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Lesson 11: Video Blogging

Posted by Adam Graham on May 6, 2007

Video blogging is the final frontier of blogging. It is perhaps the least advanced form of blogging in terms of user-created content, but it still merits some discussion.

1) The advantages and disadvantages of Videoblogging:

Impact: If a picture is worth a thousand words, a good video is worth ten thousand. The things we see on video seem more real to us.

Price and practicality: It’s becoming less expensive to purchase a camera, equipment, etc. YouTube and other services makes it more practical to host your film.

Negatives:

1) Results

It’s really a hard medium to work in. Audio is the easiest, text and picture posts require formatting and editting, but video is something else. Issues arise like:

-Lighting
-Sound quality
-Steadiness
-Hair and Ties

2) Persuasiveness-Whoever changed their mind because they saw it on YouTube.

3) Reach: Compared to other mediums, Video fails to reach as many people usually

To do video on your blog:

1) Have a camera

2) Edit Your Video

Bonus Tip: Always edit still pictures

3)Have a purpose for using video.

Obviously, if you’re video-minded go to town, but for the rest of us, Video-blogging may not be the easiest.

Trends to watch for in Video-Blogging:

Some clues that Video-blogging may be getting more worthwhile:

1) Better quality cameras available for less
2) Better video quality on computers

3) Monetization
4) Popular Regular non-professional Video Blogcasts

Click here to download the podcast.



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Lesson 10: Podcasting

Posted by Adam Graham on April 29, 2007

Of all the lessons we’ve covered, these last two will be the ones that are most revised, because they are the least fully formed of new media technologies.

What is podcasting:

No doubt, you’ve seen the popular I-pods that are everywhere, generally these are used for downloading music, but some enterprising individuals have had the idea of creating files like talkshows which can be downloaded onto I-pods, thus Podcast.

A Podcast will be:

1) A MP3 File
2) Accessible through an RSS feed so that Itunes and other readers can download them.

There are numerous ways to achieve this. There are services that hosts podcast, which will give you a free feed. You can also upload podcasts onto your own server and then link to them on your blog, and feed your blog through Feedburner.

You also want to insure you add your podcast to the Itunes Store.

The Benefits of Podcasting:

1) It is less time consuming

2) It is a pioneer market

3) It is accessible to our culture.

Hosting Your Podcast (what you need)

1) I reccomend a Skype Account. Skype is a great service that allows you to call any number in America with no charge for $29.95 a year. You can also call up to nine different people at once, so you can easily call multiple guests at once and it’s right at your computer with your news stories that you’ll want to talk about.

2) A good headset. When I first started out, I used a cell phone. Then I used a little strap on headset that had come with a camera phone. My reccomendation is a good over the ears, stereo headset with a good mike. Since I began to use that, it’s fundamentally changed the way I podcast. I’m getting better sound, I’m feeling more comfortable because I don’t have to fiddle with a phone or ear clip microphone.

3) Audacity. If you’re going to podcast, you need Audacity. This goes back to why I reccomend you record through Skype. When you do, you can set audacity to record your podcast as a back-up. One of my big frustrations early in podcasting,(which led to early retirement from podcasting) is that I would phone in a podcast and it would not post and I’d have to call it back in. Using Audacity, you never have to do that, if you’re using Skype as well. Set Audacity to record Stereo Mix and it will record everything you’re saying as well as anything guests are saying to you and you can upload it later.

4) A Way to Publish Podcasts: There are many phone only services out there, where basically you phone in your show, do it live and that’s that. I used these for the first 200 odd podcasts and I don’t reccomend them. Any good podcasting service will have the ability to upload files. This way you can upload a back-up in case your phone recording fails.

I reccomend TalkShoe because I use it. One of the most interesting benefits of it is that TalkShoe pays you to podcast on the basis of how many downloads you can get. It also provides you interactivity by allowing people to call in and join the show. Blog Talk Radio is another service that does the same thing, but without paying you for doing podcasts.

Now, some people will consider networks that pay to be somewhat base. Make money? How impure. Well, there’s no better way to make something easier to do it than to throw in some money for doing it.

In my opinion, it beats the alternative of the costs on the other end of the podcasting spectrum. Hosting a podcast on your own server can be an expensive and time consuming proposition.

Success can become your enemy. What do I mean? Well, a good quality MP3 is going to take a little less than 1 MB for every single minute. If I do a half hour show, it’s going to take 28 MB. If I have 200 MB of disk space, after about 7 shows, I’m going to run out of space. Even if I have 400 or 500 MB, I’m going to run out. But there’s another issue that’s an even bigger concern. It’s called Bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of downloaded information that’s allowed to come off your server. Everytime someone downloads your 28 MB podcasts, it takes away 28 MB of bandwidth. If you have a reasonable server size, lets say 3 GB of Space, and 200 GB of Bandwidth, you’re going to go along for quite sometime without any problem.

