What were you doing in 1999? Maybe you were following the Kosovo War. Maybe you were starting to use Napster. Maybe you were entering your senior year of high school (I was). Or maybe you started blogging. After all, on August 23, 1999, Pyra Labs launched its Blogger product, which would go on to become the biggest blogging platform in the world.

Yes, on Sunday, Blogger turns 10 years old. And to celebrate, the Blogger team (which is now a part of Google following a 2003 acquisition) is promising a bunch of gifts to users in the form of new features. Without naming anything specifically, Blogger points to this list as a good reference point for some of what they’ll be rolling out over the next few weeks. Of note on that list are a better commenting system and WordPress-style pages (About page, etc).

It’s worth noting that Blogger’s roots are deeply tied to the new hot web platform of choice: Twitter. Pyra Labs was co-founded by Evan Williams, who is now the CEO (and co-founder) of Twitter. Also a part of Pyra Labs were Jason Goldman who now runs product development for Twitter, and Jason Shellen who now runs Thing Labs, the makers of Brizzly, a much buzzed-about new Twitter client.

Biz Stone, another Twitter co-founder, joined the Blogger team at Google before leaving with Williams in 2004 to start Obvious Corp. which would eventually birth and turn into Twitter. (An interesting side note is that Williams’ Pyra co-founder Meg Hourihan, eventually married Jason Kottke, who is best known as being one of the web’s most popular bloggers.)

These days, while the web is abuzz over Twitter, no one really talks much about Blogger despite millions of people using it everyday. The fact is that as a platform, it has fallen behind the more nimble blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr in recent years. Still, in terms of straight up simplicity in setting up a blog, it’s easy to see why Blogger is still popular among users (and, unfortunately, spammers).

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Fatal Flaws of Blogging

August 14, 2009

Blogging has been a passion of mine now for almost two years. Learning the basics took time and developing my skills has been even longer, but I have learned how to overcome most bloggers 2 fatal flaconfusionws, wisdom and effort.

Wisdom

Most bloggers spend tons of time surfing, stumbling, twittering and clicking around each day, but learn very little. Sure they have seen the lists of tips, pictures of cats, FAIL blogs, and a million get rich quick schemes but very little of them actually learn something. This is where the “Blog Tips” industry comes into play.

Designed to teach bloggers about how to blog better, meta blogs offer targeted information for how to actually succeed online. So the the information is definitely available.

Effort is doing something that is difficult but worth it. For example, writing a post with over 2,000 words on 30 Ways to Make Money Blogging was hard. It took a lot of time and effort to come up with the descriptions, find the links and provide a resource worth reading.

A lot of the information is even read by blogging hopefuls. The problem likes in the application of the knowledge. It is not enough to read a post and go back to messing with your plug-ins. You have to apply the information directly to your blog.

The way to do that is by learning the “Act Now” principle. “Act Now” just means that whenever you learn something new, within reason, you act upon it. So today when you read another great post online, follow it through and try it out. With some experience under your belt the knowledge becomes real. Eventually over time this knowledge and experience of application become wisdom.

Effort

Other then wisdom, too many bloggers forget the effort that it takes to be successful. I know this is not something you want to hear, but you probably should anyways. Blogging takes serious work. Anything that is worth something does. There is no “instant” money maker, theory, or plug-in that can ever take the place of real effort.

Effort is more then just putting in time as well. Too many bloggers already put in a lot of time. Often I see posts about “Giving Up my Blog, No One Reads it Anyways”.

I always think that is so sad. With more time and effort in the things that are “wise”, we can produce better content and create a lasting impression on other bloggers and our visitors.

But it was completely worth it. Reading comments from visitors to my blog made me see that the time and most importantly the effort in doing the hard thing paid off. That is what effort is all about. Doing the hard thing that is best for your blog. That will be different for every blog, but almost always it will be some way to uniquely provide an incredible resource for your readers.

If you feel like you are doing one of these principles very well, then keep going with that one and work on the other principle. Finding success comes from the proper application of both of them.

You cannot show your wisdom in niche without the effort of providing the resources, and you cannot show your effort without the wisdom to put into your resources.

So to improve your blogging skills and forget the fatal flaws that might stop you from succeeding, remember to focus on the “Act Now” principle and giving 100% effort. When you combine the two you will begin to see enormous growth in yourself as a blogger, and success for your blog.

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Free Blogger Templates

August 5, 2009

I’m regularly asked by bloggers using different blog platforms where
they can get nice designs for their blogs, usually for free. I’m a
WordPress User and therefore know a few good spots for WP templates (here, here, here, here, here, here and here for starters) but one of the platforms I’m less familiar with that many blogs use is Blogger.com.

