The story of a blog, from birth to...?

Thursday, September 28, 2006


This carnival stuff works. Or maybe my expectations were just really low. I've had 103 unique visitors today at The Antidote, most of them linking from yesterday's carnival site (and 15 or so from a thread on a health forum site called Webmagic, which hosts discussions on everything from lymphoma to collecting old Coke machines.

Now I'm about to do something for which I hammer on the pharmaceutical industry all the time, but what the heck: Even if the absolute number of hits seems unimpressive, 103 (with only half of the day elapsed) represents a relative increase of 900% over the average of 9.5 hits per day for the previous 6 days.

Whew! Heady times, let me tell ya.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

it's a carnival!

I submitted three posts this week to a blog carnival; turns out that's simply a blog post, in which a volunteer blogger summarizes and gives links to a bunch of other people's posts that have been submitted to him/her. Pretty easy to do. This one was called Skeptics' Circle Carnival #44. There is at least one more on my radar screen, a medical blog circle. I think hosting such an animal would provide a fair amount of exposure in and of itself, but sounds like it takes a fair amount of work and organization.

I'm certainly seeing a whole lot of medical, health care, skeptical science, and related blogs out there, at least in the cross-sectional view. I also found a network of medical blogs but I'm going to hold off on joining that for the time being - it seemed a little corporate/marketing oriented, to be honest. And not a particularly good-looking site either (beauty above all else, you know).

The same group, though, is hosting a medical blogging summit this December, right here in Washington - I could even walk there! Heck, they should let me in at a big discount (it's $195) because I'm giving them free publicity. I don't know, though - talks on blogging in a hotel setting? I'm enjoying this and all, but that just sounds like a setup for a good nap to me... if they have good cookies and and I can give away a few business cards and pick up a free flash drive or two, maybe it's worth a shot, but right now I'm mostly just fascinated that such a conference exists.

(For all my faithful, tireless readers of both blogs, sorry for redundancy today between posts here and at the Antidote, but there was an overlap between content and process that seemed to want to be in two places at once.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

learning about Web stuff

On a walk this morning I walked into a news shop that a wide range of magazines and newspapers from all over the world. They had a rack with about 20 computer magazines, mostly about gear, and a couple about general design. I was hoping to find one focused on Internet knowledge, web design, etc., but nope. As I walked on I fantasized for a few minutes about filling that niche, wishing I knew more about magazine publishing, but imagining all the ad revenue pouring in and supporting lots of deserving employees I'd recruited during my web travels. There was also the niggling concern about links - would it be a pain for users to retype weblinks from the printed page? A computer-savvy buddy, when I floated this idea, echoed that concern. Oh, well. Anyway, one thing at a time, girl, you need to take it easy and focus.

But I did find the following website which seems to serve a similar purpose, and I'm looking forward to digging into it: Web Developer's Journal. It appears to have articles for novices as well as more experienced geeks. If readers have other sources to recommend, bring 'em on.

Friday, September 08, 2006

still feeling obscure

and Technorati won't pick up my last two posts, even after repeated pinging from within Technorati. This is partly a test to see whether Blogger is actually notifying them automatically.

By the way, it's hard to edit html using Firefox because the search function won't look for anything longer than two characters. Is there a complaint department?

I'd also like to know how righteous web dude Guy Kawasaki checks links to his blog using NetNewsWire or Endo. Guy, are you listening? Help a blogger out! His article "Evangelizing Your Blog," by the way, was great, and I'm going to start reading him every day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sifry's Blogosphere

Wow. I'm sure I'll pull myself together and find a few words as I always do, but for now, Wow is a good place to start.

According to a blog post by David Sifry, founder of Technorati, the blogosphere is doubling every 6 months. There are 50 million blogs on Technorati; English just passed Japanese as the most common language. (My inkling would be that the Japanese blogosphere is leveling off, and English is just getting started, but that's just epidemiologic handwaving - I have no evidence for it.)

I'm a brand new blogger, just rolled off the turnip truck, and into what? I mean, I'm dutifully going through all the steps of promoting my blog, and I think I'm writing some damned good stuff, but 50 million blogs? How can I compete with that? Am I doomed to spending all my time, as I've done the last couple of days, learning how to jump through geeky hoops that are ultimately ineffectual?

