Blog logoMatthew Lang

Blogging

A 77 post collection


What to look for in a blog

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging

It's come to my attention that I am hardly the good faring blogging citizen I was a couple of years ago. This is going to change this week with a set of single topics. Today's is what to look for in a blog.
When it comes to looking for other blogs to follow, it can be a bit hit and miss of subscribing to that blog is going to be worth it or not. There are a number of things that you can do though that can increase the success rate of the blogs that you subscribe to or regularly read.

A generalist or a specialist

Blogs tend to fall into one of two types when in comes to content. There’s the specialist who focuses on a single topic and there’s the generalist who post regularly but across a wide range of topics.

The specialists have the inside knowledge on the topic that I like to read about. I like reading blogs of this type as the topics often align with what is going to be of benefit to me.

Take the blog of Curtis McHale from British Columbia.

I have read this blog for a few years now and his blog has been a continual benefit to myself as I traverse the world of freelancing. Curtis McHale's blog is about being a business owner and everything that it entails. This is his specialty but the his field of knowledge on this isn't restricted to what happens during office hours, it also includes the other 18 or so hours of the day when he's not working for clients. This includes balancing family life with running a business, the books you should read as a business owner and the tools and services that can help you as a business owner.

A generalists blogs focuses on a greater range of topics. I find that most blogs I follow of this kind are people’s own personal blogs. They post what interests them.

That’s definitely the case of the blog of Kurt Harden from Ohio.

Here you find a blog that covers not just one topic but links, quotes, and many pictures of what's on the grill that evening. I like this type of scrapbook though and it's worth having a few blogs like this to follow. The reason being is that while Kurt's blog doesn't focus on a particular topic, it does include content that is relevant and interesting. And that's a good thing. I've never met Kurt, but I've read his blog for so long that I've come to understand what makes him tick.

Whether you’re looking for a generalist or a specialist is down to you. If you’re looking to learn about a particular topic then I suggest you look for specialist blogs. For anything else a generalist blog is just fine.

Consistent posting

A consistently published blog is a great blog. It doesn't need to be daily. It doesn't need to be a number posts a day or even a single post a day. As long as that person keeps a schedule going that doesn't involve weeks without a post then it's a blog worth reading.

The single exception to this rule is when the person behind the blog announces a period of time in which they'll be unavailable. Patrick Rhone's blog is essential reading for me, but in March of this year Patrick announced that he would be stepping back from his blog to focus on a project of his own.

We can’t always post regularly and there are times where we need to step back for a bit and they say so on their blog. This is the exception to posting consistently. It's not because you're being lazy, it's because you have something more important to do and that's a good thing. I know that when Patrick comes back he'll have garnered enough new insights for his blog for another year at least.

An RSS feed

An RSS feed is the easiest way to follow a particular blog. Using an RSS reader like Feedbin or Minimal Reader you’ll be able to follow all the blogs you're interested in. Some of you might be thinking that with a blog an RSS feed might be a given these days. Sadly that isn't so. I've noticed a number of websites that have blogs on them but lack an RSS feed to subscribe too.

In this case I would skip over subscribing to a "blog" like this. They've made a decision to not include an RSS feed so that they have more traffic to their blog or they just have a bad CMS that lacks an RSS feed. Regardless of the content that the blog includes I would skip over blogs like this.

Looking for blogs to follow can be a bit of a hit and a miss but if you know the type of blog you want to follow, they're a consistent blogger and they have an RSS feed to subscribe to then you should be onto a winner.

You can even follow this one if you're not already doing so!

Hello Micro.blog

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging

This week I finally got my invite to Micro.blog.

A few months ago Manton Reece wrote about a project he was working on to bring together micro-blogging using the format of RSS. He started a Kickstarter around it which went successfully. This week, I'm finally getting round to getting my account set up and following a few people.

The idea is simple. You can host your own micro-blog on Micro.blog or you can import an RSS feed from somewhere else so that it becomes your timeline. Rather than fencing people into the product, you can bring your own RSS feed and use that for your timeline. Neat idea.

