Archive for the Blogging Category

Blogging in the ‘Lou: Episode Four Show Notes

Posted in Blogging, Local blogs, Podcast, Social Media, Twitter on April 15, 2009 by Kelli

We made our return to the ‘airwaves’ after a couple weeks of missteps. My apologies to you all. I expect we’ll be back on track for weekly episodes. This week, I flew the podcast solo and we answered questions about blogging taken from Guild members. Here are the articles I mentioned as well as the questions.

Blogging can be addicting.  I’ve heard a good way to increase your blog traffic is to read others’ blogs and comment thereby opening up a dialogue between yourself and other bloggers.  I simply don’t have time to read many blogs and I certainly can’t comment on every blog that I read.  What are other effective ways to increase blog traffic when you are short on time? – asked by Kelli Stuart

Have you ever felt you needed to revisit (or even rewrite) a blog post after new information (or simply the passage of time) has come to light? – asked by Scott Roberts

Do negative comments on your blog hurt your feelings, or do you not let them affect you? – asked by Kim

How do you move a blog from a hosted solution (i.e. typepad/blogger/etc.) to self-hosted and what makes this better/worse than the hosted solutions? – asked by Gregg Mueller

 

 

Is Twitter swallowing blogging? – asked by Marianne Richmond

What is the best publishing platform out there? – asked by Dana Loesch 

Blogging In The ‘Lou can be found at http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/38675
Feedback for this podcast can be sent to me at patd88@gmail.com
I blog at http://www.patricksays.net
You can follow me on Twittter at http://www.twitter.com/patrickd88
You can follow the Bloggers Guild on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bloggersguild
Written by: Patrick

Parenting 101: Ten Blogging Ideas

Posted in Blogging, Parent blogging on April 6, 2009 by Kelli

If you are writing a blog that focuses on being a parent or just a blog about your family, there are going to be days where it is VERY easy to write. These are the days when your kids have a birthday, or have a great accomplishment. The problem is, major life events like this just don’t happen every day. Where do you find ideas for all the OTHER days of the year? So, this month, I am presenting just a few places to look for inspiration for blog posts to fill in those days between your son winning that dance contest, or your daughter winning a gold medal in the Olympic shot put competition.

1. Describe some aspect of your daily routine, and what makes it special for you. Maybe there is a particular phrase you say to the kids when you drop them off at school, or send them out the door each day. Maybe you share stories about the day around the dinner table. Perhaps there is a special treat that you like to get for your kids. Tell the world!

2. Compare/contrast some area of your childhood with your childrens’. You can talk about your kids’ favorite toy, then yours (as a child – unless you are still playing with it!). You could even compare that to what YOUR paren’ts favorite toys were, if you know. How have things changed over time? How have they stayed the same? What about the music your kids listen to compared to you? Do you share tastes or are your tastes at opposite ends of the musical spectrum?

3. Picture days. Sure, you won’t always be able to pull off that cute picture of your kid covered from head to toe in spaghetti, but sometimes a simple picture of them in their room, just playing tells all the story that needs to be told. We tend to take pictures of all the special events, but not the normal moments. I’m certainly guilty of that and it is something that I’d like to change. Who knows but that shot of your daughter brushing her teeth may turn into your favorite photo! The rest of us would probably like to see it, too. Remember, if you have steady readers, they are interested in your family, too.

4. Find the light side of something that drives you nuts. Is there something you threaten your kids with when you are picking up all their STUFF? Write about it. Do you sometimes spend an entire Saturday – your only free day – shuttling your kids around? Do you get in silly arguments with your children that have you sounding every bit as much as a kid as them? The rest of us would like to know that we aren’t alone!

5. A Day in the Life. There are a lot of popular, and interesting, books written from the aspect of “A Day in the Life.” Why not make your own version on your blog? Take a little point and shoot camera with you everywhere and document your typical day with photos and text.

