The “5 Days of…” Series: Different Types of Blog Posts

Starting on Monday, I’m going to outline 5 different types of Blog Posts that you can utilize in your blog. I don’t claim to have a monopoly on all of the different types of blog posts, but I’m sure that this list will provide you with a great starting point and plenty of great ideas to continue to build your blog’s content.

Over the next week, I’ll be covering the following topics:

So, without further ado, let’s dig in! Stay tuned for 5 days of Blog Posting Fun!



7 Tips for Good Blog Content

In today’s post, I’m going to talk about the foundation of any good blog: content.

Content is definitely king in any good blog. You can make a blog look as pretty as you like, but without good content, people will quickly grow bored and move on. You need to generate good, consistent, engaging content to keep people coming back for more.

But what makes for good content?

Content is good when it is:

  1. Written with authority;
  2. Written with passion;
  3. Written with a purpose;
  4. Written with supporting material;
  5. Written well;
  6. Written regularly;
  7. Written originally;

Let’s look at these one at a time.

1. Written with authority
When I’m sick, I won’t go to just anyone to help me get better. I’ll go to a medical professional who has had years of training. Similarly, I take my car to a licensed mechanic. And, I don’t trust anyone else to do my computer repairs. Similarly, I only want to read content that comes from a qualified source. I read a lot, and one of the things I ask myself when I’m reading is, “what makes this person qualified to give such an opinion?” If you want to offer your opinion about something, do your best to position yourself as an expert or an informed source on the subject you are speaking about.
2. Written with passion
I remember Mr Wilson, my 11th grade english teacher, for his monotone voice and his consistently boring lectures. As much as I remember the lectures, I don’t remember any of the content of those lectures. Similarly, I will quickly turn off if I’m reading dry, boring content. Dress up your content! Make it alive! Don’t let it sit there waiting to be ripped off the page. Make the text jump out at the reader through passionate and invigorating writing!
3. Written with a purpose
Before you start blogging, outline your blog’s mission statement. Give your blog a purpose, or you’ll continually run around in circles, posting content that appears to be disjointed and with no clear, common direction. Just look at my early posts on this site. Once I sat down and defined the scope of this blog, writing content was easy. I hope that you’ll agree!
4. Written with supporting material
Don’t take my word for it – I should offer up advice from others, by linking to them directly. The internet is such a community-based medium. We can quickly and easily tie in advice from others to help support our arguments and to provide additional reference material to the topic at hand.
5. Written well
Nothing is more distracting than speling mistaks or bad grammar (yes, those spelling mistakes were intentional!). Take the time to proof read and to write clear, concise and linguistically accurate posts. Nothing will hurt your credibility more than poorly written content. Since content is king, the quality of that content will make or break your content’s reputation.
6. Written regularly
Like birds, loyal blog readers must be fed on a regular basis. So be sure to post regularly. Sporadic blog posts will not only provide you with sporadic blog readers, but it will also give readers time to forget about your blog. If someone finds a blog post engaging, they’ll likely come back soon to see if there’s more of the same content out there. Be sure to give them more content on a regular basis. That’ll keep them coming back for more.
7. Written originally
Which company has some of the most exciting product launches? Apple, of course. Why? Because they’re constantly pushing the envelope on creativity and fresh thinking. Apple knows how to keep them coming back for more, as they regularly deliver new and exciting products. We can’t all be like Apple, but we can strive to make new and exciting posts that make us stand out from the rest of the blog crowd. With so many blogs out there, you have to identify what makes you stand out from the others and maximize your effectiveness with your advantages.

Taking advantage of these 7 points should help you to focus your writing and to make it more effective. With all of these items, the importance of practice cannot be stressed enough. Practice, practice, practice. There is no other way to get good at what you want to do than to keep doing it.

And, for those that don’t want to take my word for it, here are some links to some other writing tips by other bloggers:
Writing Content Tips by
How to Write When You Can’t
Where to start?
12 First Rules Of Writing
First Impressions Lead To a Lasting Loyal Readership

Talk soon!



Top 7 Features of a good blog

What do you need in order to build a successful blog? There are a few key elements that will make or break any attempt to produce a good quality blog. The number one thing that will make or break any good blog is content. But content isn’t something that will differentiate good blog hosts. Only you can bring good content to your blog. So the question really becomes, what features can the current crop of blog tools bring to your blog?

