Kosmic Blogging 101: How to Blog, What to Blog, Why the heck Blog, and Whatnot

kosmic blogging in samsara


It’s obvious. You’re reading this because blogging is
already mainstream. People who are
breathing the air of the blogosphere
would probably wonder why an idiot like me would care to write another how-to
on blogging when there are hundreds of thousands of how-tos on blogging out
there already. If you’re one of those people, please move on. This is not for
you, you aggressor
It’s for the newborns and old dogs that are still open to
learn new tricks. It’s my own humble way of giving back to all sentient beings
in this inter-connected kosmic rabbit hole.

Unlike us 24/7-online natural-born
who don’t have a life, majority of the people out there still don’t
know what a blog is. Once in a while I still get emails from people asking me
how to blog and for tips on how to become effective in blogging. I’m not sure
why they’re asking because there’s probably only around ten (10) people who
regularly read my blog. And some of them are my friends too. But anyway, I’m
writing this primer so that the next time I get another inquiry I can just send
the permalink and not repeat stuff. Don’t worry. I have no desire of writing a
how-to book on blogging. It’s just a tremendous waste of our time.

Let me make this clear. My own experience is confined to the
. This how-what-why-to primer is written for personal bloggers. But
then again, blogging is first and foremost a personal medium, so most of these
still apply to other domains, like business, corporation, and academic. Most of these are
common sense too. Just always remember that the most fundamental element of the
blogosphere is YOU.

So here’s what I’ve learned in the course of my two+ years
of living and breathing the cyber-oxygen of the blogosphere. Take them for what
they’re worth. Feel free to rip, mix, learn, and tear them apart.

Kosmic Blogging 101 Injunctions

Know What, Where, When, Who, Why. Understand what blogging really is; where it came from; when it started; who had boldly gone before; and why do you want to blog. Read books
about blogging
. There are tons of books out there. But if there’s only one
book you have time to read, pick up a copy of Rebecca Blood’s The Weblog Handbook. It’ll
teach you how to blog it down the bones. You can still take the plunge
without knowing all of these, but knowing them will set you in the right
direction, and clarify your intentions.

Choose your Axe of Compassion. There are lots of excellent blog tools available. The most popular tools are your best choice. They made it on top for a reason. They are well tested, backed by tech companies and enthusiasts, and have a large user base. Some tools are free. Some are not. Some cater to stereotypes. Going mainstream is not always a bad thing.

revolutionized the blogging medium. It’s free and easy to use. It’s still the
best choice for those who are getting started. It has a newbie feel to it. But
don’t get fooled. Blogger works for veterans too. Although it lacks
functionality offered by other blogging tools, it can let you do almost anything if you know what
you’re doing.

Livejournal is another great tool.
It puts emphasis on groups and
. This tool is stereotyped as the blog of choice of the younger
generation, for a good reason. Young people are at the stage in their lives
where they crave for sense of
, freedom of expression, and identity recognition. Livejournal
has all these functions.

is the middle path. It’s not free. You get what you pay for. It has a more
professional feel to it. It’s backed by excellent technical support.
It has a mix of sophistication and customization. Good choice for those
well-paid slackers and those who just want to blog and not worry about
technical details.

MovableType and WordPress are the choice of the geeky
— those who enjoy tweaking and looking under the hood. These tools
feed the insatiable appetite of the control-freak in you by allowing you to
choose your own web hosting, tweak your design templates to death, and even
extend its functionality using plugins and Open source. If you’re the
geeky type already, congratulations. I won’t bother to bore you anymore. If
you’re a geeky-wannabe, do yourself a favor: find some geeky friends to set you
up, and buy them some twinkies.

Stereotypes and whatnot, in the end, you choose the blog
tool that caters best to your intentions. But whatever blog tool you choose, if
you want to have less headaches, make sure to RTFM.

Respect your reader’s aesthetic values. Study CSS design,
or consult professional web designers. It’s better to have a simple design than
a hideous-looking one. Your site would load up faster too for our friends in
other parts of the world who still use dial-up. Whichever way you choose, let
the content be the design.

Please don’t be boring. Be creative. Strive for originality. Focus on quality. Limit your rants. Offer raves to those who deserve it. Make fun of yourself. Blog stuff that you are passionate about. Blog stuff that you are not passionate about. Blog stuff that passes by your stream of thoughts, no matter how stupid they are. Check your spelingspelling and grammer grammar. Write in the tone of your target audience. If it’s academic, use an academic tone. If it’s for technology, be geeky. If it’s for mass consumption, use simple words. Refrain from using cryptic highfalutin jargons like AQAL,
methodological pluralism
, and whatnot. Mix and match writing tones.
Discover your own tone. Learn creative writing. Read Stephen
King On Writing
and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing
Down the Bones
. Inject humor more often. There’s a humor
. Use it.

Blog bits and pieces of You. The most effective blogs
are those with a personal touch. Some CEOs who “blog” still
don’t understand this simple concept. Of course, should you choose to be
anonymous, that’s fine too. That’s another way of being creative and a good way
to engage your shadow.
But as a general rule, it’s better to blog in your own tone, the way you would
talk in real life. It’s more conversational. More natural. Don’t be plastic. If
you’re an a-hole in real life, be proud
of it
. Be translucent,
not too transparent. Just enough to give your audience a sense of your warmth,
to make them feel they’re not consuming something out of Alan’s Turing Machine.

