Recently in Blogging Category
November 13, 2013
Have I written about Andrew Sullivan's attempt to make his long-running blog The Dish a sustainable media enterprise? Ah, only in passing. Time to correct that.
The Dish has been on my reading list for as long as I can remember. Sullivan's work was a huge influence on me in my early days as a blogger (over a decade ago...). But what makes his current campaign to make The Dish pay its own way is that he's not starting where most bloggers do - with just themselves to support. No, he's got a team of writers and interns, and he's aiming to do it without ads or venture capital backing. It's going well:
With your help, and with six weeks to go, we're now at $807K in our first year revenue, closing in on our goal of $900K. Tinypass made that possible; you made it happen. If you are a regular reader of the Dish, all we ask is that you consider if what we provide each day is worth $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year. If it is, please subscribe.
I've been a subscriber for over 10 months, and I'm really hoping he hits his target. As he says himself:
As you can see, this model is not just about us. It's about building a future for a whole range of new media on the ashes of the old.
That's really the key point here - is there scope for small online businesses built around blogging sustained by the readers? If the answer is "yes", then we have a very interesting future ahead of us...
October 12, 2013
This is really handy to know:
If you are publishing to a blog system that does not recognize Markdown, and you can’t for example install a custom WordPress plugin to facilitate such recognition, you will need to see that your Markdown content is converted to HTML before publishing.
Starting in MarsEdit 3.6, a new per-blog option makes it easy to automatically convert Markdown content to HTML when you publish to a blog.
I've really got into the swing of writing in Markdown, and this allows me to use it even when writing for companies that don't have it installed in their WordPress server.
As for my own WordPress installs (including the one that will host this blog, as soon as I have the spare time to do the move), and an install of Ghost:
October 8, 2013
Last week, the student journalists on the MA courses at City University heard from Paul Bradshaw about curation in the journalist sense. Since then, I've been working in the online "labs" with them on the idea. This post from Euan Semple neatly sums up one of the core ideas of curation at play:
The things I find interesting say something about me. Shared links are like the clothes you wear, they project an image of yourself that you hope some people will find attractive and be drawn to. This process of curating stuff that appeals to you allows you to be found by people who share your interests. This helps start relationships and build networks. This is how you get to do interesting things with interesting people.
For journalists, this is all part of working the beat online.
August 12, 2013
July 14, 2013
When you sit down to write it's all too easy to just start typing immediately, which means you'll be doing you're thinking on-screen. Instead, take a few moments to plan your piece. It should make the editing process easier too, which will save time overall.
I'd agree with that - and it applies to blogging as much as any other form of writing. However, there's one proviso. If you find that structure isn't working, don't be afraid to trash it and rework what you've got. Sometimes the story in your head doesn't work on screen.
July 12, 2013
Is glossy, exciting new blogging site Medium just a content farm?
But it all neatly glosses over one ugly fact: Medium is just an upscale version of the same old business model used by shady content farms the world around. And it contributes to an environment where the most important element in creating written content — the writer — is undervalued and uncompensated.
Two immediate things occur:
- We don't actually know what Medium's business model is yet
- Their idea of per paragraph commenting really, really works, as that post demonstrates
There's something interesting at work with Medium, and I wouldn't be too quick to stand in judgement upon it just yet.
I've had access to a posting account for a little while now - perhaps I should get around to using it.
July 11, 2013
Once upon a time - and it feels like a long time ago - it was my job to get people blogging. I took poor, ink-stained wretches from their journalistic bunkers, and introduced them to the digital world.
It was great, and I loved it.
Nowadays, I seem to be doing it almost by accident. I jumped into a conversation on Twitter between Mary and Patrick the other night, in which they were both reflecting that their day jobs were consuming the enthusiasm they once had for blogging:
As I've often said, I can thank the fact that I kept blogging throughout my RBI days to the fact that I was able to move cleanly and quickly into a consultancy career in the aftermath of that job I loved.
Happily, that conversation got Mary blogging again:
I used to blog all the time. I used to have a serious writing work ethic. I’ve blogged in many formats under multiple names since 2004, or thereabouts, which makes me a bit of a youthful whippersnapper in terms of some of the internet. But it’s nearly a decade now, and that’s too much waffling on the internet to throw away just because I’m busy.
And then she got her husband Grant going, too:
This is all derived from a conversation with my wife, who said she wanted to write more, and sort-of-challenged me to 10 consecutive days of blogging. Then I started writing this post and realised 10 days didn’t sound like an awful lot, so I bumped it up to 14, then I realised that I’m going to be at PAX Australia all next weekend and that might make posting to schedule difficult if not impossible. So I stuck with 10.