6. Lessons learned. Sometimes, we don’t realize what we’ve learned from someone until many years later. Maybe a parent told you something, and just TODAY you finally understood. Maybe a teacher in school made a remark that you think about every single day, even though you didn’t realize the impact it would have on you when you first heard it. This is probably something that is worth passing on!

7. Turn the tables. Perhaps there is something your kids or family would like to write about you! It’s probably only fair, seeing as you write about them every other day. How about giving them a chance to strike back? Maybe they could repeat one of your posts, but written from their perspective!

8. Brag. Sure, it’s easy to go crazy with this one, but a little bragging isn’t a bad thing. In fact, why not brag about the little things. Does your son or daughter always hold the door for people? Are they polite on the phone? Do they resist peer pressure? Do they take care of things at home without being asked – just because it needs to be done? Are they protective of their siblings? What makes them a unique individual? What little things make you proud of them?

9. Quote of the day. This one takes a little bit of preparation and planning on your part. If you are anything like me, your kids will say something that is just hilarious, and unless you write about it right away, you’ll forget it – despite assurances to yourself that you’ll NEVER forget this one! Why not bring a small notebook around with you, or record observations in your voicemail. There has GOT to be an iPhone app that does this for you, but I’m no technically advanced person so I couldn’t tell you. Don’t let those cute things your kids (of all ages – I still get them from my teen) tell you get lost with all the other things in your head.

10. The Great Escape. Despite how rewarding parenting is, there are certainly days you question your decision to have kids. What do you do to escape, if only temporary? Is there a dark corner of your coat closet you hide in with your iPod? Is tea in the garden your escape? What would your DREAM escape be, if you were able (and willing) to spend a week away from the kids?

Hopefully, these brief ideas spark your imagination for your blogs. Have fun!

Written by: Gregg Mueller

“Parent Blogging 101″ is a monthly feature published on the first Monday of each month on the St. Louis Blogger’s Guild website.  If there is a topic you’d like to see addressed here, please email Gregg at dadincharge@swbell.net.

The Average Jane’s Thoughts on Twitter

Posted in Blogging, Social Media, Twitter on March 27, 2009 by Kelli

I have a confession to make – I don’t really understand the purpose of twitter.  I know, the horror!  Perhaps I should rephrase that statement, though.  I don’t understand why the average person who is not trying to reach out to a customer base or build some kind of a business would want to use twitter.  In short, for an average gal like myself, what’s the point?

While I do make use of twitter, I find it to be a daily struggle to figure out what in the world to tweet about.  I mean, do people really care what I’m doing?  I’m a stay at home mom so what I’m doing on any given day does not vary all that much.  I often find myself sitting down at the computer and trying to think of something profound or witty to post.  But I’m not really that profound a person and I’m not sure I’m all that witty, so I find myself staring at the screen in complete confusion.

Now, I’ve read this article so I do agree that twitter can be highly beneficial in the world of online social media.  It is a brilliant tool if you want to connect personally with employees or customers.  And as a blogger, I do see the benefits in tweeting about recent posts, thereby increasing the chance that my blog gets a broader readership.  That makes sense to me. 

A couple of days ago, I posed the question to my followers on twitter: Why do you use this service? What purpose does it serve for you?  I got a few responses, mostly from people who use it to promote business or services.  One person specifically told me how he was able to generate a rather large sale for his company simply by his interactions with a customer via twitter.  I get that.  In the context of promotion and marketing, twitter makes a lot of sense.  But there has to be more than that, right?  I don’t think I’m wrong in assuming that twitter was organized for more than just shameless self promotion.

My question is simple, why should I twitter?  What are people hoping to glean from the tweets that they read?  Does anyone really want to know that I just cleaned my kitchen…again?  Or that I ate scrambled eggs for breakfast?  This is my conflict.  I want to take part in this social media tool because it’s hailed so positively.  But, truth be told, I am just following the crowd with no real understanding of why I’m following.  And that makes me feel, well, kinda lame.

