Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blogging 101

I titled this post Blogging 101, although I'm not sure it even qualifies as a level 101 class. The truth is, ever since I came out of the "blogging closet" (that's another story... thanks, Joanne!) a lot of my friends have started blogs, which thrills me to no end! As as result, I've gotten lots of questions, and thought maybe I could cover some of them here. I'm by no means a blogging expert and just kind of fly by the seat of my elastic-banded maternity pants as I blog. But, here are a few blogging things I can pass on.

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 ) - and so it's impossible to reply.

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 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!


  1. GREAT post, Angie! I'm going to link to it on my blog if you don't mind.

  2. Since you are my blogging guru, I will be a dutiful student and go sign up for all three of your suggestions. Love it!:)

  3. Time OUT!! I'm not even finished reading this post (take a guess at where I stopped!) because I'm feeling VERY ganged up on here, Ang. I recognize that you're trying to help me, but I thought I was doing pretty good lately! Hey, one of my recent posts (ignore the cheating) was even all...about... YOU!! C'MON!! I'm a work in progress, aight? Didja really need to call me out?

    (Alright, alright, thanks for the tip.)

  4. Great post! The Google Reader bit is a gem worth its weight in... other gems.

  5. Thanks for the tips Angie. I am going to have to check out the Google Reader. Blogger now has a thing where you can add a "Blog List" where it will show you the Blog Name - the title of the last post - and how long ago it was posted. As you can imagine, it takes up A LOT of room.

  6. Angie, that is so helpful. I didn't know about that. What are the numbers beside the url address?

  7. so that's what google reader is! i always wondered why anyone would read their blogs through google. i can see the point now...i also go through a very long bookmark list, at least once a day. usually to find that many of my favorite bloggers haven't blogged that day. again.

    here's a question for you. do my comments have an email reply option?

  8. Great tips!
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. HA! This Google Reader thing is exactly the answer I needed. I had no idea how you were supposed to navigate in this blogland. In fact, when you linked to that other blog with "concise tips", I ended up spending hours reading his blog. I now know all about Nate and Tricia. And his sister-in-law. And mother, and 3rd aunt's daughter's boyfriend... I'll figure it out sooner or later, but this was way helpful. Thanks!

  10. Lots of good information here! I love reading how I can do this blogging thing better! Your blog is lovely!

    thank you for the information!
    God Bless!

  11. Hi- I enjoy your humor and blog very much! So I tried google reader and did well until it wouldn't let me put in some of the blogs I read. What am I doing wrong? I typed many in and they were added easily and then it said it couldn't find some of the blogs I typed in. I am so new at all this- any help is appreciated!

  12. OK, I'm going to just say thank you & leave it at that because I'm on my way to Google Reader... I've been waiting a loooong time for this post! (jk)

    :) amber

  13. Great post, Ang! Addiitonally, people who are using Internet Explorer 7 (and for those that don't have it, it's a free download on can use the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed. It's an orange box icon with white arcs. Anyway, you don't even have to get on a website with that--whenever your favorite blogs are updated, they come directly to your outlook inbox. Like a happy little gift.

    Google reader is good too... I just choose not to use it (yes, because of where I work, lol).

    Much love to you!

  14. Thankfully Cam read your blog and she told the readers of her blog... and so on and so on ...

  15. Angie, I have been on Google Reader for a couple of days now (thanks to your post) and it is wonderful! My only question is what am I going to do with my no-longer-needed obsession of checking everyone's site? I know, I know, spend more time on Facebook:).

  16. All I can say is...
    I have a blog that someone we all know and love (Angie)created for me...I can't even access it and even if I could I have no idea what any of you just said to eachother.
    'Guess I'll go back to school for this because for now my "BLAH-G" is just that.
    You all amaze me.

  17. (ITRIED TO EMAIL THIS BUT IT WAS RETURNED BY MAILER-DEMON. PLEASE DELETE IT IF IT OFFENSIVE IN ANY WAY) name is Amanda and I stumbled upon your blog today and am enjoying it!

    I did see that you have a Biblical verse from the Message...and I just wanted to make you aware that some (me) believe that The Message is linked to New Age doctrine.
    (there are many more sites that will give more info about how the Message is linked to New Age thinking... this is just one)
    I am in the midst of seeing New Age beliefs tear up my family and regrettably... maybe even take my parents away from eternity with I am highly sensitive to the issue.

    I am sure you are fully aware of this is you are a Pastors wife and I am sure he has to know this stuff for work... but just in was my 2 cents.

    I shall continue to enjoy your blog... if thats ok with you!

    Many blessings-

  18. Aaaaaah! Do you hear that? It is the angels singing! Thank you for these treasures broken down into Deann-speak (hear:uber-simple) Love ya! And can I steal your daughters for a playdate? My girls are missing them something awful!

  19. Angie...I just linked to this post (again) and am hoping my non-reply commenters will take heed.

    I also cut/pasted one of your paragraphs directly into my post. I hope you don't mind...I gave you due credit, friend!



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