I don’t know why I was surprised that in taking up blogging I’d have a whole new lingo to learn. I suppose when you think about it, when you take up any new hobby there’s vocabulary lists to learn – who was born knowing how to “purl” or “psso”? – but I do admit that I have found the blogging lingo about as complicated as learning Gaelic (something else I’ve taken up). There’s no simple place to go to read the definitions, and explanations are often filled with other technical language – I need a “how to” guide just to read the “how to” guide. It’s a bit of a baptism of fire with blogging. Everywhere you look there’s talk of pingbacks, blog hops and memes. You have to tag people, choose who to follow, who’s making it onto your blogroll and which widgets to add to your sidebar. You need to consider your SEO, your Klout, and whether you’ve made it easy for people to come back to your blog – is your RSS feed obvious and got the right settings?. Confused? I know I have been.
Even once you get into the swing of the blogging lingo there’s all the technical know how to get to grips with. You read some blogs that are both well written and attractive. How do they do that? Where do you get the right header (pretty picture at the top), right background and clever, appropriate badges and buttons (see, more lingo…)? What’s the right layout for your blog, where do you get pictures that you’re actually allowed to use, and what happens if you use a picture that you didn’t take yourself and that you didn’t get permission to use? These are the things that I’m currently grappling with. (Please feel free to dive in with any advice in the comments.)
Blogging, like all hobbies is a skill you build upon. You don’t learn to cast on then begin a fair isle jumper – everything comes in stages. At the start, you may think cable knitting is beyond you, but if you take the time and build up slowly, one day you will be an accomplished knitter. One day I hope to open my blog and be satisfied with the layout, be comfortable with its performance, and confident in my own voice, but that’s not going to happen over night. For now, I’ll just be glad I’ve got somewhere to post my random thoughts as I need to, and a community I feel I’m slowly becoming a part of.
So, for any bloggers still scratching their head at the lingo bit, I’ll tell you what I think some of it means. If I’ve got it wrong, let me know so I can fix it. If I’ve missed anything, let me know and hopefully someone else can answer…
Blog hop/Linky – A number of blogs on a theme/answering a question that are all linked/listed in one place for people to read – in other words, they can hop from one blog to another. Generally, one person writes a post and invites other bloggers to do the same. If you decide to take part you write your own post then go back to the original one to add your post to the linky list – usually found at the bottom of the post. This lets others find the way to your fabulous blog, and you can find other like minded blogs all in one place. There’s no obligation, but generally it’s hoped that you will read some/all the other blogs in the list. If you’re one of the last ones on the list then you might not get as much traffic/many visits but you will have more blogs to go and explore.
Meme – It took me ages to see the difference between a blog hop and a meme (pronounced meem). Basically, I see a meme as being like a chain letter – without the ominous warnings built in if you don’t take part. Someone writes a post on a theme/a list of questions and then chooses some other bloggers to tag/link to and asks them to take part with their own version of the post. They then tag some more bloggers and so it continues. There’s usually no link back to the very first post and nowhere to find a list of all the posts. There’s also no obligation to join in if you’re busy or it doesn’t grab you. Generally speaking, it’s nice to add in a link to a post written by the person/people you’re tagging because it adds to their ratings and can create a pingback.
Pingback - If the settings are set up to allow them, a pingback is created when you make a link from your post to another one (either your own or someone else’s). It goes to the comments section of the post your linking to and leaves a note that you’ve done it. They’ll like it because they know that you’ve told other bloggers about them. You’ll like it because people can link back to you from another blog.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – ways to make it easier for Google etc to find you. There are lots of ways to do this which include the way you use the words and links in your post and actually registering your website with the search engines themselves. It’s not essential that you actually do anything for this – it depends on how much you want people to find you from Google.
RSS – This is a way for people to sign up to read your blog posts without actually having to visit your blog to see if you’ve written anything new – usually a wee orange button. It’s not the only way for people to visit but it’s one that a lot of people like to use because it keeps all their favourite blogs in one place (eg, a Google reader) rather than having to check their blog dashboard, their emails and Twitter feed. Like all options for following your blog, if you want people to read what you write, you need to make it easy for them to do this and this is one way to do that.
What blogging lingo have you picked up along the way?