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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...]

Preventing Blog Burnout

The following post has been submitted by Dan Zarrella from TomKatCrazy! (one of the new celeb blogs over at b5media).

We’ve all heard the normal tips about establishing a regular posting frequency and finding a tight niche to focus on, but as we start posting to more and more blogs it becomes important to prevent blogging burnout when posting to 5 blogs a day. The best way to do this is to plan for sustainability.

When picking a topic or niche most general wisdom indicates that you should focus as tightly as possible to really cover the subject well, but it is easy to select a micro-niche that won’t provide much material and will leave you hovering over the keyboard or scouring your feeds trying to figure out what to post. This was something I thought about when planning my TomKatCrazy blog, but it soon became obvious that between the baby, the wedding and all the gossip I would have plenty to write about. On another blog of mine, GuerillaScience, I started out with a more general anti-authoritarian focus which proved to be too wide of a topic for me to cover comprehensibly without dedicating all of my time to it. I tried narrowing it down to only Boston-specific anarchist news but this was way to tight of a niche and I found I had nothing to post most days. I’m in the process of finding a nice balance between locally relevant stuff and a more wide range of news. [Read more...]

First Steps for New Bloggers

My name is Adams Briscoe and I specialize in stringing together nouns and verbs to build somewhat coherent ideas in the form of readable content. I run a personal blog over at Virtuashack.com and also managed to trick Weblogs Inc. into letting me get away with posting on some of their video game sites.

As a typical male, I had a hard time picking up on hints as to what I should give others for Christmas this season. One of the harder individuals was my father, who became increasingly curious as to what this whole “blogging” thing was all about. After tuning him into several sites of his interests (like ProBlogger), he made the proclamation that he would like to start one himself, and (surprise!) make money.

Certainly not a new concept, and definitely not worth reinventing the wheel this time around (again). The catch-22 is that he had absolutely no background in website maintenance or blogging. The most experience on a computer he ever had was sending e-mail.

How do you get someone like that into the blogosphere? Moreover, how do you make it worthwhile and bring in traffic? Okay, sure you’ve got to find a niche. But as a newbie, he had no idea what works and doesn’t work for blogging. All the do-it-yourself posts in the world only do so much for you when you don’t even know how to start.

So what did I do? I bought him a domain and set him up with his own high-powered blog for Christmas. Using WordPress (fast, easy, and complete with wiki documentation), I told him to cut loose and write whatever tickled his fancy. I also dropped a few hints about gaining a few eyeballs here and there.
[Read more...]

7 Things to Do with your Blog when you take a Vacation

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What should I Do with my Blog when I go take a Vacation?

This is a question I ask myself in the lead up to every break and one that I seem to answer differently each time. I thought it a relevant topic to write about as I’m currently on holidays (or at least will be by the time you read this).

Here’s a few of the approaches I’ve taken over the last few years:

1. Give your Blog and Readers a Vacation

This is probably the most common approach that bloggers take – they simply stop blogging for the time they are away and resume on their return.

Advantages
- it’s low maintenance in the lead up to and during your time away.

Disadvantages
- your blog stops and you risk losing momentum
- you might end up with a lot of catching up when you return in terms of any news that breaks while you’re away
- traffic will probably fall due to lack of RSS updates

[Read more...]

How to Make the Most of the Start of Year Quiet Patch on your Blog

The increased traffic and earnings that many Bloggers have had over the past few weeks in the lead up to Christmas yesterday and today has begun to slow for many bloggers. I’ve had a few emails and Instant Messaging conversations with concerned publishers asking if the slow down is ‘normal’.

While I won’t answer for every industry I know it’s normal for most sites to experience lulls in traffic at this time of the year and also in most cases to see decreases in both CTR and click values in contextual advertising programs.

I know of a number of AdWords advertisers who put their ad campaigns on hold between Christmas and mid January and suspect that the decreased demand for ads translates to lower click values. While I don’t know this for a fact I suspect that this might be the case for Chitika advertisers also.

Some industries will see things pick up sooner than others. Traditionally online (and offline) sales start in the new year (and sometimes even earlier in some countries) and this can see things pick up for bloggers in those niches. But for many the dead patch lasts through to the end of January. There is no hard and fast rule.