But success will come back to bite you. I took a look at last week’s downloads and found that 62% of downloads from my political podcast where from prior weeks. Basically, once you post these things, these podcasts get downloaded months and years later. What does that mean for you? As your podcast grows, more people will download your podcast, more people will download your prior episodes and it won’t be too long until you have more than 7142 download attempts of your podcasts in a month. If you’re going to do this on your own server, you’re going to need high capacity bandwidth limits.

A great service I’ve heard of is Ten Buck Terabyte where you can get a Terrabyte of space for about $4.69 a month. You will really want to stay up on your usage to make sure you don’t go over, because then you’ll want to upgrade. But for a half hour show, that’ll mean 35,000 downloads a month and you’ve got that type of traffic, I’d humbly suggest it’s time to monetize to help pay for some of your expenses.

But I’d rather not worry about it, so I prefer to use another service and just link to the podcast on my blog. If you’re interested in finding out more about Talkshoe, e-mail me, and I’ll send you a link and information. I’ll be honest that I get referral credit on it. It doesn’t cost you any money, but if you decide to use them and make money with TalkShoe and you heard about it hear, it’d be nice to get credit for it. There’s no cost to you for me getting the referral credit.

Regardless, I hope you consider the world of podcasting, because it truly will be the next thing in new media.

Click here to download the podcast.



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Lesson 9: Campaign and Organization Blogs

Posted by Adam Graham on April 22, 2007

Where blogs have not been used or used very poorly is in the area of political campaigns and by conservative organizations. Is it time for your candidate or organization to get started blogging? Let’s examine some key questions to ask.

1) What can you reasonably expect to get from having a blog?

This is the greatest question an organization must ask itself. Blogging is easy, building and maintaining a successful high quality blog takes work. If you don’t know what to expect from the blog, you won’t know if the actions you’re taking are going to hurt or help you in achieving your goal.

In addition, some candidates don’t need blogs. Out in Montana, you have 9-10,000 people per legislative district or therabouts. Good retail politicking will be more important that a blog, at least for the time being.

Also, the demographics of the area may make a blog impractical. If you represent an area with a majority Senior population or where Internet usage is low, it may not make sense to invest in the blog infrastructure right now. In a few years. maybe.

If your main reason for setting up a blog is to allow supporters to network, you would do much better to use a social networking site like MySpace or Shout Life

Some good reasons to have a blog:

1) Providing instant feedback on news stories and events.

2) Gaining search engine ranking for your stories.

3) Getting constituent feedback.

The main bad reason is because other people have been doing or you’ve heard about blogging. In this case, you’re investing in trend rather than a strategy for your organization.

2) Can you take care of a blog?

I knwo it sounds like I’m your mom talking to you about a puppy, but it really is the same thing. Blogs require care and feeding. They need:

a) Content
b) To be watched
c) have anti-spam issues dealt with.

This adds up to an appropriation of time, either by adding to workloads for existing staff or hiring someone else to do it. Either way, it’s a committment that needs to be made in order to sustain the blog.

3) Will you maximize your blog’s potential?

Most blogs never meet their full potential in terms of how it can be integrated to make an organization successful. Will you use it to its fullest to achieve ends like launching campaigns, serving as a hub for your candidate/organizations effort, and giving your cause a human touch? If not, why bother?

Important Points to Remember

1) Your blog is the face of your campaign.

This means that you want to use a professional template (on a hosted server) and you want to insure whoever writes your blog hasn’t said a lot of things that will detract from your efforts.

You can consider self-blogging when you’re running on a small budget. and/or the campaign is low profile.

2) You get what you pay for:

If you get someone to blog for you on a free/volunteer basis remember the old axiom that you get what you pay for. In small campaigns, this is okay, but if I’m running for Congress, I wouldn’t a volunteer blogger any more than I’d want a volunteer press secretary. Be willing to pay if you have the funds so you can get the best.

3) Find new ways to use the blog. This is absolutely key. If all you do is post text and more text and than even more text, with a few pictures mixed in, you’ve not really used it.

Find ways to make your blog profitable for your campaign or organizations. Donation buttons, stories of small donors, etc. are all great ways to give people hints on how to contribute.

Use charts, graphs, pictures, reports, and articles to bolster your case. Find new ways to network with supporters. You need to keep up on new technology and watch for new ways to achieve your goals. Committing to blogging means committing to a lifetime full of learning and gaining understanding.

