Close
Close

Akismet for Moveable Type

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

Late last year, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, launched a brash new anti-spam product for blogs called Akismet.  Of course, at the time of launch, I took the product to task but quickly changed my tune as I understood the system better.

When I installed Akismet at Technosailor, I was truly amazed at how well it handled spam.  Literally, I went to maybe one comment a month that needed to be moderated.  That was with no comment moderation enabled (save Akismet’s), and only Akismet installed as an anti-spam plugin.  I was truly amazed.

So when I heard about Akismet being released for Movable Type last week, I had to go check it out (even though I only own a sandbox Movable Type blog).

[Read more...]

PC Doctor – Blog Case Study

Pc-DoctorThe following post was submitted by Adrian W Kingsley-Hughes as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

PC Doctor blog, a blog designed to help people get more from their PCs, back in April of last year.

I bought it to life after a long period of being asked by people why I didn’t have a blog and a longer period of thinking, worrying (standard stuff like “do I have the time?”, “do I have enough to say?”, “will I ever get any readers?”) and then, finally, some constructive planning. One day I just uploaded WordPress to the server, set it up and within five minutes I had a brand new blog. Admittedly, I’d set up a load of blogs and forums before this so the process wasn’t new to me but I still felt a huge buzz of excitement because this was MY blog! After a few basic tweaks and mods (specifically, I let FeedBurner handle my RSS feed and added SiteMeter stats tracking so I could see what was going on, stats wise) I was ready to blog!

I got going straight away and even used the default WordPress template for quite a few months. I worked on the assumption that it was content that was going to draw readers and not how it looked, and since I’m a writer by trade I wasn’t put off by having to write a lot. I’m glad I did this because I could have spent weeks on the style and have no content. Also, since I knew that it would take weeks for any real traffic to show up on the site (from the search engines) I knew that I had time to tweak the look and fix anything that might be broken (or that I might break).

I started off populating the blog with stuff that I’d wanted to put up on the website for some time but hadn’t found the time. I found that by having a backlog of material to go on the web actually help because after a couple of weeks the blog had a good number of posts and the place didn’t feel empty any more. Traffic was slow to begin with but by using Technorati (I tagged everything back then!), leveraging my existing websites by cross-linking, and stated participating in the blogosphere through comments and trackbacks. Traffic was depressingly slow for the first few weeks but I knew that I’d be basically talking to myself for week and I remained optimistic. I lived by the motto that “if you build it, they will come”, and eventually, come they did! Within a year Google has gone from bringing no one to the blog to now bringing in 85% of my readers.

[Read more...]

Starting Multiple Blogs


One of the questions that I’m being asked quite a bit lately by bloggers who have been blogging for a while is whether it’s a wise thing to start multiple blogs and if so how should one manage it?

It’s a good question and one that I have a few random thoughts on (which I thought would be a good addition to the blogging for beginners series):

Diversification of Income Sources – I’ve posted many times here at ProBlogger about the wisdom of diversifying your interests in blogging and the idea of multiple blogs is central in my own approach to this. While you do need to be careful of spreading yourself too thinly (more on this below) multiple blogs has been very beneficial for me and have been one of the main reasons for my own growth of income over the past three years. My own experience is that a blog’s traffic growth usually starts fairly slowly, then goes through a growth spurt before reaching a plateau where it becomes more difficult to add new readers in great numbers. At this point starting a second blog is often one good way to increase overall traffic.

The main reason that I became a believer in diversification through multiple blogs was as a result of an experience of seeing one of my main blogs suffer in it’s ranking in Google for a six week period. It struck me in this time how easily an income based around one single successful blog could disappear and I was motivated to build other blogs (and other non blogging income streams) so that if it happened again I would not be left completely high and dry.

[Read more...]

WordPress 2.0.2 Revealed

Back at the end of December, I wrote an article for ProBlogger entitled 10 Things You Should Know about WordPress 2.0. Three(ish) months and 2 security/bugfix releases laters, I think WordPress 2.x deserves another look – a follow up, if you will.

Importers
In December, I raved about the rewriting and re-implementation of a number of import paths from other blog systems Personally, I have worked with four of the six standard importers now available for Moveable Type, Live Journal, Blogger, Textpattern, Dotclear and RSS. I personally wrote the Textpattern script and I hope to have a Nucleus importer available for the next major release of WordPress. Contact me if you need it.

