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The following information was written by Sue Waters and originally published September 6, 2007 on this page of her Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki. Sue has granted us permission to use it in it's entirety on this wiki.

Use Blogs (Intermediate)

Part of my role is to teach other staff how to use a range of technology effectively with their students.

I have set up this information to help them learn more about blogging and it has been broken into two parts:
  1. Use blogs (beginners) - designed for people who have never blogged or are just starting out . Experienced bloggers should still read through this because it does include tips for using blogs with students, managing blog subscription and managing comments you write on other people's blogs
  2. Use blogs (intermediate) - designed for people who have been blogging for awhile to improve their blogging effectiveness .

31 Day Project

Once you have set up your blog and are feeling comfortable blogging I suggest you work through Darren Prowse ( Problogger ) 31 Days to Build a Better Blog tasks . I worked through these tasks, and was fortunate enough to work on them as part of a community . Benefit of working as a community was members found that knowledge gain from the 31 Day Project was greater than working as individuals, because each individual sees a different perspective of the task - giving participants greater “food for thought!”

This community completed the 31 Day Project and has formed a community, Betterblog.ning,com , to continue the discussions and support we began during that intense time. This group is open and we invite you to join. We'll be discussing blogging best practices and going through periodic weekly challenges designed to help us continue to develop our blogs.

These are Darren's daily tasks. I have removed the tasks that do not apply to educational bloggers. You need to click on the task link to read Darren's rationale for why you need to do the task, and then MAKE TIME TO DO IT.

The information under each tasks is the key information I learnt while completing the task (you can read my more detailed posts here). REMEMBER what I learnt will be different from you. Each individual in our challenge teamed learnt different things from me, and we all gained by checking out what each other learnt. Click on a participants image on this page to go to their page on what they learnt during our 31 Day Project.

Day 1 - Email a New Reader
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. So initially I was concerned with emailing a new reader however after overcoming my reluctance I found was that people responded favorably to the emails and I have ended networking with some of my readers. It has also become like a habit now to email new readers, when I have time.

Day 2 - Run a ‘First Time Reader Audit’ on your Blog
Seems such an obvious task to do, but not one you think of. Most people in our challenge use their partner, who were mostly inexperienced blog readers. My thoughts are it would be good to watch both an inexperienced and an experienced blogger do an audit on your blog. Alternatively, for the experience blogger feedback, maybe you could ask one of the members of our Betterblog.ning,com , to do a quick audit.

Day 3 - Search for and Join a Forum
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.

Updated forum information for 2009:
Trouble with a lot of forums is that unless they are faciliated or have high member numbers participation rates by members decrease with time. Of this list Classroom 2.0 is the only one that is still very strong. I would also include Twittter nowsdays.

Day 4 - Interlink Archived 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 you:
  • Reflect on how your site looks to visitors and you make time for improvements
  • Reflect on posts you have written e.g. what you liked/didn’t like about the post and 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 or isn't

Day 5 - Conduct an ‘About Page Audit’
As Darren says "New readers use your about page to find out more about you and your blog. They will often use the information on this page to decide if it is worth subscribing to your blog. This is a key conversion page of your blog!"

Writing a good 'About Page' is hard. Start with telling people more about yourself, people are more likely to engage with your site if they can relate to you as an individual. Then tell them about your blog. Not too long, not too short, include photos that help readers relate to you as a person.

Day 6 - Email an Old Timer Reader

Day 7 - Plan Your Next Week’s Posting Schedule RECOMMEND THAT YOU DON'T DO THIS TASK ON DAY 7 BUT MAKE IT A TASK FOR DAY 31! Perhaps check Steve Dembo's list and choose a different one from his - Sue Waters
This was hard work, when you realise that I work full time, have two kids and was writing a weeks worth of posts as well as the posts for the blogging challenge. Definitely was worth taking the time because I wrote posts on mobile learning and it brought new readers to my site.

Day 8 - Comment on a Blog You’ve Never Commented On Before
The issue with commenting on other people blogs was I did not know how to check if there has been further comments on the post unless the person has a notify by email on their comments or I went back to the original post. I now use co-mment which feeds the comments into my Google Reader which means I am now able to track comments on other people's blogs effectively . This has also made me highly effective at commenting on other people's blogs which is very important for a blogger.

Day 10 - Declutter Your Sidebar
I did want to keep a lot but gave into the advice of my readers and removed recent comments, changed my archives to a drop down archives and removed MyblogLog.

Day 11 - Dig into Your Blog’s Statistics
Make time to read my post on Google Analytics - I can not stress how important learning to manage your statistic is!

