Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why Women Blog: Beth Kanter

Beth Kanter is a truly amazing blogger. One of the most prolific and efficient I know. She writes for Beth's blog, BlogHer, NetSquared, and Cambodia4Kids. If you want to know anything about nonprofit technology, ask Beth.

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started in 2001 because at the time I was doing a lot of teaching and curriculum development on nonprofits and technology, web site building, and web literacy skills -- so needed to be keeping up on resources and pull together curriculum materials. I found blogging a great way to do that. My main motivation for blogging is professional development - it helps me keep up on what is happening my field, gives me ideas for instruction/teaching, and forces me to write regularly.

2. What blogging tool(s) do you use and why? What are the pros and cons of the tool(s)?

My first blog in 2001 was created using Blogger. It was free and fairly simple to set up. It lacked categories which was a really important feature for me. I complained about this to colleagues. One of them, Jon Stahl, from OneNorthwest, set me up with a Moveabletype blog in 2002. Then Moveabletype came out as an asp - which is known as TypePad. I like TypePad because it is easy to use, you don't need to know anything about server installation, and it has lots and lots of feature. I've used it since 2003.

The best resource on pros/cons of software is here:

3. How has your life changed since you started blogging?

I'm late for school pick up and the laundry doesn't get done :-) Seriously, I've gotten work and notice from blogging. I've had to invest a lot of time with it ... But it is paying off. I always looked to blogging as professional development, not promotional or marketing tool. That followed.

4. What advice do you have for new women bloggers?

Don't be afraid to experiment, make mistakes and learn. Try to commit to a regular writing schedule. Write what you know about and love or write what
you want to learn about.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why Women Blog (at every age): Julie70

I "met" Julie70 when I wrote to tell her that I was using her photo on Flickr, Providence--she was using her Mac, to illustrate a post on this blog. After reading her profile, I realized that not only did she have a very active Flickr account, and Daily Motion video account, but she wrote for six blogs (Il y a de la vie apr├Ęs 70 ans, Paris balade, Retro blog: 1944 vers 2004, Journal de Sidonie, Julie, Journal de Jeunesse, Argenteuil ma nouvelle ville, and was over 70! I asked her to tell me a little bit about her experience blogging.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging through Picasa and Circuit from NYTimes that explained it, with Blogger.

What blogging tool(s) do you use and why? What are its pros and cons?

Blogger is free and I can do many blogs. TypePad permits reverse order, but costs money, or does not give me freedom to change anything. Blogger, the new one (now in beta) will also have categories and a completely object construction. I am waiting to be able to transform all my blogs to it (personal, about rumania, photoblog, about my town, journal).

How has your life changed since you started blogging?

It did change my life a lot, I was retired and alone. I feel a lot less alone and already even met personally some of the bloggers. I did start two years ago, but was before retiring in microcomputer's business for long time, almost the beginning, the Apple II time.

What advice do you have for new women bloggers?

Blogging for women is not different as with men, perhaps they tell more about personal problems, but I did learn a lot about men also, reading their blogs and I have as many women as men between the blogs I read every day.

My advice for every new blogger is to go out and leave comments. Then others will slowly come too, and to write regularly, every day, at least a bit, so people returning with time come regularly to them.

Photo Credit: After: To Fix a Moment of Pure Happiness by Julie70.

Why Women Blog: Katya Andresen's Non-Profit Marketing Blog

Solutionary Woman, Katya Andresen, the Vice President of Marketing for Network for Good and author of Robin Hood Marketing, started Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog last month. In this brief e-interview, Katya talks about why she started blogging, what tools she uses, how her life has changed since she started blogging, and her advice to new bloggers.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging for three reasons: I had something to say, I had someone I wanted to say it to, and I wanted the enforced writing discipline that comes with committing to a blog. To the first two points, I vainly feel I have quite a bit to say to people – especially do-gooders -- who want to compel people to action through marketing. To the third, more personal point, since I finished my book, I fell out of the habit of writing daily. I don’t like that my writing muscles were in danger of atrophying. A blog forces me to write often. In the process, I find myself regaining my voice and creativity as a writer.

