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Blogging and the Web1.0 world: never the two shall meet

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Is blogging still relevant?

A few weeks ago, Darren Tay of Social Media Breakfast in Singapore asked: Are blogs still relevant?

Like many others, when I am swamped with another project, my blogging suffers.  More than most activities, 90% of success in blogging is showing up.  Indeed, blogging technology rewards showing up.

A blog is less an act of writing and more a particular web format that allows easy updating.  More than that, Google ranks new material more highly than old and helps us find an audience, provided we show up.

Why sometimes I stop blogging

Nonetheless, sometimes I don’t show up.

At first I thought I had no time.  But when you are used to blogging, it takes little time.

Then I thought that other projects that require writing compete for the same psychological energy.

Hmm, I wonder about that too.  Writing for a blog is more carefree and energizing than most writing.  Well, possibly that is the reason. Much professional writing sucks the life and soul out of you (and your readers).

Another possibility is that there are whole swathes of the UK who only know vaguely what a blog is. They certainly don’t understand the technical point that a blog is just easy to update.

They don’t use RSS feeds and they don’t know what a feed reader is.

Broadband is wasted on the rich

Those who are uneducated about the internet are not the indigent or poor either.  People who don’t understand blogging have broadband. They just don’t use it.   We might argue that the government has wasted a lot of money giving broadband to people who are never likely ever to use it.

These are people who live in institutions.  They get up and tread the same path every day.  They talk to the same people.   And they watch the same TV programmes.   They are paid a lot of money to ignore the rest of the world.

They do bump into the real world sometimes.  They experience serendipity occasionally but so infrequently they actually remember!  Despite being moneyed members of the chattering classes, they have never heard of TED.

Blogging and institutionalized life: never the twain shall meet

I think that’s why I stop blogging.  I get sucked into that world.

I’ve always known that I have a poor kinesthetic memory.  When I step off a plane in Instanbul, or Nairobi or Singapore, I always blink and exclaim “It’s light!”.  I can remember that I will be surprised, but living in UK, I forget what it feels like to be in bright sunlight.

When I am fumbling my way through old institutions and groping around their murkier unswept cobwebby corners, I remember there are blogs.   But the feeling of blogging recedes.

Maybe that’s why we stop blogging. We’ve gone through Platform Nine and Three Quarters and we are in Muggles world.

Well, I’ve come back the other way.  Let’s see how long I can stay.

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Break your blogging learning curve into 10 chunks

Wordpress Meetup by David Recordon via FlickrHow to post a blogpost

I have a friend who went from loathing computers to editing blogposts. . .overnight.  I goggled.  That’s not a steep learning curve.  That’s Batman.

So I suggested, he write a ‘new post’ and still thinking that is a huge learning curve for a magazine-themed blog, I’ve put together these steps.  It’s not a complete “button-push” guide (Batman doesn’t need that).  It’s the chunks one needs to get a post together.

Login

1 Login just as you did before(http://websitename/wp-admin and put in your username and password).

Find “add new post”

2 You should be in the Dashboard.  Look top left and you will see “Posts” on the left.  If you go to “Posts”, you get a list of Posts.  If you choose “Add New”, you will see a familiar page.  It’s blank and ready for you to write your masterpiece.

Write your stuff

3 You can continue to write your post in Word and cut & paste.  To save yourself some aggro,  cut and past using the special WordPress rabbit hole.  When you look at your “Add New Post”, you will see two rows of buttoms.  Look for the clipboard with a W on it.

If you can’t see the buttons, check two things. Look just above-right of the buttons and you will see Visual and HTML.  Make sure you on Visual.  (HTML means code – you’ll need that later and that’s why the screen might have come up that way).

Then if you still can’t see the W, click on the very right hand button on the first row. It makes the second row come-and-go.  See why I thought you might need this list.

Now you have “clipboard W”, hit it and a new box called Paste from Word comes up.  Paste (or Cntrl V) and choose Insert at the bottom.  All you are doing here is stripping out any Word-specific formatting that might give you a headache later.

Your masterpiece should be in front of you.

Make your stuff look nice

4  Right now, your post looks like a teenager wrote it.  You can put in some headers by going to the Paragraph button on the left.

Click the little arrow to get the drop-down list and add some Heading 2.   Just put your cursor on the phrase that is a heading, go to the drop-down list, and click on Heading 2.

Or add some words for a heading, put your cursor on any word in the heading, go to the drop-down list, and click on Heading 2.

If you left other words on the same line as a Heading, they are also turned into a heading.  Just go back to the list and hit Paragraph, move the words where they should be, and make the heading-phrase into a heading.

