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2011

Overheard on #Blogchat: Challenges (@coreyfreeman)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: creating a vision/strategy/plan to guide your blogging efforts in 2011

My friends are probably sick of hearing me say it – don’t set new year’s resolutions. Set goals. In my mind, resolutions are big “wishes” that you hope to achieve, but with no real plan. Goals, on the other hand, can be achieved if you’re willing to take action. During #blogchat, this week, one tweeter said something that made me look at the whole resolutions vs. goals argument in a hole new light:

coreyfreeman: Are people still setting “goals”? I call them challenges. That way I can keep doing them until I win!

I love this attitude! So many of us set these lofty goals and even with taking steps to achieve them, we don’t finish by our self-imposed deadlines. So what? I’m not saying that you have to be complacent, that reaching toward your goals doesn’t matter. But, as Corey suggests, if we look at them as challenges that we have to get through, they take on a whole new look.

You have to find a way to resolve a challenge. It might take longer than you hoped. It might not happen easily, and your strategy might change along the way. But while goals fall to the wayside when not achieved, challenges do not disappear. The best of the best will deal with them head-on, slaying virtual dragon after virtual dragon until the princess (or prince!) is saved.

What challenges are on your plate for 2011?

30 Days to a Better Blog: Add a Link To Your RSS Feed

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30 Days to a Better Blog: Add a Link To Your RSS Feed

Getting people to subscribe to your RSS feed is extremely important for encouraging return visitors and keeping your readers informed. It’s on par with getting people to subscribe to your newsletter! So why not make it easy for them to subscribe, and keep track of your subscriber statistics at the same time?

What is RSS?
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated sites in a standardized format. It benefits subscribers by allowing them to syndicate their websites automatically. It benefits readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from their favorite websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place by reading them on a RSS reader/aggregator.

How do I Find My RSS Feed?
Most blogging platforms automatically generate an RSS feed, but it may take some investigation techniques to determine the URL. In WordPress the link to your RSS feed could be http://www.website.com/feed or http://www.website.com/?feed=rss or even http://www.website.com/?feed=rss2! In Blogger the link is typically http://website.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default. For other platforms you’ll probably have to do a bit of digging.

Using FeedBurner
Once you know your RSS Feed link, you can add it to your sidebar and be done OR you can run it through FeedBurner to start obtaining stats and watch your subscribers grow! It involves a few extra steps (including signing up for a FeedBurner account and installing some code) but it’s well worth the hassle. Here are some tips for setting up FeedBurner on a variety of platforms.

Once you’ve added in your blog feed URL and information, you can click on the “Publicize” tab to get a snippet of code (including the universal RSS icon) to add to your blog. You can also embed the link yourself and use a different icon (you can grab some free ones here).

Subscribe To Your Own Feed!

Be the first to subscribe to your feed – and then check it out in an RSS reader. You may be surprised at how your blog looks outside of your own template! I follow a blog that uses a white font on a dark background, but in the reader the text is rendered invisible, so I always have to click through to the blog. Perhaps a good idea … but to me it’s just annoying!

Let us know how your RSS Feed installation went.

30 Days to a Better Blog: Update WordPress

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30 Days to a Better Blog: Update WordPress

When’s the last time you updated WordPress (or your publishing platform of choice)? If you use a free blogging platform (Blogger, LiveJournal, etc) your updates are made behind the scenes. But, if you host your own blog you’ve probably seen that nagging alert at the top of your admin page telling you the latest version is available.

I admit that it took me a long time before I updated my first blog. I was terrified that I’d lose data or mess up my content along the way. But WordPress makes it easy to update and I have yet to encounter any problems.

Why Update?
Each release has a variety of fixes and new functionality. The layouts have changed, security has been tightened, bugs have been removed, and you may even find that the newest plugins and themes require a recent update.

How to Update?
There are several steps to follow in updating WordPress.

  1. Take a backup of your database.
  2. WordPress suggests disabling Plugins because there might be problems after the upgrade. I didn’t do this, but I didn’t have very many plugins in the first place!
  3. Update to the latest version. There are two ways to update:
    • Automatic Update (if you have version 2.7+) makes it incredibly easy to update. Just click the link and you’re on your way!
    • Manual Update (if you have a version prior to 2.7+ or are unable to use the Automatic Update) involves just a couple extra steps and FTP access. You can read details here. NOTE: Make sure to copy down your database name and user info before accidentally overwriting the file!
  4. Enable any disabled Plugins.

That’s it! Within an hour you should have access to the latest functionality and your blog will be more secure.

Do you have any tips or stories involving WordPress updates?

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