Click here to download.



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Conservative Blogging 101, Lesson 8: Promoting Your Blog

Posted by Adam Graham on April 15, 2007

There are several ways to promote your blog. I’m not going to go into detail, but rather I’ll give some general information that will direct your study and search for more:

1) Trackbacks

If you write a blog post about someone else’s post and they have trackback ability, send their post a trackback. The trackback lets the writer as well as their readers know that you wrote about the post. There are two ways to do this.

1) Use your internal pingers. WordPress and wordpress.com both have it as does b2evolution.

2) Set up an account a Haloscan account and use Haloscan’s trackback sender to broadcast your post. Click here for instructions.

There are several standalone forms such as Wizbang’s but I don’t reccomend them and I’ll explain why later.

2) Use Open Trackback Parties.

An open trackback party is where a blogger makes a post on his website available for anyone to send non-spam links to via the Trackback function.

I’m a proud co-founder of Linkfest Haven Deluxe where you can use the ping chooser to get links to all the linkfests and then send them trackbacks.

You can also host a linkfest provided you have trackback abilities.

Key point to remember:

Exchange links. Don’t trackback to someone’s party and not to link to them. When someone trackbacks you if you’re hosting, try and get their link added in a timely manner, preferably while the Linkfest is on the front page.

3) Be Listed in Technorati and have your blog claimed.

4) Use Blog Carnivals:

Find carnivals that match your niche and submit pieces to them. Out of some carnivals, I’ve gotten eight or nine links from people who enjoyed my pieces. Go to Blogcarnival.com

5) Thursday 13s :

I’ve not had as much opportunity to do these as much, but I’ve gotten a lot of traffic and links when I did. The concept is that you post a list or topic with 13 things in it. Be it, 1) My 13 key core beliefs, 2) The 13 greatest ball games ever, etc. and then people leave their Thursday 13s and you link to them and you go to other people’s thursday 13s, and so on.

This and other blogging memes are a great way for your readers to get to know you. Click here for more information on Thursday 13s. Also take part in other blog memes. It’s a great way to express yourself and introduce yourself to new bloggers.

6) Blog Rolls:

A good source of links. Find blog rolls that fit your beliefs/style and join them. For example, I’m part of the Stop the ACLU Blog Burst, and the fighting keyboardist.

7) Social Bookmarking:

Digg, del.ic.io.us, and My Blog Log are great ways to promote your blog, by submitting content to these services and making it easy for your readers to do so.

8) Software specific tools:

What software, plugins, add-ons, etc. are available to help you promote your blog. It depends on the software. This is a great area to use research skills to find tools specific to your platform that will help you promote and grow your blog.



Linked by Good Sense

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Lesson 7: Being a Good Blogging Neighbor

Posted by Adam Graham on March 31, 2007

When I first got started blogging, I had many problems both in 2002, when I started my initial blog and 2004 when I started this one. In 2002, I didn’t know what I was doing. In 2004, I expressed frustration that despite being a columnist for websites on Google News, I felt like I was writing to no one in particular. His suggestion: start a blog. Through the magic of syndication, you’ll get more readers. Hey, it sounded like a good deal, so I started writing.

A year later in 2005, I’d found the whole blogging biz to have been far from successful. It was rare that I was linked to by anyone. I ranked in the 7000s level of the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem, with a blog that had few regular readers and was hit with far more spam than real comments.

A year and a half later, we’re doing much better. We stand at #324 on the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem, ahead of many great and venerable blog. Readership is generally (more or less) 200 readers a day. How did it happen? Well, we might call it a shift in paradigms.

The Beginner’s Paradigm

When you enter the whole blogging thing, there are two different ideas people have about blogging:

“It’s just a place where I can express my opinions.”

“I’m in a battle against corruption, apathy, graft, etc. and it’s me v. the world.”

Thus, blogging begins with the idea that your blog is about you:

1) Your opinions

2) Your thoughts
3) Your crusade

Now, certainly if you just want to blurt out whatever you think in a way that makes no impact, go ahead. If you don’t care who you’re read by, but you’re mad as heck and you’ve got to let the world know, than it’s very simple. But to go beyond venting requires something else.

Blogging Community

The Blogosphere is not just you. You have millions of neighors. Depending on where you live, you have thousands of people writing about the same thing you are.