What blogging tool(s) do you use and why? What are its pros and cons?

I use Expression Engine, hosted by pMachinet. This was the recommendation of my blog designer. It has many, many features, is search-engine friendly, extremely flexible and easy to manage. I’m a technical newbie yet I can easily manage it. I’m not sure what the down sides are yet – I haven’t had any problems.

How has your life changed since you started blogging?

It’s not as if people are yet flocking to my new blog or posting much in the way of comments, as much as we bloggers dream of such things. So I can’t say I’ve changed my field by creating an active community around innovative nonprofit marketing. But it has changed me. For starters, before I started the blog, I spent a long time asking myself if the world truly needed another blog. I wanted to decide what was different about my writing and thinking. This was a very good exercise in focusing myself on important things that played to my strengths, both in terms of my writing and in my day job. Second, by having to sit down and produce a creative thought every day or two, the blog has made me more original and more disciplined. I both love and hate that pressure.

What advice do you have for new women bloggers?

My advice is the exact same advice I’d give a writer of any kind. Write what you know. Write what gets you excited every time you think of it. Don’t try to be what you aren’t. Find your voice. Dare to be personal and fully human. The more true to myself I am in my writing, the better reception my writing receives. That always amazes me. People want to know you, so let them see your unique self.

Why Women Blog: Green LA Girl

Can do * good bloggers change the world? I hope so. I asked one of my fav do * good women bloggers, Siel, or Greeen LA Girl, why she started blogging. Siel writes about all things green in LA and in particular about The Starbucks Challenge and Fair Trade coffee and chocolate.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because I knew that California and Los Angeles were both doing a lot to encourage environmentally friendly practices -- but often, these efforts were unknown to the public. My very first post was about recycling a DVD player -- something I had to do HOURS of research for, to figure out where I could take the broken DVD player, at what time, etc. Once I did the research, I knew I couldn't let that info disappear without letting others know about it. Thus, the blog.

How has your life changed since you started blogging?

I've met many amazing environmentalists in the Los Angeles area via blogging. I've also found a way to channel my environmental and social consciousness through a medium that feels productive :) Also, I get a lot of free coffee.

What blogging tool do you use and why? What are its pros and cons?

I use Wordpress, mainly because it's open source. Yay open source! I really don't see any downsides to Wordpress.

What advice do you have for new women bloggers?

I would encourage them to 1) consider what readers might find useful and interesting, versus what the writer herself might find interesting (i.e. details of her own life, which often tends not to be interesting to people other than herself), and 2) blog regularly, worrying more about the quality of the content than the quantity of readers.

Photo courtesy of Green LA Girl.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How to Decide What Kind of Blog to Write

I think that the best blogs have a specific topic. Think of your blog like a magazine. Magazines have a lot of articles about a lot of things, but there is usually one theme throughout. Your blog should have some kind of theme, even if that theme is that you are writing about your everyday life. What aspect(s) of your everyday life do you particularly want to write about: work, family, relationships, shopping, religion, food? It helps to have a focus.

The best way to decide what kind of blog is a fit for you is to read other blogs. BlogHer, where I am a Contributing Editor, is a great place to check out different types of blogs written by women.

They have 20+categories with 2 or more Contributing Editors writing in each category:
You can also check out their Blogrolls where women bloggers can list their blog. Once you've been writing on your blog for over a month, be sure to submit it to BlogHer.

How to Read Blogs

Dutch Blogger Joitske Hulsebosch, published a post on her blog, Communities of Practice for Development, yesterday that I thought I'd pass on about How to Read Blogs. It is a nice complement to my post, How to Choose a Feed Reader.

Joitske provides tips for tools for two kinds of blog readers:
* if you read blogs now and then.
* if you read blogs systematically and want to track any new post.

Even though I think feed readers are the easiest way to read blogs, you may find another way that is a better fit for you with some of the tools Joitske suggests.

