Do you remember show and tell? In nursery school, I had to bring in an unusual item and explain it to my classmates. Unlike my friends, I didn’t settle for an ordinary toy or household object. Instead I brought my sister. The great advantage was that she was able to talk for herself. Over the years, I’ve found old-fashioned show and tell to be a useful teaching technique because it illustrates the point better than describing it can ever do.
Here are three blogging elements where show and tell can help you learn and improve your craft.
- Blog platform – Is your blog on firm ground? While you can choose to blog on a free blogging platform, such as WordPress.com, Typepad or Blogger, it’s better in the long run to use your own domain with open software such as WordPress. Using your own domain helps you build Google juice. Further, if you decide to move your blog later, the technical issues and headaches can be significant.Before you tell me that money’s an issue, getting a domain name and URL costs less than $35/year and, depending on the company, web hosting and software fees are between $50-$100 per annually.Mack Collier runs his Mack Collier blog on his own domain:
while Seth Godin uses a free version of Typepad for his Seth Godin Blog:
Interestingly, Cake Wrecks, a fun photo-based site which displays cakes gone terribly wrong, is on Blogspot. It’s useful to note that Cake Wrecks acts like a media site complete with third party advertising:
- Blog name – Would a blog by any other name be as interesting? Like parents, some bloggers spend hours deciding what to call their blog. Among the options are your business or personal name, category word(s) or a made up name. Using your name or your company’s name supports your branding efforts. The problem as Chris Brogan has pointed out is that this strength can be a drawback when you want to get others to help you handle the content creation duties. (Fortunately, Chris is a prolific writer.)
Another option is using basic words that identify your blog’s category or niche. This supports your search optimization if you own a URL like this. But bear in mind that if you use multiple words, readers may not know whether to smush them together or include dashes or underscores. Many of the blogs in this category are part of commerce sites since the URLs tend to be expensive and difficult to get. Therefore, they use a sub-domain like Wine.com’s blog ( http://blog.wine.com ).
With the proliferation of new, top-level domains coming online this January, you may be able to snag something unusual. The third option is to create a new word that makes sense to your readers and is associated with your topic’s keywords. A great example is SpinSucks which focuses on PR issues. As the title states, Gini Dietrich serves up tell-it-as-it-is PR content:
- Blog design – Does your blog stand out from the crowd graphically or is it an off-the-shelf cookie cutter? While design elements aren’t required, they go along way to making your blog more interesting and keeping visitors engaged. You can go for the stripped down version where the focus in on your words like Clay Shirkey whose blog hasn’t changed from its humble WordPress beginnings:
Alternatively, you can make minor changes to a theme such as Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert blog does. Convince and Convert is branded and integrates Jay’s photograph. This gives readers the feeling that Jay is talking to them which is important for a blog.
Social Media Examiner uses extensive design that flows through every element of the blog. Each of these three options makes a branding statement.
Often the tradeoff is how much money you’re willing to invest in graphics and related technology support to implement them.
By examining each of these show and tell examples, you can see how each blog has taken it’s own unique path. Despite these differences, each blog is successful because, like my sister, they use their own words.
Are there any other aspects of blogging for which you’d like to see some show and tell?
This post is dedicated to my sister and the memories of show and tell.
Here are some related blogging articles.
Photo credit: Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr