The Blogger-HAT Story

Blogger-HAT was started in mid 2009,  to keep "how to" notes about problems I'd solved using Blogger to build a public-transport information site for my city.  My very first post was about how to put AdSense ads right inside posts.

Since the audience was just me, I also used it to test features that I wanted to use in my main site later on.   One of these was Google Analytics - and I was surprised to find that other people were finding Blogger-HAT through search:  I'd done nothing to promote it, and nothing to help it in the SEO stakes.

At the same time, I was answering questions in Blogger-Help-forum:  by getting a reputation as someone who helped other people, the more experienced helpers were more likely to help me when I asked my own questions.   But I did get sick of typing the same thing over and over again.   So I started linking to posts in BloggerHAT instead.

But I had no intention of blogging about Blogger:   About seven micro-seconds went into choosing the blog's name and URL - this was a site for me, not anyone else! The "hat" idea only came later - it's got to be the most under-thought-about logo in the blog-sphere.

Running-on-treadmills-motion-blurOne day, in December,  pounding the treadmill at the gym, I realised that there is an almost infinite number of combinations of Blogger and other tools:   by that stage, I was using Maps (because my first site is all about public transport) - Picasa, AdSense, Analytics, Feedburner - and all the interesting challenges were about how to use these together.   The makers of each tool write documentation for their tool, but cannot possibly write it for all the other possible tools.    So there was an enormous gap that I, and other blogger-helper-bloggers, could work in.

So I started focussing more on the posts in Blogger-HAT:  the first series was about pictures and the relationship between Blogger and Picasa, and many more followed.   I also learned about RSS, and found out how to use feed-reader software to keep up with changes from all the tools I was using.

During 2010, as the global recession continued, I worked a lot of boring temping jobs that didn't use my IT skills  - companies were just not spending on project work.   But I realised that my background in data and systems analysis was giving me an insight that some other Blogger-writers didn't have:   my posts were longer, and covered more of the unintended consequences than many others.  I started thinking of my public-transport site as "the most agile project I've ever worked on", and of Blogger-HAT as a way to keep my systems analysis skills sharp.   At this time, I came to regard Blogger-HAT as having "articles" rather than just posts.  And I discovered Inkscape and adopted the "hat" logo.

I also met some fascinating people and heard some great speakers during this period - some were other out-of-work professionals, others were making a career of social media.  Damien Mulley said "everything in your life is content" - and I didn't get it at the time.  But a few weeks later, I started thinking about some things I'd been doing voluntary work in for 20 years:   I developed templates before we ever imagined that if you want a template,you just google it.    So I googled - found mine were up there with the best - and two new blogs were born.   But unlike Blogger-HAT and my public-transport blog, these two have both a world-wide appeal, and content that is evergreen (public domain song words and tunes in my specific niche aren't going to change!).    So while Blogger-HAT is still my largest audience, my other blogs have more long term potential.    I'm still keeping it up to date, but I can imagine a day when I'll simply have to decide between it and something else, and the something else will win.  

Until then ... glad to have you here, thanks for reading so far, and I hope you find useful info.