Monday, May 12, 2008

Blog-Fixing: Fixing The AddThis Button on Blogspot

On one of our featured Blog Tools portion, I recently posted a recommendation for using the services of and how plugging it into your site helps with building your blog's community and readership.

Having the button at the end of every post gives your readers the option to conveniently share your articles with their friends on just about every single social networking and social bookmarking service.

But just last weekend, somebody informed me that the 'Share' service of wasn't working right. I noticed that it worked alright for some blogs and there were indeed a couple whose buttons weren't working.

After spending a frustrating afternoon trying to work the kinks out myself, I ran a quick search on Google, and found another blog talking about the same problem. More importantly, said blog offered useful advice on fixing my issue, and it worked like a charm.

So for that, I'd like to thank Frank Gualtier of the fine blog, Touring The Indies. Frank was able to write a code to fix the problem. Taking internet public service a step further, he wrote a little Do-It-Yourself to fix the issue.

You can read the rest of his post here and get the code to fix your blogs on Blogspot.

Like I said, it worked great. And it seems I've fixed the issue on my Blogspot blogs.

Thanks again, Frank!

Cheers, everyone!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Top Blogs: The Gawker Media Network

Top Blogs is an ongoing effort to bring some of the blogosphere's most successful efforts to the attention of those just beginning to appreciate The Blogging Lifestyle. In this particular post, we take a look at Gawker Media.

I've always admired the way Gawker Media is set up. In case you haven't heard of the company, Gawker Media is an online media group, directly responsible for an entire network of blogs (now just 12).

With a lot of its member sites consistently ranking at the top of Technorati's Top Blogs, you can say that Gawker Media is probably one of the most successful blog-oriented media companies.

The man behind it all is Nick Denton. According to Wikipedia:

While Denton does not go into detail over Gawker Media's finances, he has downplayed the profit potential of blogs declaring that "blogs are likely to be better for readers than for capitalists. While I love the medium, I've always been skeptical about the value of blogs as businesses," on his personal site.

Let's check out the blogs in the Gawker Media blog network.

1. Obviously, the company's flagship blog. It bills itself as "The source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip"- so it's kinda like Gossip Girl, but it's the real deal, and mostly deals with celebrities and the media industry.

The success of the blog has spawned similar online projects for other key cities. As you have for Manhattan, you also have...

2. Wonkette, the D.C. Gossip. Just like, but this one covers the Washington D.C. scene, and is therefore, a little bit more political. (Renzie's Update: Wonkette, unfortunately, is one of the blogs Gawker Media sold, as they had announced in mid-April of this year)

3. Defamer, the L.A. Gossip Rag. decided to replicate its success on the West Coast this time. So it's just like, only more Hollywood and entertainment-oriented.

4. Vallywag, Silicon Valley's Tech Gossip Rag. Just like, Wonkette and the Defamer, but has its eyes and ears on the San Francisco scene and your Silicon Valley companies.

5. Fleshbot, Pure Filth. Gawker Media's very own sex-oriented blog- for both gay and straight readers. According to Wikipedia:
The range of subject matter includes everything from amateur sex blogs and thumbnail gallery posts to news about sex in popular culture and advertising.

Seriously, who needs a reason to check out a sex blog?

6. Gizmodo, The Gadget Guide. One of the web's most popular blogs on technology and consumer electronics.

7. Gridskipper, the Urban Travel Guide. A great blog on travel and leisure. (Renzie's Update: Gridskipper, unfortunately, is one of the blogs Gawker Media sold, as they had announced in mid-April of this year)

8. Kotaku, the Gamer's Guide. Gawker Media's blog on nothing but video games.

9. Idolator, All About the Music...If Only It Were. One of the greatest music blogs online, in my opinion. (Renzie's Update: Idolator, unfortunately, is one of the blogs Gawker Media sold, as they had announced in mid-April of this year)

10. Jalopnik: Obsessed with the Cult of Cars. Rolling Stone magazine called it a "car-geek-blog" in its 01 November 2007 issue. This blog is mainly about automobiles, car culture, and the automotive business.

