Darren Rowse, who runs the monster site, Problogger.com, recently put out this little challenge to have bloggers write about “developing goals for a blog”. Darren occasionally will put out “group writing” offers with the bait that he’ll include a link to your article if it is pretty good. The guy gets so much traffic that it is almost crazy so people tend to covet a link on his blog. I purposely missed the deadline for two main reasons (not counting my lack of direction lately).

First, as I read through all the initial articles coming into Darren, it was obvious, again, that us bloggers are completely out of touch with mainstream society. I saw goals that stretched the boundaries of reality. I saw goals that had only to do with making so much money from some advertising scheme or another. I saw goals about how many posts someone was going to do. I knew my comments would be not taken very well from the ProBlogger crowd, so all the better to post them after the project is over.

Second, while I liked Darren’s idea, I could quickly see that the bloggers who were shooting for those coveted links, pings, trackbacks (whatever!) to ProBlogger, were pandering to… other bloggers! No surprise, but my blog isn’t about blogging. In fact, even though the subject of blogging is pushing for a #1 rank on the site, especially after this post, I’ve never had a dream to blog about blogging. There are some great blogging sites out there, but it seems like 90% of the blogs that I come across are either about blogging, making money from blogging (usually from blogs that have a whopping total of 12 pages), or are some teeny bopper myspace-style blog that says nothing of interest to anyone under 17. Whoops! I mean 31, which is the new 17.

Darren’s talks a bit about making your blogging goals public as some sort of accountability factor. I kind of like this - not a whole lot different than walking into work on Monday morning with pictures of you in a speedo and declaring “I will lose 30 pounds of ugly fat in the next 60 days”. Maybe some people need that motivation. It can’t hurt I guess - unless you fail in which case you’ll forever be shamed.

So, I thought instead, I’d put not only my goals about this blog here, but give you a little insight into what motivates me to do this, why I think you should bother to read it, and why you might consider doing something similar.

First, I have to make my standard disclaimer: I hate blogs. I really do. If you deal with real people - people raising families, people running real businesses (uh, not blogs), people in church, you’ll quickly realize that most people have no idea what a blog is. They’ve heard of it, but don’t get it. But people know what a website is - they know how to search for stuff, find things on Yahoo! or Google, etc. Maybe these ideas will help fellow bloggers - maybe not. So, let me instead title this as the following:

My Goals for this Website and this Website Only

  1. Remove, as much as practical, any references to the word “Blog” in my blog, er, website. I’ll keep my subject of blogging, but make sure my home page does not refer to Lawrence Salberg’s Blog, or a subtitle that says “A Blog about Small Business Efficiency”. In essence, kill the word “blog”. No fear. Bloggers know a WordPress site when they see one - no matter how much customization I spend (BTW, do you like my cool shadow that makes it look 3D?), so it isn’t necessary to plug it as a blog. Non-bloggers, that is to say, Real People, just see it as a website.
  2. Additionally, get rid of the word “post” and replace it with “article”. Real people read articles. Gamers, bloggers, and us total web geeks read posts. While we do, in fact, rule the internet and the Real People are at our mercy, I’m not writing my blog, er, website for geeks - but for Real People.
  3. Along those same lines, put as many menu-type navigation style menus as I can. Thus, I will insert a top menu that runs horizontally under my banner that lists various areas to navigate to “Top Articles”, “Donations”, “Archives”, “About this Site”, “Contact Me”, etc. These should look like buttons that folks find on most real websites. I’ll also replace some of my right-column material with menu buttons as well.
  4. I’ll condense unnecessary information - starting with the ridiculous archive by date posting that defaults with WordPress. No Real Person cares. No Real Person is going to say, “Wow - let me check out October 2005 and see what buried treasure is hidden there”. There are plugins that can help with this.
  5. I’m going to replace the top banner with something more visually appealing - like a real website. It isn’t fully necessary - even Steve Pavlina gets a bazillion hits a day with his lame top banner, but I don’t like mine, it looks sterile, and I think I could do much better.
  6. I’m going to add a footer to the bottom of each article. I will freely admit that I’m stealing this idea from other blog sites, but I want to provide a bit more direction to folks who have read all the way through an article. I’ll probably promote my donation page (yet to be created - right now, my donation button throws people right into PayPal wonderland with little warning), and give a few brief links to other areas around the site. There’s always all the related post plugins that I could install and fool around with at a later date. Did I say “post”? Whoops!
  7. Does anyone else care how much enormous space the AdSense 160×600 banner takes? Even though Google says it is a great profitable space, I really don’t care what Google says. My website is more important than those cross-eyed pencil-necked dweebs at Google. So, that giant banner, with its enormous white space between ads, is getting killed. Google gets a five liner text ad. That’s all. I will integrate better some other advertising soon, but at my discretion. I’m getting pretty tired of “contextual” advertising that is anything but contextual - and I think most web visitors are getting pretty tired of them too. Maybe that is easy for me to do since I’m not making a $1000/month from Adsense, but it is also easy to do, because they are getting in the way of my passion - which is to help people. So, sorry Google, you are getting demoted.