Save Draft

5 Now it is time to save. Accidents do happen.  Top right is a Save Draft button.

Add a category and some tags

6  The Category tells the computer where to put your post.  Highlights is one of 5 posts in the flashing box.  The others go in the boxes on the front-page.  Choose one (side right).  If you chose Highlights, you will need to pick an old Highlighted post later on and change its category to something else.

Tags are a modern index.  If you are writing about soup of the  day, put in soup, specials, butternut, for example.  Later on, when you want all your soup posts, or all your butternut posts, or better still, when a customer wants to know all the things you ever did with butternut, they will search for your tags.  They will put butternut in the search box and the computer will list all the posts about butternut.

If you forget your tags, it is not a disaster. It’s just untidy and we can fix it later.  If you forget Category, the computer will get confused and probably just save your post and not show it to anyone. We can fix it later too (by editing), but you will be confused too for a moment because it will look as if your masterpiece has been gobbled up.

So if something funny happens, check whether you forgot your category.

Add an Excerpt (at the bottom)

7 More writing.  Add a short summary at the bottom of the page in the Excerpt box.  I find the summary come sreadily to mind andis often better than what I wrote about.  Use 2-3 sentences.  They go in the highlight box and in the box on the front page.

Add a picture

8 Now for a bigger job – add a picture. We will do this in two parts.  First, we will look at just adding a picture for the Library.  Then we’ll look at bringing in a new picture.

  1. Put your cursor top-left of your post.  Later, you can experiment putting it elsewhere.  For now, just do it the regular way.
  2. Look just above your buttons at Upload/Insert. The icons that follow are pictures, video, music and ? (you tell me!)
  3. Choose the first icon.  A new box will come up with three choices: From Computer (your box), from URL (from the internet), Media Library.   You’ll use From Computer when you put in your own picture. For now, use Media Library.
  4. We have heaps of pictures on there and you can see that sometimes it is simpler to use your own.  For now, find the picture you want (or can use – perfection comes later).
  5. Click show and you will see a screen that you will use often.    Baffling.
    1. For now you want the Link Url (that’s where the picture is physically sitting right now – on  a big computer in the States).  Highlight it, and copy it ready to paste it just now.  If you forget, you will have to come back here; that’s all.
    2. You want alignment – right will do fine right now.
    3. And you want Medium.   The picture is probably bigger.  You want the computer to fix the size to around 500 x 300.   Any smaller and it looks messy.  Any larger, and it takes over your screen.   The computer will sort out the resizing.  Just pick the best option.
  6. Insert into post and wait a few seconds.  Hey presto, you can see it with your words.   Save Draft (Accidents do happen!)

Add the picture url

9  Remember just now you highlighted and copied the url.  Whiz down your post to the bottom where you see Custom fields.  Paste the url into the box on the right. Make sure the box on the left says “image”.  Update if an update button pops up.

Also make sure that there is no blank space before the  http of your url. I often get a blank trapped there and that causes the picture not to show on the front page.  It doesn’t destruct the picture; it just causes confusion.

Add a title

10  Last job now – add your title.

Keep it short and keep it original. Google uses the title to find your post.  So you can’t say Soup of the Day everyday.  Perhaps start just be giving the soup its full name.  Butternut Soup.  Chicken Soup.  You’ll get more imaginative as you warm up.

Post!

All done.  Post and check. Hit on the blue button, top right, that says Publish.

Wait a bit and then when it says it is done, hit on MuchAdo at the top left and you will go to the Home Page.   You should see your post where you wanted it.  (Remember to re-categorize one of the Highlights if you need to).  Hit on your post and you should see the whole post.

Well done.  More experiments later.  This is a heap of learning even for  Batman. And call me if things get muddled.  Life is too short to be annoyed by computers

Now I’ve written this in Word so I am about to follow my own instructions.

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Dissolve your recession blues with 3 questions (and a Posterous blog & camera)

The mark of a good businessman is that he can succeed in bad times

Anyone can do well in a rising market.  When an economy is doing well, people trade with each other.  I make bread and I swap it for your milk.  While I am making bread, you plough my field.

In a sophisticated economy, we make the exchange process easier by swapping goods & services for money.  It’s easier all round.  And the sovereign ~ the king, queen, president or government ~ demands their share.  That’s called taxes.

In good times, we simply slot into the system.  Its easy.  Somebody wants something done. We do it. We get some money.  Our options improve.

In bad times, everyone tries to do everything for themselves.  It is harder to specialize because no one wants to trade their speciality for yours?

Is it?  Why is it so hard?

Why not just walk up to the person who has what you want and make an offer. I can do this for you if you do that for me?

Why haven’t you just done that?

Some where along the line we’ve lost our ability to think for ourselves

If we intend to be successful, in bad times and good, we have to be a little clearer about what we offer.

Here are 3 questions to ask and answer.

#1   What do I really enjoy doing?

