Blogging

    All in on Micro.Blog

    I can’t say for sure this will be my final solution but it has made sense so far. A little while ago that I wanted to give this a try as I don’t like having too many different places on the internet to hold where my stuff is. I had been stuck for a while thinking of a new domain name and in the meantime I bought about 10 (yikes!). Maybe I will point some of them to some specific stuff on Micro.blog but my main one now for this domain is going to just be EricMWalk.blog. I think I will make a simple static site that my EricMWalk.com can be pointed to and there I can point people to other projects I have worked on. However, right now it just goes to my old WordPress blog so still need to get that changed.

    So I finally did it and moved all of my old posts from my self hosted WordPress blog to Micro.blog so I would have finally one source of information (well not exactly more on that later). Overall the import process in Micro.blog worked flawlessly except, I did find some issues but they were self inflicted for many reasons. The one I assumed I would run into was any links I had in my posts to other posts on my site which would not get updated correctly. I was right on that but luckily I didn’t have too many posts with that issue and I could correct that problem somewhat quickly by doing a search in the Micro.blog post section for my old site name. However, the two bigger unknowns to me that I probably should have expected but didn’t think about were having too many tags and that pictures didn’t import.

    Tags - This was nightmare. I guess though the years on WordPress I got very Tag happy as it didn’t seem hard to just add them as you went and honestly I probably didn’t use them too much but to find related things or maybe others did. However, all of them got imported into Micro.blog and I quickly realized that my one off tags were very messy. So I went though and painfully deleted as many as I could. I still have more than I like but it was a good start to see how I can use tags going forward. I think the interesting thing for tags in Micro.blog is that they are their own feeds so I might do something with that at some point.

    Pictures (Root Cause - Old Domain Names 🤦‍♂️) - This is a problem of having various domain names over the years. Micro.blog did an exactly what it was suppose to do and did an excellent job importing the photos to Micro.blog when it could “find” the photos. However, since some of the domains I don’t have anymore I had broken links on my WordPress site that I had not really realized so Micro.blog couldn’t find the photo to import. I am not sure if there is a quicker way to fix it on the Micro.blog side of things but honestly if I would have maybe thought about this before I exported everything I more than likely could have cleaned it up to make it work more seamlessly.

    Other than those two minor hiccups I am glad to have gone full in on Micro.blog and with that I am hoping to be posting more photos, thoughts, and other things I find interesting all in one spot.

    Next up…

    Since I have not been using Facebook (forever really), and Instagram has been less and less. I stoped really posting to Facebook specifically a long time ago and just did instagram and my WordPress blog but since the beginning of 2021 I have been really using Micro.blog to post the quick photos I would have done there. So next up I am thinking of pulling all of my historic Instagram posts to Micro.blog after I ran across this help post.

    Blogging Meetup - Year 2 Project Check-in

    Year 2 has come and gone… As I am excited to see another year of people using the Blogging Meetup, I hold back a little bit as I know I have been very distanced from it in the last year as I was working to prioritize various extra projects in my life last year.

    Look back at Year 2

    My thoughts haven’t changed though as I really enjoy this little side project and I intend to keep it around. In fact, as of today, we have 450 people registered on the site. That is up 67 from last year where we had 383 users on the site. Maybe when we hit 500 we should have an online party :)! Now only because I am a numbers guru I want to show you the stats of the last two years by month. As you can see it is trending down and in about August last year it started declining faster. In fact, February this year looks like it will only be about half of last year.

    Peeling back the Numbers

    I didn’t need to dig into the site stats to produce the chart above as I already had an idea of what the results were going to be. If you have looked at the site a couple of times in the last months it is mostly the same handful of people posting over and over. Not that there is nothing wrong with that as I am glad people are using it as established and it seems like there is another handful of users that look at the site on a daily basis. However, I still find it troubling that there is less engagement on the site than I hoped there would have been. Though for that problem of engagement, I hold myself accountable for a good portion of the blame as I know that there need to be more “things” (e.g., prompts, events, topic discussions) or things to get people engaged in the site. In fact, over the past year, I slowly had forgotten to keep up with the Like, Follow, Share Monday prompts. I think that generated good engagement for readers and hopefully gave some bloggers a nice bump in stats are people were going to check out their site.

