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May 31, 2007

Seven simple tips for new bloggers

Originally uploaded by Sanatan.
This might come across a bit snobby, but here goes...

In the past month or so, I've linked to five new (or at least new to me) association blogs, yet not one of them has linked back. And only my friend Wes at Effective Database Management has bothered to acknowledge my link in a comment here at the Certified Association Executive blog. Here's a bonus link for Wes.

What's the deal? I will give the benefit of the doubt to latest entrants to the association blogging world. The culture of online community is neither straightforward nor obvious, especially to a new resident. Still, you must familiarize yourself with the customs of the blogosphere to keep my attention, and I would venture to guess, the attention of others. Research shows that bloggers trust other bloggers. That's true to a point, but in my mind, bloggers who don't follow the customs are not truly bloggers at all, and are therefore less credible than those who don't blog.

Here's a quick primer on the culture of the blogging community: If you're not already aware of it, let me introduce you to the concept of blog karma. Read this post to start, then, here are seven simple things you must do as a new blogger to get good blog karma:
  1. Read other people's blogs. This sounds so freakin' obvious, but I have a hunch that at least one new association blogger is not really reading other association blogs.
  2. Comment on other people's blogs. Need an ulterior motive? This is quite possibly the best way to drive traffic to your blog.
  3. Subscribe to a comprehensive Google Alert for your blog's URL (enter your Search Terms syntax like this: link: This way you'll know if someone links to you. When you get the alert, acknowledge the link via a comment to the referring blog. Double karma points for posting a link back to the referring blog in the body of a new post.
  4. Link out to other blogs. Write about what other people are writing about. Engage in the conversation. The currency of the blogosphere is the hyperlink, so spread the wealth! Links are easy to give, but harder to get. Also, unless you're an A-List blogger, reading a blog that only references the author's own ideas, concepts or opinions is about as interesting as the person who can't stop talking about themselves.
  5. Maintain a blogroll with links to blogs you read. Bloglines builds a dynamic blogroll of the blogs to which you're currently subscribed, that you can paste into your sidebar via a little javascript code. There's a certain new association blogger who has a quote-unquote blogroll that simply links to two of their other web sites. This is worse than not maintaining a blogroll in my opinion.
  6. Blog using your real name, or make it easy to find out your real name if you want to blog under a cutesy pseudonym.
  7. Publish a full RSS feed. You will be tempted to publish a partial feed in order to increase page views. Don't do it. I covered this a little over a year ago.

Max Hansen's e-book on blogging, Unfashionably Late, is a more exhaustive treatment of this subject. I encourage new bloggers to read it.

There must be other things that will help you assimilate into the blogging culture. I invite comments from established and new bloggers alike on other tactics that helped them get plugged in. Or, to get all meta on you, link to this post on your own blog with your thoughts.



Anonymous said...

Hey Ben! Guilty as charged. I know we chatted on the phone the day after you made your post, but I never formally thanked you for mentioning my new blog. Great thing we have rule #7 (to forgive mistakes) in blog Karma :)

BTW - Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

...and I almost forgot - Thanks.

Dave S. said...


You rock! I couldn't agree with you more! My greatest frustration is the fact that as association bloggers, we should be working together to not only help our individual voices be heard but also increase the volume of our collective voice...the voice of the association world, as opposed to simply doing our own thing.

Your simple tips really hit the nail on the head! I am still frustrated by the fact that many folks that I talk about and link to don't have the courtesy to provide me a link back in return. Another problem I see happening is when you "scoop" a story only to have someone else cover the same topic a day or two later without referencing your posting. This would lead you to believe that the other blogger isn't really reading other blogs in the same space and therefore never saw your posting in the first place.

I do agree that we need to be patient especially with those who are new (or newer) but I wonder what else we can do to advance the idea of working together as opposed to apart.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Rock on, guys. Keep up the good work and link liberally!

David Gammel said...

Blogging without linking is like talking loudly to no one in particular at a cocktail party.

It's your prerogative to do so but don't expect anyone to stand near you.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

@D-Gamm: So true

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Come to think of it, I saw a guy in Williamsburg's Market Square last week pacing up and down the street singing along to his iPod loudly and flamboyantly. Is there a parallel here?

Wes Trochlil said...

Geez, Ben, since you mentioned me, I feel obliged to post a comment. So here it is.


Ben Martin, CAE said...

@Wes: You should WANT to comment, grasshoppah.