Blogs of Note

Blogs of Note: First Inspirations

As I am so new to the whole blogosphere thing and keeping a blog of my own, I’ve spent a bit of time recently reading other people’s blogs.
My goal: get some fresh ideas, investigate blog styles, and see what works for me as a reader.

As a rule I don’t immediately add every blog that sounds interesting to my Newsfox Feedreader. I bookmark them, read through their back entries from blog-start to current. That way I get a feel for the way the blog has developed and grown, and it gives me a good idea if I am going to be able to relate as a “regular” reader. If I can’t get past a couple of entries, I’m out of there.

What I have discovered: there is a huge range of choice (no surprise there!), and there is great diversity in quality.

I have browsed my way through poorly written, visually overwhelming, gaudy and just plain exclusionary blogs. They were consigned to the delete button.

Then there are those that have made it to Newsfox.
There haven’t been many, I have to say. And I am beginning to see a pattern.

Visually the blogs are clean, normally minimalist, and not full of flashing advertisements. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that if you are paying for server space then you need to make some money to meet the costs, just don’t poke me in the face – I’m here for your content, not your revenue building.

Writing style is pretty distinctive too. If the blog has a purpose, then the tone is usually friendly and informative; or sometimes passionate when in rant mode, but never truly obnoxious. If the blog is primarily about personal experiences or opinions, then they tend to be direct, are often quirky and display a hint of self-and-others-mockery.

And content, even those writing on personal experience, tends to the creative. This includes technologically, artistically and literally creative.
And before you say “writing a blog is a creative action”, I would suggest that while you may be technically correct, in actuality some of the blogs I have bumped into over the past couple of months are simply places to gossip or to spew forth vitriol in lieu of seeking counselling.

I have enjoyed reading these blogs and it occurred to me that they deserve more note than simply being added to my sidebar Blogroll. In the first few months of writing this blog I have gained valuable ideas and inspiration from reading each of them, so I thought it was overdue to give them a little bit of proper recognition. So here they are.

On the technologically and literally creative front I would recommend that you visit Lorelle on WordPress and browse through her work. I have found it to be a good source of thought-provocation and useful tips on both Blogging and WordPress. The visuals have been through a recent revamp after the WordPress announcement about upgrading to Custom CSS, as Lorelle is undoubtedly testing it out for future articles.

Still on technology, especially things Mac and Internet but with gadgets and photography thrown in for good measure, I would also recommend visiting Bioneural.net. I like to keep up with the photography articles and images as I find it’s good for boosting my creative inspiration and also the Internet articles gives me an easy-to-understand window into what I might be able to do one day. Also the person to thank for my migration to WordPress.

In the personal observations and experience category, I can recommend a blog that has a relatively short history (a couple of months) that I have greatly enjoyed because of the sense of humour and observations. You may be surprised to note, with my minimalist tendencies, that this blog is called Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things, but the title says it all really. 🙂

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Postscript: I am currently making my way through another few blogs that are meeting my criteria for a creative, informative and inspirational read. They will no doubt be added to both the Blogroll and a Blogs of Note entry shortly. I am open to new reading recommendations – just leave a note for me.

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5 thoughts on “Blogs of Note: First Inspirations”

  1. Thanks Lynn for an interesting read. It got me thinking about why I have the blogs I do in my own feed reader (and caused me to cull a few). Like you, for different reasons. I’ve grouped them under personal (monitoring my site e.g. Technorati links), entertainment (to brighten the day e.g. can’t do without my daily Dilbert), software (to keep on top of bug fixes e.g. VersionTracker), Mac (to learn new tricks e.g. Mac OS X Hints), Tech (to have savings goals e.g. Engadget), 9Rules (getting to know fellow members), Misc blogs (friends and eye candy e.g. Oh Waily Waily!), webdev blogs (time wasting e.g WordPress Planet), medicine (continuing education e.g. BMJ), photography (hobby e.g. Earthbound Light), news (stay misinformed e.g. BBC), and social bookmarking (what others find interesting e.g. Del.icio.us popular).

    I hope you don’t find the tech stuff on bioneural.net too much of a put-off; I know my parents do! I don’t have a target audience so this stuff is mostly so I can reference it again when needed, as I tend to forget things. Sorry, what was I saying?

    In relation to other things that put you off, you mentioned “visually overwhelming” sites; I’d be interested to hear what you find overwhelming. Sometimes I think my design is simply too “busy” with all the little icons etc.

    With the adverts you have to find a balance—I hope I have. I choose not to put any on the home (most common landing) page, and otherwise on single pages restrict them to the sidebar so they don’t intrude on the original content and can be safely ignored. The Google ads have made about $US120 which is better than a kick in the teeth. The Amazon ads have made next to nothing, but those are there not so much to sell stuff but to share with others products I think make the grade. Other promotional badges on my site—9Rules, (mt)— are required by partnership agreements (to get discounts, traffic).

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  2. Hi Bruce,
    Nice to see you here.

    I don’t find your tech stuff a put-off. Even though I’m from the dark side (PC), it is still interesting to see what is possible and what I might want to learn more about.

    As for my definition of visually overwhelming, I could probably give you a list of blogs & sites which fit it perfectly. I can email some examples if you are interested. But in a nutshell it’s like decorating a home for resale…

    – Keep it neutral.
    – No one likes to see clutter.
    – Keep it clean and fresh, nothing mouldy thanks.

    I try to return to a couple of blogs every now and then because the content draws me, but I can’t focus on the entries because the page design is such that my eye keeps being pulled away.

    Your icons are fine. In fact, I’m envious that you are able to use them. My WP.com standard template doesn’t have that functionality. I like the burst of confined colour and quick reference for the content of the entry.

    I like your ads set-up too. I had noticed both Google and Amazon, but they are not intrusive. They are clean, unlike the gaudy banner ads I have seen on some blogs. Earning money is fine – I’m not against that at all – but if it’s a distraction from the content then I’m not going to return. (See comment above re: repeat visits – this applies to one of those blogs)

    What I have also discovered is that I’m feeling my blog is a little dowdy. And that will probably be something I will change in the next little while. Hopefully I won’t swing from dowdy to tarty. 😉

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  3. Due to circs, I was meaning to come by a little later and say how terribly flattered I am that you like my blog, and how much I’ve enjoyed reading yours. But I thought I’d come and say it now.

    Anyway your blog is everything I’d like mine to be, from the bredth of interesting observations down to the nice clean organisation. I could do with a bit more technical wizzbang mind, but I find I am oddly resistant to acquiring the skill.

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  4. Welcome Solnushka.

    I too am flattered that you find my blog interesting enough to read, and actually put in your blogroll !
    I had been thinking about an opportune way to thank you for including me, but the time hadn’t seemed right.

    As for the technical stuff – yes, well…
    I’m not particularly gifted in that department, and my brain rebels at the thought of another skillset to learn too. Thank goodness for the WP.com templates. Perhaps one day…

    As for my range of observations, I can’t keep my nose out of stuff and I have an opinion on everything to boot ! I hope I can keep it interesting – I’m beginning to understand that that will be the hardest thing to do. 🙄 Only time will tell.

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