Grab Bag

What Blogging Mistakes are YOU Making?

If, like me, you have too much time on my hands, you’ve probably already found Jakob Nielsen, who’s written quite a bit about site and blog design and ways to write effectively for the Internet.  Check out his Top 10 Blogging Mistakes and let’s discuss among ourselves, okay?  Me, I learned that both my post titles and links should be clearer – my bad.

But at the risk of stirring the pot (me?) let me add another special Mistake for Gardenblogs:  Not telling your readers where you are.  In gardening it’s all about Location – or as Michele would say, the Terroir – and I’m one frustrated blog-reader when I can’t figure out where the hell the writer is located.  So why make it so hard – or impossible – for readers to figure out where you are?

Posted by on February 4, 2007 at 5:11 am, in the category Grab Bag.
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17 Responses to “What Blogging Mistakes are YOU Making?”

  1. I’ve had a Web presence for over a decade now. Nielsen is required reading.

    “Avoid cute or humorous headlines that make no sense out of context.” Okay, guilty at times.

  2. Graham Rice says:

    This is a great reference which, as a relative newcomer to the world of blogs, I found especially useful. Some things I’d worked out for myself, but it’s good to have them reinforced and to pick up new ideas. So, after reading these recommendations, I’ve spent the last couple of hours making some changes in my own blog. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Natalia says:

    I had read that article before, but on reading it again, I realized I was making some of those mistakes as well. I’ll be making changes today.

  4. Jenn says:

    And it needed be a specific local. Zone 5, S/E Michigan gives the reader a fair idea of what the garden will be like. Zone 9 SoCal. Etc.

  5. eliz. says:

    Well, I went to the site intending to scoff and debunk, inveterate contrarian that I am, but I must say I agree with all of it.

    Especially on the domain name.

  6. My Score in Top 10 Blogging Mistakes (Title)

    I would say I score low on 2,5,6 and 10 with an average score in some other areas. I should be putting the time I have on my hands to better use than upgrading a blog that will soon go silent for a while. I have to plan a memorable final post.

    So what is the point of this? The author’s intent for their blog is the determining factor of the relevence of Neilsen’s rules. Are they just wanting to participate in a global converstion and have fun? Do they want to generate income from the web and their blog? Are they trying to promote their other business pursuits to create customers? Are they just a blow hard wanting to spew forth the truth of their own imagination?

    Mr Neilsen does not make clear in his article why it should really matter to a blog author whether or not they follow his 10 rules for better blogging.

    I’ll be the contrarian for today.

  7. Ellis Hollow says:

    The more you follow good usability, the more folks will read you. That’s reason enough for me.

    I’ve been a fan of Nielsen’s for a decade now. Living up to the standard is the hard part.

    Writing meaningful link text and titles are the most important to me. But when you’ve spent the better part of your career writing cute but vague titles (because your boss says that will make people want to read the article more), it’s a hard habit to break.

    Another one of Nielsen’s rules that’s hard to live up to (especially when blogging) is to cut your word count by half. It’s counterintuitive, but the less you write the more folks will read you.

    And my mantra (leftover from print days) remains: Big ideas. Small words. Short sentences.

    I’ve gotta scoot and put up a location and picture in the About section of my blog so I can get my Nielsen score up near passing.

  8. Kim says:

    Darn it, Christopher–I wanted to be the contrarian for today! You beat me to it, but I’m going to take a stab anyway.

    While these comments are nice for people who are looking at blogging as a career/side job or who worry about increasing their readership, most of them do nothing for me.

    For example, I KNOW that most of my posts (and comments) are long-winded, but if it’s what I want to say I post them anyway. I would hate to see a blogger who occasionally posts long, lovely thoughts (Annie in Austin, Kati over at Realmud Garden) suddenly feel like they have to keep their posts to one screen in length.

    Also, it’s a difficult line to walk, protecting your own privacy while sharing yourself with those who read your blog. I know that I like Xris and that he has earned some credibility in my eyes with his thoughtful posts and comments–I don’t really need him to expand his bio section in order for me to feel any better about listening to what he has to say.

  9. Ellis Hollow says:

    Kim: One of Nielsen’s even more basic rules is that content is king. No amount of usability makes lousy content good. So I have no problem reading long posts if they’re good – yours for example.

  10. Some of Nielsen’s ideas seem pretty valid. I do need an index for example. Being geographically specific also makes sense to me – that’s why I named myself ‘Annie in Austin’

    But in spite of the statement, “The Web Is Not High School”, much of this advice seems exactly that: No humorous headlines? Short, easily scanned articles? Irregular posting? Mixing topics? Wanna trade photos?
    Obviously I can’t sit at the lunch table with the popular kids.

    As my fellow Contrarians Christopher and Kim have noted, some of us are here for other reasons – we’re having conversations with interesting people, not making business contacts. We may prefer to read a mixture of all kinds of writing styles, from the short-and-snappy to the most languidly compound sentence structures, rather than the homogenized sports-and-politics-info mode of so many blogs. And we may enjoy planting puns in our headlines.

    Long-winded Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. eliz. says:

    I actually followed the advice to make a section of my favorite posts and now I find that these are being re-fed to people via bloglines–so they’re getting all these old posts.

    So that was unexpected.

  12. C.C. says:

    Okay, first I will say I do not have a passing grade on his usability recommendations. And I will be looking at changing a couple of things.

    But then again, I am not posting for potential clients, my writing career, or commercial content. Simply stated, it’s my garden journal online, for anyone to see (and yes, you can laugh at my foibles or challenge my thinking – it’s okay.)

    I read other garden blogs for the blogger’s individual impressions, personal struggles and triumphs, and passion for plants. I appreciate good grammar, good spelling and succinct thoughts. However, the wild ramblings of someone who is obviously passionate is by far more interesting than the glossy “content” found in gardening magazines.

    That being said, Jakob Nielson’s recommendations seem to be the exact opposite of the Garden Rant’s Manifesto. No?

  13. Susan says:

    Ooh, which part of our Manifesto? This is intriguing!

  14. C.C. says:

    Bored with perfect magazine gardens:

    magazines = usability, content, gloss,”expertise”, all the things that a publishing house wants to sell to a consumer (ergo advertising client).

    In love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens.

    [sigh] My blog is weak. I have buried “the classic hits”, poor navigation, nondescript posting titles, lack of domain name ownership, the publishing is irregular, no author photo, etc. It is rambling, chaotic, bug-ridden and ….[sigh] Tough. I will continue to blog.

    Having a hell of a lot of fun.

    Note: I do like some of his suggestions. But if I felt that I had to do these things on my blog, I would stop having any fun.

  15. Ellis Hollow says:

    C.C.: Having fun is the most important part. Don’t fret too much about Nielsen and lose site of why you blog.

    I can see where this whole thread would for some bring back bad memories of how some high school English teacher’s red pencil marks took all the joy out of writing.

    But most of my life, I’ve had people using red pencils (or later ‘track change’) trying to show me ways to communicate better. So I no longer bristle at editorial suggestions like those from Nielsen. Take what makes sense to you and don’t sweat the rest.

  16. Eliz. says:

    So the blog itself should be rambling, chaotic, and … dirty?

    That type of content would probably increase our readership. Not sure I’m up for it, though.

  17. Ellis Hollow says:

    No, I think your blog gets lots of eyes precisely because it’s concise, organized and clean. But if there is a place that’s rambling, chaotic and dirty but with a great view, you’d give us a map of how to get there.

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