Blogging Challenge – Day 4: Interlinking posts

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Darren’s Day 4 task is to Dig back into your old posts and do some interlinking of posts because as you add more content to your blog there will be more and more opportunity to link your posts together so that readers can view more pages of your blog.

What I found most interesting about this task was the fact I had not thought of doing it.

I had done exactly this several months ago on my podcast site by going through my old podcasts and:

As a result of doing this I have increased traffic movement following between my different Mobile Technology in TAFE web sites. Yet I had not stopped to consider doing it for my blog.

What you gain going through old posts

The gain, by going back through old posts, is more than just getting readers to view more pages. When you spend the time doing this house work (chuckle what happened when I did housework on my podcast site) you:

  • Reflect on how your site looks to visitors and you make time for improvements (today I changed my sidebar widgets and added Blogs I read – which I have been meaning to add for months)
  • Reflect on posts you have written e.g. what you liked/didn’t like about the post and from what improvements are needed for future posts
  • Reflect on posts you maybe should have written
  • Learn more about how easy to navigate your blog is e.g. Michelle found that Typepad does not have a mechanism for searching her blog for a specific post, only allowed editing by date. Whereas with Edublogs (which I use) the search feature is built into the blog so it is really easy to search terms or phrases (give it a try and see how well it works – try Chocolate as a search term), then all I had to do was click on Edit on the post I wanted to edit to take me into my dashboard. Most people who use Blogger embed a technorati search on their blog which I am not so fussed with.

This process does take time, but it is well spent. Here are some of the posts I made changes to today:

The Sweetness of 31 Day Blogging Project

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1. Moonstruck chocolates, 2. belgian chocolates, 3. chocolate pics 015, 4. chocolate pics 016

I was very pleased to see yesterday that Darren did not take offense to Frances and I taking his Blogging Project to a new level by offering anyone the opportunity to win a kilo of chocolate (the person who does the best will win the chocolate). If you like the picture check out Flickr Toys mosaic maker (I also suggest you read My Everyday Tools).

Also big thanks to Darren for setting up central page for the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog (means you can start the project at any time and do it at your own pace – however to be in the winning for our Blogging Challenge you must have completed all tasks by the end of August, 2007).

With chocolate as an extra incentive we have had a few more people join us. Please take the time to visit their blogs and post a comment to help them with their goal of building better blogs. A big welcome to:

Others have contacted me to say they plan on joining our challenge. To join, besides emailing me (suewater [at] gmail [dot] com) or placing a comment on my blog, we need you to write a post on your blog about joining this challenge (remember to link to either mine or Frances’s blog, alternatively email me with the link to your post so we know you have completed this task).

Blogging Challenge–Day 3: Search for and join forum’s on your Blog’s Topic

Darren’s Day 3 task is to join forums (read Darren’s post on why you should participate in forums). His rationale is this builds relationships with people who have interests similar to you, builds profile of your blog, increases knowledge gain and increases readership of your blog.

Why I participate in forums and online communities511744168_3461f48df2_b

I already participate in forums – and would suggest that, with the way the Internet is evolving that you also get involved with online communities.

For me, participating in forums and online communities is not about increasing the number of people who read my blog or visit my web sites – sure it would be nice – but about building relationships with people and increasing my knowledge. This is so much more valuable.

Here are some of the communities I am involved with:

  • EDNA 2007 E-learning Networks Community Forum – each month they have discussions and live online sessions on different topics relating to e-learning and web 2.0
  • Twitter – can not say enough about twitter. It is an amazing community – you share information with each other, and people quickly come to each others with the answers (e.g. I asked for an example of a teacher using Flickr with students and Darren (USA) quickly came back with a link for me)
  • EduBloggerWorld – this is a new community for Educational Bloggers – through this community I have linked up with others working with mobile learning
  • Facebook – some people I network with are more likely to respond if I contact them from within Facebook

My Advice

  • If you freely and willingly help others they will do the same for you
  • Make the time to participate, networking with global friends is valuable – value the networks you form and thank them when they do help you (thanks Michelle for introducing us to this 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and Darren we are glad you liked the Sweet Twist to your Blogging Project)
  • Don’t engage with negative posts in forums (i.e. the posts that aren’t particularly nice). Ignore them! These types of posts tend to disrupts good conversation. For advice on interacting in online communities I strongly recommend you read Sean’s Community Group Therapy Blog. I have learnt so much from Sean’s posts.

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Blogging Challenge — Day 2: Run a First Time Reader Audit

Darren’s Day 2 task is to Run a First Time Reader Audit by watching a friend or family member, who has not read your blog, surf your blog. The reason why is because you learn a lot from watching how a person reads and uses your blog.

Early this morning I asked my husband if he would help me with an activity. With a gleam in his eyes, and a cheeky smile, he said “I would love to but the kids are awake.” Fortunately a husband can read your blog while the kids are around, so first part of the task has been achieved – find a First Time Reader.Rule clarification – he does not read my blog, would rather watch sport, and willingly offers opinions.

What I observed from watching him use my blog:

  • Read – top to bottom 915328930_2b4fd69b8d_m
  • Pictures grabbed his attention more than text – especially Lynette’s snippets which he liked to read the quotes [image by Lynetter]
  • Liked video provided loaded fast – Really liked video on aquaculture students using PDAs whereas workshop video took too long to load so he gave up trying to watch it. I am going to have to do some research to why the video loaded so slowly because that is definitely not what you want when you embed a video
  • Read entire page then read each of the pages at the top of my blog – as he is fairly new to reading blogs did not think to click on link to previous entries or check out blogs in any of my categories (tags).

