News Posts Need Dates

I wanted to read about a building project ongoing locally. I found a post about it on the website for the local newspaper. But, the post did not have a date. So, I could not tell how relevant the information was. The post mentioned the years the project had been going and how much time it was expected to continue. Without a date to reference however, the information was not useful.

Not only news posts need dates. Anything which relies on being current should have a date (when it was written about) for reference. Software comes to mind. I’ve started looking for software reviews or information with the current year added to my search terms. It helps eliminate the older posts and those without dates, which may or may not be older.

News needs a point of reference. Any post providing information should really have a date. Information becomes dated. Readers need to know the information they are reading is still valid.

Zine Making a Mini Documentary

Zine-making is as easy or elaborate as you make it. Start with the supplies—for a basic zine, all you’ll need is a pen, paper, glue and a pair of scissors. From there, the possibilities are endless. Honesty, self-expression and personal satisfaction are the only core values of zine-production according to the “Cut & Paste” mini-documentary.

Quoted from: Unte Reader – How to Make your own Zine

Considering a Change from WordPress

Not for any special reason but, I am seriously considering changing my sites from WordPress. There are several reasons not to do this: transferring content, themes and plugins I have bought will no longer work, learning (and installing/ setting up) new software. But… I feel WordPress has lost individuals like myself. I’m not a web developer or designer. I don’t have clients to set sites up for. I just have my own sites and WordPress keeps feeling limited.

I am not so keen on changing. Though I do like change for the sake of change, sometimes. I don’t like being in a rut or following the pack.

It is not an easy decision to fully commit to. I’ve been looking at other software. I’m always interested in alternatives and options and new things when it comes to web publishing. But that’s more like window shopping than making a serious plan.

If you publish a site, with something other than WordPress (or Blogger/ Blogspot or other freebies which don’t run on your own domain) let me know. I’d like to set up Typo3 but so far it just will not install. Fancy installations are a hard limit for me. If I can’t even get the software set up I’m not confident in using it afterwards.

At least, it will be an interesting month – or however long it takes me to either change or decide not to rock the boat.

Six Steps to Starting a Creative Blog

Whether it’s a creative blog, a lifestyle blog, a business blog… most posts with this title end up disappointing me. They are all about getting a domain, setting up your site on their web host and starting WordPress. I’m never looking for those things when I click on a post about starting a blog.

I want to know what makes a creative blog tick, what keeps it going, how they find juice for new ideas and what inspires them.  So, as a long time blogger, however good I may be, I will give my own version of how to start a creative blog.

1. You need a focus.

One niche idea which you can sustain (and promote if you are hoping to get noticed). Finding the right idea is more important than anything else. Your niche is what will keep you going when you run dry, lose patience, or give up on keeping your site. It is also how you will find kindred spirits among the masses of people online.

2. Brainstorm ideas.

Before you buy a domain and set up web hosting, push yourself to come up with a list of at least 100 posts you could make about your niche topic. Don’t skimp and don’t settle for half baked post ideas. Really work your brain muscles and make a great list. Think about the type of posts you would read yourself. Take a look at other people writing the same topics, not just online. Come up with an excellent list – posts you almost want to stop and start writing right now.

3. What can you sell?

Yes, it does come down to commercialism at some point. If you are going to create a site it will help you to see it get readers and make some money. Traffic alone won’t sustain you and reader comments occur far less often these days. So you will be happier if you can find your numbers coming from another source and money is nice.

You may think you have nothing to sell. But, put on your thinking cap and see what you can do. Think digital content. If you have art, illustrations or photographs you can sell those, or create digital downloads with your art on calendars, stationery, etc. You can sell information by having a paid membership site – but you need some authority in your topic for that. You can sell patterns for craft projects. See what other people in your niche topic are selling. As a last resort consider putting together an ebook and offering that to your readers. (In my opinion, ebooks have had their day in the sun).

You can also sell a service to creative people. Like workshops and courses they can download or have sent to them each week in email. You might offer to proofread for other writers. You might offer yourself as a reviewer and social media poster for book writers. Avoid making yourself a spammer but a lot of creative people would like help with the marketing side of things.