Photo credit: Providence--She Was Using Her Mac by Julie 70.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How Artists Can Use Blogs

I have a client who is interested in how artists can use blogs. I've been doing a little research about it and thought I'd share some of the examples I've found:

* BlogHer has a whole list of women writing about art and design.
* Illustrator, Keri Smith has a great blog about the creative process called The Wish Jar.
* Collage artist, Claudine Hellmuth has a blog.
* Designer, Katey Nicosia, has a blog, One Good Bumblebee.
* The fun blog, Little People: A Tiny Street Art Project, is an art project unto itself.
* Another cool blog, On My Desk: Creative folk share the stuff on their desks, is just what it says, posts by artists with photos and descriptions of what they have on their desk and in their office.
* David Byrne, co-founder of the Talking Heads, who is also a visual artist, has incorporated a blog/journal into his web site.

Looking through these sites, I would say that some ways for artists to use blogs are:

* To discuss the creative process.
* To share their daily life with their fans.
* To create an online art piece
* To advertise events where they will be appearing
* To market and sell new work.
* To create an online community

Photo Credit: Artist's Pencils by Anne Norman.

12 Ways to Get More Blog Readers

This is the question everyone is asking, especially the folks who are putting ads on their blogs. Copyblogger has written a post, How to Attract Links and Increase Web Traffic, that lists 50+ posts about blog marketing. Blogger also has an article in its help section, Promoting Your Blog, that has more information as well. Obviously there is a lot to say about this topic, but here is a quick list culled from some of the posts to get you started:

1. Link to other blogs in your posts and in your blogroll.
2. Comment on other blogs and respond to your readers' comments.
3. Ping blog search engines when you write a new post.
4. Tag your posts so that they are easy to find.
5. Write engaging first sentences, and snappy titles with keywords.
6. Include photos, or some kind of illustration with each post.
7. Post about current events, or better yet, break news.
8. Interview people related to your blog's topic.
9. Post lists, like this one! It helps if it has a number. One of my most popular posts is 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs.
10. Post regularly. Whatever regularly means to you. It doesn't have to be everyday, but it shouldn't be once a month.
11. List your blog's URL in your email signature.
12. Write about what you care about. If you are excited about your topic your readers will probably get excited about it too.

Photo credit: Mild Winter Afternoon Reader by JimmyOK.

How to Get More Comments on Your Blog

Problogger has a great post about Ten Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog. Here is his list:

1. Invite Comments
2. Ask Questions
3. Be Open Ended
4. Interact with comments left
5. Set Boundaries
6. Be humble
7. Be gracious
8. Be controversial?
9. 'Reward' Comments
10. Make it Easy to Comment
Problogger always has lots of good tips for improving your blog. I highly recommend adding him to your feed reader.

How to Use a Blog Pinging Service

When I started writing for blogs and doing more work with computers, one of the words I started to hear a lot was, "ping," as in "Ping me when you write the post." After a while I figured out that it meant, let me know when the post is up.

Ping services do just that. They let search engines know that your blog has been updated. There are a lot of ping services out there. In the Publishing Settings of your Blogger blog, you can indicate that you want the service, Weblogs.com to be notified automatically when you post a new post. The blog search engine, Technorati allows you to "claim" your blog so that Technorati is automatically pinged when you write a new post. You can claim your blog by either giving Technorati your username and password, writing a post that includes some HTML code that Technorati gives to you, or by pasting the Technorati HTML code in your blog template. Technorati provides pretty clear instructions for how to do this, but always remember to PREVIEW changes you make to your template before you save them.

Other ping services like Pingoat and Ping-o-matic will ping multiple blog search engines for you. All you have to do is enter the name of your blog and its URL and hit enter.

It is a good idea to bookmark the ping services you are using and make it a habit to submit a ping to them everytime you write a new post so that blog search engine users will find you.