Anyway you look at, it’s great to see more availability for bringing content in from other systems. It still seems kind of boneheaded that there are no import paths from other WordPress or WordPress.com blogs but I imagine it’s only a matter of time.

Image Uploading
Image handling was one of my biggest pet peeves about WordPress 2.0. It was horrible when it was released but Andy Skelton did due diligence brilliantly on getting this feature to not only work appropriately but work phenomenally. Back in December, image uploading did not handle thumbnails/original size images well at all. If one used the Rich Text Editor included in WordPress, even when attempting to use the Original Size feature, it would insert as a thumbnail and scaling would create pixelated images.

[Read more...]

An Introduction to Using Images on Blogs


The following post was submitted by Duncan Riley from the Blog Herald, Weblog Empire and b5media. I asked Duncan to explore the topic of using Images on Blogs. I think you’ll agree that his article below is a very comprehensive exploration of the topic which I hope you will find helpful .

Any good blogger will tell you that images and imagery are vitally important in the development and rise of any good blog, but they are often also quite often the most frustrating, annoying and time consuming aspect of any blogs life as well. None the less its important that you know about them

Types of Images

For ease of use I’ll categorize images on your blog into two categories: design imagery and content imagery. Naturally design imagery incorporates any images you may wish to use in the design of your blog, be that in the header, sidebar or footer. Comment imagery is photos and images you post as part of, or exclusively as a post to your blog. It’s important to understand the differences between the two because although we will be covering a lot of common ground in dealing with both types of images, there are also some separate consideration as well.

Toolbox

Some new blogging tools (such as Performancing for Firefox) allow you to drag and drop images you see on websites and other blogs into your posts, however they serve this image from the source, and that’s generally considered very poor form by most bloggers. You are going to need to be able to save, copy and edit any images you want to use. To do this I would recommend that you consider using Image Manipulation software to give you the freedom to do as you please to your images.

Free vs Paid

Personally I use Adobe Photoshop for all my image editing needs, however, particularly when you are starting out, it would be not dissimilar to learning to drive on a brand new Ferrari. Photoshop is the industry standard image manipulation tool in professional business and is available on Mac and PC, but it’s not a cheap option. Personally I don’t use the latest version of Photoshop because I’m happy with the slightly older version I use as it does everything I could ever want it to (and a whole lot more). You can pick up older versions Photoshop at places like eBay second hand if you can’t afford to buy an new copy off the shelf.

Other commercial programs that are available include Corel Draw and Paint Shop Pro.

If you don’t want to spend money on image editing software though I’d highly recommend downloading The Gimp, which is available for PC, Mac and Linux. It’s a fully fledged Open Source (free) image software package that many claim is as powerful as Photoshop.

[Read more...]

Choosing a Blog Platform

This post talks readers through some of the issues that they need to think through regarding choosing a blog platform.

  • ‘Which Blog Platform Should I use?’
  • ‘Should I use a free Blogger.com blog or get my own hosted blog on my own Domain? Which Blog Platform is best?’
  • ‘What are the Pros and Cons of going with Typepad instead of WordPress as a blog platform?’
  • ‘Should I start out on a free Blogging Platform and Upgrade later?’

These are just some of the typical questions that I get asked each day from bloggers starting out and attempting to make a decision on which blogging platform or tool they should choose.

I’m not going to tell you which blog platform you should use because, as you will see, there are good reasons for choosing most of the available platforms depending upon the goals of your blog.

In fact as I look at some of the most successful blogs there are examples of most of the platforms mentioned in this post – that’s the great thing about blogging, success is not reliant upon the tool you use – it’s about how you use it!

What follows is my attempt to flesh out some of the factors a new bloggers might like to consider in deciding on a blog platform. It is probably impacted by own experience of blogging over the last three years and the preferences I’ve accumulated in this time. I invite readers to add to this post in comments below with their own ideas and experiences so we can have a more balanced and useful collection of tips for readers considering such a choice.