    On the positive side of things, I was happy to finally finish the Members post page which is really just an RSS feed from all members sites. However, on the flip side, I am not sure if people have found it useful or worthwhile. Some of that is I am not able to get any stats from it so unsure if links are being clicked on or not.

    Next Steps

    So that brings me to today where I have been neglecting this site and trying to figure out what to do next. I would love to get feedback from anyone on what they think should be done with this site. Nothing is a bad idea as I still think a Blogging Community makes sense but maybe this implementation/version of it isn’t working anymore. Maybe the site needs to be more like a BuddyPress that can be more conversational, or forum-based like Discussion Board, or maybe even just a big Slack group.

    In the short term, however, I am going to figure out a way to kick off the like follow share again but maybe I will try to incorporate it with the RSS feeds from members' sites in order to get people looking at something that is newly posted. Over the next several months I am going to really take a hard look at the Blogging Meetup and see where this site should be taken. I am going to hope for feedback from the community as I don’t want to just make this decision alone.

    Summary

    Year two was still a good year for the Blogging Meetup as people were still using the site as it was originally intended. However, during the beginning of year 3, it is time to figure out what the next chapter of this site is going to look like to make sure it is still meaningful to everyone going forward.

    What do you think the next year of the Blogging Meetup should look like? Would you like to help it grow?

    WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

    Have you ever wondered which WordPress platform is right for you? Maybe you are just curious what some of the differences (pros and cons) between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I am going to walk you through my most recent thought process because after using WordPress.com for the past two years I am moving it back to the self-hosted WordPress.org.

    I loved the ease of which WordPress.com just works and you don’t have to worry about anything in the back end. If your goal is to just start writing and see where it goes I would recommend it. There is no hosting provider to find, no installs, no plugins, no making sure you backup data, no worrying about indexing, no worrying about SEO optimization or anything. You just walk through the steps on WordPress.com and create a site. The only time you need to think a little bit more is if you are actually going to pay for a domain name or pay for some of the other upgrades.

    Two years ago I wrote Wordpress.com or WordPress.org and Why?, which outlined at the time my thoughts and reasons of why I was moving my self-hosted WordPress.org site to WordPress.com. The big reason as I touched on before was I just wanted to Write/Post. I didn’t want to get caught up in worrying about other things because at that time I didn’t care. WordPress.com makes it super simple to Like, Comment, and Follow other blogs. It really can make a new Blogger feel good about the progress you are making and honestly who doesn’t like knowing that people have read their stuff.

    However, all of those easy features come with limitations. You realize that you can’t use Google Analytics in the cheaper versions, add some custom code linking to other forms or email captures, further tweaking of how themes look and work. I think when you get to that point you really need to consider moving off of WordPress.com unless you want to pony up to the Business Version. Here is a quick rundown 2 years later of my pluses and minus of each:

    Wordpress Breakdown

    WordPress.org

    WordPress.com

    Overview Completely flexible from the start but requires finding a provider to host your site. Focus on your beautiful content, and let us handle the rest.
    Hosting Find a website host**, domain name, and perform all maintenance yourself (e.g., backups, security, upgrades, and optimizations). Premium hosting and maintenance is taken care for all Plans (i.e., security, backups). Upgrade for custom domain names (e.g., StillThinking.me).
    Themes Endless possibility of free and purchased themes with advanced features. Or create your own using CSS and PHP. Hundreds of amazing themes optimized for any device. Upgrade for Unlimited Premium themes and advanced Customization.
    Support WordPress.org community support forums for assistance. Support is available in the community 
forums. Upgraded plans to have email and live chat access.
    Analytics Powerful analytics using Google Analytics by adding custom code in your theme or installing a free or paid plugin. Limited analytics with their own built-in stats. No Google Analytics capabilities. Upgrade to the Business Plan for Google Analytics integration.
    SEO Install the best free or paid SEO plugins in order to unlock tools needed to maximize your SEO potential and achieve a higher Google search results. Limited to no SEO control with most of their plans. Upgrade to the Business Plan for tools to maximize your SEO potential.
    Sharing Install plugins in order to access popular features and customize to have complete control.

    Now you can enable WordPress likes for posts and comments via JetPack!

    The only limitation to WordPress.com is Post Tags are not searchable in WordPress.com Reader.