Alone, you’re one lonely website, but in community, the blogosphere becomes a powerful engine. It was that engine of conservative blogs working together that stopped the Harriet Miers nomination. It was that network on the left that powered the Democrats to victory in 2006. So, how do you be a good blogging neighbor. Here are some good rules:

1) Read Blogs:

Read a wide variety of blogs, as I showed you in my RSS lesson, I’m subscribed to a plethora of big and small blogs. If you expect blogs to grow in influence, the first step is to let them influence you, rather than relying on traditional media solely. The blogosphere is a great source of information.

2) Study and Participate in Blogs:

Here’s one I wish I’d done when I started blogging. There are few big books of rules for the Blogosphere. We learn in one of two ways: by expereince or by watching others. Learning by experience is tough (as the old saying goes, “Good judgment comes with experience, which come through bad judgment.”) Simply put, find a blog you like, see what the blogger does and then apply it to your blog. Believe me, it beats the heck out of making things up as you go.

3) Always Link Back:

If you quote someone with attribution, you’ve done your duty as a writer, but to do the right blogging thing, if your source is online link to it. There are several reasons to do this:

1) If it’s a blog post, it’ll allow the blogger to respond.

2) It’ll allow people looking for comments on that story to find your story.

Now, of course, not linking back is a great way to avoid debate in that you get really have a debate if no one knows what you wrote, but if you don’t want debate or to be challenged, you don’t belong in the blogosphere.

4) Be Generous with Linking:

The number of links you get is pretty much proportional to the number of links you give. The less you give, the less you will in turn get. A link is good for your readers because it lets them know about a perspective on a story and it’s good for you because, linking to another blogger (particularly with a Trackback.) is like dropping a business card on their desk. Whenever, I see someone knew linking to me, I pay them a visit and if I like what I read, I subscribe to their feed, and they have a faithful reader on their hand who will link to more of their stuff. Thus, a greater blogging relationship is established. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen, sometimes it does. Just keep linking.

5) Hat Tip:

When you find an interesting blog post or news story that you then post about on your blog, it’s typical to give the blog you found the post through a Hat Tip:

A critical issue can come with who to Hat Tip. If I find a link on Instapundit, that takes me to Michelle Malkin and then refers me to a post at Conservative Outpost that has the original story, who do I link to?

Well, Conservative Outpost is an obvious one. Generally, I’ll hat tip only Instapundit as he’s the one I found the post at, unless Malkin added something significant in her post in which case, I’ll hat tip them both. Use your judgment, but I found this model works pretty well.

6) Round Up:

If you run into a news story that’s compelling, but can’t think of much you have to add to it, you can build some blogging contacts, by doing a blog round up.

For an example of a blog round up, click here. You take the URL of the story and go to either Google Blog Search or Technorati and you will find all the blog reaction to a story. You then choose what you find interesting, quote some blogs, summarize their points and perhaps provide some of your own context, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

7) Praise Other Bloggers:

When you see something good in the blogosphere, praise it. Comment on other blogs. Take those steps to build relationship. During the last two years, though I’ve not been a nominee for the Weblog Awards, I’ve offered extensive coverage on blogs and I’ve been surprised how many came over to my site to comment. In the 2006 Weblog Awards, I established many relationships and alliances that continue to this day. By honoring others, you strengthen relationships and help build a blogging community.

Click here to download.



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Lesson 6: The Wonderful World of RSS

Posted by Adam Graham on March 25, 2007

Have you seen these symbols (or ones like them) around the internet:

XML syndication

What are they? Some strange symbols for computers? A logo for a cool online club? Part of some alien civilization?

They’re symbols of the future of the Internet, and understanding them is key to having long-term success in this thing called the blogosphere.

Understanding RSS

These orange symbols may have different letters on them. Instead of XML, the letters may say, “Atom,” “RDF,” or “RSS.” What the letters say is really quite irrelevant for our purposes. Their function is the same. They not only allow help update search engines with your latest posts, but allow individuals to see your posts as soon as you update your blog using a feed reader.

Most people view a blog by visiting it. They’ve got it saved in their “favorites” or “bookmarks” and that’s how they find out what’s happening. This is like walking down to the grocery store to buy a newspaper.

Subscribing to a blog via a Feed Reader is like having it home delivered at no cost. If people have the money and wish to read the paper regularly, they’ll generally subscribe to avoid the inconvenience of an extra trip. People will eventually use Feed Readers to read blogs and other news sources without the inconvenience of having to go to their website or dealing with slow load times or arriving at a site only to find it hasn’t been updated.

Lest we think, that only blogs are doing this, take a look at what the major wire service Reuters is doing:

All websites which want to thrive and survive need to better understand RSS to reach their audience.

=> Read more!

