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Blogging for Beginners – Questions?

200602071902In a recent poll which asked ‘how long have you been blogging?’ I was surprised to find that 43% of readers of ProBlogger either don’t have a blog or have been blogging for less than 6 months. 60% have been blog less than 12 months.

As a result I’ve begun writing a series of posts titled ‘blogging for beginners’ (this is why I’ve been writing slightly less than normal over the past week).

I’m basing the series of posts on the most common questions that I get asked by bloggers just starting out. While there are plenty of these questions I would like to give you the reader the opportunity to ask questions for me to answer.

I can’t guarantee to answer each one but I will read them all and attempt to incorporate as many answers as possible.

I’m particularly looking for questions from bloggers who are just starting out. If you’ve been blogging a while you can ask a question also but I’d like you to ask one from your early days. You may have answered it for yourself since but ask it anyway.

Back when I first started I remember asking Rachel who was one of the first bloggers I began to talk to all kinds of questions – big and small. The one that sticks in my mind most is:

How do I make words bold?

I felt a little silly asking it and she probably had a chuckle when I did – but it was only through asking questions like that that I learned (and as you can see bolding is something I am now pretty much competent in).

Feel free to ask the questions in comments below – anonymously if you feel embarrassed. Be assured there is no question too big, small or silly to be asked. The chances are that if you’re asking it – someone else will be also. If the question is out of my league I’ll do my best to find someone who can answer it to write a guest post on the topic.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    OK, I’ll be the first to ask a stupid question…

    Why are RSS feeds so important?

    I thought the idea was to get people to read your Blog. If they get an RSS feed (providing they have a reader), aren’t the chances greater that they will just look at the headline and go on?

    Hope that’s not too stupid.

    Joe

  2. Jesse says:

    Are prepositions okay words to end really long run-on sentences that don’t make much sense but are just laying there in one big blog looking ugly and making the writer feel stupid because of the poor structure and bad grammer with?

  3. Cas says:

    The question I get asked a fair bit is “what on earth is this ‘del.icio.us’ thing people keep telling me to bookmark stuff on?” followed by “but what’s wrong with just bookmarking on my computer”.

    The RSS question is, not surprisingly, a perennial, and the number of people who just don’t understand the sidebar and archives never fails to surprise me.

    I have a friend who has just started a blog and the look of fear when he was faced with a blogger template was something to behold. His top questions were “how do I post pictures”, followed rapidly by “so where can I get pictures hosted” (the answer for him being Flickr), and then “how do I make my own link to another site in the sidebar”.

  4. Problogger.Net was my first blog I ever read, and I always wondered why some commenters only left comments that seemed to be the middle of their thoughts. It ‘s like this:

    […] not commercial not bussiness but everyone of us; even those who […]

    Then someone explained to me this was a “trackback”. Track what?

    It took me a whole month or so before I finally came to grasp the meaning of trackbacks, their use, and how they can be mis-used (trackback spam).

  5. Karl says:

    I am finding that the questions I did not think to ask are likely the most important:

    What should I expect from AdSense (provided I am consistantly posting 2-3 times a day, and the content is good)?

    How much traffic should I expect?

    Where do I learn more about how to optimize my blog?

    ————–
    Of course, I have learned the answers to these now that I have a couple of months under my belt (especially the last). Now I am just waiting for the next group of baffling issues to crop up for me.

    Its a fun ride.

  6. Alan says:

    I have a couple of questions:

    One – I’m building several web sites and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s better to go with blogs instead of building web sites. I’d like to see a comparison of the pros and cons of blogs vs. web sites.

    Two – Now that I’m thinking of moving to blogs instead of web sites, would you recommend having one domain name with several blogs or several domain names for the different blogs.

    I guess I’m wondering how much the domain name makes a difference with the credibity factor and search engine positioning.

  7. Robert Tatum says:

    What are the best methods to promote your blog?

