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Blog Hosting, Domains and Blogging Platforms – What We Wish We Knew

This post is part of the ‘What we wish I knew when I first started Blogging’ Series. In this post I’ll share readers comments on the topic of Blog Hosting, Domains and Platforms and will share some of my own experiences and advice.

There is always a diversity of opinion over which blogging platform and hosting method is best – but there were some recurring themes in the reader discussion on this particular topic. Let me attempt to summarize the main theme:

The most common regrets seem to have been starting out with some of the free blogging platforms (particularly Blogger.com) and using the free subdomain URL that they provide instead of starting out with one’s own domain and hosting.

While there is some real wisdom in getting a taste for blogging using some of the free platforms my advice to anyone who suspects that they might end up blogging on a serious level it is worth securing a good domain name and getting set up on a platform that you think you’ll stick with for the long term.

In terms of blog platforms – there is no right or wrong answer and while my personal preference is for WordPress the blog platform that one chooses needs to match with the blogger’s own preferences. Try a few out and see which you’re most comfortable with – but be aware that the choices you make early can impact your future blogging. There are import features to migrate from many platforms to others – but it’s easier to choose the right one up front.

My Own Experience with Domains, Platforms and Hosting

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What We Wish We Knew When We First Started Blogging – A Series

Last weekend I asked bloggers to share the lessons that they’ve learned about blogging that they wish they knew when first starting out. The resulting comment thread is so rich with ideas, experiences and lessons that it’s too good to leave languishing in a comment thread.

As I read through the comments some definite themes were present so I thought that this week I’d repost some of the comments in groups around certain themes and in doing so share a few of my own thoughts on the topics also.

The topics that we’ll cover this way this week are:

There will be one post per day and I’ll update the above list with links to each day as I release them so that there’s a central point.

Thanks to everyone for your comments – you’re welcome to continue to answer the question – but I may not be able to include too many of the future comments into posts. Apologies also to those whose comments I’ve not used. It’s not because they are not good enough, but because there were 100+ responses and I had to be a little selective.

I’ll post the first post on Blog hosting, domains and blogging platforms shortly.

Buy Blog Comments – A Sick New Comment Spam Service Launches

I just had a rather disturbing email from a company advertising a new service called Buy Blog Comments (no follow tags used) promoting a new service offering to leave comment spam on blogs for those wanting to increase their SEO ranking.

The service offers to leave spam comments at a rate of 100 comments for $19.99, 500 comments for $99.99 and 1000 comments for $199.99.

They explain their service like this:

“Blog comments help your site rank better in the SERPs. We hired a few people who go through a list of blogs in a database we set up and pick out blogs that are in your niche. They then read through blog posts and leave a comment that has to do with the blog post they read, that way it wont get deleted. Your backlink will then be on a targeted blog, giving you more weight in the search engines. ”

The person behind the service is a guy called Jon Waraas (Jonwaraas.com) – a guy who owns a company called Developer Hut and a blog network called BuzzBums.

I think it’s one of the worst business ideas I’ve heard for a long time and something that bloggers should stand up against. I know that there are other services and tools that do this type of comment spam but this type of thing only weakens blogging.

I know that some comment spammers have done OK out of the practice but in most cases that I’ve heard about they don’t just leave a few hundred comment spams, they leave tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of them. I’ve also heard from a couple of people who know comment spammers that it’s becoming less and less effective as more bloggers use tools like Akismet and as so many bloggers use no follow tags in their comments sections.

Those buying such a service would also risk some potential downsides if they are caught out. I know I add anyone spamming my blogs to Akismets blacklist and have been known to expose companies who do it. Perhaps it’s time that bloggers stood up a little more aggressive to such blatant attacks?

I’d like to hear from those with a legal background comment on the legality of such a business. I know that of late spammers have been getting taken to court for sending unsolicited emails – I’d be interested to know what the legal standing would be of a company who so openly offers to leave spam comments on someone else’s web property.

Update: Comments have been closed on this post.

Going Pro as a Blogger – Turning Blogging From a Hobby to a Career

Richard MacManus reflects today upon an article that appeared in a local site which featured his story of turning blogging from a hobby into a Career.

Richard says some very worthwhile stuff about the keys to his success – particularly the amount of work and time that’s gone into building his very successful blog.