So will I stop twittering?  I don’t know.  I’m going to keep giving it a try.  I’m hoping that at some point I get it and can make better use of it as a social media tool.  At this point, what seems beneficial to me is to keep the list of people I’m following relatively small.  Otherwise I tend to get lost and overwhelmed by the long row of tweets and I find myself just searching for updates from those people that I know.  Again, I’m not sure if that is proper twitter protocol, but clearly I’m not overly twitter savvy.

I am truly curious to hear why many of you use twitter.  I would also like to know how the average person could benefit from an online tool like twitter.  Just to be clear, I am not at all questioning the effectiveness or validity of twitter and its users.  I am simply looking for a little bit of dialgoue.  Why twitter?  Your comments on the matter would be appreciated – and you don’t have to limit them to 140 characters or less!

Blogging in the ‘Lou – Third Times a Charm

Posted in Blogging, Events, Local blogs, Local issues, Podcast, Social Media on March 23, 2009 by Kelli

As the old saying goes, third times a charm.  That really seemed to be the case for week three of our podcast.   Though it started off awkwardly, we were ultimately able to move on nicely through the show.  We covered some great articles and posts in week 3 and had some good dialogue.  And you will not want to miss my pontification of all things blogging.  Just sayin’… 

Here are the links from the show. You can also go to the show’s page on TalkShow where all episodes can be downloaded for play on your mp3 player of choice.

Hosts:
Patrick D. of http://www.patricksays.net
Jessica Hickok of http://www.jessicahickok.com/

Written by: Patrick D.

Social Networking more popular than e-mail

Posted in Blogging, Facebook on March 17, 2009 by Kelli

It would seem that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is seeing his vision become a reality. Studies show that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, along with blogs, have over taken e-mail as something that the average person now considers a daily necessity.

A Nielsen Online report says two thirds of us now use what it calls “Member Communities,” which includes both social networks and blogs. MC’s now make up “the fourth most popular category online – ahead of personal email,” says Nielsen Online. The others are search, portals, and PC software. Nielsen Online says Facebook – the world’s most popular social network – is visited monthly by three in every 10 people online across the nine markets in which Nielsen tracks social networking use. Read the entire article here

I read recently that Mr. Zuckerberg’s plan is for Facebook to actually replace e-mail, at least on a personal basis. I can attest to this personally. While I, like most, can’t escape e-mail in my work related activities, I use my Blackberry to check messages and status updates on Facebook, not e-mail. In fact, my wife checks her e-mail about once per week, while she checks her Facebook pages, daily. She has told me that if someone wants to send her a message, they need to send it through Facebook, or she might not see it. Now I send her messages and post notes on her “Wall”, so I know she’ll see them!

And speaking of smart phones (like iPhone, Blackberry and others) all have Facebook applications for download, so that you can keep in touch with your “friends” all the time. So, if you think about it, one day in the not so distant future, e-mail programs like Outlook, Eudora, and GroupWise, will bite the dust like the pager, the Visor, and the Walkman and will be replaced by the more interactive networking sites instead. 

Written by: Scott Wheeler

Blogging in the ‘Lou – All Ur Sources R Belong to Us

Posted in Blogging, Events, Local blogs, Local issues, Podcast, Social Media on March 11, 2009 by Kelli

Episode two of the new podcast put on by the St. Louis Blogger’s Guild was another success, minus, of course, my awkward pause as I failed early to hear Mike’s question.  Other than that, however, it was a great second show.
Here are the links from the show. The show’s page on TalkShoe is located here and all episodes can be downloaded for play on your mp3 player of choice.
Week two’s hosts were:
Mike Wilkerson of http://www.2guystalking.com/
and Jessica Hickok of http://www.jessicahickok.com
The covered topics were as follows:

