Blog resource links

Here are a couple of starting points:

Blog hosting

Three possibilities:

  1. Sign up with a hosted service such as WordPress.com, Typepad or Vox (fastest cos it takes all of 5 mins).
  2. Sign up with a webspace provider that already includes blog software in their package.
  3. Sign up with a webspace provider that offers PHP 4.x or later and MySQL and install WordPress on your own.

WordPress.org documentation:

Installing WordPress on your own server

The install documentation covers most setups. Installing a local copy using XAMPP or MAMP is useful especially during the design phase.

Other useful WordPress.org docs:

Importing content from other blogs.

Posting entries by email. As mentioned during the talk I set up a cronjob on my server, which checked at regular intervals if there was any email to post.

Templates galore:

As mentioned, setting up WordPress is fast, finding the right design theme will take a little bit longer… cos there are so many out there.

I like Scott’s collection of minimal designs.

My advice: get a theme which offers the structure you’re loooking for and then customize the CSS file.

Flickery goodness:

I cross-link to Flickr to add pictures to my blog, but you can also upload files and photos directamente into WordPress. Please note: you’ll need to resize for the web and your layout. I’m lazy: I use Flickr and Quickr Pickr.

You can also set up Flickr to post pics directly to your blog. Within Flickr, go to Your Account > Extending Flickr . Click edit in the section labelled Your Blogs and follow the instructions displayed.

Here’s an advanced user guide for Flickr, describing how you can post pics per email, etc.

On commenting:

All comments at this site land in the moderation queue and I check the queue once a day. I don’t always reply or write back immediately. As you’ll probably notice in the next few weeks, sometimes I don’t have the time. But if I do, I’ll usually reply online at the source – in my blog, if it’s a comment on my site, or if it’s a trackback, i’ll go see their post and add a comment in their blog.

I think the main point you need to get across is that you reserve the right to edit or delete comments. This is especially important if you’re moving into business blogging.

There’s the Lifehacker’s guide to commenting to refer to.

Commenting is a way to increase traffic and expand your network.

And remember to activate Akismet or other comment spam plugins.

RSS feeds:

Every WordPress blog offers a feed for entries and a feed for comments. At Chip this is:

http://www.chiperoni.ch/wordpress/feed/

http://www.chiperoni.ch/wordpress/comments/feed/

Again, there are numerous RSS feed readers. And your choice of reader will depend on your personal reading preferences. I use the newsfeeds reader included within Opera. Thunderbird also includes a feed reader per default. And there are numerous feed readers for FireFox. Please note: some media news feeds (e.g. BBC) send out entires every minute and will easily swamp you.

More high-level infos on the concept of RSS are available in this Wikipedia article.

Further background links:

The Corporate Weblog Manifesto by Scobleizer

Ten Tips For A Better Weblog

How To Blog And Not Lose Your Job

😉

The slides

Here are the slides of my talk that I just held at the STC Transalpine Chapter Conf:

They’re very minimal and short… but over time I’ve collected a lot of examples at the back of my head so that I easily managed to fill the 1 hour slot. The online demo worked well with the mobile access card I had (big relief). A little slower than WLAN but ok.

I’ll post a list of online resources on blogging, RSS feeds, and WordPress sometime soon.

A couple of complimentary links:

Buon weekend,
nchenga

Blogging for Content Developers

At an undisclosed location in the very near future, the editor of this beautiful blog will be holding a talk on a high-flying topic yet to be prepared.

Blogging for Content Developers

I’ve decided to give this whole project a jump-start by writing down the outline in my blog… because getting started is always the hard part. The audience will be technical writers and communicators, but I don’t know how many of them are into blogging. I think, I’ll start with some questions like:

  • Who’s got a blog?
  • Who is taking care of a work blog (either internally or externally)?
  • Who is planning to set up a blog?
  • Who started a blog but gave up after some time?

2nd Section: Why blog?
Basically this section will include a little bit about my first blog at an ASP-like blog provider and the subsequent move to WordPress. My initial idea when I set out was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about my home country, Malawi.

Example of the power of blogging: During the last General Elections in Malawi, Alex at the Polytechnic helped to keep us informed by posting regular information and allowing Malawians to comment. In general, blogging has increased the amount of direct infos available on Malawi in the Internet.

Top reasons for content developers to start blogging:

  • Provide a continuous online sample of your writing skills, one of your top skills.
  • Learn about new technologies and keep up with development. Let’s face it: the world of publishing has changed/is changing. Blogging helps you to understand the ways and means, as well as the way online communities evolve and behave.
  • Use your blog to become a subject matter expert in your domain.
  • Expand your network (private and business). Get to know new people and explore new opportunities.

3rd Section: Why WordPress?
This section will kind of list my reasons to go for WordPress, but could easily be taken as a list of criteria to watch out for if you’re evaluating other CMS tools:

  • Open source and free.
  • Huge community and good support.
  • Lots of new features and bug releases per year.
  • Good separation between design and content.
  • Stable.
  • Good documentation (Thank you, Lorelle).
  • Lots of plugins and design templates to choose from.

Server requirements: MySQL and PHP or above

Knowledge requirement: some knowledge of CSS and HTML to tweak and customize a design template.

Section 4: Beyond the Current Blog Hype
Currently we’re going thru a hype phase. Everybody’s starting a blog.

Splogs, spam comments and cyber bullying/threatening are a huge problem.

akismet

Nevertheless, blogs are here to stay. Esp. mainstream media is feeling the heat. A kind of independent blog journalism is establishing itself and many companies are using blogs to reach out to their customers. See Krusenstern for an excellent entry on old, established media vs. blog journalism.

Millions of blogs are started and abandoned within 3 months. It’s not easy to write and communicate effectively. This is where I see lots of opportunities for tech. communicators (e.g. as Chief Blogging Officer).

Section 5: Your Benefit as a Tech. Communicator

If you’re a consultant/ext. contractor, use current CMS technology to enhance your work website. Blogging is a good way to make your business website less static. Example: I remember a conf where one of the participants was distributing tonnes of business cards. I had a look at the website afterwards and was utterly disappointed.

Use your blog to:

  • Point to interesting industry developments.
  • Voice own opinion on a topic.
  • Publish short howto’s, code snippets, tutorials, extensions, examples.
  • Link to relevant industry developments and use “Trackback” to respond to other blogs, which you find during your daily Internet watch.
  • Personal impression of conferences / shows.
  • Keep online notes of interesting website or talks you’ve attended.

If you offer focussed content on a special topic the chances of attracting readers are somewhat higher than with a personal blog. Frequency is important. To set up a readership you need to post at regular intervals. On the upside, entries do not have to be very long and you can post entries to WordPress via email.

Don’t move into blogging if you don’t enjoy writing OR if you’re looking for fast money. It needs some time to establish your blog and people lurk around a long time before they start commenting (approx. 200 visits for every commenter). But if you write about a niche topic and provide good content, people will find you.

Avoid the typical marketing glib and press release speak in your blog.

Section 6: Demo of a WordPress Blog
Show tags, permalinks, trackbacks, and RSS feeds (if there’s interest).

My Very Personal Benefit:

Thru my hobby, I know more about today’s publishing opportunities and learnt lots about CSS, which I can use in my day job.

I’ve got a new hobby and all the flickery goodness that comes with it.

I’ve found new friends and keep in contact with old ones.

I’ve got my own online reference (e.g. re-setting my ADSL router) and online bookmark site.

Section 7: Resources and Discussion
One very good introductory resource on business blogging is:

IMG_1794

The End

I’m tired and I’ll add more resource links later. In the meantime, feel free to offer suggestions or challenge my outline.