Posts Tagged 'Blogging'

Tubblog has a new home – update your links!

Tubblog LogoIt was this time last year that I finally moved this blog from Windows Live Spaces to the much more modern and flexible WordPress.com platform.

In the twelve months since that time, the number of readers who visit the blog every day has almost doubled and I’ve found myself chaffing under some of the restrictions WordPress.com (quite understandably) places on their free hosting accounts.

With that in mind, this blog has now moved across to a self-hosted WordPress site thanks to the good people at Heart Internet. Such a move should give me a lot more flexibility in terms of what I can do with the site.

  • If you’re a regular reader, then you shouldn’t notice any immediate changes. All the articles and comments have been transferred across to the new platform and any links to old articles will automatically forward to the new URL. Sadly, I couldn’t migrate all those Facebook “Likes” – but we’ll just live with that…
  • If you feature my blog on your blog roll – updating the link from https://tubblog.wordpress.com to www.tubblog.co.uk would be appreciated.
  • Screenshot of Feedburner E-Mail Subscription FormIf you’re an e-mail or RSS subscriber to the old site, I’m afraid you’ll need to re-subscribe – click on the RSS link at the bottom of the page, or the FeedBurner link within the right hand column.

I’ll be e-mailing all subscribers to advise them of the changes also.

One of those areas of flexibility is around the fact that the number of blog readers I’ve been getting from France, Germany and other non-English speaking European countries has risen exponentially. Many of you have reached out to me directly, but if you’re a reader in one of these countries, would you be interested in reading this blog in your native tongue? Translating the articles here is an option – but it depends on the demand, so let me know if this would be useful to you.

Finally – a huge thanks to the awesome Tim Carr at N7 Studios who facilitated the move to the new platform – the change happened absolutely seamlessly, and Tim was a consummate Professional throughout the project. A true WordPress expert.

 

Richard Tubb is an IT Business Consultant who works with ambitious IT companies who want to grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) and the elected chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Tools I Use… Productivity Tips

In the webinar I recently presented in for MSP Business Management  entitled “Effectively using Social Networking to build your IT Support business” (now available to view on demand) – one of the most frequent questions that came up was “Which tool do you use for Social Networking?”

Those questions that I didn’t have time to answer on the webinar, I promised to follow up with a blog post.

Toolbox full of toolsAdd that in to the fact my friend Jeremy Epstein over at NeverStopMarketing recently encouraged me to write a blog post about the Tools I use (you can read about the tools Jeremy uses here) – and I felt compelled to write this blog combining the two ideas!

There may be a lot of overlap in the list below, but it’s more of a brain-dump than a fully blown article – still, I hope you find some useful tips! It’s a big old blog post, so I’ve divided it into sections so you can pick and choose what you read.

I’d be interested in hearing about the tools you use – feel free to post comments below, links to your own blog post, or reach out to me via Twitter.

***

Reading Blogs

I *used* to use Google Reader to manage my blog subscriptions through RSS feeds, but the truth is that nowadays I only tend to read articles that come to my attention through two channels.

imageFirstly – My iGoogle Homepage – this is my Web Browser “Start” page and has three columns, with my GMail, Daily Quote, a Currency Converter and Google Latitude displayed – in addition to a load of my favourite blogs. I also have three other tabs entitled “Self-Development”, “Technical” and “Entertainment” that I frequently browse through to read some of my other favourite blogs in those specific areas. These favoured blogs are always somewhat in flux – if a blog hasn’t been updated for a while, it’ll drop off my screen and another will take it’s place.

Secondly – Twitter. I tend to graze many of my favourite blogs by knowing that the author will let me know when an update is available to read. If you’ve got a blog and you’re not automatically updating your Twitter feed to let people know about new articles, you’re missing a trick.

When I’m on the move I don’t tend to read blogs unless I’ve found them through Twitter.

You can already see that Twitter is central to a lot of things I do!

 

Twitter

Talking of Twitter, I use TweetDeck as my main Twitter feed on my PC with many Twitter groups to enable me to read what is relevant to me – you can read more about my “strategy” for managing Twitter here.

I also read Twitter a lot from my iPod Touch, using Twitterific, and from my HTC HD2 using MoTweet. Both have really nice interfaces that I’m comfortable with.