I sent a copy of a recent post to my boss today, and he seemed quite pleased; he said my blog was a "breakthrough." (Oh, duh, I guess that was a cute little joke, since the post I sent him was about breakthroughs; see Sept. 2 post.) Yes, he was in fact pleased, joke notwithstanding. There are others doing vaguely similar stuff to mine; Ben Goldacre at badscience got 2 million hits in August (he does write a column for the Guardian). So the hits are out there after all; the blogosphere is not growing in a vacuum. How do I get me some of that? This blog has had 62 unique hits; the other one has 66.

Obviously, it's time to go to bed. I set my statcounter to blow up my computer if I checked it more than 80 times a day, and I think I'm pushing it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

look at me!

I signed up for Technorati, but no one told me that unless I tagged the individual posts with descriptive categories, people searching for content wouldn't find them. Fortunately Improbulus, another Blogger blogger, had a great article on how to do this. So I went back and added tags to all my Antidote posts. I'm hoping that today's entry, based on a Washington Post article, will be referenced on the Post website in the little box they have (from Technorati) on people who are blogging about that article.

It's all a big game of shameless self-promotion, and promotion of others, isn't it? And all this tagging stuff is pretty tedious, as well. How about an automatic tagging function in Blogger?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Birth, and learning how to crawl

My two blogs are now up and running! I suppose I could have started with just one, but I'm a little wired these days for some reason. There's something about having outlets for writing that makes me want to, well, write, but also to learn what I can about this new medium. Oh, and right after I published my first post I got an email from the aforementioned career mentor Penelope Trunk, who had some nice comments - very gratifying!

One of the first articles I came across last week was by Steve Pavlina, How to make money from your blog. Steve generously lays it on the line with a reality check - basically that not everyone CAN make money from blogging, only smart people; since I am arrogant enough to think I'm smart, I kept reading. One thing I'm wondering, though, Steve, if you're reading this; where do you get your estimate that only one in a hundred people can make money on their blogs? Is your denominator 100 blogs of any kind? I don't mean to quibble, but I'm an epidemiologist, and these are the kinds of questions we ask.

With the smarts qualification out of the way, Steve goes on to list all the kinds of information with which successful bloggers should be conversant, and even where to find it. I've written these down and will proceed to educate myself on each of them. One thing I've noticed is that, at least at my primitive level of web savvy, background information on web technologies, to the extent that it's publicly available, can be found on the web. Makes sense, doesn't it? Steve suggests Wikipedia.

I skipped ahead to Steve's section on drawing traffic to your blog, and I also liked Biz Stone's related article on Blogger; from those, I made a list of internal Blogger tweaks and other strategies, and done the following (for both blogs unless otherwise indicated):
  • Activated the NavBar, Post Pages, and Site Feed functions [Question: Can I add an RSS button to my blog? I have learned that you can just type rss.xml after the url, but that's probably not obvious to everyone.]
  • Added the blogs to Blogger's listings
  • Put my blog URL (for the professional blog) in my email signature
  • Activated AdSense (this blog only) (I will probably write more about this)
  • According to a friend's suggestion, I changed the health blog URL to include the word health.
Next steps:
  • Add professional blog URL to business cards the next time I print some
  • Add a blogroll
  • Submitting to blog search engines like Technorati and Popdex (note: Biz cited Daypop and Blogdex, and it appears both of those are dead)
  • Commenting on other people's blogs - have started doing this, but need to remember to include the blog URL when I do this... ahem
  • Think about whether staying on Blogger is ok for now or whether I should summon the gumption to get my own domain name or names for increased control.
By the way, have I mentioned that, for all intents and purposes, I am not a programmer, or a geek (at least not yet)? That's just by way of emphasizing that I'm sure to say a lot of naive or just plain boneheaded things here, which is kind of the point because I'm trying to learn. So while I'm thrilled to have comments, your kindness and patience are most appreciated.


Edit (added 9/6/06): I've just learned that leaving your URL in a comment on someone else's site to draw attention to your own site is a crass practice known as comment spamming. My apologies if I've done it to you; I simply hadn't thought it through, but I can see now how it can be abused and that it's not cool, and I won't do it again, promise!