I use Zemanta every time I write a post. The artwork normally to the top left of any post is usually picked from a selection suggested by Zemanta. The tags I pick are, again, from a selection suggested by Zemanta. And that little “reblog” icon at the bottom right of every post? Yep, that’s from Zemanta too. Zemanta is a very useful tool in a blooger’s tool kit and I hope that this will persuade you to try it out on your own site.
Let’s take a look at what it does. From the Zemanta Learn page:
Zemanta is a tool that looks over your shoulder while you blog and gives you tips and advice, suggests related content and pictures and makes sure your posts get promoted as they deserve to be. We at Zemanta are thinking hard to help make blogging easier for you. We’re engineering better creative tools to help you get the most out of your blogging time.
No, this isn’t another “Seinfeld post“, at least, I hope that’s not how it comes out. Firstly, an apology: I do not consider myself qualified to write about blogging, beyond putting down my own experiences. If you are interested in the mechanics, there are far better sites out there who can talk knowledgeably about SEO and link farming (or pharming) and the best ways to get your blog seen by readers, some of them are on my Links page and others are not. Seriously. I think my all time highest view count was 200 and my most searched terms are “lesbians” and “donkey sex”. So please, get your blogging advice elsewhere.
OK, caveat over with. Anyone who may read this site will realise, ever so quickly, that it is totally random. It really is a place for me to just drop whatever is in my head onto the page. I have never hidden this and, in fact, take a sort of perverse pride in it. It also accounts for the fact that updates are only semi regular and ideas I say I’ll come back to I never do. But, recent posts on Untwisted Vortex made me think a little more about what I write about and about what others write. In particular, this post. And, by the way, if it looks as though I’m providing a load of links to one site then don’t worry – that site has a lot of good ideas and I read it every day, so it’s only natural that it will be on my mind.
I write about things that interest me. I flit from idea to idea as things pop into my head or as I notice them. However, there is a certain self-censorship which kicks in. I’ll happily talk about what irritates me, what excites me. I’ll talk about my religious preferences (atheist), my political preferences (moderate, which a healthy cynicism), my reading habits, my viewing habits, my computer knowledge (small) and preferences, even my birthday. I do this because I think I may have something to say about it and because I can do it without revealing too much information about myself. Beyond mentioning that work was busy/frustrating/fun/etc I don’t talk about it – mainly because that could get me sacked and I enjoy being paid. But also because I like that there is a certain anonymity on the web. And I am happy with that state of affairs. I reveal a little about me, but nothing I would be unhappy talking to a relative stranger about.
Others will talk in more depth about their home and work lives, some will pretty much revel in it and will reveal all sorts of things about themselves and about their families. I find that very strange – but please don’t think that any criticism should be implied, it’s their blog and they should be free to write whatever they want to. However, I find it strange because of “internet detectives“. With seemingly little information, people with lots of time and a high speed connection will use their anti-socialness and natural nosiness to find out all sorts of things about you. We all, I hope, live blameless lives and don’t have anything to worry about. But do you want the internet knowing where you live?
Sorry, I wandered off the point a little. With the links so far provided, we have seen people write blogs about blogging (among other things). There are many many single focus, niche, blogs out there – the owner has a particular subject that they know something about and want to let us know about it. Which is good, because otherwise I’d know less than I do now! There is a vast amount of data on the internet and someone, somewhere, is prepared to add to it – whether by following on from someone else’s work or by starting something completely new. There are even, thankfully, people who aim to mock the sites that do these things to bring light hearted relief (there are others who do it spitefully, but let’s ignore those). When you open a blog or site, you don’t know how popular (or otherwise) it may be, but someone has spent time writing things down that they believe at least one other person will want to read about.
So the question is: what do you blog about (and why)?
I fancied a change from regular stuff today, so I decided to post a book review to my other site: Bookstuff. This was space that I got for free from WordPress.com when I signed up with them (very useful if you don’t want the hassle of finding a domain and maintaining it yourself) and it has been very neglected indeed. I last posted there a year ago.
And it got me wondering. When WordPress lists the number of blogs it hosts, they list the “live” blogs – blogs that still exist and haven’t been deleted. But how many of them actually exist in the sense that they are regularly written to? If you search the web for titles of books I’ve written about, I doubt the site will be high on the list, but it will be there. How many of the sites have been all but abandoned?
When I started blogging I thought it would be easy. How hard can it be to write about whatever I want to and post to something that’s already templated? Far easier than a normal website. Right? However, I quickly found that a lot of what I think about doesn’t translate well to the “page”. And if I think it’s not worth writing about, why the hell should I expect someone to read it?