  8. Graham Doel says:

    Why bother with tagging.

  9. Chris Albon says:

    What is a Meme? (from your meme tracker post)

  10. Mike Sansone says:

    How do I create a tag cloud – and should I?

  11. Marco says:

    Me and a group of friends want to start a blog. We want to make a niche blog and try to get some money from it. The problem is, we want to make it in portuguese, since we live in Brazil, but we feel that it’s hard enough to make ANY cash from blogs that are written in english, an international language. Now Imagine in portuguese…

    If we make that blog in our first language we will automatically reduce the number of people who could have an interest in our website, but we could write better.

    Should we try to develop our skills and make the blog in english or stick with portuguese?

  12. Brian says:

    What’s a blog?

  13. brandon says:

    what are the advantages of joining a blog network?

    what are the advantages of owning a blog network? Where does most of the money come from?

  14. Dehumanizer says:

    Marco: I have several blogs, some in English, some in Portuguese. The English ones get more hits, but the Portuguese ones tend to have higher CTRs.

    Also, there’s a lot less competition in the Portuguese language. For instance, A Arte de Blogar, a blogging tips blog in Portuguese (a bit like ProBlogger, in fact, though I’m way less experienced than Darren) is almost unique in its language. How many ProBlogger wannabes are there in English? Hundreds, I’d bet.

  15. Dehumanizer says:

    By the way, how do I make words italic? :)

  16. I find that there are so many resources out there that I am just not sure which ones are the best and should be used. Which ones are redundant? At first I thought I needed both Typepad and WordPress. It took me a bit before I understood that I didn’t need both. Now, I am looking at all the RSS, Readers, Directories, etc. and I’m trying to get a grip on what tool I need to use and just ignore the rest. I feel overwhelmed!
    Thanks!

  17. Liz Strauss says:

    What’s the difference between a hit, a visit, a page view?
    What do directories mean by in and out?
    How come some directories show ten-thousands of hits to my blog when my stat counter never gets near that many?
    Is there anyway to get a reasonable estimate of how many people are reading my blog?

    If anyone wants to know. I can center text.

  18. Leon says:

    Finally! I’ve always wanted to ask some questions but never got the chance! Ok. Now…
    1. Is there a way to track my feed traffic with Atom and not Feedburner?
    2. I use about 4 traffic exchanges, but get little participation when it comes to comments. I did a poll on my blog to see how people keep in contact with my blog. 5% (1) used manual bookmarking, 5% (1) remembered the URL, 3% (16) said Other, and a whopping 74% (14) were just passing through! How can I get casual readers to become regular readers?
    3. How can I improve my blog’s pagerank on Google?

    P.S. Cas, del.icio.us is an online bookmarking system. Its advantage is that your bookmarks are not confined to a computer, but accessible anywhere through the net.

  19. Leon says:

    Liz, hits, visits and page views are all the same. There are many places to get hit counters, like sitemeter, statcounter, bravenet or boingdragon. You can join taffic exchanges such as blogexplosion to boost traffic to your blog.

  20. Brian says:

    Leon the answer to number 2 is easy – write good/great content. One small thing you may do is try writing a series of posts – something that might be continued directly or thematically the next day. It may spur someone to say “yeah, I need to come back tomorrow and get the rest of this.”

    Just do it subtley.

    Darren this thread and series is a great idea. Good luck with it.

  21. lavonne says:

    With multiple blogs, how do you manage your time so that you are posting quality material on each of them at least once a day?

    Leon, I don’t think hits, visits and page views are the same. My understanding is that a hit is one request for one file, such as index.php, and each graphic or other file on that page counts as another hit when one computer visits that page. So hits tend to be much higher than visitors or page views. Visitors are the number of computers that visit the entire site, no matter how many pages they view. Page views are the number of times a given page is viewed. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

  22. AK says:

    Since I’m new enough to blogging that I’m sure I’ll be asking quite a few questions on this thread, let me start by answering a few of them.

