Sunday, 29 March 2009

The 31 Day Challenge - Days 16, 18 , 19 and 21

I didn't blog last week, so I have decided to tackle four tasks today. The fact that I have already done three tasks out of four will certainly help.

The Day 16 task was to create a heatmap of where readers click on my page. There is a program called Crazy Egg which takes pictures of your blog and enables you to see which links your readers have followed. It doesn't give you as much information as Google Analytics does, but it is fun to use.  So, I'll keep Crazy Egg on and see what happens. This is work in progress.

The Day 18 task was to create a sneeze page. A sneeze page is a blog post which takes the readers back to your old posts by creating a series of links. This is really useful - it gives the readers a chance to read your old posts and, perhaps, come again...  Now, here is the catch, because you have to go through your posts, explain, link and reflect. It is a time-consuming process, but you will feel really pleased with yourself once you have done it. And I do feel pleased with myself for having done it on 22nd January, the day my blog was one year old. I chose the posts that were my personal favourites.

I am planning to make this a habit. I will certainly make a sneeze post on this challenge once I have completed it (don't hold your breath). It is good to stop and reflect every now and then and to pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you have done. You deserve it. 

 The Day 19 task was to respond to comments on my blog. I am proud to say that I am already doing this. I am really happy when my visitors leave comments in my blog and I always respond to them. I go one step further - I visit their blog, read a couple of posts and leave a comment somewhere. That's what they told us to do in Blogging4Educators last year and, if you ask me, it is the polite thing to do. When someone talks to you, you respond, don't you? And then you say something to them and they respond. This is called conversation. The networking power of blogging is often neglected. In this respect, blogs are as powerful as Twitter, maybe even more so. I have met some really great people through blogging.

I was going to sign off here, when I realised that I had already done the Day 21 task. The task was to make a reader famous. There are different ways of doing this and I did it on Day 15 when I wrote about the Webheads' blogs. The post has attracted readers and has quite a few comments. It felt good to write it. In fact, it felt so good to write it that I am certainly going to do something similar again. 

 Which reminds me: I am planning to write a sneeze post on my readers' comments and I'll link to their blogs. It will probably take ages to write, but my readers deserve that.

First, however, I have to finish the Challenge.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Day 15 - Make Your Most Popular Posts Sticky

Today's challenge has made me look at blogging from a different perspective - my readers' perspective.

When we write a blog post, we take too much for granted. We believe that the readers know everything we know. We suppose that our readers know us, that they have read every single post we have written. 

What we should ask ourselves is a very simple question: Is this the way we read other people's blogs? Once you think about how you behave on the Internet - not as a writer, but as a reader, you begin to understand that you have to do everything you can to make your reader's life as easy as possible. 

Today's task was relatively simple - to add a "Subscribe to this post via RSS or via email" link directly to my most popular posts. The idea is not simply to make my readers subscribe, but rather to save them a lot of time if subscribing is what they want - instead of searching the sidebar, they simply click on the link at the bottom of the post.

I write on Fridays. Or on Saturdays. Which is OK if I am working on a long complicated post with a lot of links like I did last week. On the other hand, writing about how I stickified my posts (love the word) shouldn't take long, should it? Yes, but the actual process of stickifying (I do love this word) is what takes time. It is similar to interlinking. You have to go all the way back and add the RSS link to your old posts.

In his video Darren suggests that you should add the Subscribe link to the posts that are attracting more readers than others. By now I have become good friends with my Google Analytics tool. It gives me confidence to know that there are a few people out there who are reading this. I know which posts are being read more than others. And I know which posts have attracted comments. Still, I added the "If you like this blog you can subscribe to it via RSS or via email" link to the bottom of every single post (maybe I skipped a few by accident, but I'll get there). To be on the safe side. And to make your life really easy.

If you like this blog, you can subscribe to it via RSS or via email. 

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