Saturday, August 28, 2010

Centennial Post

When I first began toying with the idea of starting my own blog, I shied away from it, primarily because I couldn't imagine what I would blog about. I was inspired to blog largely by my best friend, Mart, who had started his own(now defunct) blog before me. His blog was largely about his personal life and his family. I recall musing aloud to him in an e-mail once that, were I to start a blog like his, a typical post might read something like "Went to work again today. Nothing new or interesting happened. Went back home and spent the evening as usual." (Admittedly, this hypothetical post was conceived during one of my more sullen, cynical moments). How amazing that, having finally opted to actually try my hand at blogging, I find myself at my keyboard this evening, tapping out my centennial post!

Yes, Dear Reader, in the 22½ months since I started this blog, one hundred posts have sprung from the mind and the fingertips of The Halmanator. That's the equivalent of over a thousand Twitter tweets!

I've made a point of attaching labels to each and every post, right from the very first. You can see them at the bottom of this, and all my posts. Click on one of the labels, and you'll get a list of all the other posts to which that same label is attached. My initial reason for doing this was to give readers who enjoy any given post a quick and easy way of finding other posts on a similar topic or with similar moods or themes. I soon discovered a secondary benefit to doing this, however. tracks the number of posts with which each label is associated, and this makes for some fascinating statistics. Before proceeding, let me clarify that the stats which you are about to review do not include this post, as I've not yet attached any labels to it at the time of this writing.

The label which is far and away my most prolific, being attached to 65 of my 99 prior posts (just a smidgeon short of two out of every three) is "humor", and that is well. My primary intent in maintaining this blog has always been to amuse and to entertain, with an emphasis on "amuse". To steal a line from my favorite musician, Mike Oldfield, "It's something that makes you feel good, because there are enough things in the world that make you feel terrible." That, first and foremost, is what this is supposed to be.

My distant second place tag is "Personal" (41 posts). That's just under half. Like many people, I suppose I like to talk about myself. More to the point, I often like to connect personal references and observations with whatever it is that I'm writing about, in order to show my reader why the subject has meaning for me.

I have to admit that most of my regular readers are personal friends of mine and I like to think that, through this blog, some of them have perhaps gotten to know me better. When I write, my target audience, the reader whom I picture in my mind, if you will, is a stranger who doesn't know me at all. I have the odd (and sometimes unsettling) ability to conveniently forget, while I'm blogging, that my writing will be read by friends and family. Because of this, I've caught myself writing things that I wouldn't necessarily say to a close acquaintance, friend or family member. It's a round-about way of opening up. It may also be, in part, that I'm subconsciously emulating Mart's blog, which was pretty much 100% personal, to some degree.

In third place, we have "Editorial", connected to 33 posts; exactly one third of them. I really never meant for this blog to become a soap box. However, I have do have strong opinions on a number of subjects and I simply cannot stifle myself when I feel that something must be said, not that I suspect anybody really cares what The Halmanator thinks. Happily, I'm not well-known enough to seriously offend anyone.

Interestingly, fourth place is a tie between "Politics" and "Work" (15 posts each). "Politics" is strongly linked with "Editorial". Many of my editorial posts involve politics, and therefore carry both tags. The fact that "Work" figures fairly prominently probably has a lot to do with me having been laid off late last year. Losing one's job is never easy, and it was pretty much the first time that it had really happened to me, so I exorcised my demons through my writing. In this way, "Work" became tied in with many of my "Personal" posts.

In fifth place we have "Music" (10 posts). I'm a great lover of many different kinds of music. It relaxes me when I'm tired and lifts my spirits when I'm sad, worried or fearful. My wife and I like to spend between 30 and 60 minutes most evenings doing nothing other than reclining in our easy chairs and listening to music. It's not just background noise to us; we really listen, taking in each note, each lyric, each nuance. I suspect that not many people do this anymore. I think that more people should try it.

I won't dwell on the tags whose number of uses can be counted on the fingers of both hands (except for music, I suppose) other than to note that there are a large number of tags that appear only once. These tend to be very specific, such as "Bettman", for example. I mentioned Gary Bettman in exactly one post (Whoops! Make that two!) and I wouldn't give the man the satisfaction of wasting a lot of ink (or, in this case, bits) on him.

Having posted 100 times, I consider myself an experienced enough blogger to offer sage words of advice to any fledgling bloggers or to those who may be contemplating starting blogs of their own and have stumbled upon this post whilst still deciding on whether or not to take that Great Leap.

First of all, know your purpose. Whether your blog is to revolve around a theme or whether it is to be more random in nature, such as this blog, be clear about why you're blogging. To paraphrase a line from Oliver Stone's Talk Radio, "The world is listening; you'd better have something to say." Do not attempt to make an easy buck by festooning your blog with ads. It only annoys your readers and I'm convinced that the only people who actually draw a large enough readership to make any kind of money from people clicking ads on their blogs are celebrities. Scott Adams is one example, and even he admits that the income that he receives from internet ads on his blog is negligible (by his standards, anyway).

Have some idea of how frequently you intend to post. Will it be daily? Weekly? Monthly? At random intervals? Posting frequently can be difficult. It can be hard to keep thinking up new and interesting topics. While you may have a handful of ideas at the start, ask yourself how easy it will be to think of more once you've used them up. Ask yourself how much time you can realistically devote to blogging. It's not uncommon for me to spend between one and two hours composing a single post. (I proofread and re-word a lot). How frequently can you afford to spend that kind of time on your blog? On the other hand, if your posts are too infrequent, your readers may get tired of seeing nothing new and stop returning. If you review my previous posts, you'll find that I usually tend to post once a week. That works well for me.

Use a stat counter to track your visitors so that you have some idea who's reading your blog. I use, which is free as long as your blog is getting less than 250,000 hits per month and, if you're getting that many, you can probably afford to pay for the service. (Also, if you're getting that many, you may disregard my advice about not putting ads on your blog).

Don't get discouraged if you have few or even no readers at first. It will take time for people to find your blog and not everyone will enjoy it enough to keep returning regularly. After almost two years of blogging, I'm just a shade under the 250,000 monthly hits that would put me over's "pay" threshold (I get about ten to fifteen hits per day on average), but I also know that I have about ten regular readers, and some of them are people whose identifies I have yet to deduce. A few of them may quite possibly be people whom I don't even know. I like to think so.

If you're just starting out, a good way to get people visiting your blog is to spread the word among friends and family. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing. I have a tagline beneath my signature at the end of every e-mail that I send which advertises this blog. It serves as both an invitation to those who have never visited by blog, as well as a gentle reminder to those who have visited before but may not have checked back for a while. One of the things that tells me is how people are finding this blog (i.e. where they're coming from) and this has confirmed that several people have come here by clicking on the link in that tagline.

Finally, there are a number of widgets out there that you can attach to your blog and the posts therein which help people to spread the word if they like what they see. The "Share" button at the end of this and all of my posts is a good example of same.

I'd like to close by thanking my readers, once again, for sticking with me. If nobody were reading this blog, it would no longer exist by now. As every late-night radio announcer knows, everyone who talks likes to know that somebody is listening. If you like what you see here, or on any other blog or website, do the author a favor and spread the word. I also encourage you to post comments. Feedback is a powerful motivator, and a great way to say "I'm listening, and I'm interested in what you have to say."

1 comment:

Tubes said...

I can't beleive it has been 100!