Is Google Blogger considered spam?

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Rachel Ventura
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Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 16th, 2012, 6:37 pm

I'm starting to break down about this whole social media thing (a lot of folks here know how much of an introverted Luddite I am by now). Despite the fact that I haven't written much of anything "creative" since high school, I'm starting to reluctantly admit that some social media presence is better than none, which would include a blog or written outlet of some sort. I haven't decided where or how this will occur, much less when, but I'm coming to realize, albeit reluctantly, that it needs to. But being the perfectionist that I am (which is probably why I'm experiencing the troubles I wrote about after "Despite the fact that..."), I'd want this sort of thing to be as polished and professional as possible while still maintaining a modicum of personal engagement and "individuality" (the artist's signature stroke), so as not to appear "businesslike" (since writing is an art form unless it's dull, vague ad copy) but without appearing hideously amateurish and MySpace-y. (All of that for free, of course.) :D

Clearly I have a command of the English language and a unique personality. Despite my Salinger-esque existence, I care very much about people's interests and do want to respond to their comments and feedback, not just because the hypothetical "they" might translate someday into potential readers, but because I'm just not the kind of person who views people as page views or numbers at the deli counter, and besides, I'm in dire need of friends anyway. I have a moderate-level technical understanding of how to install templates and plugins and whatnot; however, I am undecided on what "platform" (site) to use as my "platform," since there is a possibility that a potential agent or editor may at some point search for my blog on the internet, and I'd hate for it to give off a pieced-together macaroni art project appearance, lest the potential representative(s) interpret the quality of my written work as much the same.

I was considering Google Blogspot until I read several articles, including one with a rant from typically outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner and "netrepreneur" Mark Cuban, about blogs on Blogspot being 75% comprised of tween-age "spamateurs" and unscrupulous linkbait. Wordpress.com is more "professional," apparently, but not as flexible for the user. Tumbler is sort of its own beast; self-hosting isn't an option because it costs money, and anything above $0 isn't an option at all. :roll: However, the most recent of these articles is dated about 2007, maybe '08 or so; I'm wondering if the site still carries that stigma despite everything Google being so ubiquitous nowadays, and the whole site and all its services undergoing a major upgrade as of last year or thereabouts.

Jennifer Weiner (who, IMHO, really should've considered a pseudonym), and Amanda Hocking both use Blogspot; obviously Mr. Bransford himself uses the Blogger software on a .com domain, while "White Oleander" author Janet Fitch uses the free wordpress.com. One could argue (and probably has) that Amanda's use of Blogspot ties in with the fact that self-pubbing is still considered unpolished (despite her unique success in her own right), and blogging itself is an unofficial form of "self" publishing, while the others are traditionally published and probably use the freesites for fun rather than an "official" platform. The gods of the bestseller-verse -- the Grishams, Pattersons, Evanoviches, etc. -- have a .com just like Google and Apple do; they're multinational conglomerates already, and anything "less" wouldn't even come into the realm of discussion. Diablo Cody is a very notable exception: she actually blogged "in character," as a naive Eastern European immigrant, and then as her exotic dancer self, but doesn't really even blog regularly anymore; she started on a local Minneapolis site before moving to Blogspot, and now the Blogspot domain is someone else's, written in Japanese as a poorly understood (possibly spam-harvested) pseudo-"fan page," at least last I checked. But for an otherwise unpublished newbie such as myself, with nothing of real interest (stripping!!!) to talk about, and unlike Amanda, not having written 17 novels while working at an adult day care facility (whew!), is "the G spot" considered too spammy for professional interest, i.e. guilt by association, even though I personally might be able to make even a Google blog look very professional and not spamateurish at all?

(I know, Charlee says "chillax." But I'm not ranting per se; I just can't normally express myself in 140 sentences or less.) ;)

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MattLarkin
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Re: Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by MattLarkin » January 17th, 2012, 9:11 am

You're probably overthinking this. If you want the blog to look professional, the key is to find the right template.

Also, if you don't want to make regular posts, a website may be a better option for you. I know you say you want to include comments and so forth. Unless you are able to post regularly for a prolonged period of time you will not generate a regular following and comments (Sommer says it often takes 6 months or more). And if you're not having fun doing it, why would you want to create the extra work and take time from actual writing?

