Blogging Mistakes: Friends, Non-Friends, and Two Lists of Ten

Two internet buddies of mine are having a spirited debate about blogging and images and basically everything from the meaning of life all the way down to the color of the sky. I’ve already had my kumbaya moment for the day, so let’s jump right in and stir thing up a little.

Randy Morin (one of the fun brokers) and TDavid are the buddies in question. I’ve read both their blogs for a long time, and they’re both smart guys. Here’s the genesis of the debate. Now for my thoughts on the matters at hand.

First, my take on Randy’s Top 10 Mistakes Made by My Blogging Friends, and then more on TDavid’s response.

1. Loss of Links – This is precisely why I am trapped in Blogger and can’t move to WordPress. It’s also why new bloggers should strongly consider which blogging platform they really like, as opposed to jumping on the first free thing that crosses their path. It’s not that Blogger is so bad- it’s just so hard to leave.

2. Forfeiting Your RSS Feed – I have used Feedburner from day one. You can, however, sort of have it both ways by having a hosted link that forwards to Feedburner. I don’t care that much, so I just used Feedburner from the get go.

3. Broken RSS Feeds – I noticed hundreds of those when I did my Scoblefeeds review. Some of those people probably didn’t care that the feeds to their abandoned blogs were broken, but I bet a lot of them did. Subscribe to your own blog in various applications and monitor it to make sure everything is working as expected. Broken feeds are blog-killers.

4. Making it Difficult to Subscribe – Good advice. RSS auto-discovery is a must. Your feed subscription information should be way above the fold and obvious. I have few email subscribers, but I still keep the option in place because it’s free and none of my real world friends know a news reader from a flashlight.

5. Blocking Your Readers – I can tell you from years of operating message boards that bandwidth theft concerns are all over the internet as it relates to hot linking to images. I get emails all the time from web sites whose images have been added to a popular thread on a message board. I won’t hot link to images except where expressly permitted (like Flickr), even if the opportunity is there, because I don’t want some pissed off web master to change the picture of a kitten to some hardcore porn or whatnot. This happens all the time, believe me. Allyoucanupload.com is an easy and free place to host images, so I just use it for images. The uploader gives you all sorts of linking code automatically upon upload.

6. Sucking Up to A-listers – I see both sides of this argument. My buddy Dwight thinks I suck up to them all the time. I don’t think that I do, but I also knew when I began this blog that they weren’t going to come knocking on my door and that if I wanted to join the conversation, the initiative was going to have to originate here. In sum, it’s a balancing act. I don’t think it’s that hard to get links from most of those guys. For example, Steve Newson posted the other day after being inactive for a month or so, and right away he got a link from Scoble (as well as me and others) and was on Techmeme.

Basically, most of those guys are regular guys who will eventually respond to you if you come across their radar. Just like the hosts of a party, however small that party may be, they have a lot of people trying to talk to them and so you have to be patient. Others (Jeff Jarvis, Seth Godin [OK, so I was wrong about Seth] and Mike Arrington come to mind) are not going to engage you no matter what- just identify them and treat them like the old media they criticize while emulating.

A more productive approach might be to find some similarly interested B or C listers and get to know them via comments, links and trackbacks. You’ll get a better bang for your linking buck. Plus by the time those guys become A-Listers, you’ll be an old buddy.

7. Not Reading Your Readers – I agree with this point the most of all. Anyone who is a regular reader and commenter on my blog will find their way onto my blogroll. Absolutely, all the time. And if someone can get and stay on my blogroll, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll say something I find link-worthy. I can tell you that I had worked my way onto the blogrolls of a lot of so-called A-Listers long before I started getting links from them. Your best customers are always your existing customers.

8. Accepting Trolls – I make a distinction between someone who thinks I’m an idiot, but adds value by engaging others in conversation and someone who is there solely as a disrupter. I’m OK with the former, but years of experience have taught me that you can’t tame the latter. So you need to get rid of them and, above all, avoid engaging them.

9. Putting Yourself on a Pedestal – Amen. I suspect, but can’t prove, that the ones most prone to do this are the ones who have not had the recognition they seek in the real world.

10. Partial Feeds – Partial feeds are a way to try to make money off of me, as a reader. You better be a damn good writer if you expect me to click over to your site to read what I ought to be reading right here in my news reader. Even worse is the Obscure approach- headlines only with a forced ad-stop between the click and the story.

And now about TDavid’s rebuttal:

1. I guess if I had ads (which I don’t because nobody clicks on ads, as I will be proving in an upcoming post) and I also put ads on the page where my images were located, maybe I’d be more likely to want to keep people within the boundaries of Newsome.Org, but I don’t. I can’t say there isn’t logic here for others and, sure, I wish every Flickr page and the Amazon store had big, obvious links back to my site, but based on my AdSense experience, I don’t think I’m leaving much money on the table by having my images served from afar.

[I’m skipping 2, 3, 7 and 9.]

4. I understand TDavid’s point about control, but as I discussed above, I’m comfortable with Feedburner, if for no other reason than its turnkey approach to RSS and email subscriptions. I do agree that those click-through URLs are a pain in the ass.

5&6. TDavid and Randy aren’t that far apart about trolls. I suspect both would agree with my approach described above.

8. I believe that good content over time will get you all sorts of links, A-List and others. But there’s more too it than that. Selling links is like selling any other product and a good salesman can sell an inferior product easier than a bad salesman can sell a superior product. If you really want to sell links, you have to develop relationships with these people, if not the easy way via conferences and blog-star parties, then the hard way via comments and trackbacks.

10. One of the things I like the most about Live Writer is its spell checker. I have a 100% failure rate at typing than as that- which sadly isn’t picked up by spell checkers. I don’t think spelling is a huge deal in blog posts, but like anything else it’s a matter of degree. I don’t think anyone could argue any differently that than 🙂

So there you have it…