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Archive for May, 2009

WordCamp And WordPress Meetups

It’s deep into WordCamp season, and now that WordCamp San Francisco is nearly upon us (it’s tomorrow), everyone is buzzing about WordCamps, WordPress meetups, and basically anything related to WordPress users getting together to learn from each other and/or get plastered.

For those of you that have never been to any such event, or may not even know what I’m babbling about when I mention things like “WordCamp”, Lorelle on WordPress has a great post about just that.

From Lorelle on WordPress

A WordPress Meetup allows locals to get together and learn from each other on how to use WordPress. There are formal WordPress meetups and informal ones, covering nothing but WordPress or including WordPress as part of other topics on web publishing and social media. WordPress meetups are usually held monthly or quarterly.

A WordCamp is a day or two long event with sponsors and dozens if not hundreds of WordPress fans gathering annually. WordCamp Toronto was the first, I believe, to have a three day WordCamp event, but there are no rules. It differs from a WordPress Meetup because it is offered rarely instead of regularly.

Her post is pretty detailed about the structure of WordCamps and meetups, and even tips on how to organize them if you want to start one (right down to how to convince the “rock stars” of the WordPress world to come and speak), and she includes a long list of WordPress meetups that are already going if you’d rather join an established group if there’s one in your area.

I’ve been to a few Meetups and they can be a lot of fun, assuming you’re a bit of a social person. And there’s no better way I can think of to meet “all the right people” in the WordPress world than to hit up a WordCamp, so if you’re looking to make some new contacts and learn a bunch of stuff in the process, that’s the way to go. Just hope they don’t drop the ball on the recording the presentations (I’m looking at YOU Toronto).

Categories: WordPress News

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Darren Rowse, of Problogger.net, has just released a download able workbook called, “31 Days to Build a Better Blog”, based on a challenge he ran recently.

Essentially it’s a book of one action or activity to do per day for a 31 day period, and a lesson around why it should be done, to improve your blog.

Here’s what Darren has to say about it:

The concept was simple: bloggers set aside 31 days to be intentional about improving their blogs.

Each day for 31 days readers were presented with a daily task and teaching to give them concrete ways to take their blogs to the next level – the goal being more readers, higher quality content, deeper reader engagement and higher levels of creativity and energy for the blogger.

Challenges included writing tasks, promotion techniques, methods to deepen reader engagement, creating thinking exercises, ideas for breaking through bloggers block and much more.

Whether you were part of the original challenge or not, this workbook sounds like a pretty good deal. Especially since it’s got a pile of extra content that wasn’t included in the original challenge.

It isn’t free (it’s $20), but considering how much benefit it could have for most people’s blogs, it would probably pay for itself pretty fast. If you’re taking the tasks seriously at least.

I haven’t grabbed it yet, but I’m confident enough in Darren Rowse’s work to recommend checking it out if you want some great ideas for how to push your blog to the next level (or start a new one off on the right foot).

Basically it’s a month long consulting session with one of the most successful bloggers out there, so $20 isn’t too shabby at all.

Once I get through it I’ll likely post a detailed review of the experience, so if you don’t feel like taking a leap, just wait for my full opinion of it sometime next month.

Categories: Blogging Tips

Finding Your Audience

One issue that tends to be common with all blogs is trying to find and build an audience. It’s especially tough for new and younger blogs, but it will almost never become a non-issue regardless a large or popular a blog gets. There is always room for more readers, and keeping the ones you have is always a struggle.

If you’re looking for some tips on how to get (and keep) an audience for your blog, then a recent post on buildabetterblog.com called “Where do you find an audience for your blog?” might interest you.

Here’s a sample from the Twitter section…

If you’re not on twitter, join now. Use search.twitter.com to search keywords in your niche and find the people who are talking about your topic. Jump in; join the conversation. Follow those people and respond to their questions or contribute to the discussion.

You can also use tweetbeep.com or the alerts feature on tweetlater.com to have emails sent when your keywords are mentioned on twitter.

Make sure your blog posts are being fed into your twitter stream by setting up twitterfeed.com. I’d say about 40-50% of my blog traffic now comes from twitter.

The tips focus mainly on participating wherever your target audience is hanging out. Be in forums, facebook, twitter, or wherever else, and being a helpful member of those communities.

Interacting with your readers is key. If you can interact on their terms, rather than only on your own site, people are much more likely to check out your blog/site/etc.

At the bottom of the post there’s even a bonus audio program called “How to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Blog.” which is well worth a listen, and it’s free, so there’s no reason not to check it out.

