Just to be clear (and now that I have your attention): this post won’t get you rich, won’t make you popular but will tell you a bit about blogging. I’ve been doing this for a little while now and had some positive feedback so I thought I’d share my experiences so far.
Why I started
As a print journalist who has made the move into online, I wanted a way of collecting my multimedia work in one handy place without the need to drag memory files, a laptop and video footage around to show to anyone who may be interested. The best way to do this was a portfolio site.
However, in order to make this a space where people would want to return, I decided it would need a blog as well. This would allow me to share ideas and discuss issues that deal with my profession – journalism.
The idea was it would keep things on the site fresh rather than static examples of video and multimedia.
At first I thought I would be able to do this with the free ‘wordpress.com’ site but, after a little reading around, I realised that would be too limited for my needs. Besides, if it’s going to be a professional site it’s always better to own your own chunk of the web.
So, after asking a few friends, I registered with a hosting site and started experimenting with themes. Finally, I settled on the Headway framework. You can read more about the reasons why here, which brings me onto my next point…
The Headway saga continues
In my review of Headway last month (incidentally, I am still a non-affiliate member) I mentioned how I was having problems with the visual editor. At the time of writing those are still unresolved.
There were a few emails back and forth with the support desk but it got to the point where, after telling them everything about my set-up, they needed my log-in details to take a look for themselves .
At this point I decided enough was enough and I’d have to live with the unresponsive menu editor.
It’s not a problem as such (as I said in the original review) because the site is up and running and easy to navigate, it’s just disappointing as it was one of the key features that made me opt for Headway over its biggest rival, Thesis.
I still think Headway has great potential and it’s still early days but there desperately needs to be more add-ons and child themes rolling off the shelves to convince me of its popularity.
There are a lot of snake-oil salesmen out there
One thing I have found staggering about the blogging world is the amount of ‘self help’ or ‘get rick quick’ sites. I am sure they are all very nice people who look after their mothers but I would not hand over a penny to any of them while there is breath in my body and I would advise anyone else the same.
The truth is, unless you launch a successful site (many people try and most fail) you aren’t going to get rich overnight sitting in your pyjamas all day trying to be a second-rate Perez Hilton. The best explanation of why that I’ve found was by Matt Sussman writing on Technorati. Those who used to call themselves blogging experts now give themselves the grand title of ‘social media expert’, which – Matt writes – “is simply a guy who never forgets his LinkedIn password”.
The lesson to be learned is don’t start blogging as a business, just something you enjoy doing on a topic you can write about.
At the time of writing my two most popular posts have been about topics about which I have first-hand experience – life in the Middle East and training to be a journalist.
In both ‘Sex in (some other) City‘ and ‘Journalism and low pay, time to end the NCE?‘ I was able to offer my own views on topics that were of interest elsewhere on the web. Readers found the comparison between Sex and the City 2 film and the real Abu Dhabi informative; the journalism training debate has got hits from a number of sources because it’s a hot topic in the industry.
However, with so many blogs out there it’s not enough to provide a running commentary of the issues of the day with ‘this is good’ or ‘this is bad’ stamped on the end. There must be an underlying reason why you personally are writing about it – and there must be some value or insight you can provide to the debate.
Of course, having the word ‘sex’ in the headline may have helped.
Aside from the response to the blog posts, one thing that has been a pleasant surprise is how well received some of the additional content has been such as the photos.
Just to clarify, I am a journalist not a photographer. Although the shots from Masirah Island in Oman made it into a national newspaper, I use my camera for fun not work.
What the picture galleries on the site have provided is attractive content readers can wade through.
The Apture device you see scrolling down the page has also been a plus. It keeps readers on your site by providing snippets of content from around the web without leaving the page.
Best of all, it’s free and it keeps the bounce rate – the number of people who come into one page on your site and leave straight away – down.
Feedback is always nice. Nobody likes standing in an empty room so if you can get some debate going all the better. Put your posts on Twitter, reply to others, start debates on other pages, thank people for their comments. It all snowballs.
And with that in mind…
…feel free to let me know what you think below…