And then Amy Adams (not that one, the other one) was watching all this, and decided to join in:
But as I was scrolling through Twitter the other day, a conversation between journalists Mary Hamilton and Adam Tinworth about the importance of blogging started to make me feel guilty. The argument, in summary, was that it is undeniably important to keep writing on the web. It is important creatively, for people who work with words for a living; intellectually, for people who have a lot of ideas and opinions, and for whom writing is a way of refining these; and logically, in a digital world where declaring yourself a writer of any kind without easy-to-find evidence is a pretty avoidable mistake to make.
In 2006, it would have been great if I could have got people blogging just by pontificating on Twitter. But then, they wouldn't have needed to pay me, would they?
July 4, 2013
Yesterday marked the 10th and final day of the latest #back2blog challenge. The idea was to post every day at least once for 10 days. My hope was that it would kickstart my blogging. How did it go?
Well, as you can see from the graph above - swimmingly. Last week was hard, and on Sunday I came right down to the wire with a photo post. But it all kicked in properly this Monday, and I've been blogging up a storm since. Admittedly, today's been quiet, but that's because I was looking after Hazel to allow my wife to attend a conference.
Blogging is, as much as anything, a mindset. For me, it's getting into the flow state of encountering an idea for a post, and then connecting that moment of insight with the action of writing the post as closely as I can. The forced discipline of posting every day helped get all the right synapses firing once more - with great results. Now, let's see if I can keep it up...
My personal, supplementary challenge was to write all my posts in Markdown. Did I achieve it? Yup. Will I continue doing so? Yup. It really makes writing well-formatted blog posts with good underlying HTML so much quicker. You can do pretty much all of it without having to lift hand from keyboard to start clicking buttons on the toolbar. Every second counts in my working life right now, and the time I'm claiming back is being recycled well - into an increased posting rate.
If you're a frequent blogger, I strongly suggest you give it a go...
Other #back2blog successes
- Graham hit the target, too, but took different lessons from the process
- Christine hit the target, too and is rethinking her approach to blogging as a result.
July 3, 2013
Rogers Cadenhead on the news that Google Reader's death was the nail in the coffin for Seth Finkelstein's blog:
Finkelstein's a much-needed voice in tech because he's allergic to bullshit. As an admirer of his writing I hate to see his site close, but I can't argue with his premise that the rewards of running a personal blog with moderate traffic aren't high enough to justify the effort. Blogs don't receive as many comments as they used to, and the amount of conversation a blog post attracts elsewhere seems to be dropping as well. Now that millions of people have social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, they have a place they can comment with home field advantage. They don't need to play on the road and respond on your blog.
One Man & His Blog is very much a moderate traffic blog - but its traffic is the highest it has been in the decade it's been running, and is growing month-on-month. There's been no sign of that reversing since the Google Reader shut down, although it's possible I've lost readers who were only reading in a feed reader. Comments come and go in bursts, but most discussion actually seems to happen on Twitter.
This blog is my storefront - a showcase of my work, my thinking and my expertise, and there's very little work I've had since I dived into consultancy 18 months ago that has not come from this blog in some way.
Do I sell ads here? No.
Do I get a heap of comments? No.
Do I get a boatload of traffic? No.
But I do get work from it. It's really the only marketing I'm doing. because of that, I'm able to contribute my share towards supporting my little family - and that's all that matters in the end. As Hugh Macleod said a very long time ago - blogs are a great way to make things happen indirectly - and that remains as true as ever.
June 29, 2013
I am really enjoying seeing the range of readers emerge as Google Reader winds down. There are some, like Bloglovin' which seems to target and promote the idea of feed reading to specific communities really well, while others are more about supporting Google Reader refugees.
This arrived from Bloglovin' this morning:
Nice, clear explanation of the benefits of RSS reading. A very clear targeting of lifestyle bloggers. Lots of badges for bloggers to display on their websites. Niche tools? A compelling explanation of what the tool does? This is what RSS has always needed.
I'm beginning to feel a little hope that we might actually see a resurgence of RSS…
June 28, 2013
I've just written a post for NEXT Berlin outlining some options and things to think about now.
Image by Orin Zebest on Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons licence
June 23, 2013
Here's the bonus element I'm bringing to my participation in the Back to Blogging challenge. As well as posting once a day, I'm going to be writing all my posts in Markdown - a markup language conceived by Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber that allows you to quickly write a post for publishing in HTML without hand-typing all the HTML mark-up - or constantly leaving the keyboard to click on buttons in the editor.
The syntax looks relatively straight-forward to learn, and I'm hoping it will make the process of writing a blogpost significantly quicker for me. I'll report back in 10 days…