    Popular features standard but with limitations
    • Social Media integration
    • Limited email subscribe lists (only popups via MailChimp)
    • Likes and Comments integrated for all WordPress.com users
    • Tags show up in WordPress Reader searches
    ** - Most website hosting providers usually feature 1-click WordPress installs that makes it that much easier now to just start writing!

    Some final thoughts…

    Now that my site has been completely transitioned over I have been starting to find a couple things that show up differently.  However, the nice thing is most can be tweaked/fixed with the right amount of Google searching. I still feel really good about my decision as it has also allowed me more control in other initiatives that I am trying to work on like building a Still Thinking.. On the Line... newsletter!

    I hope you found this article helpful in understanding some of the differences that I have noticed between both of them. There have obviously been other articles written about this in much greater detail on the pros and cons.  Here are two of my favorites:

    If you have a WordPress.com site or have had one in the past, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts as well.

    Keeping your Focus

    Becoming more focused requires an even greater skill at keeping your focus.

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    As I have been trying to write more, I have realized that sometimes when I am about to call an article (or topic) good and close my document for the day… Another idea pops into my head and I then start writing out words and thoughts about that topic. In fact, it is happening right now as this is the third blank document that I have started writing today and each topic is different but related.

    I always find it interesting when and how ideas come and go. There will be times when I just sit and stare at a blank screen wondering what I could write. I have a whole bunch of ideas but they don’t interest me at that specific time. Then there are other times where I am writing away and going to call it good for that topic only to jump over and start a new topic because I am in the zone.

    “Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.” - Seth Godin on the Unmistakable Creative Podcast

    To that point, I couldn’t agree more when people say to just write every day. Just let the words flow out on-screen (or paper) even if it is something you will never publish. The worst thing that happens is that you spent some time writing. The upside, however, is that you just crushed it and wrote a whole bunch of amazing content.

    Now to flip the discussionIs it a bad thing to write about different topics and have a lot of them going at the same time?

    I would say I fall into this camp and I am not sure if it is a good thing or not. The only downside I can see right now is that I write a little bit about each of the topics I am working on and never fully finish any of them. Because I keep jumping around from one to the other adding a sentence here or there or just rereading my thoughts.

    On the other hand, when I get to a point of not knowing what to write, I have some drafts already started that I might be able to just pick right back up where I left off and hopefully complete it.

    What do you do in order to keep focused on your current writing or the drafts you have going?

    Congratulations and Thanks!

    A “little” side project that some of you know about, Blogging Meetup (formerly Bloggers Meetup), got some great news when it was featured on Wordpress’s own Daily Post article talking about ‘Stay Supported with a Blogging Group’.  That was very exciting news for me and my co-founder Amanda of the project.  For what started out based on some comments in a Blogging 101 course back on February 19, 2016, is starting to really grow, grow, grow.

    It is always a great feeling to know that something you have created is actually working, bringing people together, and having people find the end result useful.  In the same time, I hope every member of the Blogging Meetup is just as excited as we are as it couldn’t have been done by ourselves.  It is every one that participates, encourages, supports each other, and talks to others about the Community.  Honestly, it would not/could not exist without all of the members doing those things or keeping conversations going.  Even if you aren’t someone that participates in an active discussion on the site, I am guessing/hoping every now and then you have used the Index to find a new blog or clicked on someone’s Blog liked on the chat page.  Participation doesn’t need to be always commenting on the site as discovering other blogs is a big part of the whole experience.  That is where the Community effect comes into play and that is why I feel like we are doing something right.

    So I want to give a big CONGRATULATIONS and virtual HIGH FIVE to everyone that has been, is currently, or in the future is planning on being involved in the Blogging Meetup Community.  This is still only the beginning as we continue to grow and try to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and the bigger question of what’s next.

    One final note, I think there is a huge opportunity in the near future for the community to help support people taking the On-Demand Blogging U Courses.  We have bloggers of all different types/skills in our community and as I wrote this morning on the Blogging Meetup, a big factor I joined those courses was for the Community.

    Posting Frequencies, Schedules and Drafts

    Lately, I have not been finding the time to write much on here or even remember to post something that I have found interesting.  However, that is not to say I haven’t started a bunch of different posts from time to time (this is one of those).

