Google Reader... Before I started my own blog, I read a bunch of blogs. If you've spent any amount of time surfing blogs, you know that one click leads to another, and before long, you've spent 3 hours on the computer and bookmarked 52 blogs that you intend to faithfully follow. I used to go up to my bookmarks, down to my "Blogs" folder and click on every one of my favorite blogs looking for updates. I'd often do this several times a day (by several, I mean 12). You can imagine, or maybe you know first hand, how much time I wasted by doing this. And then... I discovered Google Reader. I'd like to thank my non-blogging friend Nancye for showing me the light. (Nancye likes to read blogs, but has yet to get her own. C'mon, girl.)
Here's what it is: instead of clicking through all of the blogs you like, checking for updates, you go to ONE place, which will show you which blogs have been updated. It's so easy. You can read them as they're updated (or wait for them to pile up - I'm so guilty of this!), and you won't spend your time checking back over and over again.
How to get it: If you don't have a Google account, get one. It's free, and it's easy. If you have gmail or a blog through blogger or blogspot, you have a Google account already. If you don't, just go to Google. Up at the top left, it will list "Web... Images... Maps...", go over and click "more." Under "more", click "Reader." If you have a Google account already, log in. If you don't, click the "Create an account" button. Follow the instructions, and voila! You'll have a google account. (And now you can blog your little heart out, too!) Once you're in Google Reader, all you have to do is click "Add a subscription" over on the left, plug in the name of the blog you want to "subscribe" to, and it will be added automatically. It's that easy! Please leave a comment or email me if you have questions. This has saved me so much time and I just love my Google Reader. There are other types of subscription services out there, like Bloglines, but I'm telling you about Reader because it's what I know. I suppose you could play around and see if there's one you like more.
One neat thing you can do with Reader is "star" certain posts that you want to come back to later. I've often done this when I wanted to reread a great post, or comment on one at a later time, or just run across some I want to remember. The one thing I wish I could do is comment on blogs without clicking out of Reader. So if you want to comment, you click the link that leads to the blog and comment as usual. It's really a very minor hassle, and one hardly worth complaining about for the convenience Reader gives.
Speaking of commenting... it goes without saying that bloggers LOVE comments. Can I get an amen?! Comments are like a little pat on the head, but can get you through for days. But, did you know if you don't have an email address associated with your blog that bloggers on whose blogs you comment can't respond to you through email? Sometimes I'll get a comment or question that I wish I could respond to privately (and not in the context of a follow-up comment on my own blog) but can't because the commenter does not have an email address linked to their profile. Here's what I mean: when you leave a comment on a blog, an email is sent to the blogger. If you don't have an email linked to your name, it comes through like this - your name ( noreply - comment @ blogger . com )
So! Here's how to fix this, if you choose. Go into your Blogger profile, and enter your email address. It's not required, so it's likely that you left it blank. As long as you check the appropriate box, it will NOT show up on your blog or be accessible to anyone. All that it will allow is that people can respond to comments. If you're sensitive to your privacy, which is very understandable, you could just create a free email account for this purpose. Or, you could do nothing and ignore this little piece of blogging info! (I'm okay with that. I won't be offended if you don't all rush to your profile and enter your email address.)
Memes... If you're new to blogging (Abby), you probably panic and don't know what to blog about half the time (Abby). But, there's a whole world of memes out there to get you started. A meme (I say it so it rhymes with "seem") is usually just a list of ideas or answers compiled into a blog post. For example, some recent memes that have circulated include writing your life slogan in 6 words, listing 10 things you were doing 10 years ago, listing some of your earliest memories... you get the point. I don't do memes very often, but whenever I have started one, it usually evolves into a separate blog post because of something it triggered in my mind. I think it's a great way to brainstorm things to write about if you're at a loss. Just google "blog memes" and you'll get a slew of websites to give you ideas. Your blog should never be stagnant again (Abby).
Sitemeter... If you own a blog, there's a fun little gadget you can add that will track your visitors. Like Google Reader, there are several types of meters out there, but I use Sitemeter. Some people like Statcounter. For the casual blogger like me, there's really no point to it, except that it serves as one more distraction (you know, in case Facebook and Word Twist aren't enough). I suppose if you're a serious blogger, and in it for the money (don't even ask me how that works!), you can really use it to target your audience. For me, I think it's just fun to see how people get to my blog, how long they stay, where they're from, etc. The statistics can show which blogs or websites they clicked from to get to your blog, which is my favorite part. This is under the "referrals" tab, in case you go to sitemeter.com to get your own (free!) account. The most interesting part is when someone finds your blog via a search engine. The top search that leads to my blog remains something along the lines of "boots for skinny legs" or "dresses for thin calves" thanks to this post. I'm glad my blog is impacting so many people in such a deep and powerful way. Anyway, if you want a meter on your blog, go to Sitemeter and follow the instructions. It's simple, but again, I'm happy to help if you need it. And by the way, I can't tell exactly who you are, so don't let it scare you. It's much more general than that.
Blogging Etiquette... oh boy. This is a topic for a whole blog of its own. I'm not going to cover any of that here just because there are a million blogs already talking about it. I don't know what's "proper" in the world of blogging. I just blog. I do it for fun. I don't stress about who leaves comments and who doesn't and why. If you have specific questions, I say google them and see what you can find out. Maybe someday I'll talk about it, but for now, I'm just taking this blogging thing with a grain of salt and having fun with it!
Finally, you can find hundreds or thousands of other blogging tips all over the web. This was just a (not-so-brief) summary of a few things that I've found to be helpful. I ran across this post the other day which gives some concise (concise! what does THAT mean?!) tips about blogging, and I thought it was excellent. Maybe you'll like it too.
Like I said before, I'm far from a blogging expert. But I love blogging. I love reading them, and I love writing my own. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them or point you in the right direction. Happy blogging!