Blogging

  • Things I’m loving this week (or is it month?)

    Between Freshers’ Week at work, packing for the big move (and dealing with numerous hiccups in the house buying process), this particular weekly feature has turned into something of a monthly one.

    Dork Adore Tumblr

    A couple of weeks ago I set up a Tumblr for Dork Adore. It’s a place to share all the stuff we love, but don’t quite get the time to write about. So far, we’ve covered everything from geeky romantic posters (top right) to robot tea strainers (bottom right).

    We’ll be posting up two new items each day, so feel free to give us a follow and let me know if you find anything worth adding.

    ProBlogger post on increasing traffic

    I tend to scan over posts that claim to improve your traffic (how many times do you really need to hear ‘post regularly, link back, comment more’?). But this guest post on ProBlogger by BlogStash actually has some pretty interesting suggestions. I won’t be rushing out to buy an engraved giant flip flop anytime soon, but I will be trying out the Odiogo plugin.

    Autumn

    I adore autumn. It’s easily the prettiest season, with the rusty leaves, morning mists and conkers, and cosy stews are always going to win out over summer salads. I wrote a piece over on Dollymix this week rounding up all the best bits about autumn – and threw in a bunch of autumnal pictures for good measure.

    Featuring on A Thrifty Mrs blog

    A Thrifty Mrs kindly linked to my post on five myths people believe about freelancers yesterday. I’m really chuffed about this, as I love her blog. Go check out her recent posts on saving old nail varnishes and her hilarious live blog on watching Eat, Pray, Love.

    My latest purchase

    This arrived last week:

    I love it.

    What things are you loving this week (or month)? 

  • Guest post: Lessons I’ve learned from Steve Jobs

    This week, I’ve got a guest post from Ebunola Adenipekun, who pays tribute to Steve Jobs

    Today feels like a Diana, Princess of Wales moment for the Web 2.0 and 3.0 generation. So many people seem to be touched by Steve Jobs’ passing. Here are some thoughts on his contributions to the world and the legacy he leaves behind…

    I remember being one of the first schoolchildren to use Apple computers in Liverpool in the late ’80s/early ‘90s. I only had five to 10 minutes a week to use it, because it was the only one in the school! How times have changed! When I really think about it, what a privilege it was to be a tester of what would be one of the most innovative products of our time.

    This computer, in contrast to the few others that were around, had colourful graphics and was child-friendly. In contrast, my family had possessed an Amstrad, and in retrospect it didn’t compare – it was code-heavy and not about the graphics!

    The co-creator of the Apple computer Steve Jobs had an unusual start in life. He was adopted, not by his biological mother’s first choice, but by a couple who didn’t fit the profile she was after. But their promise to get him into college put her mind at rest.

    Going to university isn’t the only option

    There’s a lesson right there – always think about what’s best for the next generation. The offspring might not realise it as soon as they’re old enough to, but they will realise in good time, that setting them up for the best start in life is half the battle. And Jobs did get into college, a good-enough college, but the story as we know, does not end there. Jobs was a technological maverick. His commencement speech at Stanford University illustrates this well. He spoke about being a college dropout (gasp, horror!), but managing to sneak into the classes that appealed to him.

    Too often, despite our massive potential, we humans toe the line, wanting to get into the best universities, get the best results, to result in an afore-manufactured well-paid job. While there is a place for that, often, success and value are about passion, desire and determination. Getting a great result at a top university is just one way of expressing those three  qualities – but not the only way. Steve Jobs showed that.

    Leading the way

    Through taking a tailored, not well-trodden path in life he made his own mark, he paved a way for others. I hope I’m not sounding idolatry. That’s not my desire, but I am pointing out that he helped to shape technology today. May I be so bold to say I doubt Facebook, HTC, Google and other technological brands would be here today without Jobs and Apple to pioneer. We all should take our own path, and it may make the way easier for others too.