Readers that want to interact with you can email you, post on facebook, or connect with you in other networks (Google+, or for more professional-oriented, LinkedIn).

Of course if writing a blog will be fun for you...Wordpress, especially the full version, gives you more control. It just requires you to know a bit more.

Either way, if you can afford it, it might be worth shelling out a few bucks to buy your name as a domain name. If it's not taken, you'll probably pay somewhere around $10 a year. Which is better than deciding you want it later and finding someone bought it and will sell it to you for $300 (if at all).
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Sommer Leigh
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Re: Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by Sommer Leigh » January 17th, 2012, 10:48 am

Neither Wordpress or Blogger are any more or less professional than the other as a platform. The idea that Wordpress is more professional than Blogger is because Wordpress allows far more flexibility and customization than Blogger does, so most Wordpress blogs tend to have slicker, newer, less "bloggy" looks to them. Wordpress tends to look more like a website and less like a blog.

If you do not want to spend any money right now, it doesn't matter which you choose to go with. Eventually, if you want the best of the best and can spend some money on it, you'll want to upgrade to Wordpress.org, which is itself free but will require you to purchase your own hosting. (I pay around $75 a year plus $10 for my domain name.) Wordpress.org is by far the most professional set up you can get, but it is more complicated and requires time to set up and maintain - you'll no longer have a company doing it for you.

So what it comes down to is what you want in your platform. This is where the differences between the two come to light.

1.Do you want to use Google Friend Connect? If yes, you must go with Blogger. If no, you can use either.

2. Do you want full control over the way your blog looks? Wordpress will allow you to customize more than Blogger will.

3. Do you want your blog to look more like a website? Wordpress can do this, while you can pick a Blogger blog out of any line-up. They all have a general "feel" to them that is unmistakably Blogger.

4. Both have plugins/widgets but they have a vastly different library of them. Wordpress tends to have more toolbox type widgets, while Blogger has more fun and silly plugins and game plugins.

5. Do you want the one easiest to use? Go with Blogger. It is made specifically so that anyone can jump in and use it. There are some customization capabilities and if you know HTML or at least know how to research the code needed to do what you want it to do, you can alter your Blogger’s HTML. Wordpress has a lot more bells and whistles and is not easy right out of the box.

6. Do you want threaded comments? This is often a make or break for most people (it was for me.) Blogger’s comment system does not allow for threaded comments. No one can “respond” to anyone else. You only see a list of comments. Wordpress allows for threaded and non-threaded comments, and allows you to use various commenting systems (plugins) to change the way comments work. You can also allow your readers to subscribe to comments as well.

7. Both Wordpress and Blogger allow you to upgrade to your own personal domain very easily and cheaply.

Keep in mind that there are many popular writing blogs on LiveJournal, Wordpress, Blogger, and TypePad. None are any less successful than the others. It’s really what you make of the platform and which you are most comfortable with that matters. You could always create a throwaway Wordpress and Blogger blog and play around with both (don’t make one with a name you’d want to keep) and decide that way, then you can create the name you want on the platform you want.

I’m also going to back up with Matt said. Don’t blog if that’s not something that will make you happy even if no one ever shows up to read you. Trends show that blogging is going out of favor for some of the faster, more socially interesting platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Blogging is easy to burn out on and takes a lot of work. Don’t do it because you think you have to. You don’t. Many writers don’t. The ones that do, the ones you hear about, those are the people who really LOVE to blog and they’d still blog even if no one showed up to read them. Successful social media presences hinge on one truth – the person loves doing it, no matter what the platform. And Matt’s statistic is correct, it takes upwards to 6 months or more before a new blog starts getting regular traffic and comments. Sooner if you are lucky and you have friends who are successful bloggers who promote you, but readers have limited social media time and tend to wait for a blog to show that it is going to stick around and for a blogger to give a good demonstration of what they are going to talk about and what their personality is like. Readers want to see history before they throw in with you. It’s a crowded market, and bloggers have to prove they have staying power.

If you decide this is the path for you, good luck! It can be extremely rewarding!
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

Doug Pardee
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Blogging - plus and minus

Post by Doug Pardee » January 17th, 2012, 12:46 pm

Sommer Leigh pretty much covered it. Especially this part: "Don’t blog if that’s not something that will make you happy even if no one ever shows up to read you." To which I'll add: blog if you have something to say. Don't blog if all you're doing is just trying to promote something, because nobody is going to keep coming back to a blog to read the latest self-serving promotional blah-blah. Unless it's very witty.