    Robert (and Graham) – You’re already on the site to answer those questions. Check out Three Simple Actions as a good place to start promoting your blog. Tagging is an important way to help external sites like Technorati find your blog , and that drives traffic to your site. I doubled my traffic in about 2 days (from 2 readers to 4, I’m pretty sure, but that’s something… lol).
    Leon – you’re question #3 would take years to answer and is one of the most debated SEO (Search Engine Optimization) topics on the internet. A good resource for help with Google is Site-Reference, they have lots of good resources dealing specifically with Google (just look in the “Most Viewed” sidebar). The short answer, though, is write good blogs often.
    My question is on trackback etiquette. Would those who have been actively blogging longer than I have (i.e. 2 weeks) feel spammed by someone who posts a trackback on your site if they have never commented there? Or would you always welcome related articles?

  23. pcunix says:

    Hits, visits and page views are NOT the same.

    Usually visits is refering to unique visits. Pageviews or hits is any old visit, but usually a “hit” is just that alone, while a pageview is related to a specific visitor.

    So let’s say I and Bill visit your site. I look at a,html, b.html and c.html, then go look at a.html again. Bill looks only at a.html.

    There have been 3 “hits” on a.html. There have been two unique pageviews on a.html, 1 on b.html and 1 on c.html, and finally there have been two unique visitors today.

    Both figures are important: unique visitors says how popular your site is, and page views indicates the depth those visitors read. Ideally you want a lot of visitors reading a lot of pages.

    Analysis tools like Google Analytics take things even deeper, tracking such things as visitor loyalty (Bill and I both came back the next day) and recency (Sam visited last week and came back yesterday, but most of your visitors come back every day).

  24. pcunix says:

    To the person who asked about RSS:

    Yes, if they just read the headline and never visit, they aren’t reading your blog. That’s true, but the idea of RSS is to get people who never would have known about your blog at all – *some* of them hopefully will actually visit.

  25. Victor says:

    Looks like Darren won’t have to answer any questions after all.

    Vic

  26. A question I would have asked six months ago:
    In WordPress, how can I separate my sidebar blogroll so the links display different categories? I still don’t know the answer, but now it doesn’t matter.

    A current statement and question:
    I’m trying to keep my blogging time under 30 minutes a day, but it’s difficult. Has anyone issued an FDA-approved pill that cures blogging addiction?

  27. David Ward says:

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. With the whole web 2.0 thing getting so popular, which web 2.0 companies should we be concerned with that will help us promote our blogs?

    2. How long should I wait to place ads on my blogs? My first blog has been up for about 30 days and I have 20 posts.

    Thanks in advanced Darren for this upcoming series of posts!

  28. Mike says:

    Darren, I think this thread shows you need to get a forum on your site!

  29. Martin says:

    1. what’s the best desktop blogging software?
    2. will Collingwood ever win a flag? ;-)

  30. Chris Albon says:

    Wow… problogger needs a forum bad.

  31. Darren Rowse says:

    Martin – i’ll answer your second question here – NO FREAKING WAY!

    Everyone else – thanks for your questions (and answers) I’ve already incorporated many of them in my posts that I’ve been writing and others will be tackled as we go.

    Feel free to keep asking questions.

  32. Kevin says:

    Skould I have the design for the blog set up before I start, or should I just start with a generic design (as not m/any people will be reading it) to get content out there and change the design later?

  33. Kevin says:

    “Should” not “Skould” !!! sorry.

  34. Lyndon says:

    How do seedless grapes reproduce?

    Sorry couldn’t resist. When I wrote my posts for Problogger I deliberately kept them simple as I felt that new bloggers needed more help than the old crusty types like me.

    There are definate stages in a bloggers career and if you read the wrong website it can be very intimidating. My advice for anybody starting out blogging is to go backwards on Darrens blog. Start at the oldest post and work forwards. I wonder if there is a plugin that makes a wordpress blog go backwards.