First Impressions

At first the service looks pretty basic. Your own timeline is a simple list of recent posts from the people you are following. There's options to reply, delete and favourite to posts on your timeline. So far so good.

While your timeline is a minimal affair in the styling department, your own feed can be tarted up with one of six designs that can pick from in your account preferences. There's also the option to add some CSS styling of your own.

There's also an app for the iPhone as well as the ability to post to it from the MarsEdit text editor should that be your preference.

Let's not forget this is a bootstrapped product that began life on Kickstarter. I'm certainly not going to compare it in anyway to Twitter or Facebook, but compared the to launch of App.net it feels slower. It's early days though and it's live which more than can be said of what others have promised when it comes to challenging the establishment.

Using Micro.blog

I considered streaming a tagged feed from this blog as my main feed for Micro.blog but there were was one problem with this. The Ghost theme's feed isn't customisable, so there's no way for me to omit these posts from my main feed. The reason I wanted to omit them is that I might be posting three or more times a day and I didn't want to change the frequency of my blog's posting for this.

So instead I think I might just post from the Micro.blog site and then map my timeline to a sub-domain of this site.

So where does that leave other social media outlets that I am a part of?

Well from here on in I'll be largely using IFTTT to posting to Twitter. It will largely be an automated feed from my blog, my Micro.blog posts, Instagram and any other platforms that I use. Twitter has it's uses and I'm not ready to bow out from it yet, but the for the foreseeable future it will be a "write only" environment for me.

After being burned by App.net, I'm aware that Micro.blog is still in the early days of its service life so I'm not going to invest too much time on it. A couple of posts a day should be sufficient.

I'm keen to see how this service grows over the next few months. I'm not expecting drastic changes overnight, but a gradual roll out of new features between now and the end of the year shouldn't be out of the question.

You can find me on Micro.blog here.

My kind of blogging

 •  Filed under Links, Blogging

The no-pressure kind. Manton Reece explains.

I love that blogs can scale from the trivial to the important. The microblog post about what you had for breakfast. The half-baked rant about something you’re passionate about. And sometimes, the rare essay that really hits the mark and makes people think.

No-pressure blogging by Manton Reece

I've been struggling to blog more in the last couple of years. Partly that's down to me trying to produce too high a level of content. I should just blog what comes to mind. It won't all be great, but every now and again there will be a post that really stands outs.

Good blogs

 •  Filed under Links, Blogging

I'm bookmarking this as an essential. I'm surprised I haven't read this post before by Merlin Mann, but then it was a long time ago.

Essential advice for bloggers.

Good blogs reflect focused obsessions. People start real blogs because they think about something a lot. Maybe even five things. But, their brain so overflows with curiosity about a family of topics that they can't stop reading and writing about it. They make and consume smart forebrain porn. So: where do this person's obsessions take them?

What Makes for a Good Blog by Merlin Mann

Hat tip to Patrick Rhone for this.

Medium still isn't for me

 •  Filed under Blogging, Posts

I've wrote in the past about the blogging platform Medium and how I have issue with such a high volume of people writing under one roof and how the lack of

Here's what I wrote at the start of last year:

Access to the network is easy but I can't help but wonder if in the future they'll get it wrong and piss off a good chunk of their user base. I'd rather not take that chance.

Anywhere but Medium

Well Medium did get it wrong. The ad model isn't working for them. That and fifty of their staff have been dropped. What looks like a cost-cutting exercise is what they're calling a change in their business model. What that business model will be is unclear at the moment.

One option Medium has is to charge users for the privilege of using Medium. If Medium wanted to charge me to use Medium then I would be all for it. I love products that look for money up front before you can use their product. How else are they going to survive as a business?

I like the idea behind Medium but the recent change in their business model (or even lack of one) has me wondering how long they'll be around for. Not a nice thought, especially when it concerns a platform that many use to publish their thoughts and ideas. I'd rather not see it go under, but it needs to start adapting and fast.

Medium still isn't for me though. I'm happy to blog away from my own little corner of the Internet.