Ditto for other social media. I've quit following a lot of people on Twitter because all they tweeted was promotional BS.

People come to an author's site to get closer to the author. [I don't understand why, but that's the deal.] They want to get to know the real author. If you're not prepared to open yourself up in public, in what's essentially a permanent medium such that whatever you say about yourself will follow you for the rest of your life, maybe it's not for you. I'm getting that "vibe" from you, resonating with my own conviction that "I'll open the details of my person and my life to the public on my death-bed, maybe."

On the technical side (Blogger vs. Wordpress): if you go with a blogging service, it becomes more difficult to own what you write. Your words are stored in their computers, and moving your words to a new service is challenging. It probably won't happen to those two, but in the past a number of other blogging services have shut down, taking all of the content with them. The serious blogger will make the financial and technical investment to buy a domain name, pay for hosting, and install and maintain blogging software. You're looking at maybe $100 per year, in return for which you are master of your own blogging destiny.

Also on the technical side: if your blog allows comments, and (in my opinion) an author platform really must, you will get spam comments. You'll be spending some of your time trying to erect barricades to reduce the amount of spam you get, and vigilantly watching for spam comments so that you can delete them and the users who posted them. From what little I've seen, Wordpress is a lot better at keeping the spammers out than Blogger is. One of the nice things about running your own blogging service is that you can add spam-blocking plugins of your choosing.

Back on the non-tech side: if your blog allows comments, expect to get some hateful ones. Maybe even some scary hateful ones. Unfortunately, there are some jerks who target female bloggers. You won't be hiding behind any anonymity, and that makes the threats feel a lot more serious. I'll defer to the female bloggers here as to how serious they've found this problem to be, and how they've dealt with it.

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Re: Blogging - plus and minus

Post by Sommer Leigh » January 17th, 2012, 12:55 pm

Doug Pardee wrote: Also on the technical side: if your blog allows comments, and (in my opinion) an author platform really must, you will get spam comments. You'll be spending some of your time trying to erect barricades to reduce the amount of spam you get, and vigilantly watching for spam comments so that you can delete them and the users who posted them. From what little I've seen, Wordpress is a lot better at keeping the spammers out than Blogger is. One of the nice things about running your own blogging service is that you can add spam-blocking plugins of your choosing.

Back on the non-tech side: if your blog allows comments, expect to get some hateful ones. Maybe even some scary hateful ones. Unfortunately, there are some jerks who target female bloggers. You won't be hiding behind any anonymity, and that makes the threats feel a lot more serious. I'll defer to the female bloggers here as to how serious they've found this problem to be, and how they've dealt with it.
Wordpress uses Akismet to control spam and it does a very good job of it. Rarely does spam get through my filter, although I do check my filter occasionally to make sure real people don't get caught in it. I don't remember what Blogger uses.

As far as bad commenters - I think I can count on one hand the number of really terrible comments I've gotten over the last few years. It is pretty rare, at least for me, but I know of other bloggers who have been targeted to different degrees. I know of one blogger I follow who was actually stalked because of her blog and it reached scary levels. That is definately a price for popularity online. I personally believe it is the exception, not the rule, but you have to take steps to protect yourself too.

There are, of course, plenty of people who comment with disagreements, but I don't consider those jerks. They just disagree and that's cool. Both Blogger and Wordpress offer ways to block truly hateful commenters and you can always delete comments you don't want your readers to be subjected to. That is all part of the time you invest in maintaining your site.
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
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trixie
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Re: Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by trixie » January 17th, 2012, 1:29 pm

Just a heads up:

Blogger just introduced threaded comments as of last week. It's a step in the right direction.

As for spam, I fly under the radar with 97 followers. In my 10 months of blogging, I've had one spam comment. Then again, I'm small beans.

And did I really just read the comment: "...the fact that self-pubbing is still considered unpolished"?

Is that your own opinion? I need some context with a statement like than on a forum like this where there are many incredibly polished self-published authors.