    Sorry again for posting off topic, Darren get over to vbulletin and get the forum set up ;)

  35. Darren
    If you were to start out a blog today, how and where would you do it? Big question, I know: let me clarify.
    The really easy blog sites, like blogger, look a bit restricted. And you don’t own the url. But a lot of big successful blogs seem to use it somehow. Is it just because they forward a url?
    Would it be better to buy some hosting?
    I know where I can get relatively cheap .com domain names (from sites in the US – they are much more expensive bought through hosting sites in the UK where I live). But does forwarding work well? For example, can a reader bookmark secondary pages within the site – does the full url show up?
    The thing is, I want to set up several blogs to see which I enjoy the most, which are successful etc. I want to keep this cheap as many will be experiments. As a professional copywriter, I even want to be able to offer to host and write blogs for clients that I work for. I don’t want to buy several year-long hosting packages. Ideally I want to set up one hosting package and forward a bunch of .com urls to it. But will this work well. Are there unforeseen problems?
    Also, which blogging platform would you use? It seems to be impossible to trial typepad without first handing over a credit card number. WordPress sounds good. But the documentation is very difficult to follow. Is there any really good documentation on using the content management systems?
    Actually, Darren, I think someone needs to start a blog which teaches people the technical stuff around how to blog – from making text bold to hosting, installing plug-ins and even writing your own CSS. Any volunteers? (Someone could write a book – but it would probably be out of date by the time it got printed).

  36. Dave says:

    OK, one that comes up from time to time and you’ve covered in a few posts recently, although not directly anwsered as such

    As a minimum, how much content should your site have before you ‘launch’ it using whatever promotional tools are available to you?

    I know this is one of those personal questions that will vary from person to person, but my opinion is that if you are launching a blog, promoting it when the only post is ‘Hey, this is my new blog, come back soon for some fun posts and interesting topics’ is wrong, promoting a new blog that has a dozen or so articles/posts is better. The same with trying to iron out those little layout bugs…..

  37. mienne says:

    One of the things I would have liked was a post on two or three of the basic plugins that are handy when you start up. The ‘I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours’ post you did was great, but there were so many to choose from that it was a bit daunting.

    (Adsense Deluxe and WP-Contact Form are the two I’ve installed so far by the way.)

  38. Dave says:

    how about

    “how posting something off-topic and slightly tounge-in-cheek can get more comments and abuse than a thousand posts about the niche you are in…?”

    Just a thought…

  39. gnome says:

    What is the best and/or more stylish way of implementing categories in blogger based blogs? Oh, and I mean without using the blogger search “hack”…. Thanks

  40. Mark Daoust says:

    In response to Simon – a book is being worked on as we type. :)

  41. Martin says:

    Simon – I can also say that an eBook is well into development for beginners using WordPress.

  42. Bob says:

    What is the difference/benefit of using Macromedia Dreamweaver over a blog specific program like WordPress, Typepad, or Movable Type or vise versu?

    What is the benefits of owning my own site (i.e. unique domain name and hosting) rather than using Blogspot?

    What is “tagging” posts?

    What is “trackback”?

    I have seen some comments that are rude towards the blogger. People seem ruthless…as if the bloggers opinion should always be correct. It makes me a little nervouse sharing what I know for fear it may get smacked down because it is not 100% right. Do you have any “advice” or “encouragement”?

    I want to reiterate the question above about using one domain name and having multiple blogs like you do versus having one blog per domain name.

  43. I have happily churned out 86 posts on my blog since October 2005 and have seen the number of visitors gradually begin to increase. Few, however, leave comments.

    How do you encourage visitors to leave comments?

    Thanks.

  44. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,
    Time for a forum?

    Hey Flora #43,
    I have well over 120 posts since October, the only articles I seem to get comments on are when the readers like something I write.

