Blogging

Box.net 4 Live Writer
11 September 2006 in Blogging & Tools | Comments (1)

Box.Net

Jeremy Norman has created a fantastic plug-in for Windows Live Writer for folks out there who use Box.net. Box.net is an online storage provider which is useful for people who don’t have their own servers with FTP or file upload capabilities. You can sign up for Box.net and get a free account which provides 1GB of space. There is a premium version of Box.net available for those who have higher requirements as well (perhaps the box.net guys should hook Jeremy up for free because of the publicity he’s generating? ;) )

Jeremy has done a great job at making his plug-in as rich as possible with what the API for Box.net provides. More information about this plug-in can be found on the Windows Live Writer Plugins blog.

Download the plug-in here.

 - JD

Nick is Blogging!
8 September 2006 in Blogging & Intergen | Comments (0)

Nick Urry, a fellow employee of Intergen has started blogging also on the bluecog domain. He’s a bit of a crazy guy, in a good way, and is likely to post about technology, monkeys and chocolate. He’s kicked off with his thoughts on the WTF is Web2.0 debate. He’s still working on the look and feel of the site but he has a keen eye for good looking sites so I’m sure it will come up sparkly.

So stop over, leave a comment, and make Nick feel welcome.

rss Nick’s Blog

 - JD

10 ways to build your blog traffic
30 August 2006 in Blogging | Comments (16)

Top 10

  1. Link Liberally
    Some people are really tight with links – you shouldn’t be one of them. The more you link to sources the more other bloggers are likely to link to you. Links add context to your post for users who have a deeper interest in what you have to say. 
  2. Write attention grabbing headlines
    I’ve been poor about this, I quite often write somewhat bland headlines that don’t grab attention. The truth is, I can actually see in my statistics the posts where I wrote a good headline because they get more traffic (from people linking in from their RSS reader).
  3. Be a thought-leader
    This was a term that I came across at Tech-Ed, rather than just blogging what others have to say, write original content. It can be useful to blog announcements but it’s not really differentiating you from other bloggers. If you’re creating the content you’re more likely to be linked to. 
  4. Participate in the online community
    Online nobody has a name… until they comment. The more you comment on other peoples blog the more likely they are to participate on your blog. It also makes blog owners happy to have people commenting, so why not take a few moments to comment on something you find useful? Call it Karma. I learnt this well from GEEK who is great at leveraging this method.
  5. Make commenting easy
    A lot of sites use CAPTCHA or require registration to comment which only inhibits people from commenting. If I can’t post a comment, I’m not likely to return in a hurry to see what others had to say. Use a fantastic anti-spam tool like Akismet which takes away the headaches while making it easy for users to interact.
  6. Solve a problem
    A lot of my traffic comes from people visiting posts where I comment on a solution I have to a common problem. In my case this includes things like how to resolve a common coding question or how to achieve something with a third party tool. People like linking to solutions.
  7. Make syndication easy
    When I last upgraded the theme of my blog I accidentally removed all links to my RSS feed. Since adding the feed link back and adding a prominent link at the top of the page the number of subscribers has been increasing strongly. Don’t make people hunt for your feed, they want to be return visitors so don’t punish them for it.
  8. Ask for links
    I identified a post that was getting a significant number of visits to it and updated it to ask that if people found the information useful that perhaps they would like to subscribe to my RSS feed. This has resulted in a steady increase in RSS subscribers over time.
  9. Post often
    …but not too often. I notice I get more links and visitors when I post between once and twice in a day. It’s just like selling - the more often I’m in front of a prospect (visitor) the higher chance they will find a post useful and subscribe or link to it. Post too often and you consume too much time and annoy your audience.
  10. Pimp it!
    It’s surprising how many opportunities you have to link to your blog. I advertise my blogs existence in presentations, in my email signature and anywhere else that seems appropriate. It’s not seen as a bad thing, often having a blog adds authority to what you have to say.

There are many more things you can do to improve traffic but I thought I’d round of the top 10 that I use to try and help my own blog. I’m trying to take a more aggressive approach to trying to improve the experience for you, the audience, but some of these won’t be visible for a while. The key to any improvement is being able to measure your success (or failure) which is why often I comment on tools that I use to measure my own performance.

What have you found useful to help reach more people?

- JD

Blog of the year!
24 August 2006 in Blogging | Comments (7)

A big thanks to everyone who voted for my blog as the best .Net blog of 2006. Apparently a lot of you want to know how to be better in bed ;)

Blog of the year 2006

I’m now back from TechEd, which was fantastic, so I’ll be crankin’ up the blogging machine again shortly. I’ll have to write my review of TechEd (I really should buy a laptop and do it while I’m there) so that will take a bit of time.

Thanks again,

- JD

Ping Servers for Live Writer
19 August 2006 in Blogging | Comments (0)

If you’re using Live Writer and want to have it ping blog services to notify them that you have made a post check out this huge list of ping servers. I’ve never found that they drive too much traffic but some is better than none :)

To add them just copy and paste the list. In Live Writer, click Tools -> Preferences -> Ping Servers, enable ping servers and paste in the list. Easy.

This list can of course be used by others tools that support ping servers.

 - JD

How to be better in bed
17 August 2006 in Blogging | Comments (3)

Clicking this link to vote for me will ensure you’re even more of a fantastic lover than you are already :) I understand that the competition is coming to an end soon so the winner can be announced at TechEd next week (read: do not delay your vote! ;) )

I won’t go so far as to say you should email this to five friends in 15 minutes or you’ll get bad luck for the rest of your life though ;)

– JD

How to engage your site visitors
16 August 2006 in Blogging & Business & Code | Comments (3)

So you’ve got a pretty popular site. Perhaps you have an e-commerce component to your site. Every single person browsing your site is a prospect. You’ve done well – you’ve build a standard compliant site, you invested in making the shopping experience easy and you provide lots of information about your products.

Now what?

It’s not like you’d open a retail store, stock it up, and then have all your staff sit behind the counter waiting for people to bring their products over to purchase. So why do you let people just roam around your site without engaging them? Or making it easier to engage you? This is a huge area and well worth investigating – how can you engage your site visitors more?

You may recall that earlier in the year I started using Meebo to chat online. It allows you to chat using various networks through a unified rich website (AOL, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, Jabber). Recently they added an addition to their product line up called “Meebo Me” which is a widget that you can integrate into any HTML page and gives you the power to communicate with site visitors and them the power to communicate with you. All this without needing the site visitor sign-in or register. It’s a fantastic way of communicating with your visitors and letting them ask questions.

MyMeebo

Users can choose to disable the chat feature if they don’t want it which is useful for those who don’t want to be interrupted. It also shows when the web master is offline and allows end users to give themselves a name. It’s all powered by flash but is slick enough for that not to be a big problem.

On top of this you can also see how long a user has been on a page. Perhaps you might want to interact with users if they have been on a page for more than 10 minutes – perhaps they’re thinking about what you’ve written and have a question? It’s just like a retail shop – “You seem to be interested in that product, can I provide any help?”.

We’ve come a long way from static pages where users couldn’t interact. At the moment the big deal is being able to control content. The next step is certainly going to be owned by companies that are willing to invest in getting to know their customers.

- JD

Stu’s blogging too!
16 August 2006 in Blogging & Intergen | Comments (4)

My blog feels like it’s just for advertising new blogs lately! Anyway, blogging fever is catching up with more folks from Intergen and Stewart Robertson is the latest to join the fold.

Stu is a developer at Intergen and his blog is a mixture of personal entries as well as his thoughts on development and test driven methodologies (as well as other geek things :) )

RSS Feed Stu’s Blog

- JD