How to Start Your Blog Post

Copyblogger wrote a great post about 5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang that is totally worth checking out. Here is his list:

1. Ask a Question
2. Share an Anecdote or Quote
3. Invoke the Mind's Eye
4. Use an Analogy, Metaphor or Simile
5. Cite a Shocking Statistic

How to Choose a Blogging Tool

Obviously, I'm a fan of Blogger, just 'cause it is what I started with and it is free and easy to use. They are also making improvements and have released something called Blogger Beta, but I'm going to wait to switch over to it till they work the kinks out, but once they do Blogger will be even better!

There are a lot of great blogging tools out there and Tech Soup has published a great article, Seven Blogging Tools Reviewed where they review Blogger, LiveJournal, Typepad, Movable Type, WordPress, ExpressionEngine, and TextPattern. Reading the article will help you choose what is the best blogging tool for you.

How to Choose a Feed Reader

Although people can subscribe to blogs via email using programs like Feedblitz, many people read blogs and other news with something called a feed reader.

Frank Gruber published a review of nine feed readers:

* Attensa Online
* Bloglines
* FeedLounge
* Google Reader
* Gritwire
* News Alloy
* NewsGator Online
* Pluck Web Edition
* Rojo

in his March 30, 2006 Tech Crunch post, The State of Online Feed Readers that you might want to read to help you choose.

I'm a Bloglines fan myself. To use Bloglines, just set up an account and when you see a blog that you want to add to your Bloglines account, go to your Bloglines account and click on the tab that says, My Feeds. Click on the word Add. You will be prompted to enter the URL of the blog that you want to subscribe to. Click on subscribe. You may be asked to pick which feed for the blog you want to subscribe to. I always pick the one with the most subscribers.

Even easier, if you go to My Feeds and click on Add, you will see a link to add an "Easy Subscribe Button" above the box where you enter the blog's URL. Click on it. You will see directions to install a link to Bloglines on the toolbar of whatever web browser you use (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). Once that button is installed on your toolbar, if you are reading a blog that you want to add to your Bloglines account, all you have to do is click on the link in your toolbar and it will automatically subscribe you.

How to Allow Your Readers to Subscribe by Email

Not everyone uses a feed reader like Bloglines to read blogs. I like putting Feedblitz on my blogs because it allows people to subscribe by email. (See the box in the right hand corner of this blog that says "Enter your email to subscribe"?) The version of Feedblitz's services that I use are free. All you have to do is set up an account and it will give you a piece of HTML code (don't get scared) to put in your blog's template. Copy the code and click on the "Template" tab in your Blogger account. You will see a page with lots of words and symbols on it. Scroll down until you see where it says:

End # main

Begin sidebar

Paste you Feedblitz code below this.

Now click on Preview to make sure everything looks OK. If it doesn't look right, hit "clear edits" and start again. If it looks normal hit, "Save template changes." As long as you always preview and clear edits if things look funky, you can't really hurt your blog.

P.S. You don't have to put your Feedblitz box there, I just like it there because it easy to see.


Monday, October 16, 2006

How to Add a Web Counter to Your Blog

Once you start posting, you're going to wonder if anyone is reading your blog. That's what web counters are for. There are lots of them out there. Here are a few:


You'll set up an account for whichever one you decide to use, or you can use all of them. They each give you your reader stats in a little different way. Once you've signed up, the service will give you a piece of code which you'll copy and paste into your Template.

Click on the Template tab in your Blogger account. Scroll down the page until you see the words, End Wrapper. I pasted my mine below the line with those words, but you can put yours somewhere else on your sidebar, just make sure to Preview before you Save to make sure that the template isn't messed up. See How to Add to Your Blogroll for more info. about editing your template.

How to Add to Your Blogroll

Adding to your blogroll is good for you, good for other bloggers and good for your readers. A blogroll is usually listed in the sidebar of a blog and links to other blogs that the blogger reads. By having a blogroll, not only are you providing your readers with more content, you are providing publicity to other bloggers, who often, if they see through their web counter that you are linking to them, will link to you in their blogroll, which can lead to more readers for you.