4. Build your site.

Design your site before you start looking at themes and templates. Get an idea of what you want – then find a way to make it work. If you are new to running a site consider Blogger, it’s simpler and you can always convert a Blogger site to WordPress later. (There are a lot of good plugins to make the change over easy). If you want to use WordPress, don’t use WordPress.com. It’s ok, but it is only ok and has a few too many limitations and options you can pay extra for. If you want WordPress, get WordPress on your own domain.

A website is all about navigation. Content may be king but navigation is what will make or break a site. Keep it simple, easily found and make sure it all works. Navigation starts by having a link back to your own site as a “Home” link in the navigation bar. Categories, tags and labels are also great to help people find their way around the contents of your site. Don’t forget an “About” page to tell readers who you are, what you are writing about, what you’re selling, and what your plans are for the site.

A pretty picture is nice but not enough. Make your site look nice but keep it readable. Pick fonts which are not too light or too complicated. Pick colours which keep your site readable. You can find out a lot more about readability and standards for things like alternate tags in image files.

There is a lot of work, planning and DIY (learning) behind a site. Invest in a good guide book, and if you use it, you aren’t likely to regret it. Try to build your own site because it can be done, without paying someone else to do it for you.

5. Start talking to yourself.

Write your first post, to yourself. Give yourself goals and a to-do list as your first post. Afterwards start using an editorial calendar to keep on track with goals and ideas as they come along. Use the draft post feature to keep ideas saved as posts while you work on them.

Everything you would have written as a first post would work as your “About” page, the introduction to your site and yourself.

6. Write your second post.

Pick your favourite idea from your list of 100+ post ideas and write that post. Proofread it before you publish it. Don’t take too long to write it, don’t make it overly dramatic or particularly perfect. (You can always go back and edit it later).

Post and go look at your blog, from the reader side (not the admin/ edit side). Admire what you have accomplished and plan what you will do next.

Please Login or Register to Leave a Comment

I really dislike logging in or registering with a site in order to leave a comment.

If they don’t collect and sell email addresses and the other information they gather from you… there is still the lovely newsletter they will assume you want sent to your email inbox, regularly. Even if they say they do not sell or give away your information, that doesn’t mean they don’t.

Registering for a site also means, not only do they now have my email address but in their database they also have my standard password, the one I try to use almost everywhere, for every site and online service. Don’t think that sort of information is not being kept track of by someone, somewhere. I am so fed up with registering and logging in for sites I am going to begin deleting my accounts at any site I go to. (Other than those I really do use daily).

The really interesting thing, is how damned hard you have to look to find a way to delete those accounts. In some cases I have to email for help – assuming I can find any contact information. But, never fear, Twitter is here. If you can not get a site to remove you from the database send an aggressive yet polite note to them on Twitter. That way a lot of people will read it and be aware of the problem. You may never hear anything back from the site. I would say I only get any help deleting my account half the time.

The real solution is to be careful and ultra conservative when it comes to registering for anything on any site. Just say NO!

Using Deep Captions

4. Use “deep captions”Studies have shown that image captions are consistently some of the most-read copy on a page. Try pairing a strong image with a “deep caption.”Deep captions are two to three sentences long. That’s long enough to intrigue your reader to dig into your whole article.

Source: 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content – Copyblogger –

This was the most interesting point for me because I don’t use any captions. But, I do read them on other sites, especially when I’m skim reading. Most people are skim reading. I know it’s not just me any more. Ha! to those who laughed at me for admitting it back then. I was just an early adopter, yet again. Not that I promote skim reading as a good thing. There are times I’ve missed the relevant point due to skim reading. But, that is partially the fault of the writer. We should be writing for skim readers these days. We know most people are skimming, not reading your every word.

Write for the skimmers and maybe they will become readers.

Meanwhile… I’m going to think about writing captions. But, I’d have to add more images for that to work and I’ve been trying to skip the images unless they really have some relevance. As a skim reader and a web publisher, I’m really tired of images there for the sake of having an image with the post. I still think an image should be included in a post for a reason other than adding colour to your post.  Otherwise you could just post a generic image with a link to your site.

Are you a Default Font Sort of Person?