Posted in Conservative Blogging 101 | 2 Comments »

Lesson 5: The Rules of Blogging

Posted by Adam Graham on March 18, 2007

Today, we’re going to talk about good, general blogging rules as I see them:

1. Remember Whose House It Is:

The Internet is filled with a new type of refugee, the net refugee. There are people who rail about being kicked off certains, forums, blogs, and websites. They allege persecution and thrown around comparisons to Stalin.

Of course, such a thing is absurd. Private property rights apply in the blogosphere. The blog and what’s written there is the propery of the owner, not of the person coming on the blog.

Another way to look at it is that a sidewalk exists to serve the interests of everyone, but a blog is more like a house. A house exists as the personal domain of the owner, and serves primarily to meet his needs and for his pleasure. Thus no one has a right to comment or to behave in a certain manner on someone else’s blog.

Even though when you have your own blog, it’s your house, it’s important to be consistent in rules and set expectations. If you promise complete openness and then start banning people, you’ll have a reputation for unfairness. Either use hard and fast rules or warn commenters to give them a chance and then if the behavior persists, remove the offending commenter.

2. Visitors/users are human beings

It’s easy to start thinking that they’re just very annoying computer programs, but they are human beings. While you may not have much control over it, you do not want to be the cause of a debate going into personal attacks.

Some people use the Internet as a venting outlet. and will say to the liberal commenter, what they wouldn’t say to the liberal family member, or to the conservative blogger what they wouldn’t say to the conservative co-worker. This can lead to very nasty escalation of the debate to the level of schoolyard insults. To paraphrase Nike, “Just don’t do it.”

The other thing that’s important is to respond feedback promptly. Be it comments or e-mail, when readers care enough to e-mail you, care enough to respond back, work to build a level of committment and follow-through.

3. Be Principed

I recently read a blogger who declared that her blog has an 11th Commamdment policy. This means they will not cricitize Republican elected officials, because they want to see Republicans elected. What’s the problem with that?

In essence, what they’re saying is, “I’ll be a shill for the Republican Party and there’s no principle higher than party victory.” First of all, that’s not going to make people trust them, because if the GOP says down is up and up is down, they’ll believe it and they’ll tell you that. There’s enough shills already in the blogosophere and the mainstream media, one more is not needed.

If you’re willing to criticize your party when they’re wrong, people will take you more serious when you support them when they’re right. Have some principle bigger than party, or you’ll be greatly hindered as a blogger and not really make an impact.

4. Be interesting and informative

Good writing is key to good blogging. Remember, your audience has a limited attention span. If you get too long-winded, you’ll lose them.

Also, before you write ask if you really have something to contribute. Sometimes, it’s all been said, so don’t feel the need to say it again. Let your readers know about a story that interests you and let them read it. If readers know they can trust you to find interesting news for them, that will help with reader loyalty, even if you don’t have a lot to say.

Be sure that the stories you’re talking about serve some purpose. It should inform or enrich them in some way. For example if you’re writing a blog targeted at people in Seattle and you write, “Boy, it’s rainy outside.” You’ve not really done anything other than waste your readers’ time. You can add something with a photo of the storm or you can discuss the consequences of it.

5. Be Trustworthy Online and Off:

Without integrity, you have no credability as a blogger. Without

1) Properly attribute quotes and avoid plagarism.

2) Do not practice sock puppetry (i.e. assuming a second identity from your blogging one.)

3) Respect privacy and security of others

4) Insure accuracy and apologize for errors.

5) Disclose potential conflicts of Interests.

Following these basic steps will help you avoid the most common blogging ethical mistakes.

6. Be Dependable

-Post consistently. Consistently can be every day, three times a week, every week, but it has to be there. While the unserious blogger may go months between posts, if you wish to build a readership, you have to be there when they expect you to be there. If they can’t expect any type of consistency they won’t read, you’ll only have people stumbling on your blog.

7. Keep Up On Technology

Technology in blogging is always changing. New technology, new updates, new versions, allow you opportunities to grow and become more proficient at blogging, communicate to more people, and creativity. Don’t get in a rut. With blogging as with everything else, the watchword is, “Don’t stop learning!”

Click here to listen.


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Conservative Blogging 101: Interview with Basil

Posted by Adam Graham on March 16, 2007

Today, we got a special treat. Basil from Basil’s Blog batted clean up to provide an informed and thoughtful view on blogging platforms.

Click here to download.



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Blogging 101: Interview with Josue Sierra

Posted by Adam Graham on March 13, 2007

Josue Sierra

After years of reading Josue Sierra’s writing at his old blog, I actually got to talk to him live (and learned that I’d been mentally mispronouncing his name for nearly two years.) He’s in charge of the online community at Townhall.com and provides us a look at one of the best opportunities for new conservatives to get blogging.