Some Questions to Ponder Before Deciding on a Blog Platform

As with making any important decision it is worthwhile to take your time with this decision. There are MANY competing blog platforms on the market (check out the results of a poll I did on the platforms ProBlogger readers use to see just some of them). While you can change your blog platform at a later time (many of them have ways of importing and exporting your content later) there are usually some costs associated with such transfers (and I’m not just talking money – ie changing from a free hosted blog service to a self hosted one means changing your domain which has implications on Search Engine traffic etc). I guess all I’m saying is that it’s best not to rush into the first option you find – take your time, do your research and you might find a blog platform that will last you for a long time. Start by answering some of the following questions and you’ll have every chance of getting on the right track:

[Read more...]

Midnight Links

Here’s a few random links I came across today to keep those of you on the other side of the world amused while I sleep tonight. Enjoy:

Blog Platforms – Poll Results

As I said I’d do last week I’ve closed the latest Poll of the Week off because it was beginning to take over my sidebar. I found the results quite interesting. The question asked:

What Blog Platform Do You Use Most?

The results had a few surprises for me. While I was expecting a large showing for WordPress (around 37% of the 1000 respondents) I was intruiged by the large number of ProBlogger readers using the free hosted Blogger.com platform (22.2% – or 222 readers). This figure was almost triple the number of Movable Type Bloggers. Another surprise to me was the large numbers of Blog platforms that I’d never heard of before. By the end of the poll there were 49 options. Thirdly I was interested that 2% of those taking part use some sort of ‘custom made’ blog platform (sometimes even hand coded).

I’ve graphed the results of the top 13 platforms (each had 10 or more responses) and grouped all the ‘others together’. The full results with all the ‘other’ platforms are listed below the fold.

Blog-Platforms

Graphic powered by Keynote (click to enlarge a little).

[Read more...]

ProBlogger FAQ

I get a lot of email asking questions so I thought I’d begin to develop a FAQ that I can point people to. I’ll add to this page as questions arise.

About ProBlogger

What Blog Platform Do you Use? – I use WordPress to run ProBlogger. To learn about WordPress and how to use it check out their helpful Getting Started with WordPress Page. On some of my other blogs I also use MovableType which is another hosted blog platform which is popular with many bloggers. If you don’t want to mess around with hosting your own blog the people behind WordPress have a free tool which they host at WordPress.com and the people behind MovableType have a paid system called TypePad which you might like to check out.

Who Designed your Blog?Ben Bleikamp is the designer of the latest version of ProBlogger. This version was launched in August 2007.

Can I use ProBlogger’s Template my Blog? – This is a tricky one. While most blogs take inspiration from other blogs in their design in one way or another (there are only so many ways you can layout a page, so many colors etc) I’m a little protective of the ProBlogger design for a number of reasons. Firstly I paid for it, secondly the design of ProBlogger has become a part of its brand and something that it’s known for as it’s reasonably distinctive and thirdly I think it’s important for a blog to develop its own identity. Having said all that – if you want to take some inspiration from some element of ProBlogger feel free to do so – but I would ask you to not copy the whole thing, to make your design your own and if you take some inspiration from it to acknowledge that with a link.

Can ProBlogger link to my blog? – I’d love to link to every ProBlogger reader’s blog but due to the large numbers it’s impossible. You’re welcome to shoot me an email to tell me about individual posts you’ve written if they relate to the topic of ProBlogger – but I can’t guarantee to link to all such submissions simply because I get a lot of these emails. Here’s a few tips on getting links from other bloggers that you might find helpful.

Can you take a Look at my blog and review it? – I’ll answer this one by simply saying it’s a question I get asked 10 or more times a day. If I responded with a yes I could spend quite a bit of time doing it and not do much else. Please don’t be offended when I say no (or even don’t get back to you with an answer) but I am currently not taking on this type of work (either in a paid or unpaid capacity), even ‘quick looks’ at blogs. Sorry but at this point it’s beyond what I can offer.

Are you Going to Write a Book on this Topic? – It’s something I’ve thought a lot about over the last year or so. I think it’s a fairly safe bet to say that it will happen. You’ll be the first to know. Update: Well it’s now official – I’ve written a book with Chris Garrett on blogging. You can read more about it at ProBlogger the Book.

