Archive for October, 2006
Folksonomy has a post up which goes through seven ways you can optimize your blog for your readers.
1. Spend Time on Appearance
2. Focus on Information Design
3. Keep Things Futureproof and Scalable
4. Standardize Everything Possible
5. Streamline the Posting Process
6. Keep Things Simple
7. Put Your Readers Above Yourself
These might sound simple enough, but it really takes a different type of person to look at information architecture, rather than just design or code. So take an extra second today to look over these points in full, and then decide if you have done enough to make your blog as optimized as you can.
Over on Creating Passionate Users, there is a post about starting presentations, articles, and books, where Kathy Sierra goes over what to do and not to do so that you have a better start. This translates well for blogging, as holding the attention of someone reading your posts can be very difficult.
Challenge a belief. Even if they instantly disagree, they’ll stick with it long enough to find out where you got that crazy idea. Start with your most dramatic and/or unpopular assertion.
Start with a story about real people, or about a fictional character they can identify with.
Do something surprising… VERY surprising
They’ll want to stick around to see what strange thing you do next.
The rest of the points listed are just as profound. A great article, and some sound advice.
Amy Gahran, a conversational media consultant, content strategist, and freelance writer/editor has created a post about blogging to a conference blog, or blogging about a conference, and she puts up some great points to remember.
I’ve worked on some conference blogging efforts, so I’ve pulled together a list of 10 kinds of posts that work well on conference blogs.
As with any conversational-media effort, it helps to know your audience, as well as your community of contributors (both bloggers and commenters). What skills and expertise do they bring to the table? What do they want? Ultimately, that should be your guide.
- Covering conference sessions and events
- Personal impressions and observations.
- Handouts and online resources.
- Extending discussion.
- Personal tales.
- Video and audio.
- Tracking coverage.
- Setting the stage for in-person discussion.
A great read, so check out The Right Conversation for details on each point.
Steve Rubel noticed something interesting over at Google News.
On the top right hand part of the page next to the Archive Search there’s now a link to Google Blog Search. Is Google one step closer to integrating the two products? They already do on Google Finance. News and blogs seem even more like a natural fit.
Let’s just say this small change had blogs all over exploding with wonder. Are blogs even close to being considered credible news sources? Should the two products remain completely seperate? Or is this the smartest idea that Google has had in a while? The traffic repercussions for anyone listed on Google News is huge, as being listed can mean thousands of new visitors, and thus chances for the blog to make some money. Being de-listed could also mean a huge change, as visitor numbers decline.
If they do merge the two services more, I will be interested to see how they filter things by credibility.
It is getting closer. For all of you that have wanted to get a domain for your WordPress.com blog, rather than being on a subdomain, that goal has become one step closer today as Andy posts on the WordPress.com blog about their progress.
So hereâ€™s my idea: Iâ€™ll sneak into a few of your dashboards when you arenâ€™t looking and give you a brand new domain based on your current one. If you like it, keep it as your blog URL until it expires or you renew it. If you donâ€™t like it, youâ€™ll be able to switch back to your wordpress.com domain. If you decide to keep it, all of your old URLs (permalinks) will still work. Theyâ€™ll simply redirect visitors to the new URL.
Itâ€™s a bit of a treat and a bit of a trick. This is for testing, remember? Something might go horribly wrong and your blog might become inaccessible to visitors from Bangalore or Biloxi. You might not like the domain. You might be such a fan of WordPress that you miss your old subdomain. In any event, you will be able to switch your blog back to its old URL any time. The free URL also expires after one year, so youâ€™ll have to pay to renew it or lose it. Tricky, huh?
Very smart, and fun from the folks at WordPress.com, and I can only guess that they are very close to opening this feature up (which will probably be a premium feature by the way).
If you have a WordPress.com blog, and have been lucky enough to be assigned one of these new domains, let me know. I would love to see what kind of names they are picking out for people.
Andy Budd has a post up in regards to being a highly successful freelance web designer, but really the post is written in such a way that it is not design specific, and many of the points could be just as easily attached to a highly successful blogger.
Love what you do
This one is something simple, but usually so difficult to attain, but honestly if you want a successful blog, you have to love what you are doing. Do you love writing? Which topic? How often? All of these different things have to come together in such a way that a year down the road you are still smiling at writing on that blog, rather than dreading it.
Never stop learning
Even the best thought-leader in blogging still needs to learn a thing or two. New software, new image editing techniques, new ways of doing things, and it never stops, unless you want it to. But really, when you stop focusing some time on learning new things, you really just begin to stagnate, and I am sure none of us want a stale blog.
This is something that bloggers really need to take to heart. Specializing does not mean you can’t write about a wide variety of subjects, or use a wide variety of tools, but it does mean that if you can narrow it down to just one or two things, you can specialize and become the person to go to for whatever you specialize in.
