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An Argument Against Blog Networks

I was chatting with Yaro recently in an interview he recorded with me (I think it’ll go live in January) and we got briefly onto Blog Networks.

I don’t remember the exact question that he asked me but as I answered I found myself saying that:

‘some blog network owners should spend less time working on their network and more time working on their blogs.’

That might sound a little strange coming from someone who co-owns a blog network but bare with me a little while I attempt to explain.

While I am a big fan of the idea of blog networks and can see some real benefits of both owning them and writing for them (disclaimer: I don’t think that every blog should belong to a network but they do suit the goals and aspirations of some bloggers…. but that’s another post for another time) I do see some network owners falling into the trap of spending more time building up the network’s brand and image than building up quality blogs.

There are many factors that contribute to a network’s success – but one of them will always be the quality of it’s blogs. You can have a wonderfully branded network with great PR but it’ll never go anywhere unless it has substance at it’s heart.

I know of a number of individual bloggers who find themselves with a handful of their own blogs who see many networks starting and decide to bring their blogs together to brand them as a network. What I said to Yaro yesterday is that while there are definite benefits of networks that many of these benefits can actually be gained by keeping the blogs as non-networked blogs if the blogger is clever.

For example – one of the benefits of a network is that the blogs interlink and as a result build their SEO. This is a benefit that any blogger who owns more than one blog can gain from without a formal network. Another benefit of a network is the cross promotion that can take place in sending visitors from one blog to another – once again this is possible between two or more blogs that you own without spending many many hours creating a network. A further benefit of networks is that you can sell advertising as packages across sites – once again you don’t need a network to do this.

I could go on.

I’m not saying that networks are a waste of time – I know from personal experience the benefits of them – all I’m saying is that for some people considering the network option it might be a better use of your time and energy to put the effort into individual blogs rather than attempting to brand them as a network.

In effect building a blog network can be a distraction from the core business of building a profitable blogging business in some circumstances.

In Case of Security – Planning for Blogging Disasters

I’m Michael Hampton, principal author of Homeland Stupidity, a U.S. politics blog. Today I want to address the issue of business continuity, that is, have you planned what to do if a disaster strikes your professional blogging operation?

Over the past few months I’ve had some all-too-common computer emergencies arise, and had to move fast to recover from them. In October, filesystem corruption ate about two weeks worth of e-mail, critical files such as all of my RSS feeds, and a few works in progress. I didn’t have up to date backups, and without them I’m only getting by as best I can without the missing materials.

And late Monday night my computer decided, during a round of system updates, to uninstall my feed reader, and then refused to reinstall it on Tuesday.

These are just two examples of things that can go wrong in pro blogging, but there are others. Have you planned what to do if your Web host suddenly goes down, as TypePad did recently, goes out of business entirely, or is hit by a natural disaster?

It’s one thing to simply address crises as they arise. About eight months ago, when my blog was still a small site running on my home computer, I needed to reinstall the entire operating system due to severe filesystem corruption. I pulled out an old Pentium 166 which I had laying around and pressed it into service as a temporary Web server to host my site while I was making repairs to my main computer. It was incredibly slow, but it served for the nearly full day it took to get the main computer running again.
[Read more...]

7 Blog Design Trends for 2006

Rachel over at cre8d design (with a new design on her own blog) outlines seven Blog Design Trends for 2006. She gives examples of each (and in the process points out some of the most beautifully designed blogs going around). The 7 trends Rachel outlines are:

  1. Big fonts
  2. Top border
  3. Big headers/footers
  4. Bright colours
  5. Speech bubble comments
  6. Rounded corners
  7. Highlighted links

Keeping it Legal

This post was submitted by Stephanie Patag from Beyond Adobo, Asian Cuisine – The Asian Food Blog and Stefoodie.net.

Recently, two of my fellow food bloggers were plagiarized. In response, some of us decided to launch a protest blogging event. While preparing for the launch, it hit us just how much plagiarism goes on all the time. Sometimes it’s because people are simply unaware of what’s legal and what’s not. Sometimes they’re aware of what’s legal but just don’t care or take an attitude that “everyone else is doing it“. Sometimes it’s because the information that’s out there is ambiguous and confusing, which is to be expected since some of the rules/laws regarding fair use, linking (controversial to this day), etc. are still being written. Right now, though, if you stick to some basic rules, you should be fine.

Consider this before you read on: most of the laws/rules I outline here are applicable to US residents only. Because blogging is a worldwide phenomenon, there are not only different countries’ laws to consider, there are cultural and individual differences as well, hence variations on what’s deemed acceptable behavior on the ‘net and what’s not. [Read more...]

The Undocumented Tools of a Blogger’s Trade

The Undocumented Tools of a Blogger’s Trade

I’m John Evans and I write Windows Vista and Microsoft Weblog for b5media. My personal blog is SYNTAGMA.

Medieval monks had their scriptoriums for the laborious task of illuminating manuscripts. Do modern bloggers have an equivalent nook?

A blogorium, ideally, would be a room set apart from the daily round. Quiet, even to the point of meditative in mood, it would contain the tools of the blogger’s art, plus a few indispensable extras. No, not a minibar. I was thinking more of a trampoline (see below).

The blogorium would be the focus of any serious blogger’s household. Children would pass the hallowed entrance in awe and perpetual silence. The dog would refuse to bark when padding by. Wives would remove suggestive clothing; husbands stop clanging their tools around. In short, it would be a place of retreat, devoted to blogativity.

My blogorium is a snappy space with a bay window which overlooks a rest-home for the elderly. I can gaze down and contemplate my future. Coincidentally, the room has become a repository for furniture nobody knows what to do with. Thus it has developed an old world colonial charm of decaying opulence, rounded off by the aroma of ancient books and polished oak. And that’s only the blogger.

All bloggers deserve a blogorium, I believe, if they are to do their best work undisturbed by the trivia that passes for life. A short verse written about the writer Rupert Brooke catches the mood : [Read more...]

Blog Goals and Resolutions for 2006 – Open Mike

Happy New Year friends. While I’m actually writing this post a week in advance of New Years Day I can just imagine what I’ll be doing today as I am on holidays.

The morning will probably involve a sleep in after a late night – but at least part of the rest of the day will be spent with ‘V’ my wife looking at the year ahead. We have something of a tradition where we spend some time on New Years Day (usually over brunch) dreaming a little about the year ahead and even setting a few loose goals.

It’s actually a fun exercise and something we do with a humerous and light hearted spirit but something that we actually keep ourselves to.

Our goals cover a wide range of areas from physical (health/fitness) to financial to spiritual to relational (both our own relationship but also the friendships we have with others) etc.

The goals are not things we whip ourselves over in the coming months when we fail – but they help us to focus on the year ahead and move into it with a positive outlook.

So – my question dear friends – is what are you blogging goals and resolutions for 2006?

What do you hope to achieve, avoid and attain this year? You might be thinking on a number of levels including traffic, networking, earnings, incoming links, numbers of posts, numbers of blogs, other ventures etc.

I’d be interested to hear what you’re planning for the new year so step up to the Open Mike, take the floor and tell us about how you see the year unfolding.