 

Devices

I’ve use an iPod Touch – at home, around the house. Mostly for web-browsing, reading the odd e-mail and reading Twitter – but also with the eBay App and for a few games (such as Stick Cricket!).

I also have a HTC HD2 running Windows Mobile 6.5. Why use such an old device, I hear you ask! Here’s the full answer!

On the PC front, I have three computers. My main PC is a Lenovo Thinkpad T400 laptop PC running Windows 7 Ultimate, which is tethered to a Docking Station and a single 19” TFT Monitor when at home. Yes, I hear the gasps that I’m not using a Multi-Monitor setup…

When out and about, I primarily use my beloved Samsung nc-10 Netbook running Windows 7 Starter Edition, carried around in my (in)famous brown mini-Rucksack (or “Man-Bag” as it’s been called) which also contains a Virgin Media 3G Dongle, and an international travel adaptor with USB charger and a selection of USB Cables for charging gadgets on the go.

If I’m on a journey without Wi-Fi (such as flying) then I’ll use Googlemail’s Off-Line facility and Microsoft Outlook in Off-Line mode to work through items.

I’ve toyed with moving from a Netbook to a Tablet, but the iPad doesn’t appeal to me and there isn’t much in the way of competitors out there… yet.

I also have a Gaming PC connected to a KVM (Keyboard/Video/Mouse). It’s not used so-much anymore – apart from my favourite, Age of Mythology!

Hand holding Amazon KindleI own an Amazon Kindle (3G and Wi-Fi version) and take it just about everywhere. Anywhere I think I may have some time to kill between appointments (think the Doctors Surgery, Barbers, waiting for the GG to finish clothes shopping…) the Kindle goes with me.

I love the way it allows me to download and read books anywhere, and it automagically syncs my books.

I also use the Kindle Reader on my PC and iPod Touch, both of which allow me to continue reading short bursts of a book when my Kindle isn’t to hand.

On the subject of book-reading, I use GoodReads.com to listen to friends recommendations, and to write my own book reviews which I then share with Twitter and Facebook.

I own a Flip HD camera that I use to record video interviews for use on the blog and YouTube.

At home I use a Draytek Vigor 2600G Wi-Fi Router, and have the house flooded with under floor Ethernet cabling. Every room has at least two Ethernet points, terminating in a Netgear 48-port Switch within a cabinet in the loft that is protected via UPS Battery Backup.

I also use a FON Router at home to securely share a portion of my Broadband with anyone who cares to use it.

 

Bookmarks and Synchronisation

If I find an article that is of interest to me, but I don’t have time to read it there and then – I use Instapaper to save it for later.

If I come across the article on Twitter, I favourite it. My Twitter favourites automatically get added to my Diigo feed.

I use Diigo for all my Web-Browser bookmarks. A small Javascript bookmark (the Diigolet) button sits on my Firefox favourites, where I can tag bookmarks with easy to find Keywords for future use. I used to use Delicious for this, but then Yahoo threatened to pull it so I moved to Diigolet.

XMarks (formerly known as FoxMarks) is installed on my Mozilla Firefox browser on every PC I use. It synchronises my Web Browsing History, Cached Passwords and Open Tabs between different PC’s – thus making sure my browsing experience is uniform across PC’s.

I use Windows Live Mesh 2011 to sync important documents between my various PC’s, and DropBox when the Apple Mac-loving crowd want to exchange files with me. Both are great tools and just “work” to enable me to get on wherever I am.

 

Web Browsing

You’ve already worked out that I use Mozilla Firefox as my primary PC web-browser. I love the add-on’s it offers – including IETab 2, which allows me to load those annoying sites that insist on using Internet Explorer within Firefox. Other Add-On’s I use are

On my HTC HD2 device, running Windows Mobile 6.5, I use Opera Mobile 10.

 

Calendar/Contacts/Email/Tasks

Microsoft Outlook 2010 LogoI *live* in Microsoft Outlook. It is my trusted source for organising my personal and professional life. I heavily use Task Lists and I’m a big proponent of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology for staying organised. On my PC’s I have Microsoft Outlook 2010 installed alongside GTD for Outlook.

I also use Outlook Notes, synchronised between my WinMo and PC, and every appointment (personal and business) goes in my Calendar.

I keep my work and personal e-mails separate though, and use GoogleMail for my personal mail (richard@tubbweb.co.uk). Every few months I’ll sync my Outlook Contacts with my Googlemail Contacts to keep the two up to date – I’d love to find a way of doing this automatically.