If you love WordPress, dive deep into it, and learn it, as that is quickly becoming a reasonably decent marketable skill. If you love blue widgets, stop worrying about red and yellow widgets, and comparing them, focus on how great blue widgets are, and sooner or later, people will be following your blog to see what’s new in blue widgets.
Get a killer portfolio
This one really applies more to probloggers, people that want to make money off their writing. Just about every blogging network requires some examples of your work, as well as some fresh ideas. So get a portfolio going, and show off your talents. Archive your best writing and feature it in a portfolio page, or point it out on your blog. You never know who is reading, and what opportunities may come from it.
Network like crazy
Without talking to people online, I would never be in the position I am today. If you want to get noticed, notice other people. Take the time to be interested in them, and more than likely, they will become interested in you as well. Leave comments on other blogs (don’t just lurk), use your blog to point out a great article someone else did, or even just send an e-mail to a blogger to tell them you respect or admire their writing.
Networking can go a long way to not only helping a blog do better, but helping bloggers feel more a part of a community.
Manage your time
Pushing out a post or two every day can sometimes be difficult with the stress of life, but if you learn to manage your time effectively, then you will be able to find that five, ten, or twenty minutes it takes you to organize your thoughts and publish them, and every post brings opportunities.
Build your reputation
Thought-leadership is something you are going to see me mention constantly over the next while as well as passion, as they are both essential in building a reputation via your blog or blogs. By being a thought-leader, someone who is always focused on bringing out their speciality, passion and focus for a subject, you can quickly build a positive reputation online, and basically prove your worth.
The people that have the highest reputations online are those that are offered to write chapters of books, invited to conferences, and have a community built around them.
I know this can seem difficult because it feels like everyone has already said everything that needed to be said, but having the same opinion, but presenting it in a different way, could make it more easy for readers to digest, and the transfer of easy to understand information is one of the most important things that a blogger can do.
Read Andy Budd’s article for a more Freelance Web Designer approach to all the key points he made.
If you have been waiting to get your feet wet with WordPress MU, it has finally been officially released as a 1.0 version. (It has been up for download for a few days, but it was finally announced on WordPress.org.)
WordPress MU is an official branch of WordPress that is designed for managing and hosting thousands of blogs instead of just one. Itâ€™s the software that powers WordPress.com, for example. MU has been in heavy development for about a year now, and weâ€™ve finally polished it up to a place where we feel like itâ€™s ready for public consumption. Since setup is a bit more complex than the 5-minute install of regular WordPress, MU is best suited for a more server-savvy audience. You can download it on the WordPress MU site.
So if your older version has been way too buggy, maybe try the new version, and tell me if it does any better. Grab it at MU.WordPress.org.
Paul Kedrosky of Infectious Greed recenty said that the world needs a new blogging tool, and that none of the current tools are good enough.
SixApart’s MovableType’s cumbersome legacy code prevents it from being all that it could be, and Matt & Toni at WordPress could use the competition (and they don’t have it all figured out either — yet!).
I have used Blogger, WordPress, Movable Type and others, and while more great blogging software, might help spur competition to get releases moving forward, and ending what I see to be a bit of stagnation as the different companies stop directly competing more and more, I do think that WordPress still has the best chance to come out on top, and take things to the next level.
I think one thing that WordPress really has to continue to commit to is the idea that one version of WordPress will never be good enough for everyone. And while their hosted service WordPress.com is helping in this realization, I think two or maybe even three WordPress types would also help if they had the man power. A personal package, a business package, and a multiblog package (I don’t count WordPress MU, as it still isn’t good enough, as of last time I tried it.) could really round Automattic’s offerings out, and bring them into as many markets as possible.
What do you think? Are there already enough/too many blogging tools? Or would you love to see a new one created to compete with WordPress, Expression Engine, Movable Type and others?
via A View from the Isle
Are you getting excited for the next point release of WordPress? No, I don’t mean 2.1, but instead 2.0.5 which should be out any day now.
Mark Jaquith has already taken it upon himself to list some of the more interesting changes that are coming with the new version.
- manually entering pages greater than the number of pages for a given post now shows the highest numbered page
- plugins are sorted by plugin name, instead of filename
- the authors dropdown is now sorted by display_name
While there is really nothing too major listed, it seems to be some simple improvements that will make life easier for WordPress users. I really think though that we are all just holding our breath for 2.1…come on Automattic and crew.
Ever notice a blogger who has forgot to uncheck a the Uncategorized category when writing a post? Haven’t we all done that at least once? Well, in the next version of WordPress it shouldn’t be an issue anymore as it will automatically deselect Uncategorized when selecting another category, but until then we have deUncategorize.
Check it out at cinnamon thoughts.