  1. http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/02/27/house-says-bloggers-dont-count-as-journalists
  2. http://www.winextra.com/index.php/2009/02/26/the-power-of-comments/
  3. http://missouriwheeler.blogspot.com/2009/03/winter-of-our-discontent.html
  4. http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/03/03/blog-carnivals-are-great-hosting-them-is-better/
  5. http://transylvaniandutch.blogspot.com/2009/03/data-backup-day.html

Thanks again to everyone who tuned in.  For those of you who haven’t yet heard the show, take a moment to click over to TalkShoe and hear for yourself.  You can download the show directly onto your Mp3 player to listen at your convenience.  We would love to hear some feedback from oue listeners so please feel free to leave a comment here or at any one of the host’s sites and let us know what you think.

Written by: Patrick

25 Tips on Increasing Your Blog Traffic

Posted in Blogging, Facebook, Media on March 9, 2009 by Kelli

You may want to do it for money, you may do it for vanity, or you may just have a lot of great ideas, stories, and information you wish to get out to the masses, but everyone wants to get more eyeballs looking at their blog. Other than telling their grandma or co-worker to view your blog, what are some of the other ways of driving traffic?

 

I’ve given you several ideas below to help you get started.

 

Search Engine Optimization

 

Whether you’re trying to capture hits for one of the latest hot topics on the web or just trying to get a few people hitting some of your archived posts, you need the search engines such as Google to be able to scan your pages, index them, and rank them highly for keyword searches.

  1. Get SEO plug-ins. There are many available for WordPress, including the All in One SEO Pack.
  2. Write good, keyword-rich titles for your articles. A clever or funny one may catch peoples’ eyes, but make sure it’s packed with good, pertinent terms based on the post’s subject matter.
  3. Use Article title as the URL, not month/date, etc. Instead of having your blog’s links be something along the lines of http://www.yourdomain.com/2009/03/02/blog-traffic.html or http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=1473, make it look like http://www.yourdomain.com/ways-to-increase-your-blog-traffic.html. This can be accomplished in your blog’s admin (you may need one of the aforementioned plugins).
  4. Have article headers – such as <H1>, <H2>, <H3> tags – that are keyword-rich
  5. Use <strong> instead of <b> tags, especially for important words and keyword phrases
  6. Use plenty of keyword phrases and variations on your articles. If your article is about running shoes, use loads of variations on that term and brands associated with that: tennis shoes, cross trainers, cross training, athletic shoes, sneakers, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Reebok, etc… (Just a warning – your writing style should seem natural to a typical human reader, who is quick to spot if the article sounds like it’s from a marketing brochure or so crammed with keywords it looks like spam. So use caution and use a balanced approach or else you’ll irritate those ever-so-important human readers.)
  7.  Have a good, easy-to-follow site structure. Your categories and sections should be well organized and have a good, clean, uncluttered design. Make things as easy as possible for others to use your website. Use good navigation, keep good archives, keep things free, have a nice site search.
  8. Frequently link back to and refer to older articles you’ve written – these “deep links” will ensure that not only will Google and their ilk be able to easily reach archived pages, but human visitors will, too.
  9. 9. Use a robots.txt file and have good sitemaps.

 Get Links to Your Site Everywhere

 If you want to get some serious increases in the number of readers, you’ve got to post your website address in as many places as possible.