These last points have to do with how I generate my content.

  1. I will have one series going at all times, save for a short break between series. Currently, that is the How to Save Money when Buying a Car series - a killer effort on my part, but I hope folks like it. I thought it would be a total of five articles, it is starting to shape up to be closer to ten. Ugh! But if it helps just one person, then great. Plus, series articles generate “be backs”, as we used to call them on the car lot. I may even have two series at a time, but no more than that.
  2. I will have one On-Going Thing in my life that I write about at all times. Currently, that is the “water only” diet I’m on, but it could just as well be something like a new kitten I bought, setting up a new Linux server, my new homeschool schedule I’m doing for the kids, whatever. The On-Going Thing (OGT) has to be real, open, and honest. It differs from the Series articles by not presenting or demonstrating. It is just relating of a real-life experience, with all its foibles.
  3. I will refrain, as much as possible, to comment on world or national events, including new gadgets and software on the market. If I feel the need to comment on some new cellphone that Nokia just tossed out to us hapless consumers, I will either write a whole article, a review in other words, or else I’ll work it into one of the two options above. Failing that, I’ll write a general topic article about cellphones in general - in which I’ll summarize my singular point of view (no pun intended) that they are all killing us with cancer and not even giving us good service while doing so, and what real man plays MP3’s on his phone or text messages his friends? But I digresss.
  4. I will question all my content before submitting (notice I did not say “posting”) as to whether it might be interesting for someone to read a year from now. If not, I will save it as idea fodder in a folder on my desktop to write later with a better view or topic. I will remember that just because I can push my little Publish button, doesn’t mean that it has any real value. I’m sorry again - but if my only readers are gamers, geeks, and bloggers, I’m in trouble. I love all three groups, but quite frankly, they’ll read anything. Now, if I was running a site only about gaming, or blogging as Darren does, that would be different. But this blog is about my opinions, my ideas, my helpful ways that can make people’s lives and businesses better, so who cares what I think about the latest iMac notebook. Writing a two-paragraph puff piece saying it is “cool” and “neat” is useless. I might as well stand a street corner with a tin cup in my hand and tell folks how Lyndon B. Johnson is being kept alive in frozen carbonite by Hillory Clinton. They would get just about as much value out of that.

So, there’s my goals. If I don’t make follow through and do them, feel free to send me nasty spam mail telling me how much you hate me. Look, I got one already!

Now, why should you read blogs? You shouldn’t. You should only read things that can better you as a person, things that help you find your way in life, and not surprisingly, you probably, unless forced otherwise, will do just that. Unless you are one of those people who spend ten minutes each day reading the AP Weird News. I can’t help you folks.

Why should you read my blog? Well, I have pretty much three main audiences that I can tell. First, the smallest group are people who actually know me in real life. Very few of my friends have the computer savvy to even figure out how to turn on a TI-85 calculator. Yes, it’s true - I hang with real people. Shudder! Quite frankly, I’m not even sure why some people like me. If I didn’t have a wife and children, I’m sure I’d be suffering from insecurity issues. Most people who know me do not read this blog - not for my lack of plugging it either. Again, if I say “read my blog”, I hear “what’s a blog?” and the conversation generally degrades from there into a discussion of the TI-85. My own wife only scans it occasionally. In fact, let’s just see how many weeks it takes her to come to me and say, “I read your blog - you said I only scan it”. It will be weeks - trust me. But, I love her for that - that she is a real person.

I told you there were two other groups. I have no idea who they are. My analytics tells me things that are contrary to logic and common sense. My server logs tell me something else. I do seem to have some friends in Libya suddenly very interested in my blog, so I was thinking about writing an article called “Why Libyans are better friends than dogs”. I also have a hold-out group from Scandanavia still devoted to reading my articles. If I die from drinking too much water, I hope one day that this blog will be a little miniature journal that my children can read and kind of get to know who their father was.

Why should you start a blog? Well, I can only say one thing and one thing only. Please, for the sake of blog-world, don’t do it unless you are ready to share nearly everything about your life - not just your strengths, but your weaknesses, your shortcomings, your failures, your struggles. If I have to stumble across one more blog where some know-it-all saint is pushing his Firefox views on the rest of us, I’ll cry. Truly, I will. I love Firefox, too - but there has to be other interests in life, no? Be genuine and people will at least find you interesting. Not maybe all the people you currently know - a pox on them! - but other people will.

Technorati : Problogger, blogging, goals, website design

Posted in: Blogging