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    Today after looking back and removing a couple I still have 24 different draft posts waiting for me to either look at again and finish my thoughts or probably just delete them because I don’t know what my original intent was.  Since most of the time, my blog is just about random thoughts and things that I find interesting it is easy to quickly capture it in a blog post for a later point in time with the “Press This” bookmarklet.  Also, if I have an interesting thought I want to share I can jot down a couple of notes and then pick it back up when I find time.  Since the theme of my blog is less of a daily journal and more of a place I keep interesting things and thoughts, I never feel the need to have a specific real-time event to post or something that happened to me recently.  Particularly, because most of what I do on a day-to-day basis probably isn’t the most exciting and it would kind of get repetitive though I know there are moments in each day I will cherish.

    With so many Drafts started you might be wondering why I don’t find time to push the publish button more often and I think the reason is frequency.  A lot of times, a week will go by when I have lots of thoughts and interesting things I find and then there will be weeks I don’t have as much to say or share at all.  My problem is the times that I have a lot of things I don’t want to overload my blog with 10 posts in a week as I know the next week I might not have anything.  My intention is then always to posting some of what I found the next week or sometime after that, but it never really happens.  Hence, it would be smart of me to schedule some posts to automatically be posted out in the upcoming week(s).  One of the reasons I am hesitant to do that is that I keep thinking I might find something more timely relevant that I want to share and don’t want to post too frequently.  Another reason is that I really like to hit that publish button even though it gives me multiple chances to review and re-review that probably take away more time than necessary to get my thoughts published.  I am still trying to work on a sustainable habit of writing/posting.  I am trying to find a groove that works but sometimes I feel like I have thought block and can’t think of much to say or don’t really want to share anything I have already.  I have thought the scheduled posting route might be worthwhile but haven’t taken the plunge on it yet.

    If you have made it this far thanks for listening to my random thoughts and of course I have a question for you.  I am curious to find out how other people manage their blogs in terms of scheduling, frequency, and/or surplus of drafts?   Also, for bonus points do you have a goal in mind as to how many posts you try to write/share in a given day/week/month?

    WordPress.com or WordPress.org and why?

    I have never really thought it mattered to me as I have had a blog for a couple years but have never really consistently published stuff.   So I used the cheaper alternative of using WordPress.org (or a self-hosted site) because I have had the server and storage space for some other projects I work on.  It works well for me and I appreciate being able to have full control of the site and can make any changes as necessary.

    However, after publishing my first assignment for Blogging101, I realized that there are a few differences between the two depending on what you are looking for.  Specifically for this course, I realized that my posts might not get as much attention as others since they don’t show up in the WordPress.com Reader under the Blogging101 tag and there is not an easy Follow button at the top of my site.  Thinking about that a little more I realized that by having my own Self-hosted site I really would miss out on the community part of my WordPress experience.

    I decided to do some more digging on finding the differences and see if there was anything out there that could help bridge the gap but I couldn’t find anything.  In my searching thought I found a couple of useful articles:

    I won't go into details as each article does a good job breaking down the questions you should ask yourself to help you figure out which is right for you.

    With that information, I was left to ponder the question that I had never really thought about before.  Which platform is better for me now?  Ultimately, I decided to buy a new domain name called StillThinking.me, which will be the blog I use going forward for the time being.  Don’t get me wrong, I will miss having more control over my site by using plugins and other customization.  The nice thing is that no matter which you choose WordPress.com or WordPress.org you can easily import/export to either if you change your mind down the road.

    So what platform are you using?  Have you ever moved from one platform to the other?  What do you feel is the pros/cons of each?

    Starting from the Beginning..

    In a hope to continue to jump-start my writing on this blog I decided to sign up for a Blogging 101 course through The Daily Post.  I have blogged off and on for many years now but only seriously thought about putting my blog together about 3 years ago (that wasn’t for family travel/photo purposes).

    For some quick details about myself check out my about page.

    Now on to the more meaningful question about why I am blogging, what will I be blogging about.  The first question is an easy one about why/what I am blogging about since I changed how I would be using this site a couple of months back and wrote about it.  The short answer is I am blogging as a way to share interesting stories and thoughts.  The topics will probably be a range of things that I find interesting and will probably be clearer as I post more often so stay tuned.