Blogging tips and WordPress

The weekend calls for relaxation, so no hard-hitting, critical post today.

Let’s have a look at WordPress first.

Those of us who have persistently complained about the rather stupid introduction of a default email notification whenever you comment on another blog post seem to have made a small point.

In case no-one understands what I am talking about, instead of ticking the box to say you want an email when every boring person under the sun comments on the post that you just did, you had to untick it. Not too difficult, just a pain.

A few days ago, on some official wordpress blog (I lose track of their many entities), some important person was boasting claiming that their latest innovation was amazingly popular. Yesterday, that blog post was updated saying they had changed it back because people didn’t like it.

In which case, I want to know why the really caring thinking listening wordpress chiefs haven’t reverted to the previous way of displaying topics in magazine format instead of the reader scroll-down. If they can back down on one stupid change, they can do it on another.

And the relevance of that to the rest of this post is…..

1) An easy way to look for new blogs was to look for interesting ones under the wordpress ‘topics’ section. It is no longer easy.

2) But there are other ways. I have found a few interesting, and some favourite blogs, by reading their comments on Daily Post or on wordpress forums.

If someone writes a witty, incisive, thoughtful comment, it’s worth checking out their blog. Sadly, you may find that witty, incisive, thoughtful person is a religious zealot, anti-abortion, gun-toting American Republican, so in my case we are going to have little in common and there is no new beautiful relationship about to dawn.

I use this example as it happened recently. This person had, like many of us, more than one site. A tame site (a bit like roughseas I guess), a ministry site (I don’t have one of those), and a rather more ranty political type site (definitely not like Clouds). I looked at them all, being a broad-minded sort of person as I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the dark other side.

When I got to the ‘political’ site, I left a comment. It’s still in moderation so I guess said blog author has been busy ministering the word of God or supporting anti-abortion groups or whatever.

Why did I leave a comment? Well because there was a very brief post supporting gun-toting right-to-bear-arms-Americans saying that otherwise they wouldn’t have kicked out the British. That’s fair enough, I don’t have any probs with decolonisation. I do have a problem with Americans endlessly griping about it when they are busy invading everyone else’s piece of land though.

Next up, apparently the right to bear arms and no longer being British subjects was why England’s sorry little arse was saved in WW2. I had a problem with that one. Now I can quote figures of how many people died in WW2 (because I wrote about it on this blog post about Armistice Day) and America was not top of the list. India, on the other hand was in the millions. What about all those Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians who fought in a war that wasn’t theirs?

As far as I know, America finally joined WW2 because there was a bit of a problem at Pearl Harbour. Otherwise they had sat on the fence. Just like they did with the Falklands War. Some special relationship. Not. I await corrections on that. Oh, and I thought the Russian winter was what won the war. It usually does. Or lost it, depending on how you look at it.

After I had made my – unpublished comment – I found the T&Cs. Apparently all comments had to be something God would like (or some such similar wording). Er, how on earth am I supposed to know what s/he likes? Uh?

Anyway, the point of that tale is to say that you can find good blogs via forums and Daily Post and you can find non-starters. Oh, and to also ask if anyone else learned that the American cavalry saved Britain in WW2?

3) The other way to find interesting blogs is via comments on other people’s blogs, which a lot of you do anyway. But oddly, those you would think have similar interests and lifestyle often aren’t interested in you. I have no explanation for that one, so chasing up comments is a hit and miss affair.

4) You need to decide whether you want the blog of a 1000 hits or decent comments. There is a huge difference. My biggest hits and comments were initially on the dog blog. But once I started a Land Rover blog, it quickly won the race for hits gaining google searches from all over the world. Few comments, but loads of hits.

I’m more interested in receiving interesting comments, additional information relevant to the original post (or not), and some humour. I still write on the LR blog because if I can write something helpful for someone that’s fine by me. They don’t need to comment. I think the most comments were on my post about importing a vehicle into Gib.

5) I did value the feedback I received from the poll I conducted on roughseas, especially those who took time to comment. One comment was – add something personal, but not too personal. What an excellent tip. So that’s a no to the graphic details of sex with your partner last night, but yes to a personal perspective on something.

