Tuesday, February 26, 2008

While We're Waiting...

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who's helped make this a successful launch! Whether you were drawn here from the posting in "AFTER MIDNIGHT", or from one of the ads on various web sites, thank you for taking a few minutes to look things over. I hope you'll be back for repeat visits!
As the "Welcome" message at the top of the right-hand column says, I'm welcoming submissions on this site. As noted, please send them to the e-mail link in the message, and please put the word "Submissions" in your title line. You don't need to be an acknowledged expert, but I would hope you'd at least know what you're talking about. Hope to hear from you soon...
While we're waiting, here are a few links to sites that say they can help your writing skills:

Read a valuable RSS Feeds & Blogging Tutorial at Web Site101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial.

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/12/30/tens-tips-for-writing-a-blog-post/[Problogger.net has plenty of help for newbies; check it out]

http://www.instigatorblog.com/5-blog-writing-tips-to-get-more-comments/2006/10/04/ [though written from a monitization perspective, there are still good tips in this entry]

http://scalzi.com/whatever/004023.html [John Scalzi has a "Damn The Torpedoes!" style, but his points on writing are all well taken]

http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writebetter [Dennis Mahoney's post requires reading to glean all his insights. Good reading is a key skill in developing good writing skills...]

http://tojou.blogspot.com/2006/10/tips-for-blog-writing.html [An older link, still working as of writing, for more tips]

If you feel that none of these are helpful, a good Internet search should connect you with something you'll find useful.

-Mike Riley

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pet Peeves

For about two years now, I've put together a mildly-successful blog (AFTER MIDNIGHT; look for widget/link on right-hand column), along with some riduculously-UNSUCCESSFUL ones [why dig up the past?}. I don't know that I have the right to call myself a blog "expert", but I do know what I like - and don't like. I believe my "likes" are a matter of personal taste; my "dislikes", however, hopfully reflect fixable issues with the blog in question. Here are some of those "pet peeves":

*Spelling/Mis-used words: This one goes back, no doubt, to my school days, when points were taken off writing projects for misspellings. In the "SpellCheck" era, such mistakes are just INEXCUSABLE. Besides, a correctly-spelled postings makes its writer look more intelligent and in control of the topic. A simular peeve is the mis-use of words ("their" for "there" is one example). This is a harder matter to correct; perhaps a future posting will adress this?

*Illegible Blogs: This usually comes down to one or two issues; either the blog's color scheme does not allow for easy reading, or the type face is too darn small. A blog's color design is a key part of its overall "look". It usually comes down to the taste of the blog's creator. As such, criticism of such matters can come off like criticism of the blogger's first-born. But you're doing the blog for a reason. You want it TO BE READ. A survey I saw not too long ago noted that black-on-white is the easiest read of any color combination [flying in the face of this fact, AFTER MIDNIGHT is white-on-black. But the contrast shows the copy quite well, I believe. At least no one has complained about it yet]. As to text size, I think this shoes the problem nicely. As a blogger in his 50's, I really can't read the smaller type faces easily. If I can't read it easily, why would I struggle to try?

*Blogs that take forever to download: I do most of my blogging and reading of blogs at work. Here, we have T1 lines, bringing the Internet into our computers at near top speed [I don't know the technology well enough to explain it. Let's just say it's DADBUM fast]. Yet many blogs take forever to download. Usually, these blogs are over-laden with widgets or other gimmicks. Again, it's a taste issue; but people don't want to wait for your page to download. Reduce the number of widgets, and your download speed will almost certainly increase.

I know I've only mentioned three "peeves". Frankly, though, those are the main issues I have with blogs. If I'm interested in the topic, I can usually sit through observations on it, whether or not I agree with the blogger's viewpoint. If I'm not interested, I probably won't read it anyway. If we as bloggers can try to address these areas, though, it would almost certainly make blogs better.

-Mike Riley