The biggest learnings came right at the outset, when Tim Ferriss (pictured above), author of The Four-Hour Workweek, gave a deep dive into what has worked and not worked on his well-trafficked blog. (I finally got to meet Tim and invited him to attend a future Traveling Geeks trip abroad.)
Learnings: What works in a blog post
Ferriss’s suggestions were useful not just for beginning bloggers but also for veterans who like to pick up a trick or two.
• He uses CrazyEgg (which has plans at $9, $19, $49 and $99 per month) and Google Analytics for all his blog metrics and checks them religiously.
• For archived blog posts, just a simple change in the title wording from the default “Categories” to “Topics” increased click-throughs significantly. (I did this on my blog years ago.)
• Tim uses Slinkset as a polling mechanism to ask his readers questions, and they in turn vote options up or down. He calls it “a personal Digg.”
• He finds RSS “less and less valuable” because it reduces traffic (and thus, presumably, the potential for advertising income) and gives uers an easy excuse for staying away from his site.
Both services are versatile, but WP has pulled ahead
Matt Mullenweg, CC photo by Robert Scoble
People still ask us all the time which blogging platform they should use. (Micro-answer: It depends on what’s important to you.) A few weeks back the team here stared down the issue ourselves when we made the decision to switch Socialmedia.biz from TypePad to WordPress.
Why did we do it? Let me explain.
First, a word of praise for TypePad. I began blogging in May 2001 after interviewing Dave Winer, Doc Searls and Dan Gillmor on the subject for this piece in OJR. They looked like they were not only having fun but doing something that mattered. So I started on a Manila blog, switched to MovableType, and then became one of TypePad’s early customers when Ben and Mena Trott of Six Apart rolled out what was then the Mercedes Benz of blogging platforms.
By that time I was fairly comfortable with CSS and Advanced Templates, so the cookie-cutter offerings of Blogger or LiveJournal never appealed to me. Besides, my blog was evolving from personal commentary about media to a business focus on social media, and I rechristened New Media Musings as Socialmedia.biz in 2005. TypePad gave me the ability to design a slick-looking blog with rich, archived content and even some third-party doohickeys in the sidebar.
But over at WordPress, a revolution was brewing — and finally reached the point where I could no longer ignore its pull. In WordPress.org, Matt Mullenweg (pictured above) offered a free, open source platform that thousands of developers were coding for. (We opted for self-hosting rather than the hosted wordpress.com version.) Somewhere between 2007 and 2008, WP became not only comparable to TypePad, but better. Not because of Matt’s coding prowess, but because of the power of crowdsourced development. I now find myself attending WordPress Camps, alongside BarCamps, Social Media Camps and other open media efforts born of my involvement with Ourmedia.org.
We’re continuing to experiment with offering the latest, most useful set of tools and resources around social media while making robust use of WordPress plug-ins. So you’ll see additional changes here in the coming days and months.
One widget we like is from Slideshare.net, which can be configured as a vertical or horizontal widget. (A widget is simply a piece of software code that runs independently and does something useful, like bring you the latest news headlines.)
Today, Slideshare.net hosted Presentation Camp, the first of a series of Barcamps on the subject of online slideshows (motto: “no more death by PowerPoint”). I had hoped to attend the event, held at Slideshare’s headquarters in San Francisco, but am too far behind on a number of project deadlines. But you can follow the tweets from those in attendance at Twitter Search.
I’m happy to announce that Socialmedia.biz is now a group blog, with a wealth of talented contributors, as well as a network of business strategy consultants who understand the social media needs of large and midsize companies.
I started blogging in May 2001 when Dave Winer, the father of blogging, gave me a free UserLand Manila blog. Since then, I hopped to MovableType and TypePad, changing the name from New Media Musings to Socialmedia.biz in 2005 because of the fast-paced changes in the mediasphere. (Thanks for the 1 million page views, Ben, Mena and SixApart.)
Today we’re throwing the switch on this new WordPress blog, and I believe this will be the last blogging platform I move to, barring some unexpected surprise. WordPress has become an astonishingly rich open source platform, with new advances, tools and widgets coming at a rapid clip from a global cadre of volunteers. (And, if you’re wondering, we’re using wordpress.org and hosting it ourselves at BlitzLocal.) Continue reading →