 and 32 of Scott's 32 ways.
  • This encompasses #s 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30.
  • Ultimately this entire list is folly because there's many blogs that I read because they've got great content. They may have obscure URLs or an average layout, but the content is compelling, so I come back. http://www.flickr.com/photos/selvin/299925383/
  • http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BlogInteresting32WaysToKeepYourBlogFromSucking.aspx

32 ways to make your blog suck less 32 ways to make your blog suck less Presentation Transcript