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Re: Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by Margo » January 17th, 2012, 1:40 pm

trixie wrote:I need some context with a statement like than on a forum like this where there are many incredibly polished self-published authors.
*hugs*
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Rachel Ventura
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Re: Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 20th, 2012, 3:54 am

Thanks for the (wow) tons of information. I may have to go old-school and print all that out to digest it better. ;)

@Trixie and @Margo: I didn't mean all self-pubbers were unpolished. I meant that from what I see (and this could be my own Luddish opinion too) that "unpolished" is in comparison with the more established traditional publishing industry. Indie flicks are often much better and more interesting than Hollywood popcorn throwers or dumb sequels to the series of sequels, but are still kind of relegated to a "niche"; the rare indie flick that becomes a mega-market favorite is called a "sleeper hit" because it doesn't say Paramount or Columbia. Indie music is often much better; I like artists like Foster The People and Lupe Fiasco over the crap that Katie Perry and the Disney tween-set put out, but they're still getting the bum's rush from the mainstream labels. I'm sorry if I offended anyone; I don't have any stats on hand or anything, but I somehow still think that the indie/self-released stigma is never going away. Open-source software, i.e. Linux, is a very viable marketplace but is still -- still, because it's not "mainstream" like Windows or Mac OS, considered more of a hobbyists' platform. (Ironically the 99% of us in terms of market share are mostly on Windows. Bill Gates is obviously part of the 1%.)

I haven't had a chance to read any Amazon books because I don't own a Kindle. If they could be put into print format (which I guess would defeat the purpose of e-books) I'd be able to read them. E-readers are expensive, though, and I still sort of don't like the idea of putting words into "e-print." I guess it's the argument over whether a movie on DVD is better than one on VHS, or an .mp3 or .ogg better than a CD or even vinyl. The distribution model is different, which I guess has no effect on the quality, but I wonder about the sense of "professionalism" involved in the making of an indie .mp3 with Garage Band versus one from Arista using pro audio equipment; the same with a self-pubbed book not involved with the major established "professionals" but sort of DIY'ed into publication. I suppose it's the content that matters rather than the packaging... which brings me back to the initial topic of the thread ;)

Except for the orange color and the comment form, I wouldn't be able to tell otherwise that Nathan's blog is on Google platform. So the "Blogger look" I haven't noticed here. I see a lot of "Web 2.0"-style sites that all have that sort of bubbly, shiny "Web 2.0" look about them -- Tumbler is one; Wordpress another, and even the redesign of My Space is really not the awful glitter-fest it was ca. 2006. (I'm sure Rupert Murdoch doesn't like glitter or animated .gifs.)
Doug Pardee wrote:People come to an author's site to get closer to the author. [I don't understand why, but that's the deal.] They want to get to know the real author. If you're not prepared to open yourself up in public, in what's essentially a permanent medium such that whatever you say about yourself will follow you for the rest of your life, maybe it's not for you. I'm getting that "vibe" from you, resonating with my own conviction that "I'll open the details of my person and my life to the public on my death-bed, maybe."
Or in an autopsy. :lol: Juuuust kidding. :lol:

"The real author" -- I'd be OK with opinions about things, that kind of personal engagement, but idk, does "getting close" mean people will want to know what kind of underwear you buy, not to mention expecting a Groupon deal for that brand? That's another thing, believe me, I agree about the over-pitching that a lot of people do; no one hates unsolicited advertising more than I do. You can't even watch a baseball game without some sort of stupid sponsorship at the worst, most random moments. "This foul ball is brought to you by Schweddy Balls ice cream." Or "MLB Grass Cam (tm) is brought to you by John Deere... Round-Up... and Columbia Pictures' Splendor in the Grass, starring Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez."I hate that crap, advertising as America's pastime, which includes hot dogs, apple pie and genuine Chevrolet. :lol: Much as I'd hope for people to go and buy the (as-yet hypothetical) book, I'm not going to spamvertise. Might as well sponsor my blog with a Groupon for Spam in that case.

But I'm still curious as to what people are looking for with regards to "the real author." Vital statistics? Family history? Random favorites? The time-honored taboos of political or religious preferences? Seriously, what are people looking for when they want to know "the real author"? Doug is right that female bloggers (especially young ones like me) face a lot of uphill battles with regards to stalkers and weirdos. I'd want to maintain at least some distance from the audience in that case (and anyway, since I'm really just very reserved in general). A unisex or male pseudonym might come in handy in that case -- like J.K. Rowling or "J.D. Robb" (Nora Roberts IRL) did with their books. Unless you knew he was a "regular Joe" (and not Joanne) you wouldn't know J.A. Konrath wasn't Julie/Julia, at least not by the name. For all intents and purposes J.D. Salinger could've been Jane Deborah. The flaw in that is that I kind of sacrifice a sense of personal identity and am playing a role. I'm not a trained actress or CIA agent and I think I'd have trouble keeping up the persona. Much as I want to retain some sense of privacy I don't want to not be me, or at least not entirely be someone else.

