Do you blog?

The start of a new year is almost upon us, and for me it’s a good time to refresh a few things, including my reading list. And I’ve realised that I’ve been awfully rude for a while and not asked what YOU are doing…

So, if you’re reading this and have a blog, leave a link in the comments. It doesn’t have to be specifically about marketing or social media (Some of my absolute favourite bloggers have nothing to do with either subject). Maybe let me know what it’s about and how long you’ve been blogging for? The only rule is that blatant spam blogs harvesting and reposting content from other people will obviously be removed.

So what’s your blog called and where can I find it?

Evan Williams talks Twitter at TED

I’m a big fan of the TED talks, the conferences which started by covering Technology, Entertainment and Design, and now include a huge range of thought-leaders on a variety of topics. (More about TED here)

Somehow I hadn’t got around to watching the talk by Evan Williams from Twitter until I saw a good article about it by Garr Reynolds at Presentation Zen.

One interesting point is how Evan has followed a couple of hunches to build projects – Blogger and Twitter.

Secondly – Twitter was designed as a broadcast medium – one message went out to many.

But users invented the @reply functionality, the API, the use of hashtags, and started using it to raise awareness around issues, raise money for causes, implement marketing and business use, etc.

It’s a pretty quick presentation at just 8 minutes – and worth watching until the end to see what happens when TED Curator Chris Anderson uses Twitter search to look for mentions of Evan Williams.

Google help with changing blog platforms

As someone who moved this blog from Blogger to the current self-hosted WordPress location back in April, I’m keenly aware of the problems you can encounter if you switch blogging platforms.

As a result, I’d defintely advise starting with WordPress, but if you’re not ready to host your own site (It’s really far more simple than it sounds!), then you’re limited to WordPress.com, which has all the functionality, but doesn’t allow you to display any advertising – a pain if you’re trying to see if something might drive some revenue, for example!

And while there are some very well-respected people using Blogger (such as Dave Cushman at Faster Future), and some good resources for some nice templates (such as BloggerBuster), I’m learning far more from the greater flexibility of WP.

Switching from Blogger should be simple in theory, but having exported, I found I had to import into a WordPress.com blog, then export from that into my hosted version – and even then a lot of posts seemed to get lost en route (They’re still on my old Blogger blog awaiting the remote possibility I’ll find the time to finish manually importing them).

Therefore it’s great news that Google (which owns Blogger), has released Google Blog Convert 1.0. It’s from the fantastically named Data Liberation team, and it’s a new Open Source project to allow you to move blog posts and comments from service to service, including Blogger, WordPress, Moveable Type and LiveJournal.

It’s not only great news for anyone considering switching services.

It’s also great news if you want to use the quick and easy implementation of Blogger to get something just up and running with some adverts etc to see if it works, and then switch later.

It certainly means I’m less reluctant about using Blogger to experiment, and I’d be more likely to be enticed back by something suitable.

Moving from Blogger to WordPress – the saga continues

Once more I’ve learned a lesson about doing the appropriate research before jumping into something! My move from Blogger to WordPress ran into problems when I tried the feature to ‘auto-import from blogger’ feature, due to the fact I’m with Godaddy hosting. So I had to export from blogger, import into a WordPress.com blog, then export from there and import into my hosted WordPress blog! And even then 6 months of my blog somehow disappeared, and are still being re-added when I have time.

But on top of that I forgot to put a proper redirect for people visiting my old blog, assuming that a post telling them I’d moved, and the lack of new content would see my old blog gently slip under the waves of the Google search…Wrong!

Not only did my old blog continue to rank higher than this one (Google PR4), and still attract visitors, but if they visited an individual post, there was no indication I’d moved. And I suspect all that duplicate content is why this blog still has a Page Rank of 0. Google no like duplicate content.

Tonight, I finally sorted it out, thanks to the excellent ‘How to redirect Blogger Beta to WordPress instructions here. So now my old blog will finally be removed from Google, visitors are automatically redirected, there’s a direct redirect to individual posts where the importing actually worked, and there’s even a public information notice up explaining!

I get there in the end!

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Importing from Blogger to WordPress with Godaddy hosting

There’s going to be some interruption to posting as I manually import about 6 months of blog posts that appear to have gone missing during my transfer from Blogger to WordPress.

The original import failed completely, until I spotted other users had problems importing – specifically when they are hosted by Godaddy. The easy way around this is to export, and then import to a hosted WordPress.com blog, and then import it from there to your hosted blog.

Worked fine for me until the import failed due to a rogue character somewhere that I just can’t find.

So now it’s Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V for a while, whilst also trying to post some new stuff every so often, and rebuild by Page Rank and link equity…Who would ever transfer blogs!

Moving blogs is worse than moving house…

At least when I move house, it’s just a lot of packing, lifting and unpacking again. But moving blogs is traumatic, particularly switching to WordPress after two years with Blogger.

So far I’ve mastered the arts of hosting, domains, adding themes and plug-ins, and adding a widget or two.

But even with the Feedburner plug-in, I can’t seem to redirect the stock RSS feeds, which is a pain in the backside. I don’t want to start really promoting this new location and trying to recover my Google PR and Technorati ranks etc, until I’ve got some way of tracking any and all RSS subscribers.