There were two key quotes for me in Richard’s post:

“Basically it takes a whole lot of hard work, knowledge and passion about the topic you’re blogging about, patience, and some ‘being in the right place at the right time’ luck.”

and

“So really, it took 3 whole years for Read/WriteWeb to go from ‘hobby’ to full-time job. The bottom line: blogging is a very difficult, and highly competitive, way to make a living. If I didn’t have a true passion for the topic of Web technology, I would not have been able to put in the ‘hard yards’ (I think that is a kiwi or rugby expression, meaning hard work).”

Congratulations to Richard on the article and his amazing success over the last year or so particularly! It’s great to see another local(ish) blogger (he’s in New Zealand) going full time and seeing real success in the blogging space.

Should Links from Your Blog Open in a New Window? Reader Opinions

Two weeks ago I asked readers for their opinion on whether external links on your blog should Open in a New Window?

The conversation that resulted in the question was fascinating with 129 comments left (so far).

Today I reread the full conversation and tallied up the results and was a little surprised by the end results. Last time I saw this type of debate (in a forum) there was a resounding feeling that links should not open in new windows – however in this conversation the split was much more even with strong arguments for both ways of approaching links.

In fact the end result ended up coming out in favor of opening links in a new window.

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I should note that there was about 5% of respondents who I excluded from these results because they either didn’t express a direct opinion or gave some sort of an ‘it depends’ response.

Thanks to everyone for participating in the discussion. If you’ve not had your say yet you can still comment on the original post.

How to Sell Your Blog

Bob has a good post detailing how he built up a blog on the domain Computers.net and sold it for $155,000.

I get asked a lot of questions about how to sell a blog – but as I’m yet to do it I thought I’d do a speedlinking type post on the topic and link to those who’ve had a little more experience with the process:

My own experience with selling blogs is limited to being an observer and my own approach is to keep ahold of web properties and to build them into ongoing revenue generation streams. I’m not anti selling blogs but it’s just not my style to this point.

The really big amounts that blogs have sold for have generally either come from very established and highly profitable blogs or from those who have something special (like a domain like computers.net) to offer a buyer.

Have you ever bought or sold a blog (or attempted to)? What did you learn from the experience? If you’ve written about it feel free to leave a link to your advice in the comments below.

Authority Blogger Forum

Authorityblogger-Forum-LogoChris Garrett just announced his new Authority Blogger Forum which I think has the makings of a useful community.

Chris is one of the better bloggers on the topic of blogging and would be well worthwhile getting alongside if you’re looking for advice.

Place Your Blog on a ‘Busy Intersection’

Steve Remington wrote a good post today that uses the metaphore of roads and intersections to think about blogs. It’s an image that caught my imagination a little. He writes:

“Think of your blog as a virtual business on a road. Your best chance of success is not sitting out in the middle of cyberspace where nobody can find you. Landing your blog in the middle of downtown or on an intersection somewhere will give you many more readers and potential clients.”

Read his full post at Blogs Are Roads; Intersections

I like the imagery of the metaphor and think that there’s some real truth in it. A blogger who simply works on their own blog and doesn’t work to put themselves ‘out there’ on a busy intersection will limit the potential of their blog even if they write great content.

Positioning yourself on a busy intersection or ‘downtown’ means getting involved in your niche, building relationships with other bloggers and becoming part of the places in your niche where the most action is happening.

5 Things You Should Know about My Dad the ProBlogger

My-Dad-BloggerThis guest post has been submitted by my son – little ‘X’ – who turned 1 today. I thought it was an appropriate day for him to make his debut as a blogger.

I’ve been watching my Dad being a ProBlogger for a year now – here’s 5 things that I noticed about how he does it:

1. My Dad Reads More than He Writes

One question I hear a lot of people asking My Dad is ‘how much time do you spend writing each day?’ I think it’s a good question, but a better one would be ‘how much time do you spend reading each day?’ You see my Dad reads more than he writes. I think he does this because his writing gets better after reading what others say and because it means he’s learning more about his topics.

2. My Dad Talks All Day to Other Bloggers

Another thing my Dad does all day is ‘chat’ to people. He talks to them on his Skype headset, he types to them on his instant messenger and he even meets some of them in the cafe down the road for something called a ‘cafe lartay’. I think My Dad does it partly because blogging looks like a lonely job but also because it helps him blog better. It gives him new ideas, helps him get people to read his blog and link to it more and it even finds him partners to work with.

3. My Dad Only Uses a Few of the Ideas He Comes Up With

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