6) Which brings me to reblogging and reposting. Blogs made up of other people’s posts are ghastly – with the exception of Stop Animal Abuse, but that’s a different issue. That one has a message to impart, but photoblogs with other people’s photos, or musical blogs just rehashing stuff are utterly boring.

If you want to rehash/repost something, then it needs to have a personal perspective added.

I do use excerpts from elsewhere, but invariably to support what I want to say and/or provide factual information, and always credit the source.

I have reblogged a couple of times, but I think a link back plus excerpt is often better. Whether people read the link back is another matter.

7) Intro, intro, intro. To me it is more important than the title. You can have the cleverest title in the world but if that first sentence or two are boring and mundane, no-one will read any further.

8) Length. All the advice is to write short posts. That is misleading. I have had more hits and comments on longer posts than shorter ones. My longest was nearly 2000 words although that is exceptional, my posts are normally around 1000.

But content is what matters. And paragraphs. Break them up. This isn’t a university essay, this is a blog. Use crossheads/sub-titles, photos whatever, but do NOT write boring long paragraphs.

9) There is only one thing worse than long paragraphs and that is a loud background with too much interference, videos, photos, audios, links etc. Apart from the long loading time, which busy people do NOT like, it is visually disruptive.

10) The wordpress photogallery feature is horrible. Unlike the slideshow. But posting 100 tiny photos on your blog is another total switch off. Don’t.

Enough.

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and geocaching. With other stuff sprinkled in too. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog has his own blog, but most of you know that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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48 Responses to Blogging tips and WordPress

  1. Some good advice from a professional writer! (Quick bring me a bucket!). I lose interest at about 1,000 words so I keep my post just below that. You might add that it is useful to use hyperlinks to other (often previous) posts. When I find a new blog I like I rarely trawl back in time but relevant hyperlinks are always useful to take me back to interesting posts. I don’t see the point of reblogging! I hate photo-blogs! My most hit post is one about Norway and the Vikings and I believe this is because lots of people are searching for Minnesota Vikings American Football! How wierd?

  2. free penny press says:

    I could give two hots how many hits I get.. Honestly I am not blogging for popularity or high numbers.. Not to say I don’t want readers but would rather have a few good comments (from people such as yourself) than a bunch of hits each day.. I need to learn how to do the slideshow feature (i think it’s so much easier than scrolling down for pics)…I still have much to learn about WP, 2 months is not alot of time to become a “pro-b logger”.

  3. The Truth Warrior says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Some very helpful tips. If you have any feedback to give on my blog, I would love to hear from you. Namaste. ~ TW

  4. Perpetua says:

    Useful tips even for those on Blogger, roughseas. :-) I was warned about long posts, but it’s what I naturally gravitate to, though I don’t think any of mine have exceeded 1000 words. What matters to me above all when looking at blogs is interesting and well-written content, plus appropriate images (but not too large – some of us don’t have very high speed broadband) and proper comments.

    I have a few posts which get an inordinate number of hits from Google searches because of individual images I’ve used to illustrate them. I very much doubt any of those hits have resulted in followers though it would be nice to think a few of the searchers actually read my words while they are there.

    Oh, and i hate small cramped text and fussy blogs too. I have poor eyesight and am tired of having to magnify pages to read what someone has written.

    • Thanks Perp. People will read long posts. If they are interesting. I read a horrendously long one today but the topic interested me so I read through and commented. That one above is around the 1200 mark. It doesn’t read long to me.

      I have recently started downsizing my pix more. I do like for people to be able to blow them up, but if they look ok on the main image, that should be enough. It’s good to know that people still have issues with image size so thanks for that one. I also limit my pix on a post for the same reason.

      You get good comments on your blog. They are thoughtful, and to me, I think that makes it so worthwhile.

      Google hits? It’s called bounce hits, I read a post on it today, must post and credit the link as it was interesting.

      Graphic design is great and I admire it. As we age, we just want to be able to read. I have to magnify a couple too, and I am short sighted, so I really shouldn’t need to!