  1. Find other sites that are similar to yours in subject matter and offer link exchanges with them.
  2. Set up an “e-mail to a friend” link, and encourage others to share the love.
  3. Find plenty of similar sites, blogs, and forums to yours, and post frequently there with your blog URL. DON’T spam their comments with your name and URL; you should always have something meaningful to say that will legitimately add to the conversation.
  4. Submit your blog to DMOZ, which is a human-edited directory of links.
  5. Offer to guest-post on a blog that’s in a similar niche as yours.
  6. Answer questions in Yahoo! Answers and Google Groups. Give relevant, pertinent info, and if you’re able to throw a URL to a blog posting that is related to the question, that even better.
  7. Post your URLs of your latest blog posts to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. and post these updates often.
  8. Sign up for accounts on social network sites such as Technorati, Digg, etc. and get your blog listed on them. This includes your blog’s RSS feed. If you don’t know what the URL to your RSS feed is, learn it.
  9. ANY site giving you the capability to post a URL of your website, you should: profile pages for various online accounts, social networking sites, forums, and so on. If it’s scanable or readable by humans or search engine spiders, get that link up there.
  10. Write a great article and submit it to free article sites like EZineArticles, iSnare, and GoArticles. People are always looking for fresh content, so why not provide it for them (along with that all-important link back to your site)?
  11. Update your site on pingomatic.com every time you crate a new post entry.
  12. If you find them (or if they find you), have your blog listed on a blog carnival.

 Content, Content, Content!

This is the most important tip of all: write fantastically engaging content.

  1. Don’t worry if your content seems too vague, niche, narrow, or specific a topic. The more specialized the better. You’ll have less competition on the web for that subject matter. If you write a detailed article about a particular niche, you might be considered to be one of the main sources of info on the web.
  2. Update your blog frequently. Post on a frequent, regular basis. Have set schedule of posting. If possible, write an extra blog article or two so that if something happens in your day-to-day routine that prevents you from posting, you’ll have a backlog of fresh content on hand to give to your loyal readers.
  3. Get readers involved. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to tackle controversial topics, just as long as your arguments are thought-out and written well. Site visitors are more likely to be regular readers if they feel they are part of the “community”.
  4. Write a piece about current events. Did something happen in the “national discussion” that’s near and dear to your heart? Why not blog about it, especially if you have are able to present it with a unique angle? I’m not suggesting that you pen something about every news headline or celebrity scandal, but if you can put an interesting spin on a hot topic then Google, Yahoo, and the rest could rank you high in their search results, giving you a small flood of new readers.

If you follow this simple, yet comprehensive, list of suggestions, you will find yourself on the fast track to successful SEO optimization.

Written by: Scott Roberts

Outreach = Reach Out!

Posted in Blogging, Events, Local issues, News, Outreach, Social Media on March 6, 2009 by Kelli

Hi there!  I’m Kim, fellow blogger and Outreach Director of the St. Louis Blogger’s Guild.  I’m the first person in this position, which is good, because I don’t have that “how can I ever live up to my predecessor” anxiety.  However, it’s a drawback, because no one left me any guidelines. 

 

I’ve been thinking about what exactly an Outreach Director should do.  I decided to start with the obvious – reach out.  “But how?” You may ask.  Well, here are a few ideas to get us started:

 

  • Reach out to fellow bloggers in our area, to invite them to our meetings and events.  Not only to add members to our guild, but to share our knowledge and passion for social media with others.  Invite the writer of a non-Guild blog (or two) that you regularly follow to a meeting.

 

  • Reach out to our communities.  Our members are scattered all over the area – from Illinois to West County, and all points in between.  I’m sure each member has a local cause that is important to them – let’s hear about it, and figure how we can help. 

 

  • Reach out to each other.  We aren’t just bloggers.  Do you need a photographer, a computer programmer, a graphic artist, a website developer, a radio talk show host, a biologist, a patent and trademark professional?  We’ve got that, and a lot more.  Let’s support each other’s professions, and advertise the skills of our members.

 

  • Reach out to the children.  Kids are starting to use computers and the internet at younger ages.  Sadly, teaching kids “stranger danger” is just as important when they are sitting in their own home, as it is if they are outside.  Let’s work with them to teach them not only safe computing, but responsible computing as well.   

  • Reach out to the internet.  We may just be local today, but with the hard work and enthusiasm of our members, we could be the encouragement that other cities need to start their own Guilds, which in turn someday might lead to one big nationwide, or even worldwide, Guild. 

 

These are just a few suggestions.  I am honored to be the Outreach Director, and will endeavor to do my best on behalf of our organization.