    I’ve learned from Steve Jobs to:
    • Leave a company in as dignified manner as you can – you never know you may return. Jobs was sacked from Apple for lack of shared vision, but returned and his vision came to pass anyway
    • Be creative – and that will mean making mistakes. Mistakes will be made regardless, so make them quickly and joyfully, and use them to push you further!
    • Love what you do. Enough said
    • Learn from your journey. Watch his commencement address where he talks about connecting the dots
    • Stay hungry, stay foolish. That talks about the child-like desire to play around with objects, break them down into components, ask ‘stupid’ questions, think impossible thoughts. Jobs certainly did. The iPod, the iPad, the iPhone … lots of people thought, ‘What are these nonsense things he’s talking about? We don’t do things this way. We don’t need them!’ And that’s the crux of Jobs’ thinking, he doggedly believed: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

    Steve Jobs, you did a lot. Rest in peace.

    Ebunola is very much a music lover, avid reader, writer, artist and Liverpool Football Club supporter. You can find her on her blog  and on twitter

  • Summary RSS feeds: Do you click through? (Poll)

    How do you keep on track of all your favourite blogs? Email? RSS feed? Chances are, most blog fans will be reading them in something like Google Reader, which gathers together all the updates from your subscribed blogs. It’s quicker, easier and simpler to read that way. It should look something like the image above.

    If you’re a blogger, you can choose how your blogs displays in someone’s reader. Some people prefer to show the entire post, while others prefer a short teaser, to entice the reader into visiting the blog for the full content.

    Personally I read blogs through Flipboard (which you can see an example of on the left, with a lovely post from Temporary Secretary), which allows me to read a full post, comment and share without leaving the app. But when I solely used Google Reader, post summaries were a little annoying. I rarely clicked through, unless the content was particularly interesting or I wanted to leave a comment.

    But I see the benefits of only using a summary too. It can encourage more people to visit your site, meaning page views should rise along with comments.

    I’d love to know what you think though, in the poll below.

     

    [poll id=”2″]

    I’d also love to hear from those who use summary RSS feeds. Do you find you get a good click through rate? Is it better than when you display the full RSS feed?

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  • How do you measure a blog’s success?

    This morning, I woke up to a Twitter DM from the lovely beauty blogger Tsunimee enquiring about how valid Google Friends Connect is as a measurement of your blog readers. A lot of beauty bloggers seem to use it as a guide to how popular their blog is, and to an extent it does prove to visitors how many regular readers you have.

    The thing is, there are so many ways for someone to subscribe to a blog that it’s difficult to rely on one tool to showcase how popular your blog is. Visitors to your blog could:

    • Sign up to your RSS feed, or through your Feedburner feed
    • Sign up to a newsletter if you have one
    • Add you on BlogLovin’
    • Add themselves to your Google Friends Connect
    • Follow you on Twitter
    • Follow you on Facebook
    • Follow you on LinkedIn
    • Follow you on Google+

    You get the picture…

    Some people may use several of these methods, while others may choose just one or two. As long as they’re reading your content, does it really matter how many options you give them to subscribe?

    The alternative way to measure your blog success is by looking at your blog stats.

    Ah, blog stats…

    The thing is, most of them give you completely different figures. Compare your Blogger stats with your Google Analytics and the results can be vastly different. Add Get Clicky into the mix and it all gets very confusing. To add to this, it’s not unknown for some bloggers to stretch the truth a little about their stats, which can create false competition between other bloggers.

    So perhaps the key is to focus on quality and not quantity. If you’re creating content that others are happily sharing on their social networks, commenting on and blogging about themselves, then you’re probably doing the right thing. If the stats you have are rising as a result, you’re definitely doing the right thing.

    Tsunimee asked if there was one tool for measuring a blog’s success, or one tool she could embed to show other bloggers (and PRs) how she’s doing. Personally, I’d suggest not worrying too much about it. I have a Google Friends Connect gadget on the right (which you can get here) so people can join if they want, but I don’t use it as a measurement as I know many others use RSS. Additionally, as Tsunimee pointed out, Google Friends Connect can be limited to those who use Gmail/Blogger.