11. Lifehacker, Tech Tricks, Tips and Downloads for Getting Things Done. Personally one of my most favorite sites, the motto of Lifehacker is:
Computers make us more productive. Yeah, right. Lifehacker recommends the software downloads and web sites that actually save time. Don't live to geek; geek to live.

I say Amen to that. Any blog that actually helps saves up on time and energy is fine by my book.

12. Deadspin, Sports News without Access, Favor or Discretion. 'Nuff said.

13. The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back. A consumer affairs blog. Very interesting stuff, featuring consumers' experiences with various companies and corporations.

14. Jezebel: Celebrity, Sex, Fashion For Women- Without Airbrushing. Definitely a blog for chicks. Still a great read if you want something to talk about with your woman :)

15. io9: Strung Out on Science Fiction. One of Gawker Media's newest blogs, as far as I know. It's about frackin' time someone came out with a quality sci-fi blog, I say.

With all fifteen blogs (actually only 12 of 15 Gawker Media-owned now), there's definitely one or two you'd like to check out. Interesting to note how each one has chosen a particular subject matter, and how each one managed to be one of the most read blogs in their respective niches.

Definitely some of the blogs you have to check out from time to time. Go ahead and add the feed you want to your Pageflakes, Google Reader or your own blog if you like.

Cheers, everyone!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Blogging Mindset: Blog About Stuff That You Actually Care About

I just read this article on the New York Times about "Blogging Your Way Into a Business". I find it interesting that regular folks like you and me can find their way into a lucrative enterprise by way of their blogs.

But here's the thing: I feel that this article, along with other features on other newspapers, magazines, even radio and TV shows, seem to perpetuate the idea that blogging for money is an easy thing. Maybe it is, maybe it's not- it totally depends on a number of things, in my opinion:

1> your ability to actually communicate effectively through writing,
2> your natural passion to share thoughts and ideas through writing,
3> your discipline and commitment to keep on sharing these thoughts and ideas,
4> and your aptitude towards picking up necessary skills and using them well, like internet marketing, networking, etc.

As you can see, blogging probably isn't for everybody. And if anybody's motivation is purely to make money out of blogs, don't expect those sites to be up for long.

If its one thing I've learned- no matter how hard you try to get into it- you can't write about stuff you don't care about for long. I have this particular blog- "Blog. Blogger. Bloggest: Renzie on Blogging"- mainly because I care about learning how to blog better, and helping other casual bloggers to build better blogs.

Over the past few months, I've positioned myself as a writer-for-hire. So I end up writing for anything from pet care products to industrial packaging and memory foam. I can tell you right now that it didn't quite work out very well.

Pets are alright- in fact, I have a couple of cats at home, but the truth is, I can only care so much about how memory foam is made, and there's just way too much fun writing about industrial-grade cardboard and plastic, right?

So I started working on a couple of other blogs- I now have one on radio and the music industry, another on gaming, and then another on food reviews. Kind of shows exactly what kind of guy I am, right? They're all in the content development stage right now, and not meant to be marketed yet until a few more posts. I also plan to write up one on TV, another on movies, another on business, and the project list can go on and on.

I know it's not going to happen just yet, or at least not anytime soon. I mean, it's great if I managed to stumble onto something lucrative doing this, but it really doesn't matter. For as long as you're doing something you absolutely like, something you feel really passionate about, you can just focus on developing good content.

Which is the whole point in developing the whole positive-reader-experience concept we've been talking about all this time.

Okay, maybe the money matters a little. Got bills to pay too, you know. But that's what the day job is for :)

Bottom Line: Blog about something you care about. Keep at it. But don't rely on it to put food on the table, or pay this month's rent.

Then again, you'll never know when opportunity comes knocking at your door, as a result of what you put online. And when it does, you'll be more than ready to take on new challenges, and reap the rewards of what you've sown.

Cheers, everyone!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Resources for Blogs: BlogCrowds

I suppose it is no secret that I've been trying out all these different kinds of templates on my other blog projects.

The usual templates provided by Blogger is alright- but as I may have mentioned before, it seems that I have a preference for 3-column templates.

