Friday, December 20, 2013

Backwards runs the blog

Why is your blog backwards?

Blogger, like other blogging platforms, standardly shows your posts in reverse chronological order.

Older posts spill down the page and onto archive pages.

To read your story from the beginning you must go to the end.

This does not work for everyone (and there are workarounds). But for most of us, most of the time, it is a good thing.

Consider your readers' point of view. Especially if they are returning (and aren't those your favorite people?), they want your latest work, not the whole saga of how you and your blog came to the present day.

Newest-first gives them exactly that.

Even first-time readers may be more interested, and inspired to follow or bookmark or return, if your timeliest content is foremost.

Short attention spans rule the web. If you want to keep your readers do not burden them with a single extra step.

Rather than force-marching your readers through a chronological journey, or a lengthy explanation, each time the visit, give your blog an informative title and tagline. Consider an "About" page.

For some blogs, the "journey" really is key. Travel blogs, in particular, benefit from an oldest-first telling, at least for individual trips. You could make a similar case for a blog about training for a Marathon or recovering from a heart attack or losing weight.

And of course, if the journey is over—if your year abroad has ended and there will be nothing further—oldest-first makes perfect sense.

If you want to share the journey, consider putting your content, oldest first, on a separate page that you can link to from your main page. You might alternatively put a chronological list of posts in a sidebar gadget.

You can do either for all your posts or for any category you have set up using labels.

Showcase older content of particular value in your sidebar, perhaps on a tabbed navigational widget. Serve your content on a silver platter, but don't burden your readers by trying to force them to interact with your blog in a particular way.

It won't work, and they'll go elsewhere.

Backwards runs the blog

Why is your blog backwards?

Blogger, like other blogging platforms, standardly shows your posts in reverse chronological order.

Older posts spill down the page and onto archive pages.

To read your story from the beginning you must go to the end.

This does not work for everyone (and there are workarounds). But for most of us, most of the time, it is a good thing.

Monday, December 16, 2013

My top blogging tip: Just blog

You never really know what you think until someone shoves a video camera in your face and says, Quick! What's your number one blogging tip?

This happened to me recently at a conference about Google products. I was randomly ambushed by a team collecting advice about all of these (not just Blogger, but YouTube, Search, etc.).

As the camera rolled my blogging life flashed before my eyes. Many tips, but which which is primary?

Think fast! (Wikimedia photo/Creative Commons license 2.0)
Labels? Feeds? SEO? Best fonts? Facebook integration? Google+?

To my surprise the first words out of my mouth were, "Just blog." As in:

You'll learn by doing, so do it. If you make mistakes you can revise them. Experience is the best teacher.

It's okay to think about your design or what widgets to put in your sidebar or your url. But the important thing is to blog. Don't turn design considerations into excuses.

If you're feeling cautious, you can start your blog as private. Privately pick a template, write a few posts, and add some pages and sidebar gadgets. When you and your blog are ready, lift the curtain and show the world.

Do whatever you need to feel safe enough to engage with the medium and your subject. And if you don't (yet) know the medium, or the subject, or even what exactly your subject is, then dig in and learn by doing. Just blog.

You'll soon find yourself sitting on an honest-to-gosh body of work, actively engaged in your subject and the craft of writing about it online.

Is there more to it than that? Of course. Writing is hard work. So get busy.

I don't know what became of my video interview. And I sure was surprised at what popped out of my mouth.

But as the Buddhists say, First thought, best thought. It's my number one tip.

Just blog. The rest will follow.

Update: I'm flattered by the attention this post has received after being selected by Blogger as one of its "14 Blogging Tips to 2014."


Check out the others 13 at the Blogger Google+ page.

Happy new year, and keep blogging!


My top blogging tip: Just blog

You never really know what you think until someone shoves a video camera in your face and says, Quick! What's your number one blogging tip?

This happened to me recently at a conference about Google products. I was randomly ambushed by a team collecting advice about all of these (not just Blogger, but YouTube, Search, etc.).

As the camera rolled my blogging life flashed before my eyes. Many tips, but which which is primary?

Think fast! (Wikimedia photo/Creative Commons license 2.0)
Labels? Feeds? SEO? Best fonts? Facebook integration? Google+?