December 18, 2005

Performancing Opens Blogger Forums

Have questions about blogging? Ask at the Performancing forums.

December 16, 2005

XML, Bloglines, My! Yahoo, My MSN, and Google Reader Subscribe to this Feed Buttons

People who subscribe to your blog will be more inclined to read more of your posts. They will also be more inclined to comment on or link at your posts. Making it easier for people to subscribe to your feed sends lots of love your way.

People use a wide variety of feed readers, but I thought it would be cool to provide the buttons to the most popular feed readers to help users subscribe to your content.

Attached in the syndicate zip file is the subscriber images for some of the most popular feed readers, XHTML source code for using the images horizontally or vertically, and directions for how to integrate them into your blog.

Here is what the buttons look like vertically:
Image of vertical syndication buttons.

Here is what the buttons look like horizontally.

Code to post the images vertically and horizontally is included in the zip file. You can also alter the code however to fit your site design. ff you need more specific tips for integrating the buttons on your blog please let me know.

Thanks to Andy Hagans for making a few of the buttons.

Moving Away from Default Site Designs

I tend to use some of the default settings a bit more frequently than one should. The problem with defaults is that when some people see them they may not take them seriously…thus new readers are less likely to trust or link to content since they initially saw it through a speculative eye.

When you are new to the web it can be a bit hard to edit the page code, but just a couple small changes to the site can turn something from a default piece of crap to something that makes it look like you care about it.

Here are my general rules:

  • Do not use the most default template.
  • If there is a template that sorta fits your theme then start from there.
  • When in doubt start off with one of the cleaner looking templates. You can always add noisy elements later if the site looks too plain, but if the design looks too cluttered from the word go that’s no good.
  • A plain looking site also makes it easy to blend ads with the content or make something stick out if you want to push a special promotion.
  • If you plan on monetizing the site by selling ads make sure the ad space is part of the design instead of trying to fit it in later.

My specific steps:

  1. Buy a logo
  2. Find a template. There are some decent ones out there if you search around.
  3. Color match your template to your logo using a photo editor or a free program like TrayColor to grab the colors. Typically I match the headings and subheadings to colors in the logo and like to try to keep links blue if possible. This free color scheme tool will also help you find colors that are complimentary in design.
  4. Add feed subscription buttons
  5. Add a stats package like MyBlogLog, Sitemeter, or Google Analytics.
  6. Create a favicon. A favicon is the little image that shows up in the browser address bar when someone visits your site, or on your bookmarks when someone bookmarks your site. Performancing has a good thread on Favicons, and here are a couple free favicon generators: Chami and . Please note that Favicons are super small so they can’t have much texture to them, and you may need to use a image manipulation tool like Adobe Photoshop or Snagit.
  7. If you can afford the time and effort required to make a great design off the start that is great. If not most people can still get by with a decent design until their sites are profitable enough to buy a better design.

Buy a Blog Logo

Buying a logo can sorta suck because you may not get exactly what you want, and you may not even know what you want. Think of what sort of brand you want to have. Is it one that emphasizes creativity and fun, is it a serious site, a tech one? Your logo should fit not only the colors you would like but also the theme that matches with your personality or the personality of the site.

A few tips I would offer on this front are to look at some logos others have designed to help come up with an idea for what you like. Sometimes you can even find out who designed a logo you like and have them design one for you. You can also:

  • Hire a professional logo designer. Some of the logos I have got have really been hit or miss. My favorite logo designer has sucky customer service. The only other logo designer that I used and liked was The Logo Company. A few of the logos I bought from them I did not like, but I loved their Fatty Weight Loss logo. Both DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory list many logo designers.
  • You can bid on projects on sites like I have generally found most of these to be a let down for me though.
  • Some forums like NamePros allow you to post logo design projects where you pick the winner. If you pay more you will attract higher quality designers, but I have seen some decent logos from the $20 to $50 range.
  • Ask for a favor from a friend who is good at logo design…perhaps offering to buy them dinner or pay them back down the road. If you are actively learning about the web you should participate in online communities to create trusted friends. Some of them may be able to help you directly, and others may be able to recommend you to someone who can help you.
  • If you have serious cash go with a kick ass designer like Hicks Design. I also like some of the logos from Eden Creations.
  • If you are a total do it yourselfer then Adobe Photoshop is amazing. A few cheaper logo design software products come from AAA Logo and Laughing Bird Software. I have not yet tried it, but GIMP is free open sourced software, and is supposed to be a lot like Adobe Photoshop.

Is there any software or logo designers you recommend? What work made you want to recommend them?