  5. Vicky says:

    Some good tips there, being quite new to WordPress, I’m still on a learning curve with it.
    Having a direct line to my tutor does help though ;-)
    The email notification box, that after you told me about ‘reader’, I’d stopped ticking, totally confused me when I started receiving mails again, so really pleased to see that has now been restored to my choice if I want to receive them.
    I do like photoblogs, but definitely agree with you, regarding the posts without text, and as for the posts full of other folks pics, I just don’t understand the idea of that at all.

    • I’m still relatively new too. And I love that direct line to my photo tutor ;)

      There are quite a few bells and whistles though that you need to get your head around with it, and make sure you have everything sorted to your personal taste. And then they change it without notification!!

      Photogblogs? Ambivalent. [note Andrew]

      In a world of so many photoblogs they need to have something special to stand out, and that’s why the text is actually important. heh, the wordsmith in me coming out here and justifying my existence. True though, I reckon.

  6. bluonthemove says:

    I’m on the wordpress learning curve too. For me though, its the content that I value above the style, and I’ll happily read an interesting well written blog post of 2500 words over a boring one of 400 words. Professional writers of course do have a big advantage over us mere mortals in that regard.

    • I really go for content too, and I don’t care how long it is if it is interesting (blog post here we’re talking about before you get distracted). I also switch off to a boring short post. What is the value? I want to read something that interests me, that tells a story, that says something different, that adds a different perspective. OK, that’s how I write so that’s what I want to read.

      Professional writers? Don’t make me laugh. I may be qualified, but people are getting paid every day of the week, when they don’t have a single qualification behind their ears as journalists. I’m just crazily passing on the theory for free. Like the Land Rover info. Or like other people do about photography. Sometimes in life, the good will come around.

  7. You are just the greatest!

  8. EllaDee says:

    Entertaining & timely post as usual… although my comment is slightly delayed. I guess what attracts me to WP is it is an egalitarian forum for anyone who with basic computer skills who can manage a keyboard. I’ve enjoyed finding new blogs to follow via comments on other blogs, although as you say it can be hit & miss, and I’ve unfollowed a few. I’m not fussed on really long posts (yours are fine), photo’s only, photo competitions, or re-blogging from other blogs (sometimes I’ll re-blog from one of my 3 if it’s relevant) and certain types of blog content which probably says more about me than the blogger, but my choices are considerable: follow; unfollow, like; delete; comment, ignore – and it doesn’t really affect anyone – I’m just a name on a computer screen, the same as everyone else, and my opinions are worth exactly the same.

    • Like you, I’m just another name on a screen. And so are my tips. But I do glance at some blogs that I consider really need a hand! Which is why I do bang on about the basic stuff from time to time.

      I play the photo challenge thing from time to time, but only when I think I can put a different spin to it and the inspiration comes to mind immediately. Otherwise it gets left. And it needs to have a story with it too, as I don’t do pix without stories. I think I have two, maybe three photoblogs on my list. I just look at the pix on reader as they rarely say anything, so there is probably little added value in them being there :D

      I’ve unfollowed a few blogs and should probably have a prune soon (nice alliteration there). My posts are long compared with most, I suspect they don’t read too long though. Difficult for me to judge though as I read v quickly. And forget most of it five minutes later.

      In my comment to Perp above, I mentioned a long post that I read. It was interesting, but it was a bit of a struggle. I looked at the rest of the blog and the other posts were equally lengthy. Whereupon, I packed my bag and left.

      There is also something in blogging about a certain rapport though, for whatever reason. For me, it’s about liking the feel of a blog.

      I do have some other comments but this is not a blog about blogs, so they will have to wait a while for a respectable period, two blog posts about blogs in succession is a bit OTT!

  9. reb says:

    I don’t know how many words this post had, but I certainly didn’t have any problems reading it — because I found it interesting. Agree about the paragraphs! Long paragraphs in light grey font on pitch black background … that makes it tough. Myself, I rarely come up with a topic to write more than five hundred words about.

    Most often, I’m in amazement that I get any comments at all! My little blog is very low-key [like me], I avoid controversial topics at all cost, it’s mostly focused on photos, but also a little about being an expat.

    Couldn’t give a rat’s ass about numbers/hits. The comments [if they are reasonably thoughtful, not «good blog, hugzzz»], the interaction … that’s what I love about blogging.

