Things to Consider Before You Start a Blog

I was recently asked by a friend “what are the top 20 issues, technical or otherwise that someone might face who is learning to blog?”  While he wasn’t looking for a lot a details, I decided that I would give him the details, and now I figured that I would share it here.

Twenty issues huh?  Well, that’s and interesting question, and would be a long list, but let me try.

First of all, not many of my answers will address technical issues.  I think that this is primarily because most blogs are pretty easy to use.  Not much different than and email program.  But it could be that I am more technically savvy than most people, and I just don’t get too bothered by technical problems.

1 – Getting people to read it
If you are going to blog, you obviously want people to read it.  The best way to get people to read your blog is to comment on other’s blogs.  Be sure to leave your blog address when you do, and I am sure you will get a few readers.

2 – Finding time to post regularly
This is more closely related to the first one than many may realize.  But if you aren’t writing regularly then readers aren’t going to come.

3 – Which host site to use
While there are several free hosting sites.  The two biggest are blogger.com (or blogspot.com) and wordpress.com.  I personally recommend wordpress.com.  It seems that there is a lot more available to the user.  However, blogspot is amazingly simple.  And thus easier to use.  But you lose out on a lot of features.  I would take the harder to learn over the easier to learn just so that when you learn the ropes, you will have all the features you might like.

You can also have a blog at your own site (i.e,. http://www.readmythoughts.com).  This is far more complicated to opperate, but people with some Internet publishing skills can usually figure it out.  Again, I reccommend the blog freely available at www.wordpress.org (note that it ends in .org and not .com).

4 – Dealing with mean comments
I would often just stop posting when people were belligerent.  But now, I have a better understanding of what works for me.  No real advise here, I think this is different for everyone.

5 – Spelling and grammar errors
While most programs offer spell check of some sort, it will miss something.  And they all miss grammatical problems.  So, you are going to have to reread your post again and again.  I don’t do that.  Hence, all the errors.

6 – What to write about
Some of this is personal preference, but I struggled with how much politics, how much personal, and how much misc.  I have gotten over it mostly.  And I have a very eclectic blog.  But I like it that way.  Some blogs are very specific.  For example, they talk only Utah Politics, or the LDS Religion.  Some are strictly personal, almost like a journal (the original concept behind blogging).  And some are eclectic like mine.

7 – Whether to tell friends and family
This may be more of my issue.  But for me there are probably only 4 or 5 of my family members (actually they are all my wife’s family) who know about my blog.  But for me, I really don’t care to share it with them.  At first, my wife didn’t know about it, but eventually I told her, and now she reads every post.  I know, because she always corrects my grammar.

8 – How to follow stats
There are several stats counters out there.  I use statcounter.com, but there are others.  Which one is the best, I really don’t know.  I just want some data, and statcounter.com provides me with what I want, so I never really looked at anything else.  With WordPress you have stats provided to you, so you may not want a separate counter.

9 – Putting too much emphasis on stats
Some people worry too much that there stats are too low.  Then they use this as a reason to stop writing.  But it isn’t a popularity contest.

10 – Protecting family
With young children in the home, I try to keep my kids IDs somewhat hidden.  For example, they all have nicknames (PandaMae, Miss Jo, BO, Miss Kay, Capt. Z, and Flash).  Also, I try to avoid saying much more than I live in Riverton, UT.  But I slip up sometimes.

11 – Learning how to promote the site
You don’t have to pay anybody to promote your site.  Just link to a lot of stuff, and encourage people to link back to your.  This is the number 1 way to get your site listed higher in the search engines.

12 – Understanding trackbacks
This is a feature available in WordPress and some other blogging programs (not blogger/blogspot).  If more people understood this, they would use it.  It’s a way to comment on another’s blog while posting on your own blog.  This way people who are interested in that topic, will follow a link to get you take on the same topic.

13 – Learning the software
As with all software there can be a learning curve.  I will repeat that blogspot is pretty easy to learn, and wordpress harder.  But the features come to play.

14 – Understanding etiquette
If you have a private conversation with someone, keep it private.  The Web is the public.  Watch what you say about others.  There are other ettiquette rules, But you can search for them.

15 – Writing for writings sake and not fame
A lot of first time bloggers write hoping to make a lot of money and become famous.  It probably won’t happen.  So forget about it.  Enjoy the process of writing and you will have fun blogging.

Well, that’s 15.  I know that there was at least one more.  But I am drawing a blank on it.  Hope this helps.  If you are asking because you are considering blogging.  Let me know about your site, and I will link to it.

Since I sent that email to him I remember the other item.  That was read other’s blog.  Basically that give you ideas of what to write about.  Also it can be a great place to promote you blog.

Anyway, these are just what I came up with.  Are there any more that you could add to the list.

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A Look at Facebook

Well, since the beginning of the year, I have been on Facebook. You may have noticed the little picture and logo on the left side.

And honestly, I don’t know that I understand it.

Okay, it has been nice to connect with a few old friends. But that is about the extent of the fun of facebook for me. All of the games on facebook are dumb at best. And there doesn’t seem to be any really useful.

So far most of the “spam” that I have gotten through facebook is from people who want me to rate them and tell them how much of a friend they are to me. While some of these have been in creative ways, none of them have interested me.

