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The Problogger guest blogging experiment: good or bad?

Perhaps my last post before Darren returns this coming week but a very easy question to the many wonderful Problogger readers out there, perhaps as means of feedback for Darren: The Guest Blogging Experiment at Problogger: Good or Bad?

From my perspective I’ve loved the freedom to write in the first person and ponder some interesting questions that I might have otherwise not raised at the Blog Herald, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of the contributions for other guest bloggers as well. Certainly one of the wonderful things Darren has going here at Problogger is the extremely strong “feedback” community if you like, in terms of those willing to leave comments. Whilst I’ve had some great comment threads at the Blog Herald I certainly can’t match the consistent commenting on nearly every post here at Problogger, and from the third party view point I think that’s a major aspect that for me makes this blog a must read..indeed on occasion (even from my own posts) I can learn more from the contribution of readers comments than I did from the initial post.

On the flip side I suppose there has been a lack of consistency without Darren’s guiding hand present here at Problogger. Some days have had more posts than others, and the quality or interest has varied for me personally.

Share your thoughts. Darren will be back in Bleak City (Melbourne) this week and I’m sure he’ll be interested in your thoughts. Indeed I have little doubt that he’ll reflect on it as well, but why not get the ball rolling.

Bloggers block

Do you suffer from blogger block? Are there just some days where it’s near impossible to post because there is little or nothing happening on your particular subject or niche? Share your thoughts.

Personally I suffer it at seemingly random times, random in only that I have no control over the timing, and the more niche the topic the more likely it will occur. In the early days the Blog Herald was actually really hard to write for, mainly because 2 years ago there wasn’t a lot of blogging news. Today it’s a fair bit easier, although some days a harder than others. Now that I write for 4 blogs (or 5 if you include my guest spot here) its even more interesting. Being able to fill in here (and I believe Darren will be back here next week) has been a challenge, mainly because sharing advice or linking to others is sometimes related to mood or inspiration, some days I can be inspired with ideas, others I just ain’t. Blogs like PVRSpot which I really enjoy writting have actually proven hard to write for because the topic is such a niche that there’s not a lot of news, where as The Search Engine Herald presents the challenge of what to actually post because there is so much news about. In a different field I’ve guest blogged at The Gadget Blog when Colbert was away and although there is lots of input I’ve struggled to know how to differentiate the content, which is the blogs aim. How do you deal with a lack, or flood of source material?

Blog count commercial contributions

A little bleg to the Pro-blogosphere. I’ve called for contributions for the next Blog Herald blog count for July here, but I need your help. What I also need is user figures for commercial services. Now I’m going to personally ask leading services for their figures, but I don’t think that alone some may give them to me (particularly SixApart). Why are blogging figures important you may well ask? well its important for all of us to know as “Pro” bloggers exactly how large our marketplace is. Only yesterday I read a report in the US Newspaper that quoted the number of blogs out there is 4 million. The more common figure is 10 million. The real truth is that it’s closer to 60 million. Compiling figures based on user numbers based on service and country helps us all to spread the word that blogging is a serious force on the internet, and that’s to the benefit of us all. The bigger we can prove we are the more advertisers will take an interest and the better the blog advertising marketplace will be for us all. The next blog count is so big that I’m probably going to have to put together a PDF with it all because it will be too much for a post, but what I desperately need is up to date commercial figures. So what I need you to do: email SixApart, Blogger, Spaces and other commercial services world wide and ask them for their user numbers, particularly if they can provide them by geographic area, and even if they can’t, the total number. By all means post them on your blog, but let me know in the mean time so I can include them in the next blog count. I know number counting is a bit old fashioned but being able to prove a bigger market place is for the net benifit of us all, and the report will be available to all.

WordPress vs Movable Type

Its a matter of history that I was a member of the Movable Type diaspora when the house that Mena built decided for better or worse to alienate a large number of their loyal user base with MT 3. Its been 12 months, and a lot of the old MT gang are writing WordPress plugins and helping out whilst Six Apart continues to chase the corporate dollar whilst protesting that it’s really a good corporate citizen at heart (eg: we support Open Source because we bought Live Journal).

But enough of my purposeful provocation in a blatant attempt to drive up poor Darren’s stats here whilst he is in Europe. Seriously, 12 months later, what’s better: WP or MT? Both have moved forward in terms of development. I’ll start the ball rolling, I prefer WP, and there is one gigantically large reason why: ITS FREE and no matter what happens the source code will be free for me to tweak and customise for ever more…and naturally it works a treat as well, quicker in my experience than Movable Bloat, sorry Type, and I reckon Matt’s a much nicer person than Mena as well :-)

You might use another piece of blogware that you’d prefer, and there is some great development happening there (Nucleus, Serendipity to name but a few) so if its something else for you let us know. Please though, share your thoughts on blogware (self installed scripts if you like) not hosted blogs.

Fire away!!!

List of Blog Networks

I’ve just finalised a revised list of blog networks and posted it here at The Blog Herald for those interested, but I thought I might share a few more thoughts on the subject.