Is there a poodle font? Wouldn’t that be great for someone working as a dog groomer, or breeder of poodles?

These are the things which come into my brain while I’m waking up in the morning, this morning. Then I thought it’s a shame people have so few occasions to write anything by hand now. I don’t own a mobile phone but I’m not writing out many things, leaving notes (hand written) for anyone, etc. We send email, or text which is just email sent via a phone you spend an extra whack of dough on each month. (I don’t).

Are you still using the default font?

Anyway, then I wondered how many people with mobile phones have changed their font from the default which came with the phone. We used to show personality, mood, creativeness, with our hand writing. That’s pretty much gone, retired even from being taught in schools. So, do people pick a font to suit them or just use the same font as everyone else?

I picked the font for this site. It’s easy to read, available in web browsers (and your phones, etc). I wouldn’t say it shows my personality or creativeness, but this is a site for people to read, easily. Function had to come first.

However, on a personal site or phone… what does your font say about you?

If that gets you thinking start by seeing if you can change your font on your phone. If not, talk to your phone provider of choice and get something done about that.

poodlefont

Source: dafont- The Poodle Lover font and take a look at the Poodle Doodles font there too.

poodletail

Source: MyFonts – The Poodle Tails font.

Killing Third Party Cookies on WordPress?

I don’t know how I have so many third party cookies on my sites. I did not put them here deliberately. In particular, I have dozens of cookies from Linked In. I don’t use Linked In and I don’t like it either. So, how are they here? I would like to get rid of them but I don’t even know how they have parasited into my site.

I found this post on the WordPress forums. An old post. I don’t know if it would work. It might, at least for people visiting my site. Ideally, I’d rather kill the cookies instead of just covering them up.

cookieblockerSource: WordPress › Support » How can we control cookies with new EU legislation?

Relying on Dead Accounts for a Subscriber Base

We rely on dead accounts. Dead or dud accounts should be clutter but they aren’t really. Instead they add to our numbers, and we like numbers as statistics we can see and measure. But, they aren’t all that reliable, or honest.

Twitter followers, Facebook friends, mailing list and newsletter subscribers… if you had to audit your subscriber list would you have even a quarter of those subscribers? A quarter was actually being nice. It is far more likely your subscribers and followers would reduce down to a very small fraction of those currently on your list. But, web publishers don’t yet have to face subscriber audits. I worked in the circulation department of a magazine, a print magazine. Audits were a reality there. Print magazines have to verify their subscriber lists, the people on them have to be real and currently getting the magazine. Advertisers really like having that kind of data when they consider spending their money.

So far the web is different, generally.

As a web publisher are you satisfied with that?

Do you care how many of your followers, friends and subscribers are actually real people (and maybe reading your newsletter too)? You don’t have to care. You can just ignore the whole thing. It’s nice to say you have thousands of subscribers rather than audit it down to a handful.

About once a year I take an axe to my Twitter account. I’m not ruthless about it. I leave some accounts which don’t look very active and probably don’t really care what I’m posting, or if I’m posting. But, I do set limits. It’s a Twitter audit where I only have to please myself.

  • I stop following accounts which have not had a post in a year.
  • I stop following an assortment of accounts which never followed me back. This is not a petty thing – I just don’t see the point in trying to reach out to someone who doesn’t want to listen to me. (Many of those who don’t follow back are just follow-me-back accounts who love having big numbers of followers but long ago deleted you from their own list of followed accounts).
  • I also delete accounts which have nothing to say. If the last half dozen or so posts are all re-posted links… I don’t want to follow an automated account.

I know I still have a lot of accounts which are dud and dead accounts in some way. But, I leave them because it is nice to have some numbers. I’m not immune to that game.

I don’t run a newsletter because I know just how fast I can build a subscriber base – of bots, spammers and dud accounts. Thanks for nothing. I miss running a newsletter. I had a few over the years online. My best was called InkSplatters, for writers.

If you had to audit your followers and subscribers how would it go? Could you be brave and do it or is it just too nice to go along and pretend all those numbers are real?

Some day you may have to prove them. I don’t think digital media will be left to make claims of thousands of subscribers they don’t really have for much longer. At least not sites which want advertisers to pay them for their space.