Be a cunning linguist. English is the “universal”
language of the blogosphere. If your goal is to reach as much audience as
possible, you just gotta have to learn this obscure language. Know
that there are legions out there who blog and read in their own language. So if
English is your second language, be proud of where you came from, and occasionally
blog in your own native tongue.

Hyperlinks are your best buddies. Repeat this mantra:
“Blog posts are not dead ends.” Don’t repeat too much stuff. Just quote it and
link to it. Don’t quote yourself too much. You will come across as a
narcissistic a-hole. Do it only if you’re an a-hole and
proud of it
. If you’re linking to a topic, link to the original or more
authoritative sources as much as possible. Don’t link to a topic just because
you found it on top your Google (or whatever)
search results. Link to news
, online
, Wikipedia, A-list to Z-list bloggers. Link to make friends. Think
of linking like basket weaving, or sweater knitting. Weave the
. Link responsibly.

Enable Commenting. This is a little dicey. It really
depends on you. But if you’re the type who are open to instant feedback,
please, please, enable commenting on your blog and don’t force the readers to
“email you.” Be compassionate with their time. Respond to comments. Know that you
don’t have to respond to every single comment
. Respond wisely. Even stupid
can be entertaining.

Enable Trackbacks. Use trackbacks if you have one.
Using trackbacks is a good way to add value to a conversation without hogging the
comment section. Don’t abuse this feature to make shameless self-promotion.
You’ll be blacklisted and labeled as Darth Spammer who turned to
the dorkside.

RSS feed your potential. Syndication is your ally.
Syndicating the entire post instead of just snippets is preferable. People who
use RSS readers are annoyed when forced to navigate to a blog site just to read
the entire entry. One reason they use RSS is to avoid ugly-looking
. There I said it.

Use vision-logic. Add pictures, diagrams,
screenshots, and audios. People are first and foremost visual creatures. They
gravitate towards graphics before text. If you want to get attention, use a
picture along with your posts. Use a photo-sharing service. There are lots of
good services of out there, but Flickr
is the way to go
. Text is still king. Try podcasting.

Obsessive-compulsive tagging is healthy. “Found is
the new search,” so they say. Tag your
posts, categorize them, label them. Use social bookmarking software.
Make up original tags. Tag clouds
are fluffy

Blog for nothing, link for free. Don’t do it for the
money. Conflicts of interest will manifest at your doorsteps. BOCTAOE.
Know that people who made
tons of money from blogging
are the ones who have employed bloggers (who
are not blogging for the meager-salary) to blog for them. If you have the
entrepreneurial spirit, go for it. Use a combination of micropayments, targeted advertising,
and other creative
ways of making money
. But most likely, no matter how important you think
your thoughts are, they’re worthless
in the grand scheme of the free culture. So as a general rule, you’re better
off blogging
for nothing
. Who knows? You still might get drinks for free.

Read, blog, read, and blog some more. If you’re a
lazy reader, chances are you’re a lazy blogger. Read books. Read e-books. Read other blogs,
leave comments, engage discussions but don’t get lost in time-wasting
stupid lemon eating debates

Rip, mix, and learn from the A-list. Study and learn from the veterans, celebrities, and pros. Don’t get too caught up with them. Most of them were just at the right place and at the right time. Never, ever, look to them as gods. Most likely they have personal issues just like you. That’s why they blog.

Take care of your blog like a Tamagotchi. Feed
the little beast
. Watch it. Wash it. Just like you would clean after your
Tamagotchi’s poo. Regularly delete blog spams and
offending-useless-junk comments from stupid
lemon eating
. Your blog site is a Tamagotchi, alright. It’s a living, breathing
binary being with digital appetite. Its food is sentience. Its water is insights.

Don’t be anti-social but beware of herd mentality.
Read and link to blogs you don’t agree with. If you’re blogging about sensitive
topics, take as many
differing perspectives
as your time and attention will allow. Read more
books. Watch more movies. Go out more. Talk to carbon-based people in meatspace.

Blog for personal growth. Blogging is one of the best
tools for personal development
. It’s not for the faint of heart. Try doing
it straight for 90 days and see
if you still think it’s for stupid teenage kids and dead-beat loser geeks. Know
and understand that blogging is a transformative
tool. As a tool, it could cut both ways. It could heal or inflict pain,
inspire or depress, create or destroy. Blog responsibly, with
passion and compassion
, in every post, every word, and every hyperlink.

Swallow your blog in a single gulp. Be one with your
blog but don’t get too attached. Blog about anything, everything, and nothing.
Get a life. Have fun. Practice. Then ponder this: blogging as a
transformative practice is NOT a surrender of the ego
. In fact, it makes
your ego even bigger
, in hyper-speed. The trick is to make your ego bigger
and bigger and bigger and bigger, by blogging, reading, linking, blogging, and
learning. So that in time, you can sit back and watch your ego as it grows in
cyberspace, spilling gently into meatspace, growing, growing, expanding into
Infinity itself… dissolving the puny illusory You who thought of blogging in
the first place.


Snippets of awareness passing by this bodymind we
call “I,” streaming all the way up and down this kosmic rabbit hole running
deep in all directions: up, down, left, right, inside, and out…. leading to
anywhere, everywhere, and nowhere. Go forth and blog with passionate minds and
compassionate hearts. Kick ass and be still.

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