    Hey pcunix #24,
    Thanks, I thought so, it’s more about exposure than anything else.
    (I’m the one that asked about RSS)

    Joe

  45. I Hopes Darren Would Help Some of The Poor Blogger Like Me
    I Mean “Blogspot” Blogger And Starting Problogger Forum Would Be Bad Idea I Think..

  46. Dear Darren,
    First of all, thanks so much for all that you do for the blogging community.

    With regards to what should be included in Blogging for Beginners, I think that it would be interesting to provide a critique for those brave enough to agree to hear some negative comments. It’s always good to learn from mistakes and this would be good both for the “victims” and the readers of your blog.

    Most important issues to look at in every blog would be – format, ways of getting traffic, monetization and reader participation.

    At least that’s what I would be looking for in asking for input regarding my new blog “Torino Olympics Champs And Chomps” at http://torinoolympicschampsandchomps.blogspot.com/

    I started it less than two weeks ago and have some success – a number of top spots at Google and especially MSN – although no luck with Yahoo and dmoz. I’d like to know why… Also, why my Adsense profits are so low. I have 5 subscribers – I was hoping for more… How to get them?

    I’d be very grateful for any help to answer those questions. I think the idea about having a Forum here is one of the best – it would be extremely useful, easy to implement. I would use a number of moderators responsible for the areas I mentioned above – traffic, monetization, etc.

    Once again, thanks, Darren for being so helpful.

    Fiat Voluntas
    Torino Olympics Champs And Chomps http://torinoolympicschampsandchomps.blogspot.com/

  47. Jenn says:

    Darren – I’m really looking forward to this series.

    A blogging issue I’ve been thinking about is copyright. In particular, what constitutes fair use of images? More specifically, when reviewing a product, is it acceptable to show photos taken from the manufacturer’s site? From lawyers to academics to bloggers, it seems like just about everyone has weighed in on this issue, but unfortunately, much of the information conflicts.

    I know this issue can be avoided by using free stock photography or seeking permission of the copyright holder, but that doesn’t work in every situation. How have you dealt with this problem? What are the legal and ethical issues one needs to consider?

  48. Niall says:

    How do I publicise my blog? Specifically…

    Should I ping as many directories as possible? After each post?

    Should I also register my RSS feed with directories? Are RSS directories and blog directories the same thing or do they need to be dealt with seperately? Is using RSSAnnouncer software the best way of doing this? Will adding the directory’s small graphic to my blog help with being listed?

    What does ‘claiming’ my blog at directories mean, and do I need to do this as well as the steps above?

  49. Bob says:

    Hi Darren,
    My question is about “archiving” posts. What is your method for keeping things as relevant and easy to find as possible. I think that is a key thing for websites…and while every site is different I am curious how you manage it all.
    Thanks

  50. Georjina says:

    I’m new so here goes:
    How do I change the atom.xml feed on Blogger to .rss? For some reason it’s not working when I go to Searchfeed.
    How do I incorporate my Blogger posts to WordPress? I’m considering moving to a WordPress host because I do own my domain name but don’t want to lose what I’ve already written.
    Should I keep my Blogger blog and use a redirect to my new WordPress blog? I like the template I’m using at Blogger because it matches the niche I’m in, home-based business.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Earlier in the week I asked for questions for my upcoming series of posts on Blogging for Beginners. [...]

  2. [...] Blogging for beginners – via problogger Darren Rowse, over at problogger.net, has a great series starting for beginning bloggers. All bloggers – beginning and professional – should have his web site bookmarked. He is always full of great information and resources and he doesn’t speak in technical jargon. He is friendly and upbeat and helpful. The problogger.net web site is a must have!!Here’s a small section of his post for bloggers just starting out: I’m particularly looking for questions from bloggers who are just starting out. If you’ve been blogging a while you can ask a question also but I’d like you to ask one from your early days. You may have answered it for yourself since but ask it anyway. [...]