Day 12 - Introduce Yourself to another Blogger

Day 14 - Analyze Your Blog’s Competition
I used this opportunity to learn more about Technorati and Google Blog Search. Many bloggers prefer to read posts by subscribing to technorati tags than to blogs . It is important that you understand the basics of how Technorati and Google Blog search works to ensure that you optimise the exposure of your posts.

Make the time to read my information on how Technorati locates posts on blogs .

Day 15 - Make Your Most Popular Posts Sticky
Michelle did this by adding at the bottom of a few key posts an RSS icon and then added the words “If you liked this article, you may want to sign up to be automatically updated the next time I post new content. Learn more Here (the Learn more Here links to her page on RSS).

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external image sticky-thumb.jpg

Day 16 - Create a Heatmap of Where Readers Click on Your Blog

Day 18 - Create a Sneeze Page and Propel Readers Deep Within Your Blog
Unfortunately I am unable to create a Heatmap because Edublogs does not support the Java Script required. Check out Laura’s post to see how a Heatmap works.

Day 19 - Respond to Comments on Your Blog
Well the 31 day Project has gone so well that my blog gets lots of comments. So what I do is every few days, work through the comments on my posts by going into my dashboard into the manage comments section.

I also follow Darren's advice which was “Click the links of those who leave comments on your blog. When you do this you’ll find that some of those who leave comments on your blog who check their own blog’s referral statistics will notice your visit and come back to see if their comments have been responded to.”

Day 20 - Run a Reader Survey
We all agreed that during the challenge we had been asking a lot of questions of our readers so decided to schedule this for later in the year.

Day 21 - Make a Reader Famous
These are Michelle words of wisdom on this task are so important that I want to share them :
  • One of the beauties of blogging, as opposed to just running a website, is the sense of community that develops from interacting with your readers . The best blogs have active reader communities and it only makes sense that you’d recognize your readers from time to time .
  • Let me say, though, that I think “making readers famous” is probably a really essential key to blogging , particularly if you’re an organization. People like to read about themselves and feel recognized . When you put them front and center, they’re more likely to come back again.
  • I think this task should definitely go high on the list of “most useful” pieces of work to do on our blog or website .

Day 22 - Catch New Readers Up on the Basics of your Blog

Day 23 - Go on a Dead Link Hunt
Well Paul suggested that we use Dead-Links.com and Xenu to locate broken links within posts that I tested. I tried Dead-Links but most the links it indicated were broken weren’t which was a bit frustrating. I had not read his follow up post that also suggested Xenu, instead did road testing of different free online broken link checker.
In my opinion the W3C link checker (see image below) worked the best of the free online link checkers. Note that still had the same issues that so links that it suggested might be broken weren’t. So am going out on a limb to say based on my knowledge, at the moment all links are working.

external image links.jpg
external image links.jpg

external image links.jpg

Day 24 - Do a Search Engine Optimization Audit
My advice for Search Engine Optimisation is:
  • Technorati and Google Blog Search looks for the tag terms within the text of your posts - so if you want these search enginges to easy find your post use the keywords within the text of your post e.g. this is why you will see me use the words mlearning ( mobile learning ) and mobile technology within the body of a post
  • Technorati does not recognise terms like m-learning as a tag, so make sure you use all variations of the tag (e.g. mlearning and mobile learning)
  • People also locate blogs using advanced blog searches at Technorati, your blog will not be displayed if you have not joined and claimed your blog. Read more about this here!

Day 25 - Go Shopping and Improve Your blog

Day 26 - Link Up to a Competitor

Day 28 - What is Your Blog’s Mission Statement
When I wrote my post for Catch New Readers Up on the Basics of your Blog I actually automatically had included this.

Day 29 - Email a Blogger that Linked to You to Say Thanks
Whenever possible I always send emails to people that link to my different sites.

Day 30 - Explore a Social Media Site
Social networking sites are very important to me . WHY, because if you truly want to exchange KNOWLEDGE, INFORMATION and CONNECT WITH OTHERS that share common interests than you need to make time to participate in these communities.
Here is a list of a few that I belong to:

Social network sites are about interacting with each other, getting to know the individual’s on a more personal level and making connections. Here is where the personalities of individuals truly comes to the surface. When people are able to connect with you on a personal level there is more chance they will interact with you. They also provide another avenue for people, who share similar interests, to connect with you.

Day 31 - Run a SWOT Analysis on Your Blog

Below you will find the feed to Sue's original challenge.