Here’s my top seven feature list to look out for when choosing a blog hosting tool:

  1. Plenty of easy to customize themes – this is the starting point for any blog. While some people are gifted enough to start from scratch when building a theme for a blog, most of us pick and existing theme and modify it slightly to fit our needs and to reflect our individual tastes.
  2. Tagging and RSS – Tagging allows you to categorize posts, which allows for easy sorting and presentation of posts by topic. RSS allows you to share your content with others in a simple, easy to use format. RSS is a big topic. I’ll talk about it more in a future post. For the time being, let’s just say it’s a must have for your blog.
  3. Word-like editing tools – the ability to bold, italicize, change fonts/colours/sizes, add photos and videos and preview and auto-save your posts should be a gimme for most current blogging tools.
  4. Stats – what good is a blogging tool if you are unable to measure your blog traffic? If your blog tool doesn’t have a built-in stats program, don’t worry. There are some standalone options (Google Analytics is one of the biggies) that level the playing field.
  5. Spam Protection – Within a few days of setting up a blog and having it indexed by major search engines, your blog is likely to be overrun by spam. Automated or manual, there are plenty of spam writers out there that will do their best to inundate your site with ads for less-than-desirable content. So, having some sort of spam mechanism in place is helpful in keeping your content clean and professional.
  6. Ability to back up your content offline – You spend a lot of time building your blog. You should be able to take that data with you and save it offline. Some blogging platforms allow content to easily be exported. Others aren’t so user-friendly in this regard. I think it’s important to have an easy way to get at your content and take it with you.
  7. Easy Customization – this is perhaps the most important feature. We all agree that a blog is an extension of the writer. It should be personal. It should reflect the writer’s online personality. And it should allow for easy customizations, tweaks and hacks if and when the writer wants them. Adequate security controls should be in place so that a blog does not get compromised, but all of that security stuff should go on behind the scenes, leaving the blogger with the freedom to build and maintain the blog they want. Javascript, custom widgets and some sort of API should be the bare minimum in this regard.

For me, these are the main features that any blogging platform MUST have. And fortunately, the main blogging platforms out there offer these features and plenty more. And even better, most of the main blogging platforms provide the ability to use all of these features FOR FREE!

And for those of you that are wondering, “which blog platforms are you referring to”, well look no further than my ever-expanding list of blog tools.

So there you have it. OVer the next few posts, I’ll work through this “Group of 7” to explain each feature in more detail and to give you the ins and outs of using these features to their fullest.

Talk soon!



Ix-nay on Blogger-ay

wordpress logoSo… After just re-inventing Wirepaper on Blogger, I have decided to abandon it on Blogger and switch to WordPress for it as well.

Why would I do this, you ask? Well… here’s my reasoning:

Pro-Blogger / Anti-Wordpress:

  • Flexible layout/design: Blogger has a very flexible layout that can easily be tweaked.
  • Scripting: Blogger allows for javascript!
  • Monetization: Blogger allows for adsense (and many other ad networks via javascript)

Pro-Wordpress / Anti-Blogger:

  • Site layout/design: The template system resets if you change the default template. A lot of hard work goes down the drain in a hurry.
  • The default Blogger templates are rough around the edges. It takes a lot of work to make a blog look good.
  • WordPress offers professional looking templates out of the box.
  • Where are the pages? In Blogger, to make various “pages” for your site, you create a blog posting and then use that new post as a new page. It works, but it’s kludgey. In WordPress, pages are quite intuitive and easy to use.
  • WordPress allows for ALL of my blogs to be managed with one interface (including stats reporting).

So… instead of struggle with the multiple platform approach, I thought I’d consolidate my blogs under one umbrella.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to be anti-blogger from now on. In fact, Blogger has some great features that I’d love to continue to take advantage of. But like I said in my last post, I’m not a designer, and WordPress takes the worry out of me doing the design work myself. I will miss the javascript functionality of blogger though. But who knows… If I build a big enough blog, I’ll spin it off from the hosting and host it myself, at which time I’ll be able to use javascript again (no javascript is a limitation of the free, hosted version of wordpress, but the self-host option enables you to use javascript as much as you want).

