Today’s "Citizen of the Month" post is going to be a little different. I’m going to step from behind the curtain and invite you to do the same. Maybe I’m just being sentimental having recently met three bloggers in person — the brilliant Danny, the glamorous Megan, and the outspoken Kate. I feel like there is a strong blogging community out there, one of caring and mutual admiration, even if I probably wouldn’t let half of you crazy people into my house.
Let’s talk about blogging. I want to share with you some of the tools I use every day. Hopefully, you can share as well, with the hope that we can make blogging more enjoyable for everyone, especially new bloggers.
I use WordPress for my blogging tool. I can wholeheartedly recommend it. There are terrific plug-ins for all sorts of enhancements. I notice that most of you use Blogger. Do you like it? Hate it? If anyone ever wants to move to WordPress, I’m more than willing to answer any questions — although I’m far from an expert. Any unique pros or cons with your blogging application?
If you’re like me, you’ve become obsessed over your statistics. I use Statcounter. It does the job. Recently, I’ve noticed a whole flurry of new colorful "statistics" applications competing for our attention. Here’s a good post about some of the newer applications. Mint is becoming popular, but it costs $30. Two others with good reviews (and free) are Blogbeat and Performancing Metrics. It seems that some of the newer statistics have something Statcounter doesn’t — the ability to record where a reader is clicking TO from your site. So, for instance, if I see too many of my readers are leaving my site to head over to Rabbit’s site, I know to take that damn blogger off my blogroll.
Frankly, I’ve been avoiding switching to another statistics application. Just what I need — more blogging stuff to waste my time!
Anyone tried any of these new stat programs?
There are so many great bloggers out there, I sometimes get overwhelmed. To help me organize my RSS feeds, I use Bloglines. Bloglines helps me read several blogs at once in a "newspaper" style. While it saves some time, you still need to click onto the site to read and write comments. Lately, I’ve been using Bloglines a lot less, because I was starting to miss reading a person’s blog in his individualized template. Everyone’s blog just looks the same in Bloglines and it starts to make me drowsy.
Still, Bloglines is an essential tool for reading blogs on the go. Here’s ten cool hacks you can do with Bloglines, including such nifty actions as blogging right from Bloglines and reading your feed on your Tivo.
A promising competitor to Bloglines is Rojo, which combines an RSS aggregator with some interesting tagging features and social networking options.
Any other suggestions for making our blog reading a little easier?
My WordPress blog creates it’s own feed. I notice a large amount of bloggers use Feedburner to create their RSS feed, even if their blogging application already does it for them. Maybe someone else can help me understand why. I’m guessing that it’s mostly for statistical reasons — so you can know how many readers are coming from Bloglines, etc…
Can anyone explain it better than I can?
I notice that some bloggers choose not to have a feed at all. This could be a pain if you love their site, but you read all your feeds in an RSS aggregator. I’ve never tried it, but this application advertises itself a free online service that converts any web page to an RSS feed on the fly.
I can really only speak about WordPress here. I use Spam Karma and it works great, although every once in a while — for no apparent reason — it decides a dear reader is a spammer and puts him in moderation.
I notice that most Blogger users now use that word verification. Has it been working for you?
Frankly, I don’t really understand the business model of spammers. Some of the spam is just nonsense. Is it just a numbers game, with the spammers trying to get as many links as possible? I understand that it is cheap advertising, but are there really that many people out there who are willing to buy their Viagra from some stranger on the internet? Obviously so.
Let’s admit it. We all love to know if someone is talking about us. While Technorati is the big daddy for self-checking, there’s also IceRocket, Feedster, Google Blog Search, Blogdigger, PubSub, and Blogpulse. According to the influential Steve Rubel, Bloginfluence is the latest blogging ego tool (or blego, as the insiders call it). You can go crazy seeing where your blog stands in comparison to others in the silly buy-and-sell fantasy world of Blogshares or the truly weird animal kingdom of the Truth Laid Bear ecosystem. All this stuff is very dangerous to your self-esteem. Just remember that the guy who has a million links and a zillion readers still isn’t making any money off his blog. And if he’s spending all that time blogging, he’s probably pasty-skinned and out of shape — not a hunk or hottie like you.
I do check Technorati every day, but I avoid everything else. I recommend the same.
This is a topic in itself — all of those weird and wonderful charts and lists and "what’s on my iPod" thingamajigs and Flickr doodads that everyone uses to make their blog unique. I think some of them are a little too cutesy for my taste — or for anyone who’s not a fourteen year old girl. I also think music playing automatically can be a problem if someone is reading your blog in their office. But who am I to talk? I write about my underwear on my blog. To each his own!
P.S. — Now I have a question for you. Am I the only one in America not to have a MySpace page? And what exactly is its appeal — making friends? Dating? Or making me feel like I’m the only one not to have a MySpace page?