*sigh*

Having a proper domain seemed like such a good idea at the time. And at least I’m learning some more…

Well, I’m getting there…

OK, so I still need to sort out all the relevant plugins, widgets etc, etc, but at least I’ve settled on a base template. Finally. Although, to be fair, there are a huge range of templates for WordPress that are all pretty good – especially compared with the limitations of Blogger, which I’m far more familiar with!

So, now to install a plugin to start customising this theme, and porting other any relevant widgets which I’ll be keeping. Then I’ll finally be up to date and ready to rock.

At last.

In the meantime, you can still keep up with the old Way of the Web blog, at http://www.thewayoftheweb.blogspot.com.

And I couldn’t resist starting a new blog on Blogger, just to keep with it, and experiment without splashing out on hosting. I would have switched to the hosted version of WordPress, but I wanted to see how advertising would work. It’s ad http://www.nissannxworld.blogspot.com, and it’s dedicated to the Nissan NX car range. The site was prompted by my own purchase of a 1993 Nissan 100 NX, so it’s very much a personal fun project…

Another big change is on the way…

So far the last 12 months have seen me move house, start a new job, and within the next few days, become a father.

So it seemed the perfect time to make another couple of changes. The first is that I’m currently working on a new home for this blog, which will be at www.thewayoftheweb.net. It means I can finally type the url in seconds, rather than minutes.

I’m also switching to a hosted account with Godaddy, and building the new site with WordPress. I’ve got lots of praise for what Blogger has allowed me to do, but although it’s very easy to set up and use, and the free hosting allows advertising (Unlike the free hosting version of WordPress), it’s quite restrictive with regards to templates etc, and so many sites are instantly recognisable as Blogger creations. Plus, switching to three columns has given me enough space for all the widgets I want, but it’s made the main text space a little claustrophobic, so hopefully my new freedom will enable a bit more space… I’ll keep you posted how the new site is coming along, and make sure there’s plenty of warning, in case you’ve subscribed to my RSS feed etc. Rest assured if I do add the .com domain at some point, .net will remain the main place for RSS feeds etc, so no more changing.

I also invested in danthornton.net, and contacted the current owner of the dot.com version. I’m not too much of an egotist, but it’s just handier for anyone wanting background info, and I’m also conscious that one day, I could have been involved in a far more minor version of the current Shel Israel blogodrama.

So that’s my current position. I’ll still be updating here for a bit longer while I get a template etc I’m happy with, and move across my archives, and then it’ll be all systems go!

Is the Tumblr buzz justified? Is it the new Twitter?

It seems that Twitter is becoming an increasingly useful barometer of buzz around products or services. (Services like Twitterbuzz could benefit if you discount Tinyurl!).

It happened recently with FriendFeed, when I noticed about 10 of my contacts on Twitter all signing up or chatting about it. And it happened again yesterday with Tumblr.

There are a load of interesting articles I can, and will, be writing about discovering products in a viral, Word-of-Mouth type way like this, so marketing/PR type people, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

But I’m going to share my first thoughts about Tumblr for the moment. Lots of people have compared it to Twitter, which in some ways is hiding the real competition. Like Twitter, it does allow you to update quickly and easily, via the Bookmarklet tool, and it has an advantage in allowing quick updates of video, pictures, chat, quotes etc. And like Twitter, it’s clean and smooth to use. Hit bookmarklet, edit anything in a pop-up window, and move on – much like bookmarking in Del.icio.us.

BUT- Twitter is all about the social. Like Del.icio.us, it didn’t really give me much value, until my follows and followers numbers reached a certain point – probably around 20 or 30. And the value has grown with each person added…(Waiting for Dave Cushman to pop over from FasterFuture to mention Reed’s Law!)

As yet, Tumblr doesn’t offer any way to easily connect with friends and contacts and follow their Tumbls easily. That’s why I think the real places it competes is with WordPress and Blogger. I’m a fan of both (As you can tell by this blog still appearing on Blogger), and think they both do a good job of allowing non-technical people to start engaging with blogging, writing, widgets, communities etc.

But both WordPress and Blogger do force you to develop a bit of an interest in HTML, Usability, Design etc. Adding videos can be a hassle, unless the website in question has a ‘Blog This’ function and you don’t mind sharing your username. And misplacing a bit of code in your HTML can lead to serious problems (as I’ve continually reminded myself when editing code in a hurry).

Tumblr removes all these problems, and as with the blogging platforms, it can be ftp’d to your custom domain. Essentially, it’s a stripped down, easy to use Blogger, which doesn’t require you to visit the Blogger site to log in and post. It’s ideal for anyone who uses a lot of multimedia, without wanting to cover their sites in widgets, and it’s also a great time saving device.

Personally, although I’ve signed up and played, and can see the benefits, I’m not sure how often I’ll use it. I’ve already got a working blog with a continually surprising amount of readers – and I adore the social side of Twitter to the point of declining in my use of Facebook or email. But if I was looking to start my own blog as a repository for all the things I find during my day, and without wanting to write huge long posts (Never going to happen, right?), then Tumblr is definitely worth looking at.