How to blog, what is a blog, why blog, what makes a good blog?

How to blog, what is a blog, why blog, what makes a good blog? Answers to your most basic questions about writing a blog, buying a domain, and just getting started

How to blog, what is a blog, why blog, what makes a good blog?

How to blog, what is a blog, why blog, what makes a good blog?A blog, short for “weblog,” is nothing more than articles on a website, typically in a reverse chronological order, something like a series of diary entries, with the latest at the top.  A blog may contain text, photos, videos, digital art, audio or music, in virtually any combination.

Why blog?

The answers to the question “why blog?” are as different as the people blogging.  Do you just want to write an online diary with photos for friends and family or do you hope to generate a side income with ads and affiliate links?  A blog can do the former very quickly; the latter will take you some time.  My objective was to try to “monetize” my blog, because having fun and making money is more fun than just just having fun.

What makes a good blog?

The simple answer: a blog that people will read.  Writing your first blog is like singing the song you just wrote . . .  in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  Continue reading “How to blog, what is a blog, why blog, what makes a good blog?”

Be Careful Who You Friend on Facebook

Then something happened that I hadn’t expected

I began to genuinely like my Facebook friends. These were people with big souls, strong minds, and, yes, very, very good taste. That was why I had sent them friend requests. The unexpected part: These were real people out in the real world.

Facebook: A Means to an End

My experience on Facebook began when I learned from Problogger and others that it was useful to connect to “social media” when you begin blogging.  The idea is that you can call attention to your blog.  Boy, was I surprised at what happened next.

Facebook is real people

In the beginning it was hard to meet new people.  No one knew me and I didn’t know anyone.  I looked around, and thought I would try to take the first step and request that someone be my friend.  I saw a picture of a person who looked nice and clicked on it.  Facebook sternly advised, “So and So will have to confirm your request. Please only send this request if you know him personally.” I didn’t know the person personally, so I didn’t send the request.  But then I read some more and decided that a potential Facebook friend could always turn me down.

I took a deep breath

I sent a request to a person I didn’t already know personally.  This person accepted!  I had made a friend.  It was a person who couldn’t speak English.  Our relationship was cordial in the sense that there was never a harsh word between us.  There were no words at all between us!  So I decided to try to make another friend based on a shared interest.

I made another friend

This friend had other friends and I could see their taste in music, film and books.  These people were funny and had good taste.  I foolishly followed my heart and sent a couple of friend requests to people who were, by my tastes, very cool.  I sent requests to more friends of friends.  I posted links to my blogs, too.  In the meantime, I began commenting on music videos my friends posted. Yes, they turned out to have very good taste in music.

I love music

Music is, for me, the closest thing to magic the human race has invented.  Especially rock and roll music, but all kinds of music have deep meaning, and these people knew it, too.  I was reading their comments on what their friends were posting.  Unfortunately, music has nothing to do with my blog.  My friends kept rocking my world with great music and humorous comments.   The songs they managed to find were so good, I was compelled to “like” them.  I kept listening and reading and liking and commenting.  I posted music I liked.  I posted to my wall my blogs, too, despite their irrelevance.

Then something happened that I hadn’t expected

I began to genuinely like my Facebook friends.  These were people with big souls, strong minds, and, yes, very, very good taste.  That was why I had sent them friend requests.  The unexpected part: These were real people out in the real world.  We had met semi randomly, but I would check in to see what they were posting.  And what they were posting was really good music and their memories of when they first heard the music, and their feelings.

They had feelings

I had read about Facebook in the context of promoting one’s blog.  These people I had friended turned out to be expressive, deep, and they loved music.  Something really strange happened then.  I realized how much good was in the hearts of these people.  I didn’t just love the music they posted.

I loved them.

This was not the plan.  These people had ruined everything!  They weren’t even reading my blogs, and why should they? My blogs were about other interests like writing and how to use WordPress blogging software and product reviews.  The basis of our relationship was the sincere love of music, and trivia and jokes.  And now I was on Facebook for all the wrong reasons.

Be careful

If your plan is to get on Facebook to promote your blog, be businesslike in your choice of friends.  If you follow your heart and seek out friends the way you would in real life, you may end up with a bunch of friends that you really enjoy for their own sake.

One day it will happen

All the friendliness will build up.  One of them will post a word or a song that fills your heart past the brim.  And then it will dawn on you.  Facebook is not just “social media.”  It’s a way to receive gifts of beauty and kindness and humor, and witness the genuine love and goodness in people. And on that day you are screwed!  I still post my blogs but love my Facebook friends and love them for being sincere.  And I sincerely don’t expect them to “like” my blogs.  I expect them to like what they like.

Would you like to write at the speed of sound?

This blog was written entirely using voice recognition software, your speed of composition is increased dramatically by talking into a microphone and having words appear on the screen

This blog was written by my voice and speech recognition software in a matter of minutes.

Modern speech recognition software really works.

Just by speaking into a headset, you can have your “robot stenographer” type words as quickly as you can speak them. Right now I am writing these words, using NaturallySpeaking by Dragon.  I’m a little rusty at this, and I’m using the old version 10, which works fine.

You “train” NaturallySpeaking by reading sample texts aloud

The software needs to learn how you pronounce words.  It also pays attention to corrections you make by hand to how it “heard” you.  Once NaturallySpeaking has learned the sound of your voice, you can speak at a normal pace and get words on the page much much faster than typing.  In fact the real challenge is devising something interesting to write, since the software captures your words so quickly it doesn’t give you much time to think.

Composing at talking speed may get you closer to your reader, who reads about twice that fast

According to Wikipedia, “The average American adult reads prose text at 250 to 300 words per minute.”  “Audiobooks are recommended to be 150–160 words per minute, which is the range that people comfortably hear and vocalize words.”*  If you are like me, you don’t type nearly that fast!

NaturallySpeaking is remarkable for transcribing interviews.

Although it’s not really feasible to train NaturallySpeaking to understand a tape of your interview subject, it’s quite simple for you to listen along, and repeat everything your subject says.  The software is not perfect but it’s faster than transcribing the tape and a lot less work.  Highly recommended.

Get a Good Headset with Microphone

The older version of the software is pretty cheap and it’s quite simple to install and train, and you get better at using it (and it gets better at understanding you) with just a little practice.  To go with NaturallySpeaking  I purchased a very comfortable and easy to connect Logitech USB Headset which has worked flawlessly.

This is the first time I’ve tried NaturallySpeaking with WordPress, and it works like a charm.  Sure I’ll have to clean up the text a little bit, but I just wrote this entire blog in a few minutes.  I can imagine using speech recognition for “automatic writing” as a method to help overcome writer’s block.

Careful, NaturallySpeaking is quite powerful

When you learn the commands it’s possible to open programs and perform other kinds of functions using only your voice.  This “feature” can get a little tricky when the software begins switching pages and opening menus by itself!  No one believes me but it ordered some chrome parts for my spacecraft, which I had to keep and look cool.  Now I’m going to use the software to see if I can fill out some meta-tags.

Postscript:  Naturally Speaking’s propensity to access menu buttons can make it very difficult to compose a “self referential” article on WordPress or blogging features since Naturally Speaking leaps out of the writing interface and goes to commands beginning with words like “WordPress.”

* Wikipedia article “Words Per Minute” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_per_minute