Townhall.com has really impressed me with how easy they’ve made it for conservatives to start blogging alongside people like Hugh Hewitt and Mary Katherine Ham. Truly, Josue and Townhall are building something remarkable and I hope you’ll consider being part of it.

Click here to download.



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Lesson 4: Blogging Platforms

Posted by Adam Graham on March 11, 2007

A blogging platform is simply the software you use to make blog posts. Which should you use?

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re going to want to pay to have your blog on a domain (adamsweb.us for example) or whether you want to go ahead and start out with a hosted blog for free. While hosting your own blog on your own domain is a great place to go as you gain more experience in this whole blogging thing is a great idea, if you’re not too sure, starting out hosting on another site (like wordpress.com) allows you to test drive the whole idea of blogging and find out if it will work for you without being charged a fee.

Lets take a look at the best and worst of blogging software for our purposes.

On Your Own Host:

First, you do need to find your own host. I’ll reccomend my host. (affiliate link) as they provide a good rate and several free blogging software pieces already installed.

I should preface the discussion by saying that if you are creative and determined enough, you can make any type of blog software work for you. The issue that comes in here is time and ease. Some platforms you can make look pretty, but it’s going to take work and the question is how much time are you willing to spend when you there are simpler platforms.

Now, let’s go into the worst and best software to use if you’re on your own site:

Worst:

Movable Type

Don’t get me wrong, because you can do amazing things with Movable Type, but for the beginning blogger it’s far too complex and it’s far too easy to make a catastrophic mistake. It is advanced blogging software, not what I’d reccomend for beginners.

Non-standard Blog Software:

My blog uses a fairly small piece of blog software called b2evolution. It’s been the bane of my existence as support is harder to find and anti-spam solutions are not as well-established. If in your blogging career, you focus on WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, and Movable Type (if you get really advanced and adventurous), you’ll do well.

Acceptable:

Blogger:

While there are problems with hosting on Blogspot, many people use a custom blogger template to host the blog on their domain. You want to be sure the template looks very good.

The Best:

Scoop or Drupal (for Community Blogs only.):

Scoop is the basis of many community blogs including Daily Kos and is by far the most common, Drupal is the basis of many blogs include Idaho’s liberal 43rd State Blues. Both come enabled with RSS feeds, and allows users to sign up and start their own diary. This is very important. A key difference between a Blogging Community and a group blog is that anyone can join a blogging community. Group Blogs are limited to those selected to become authors Please do not use Scoop or Drupal for anything other than a blogging community. Drupal, by the way comes pre-installed with Powweb.

Typepad:

Many very good bloggers swear by Typepad. It’s very flexible software that has good features. Be aware that Typepad will charge a minimum of $4.95 a month on top of your web hosting.

Word Press is the blogging software of record for bloggers across the spectrum. If you’re going to host your own blog, it is the software I’d reccomend you starting with. It has many great features in terms of spam fighting, several very well-designed templates, and provides an excellent system for managing your content.

Take a look at Ask Andrea, Save the GOP, Stop the ACLU, Jo’s Cafe and you see how much flexability WordPress offers in allowing you to customize your blog.

Hosted Blogging:

Not Encouraged:

Live Journal, My Space, Xanga, Face Book

Simply put, these are not considered as serious political blog platforms. If you want to host that will impact politics beyond these forums, you’ll want to use a more recognized software. This would be OK for supplemental purposes or to serve as an outreach, but for primary blogging, it’s a no go.

Blogspot: I’ve create several blogs on Blog Spot, and the answer on this one is a definite “No!” Not only do you have to hunt around for a good template (or create one yourself), to get the blog on a more functional level, you have to install several different pieces of code to get standard features from other types of software. Finally, some services have started to ban Blogspot as spam do the high number of Splogs. (i.e. Spam Blogs.)

Unknown Services:

There are many smaller less known services out there that offer blog hosting. My reccomendation is not to use them. In some cases, an entire domain might be banned across multiple servers due to presence of Splogs on that domain, thus limiting your reach.

Acceptable Services:

Typepad:

So you’re not going to pay for a domain name, but you’ll pay $50 a year to host the blog? Doesn’t make sense, but it won’t affect your design and
Typepad does have solid features.

Where I Stand:

For those who love political combat, WhereIStand is for you. You get to engage liberals on the issues of the day, take stands on issues and know how you match up to other bloggers as well as public figures. It’s fairly easy to set up, but the system does take a while to learn in terms of the methods. It’s quite engaging for those interested in debate rather than merely promoting your viewpoint.