Categories: Blogging Tips

Living The Dot Com Lifestyle – John Chow

Long story short, John Chow thinks you work too much, and he wants to help. He started a series a couple days ago surrounding the idea of living “The Dot Com Lifestyle“. In other words, work less, make more, travel wherever/whenever you want, and all that fun stuff.

Great idea, harder to implement. Hence the multiple post series he’s started to try to help people move in that direction. A lot of it so far seems to mirror Timothy Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, thought maybe not quite to the same extremes.

Unlike most “get rich without a lot of work” schemes, these ideas are geared more towards having more free time than wealth, though of course wealth is a part of that.

Here’s a little taste for you from part 1 of the series…

If your goal is to make a lot of money in the least amount of time possible, then you have to learn to make more efficient. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind. This rule states that most output are created by a small percentage of the population. In your business, you’ll find that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. On the Net, you’ll find that 80% of blogging income is created by top 20% of bloggers (it’s probably closer to 95/5).

Working more efficiently mean spending most your time with the 20% and less time with the 80%. In my case, I would say spend all you time with the 20% and screw the 80%. The goal here isn’t to make more money. The goal is to make more time.

Typical of John Chow, the posts are full of great information and ideas (and videos of him spending time in the park with his daughter). He’s just posted part 2 of the series, and I highly recommend checking out both parts, and checking for future posts in the series. If you think you work too much (and who doesn’t?), you’re bound to get something useful out of it, and if nothing else, maybe shave a few minutes off your work-day.

Categories: Blogging Tips

Last Day for Social Media Success Summit Discount

I just realized that the Social Media Success Summit starts tomorrow, which means today is the last day to get $100 off the price of admission, making the price $397. That’s not cheap, but it sounds like this online event is going to be epic. Just read this list of SOME of the sessions that will be included…

* How to Create a Mega-Following and Mega-Sales With Social Media Marketing
* Building a Loyal Facebook Following for Increased Profits
* How to Grow and Engage an Audience on Twitter
* Five Reasons You Need to Be on Twitter (and Tools to Help You Manage)
* Social Media Start Up: 3 Key Tools to Build Your Social Media Marketing Plan
* How to Attract Tens of Thousands of People in Mere Days

The list of presenters is pretty damn good too: Gary Vaynerchuk, Darren Rowse, Mari Smith, Jason Alba, Ann Handley, Brian Clark, Chris Garrett, Denise Wakeman, Michael A. Stelzener.

There are also apparently a heck of a long list of giveaways (in the form of ebooks, cds, etc), that they say is worth up to $370, so the price doesn’t seem quite so bad, so long as those giveaways are of use to you.

The major thing though I think, is how they are presenting these sessions. Purely online. And unlike most conferences none of the 4 weeks worth of sessions will be on overlapping time slots.

From the site…

At traditional summits and conferences, groups of sessions are often held at the same time, so it’s impossible to attend them all.

Not this summit.

When you register, you’ll be able to take advantage of EVERY business-building opportunity. Even better, after the summit you can download a video recording of each session. If you miss a live session, we’ll provide you a free recording AND transcript.

If you want to dig into social media to push your blog to the next level, or just want to hear Gary Vaynerchuk yelling about “killing it” (and who doesn’t? Gary is great), get signed up today. Tomorrow it’ll cost ya an extra $100.

Categories: Blogging News

WordPress and GPL – A Discussion

WPTavern has posted an interesting discussion in the form of a chat transcript pertaining to the issues surrounding GPL(and Non-GPL) licensing of WordPress themes. If you are a theme creator, or just have an interest in the legal aspects of GPL licensing of WordPress themes, I’d recommend checking it out.

It’s a fairly informal discussion between Ryan Hellyer (of PixelPoint.com) and an unnamed “specialist in copyright law”. And while Ryan freely admits to not knowing whether what this “specialist” says is true or not, the discussion is pretty interesting.

They get into some details that often seem to be overlooked when discussing GPL licensing, such as having a copyright to the design of a theme separate from the backend code, and beach of contract issues. Law geeks will probably get the most of out it, but it’s not too full of legalese, so most people should be able to follow it if they are interested to learn more about the subject.

Take it all with a grain of salt though, since the “specialist” is unnamed, and his opinion is just that, HIS opinion.

That said, what are YOUR thoughts on the matter of GPL and Non-GPL licensed themes?

Categories: Opinion, WordPress News

Writing a Great “About” Page

If you’ve got a blog, you’ve almost certainly got some form of an “About” page setup. Unfortunately, most people don’t put a lot of effort into that page, and they really REALLY should.