How do I keep track of ProBlogger, you write so much! – A number of ProBlogger readers make it their home page – but if you’re not quite that addicted and you don’t want to manually surf by each day you can follow every post of the site via our RSS Feed (you’ll need a news aggregator like bloglines to read it). You can also subscribe to my weekly (ish) newsletter in which I summarize the week’s most popular post, give a few exclusive tips and basically keep you up to date with ProBlogging.

Can I leave a link to my own blog in my comments? – We had a big debate over this at ProBlogger in 2005 and the upshot of it was that while I’m not a big fan of signatures in comments I will allow them IF the comment is relevant to the post or the discussion. If your comment is only a link, or says something like ‘nice post – here is my blog’ etc it will be treated as comment spam. I’m the judge of what is and isn’t spam. The best thing you can do is keep your comments helpful, engaging and on topic and you won’t have a problem. I use ‘no follow’ tags in comments anyway – so you will not benefit in an SEO sense by doing it either legitimately or spammily.

Why Do you use ‘no follow’ tags? – In an ideal world I wouldn’t – in fact I don’t like them. But after three years of dealing with comment spam and becoming increasingly frustrated by it I decided to use them. Unfortunately the actions of a small group of manipulative people have caused this inconvenience for the majority. Sorry.

May I republish posts from ProBlogger on my own Blog? – You may not republish full posts from ProBlogger without my direct permission (and in most cases if permission is sought I will still say no). Feel free to quote anything from this blog (within reason – ie a paragraph or two is pretty normal) with a link to it as a source, but keep in mind that this is copyrighted material. I regularly find people who do republish my articles without acknowledgment of source and/or without permission and pursue them to remove it.

My Blogging Activities

What are your Blogs and How much do they Earn? – While I’m happy to talk about my overall income occasionally I do not get into talking about which of my blogs earn how much money. A guy has to have some secrets. I regularly have my site’s copied as it is without giving away all the details of what I’m doing. All of my blogs have been mentioned at one time or another on ProBlogger. I don’t hide what I do – but I’m not in the business of inviting people to copy everything. ProBlogger is about sharing principles of how to blog for money which can be applied in many niches – the most successful bloggers carve their own niches on topics that have not been done to death already by others.

How Much time do you Spend Blogging? – Over the years blogging has progressed from a hobby, to a part time job for pocket money to a small business. The time I put into blogging reflects this. These days I’m a full time blogger and as a result most week days you can find me in front of my PowerMac for at least 8 hours. Like most small business operators I fall into the temptation of doing more than a full time load from time to time (it’s tempting when you love your work and when you work from home).

How much traffic do you get to your Blogs? – The total numbers of visitors to my blogs vary incredibly from day to day. Most days they total somewhere between 35,000 to 50,000 unique visitors.

Personal

Where do you Live? - I live in Melbourne Australia.

How Long have you been Blogging? - I started my first blog in November of 2002.

How did you start Blogging? – A friend shot me an email telling me about a site (a blog) that I might be interested in. At the time I was part of a team starting a new emerging church. The recommended blog was on the same topic and as I surfed it I not only connected with the author and his content – but was intrigued by the idea of blogging. I immediately saw the possibilities of it for the community we were starting and within 24 hours had my own blog up and running. The rest, as they say, is History. Blogging has since evolved considerably since my first blog.

What did you do before you started Blogging? – I’ve had an occupational history with many twists and turns – but for the majority of the 10 years proceeding my full time blogging I was a Minister of Religion in a number of different ministry capacities. I still do this work on a voluntary capacity today in the small Christian Community that we started (LivingRoom). As well as this work I’ve done a variety of other jobs (often part time to supplement the income from ministry) including working as a kitchen hand, working for an online retailer, laboring, doing research work and selling office furniture. I’ve studied Marketing and Theology (a bizarre mix I know).

Why don’t you talk about your Family Much? – I don’t refer to my personal life too much here at ProBlogger for a number of reasons. Firstly it doesn’t really fit with the focus of this blog. This is a site about making money from blogging and while my family does benefit from this it’s not a personal blog where I talk too much about what I do from day to day. Secondly I’m a firm believer in having boundaries as a blogger in terms of what you do and don’t talk about. When you’re communicating in a public arena security and privacy need to be thought through. As a result, after talking this through with my wife, we’ve chosen not to reveal names, photos or details of my family at this point. In general terms though – I am married to ‘V’ and we have a little boy (born July 2006).