The compromise between ease and flexibility is key for me, though. Matt says, Wordpress isn't easy right out of the box -- which is why I wondered if Blogger's even-your-grandma-can-use-it ease was what set Wordpress apart as being more "professional." I don't know anything about databases or SQL or .htaccess or any of this crazy engineering stuff. Furthest I've ever worked with a database is when I had my old Mac and they had an address book software I used to play with, pretending I was some hotshot with a big-time computer Rolodex. Comments are an important thing, though, because as much difficulty I have with keeping a conversation going (see the one-sidedness of this here?), I'd hate to be preaching to a roomful of crickets. I wonder if Blogger allows for Discus or Gravatar or those things to replace its built-in system?

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Re: Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by Sommer Leigh » January 20th, 2012, 8:22 am

Rachel Ventura wrote: The compromise between ease and flexibility is key for me, though. Matt says, Wordpress isn't easy right out of the box -- which is why I wondered if Blogger's even-your-grandma-can-use-it ease was what set Wordpress apart as being more "professional." I don't know anything about databases or SQL or .htaccess or any of this crazy engineering stuff. Furthest I've ever worked with a database is when I had my old Mac and they had an address book software I used to play with, pretending I was some hotshot with a big-time computer Rolodex. Comments are an important thing, though, because as much difficulty I have with keeping a conversation going (see the one-sidedness of this here?), I'd hate to be preaching to a roomful of crickets. I wonder if Blogger allows for Discus or Gravatar or those things to replace its built-in system?
Wordpress isn't easy right out of the box, but it's not quite the level of databases and SQL :-) It just has a lot more customizable parts. Instead of starting a blog in one night, you'll probably need a couple of nights to play with all the possibilities. Blogger and Wordpress are both great though. I've used both, I like both, I can happily recommend both to anyone. You can easily switch from Blogger to Wordpress later on, but you cannot switch from Wordpress to Blogger easily. Blogger doesn't allow for very good importing or exporting from and to other systems.

It's good that you are thinking through all these things before you begin. A lot of people just jump right in and aren't sure even why they are doing. Good luck :-)
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

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Re: Is Google Blogger considered spam?

Post by nielsencl » February 17th, 2012, 9:53 pm

I used to have about 70 blogs on Blogger. Rather than use their bandwidth I set up domains and hosting and just used Blogger as a "publishing" platform for my blogs. It was free, it worked well, and was easy to use for the most part. Then Blogger decided about a year ago that they didn't want to support FTP any longer (FTP is the means by which files are sent to your site where the blog is if you don't use Blogger hosting). This meant I had to use their hosting or find another option. So I cut the cord and most of those 70 blogs have not been updated since that time. Late last year I starting installing new software, b2Evolution (It's free) and have about 5 up and running again.

The point of the story is that if you use a free system like Blogger you have little or no control over what happens in the future. I highly recommend getting your own domain ($10 a year) and hosting ($2 a month at Lacehost.com) and keep control of your blog or site. It just doesn't cost all that much. The tech stuff can be a headache for some, but there are options for that as well such as forums like this one.

No one has to know you are using Blogger which is great, and if you use their "blog via email" you will discover how easy updating and posting can be, especially when you have over 50 blogs. :-) Wordpress is great and everyone uses it and I have a couple of them, but most of my blogs from here on will be using b2Evolution. They have post by email that works like Bloggers does (WordPress has the option but it didn't work correctly for me with HTML emails). And I just like the look and feel of b2Evolution.

I just re-read your first post and I see that your budget is only $0. As you noted one famous writer used to have a Blogger blog that has now turned Japanese. Therein lies the main problem with "free" (worth what you pay for them) blogs. While it is possible to backup the data from your blog, it can be a pain to move it someplace else later on, and most importantly: You lose all the links and traffic that you build up over time. THAT is the most important reason to protect your investment online IMO.

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