Reccomended:

WordPress.com:

This is the hosted version of WordPress and offers many of the same benefit. The only downside is that the customization is somewhat limited as you can’t edit the template. Still, you can make a pretty nice blog using it. Check out the Idaho For Cox page. It took some manipulation, but it was still far nicer than anything I could have made on Blogspot. This is a good service to get your feet wet on before moving

Townhall:

This is what I reccomend for anyone who is new to blogging and really doesn’t want to mess with technical support. If you don’t want to deal with any technical stuff, this is the blog for you. Simply sign up for an account at Townhall.com and in 3 steps you can create a blog with no coding or template hassles. The only negative to using Townhall is the lack of customization. You get the truly important basic features like Trackbacks and Comments, as well as a blog roll, but all the buttons and widgets that are nice blogging extras aren’t as easily added. You also only get 10 templates, but they’re all pretty nice looking ones.

Click to Download



Update: Interview with my lovely wife, a wordpress lover, added.

Posted in Conservative Blogging 101 | Leave a Comment »

Lesson 3: Choosing a Blogging Style

Posted by Adam Graham on March 4, 2007

How do you blog? Let’s take a look at some top right-leaning blogs:

Instapundit
Michelle Malkin
Red State
Stop the ACLU

There are quite a few ways to do this blogging thing. Other than ideological differences, the primary difference between many conservative bloggers comes down to their own personal goals, tastes, and preferences. It’s what I’d like to call, a Blogging style. This will help you make your most important decisions regarding your blog.

Blogging style can best be determined by a series of questions:

1) Why are you intested in blogging?

In Lesson 1, we established how powerful blogging is and how that influence will continue to grow. The question now is what will you do with this power? There are several reasons people blog, here are a few of them:

-To sell themselves subject matter experts.
-To move political power players through blogging
-To get action on one particular issue.

-To build an online political community
-To sound off and provide their opinion.

The purpose of your blog will determine a lot of decisions. If your main purpose is to sell your books and lectures and to use it as an oulet for your writing, it may not make sense for you to use trackbacks and comments as it may not further your goals. Similiarly if your purpose in starting your blog is to promote a pro-life viewpoint, bringing a pro-choice co-blogger on makes little sense. Always keep your blog’s purpose in mind when making a decision and ask whether what’s proposed will help or hinder your blog?

2) Blogging organization?

Some people think the only option to blog is to start one up on a major free service like Blogspot. In reality, there are different ways to blog. These ways vary on three factors:

1) Responsibility
2) Control

3) Expectations

Solo Blogging

1) High Responsibility
2) High Control
3) Expected to provided extremely regular content

Group Blogging

1) Moderate Responsibility

2) Little Control
3) Expected to provide fairly regular content

Online Communities

1) No Responsibility for anything other than your own content
2) No Control
3) No minimum expectation of providing content.

So in your own personal blog, you have to deal with things such as comment spam (if you have comments), layout, etc. In an online community like Red State you have no worries and no expectations.

On the other side, on your personal blog you control all the ads that appear (if any), everything in the sidebar, who can comment and who cannot. In an online community that control goes to moderators. So how important each element is to you will determine how you blog.

3) Anonymous v. Known

Will you be the masked blogger? Some bloggers such as the Random Yak and the Truth Laid Bear jealously guard their true identity like a superhero.

For some, the blogosphere is a great opportunity to say what you want without fear of reprisal because no one knows who you are. It’s a masked speaker of truth thing.

The negative about this is that if your audience knows little about you, you’re less likely to be read or have credability. The more you reveal of yourself, the more you’ll be likely to be found out, and no one likes being unmasked.

If you’re considering using your blog to promote yourself in offline activism, politics, or media, you’d best drop the idea of total anonymity, as it’s hard to become famous and unknown. However, always keep yourself and your family safe in the personal information you post online.

4) Comments?

The decision to allow comments is a tough one. On some blogs, the comments section becomes a distraction from the main point, while on others it allows you to flesh out the point in a conversation with your readers.

It’s at this point, we have look back at issue 1. Comments can open the opportunity for additional thoughts, engagement with the other sides, etc. It can also be the source of hostile and hateful attacks. Will comments hurt or help your blog? It all depends on what you want your blog to be.

Make sure your blogging life fits your style so you can enjoy your blog work for years to come!



Posted in Conservative Blogging 101 | 2 Comments »

Lessons 2: What Is Blogging?

Posted by Adam Graham on February 25, 2007

An old comedy gag goes something like this:

Straight Man: I know who can help us. Bob Snelling.

Comic: Bob Snelling, boy that will show ’em. Ol’ Bob Snelling will fix this in a hurry. He’s the man for the job. (Pause) Who’s Bob Snelling?

