Tag Archives: diary

How a Blog is Different Than an Article:By Me Anyways

Last year I researched and wrote a blog for a marketing company. They knew they wanted a blog but they didn’t know really what a blog was or what the different types were. So I did up a paper and printed off different blog sites to show them. I wrote a blog for the length of the contract where, because of what they marketed, they found the blog wasn’t really helping them a lot. It was also very specific and I warned them that there was a limited life on what could be written about.

Blogs can serve several purposes. There are the dear diary, hello my friend styles that are personal, chatty and set for people who know the writer. There are blogs done by companies, which can be troubleshooting or informative, advertise and raise sales. These might be in an informal style or have a particular voice. There are blogs that are for entertainment (gossip of the stars, humor, trivia) and blogs that are opinion pieces (or rants). Of course, you can have a blend of entertaining and informative, or opinion and chatty, or whatever.

I write a blog for several reasons. As a writer, when I can’t get to writing fiction every day, it gives me some exercise in writing. With a keen interest and opinion on many things I like to write about them and share my knowledge or insights, sometimes see if there are like minded people out there or if I’m just off the wall. Sometimes it’s to inform and sometimes to entertain. I also post some previously written articles that had a limited exposure on sites long gone.

What I don’t do with a blog is research very long. These are often personal interest, comments on current events or informative pieces. But the way I see it, I don’t have time to do a lot of research, unless I’m being paid. When I write an article for a magazine I do more in-depth research that might include interviews, going to the library, and some good ole fashioned legwork on top of internet research.

An interesting observation that I’ve noticed in general with my blog pieces. Since I started this blog in April, the entry “A Whole Rainbow of Possibilities” (on gay pride) probably had the most hits in a day. The “Fuel Efficient…” article had a lot of interest at first. The “Stones of Ireland” has been my most consistently read piece and the “Teenage Sex and Teachers” has skyrocketed over the weeks since I wrote it. I can conclude only that if you have sex in the title, especially coupled with teenagers, you’ll get many hits. Maybe I should title everything with sex. Sex Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sex Looking for a New Car. Sex Shopping for Clothes. Etc. I wonder how that would skew the views from those just looking for sex.

But in general, when I’m writing a blog entry I’m going on my memory and knowledge and some internet searching. Usually some Wiki and a few other sources, such as reliable newspapers or specific sites to do with the topic. So a blog satisfies my need that people will read it. Maybe not a thousand hits per day (yet! Unless I put sex everywhere) but still I’m one small voice in the cave. And of course I write because it’s fun.

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Blog Blog Blog: A Comparison

In the blog world I have tried three different ones: Live Journal, Blogspot and WordPress.

I began Live Journal first as a way to keep track of people I knew and what they were doing, and likewise so they could see what I was doing. Some people have many people on their lists, over fifty or more. If you friend someone, they can read all of your blogs, not just the public ones. This means you can put locks on some of your posts so that no one can read them but yourself (the personal diary format) to certain groups of friended people being able to see them.

When you put someone on your friend list you can also read their posts daily as they come up. So, if you do have many many friends, it could get time consuming. Supposedly there are filters on who you want to read but I never figured them out.

A paid account gives more user account pictures that you can upload, as well as a wider range of templates to use. There is a fair amount of versatility there. You can also screen, block or allow all comments. Some people use it to invite people to teas, parties, etc. However, I didn’t always read my LJ every day and wouldn’t find out about something until after the fact. As a form of communication, when I actually asked for feedback, I would receive few to no answers. I decided it didn’t serve the purpose I wanted (email is still the better form of communication and people really didn’t care about what I posted) and in the end it became quite a time sink for reading endless blogs, often on things I wasn’t interested in either.

I started up Blogspot next and ran them concurrent. Blogspot, I saw as the more public and writerly blog. This was to inform, entertain and just write. LJ had always been the more personal stuff. When I talked to other writers, many use Blogspot/Blogger. Blogger allows some adjustment of some basic templates. LJ has the greatest number of templates, but I’ve seen a fair number of online magazines using Blogspot. Blogger also shows how many hits you’ve had. Searches do not bring up anything from LJ so if you’re looking for posts related to editors, authors or magazines, the only way you’ll find them is through word of mouth or a link on a site.

I wasn’t happy with the limited hits Blogspot received and as a writer wanted my name to be found more easily through internet search engines. I don’t have a website so I needed to somehow bring some traffic in. I had used WordPress when doing a contract blog writing job and thought it would serve that purpose. The templates are fairly basic, like Blogspot. But the traffic is naturally higher.

Blogspot has a limit on the number of tags you can enter for a post, whereas WordPress does not. With the addition of WordPress’s categories, it gives a greater range of ways that people can search topics. I am basically a writer and not that savvy on how all search engines and tags work. If I google my own name, the first two spots are for another Colleen Anderson, a musician and writer. The third spot is Mermaid Tales, which is my Blogspot blog. Fourth spot goes to the “linkedin” website of professionals by any name you search for. And fifth spot is WordPress.

I write five days a week on WordPress and post about once a week on Blogspot (or less), yet WordPress never overtakes the other in the rankings. However, I’ve run Blogger since April of 2007 and the number of hits now equals what I achieved on WordPress in just over three months. So WordPress gets more hits but when I search a topic, often Blogspot comes up first. Are there more WordPress viewers or are there more searches coming in? I’m not sure.

For this reason I’ll continue to blog on both Blogspot and WordPress. I think WordPress’s templates are more limiting but then I have checked out both recently to do a true comparison. WordPress still lets me think that people read my posts, whereas Blogspot might just be a few of my friends. Really what I should do is daily copy my posts from her to the Blogspot forum but I often can’t be bothered. When I do get a web page, I’ll incorporate my blog. LJ however, I’ve pretty much dropped altogether.

And since WordPress has just added the new feature of the poll button, here is one on the blogs.

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