Blog networks are growing. I originally wrote the first version of the list on the fly because I’d noticed that there seemed to be more networks emerging lately, and thought it would be an interesting thing to do. I didn’t realise however just quite how many there were, and the amazing diversity available on them.

People talk about the power of blogging but its only (if you’re like me) start seeing numbers that the influence of blogs, even in this case corporate and network blogs, can and are having.

Let me guess a figure: combined traffic for all the blog networks on the list..at least 50-100 million page views per day, if not higher again. If every blog network on this list combined you’d deliver a media company that would potentially have enough long tail influence to be a major, multi-billion dollar company spanning 4 continents, employing hundreds (if not thousands) of people and reaching directly and indirectly to at least half of all internet users on the planet every single day. Hype? look at some of the figures in Alexa for the blogs on WeblogsInc, Gawker and the Ist network for example. Take a look at some of the other networks; Shiny is making big inroads in the UK, some of the non-English speaking blog networks are trailblazers in Europe and making big inroads. And here’s my next prediction: Jason Calacanis is potentially the next Rupert Murdoch of the blogosphere (sure without the famous war correspondent father and without being born in Adelaide but you get the drift…). The blog networks keep getting bigger and bigger and Calacanis is at the top of the pack. I can feel a flame war coming on with this, but none the less as a reader I challenge you with these facts, take out the hype in the blogosphere and look at the figures, blog networks continue to grow, continue to become more and more influential, and as a consequence blogging will change the world as we know it.

The great level playing field

I had the opportunity of being on a phone hookup this morning with Andy Wibbells from Easy Bake Weblogs (the recording will be avilable soon), on the topic of blogs and there’s one point I made thats resonated with me since: blogging is the ultimate in level playing fields.

What other forum can deliver your thoughts to millions of readers without the need for any technical expertise? If you can get on the internet, through home, work, cafe or other way, you can write a blog. They said back in the 90′s that services like Geocities did this, but I disagree, the early home page phenomenon provided the potential of an internet presence for all, but it wasn’t a level playing field: you needed to have some idea about presentation and they weren’t as usable as blogs. Compare and contrast this to blogging; you set up an account, you write a title for a post, you write your content, and then you hit publish.

Every minute of every day thousands of new blogs are being created and posted to around the world. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, black or white, gay, straight or other, or where you live (as long as you can get on the net) : any one can blog, and more are more people are. This is the goldrush folks; and instead of having to travel far and wide to get to the gold, the gold is delivered to your door step. Whether you choose to dig for gold is strictly up to yourselves.

Riley on Easy Bake

For any Problogger readers interested in blogging related topics Duncan Riley from the Blog Herald is doing a Q & A free-for-all on a phone hookup with Andy from Easy Bake Weblogs . Any one can join in from Tuesday June 14th @ 9pm US EST 1-858-400-4040, Access code: 60657. Questions are open, but the main topic areas he’ll be chatting about will be
* Understanding bloggers and blogging: embracing blogging or insulting bloggers
* The international blogosphere: understanding that the blogosphere has no borders and the opportunities this presents
* Marketing blogs and increasing traffic

(yes, shameless self promotion and talking about myself in the third person, but some people might miss that I’m not Darren)

Pretty pictures :a question of blog aesthetics.

Is a blog that uses pictures in its posts more likely to succeed that a blog that posts identical content but doesn’t use the pictures? Sure, we know that there are many other considerations in the success or otherwise of a blog, but take a pure economists view of a perfect market where both blogs are identical in every other way. We know that the quality of content is important, but I’ve come to a rather interesting conclusion, at least in the field of consumer and general interest blogs (as opposed to political blogs): blog aesthetics matter, and the prettier the pictures in your posts the more likely you are to succeed.

This in itself causes me a great deal of stress, mainly because editing and uploading pictures is slow in comparison to the creation of content. WordPress doesn’t allow you to just paste a picture directly into a post, and I’m presuming that other DIY packages are similar. The case in the free market may be a little different, for memory I believe you can cut and paste using blogger, but at the end of the day as a Problogger you’re more likely to be using a DIY or Paid hosting package as opposed to a freebie. The second point of stress is the extra demands on your site in terms of bandwidth: pictures slow down site loading times and cause bandwidth to be gobbled up at a faster rate. My immediate example is my new Weblog Empire Blog: The Gadget Blog, lots of pictures here, which are necessary and I’ll add are working a treat, but the bandwidth usage is 4 times that of the Blog Herald over similar visitor numbers. In other words pictures can also cost money.

The consideration though is whether the expenditure on pictures is rewarded by increased traffic and repeat visitor numbers. I’m thinking yes at this stage, although I’d welcome everyone’s views.

Does size matter?

No, this isn’t a post involving a dirty subject, Darren has had all of us guest bloggers sign in blood that we will behave ourselves here at Problogger, but it is a serious question. Does size matter in terms of blog layout.

There is any number of different theories on this one, but its something else to think about whether you are starting a new blog or overhauling an existing blog.
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