Similarly there is no real right or wrong in terms of what to do as a blogger over this period but most experienced bloggers change gears in some way or another. Heres a few ways that bloggers see this quiet patch as an opportunity rather than something to get down about:

  1. Some take advantage of the quiet news patch and low traffic and go on vacation
  2. Others use the next few weeks to do redesigns
  3. Experience bloggers often use the end of the year to do reviews, look at stats and set direction and goals for the year ahead
  4. Quite a few bloggers use the time to launch new blogs
  5. Some bloggers use this time to start up other projects like writing books, recording podcasts etc
  6. Others use the time to write posts and series that they’ll use later in the year
  7. A few bloggers I know spend January going through their current blogs with a fine tooth comb to do SEO, delete dead links and basically get everything in ship shape order

I personally am going to rest and forget about blogging for a week or so and then come back to do some review, planning and to work on a couple of projects that I’ve had on hold for a while before getting back into the swing of my ‘normal’ routine.

Whatever you choose to do over the next few weeks it’s worth reminding yourself that if traffic and earnings do slump for you that it’s not the end of the world and it’s not worth getting too down in the dumps about. Things generally pick up I no more than a month. Rather than get down about it – see it as an opportunity to do some or all of the above on your blog.

What are you going to be focussing upon the next few weeks?

A Story about the Importance of Checking your Blog’s Stats

Robert Blum emailed me this morning to let me know of a post he’d just written titled Four Weeks Of Blogging where he took the idea of my 18 Lessons I Learnt Blogging and did his own version after 4 weeks of blogging. While Robert might not have been blogging seriously for long some of his lessons are great.

Of particular interest is his lesson of starting to track his blog’s stats more. The realization that he made when he did this was that 45% of his traffic was coming from one post.

My Story – I remember in my very early days of blogging having this same realization on a new blog I’d just set up at what was once a photolog where I was posting some pictures taken on an overseas trip. The blog was called ‘Visually Speaking’.

I had grand visions of the blog being followed by friends and family wanting to see my photography. I also posted a short review of the camera I was using at the time.

The interesting thing was that after a few weeks blogging there I checked my stats and found that my photos pages had had absolutely NO page views but the mini camera review had had quite a few people surf in from Google – around 20 people were coming to it every day.

A light went on in my head and I began an inner dialogue that went something like:

‘If 20 people come to 1 camera review – how many people would come to 100 camera reviews?’

At around the same time I discovered AdSense for the first time and I began to see the potential in blogging to pay for my ISP costs and maybe make a few extra dollars on the side.

It was then that I transitioned my photolog into a Digital Camera Reviews Blog – my first blog with an income stream and one of the largest one’s that I run today.

It’s a blog where I follow what is being written around the web by the many many digital camera sites and condense it into a different helpful form. The site is read by between 12,000 and 16,000 unique visitors per day and is well regarded by the sites that it links to and quotes from as a result of the high levels of traffic it sends to those sites.

The moral of the story is that if I’d not tracked my stats and had the realization that that one page on my site was generating most of the traffic I’d probably still have an unvisited photolog and would probably never have discovered how blogging could actually become a full time job.

Buying Blogs – What to Look for

Here’s one I’ve been meaning to link up to for 24 hours now (I’m getting absent minded in my old age). Andy Hagans wrote a good post on his Blog Buying Checklist. It has a good list of things to consider and look for when looking to buy a blog and trying to determine it’s value. Andy knows what he’s talking about having just bought a blog on SitePoint.

Lessons about Blogging

My recent 18 Lessons I’ve Learnt about Blogging post has been the hottest post on ProBlogger by far this month. I’m always amazed by how people love a good list and will link up to it.

One thing that I mentioned in the original post though was that I’d love to read other people’s ‘lessons’ in blogging. It might not be a list of 18 lessons but either leave a comment on the other post or write something on your own blog and leave a comment alerting us to it.

Update: and if you liked the post – bookmark it on del.ico.us. It’s in the popular list but I’d love to see it climb!