Gecko and Fly have a nice list of well designed Blogger Templatesthat I think I’ll be sending people to from now on. Most are designs imported in from WP designs that are quite unlike Blogger.com default designs.

Share your Free Blogger Templates below if you’ve got any good sources.

Free Blogger Templates were found via blogHelper

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Every 2nd blog about blogging today seems to be writing about a video showing how to get 2500 subscribers overnight using a Netvibes accounts and an OPML file with thousands of copies of your own feed in it.

I’ve had a lot of people email me to ask what I think about the technique. My response:

1. It’s not surprising to see that it’s Possible – I’ve seen a few bloggers play with this type of technique over the years.

2. It’s an empty Achievement – so your feedburner button is a few thousand more tomorrow than it is today – but ultimately all it means is that you hacked it – no one new is reading your blog.

3. Do something that Matters – Expend the energy doing something that draws in real new readers. Network with other bloggers, write some quality content, write a guest post for another blog, make your blog stickier…. do something that matters

4. Social Proof? – Yes, having more numbers in your feedburner counter might convince a few extra people to subscribe (social proof) but what happens next week when feedburner closes the loophole and suddenly your regular readers see that you’ve just lost a couple of thousand readers? Is there such a thing as reverse social proof?

5. Risk? – I’ve never really been into ‘evil’ tactics – partly because I just don’t get into them but partly because when you deliberately do something to abuse a service that is provided to you by a company – sometimes things come back to bite you. I’m not sure if Feedburner (owned by Google) would take action against people trying to inflate their numbers – but do you really want to find out?

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“About Me” Page

July 14, 2009

There are four main questions that readers want answered on your About Me page:

  1. who you are…
  2. your expertise and how it addresses…
  3. their problem or goal, and how they can…
  4. contact you

Here is a sample “About Me” page that answers these questions:

Hi, I’m Jane Smith and I write TransitionMomBlog (who Jane is) to help women make the transition from full-time mom to successful entrepreneur (the reader’s problem or goal). I started TransitionMomBlog in 2004 (Jane’s expertise – shows she has been blogging for two years) to help other women deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new business while still running a household (how Jane helps them overcome their problem or achieve their goal). Prior to raising my family, I spent over ten years as a teacher, corporate trainer and workshop leader (Jane’s expertise, both as a mom and a business person). To contact me, please email XXX (how to contact Jane).

Key Features for Your About Page

So what should an About Page include?

This is really a matter of personal preference and something I’d like to hear your opinions on but here are a few things I include on some of my blog’s about pages:

  • Photo: I like to see some sort of picture of the person I’m reading. It definitely adds something for me.
  • Blog objectives: Succinctly sum up the point of your blog. What is it about? What will readers gain from it?
  • Introduce Yourself: You probably want to keep your introduction down to a short one – but particularly talk about your experience with the topic you’re writing about. Why should they listen to you? What is your context and background?
  • Introduce Blogging: Depending on your topic you might want to introduce the idea of a blog (or at least link to an article/post about it. Many first time blog readers don’t understand things like categories, comments, RSS etc. Also point them at some good starting points in your blog – key articles etc.
  • Contact Details: I’m planning a longer post on this later – but consider giving your readers a way of getting in touch with you. Again its about transparency and interactivity.

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Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Give your Blog a Kick Start with this 31 Day Challenge.

The concept was simple: bloggers set aside 31 days to be intentional about improving their blogs.

Each day for 31 days readers were presented with a daily task.

It is a great resource for those wanting to market products or services on the Web. This book shows you how to reach customers through podcasting, blogs, social networks, video, email, and contextual advertising and much more.

Get the Book By Itself For $19.95

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MediaFire

April 24, 2009

Share files and images with all of your friends and upload them only
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forums. Upload an unlimited number of files to share with friends and
family or storage. Use folders to easily share groups of files or
create galleries for all your images. No registration necessary and no
software to install. Keep frequently used files online for easy access
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One site for all your file and image hosting needs
Share your files and images through just one site without ever having to worry about disk space, hosting, or bandwidth again.

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Simple to upload. Simple to manage. Simple to share.
MediaFire was specifically designed to be extremely simple to upload files and instantly manage and share them from any computer..

Advanced features for business and professionals
With MediaPro you get direct/hot linking to files, the ability to upload and share files up to 10GB, redundant backups, no ads, advanced statistics and more. Go MediaPro

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