This is the 28th post in our “How I Blog” series. To read the rest, visit the archives. Interested in participating? Drop us a note about ‘How I Blog’ along with a photo or yourself or your blogging space at tips [at] blogmedia [dot] biz.
Duncan Riley, Vice President, Operations, b5media, professional blogger
Unlike many of the other excellent contributions to this series at The Blog Herald, I won’t rehash my history in terms of why I blog, indeed you’ll find that in the archives here at The Blog Herald itself, but I thought I’d take a look at the structural layout of how I blog, because although I’m enjoying blogging a lot more these days (not writing The Blog Herald helps :-) ) the lessons I learnt from my 3 years with The Blog Herald still apply.
Any good blogger should have a Bloglines account. I know there are other RSS services out there today but hands down for me Bloglines remains the cream of the crop. Why? well for starters it knows what you’ve read and what you haven’t, and no matter what the topic you are blogging on, the last thing you want to do is try and remember what you’ve already read on a particular day, plus naturally you can access it from anywhere. I don’t have to be in front of my own computer to access Bloglines.
I’ve got my Bloglines subs sorted into groupings, from blogging, general, personal (ie people’s personal blogs) through to other niche topics I’m interested in. This allows me to focus on my reading for a particular blog at a particular time. Although I’ve purged my feeds a fair bit from my Blog Herald days, I’ve still got the same groupings, and I still read the blogging stuff first…old habits die hard. Within any particular topic area I’d also recommend the inclusion of feeds from the major sites as well based on the topic area, for example in terms of blogging I’ve still got Google News, Yahoo News, MSN News and Topix in Bloglines, and I’ve got them in other topic areas as well, if you are looking for stories or ideas these should always be your base feeds.
How I read them however might be a little bit different to other people, and this is one of the reasons I fell in love with Firefox. If you click on a story in Bloglines using the scroll wheel, it opens up the story/ post in a tab in the background. Now I’m not sure what the situation is with IE7, but certainly for a similar function in IE6 you’d be opening new windows…which always end up loading on top of what you are reading. Basically anything that catches my interest, things I might want to post about, or comment on, or read in more details, are opened this way in Firefox. Sometimes it can mean 20 tabs open, but when I’ve finished reading the overnight stories in that particular topic area I switch across to the open tabs. It’s also why I’ve never fully understood the whole full feeds vs part feeds debate in terms of those who advocate for full feeds. If something catches my eye I’m going to open it in a new tab, not only am I therefore going to read this story/ post on the page the way the author intended it to appear, I’m also delivering traffic and Alexa love to that site (now I’ve finally found an Alexa plugin for Firefox).
By far the biggest godsend to my daily blogging has been Blogdesk. I’ve never been a fan of third party blogging software in the past, and although many people swear by products such as Qumana, ecto and Performancing for Firefox, despite trying out a range of these tools, I always stuck with posting from within WordPress…maybe it was just a familiarity thing?. Blogdesk provided everything the other platforms did and more, and that more is image editing. As any blogger will tell you inserting images into any blogging platform is a pain, and this is where Blogdesk comes to the fore: built in image editing and uploading…and making sure the image you are using is being delivered from your blog and not from the source site. It’s allowed me to be far more creative in terms of the images I use in my blogging without the hassle of editing, saving and uploading. I’ve only just today downloaded the new version of Blogdesk and Johannes has addressed a few of the deficiencies in earlier version: you can now edit existing posts from within Blogdesk, as well as do things such as insert html into a post. The new version also supports MT blogs for the first time as well. I can’t recommend the program enough, it’s changed the way I blog, I can now blog quickly and easily without having to login, upload, or stuff around with things.
What I write
As I’ve said in the past, my role with b5media means to some extent I’ve got to be more careful about what I write, where as when I was blogging by myself anything and everything was fair game. With duncanriley.com though I’ve found a new freedom in terms of what I blog, one day I might post about Web 2.0 startups, the next day I might post about my sons tonsillitis. The advice I’d share to anyone blogging is be yourself. Sure, there are always legal considerations in what you post, but don’t be afraid to share your opinions on what ever it is you are blogging about…because at the end of the day although everyone might not agree with you, if you are honest people will respect you none the less, and that was a lesson I did learn from my Blog Herald days. As a blogger you should be able to sleep well at night, so write only about things you believe…whilst it might be easy to get traffic by being controversial, you should never write anything that you don’t personally believe, because at the end of the day people will see through you.
Duncan Riley lives in Australia where he is the Vice President, Operations for b5media. Duncan was the founding editor of The Blog Herald. He is still grieving over the loss by Australia in the World Cup.