    How do you measure the success of your blog? Traffic? Google Connect Friends? Comment? Social Sharing? Let me know in the comments!

    (Keep an eye out for a post in the future with some methods for increasing traffic)

  • Blogging common sense

    Just a quickie today to let you know about a wonderful post by A Thrifty Mrs on the Blogging Rules. It’s basically a set of must-read rules for anyone starting out in blogging (or a great reminder for those who have been doing it for a while).

    I particularly like her points about blog disclaimers and blogger jealousy (haven’t we all has a bit of the green-eyed-monster when we look at super-pretty blogs?)

    Go read a Thrifty Mrs’s guide to Rules for Bloggers

    *Toodles off to do some blog commenting*

  • Create your own infographic

    I love a good infographic. It’s such an easy way to view a whole lot of information in one glance. And if you have the skills and knowledge to create your own infographic, it can be a wonderful way to get lots of traffic and awareness of your brand out there (especially if you get featured on sites like Mashable or Social Media Today).

    I don’t have the design skills to create my own, but a new site – http://visual.ly – hopes to give everyone a chance to create their own infographic.

    They’ve got a section where you can enter your own Twitter name to create an infographic (which can also pitch you against another Twitter user). It looks like we’ll be able to make our own infographics based on other topics too soon.

    Here’s mine:

    If you’re more of a work geek, you might prefer Wordle. Add your favourite words, URL or Delicious username and it’ll create a fabulous word jumble like the below (based on my blog url).

    Wordle

    Do you know of any other tools for creating infographics?

  • Five ways to blog daily

    It seems like a post pops up in my Google Reader every week raving about the benefits of posting on your blog every day.  And I completely agree with them. During the 30 Day Blog Challenge (which you can see here), I saw my traffic and subscribers rise substantially.

    But posting every day is hard. I write for eight or nine blogs, and I post on half of them daily. On top of that, I work three days a week as a social media and web co-ordinator, so finding the time to post daily on my own blog tends to slip down on the priority list.

    However, I’ve been working on a few ways to increase my posts on this site, at least to several times a week.

    Build an online scrapbook for ideas

    I often come across a post, image, infographic or video that I’d love to feature on the site…then forget all about it a day later. Now, I use Read It Later (a toolbar addon that allows you to save a page quickly to read later) and Springpad (to grab all sorts of urls and media for later use). This way, I save time and collect lots of potential post material.

    Both of these tools have iPhone apps too, and Springpad also has an iPad app.You can also view your Read It Later items on the personalised magazine app Zite for the iPad, and save items from Flipboard onto RIL.

    Calender for WP:RADIOWP, July 2008
    Image via Wikipedia

    Create a scheduled spreadsheet

    Popping all your posts into a spreadsheet is a bit like unloading your brain into something a little more organised. You can see what you need to publish that day, which gives you goals and targets to work towards. If you’re using WordPress, the WordPress Editorial Calender is brilliant for this. Otherwise, a simple Google Doc/Excel doc will do the job nicely.

    Set themed days

    If you find you’re lost for inspiration sometimes, it’s worth having themed days for your blog posts. For example, every Friday could be the day you do a mini-summary of your recent blog posts/activities, and Silent Sunday is also a popular theme (and quick too!)

    Posts don’t need to be long

    For ages, I’ve been fighting the mindset that a good post has to be a long post.  But some of my most popular posts are simple infographics, videos and images. Variety is key, so a mix of long and short blog posts makes your content look interesting and stops you going a bit mental about the idea of writing a 500-word post every day. You might also want to consider video blogging.

    Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
    Image via CrunchBase

    Write on the go

    Most of us have smart phones now, and with tablets becoming more and more popular, there are more opportunities to write on the go. Even if you don’t have the tech, you can still jot down any ideas or draft posts when you’re on the go. This is one of the few reasons why I like getting the train – it’s the perfect time to write a distraction-free post.

    Do you post every day? Any tips you’d like to share?