Now, there area a lot of sites out there- both free and paid- which features quite a number of the 3-column templates that I like, and a lot other templates. The problem is that when you start loading the .XML template file, or pasting the template file onto the existing one, more often than not, Blogger displays a variety of error messages, end result being- you find yourself unable to load that smashing new 3-column template you found.

And it does get rather frustrating after the first several tries, really. At least until Blogger fixes this nuisance altogether.

Of course, you have the option of learning how to make a template yourself. I probably could, but I'd really rather spend more time churning out blog entries than making templates on my own- but maybe much later on, who knows?

Thank goodness persistence pays off: I stumbled onto Blogcrowds. On top of the new templates they've been offering, they also have lots of useful tips, widgets and other goodies for bloggers- all bloggers, for that matter- whether begginer, intermediate or even advanced.

Nothing too fancy, really. In fact a lot of them are just the usual Blogger templates, only expanded from 2-columns to 3-column deals. As far as I'm concerned, they loaded easily enough (just take away all your previous widgets before previewing or making final changes- you can slap them back on later anyway), and they look great! And I'm already sporting them on my other blog projects.

So go check it out. I'm sure there's something in there you'd like. If it's working templates you're looking for, you can get them here.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Blogging Mindset: Preparation + Opportunity = Success

I remembered it hit me in the face when I saw it on an E! True Hollywood Story or something. It was a story about Keenen Ivory Wayans. You may know him as a successful and talented actor, comedian, director and producer- but for me, I will forever associate him with one of my most favorite sketch comedy shows of all time, "In Living Color".

Shout-out to my sister for getting me Season 1 on DVD, by the way. Great stuff.

Now from what I remember (I could be wrong, so bear with me), Keenen had always wanted to be a cast-member of Saturday Night Live- which has always been the benchmark for TV sketch comedy, even to this day. For some reason, he never made it into the show- but it didn't keep him from honing his craft, working on writing and directing and producing.

It wasn't long until he got noticed- this time, a TV network (FOX) presented him with the opportunity to have his own sketch comedy show- which we now know as "In Living Color", and which I think at the time was positioned against Saturday Night Live.

The show was groundbreaking. We know it now as the show that helped jumpstart the careers of Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey (back then credited as James Carrey), David Alan Grier, Jennifer Lopez (she was a Fly Girl!), and Jamie Fox. "In Living Color" went on for five seasons, until 1994- which was still a very respectable run for any TV series.

Brothers Damon, Shawn and Marlon Wayans all had fairly impressive movie careers already going on at the time the E! True Hollywood Story was done. I remember them crediting big brother Keenen for drilling into their heads this simple, but very important equation:

Preparation + Opportunity = Success.

And it has been a source of inspiration for me ever since. The story was something I've shared with people I've worked with- not just at the radio stations or the contact centers I've seen action in, but also with clients and friends.

It teaches us that success depends on two things: One- the amount of effort you put in to honing your craft, making yourself more marketable, essentially building yourself up. And Two- getting yourself into a position that opens doors for you, and grabbing the chance to showcase your skills when the opportunity presents itself. You need both to achieve success.

And yes, I believe in that.

It's no different for blogging. Building up your blog is the 'Preparation' part of the the equation. It gives you a chance to develop your writing skills, to get into the habit of churning out good content, and get completely immersed in the blogging lifestyle.

The 'Opportunity' part comes in when you start marketing your blog. You allow more people to check out your work, and you also put yourself in situations where you can get noticed by the people you want. You'll never know what you can find out there: making new online friends, getting offered to write for a blog network, getting invited to blogger events, being asked to talk about your blogging experiences at a workshop- the possibilities are endless.

In fact, blogging presents a lot of opportunities for anyone who's serious enough with it. Check out this posting for jobs for bloggers just for this month. And the way things are going, there's a rising demand for good, quality content- a need that can be filled if writing is your game.

So do you think you're ready? If so, then good for you- get yourself out in the spotlight and show us what you got. If not, well then keep building yourself up- and hope that, next time the opportunity presents itself- you'll be ready this time.

Hope this helps. Cheers, everyone!