And really… for all the bells and whistles I can add to my blog, at the end of the day, my blog is about content. I will be able to take advantage of plenty of web2.0 functionality even if I am limited in what I can put into my blog directly. In fact, this’ll just make it more fun trying to include stuff in my blog in a creative way that doesn’t conflict with’s limitations.

Talk soon!



Get your own website, take 2

I just checked my blog history, and I wrote about how best to build a personal website back in December 2005. At that time, I suggested that there were sufficient free tools out there to build a site that would meet the needs of most users.

So… what’s changed since then and has my recommendation changed?

Let’s start with what’s changed since then:

  1. Web 2.0: There are a myriad of second generation web applications which have facilitated tremendous improvements in terms of information sharing. This has precipitated in an unbelievable number of mash-ups, community sites and other social-networking type tools.
  2. RSS: “Really Simple Syndication” has taken the web by storm. RSS is used to share data of all kinds between websites. No longer is data proprietary. Now, if you can’t subscribe to and obtain content for free, then it doesn’t exist on the internet. That’s the unwritten rule on the web today.
  3. Increased functionality for free: The free offerings that I mentioned in 2005 continue to be free. The only change is that they’re better. Increased storage space is a biggie. So are dynamic applications (most major email clients (like gmail or yahoo mail) are rich, dynamic applications that rival de facto desktop versions (like MS Outlook or Eudora). Other major attractions include plenty of professional looking themes, tagging, spell-check, previews, easier photo and video inclusion and robust stat tracking.

I could go on, but that’s not where I’m headed in this discussion. Let’s look at where I’ve been over the last two years and what I’m using now for my websites.

The Last Two Years
Shortly after my last “get your own website” posting, I took an about face and again found a paid hosting service. I used The service was fantastic and their included services were great. The main reason I went with paid hosting was for the storage space and the ease of using a bunch of open source applications on my own dedicated webspace. After a long period of experimentation, I soon found that I was using two main functions on my websites: blog and photo functionality. I toyed with using forums and other community type features, but found that an appropriate critical mass would be difficult to gather and if I did find a time when I would be hosting a large number of users, my next fear was scalability. So, without a need for anything more than blogs or photos, and nervousness over scalability should I grow a large website, I decided to go back to the world of free hosting based on my needs.

My needs:

  1. Blogs: I run three sites:, and Each of them serves a different purpose, as you’ll see by visiting each of them.
  2. Photos: It is valuable to share photos with my blog visitors.
  3. Files: I have a need to share files like word or pdf documents with site visitors from time to time.
  4. mp3 files: I have a need to share mp3 files with some site visitors as well.

My current setup:
I am currently using two different blog platforms for different purposes:

  1. WordPress: I use WordPress for and I really like the themes that I am using on these two sites and some of the features that are available for WordPress are quick and easy to deploy.
  2. Blogger: I use Blogger for Blogger allows for adsense and javascript, two features which the hosted version of WordPress currently lacks.

Another competitor to these two products is Community Server(CS), which I am familiar with through my professional work. I am not currently using CS for personal use. The main reason I am not using CS is because of the increased hosting requirements: It runs on Windows hosting, and requires SQL Server. Most SQL Server hosts are considerably more expensive from a hosting perspective. And, since I’m trying to avoid large expenses on my hosting, CS is not currently in scope for personal use.

So… this is where things are at for me. I am using WordPress and Blogger for my main website platforms. I use a few web tools to add additional content to my sites. I will address some of these tools in upcoming posts. So, for the short term, stay tuned as I give you some overviews, tutorials, tips, techniques and advice pertaining to building out a web presence on the web on the cheap.

One thing to note: “building a website on the cheap” no longer means that a site looks cheap. In fact, the tools available today virtually guarantee that a professional image can be built for far less than what you’d have paid two years ago.

Stay tuned for plenty of advice on how to build an effective site.

One final note (and an important disclaimer): I am terrible from a design perspective so don’t expect beautiful artwork from me. I will provide you with some good advice pertaining to building the nuts and bolts and integrating everything together. But to make it look good, you’ll have to bring your own creative flair to things.

Talk soon!

Todd Dow