    Every now and then I find someone who seems interesting … someone I think I would possibly have something in common with — be it in the DailyPost-blog, other bloggers’ comments et cetera. However … when I keep reading and commenting and they never, ever return the courtesy, it falls to the ground.

    The theme/layout is important to me. I change my own every now and then, because I can’t make up my mind which theme I like the best; Ari or Origin. With the theme Origin, you really have to pay attention to ‘Intro’, at least if you figure people land on your index page. In any event, I fancy them clean and minimalistic.

    The part about how personal you want to get … I find that to be a bit of a balance act — a fine line, and this comment is getting longer than my regular blog posts ;)

    • 1227 for the record. But I do have a succinct writing style. So it doesn’t read long (I hope). Of course, just as bad as long boring paragraphs are endless short ones that say nothing! I am never satisfied.

      Expat stuff is always interesting. Especially to me, but even non-ex-pats who dream about it.

      Yes, thoughtful comments are good. The simplistic ones are not.

      The courtesy. Yup. A few visits, a nice blog, but not return? Or they visit once, and never come back? Even more annoying.

      Not tried Ari or Origin. Found 2010 and stuck with it for this one (2011 for roughseas, Duotone for the pix and can’t remember the others:D) But yes, clean blogs with minimal interference are great.

      Yes, I did wonder if you had gone near the 500 word limit. But I tend to get people who comment at length, so you aren’t on your own. And hey, it’s interesting.

  10. pix & kardz says:

    stopped by here for a read, and enjoyed this post, my own photo blog notwithstanding :)
     
    i agree that stories support a photo image and make it more interesting for the reader. the premise over at p&k is to share a smile or a thought, and the image alone doesn’t always do it. i would even venture to say that it likely often doesn’t do it. sometimes just a sentence or quote makes all the difference, IMO.
     
    interesting point about many images and the challenge in being able to open a post from a reader’s perspective. there have been times when i had so many images to choose from i stopped being selective and ended up including a dozen or more. maybe those could have been split up to create two or three posts. good food for thought.
     
    long paragraphs. guilty as charged – and something i have been intentionally working on the last while.
     
    reblogging? have already shared my thoughts on that (kbk), and just to reiterate, i tried it once and my general sentiment is – been there, done that. or as you say it, i packed my bag and left.
     
    comments? i enjoy the exchange of thoughts, ideas, perspectives and humour more than the ‘s,d’ variety – which in turn does provide the advantage of letting you know the blogger behind the hit for the post. i had indicated previously that i would not use ‘supah’ so i won’t :) i do like that blogging is the great connector, if that is a word, and that it is possible to interact with others you would otherwise never have an opportunity to meet simply by virtue of logistics.
     
    and finally – length? don’t think my posts have ever been too short :) but i agree, less is not always more – whether it be photos or wise or witty words in season. not sure how long this post was, but it was very readable from start to end. wouldn’t have wanted to miss your points at the end if this had been truncated. and on that note, i think this has been long enough :)

    • pix & kardz says:

      one more thought – i miss the old topics format as well.

    • 1227 as I said above to reb :D I love photos – but I do think they need context. So your recent rain one was made so much better by adding a bit of text.

      Your pars aren’t long that I have noticed. I mean pars with hundreds of words in a paragraph :(

      Similarly, you don’t post too many pix, again it’s the ones who post tens, hundreds, thousands of boring pix. Yawn.

      Comments are great aren’t they? I may not have a lot of hits or readers but I do love the people who regularly visit. They make me smile and laugh. And think. Long or short, they are always welcome and appreciated.

  11. mpwilson says:

    I blog about my life as a gay man, so I was surprised recently when I got a new follower.. from a religious fanatic (American) who actually blogged about how sinful gays and gay marriage was. I’m guessing she hadn’t checked out the rest of my blog, and if being gay is so sinful, why bother following a gay blog?

    Surprisingly she has yet to comment on any of my posts…

    Also I agree with what you said about reblogging.. Whenever I’ve read something I want to share on my blog, I reference the site instead of reblogging the whole thing. Whole point of my having a blog is to express my voice, not someone else’s.

    Great post and blog btw :-)

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