Blogspot = Bad…

If you use Blogger to power your blog and plan to make it a serious longterm project make sure you do not use Blogspot as your host. Here’s why:

  • Some people will not take some Blogspot hosted blogs seriously.
  • It is harder to remember (and thus recommend, subscribe, or link at) than
  • Blogger has limited features. If you want to add some advanced tools or features to your site tough luck.
  • Search engines tend to trust sites more as they age (this is especially true with Google).
  • If you move your blog away there is no easy way to get the link popularity to flow from Blogspot to your new website.

I would almost always opt for using a self hosted blog solution like WordPress or MovableType.

TypePad: Inept

Log in attempts have failed and failed and failed again. TypePad has been down for hours today. Sick of seeing this POS screen.

Many blogs are driven by timeliness and some people own networks where downtime takes many many many man hours.

They should have a premium version where reliability does not blow. It’s not a real / honest business model to be unreliable and claim your solutions are geared toward professionals.

December 13, 2005

Blog Networks & Splog Networks

Blog Network List ranked by perceived value. Some of the values might be a bit off because they don’t factor in niche, monetization methods, or share of voice within local markets.

Daniel Pink writes on splogs:

What’s the answer? Part of it is technological – search engines and blogging tools that are more difficult to manipulate. But part is also Newtonian. In the ever-reacting online world, just as spam begat junk filters, splogs are begetting splog monitors like SplogSpot and SplogReporter. These sites compile lists of fake blogs and serve as consumer watchdogs for the blogosphere. Unless, of course, they turn out to be splogs themselves.

A good start to killing the splog problem would be the day Google started policing their own content network, but until then the best we can hope for is interviews from Matt Cutts.

December 9, 2005

Blogging for Hits

Tony Pierce, easily one of the top 10 bloggers, talks about how he would blog for hits. Funny examples of how to get people to want to read or link at your stuff, and then Tony ends off with

if i wanted hits id change everything about this blog and do everything differently but i dont think about hits any more than i think about ads and i dont think about pussy either

which is why i get all three and then some

and then some.

Voice probably matters more than anything else.

And this goes to show why SEO really does not matter as much for blogs

New Blog Established Blog

  • new to the web
  • new to blogging
  • somewhat new to your topic

  • been around a while
  • learned your community and topic well

  • since few people will read new blogs write literal using descriptive post titles
  • spend tons of time reading other blogs…the best blogs are the best because they have personality and because they distill a ton of information
  • after your site ages and if enough people like your posts as you get more into blogging then your literal titled posts will rank well for many terms

  • write post titles and contents to elicit links, comments, viral marketing, and / or an emotional response
  • after you have a share of market attention it is important to try to remain unique if you want to keep your market position if your field is competititive
  • if people find your posts interesting they will link at them and you will rank well for many related queries without needing to focus so much on being literal
  • keep in mind though that many people will link to your site using your post title as the anchor text. you still may want some of your post titles to be a bit literal here and there

December 8, 2005

Everyone is so Shite, and I Love Everyone, etc.

It is easy to link at a site that says everyone sucks.
It is easy to link at a site that calls out one particular well known person as being full of shite.
Self congradulatory industry specific coverage and awards are easy to link at.
It is easy to link at the person who tells me I spelled congratulatory incorrectly.

People want to post about something…sometimes you can create an idea that is easy to talk about or steal someone else’s idea by adding controversy.

December 1, 2005

Typepad Down Again, Suggests

I typically like to keep my stuff out of networks. A friend of mine who goes by the nickname Lots0 pointed out many times how he was once burned by being part of a network.

Sure sometimes your host will have problems, but if you pick hosts based on reliability then odds are pretty good your host will be up more often then most distributed system.

Blogger has the following issues

  • huge splog problem
  • lack of portability of link popularity
  • makes your blogs seem less professional by being hosted there
  • occassionally down for extended periods of time

TypePad has the following problems

  • if you dynamically remap your hosting some of the registrar partners (such as GoDaddy) place an ad page at the root non www. version of your URL
  • some people use their default URLs, but I do not like the lack of portability of link popularity
  • last month their hosting was down so much that they let users decide how much free hosting they wanted to receive to make up for it
  • this morning I am not sure if they had something wrong with their servers, but the sorry unavailable messages this morning did not make me feel the service is all that trustworthy

Having said all of that I recently set up a number of blogs on Typepad and am wondering if I screwed the pooch. Should I have just put WordPress on a wide variety of domains?

A few minutes here and there don’t mean much, but they do start to add up if you are building out a large network.

« Previous Page Next Page »