His answers to the questions:dave1

  • First impression of what blog was about – Said hard to answer as he knows what I blog about however he did suggest that people who be curious to learn what mobile learning is about.
  • Easy to read/navigate/understand – Yes
  • What did he feel when first arrived at blog – curiosity, what is this all about
  • Improvements – make it more obvious how to post comments (as he is new to blogs would be interested in opinion of experienced blogger), improve loading speed of workshop video
  • Questions about blog – none
  • Words to describe blog – Easy on the eye, well laid out, good colours, liked the use of pictures as it engages you more and makes it more human

His final thoughts were – wow – you have a lot of knowledge about all this stuff – mmm .

Doing a First Time Reader’s audit is a really good idea. I have checked out the results from how other bloggers have gone. Definitely important to grab someone who is patient and willing to spend the time checking out your blog. It would have also been good to get an experienced blogger, who was a first time reader, and watched how they interacted with my blog.

31 Days Blogging Challenge has become serious!

I decided to take part in 31 days to build a better blog (where Problogger Darren Rowse will give a new assignment each day) as a result of Michele Martin’s (The Bamboo Blog) post 31 Days to a Better Blog–A Personal Learning Experiment and a Blogger Challenge (Michelle will provide alternative homework when Darren gives assignments on monetize your blog, if you are not interest in that part of blogging) because I am interested in being a more effective blogger.

My girlfriend Frances from My Technology Addictions has decided to join me, and it looks like others are going to as well (will advise when confirmed). Now to say my friends are a bit competitive is an understatement. When Leonard at Mobile Learning had a competition for his blog’s first birthday Frances, Evil Sue and I really jumped into the challenge in a big way. You can check out Evil Sue and my video entry below (shows lots of different ways you can access blog posts on iPods and PDAs).

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-5264929757220372219" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

The 31 Day Competition

So Frances, being competitive, has challenged me to take the Blogging challenge to the next level. She feels that we should make it interesting and give a prize to the winner – the loser has to buy a kilo of chocolate. I have decided that, me also being competitive, this is a really good idea. With us, it is not about the prize (although chocolate will be good) it is about winning.

Am I worried that I might lose – yes. When Frances decides to do something – she throws herself into. Look at the sacrifices she did for A Day without Google, and what she gained from doing it.

So we invite you, bloggers of the World, to join us in this blogging challenge, to gain from what you learn, and to be in the winning for a kilo of chocolate (you can add your preferred prize if you are not into chocolate). If both Frances and I lose we will be buying the prize for the winner (and paying for postage). You can email me at suewater [at] gmail [dot] com to let me know you are joining the competition (remember to write a post on joining the competition).

The rules:

  • We understand that you may not be able to do your assignment each day – this is okay, you can catch up, provided the work is done
  • We will decide as a group on who is the winner – we need to decide what criteria(s) we will use for selecting a winner so I invite all readers to comment or write a post on how we should select the winner at the end of the competition
  • Add names on all people involved in the challenge to the side bar of your blog, so we can see how we are all going (please let us know if your friends are joining you so we can add their names).


31 Nights, with being smart about how I do my homework, to build a better blog

Darren Rowse, this month, will each day provide homework for willing participants who want to spend 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. So why should I participant if I am not interested in fame or fortune. Well one of my goals is to help others so I should want to be a more effective blogger (lets be honest I need all the help I can get).649666994_b5d20db575_m

One little problem – time is an issue. Means for me it will be nights (or really early mornings), being smart on how I do my homework (may have to do several days homework on the same night (occasional checking up on how others have gone with their homework will definitely help here – I am sure in the rules that is not classed as cheating!!). Photo by Fort Photo.

Day 1 : Email a New Reader (1 Aug)

Darren’s Day 1 task is to choose a commenter that is new and emailing them to thank them for their comment. Reason why is he has found that when you do it the chances of the readers that you email coming back to your blog again increases significantly. Get them to come back to your blog once and you increase the chances of them coming back again… and again….

Michelle Martin’s The Bamboo Blog introduced me to the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Michelle for this assignment asked for help by:

  • If you’re a new reader who’s never written or commented before, then come out of lurk mode and write a comment or drop me a line. I PROMISE I’ll email back.
  • Even if you’re not a new reader, I’d like to hear from you on this topic. How do you feel when you receive an email when you comment on someone’s blog? Does it make you more likely to keep reading? Or does it not make a difference to you?

Part of my make-up worries about imposing on people – putting them out, offending them. I honestly had never thought of emailing a commenter unless I had already built a relationship with them.

But I did think it had merit so I decided to take her challenge and write my comment. Then waited patiently for her promised email. She did end up networking with some of her readers and also learnt something was wrong with her spam bot because I never received the email when I commented on her post 🙁 .

So please HELP me with my homework – comment on Michelle’s question about how you would feel about being email and I will EMAIL you back (cross fingers I have no problem with receiving comments on my blog).

Join us in the Blogging Challenge153715953_8e5557600e_m

As it is Day 3 of the blogging challenging, I do have a few days to catch up on….and if something is worth doing, then make time.

So you want to join me and Michelle in the 31 Days blogging challenge, which I have turned into nights, send me an email, suewater [at] gmail dot com, and I will set up a list on my sidebar so we can compared experiences as we learn. Snippet from Lynetter.