Think about when you experience ‘flow’, that wonderful feeling when you are so engrossed that you loose track of time (and are late for the next think.)  Young people often experience flow in sport.  Where else have you experienced flow?

Now commit yourself to doing more of that.  Commit yourself to remembering when you experience flow.  Commit yourself to experiencing more flow, more often, and very frequently (every hour?).

Good.  Now we are enjoying ourselves we help others enjoy their lives!

#2   When do I bring the light to other people’s eyes?

When you are in flow, it’s unlikely that you are looking in the mirror.  If you were, it is likely you would see a magnificently radiant and happy person.  You eyes will be alive and dancing.

Everyone wants to feel like this.  When do people around you feel flow?  When do their eyes light up?

What is that you do that brings the light to other people’s eyes?  Which things do you love to do and which of these make other people so happy that their eyes sparkle with pleasure?

Where does your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet?

It’s a humbling experience to think of these sweet spots, isn’t it?  We don’t feel bold and brazen. We feel shy.  We feel hesitant.  We feel gentle.  We feel calm.  We know that this is our mission.  This is what we have been called to do in the ‘family of things’.

#3 Why do their eyes light up?

But we aren’t sure how to begin.  How do we grow this sweet spot where we are bringing a light to other people’s eyes?  We ask “why?”  When their eyes light up, what story are we helping them live?  What “flow” are they experiencing at that moment?  Who are they at that moment?  What is their purpose?

What essential information did we provide in that moment that helped their story come true?

We need to tell their story.  We need to take a photo and write a blog post.  Day-to-day, let’s document the place where we made someone’s story true.

That’s the point where we have something to trade

And to return from the poetic to commerce, it is at this point that we have something to trade.  We understand what we love to do.  We know when our pleasures are pleasures for others.   We understand their stories and we able to make them come true.  We can walk into someone’s shop or business and say to them, “I can do this for you.  Would you be able to do this for me in exchange?”

Capture those micro-moments when someone in your life lit up!

Now get on with it!  Opening a Posterous blog will take you a few minutes. Getting out your camera will take even less.  And send me your link!  I want to see you capture those micro-moments when someone in your life lit up!

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We set goals to give ourselves control. My blogging story shows how.

2 months to go in 2009!  Are you on target to meet your goals?

One of my goals in 2009 was to increase my blog traffic.  In January, I reviewed my blog and what I had read about good blogging and bad.

As ever when we have a big push, we often achieve what we want, and learn that quite different rules apply than ones we had previously thought. This is my story of how my blogging goals shifted as I coped with the ebb and flow of 2009.

The received wisdom in blogging amount to

  • Stay at the top of people’s feed readers
    • Have an RSS feed so people can subscribe
    • Post often
  • Be found in search
    • Choose keywords for which you want to be known
    • Include them in the title and in the body of the post
  • Great content
    • Write scanable short posts
    • Show the benefits of post to the audience
  • Comment on other people’s blogs
    • Your interest in their work is your best advert
    • Your comment provides a permanent link back to your blog which humans follow and which Google counts for page rank

These are the blogging rules I would add

  • Comments
    • Cut out the elaborate logins with Disqus etc.  People will leave comments if you let them do it quickly
    • Have an RSS for comments as well the post and have it next to the submit button
  • Take search seriously
    • Alexa rankings will tell you what percentage of your traffic is from search
    • Mine is low – less than 10%.  Obviously I could improve that.
  • Great content
    • Write for yourself.  The pros do write great magazine pieces.  Write normally and develop your own style.
    • Alexa rankings also tell you the bounce rates, the number of pages each visitor reads and the time spent on site.  I have a very low bounce rate (below 25%), high number of pages (above 5) and high time on site (more than 5 minutes).
    • Google Analytics also gives these numbers.  I use WordPress.com which doesn’t allow a link to Google Analytics
  • Get recommendations
    • Your real goal on the internet is to get people to recommend you.
    • Visiting your site is a recommendation.
    • Commenting on your site is a recommendation.
    • Commenting on other people’s sites is a recommendation (even though it is made by you!)
    • Also Stumble your post and use tags from their basic list of categories.  You will get 50-100 hits from your own recommendation.  Among those visitors some will give a thumbs up.  Your traffic and your chances of another thumbs up goes up exponentially with each thumbs up.

My Results for 2009

I started well in 2009 driving up my traffic upwards each month to 5 000 hits a month which was my modest goal.  Then I got busy on other things and my blog suffered.  In September, I got back to blogging and began to blog more than once a day to catch up.  I also started to use Stumbleupon better.

I probably won’t make 60 000 for the year, but better still, I’ve discovered the art of getting 10K a month.  Such is the result of making a big effort. We learn.

And our goals change accordingly.  Ultimately we set goals to give ourselves control.

In what areas of your life are you in more control than you were last year?

 

 

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