In order to add to your blogroll, you have to edit your template, which can seem a little scary because it is written in HTML code, but do not fear. The most important thing to remember when you are editing your template is to PREVIEW any changes you make. That way if you have totally messed things up and your blog looks all crazy, you can clear the changes and start again. PREVIEW is your friend. Use it.

Ok, here we go. You are going to go to your dashboard and click on the tab that says Template. Scroll down the page until you see code that looks like the picture in this post--if the picture is too small just click on it for a larger view. Now replace the URLs for the links to Google News and Edit Me with the URLS and titles of blogs that you read. If you have more than four blogs you want to list, just cut one line of code and paste it on the next line and replace the URL and title with the URL and title of another blog. Now hit PREVIEW.

Does everything look normal? When you put your cursor over the links in your blogroll (without clicking) do you see the correct URL in the lower right hand corner of your browser window? If everything is working correctly, close the preview window and hit Save Template Changes. If it is not working correctly, close the preview window and hit Clear Edits. This should return your template to the way it was before you started messing with it so you can try again till it looks and works the way you want it to.

After you save changes to the template you will prompted to Republish your blog so that you can see the changes.

How to Add a Link to a Blogger Post

Almost every blog post you write will have some kind of link. One way to increase traffic to your site is to link to posts by other bloggers. When one of your readers clicks on the link to another bloggers post, the blogger will see it and it through their web counter or when they search for links to their blog on Technorati. They will most likely check out your blog and if it is a topic that interests them, they may start reading your blog and eventually link back to you either through their blogroll or in a post.

Here is how to create a link. Highlight the word you want to be your link with your cursor. In this case, we are going to link to a post I wrote a long time ago called How to Start Your Basic Blog. Once you've higlighted the text that you want to be your link, click on the green link icon in your menu bar. It will say, "Enter a URL." Copy and paste the URL of the web page that you want to link to in that box. Hit OK.

Your link will look like this: How to Start Your Basic Blog.

How to Add Tags to a Blogger Blog

Technorati is the search engine many people use when they are searching for particular information on a blog. Tagging with Technorati tags helps people to find your blog. Technorati has a great page called Using Technorati Tags to help you add them to your post.

If I want people who are looking for information about tagging their Blogger blog to find my post, I want to add the tags "tag", "blogger" and "blog" on this post.

Here is how I do it:

In HTML mode, at the bottom of my post, I cut and paste the code from the Using Technorati Tags page which looks like this:

Don't be afraid of the code! Just think of it like Mad Libs. You just need to fill in the blanks. In this case, you are filling in where it says [tagname].

To add the tag, "blog," just replace [tagname] with blog.
To add the tag, "blogger," just replace [tagname] with blogger.
To add the tag, "tag," just put replace [tagname] with tag.

And it will end up looking like this:

How to Add a Photo to a Blogger Blog

Put your cursor where you would like to insert the photo in your post.

Search Flickr for photos with a Creative Commons Attribution License: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons

Attribution means:
The photographer lets others copy, distribute, display, and perform their copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but if you give them credit.

I searched for the words "woman" and "computer" and found this photo:

I clicked on the photo and selected,"Copy Image Location."

Then I clicked on the icon that looks like a photo in my Blogger post and pasted the URL of the photo in the pop up window. I chose left layout and small image size and hit Upload Image.

I can move the photo around in Compose mode to where I want it to be. Be sure to give the photographer credit. I like to put it on the bottom of my post with links to the photo and their profile on Flickr like this:

Photo credit: Portrait of the Artist at Work by Chris Kirkman.

Then I write the photographer a note using Flickr Mail and say that I have used their photo and send them a link to the post. You will need to open a Flickr account to send photographers email through Flickr.

You can also upload a photo straight from you computer. Just put your cursor where you want the photo to be, click on the icon that looks like a photo, find the image on your computer, select the layout and image size and hit Upload Image.

Basic Blogging for Women

I've created this blog as a teaching tool to help women start blogs. It will be updated infrequently and used mainly when teaching an individual or group how to set up a Blogger blog.