Honestly, if your sense of self-worth comes from someone else’s evaluation of you on facebook, then you need to get a life.

I am sure that there are other applications on there, but none of them have found me. I haven’t spent much time looking into them. But what I have found just seems pointless.

Am I missing something here? Are there any facebook junkies that want to show me the rope? Because except for finding a few old mission friends and old neighbors and friends, facebook as proved to be fairly pointless for me.

Twitterpated

Again I find myself using a title that isn’t completely accurate.  Some one is going to take me down for violating truth in advertising laws.  The title just seemed witty and I couldn’t not use it.

I recently decided to give in a get a Twitter account.  I had heard about it before, but I really didn’t see much value in the application.  So, I just let it be.

However, recently some cohorts expressed a desire to communicate with me using twitter.  After a couple of days of thinking about it, I decided that it couldn’t hurt.

Here is where the deception in the title gets revealed.  Twitter is okay.  It is nice for doing an occasional update on what you are doing.  And maybe if more people who I cared about used it more often, then it might be worth my effort.

But for right now, it is a fun toy.  Something that I will play with for a while, but I am sure eventually it will go by the wayside like my old Geocities account from almost 10 years ago (before it was owned by yahoo).

Anyway, if you can’t wait to see what my latest adventures are, then check me out on twitter.  If you want to share more of your life with me, then let me know and I will follow you.

Mayor Billings Gets it Right, Finally

Too bad he didn’t get it right the first time.  But at least now he is owning up to the mistake, sort of.

iProvo should never have been invested it, but the city of Provo.  The same goes for all other Utopia cities.

Just as I stated in the previous post, cities should not get involved where private enterprise is doing well.   It will always lead to a failure.  And often, the failure leads to a bigger tax burden on the citizens.

Fortunately, Mayor Billing is doing the right thing, and bailing out of iProvo.  It takes a big man to admit when he was wrong.  And in this case Mayor Billings is playing the part of a big man.

Let’s see if other Mayor of Utopia will man up (or woman up) to the table, and get rid of their bad investment.  My honest fear is that they will return the burden to citizen’s to make up for their mistakes.

Listen to Gazelem Talk Politics

It’s been a long spell without any comments on politics from yours truly.  And I am going to make this a special treat.  You get to listen to me talk politics.

You may have heard about KLO Radio’s recent contest where they invited listeners to submit a 30 minute talk show.  The talk show needed to have at leat one interview.

My first thought was how fun would that be, but I really wasn’t going to pursue it.  However,  PandaMae (my 12-year-old daughter) said that she thought it would be cool.  So, I figured, what the heck.  I will give it a try.

I thought about several options that I had for interviewing.  I have a friend in the LDS Entertainment industry who could have set me up with an interview with various artists.  But ultimately I went with Representative Carl Wimmer.

I consider Carl a friend, and I figured that he would be willing to help.  Sure enough, he agreed, and within a couple of days we sat down and conducted an Interview.

So, please check out this political NetCast over at PodBean.com.  Note that the interview is over a month old, so some of the information is dated.

Virtual Tours of LDS Temples

Wow!  So yesturday I was just clicking around Google, and I found this program of called SketchUp, which is used to make 3D images.  Google offers it for free (and they have pay version) in the hopes that people will make images of their favorite places.  I think that Google hopes to offer a 3D image of the world through Google Earth.

Because I was bored, I figured that I would try to learn SketchUp by making a mock-up of the Salt Lake Temple.  I have a fairly nice model  started, and I am having fun learning it.  But in the process, I realized that several temples (including many of the Salt Lake Temple) have already been done.

So, if you want to have a virtual tour of the exteriors of LDS Temples, then check out the 3D Warehouse of LDS Temples (you will need either Google Earth or SketchUp or both to view them).  I particularly like the models by titotello.

Fabulous Farding Friday: Thanks Leonore

Wow, after a week of nothing, we have such exciting news.

You have already noticed it even. We have a banner for this site. Isn’t it exciting.

I wouldn’t have ever thought that I would have such a wonderful banner. But after some buttering up, a kind offer, and a few revisions, we have a banner for Gazelem.

First of all, I must thank Leonore at Silverwoods for putting this together. They recently put up a wonderful new banner for thier site, and I complimented her on the wonderful job. Then I jokingly said I would have her do one for me, if I could afford to pay her.

Well, she graciously offered to do one for me for free. And she had it to me in only a couple of days. I haven’t posted it until now, because it would be an official roll out unless it was a Fabulous Farding Friday.

So, a couple of things about the banner. You will note that the great stone face is still there. He will remain as our wonderful mascot. And you already know his significance to the site.

But you might be wondering about the rest of the features. The mountain range in the back is of course the Wasatch Mountains. These mountains are really the heart of Utah. They are a great part of our economy. You know you are in Utah if you can see these mountains. If you grew up here, you knew that they were always to the east. These mountains are home to me.

And finally, you will note the Delicate Arch from Arches National Park is also featured. This is hear mostly because I love that arch. Wish I could live with it as my scenic view from my back porch. Alas, it is too far away. But, it is also one of the great Utah landmarks and represents Utah.

Well, again, thank you Leonore. I hope everyone else likes this new banner as much as I do.The Old Gazelem Title Graphic