We find ourselves in a similar situation with blogs. Even those political leaders who know it’s important to have them, aren’t quite sure what they are. This is what’s covered in this lesson.

Wikipedia provides a useful definition:

A blog is a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order.

By that standard, a lot of sites qualify as a blog. However, many sites some people think are blogs are not. For example, the Drudge Report isn’t a blog.

I would also add that a key requirement of a blog is the presence of an RSS feed. Without that, you don’t have the key advantages Blogs enjoy on Google or the ability for readers to subscribe, so I would not consider the liberal FT. Boise Weblog to be a valid blog.

Also, understand that not all blogs are political. There are blogs about sports, business, fashion, and even blogs about blogs. There are personal blogs, and yes MySpace offers blogs, but for this course, we’re focusing on political blogs.

New Media v. Old Media.

The second concept we’ll take a look at is old v. new media. By new media, we mean blogs, podcasts, online video, and other forms of media that are produced online.

The new media offers opportunities, as well as serious challenges to conservatives and to America in general. And we’ll discuss it all in today’s class.

Click here to Listen in at 5:00 PM ET/3:00 PM MT.

Category

Old Media

New Media

Audience

Broadcast

Narrow Cast

Access

Must be approved by gatekeepers to gain access.

Open.

Advertisers

Certain controversies must not be discussed to avoid
offending advertisers.

Open exchange of ideas. Content producers drive content
not advertisers.

Relationship to Audience

Consumer/Sales Driven

Conversational/Community

Insuring Accuracy

Gatekeepers insure accuracy of reports to avoid lawsuit.

Pressure of community punishes
yes”>
inaccuracy.

Participants

Professionals (except for radio)

Ordinary people

Motives

Profit/Ambition

Influence/Partisan Success

Costs

Expensive

Free or Cheap

UPDATE (Audio Posted):

Click here to download.



Posted in Conservative Blogging 101 | 2 Comments »

Conservative Blogging 101: Interview with David Oatney

Posted by Adam Graham on February 22, 2007

David Oatney of the World According to Oatney provides some great perspective on why blogging is so important. Click here to download.


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Conservative Blogging 101, Lesson 1: Why Blog?

Posted by Adam Graham on February 18, 2007

“I don’t believe in blogging.”

My jaw dropped as the words came out of the mouth of a Republican leader. You don’t believe in the technology that will shape our political debate in the coming century? You don’t believe in the power of a tool that will totally change the way we obtain news and information?

Of course, I didn’t say that then, but it’s a question I have now. Idaho Liberals gloat of their dominance of the blogosphere in what amounts to a totally absurd number (15:1) given that we elect the most Republican Legislature in America, a 100% Republican Congressional delegation, and a slate of State officers that’s entirely Republican.

In last year’s election, while Idaho Republicans enjoyed great successes across the state, there were some notable warning signs. Republicans lost control of all 12 of Boise’s Legislative seats. This was due to many factors, but could part of it be that Idaho’s conservatives have lost touch with a younger, more technically savvy city?

Today, every political campaign is so full of ads that it sickens your stomach. Yet, it wasn’t always so. At the beginning of TV campaign advertising, the ads were relatively vanilla. What changed that? This ad from the campaign of Lyndon B. Johnson changed the way we viewed television advertising forever.

Though demagogic in it’s allegations that the election of Barry M. Goldwater would bring about a worldwide nuclear disaster, it was nonetheless effective. In the General election, Lyndon B. Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater by a ridiculous margin of 61-39%, Republicans lost 2 Senate Seats and 36 House Seats. At this point, Republicans started to take television seriously.

Is similar catastrophe required to shake conservatives out of their 21st century complacency? While liberals raise millions of dollars that they used to defeat people like Senator George Allen (R-Va.), too many conservatives choose to remain in blissful ignorance. Ignorance is costly and in this lesson, I explain why conservatives need to become involved in this thing called “the blogosphere.”

External Links:

Daisy Girl Wikipedia Entry
Act Blue

Next Week: What is blogging:

UPDATE: David Oatney of the World According to Oatney provides some great perspective on why blogging is so important. Click here to download.



Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Is It Just Me?, The Virtuous Republic, 123beta, Maggie’s Notebook, Big Dog’s Weblog, Shadowscope, Stuck On Stupid, The Amboy Times, Cao’s Blog, Jo’s Cafe, Conservative Thoughts, Pursuing Holiness, Rightlinx, The HILL Chronicles, Faultline USA, Woman Honor Thyself, Wake Up America, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, stikNstein… has no mercy, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, Dumb Ox Daily News, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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