 

Written by: Kim

Blogging in the ‘Lou: Episode 1

Posted in Blogging, Events, Local issues, News, Podcast, site business, Social Media on March 3, 2009 by Kelli

 Thanks to everyone who tuned in for our first podcast last week.  The inaugural episode went very well and we wanted to give you the links from the show. You can find the show’s page on TalkShoe here. For your listening enjoyment, all episodes can be downloaded for play on your mp3 player of choice.  Following are some touchpoints from last week’s episode, which was hosted by Patrick D. and Mike Wilkerson.

Topics

  1. St. Louis Blogger’s Guild: Parenting 101-Narcissism or Exhibitionism
  2. Geeks Are Sexy: 10 Reasons Why Blogger’s Hate Blogging
  3. Wired.com: The Web
  4. PunchKitty: Confirmed Charter to File for Bankruptcy
  5. St. Louis Blogger’s Guild: Digital Daze
  6. Rosie.com

Thank you again to everyone who listened.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely and we look forward to episode two, next Thursday night.

Written by: Patrick D.

Parenting 101: Your Child’s First Blog

Posted in Blogging, Parent blogging, Social Media on March 2, 2009 by Kelli

I started blogging in September, 2007 and have been blogging every weekday for about a year now.  So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me when my youngest daughter, who is in first grade, stated that “she wants a blog, too!”

Naturally, my knee-jerk reaction to this idea was “no way, little dudette!”  This is how I initially handle all tricky parenting dilemmas…or any new idea. It buys me time to think through things, and then makes me seem generous to the kids when I decide they CAN do what they asked.  Dr. Spock, eat your heart out!  So, once I counted to ten, and thought about it just a little bit more, I thought “why not?”

It seems clear that social media is here to stay, and this is probably something that we should be able to teach our children how to safely do. Chances are, if you have teens, they could run little social media circles around you, so when I’m talking about “Your Child’s First Blog”, I’m thinking of the younger children.

For my daughter,  the installation of a large white-board in her bedroom is what really got her interested in writing words and numbers. Now, she writes us notes all of the time…mostly “telling on” her older sister, but that’s a topic for a real parenting blog, and I already told you my number one parenting technique!  However, this did get me thinking about what types of benefits my daughter might gain from blogging.

One of the key benefits is that she would be making use of written language outside of school exercises. It’s so easy for kids to think of writing just as “something that is done in school.” If we are interested in getting our kids to use writing for anything more than shopping lists, blogging is one outlet that doesn’t require a publishing deal! 

Another benefit is that your child will be learning how to actively use computer technologies to create something new or present an idea.  I’m always looking for ways to encourage my children to create, and blogging is another wonderful creative outlet.

Finally, if your child is like my child, a HUGE positive benefit of them spending time blogging is that blogging does not create a mess! 

Obviously, if your first grader is starting a blog, this is going to require some help from mom and dad.  Here’s where you get another chance to shine as a parent and help your youngster learn how to safely operate in the online world.  You will certainly want to control what type of personal information your child shares.  Full name, where they live, what school they go to, etc. is all information you’ll probably want them to withhold.  While I wouldn’t go so far as to prohibit the posting of pictures, you’ll want to carefully screen their photos for the same type of information in the picture (often the background) that might not be obvious to your child.

As your child gets older, you will not need to spend as much time developing online material with your child, but it will remain important for you to monitor their posts as well as the comments they receive. 

Some blogging services offer password protection for blogs, either as a native part of the blog, or as a plug-in.  You may consider the investment in a blogging service that offers this type of security to be worth the expense.  I blog on Typepad, which does not offer free blogs, but DOES allow you to password protect your blog.  A password protected blog will allow your child to get their feet wet with blogging and social media while only allowing friends and family to view the blog.

This summer, my wife plans on working on a blog with my daughter. I’ll keep you updated on any insights gained from this experience!

Written by: Gregg Mueller

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