I just saw a wonderful article about just how to spruce up “About” pages, over on WritetoDone called, “Five Tips on How to Write a Fantastic About Page“, and it’s well worth checking out.

It’s actually written by James Chartrand from Men with Pens, and it’s got some really good tips.

Here’s a taste of what’s included in the post…

There are some rocking blogs out there, and there are great sites full of entertaining info. But sometimes, you click the About page of one of these sites, and you’re jarred from that greatness thanks to content as dry as breadcrumbs. Be consistent with the voice and style you use throughout your site, and reflect the same personality on your About page.

There are 5 major tips (with detailed descriptions and examples for each) and some questions at the end to get your thinking about what YOUR “About” page should tell the world about you. Your readers will be infinitely thankful if you read James’ tips and put them into practice.

A good “About” page won’t necessarily mean a lot more readers(though it might if it’s REALLY good), but a bad “About” page can kill a blog outright. It’s worth the effort, trust me.

Categories: General, WordPress Tips

Want to build Traffic? Here Are Some Tips.

DailyBlogTips.com has a great post up today about how to gain some traffic to your blog.

It’s get some really good advice on what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing to build up some traffic.

Here’s a small taste of one of the tips…

Why social bookmarking traffic is bad for my blog?
Social bookmarking traffic is very smart. If you are trying to make money with contextual ads like Adsense, for example, you will notice that such traffic will covert very poorly, if at all..

And why is social bookmarking traffic is good for my blog?
This is no brainer. More traffic means people like your content. Just imagine even if 1% of those visitors link to your article from their blog. Also imagine if 1% of of those people visiting your blog for the first time become your subscribers.

The tips are all pretty good (especially the stuff to avoid), so if you’re struggling to get traffic coming to your blog, or you just want to build it up a little faster than it should make some interesting reading.

Any great traffic building tips you think they missed or are wrong about?

Now I’m off to bug everyone in my family to visit this blog(that’s a joke, read the tips!).

Categories: Blogging News, General

Eye Tracking 101

Thanks to @problogger, I found out that Eyetrack III had released a study, a few years ago, that you might be interested in if you want to know how your readers are likely viewing your site.

During the study, they “observed 46 people for one hour as their eyes followed mock news websites and real multimedia content.”

The results are pretty interesting, and a bit surprising in a few places. They talk about the effects of homepage layout on how people read the content of the page, the best placement for images, using font size to increase reader focus and avoid having them quickly scan through text rather than reading it all, and even the effects to paragraph length on how/where people’s eyes drift around the page. It’s all pretty damn cool.

Especially important might be the results of what happens when people get to a break in the text (say, from an ad), that could cause some people to rethink the layout of their ads, and site in general. They actually go into pretty good detail about advertising. The study is worth checking out for that section alone if you run ads on your site.

There is also a bit about navigation placement that could help some sites struggling to get people to drill down into their site past the initial entry page.

All in all, if you want to learn a TON about how people are likely to be reading your blog, and get a lot of tips about how to control the flow of their attention, I’d highly suggest reading through the Eyetrack III study. It’s a bit lengthy, but it’s so packed with useful info that it’s well worth it.

Categories: Blogging Tips, Interesting

WordPress 2.8 Beta 1 Is Here

If you need to be on the “bleeding edge” of WordPress, today is a good day. WordPress 2.8 Beta 1 has arrived. I’d suggest holding off a while before using it for any live blogs/sites, but it has some shiny features, so checking it out is highly recommended.

Just a few of the new features and changes…

-Add CodePress syntax highlighting to Theme and Plugin editors
-Use “Custom Header” for menu text and revise Default theme to reflect change
-Don’t notify post author of own comments
-Allow the dashboard widgets to be arranged in up to four columns as set via the Screen Options tab
-Autosave post/page when pressing Control/Command+S
-Add toggle all button to the Gallery tab in the uploader
-Support more than one gallery on the same page
-Check for new version when visiting Administration > Tools > Upgrade
-Add per page option to Screen Options for comments, posts, pages, media, categories, and tags
-Fix most popular link category list
-Hide email addresses from low privilege users on Administration > Comments
-Enforce unique email addresses in Add/Edit users

I usually wait for the Release Candidate version before playing with new updates much, but I think I’ll test this one out a bit. I’m hearing good things so far.

Anyone else using 2.8 Beta 1 already, and if so, what do you think? Worth dealing with “Beta 1″?

Categories: Important, WordPress News

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