Microsoft BPOS is my hosted Exchange service. What can I say other than it’s reliable and it just works! Everything gets sync’d over the air to my PC’s and to my WinMo device.

I also use the Outlook Social Connector on my PC’s to get additional insight about what those who are writing to me are talking about.

 

Blogging

I use Windows Live Writer – a free tool from Microsoft and the best blogging tool I’ve come across.

I use the Zemanta plug-in for Live Writer to help create links, although I do find it a bit flaky.

This blog is hosted at WordPress.com.

As a blog article is published, it is automatically posted to Facebook by WordPress.com. I then manually create a short-link using Bit.ly and publish a link to the blog article to LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Buzz and occasionally, MySpace.

For leaving comments on blogs, I use a mixture of Disqus, Google Profile and OpenID. I much prefer being able to login using Twitter though.

 

Facebook

I use Facebook primarily for personal use, but have a lot of “business friends” on there too. I use Facebook lists to ensure the right people see the right content, and regularly browse Facebook a few times a day to keep up to date.

 

Keyword Listening

I use Google Alerts to keep posted on a variety of keywords, ranging from the vanity (my name and my URL) to business to local interest (“Weoley Castle”).

I also use SocialOomph to keep track of more business related keywords (“IT Support”, “Managed Service Provider”, clients names, etc)

Tweetdeck comes in handy again here for tracking #Hashtags during certain events – Conferences, etc.

 

Note Taking

I use OneNote, but I’m not as religious at using it as I’d like.

I carry an old fashioned pocket notebook with me most places, as I find it easier to scribble thoughts down during meetings – and it seems people don’t get offended when you write down notes using pen and paper, whereas typing on an electronic device can be misconstrued as a lack of interest in the meeting.

I heavily use SnagIt for grabbing screen pics and modifying them for use in blog articles.

I’ve already mentioned I use both Task Lists and Notes in Microsoft Outlook – and I do so across a variety of platforms all synchronised back to Outlook.

 

 

Spreadsheets, Word Processing, Presentations

It’s Microsoft Office 2010 all the way for me. Excel, Word and Powerpoint. I love the way they integrate into Windows Live Skydrive for collaboration.

I very rarely use Google Apps, but it’s occasionally useful for very small documents.

When I’ve produced content, such as a White Paper or presentation, it’ll get uploaded to Scribd for future reference.

 

Communications

As I work from home I use a Siemens Gigaset Dual-VoIP/POTS telephone in the home office. This allows me to have both my Business Telephone (hosted with VoIPfone.co.uk) and Home Telephone (Virgin Media) on the same line, and distinguish between incoming and outgoing calls on them.

TrueCall DeviceTo prevent my day getting constantly interrupted by British Gas, Virgin Media and other Telemarketers who ignore my registration with the Telephone Preference Service, I use a TrueCall device which has pretty much stopped nuisance calls dead.

On the Mobile Phone, I use MagiCall to undertake the same function – dropping calls from those who can’t take no for an answer from continuously interrupting me.

Instant Messaging is via Windows Live Messenger. I rarely use it for personal reasons anymore (Facebook chat has superseded that) but it’s a great tool for keeping in touch with my business contacts.

I use Skype heavily, both for International calls, calls when travelling and for Video calls. I’ve got a Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000 in use as a Webcam, and the ability to both see and be seen by my colleagues adds a authentic dimension to Skype calls.

I also use OoVoo for IM and Video Conferencing, and it works just fine – but I’ve seen no uptake on it outside one particular client.

For Technical Support for the family, and the occasional remote control I use LogMeIn. I’m warming to TeamViewer since it’s been acquired by GFI though.

 

Security

Pad-LockOnce built, PC’s are backed up with ShadowProtect Desktop from StorageCraft. I can then wipe PC’s and start from a Base Image if needed.

Critical data from each of my PC’s is synchronised to another within the house using SyncBack SE. This data is often encrypted using TrueCrypt.

All data is also backed up to the NAS, and this data is in turn backed up to Mozy Home, Amazon Cloud Storage and iDrive as well as being burnt off to DVD-R once a quarter and stored in a Fireproof safe.

My Mobile Phone is backed up on a monthly basis by Sprite Backup, both to mini-SD Card and to the NAS. My mobile is also protected by Lookout Mobile Security, which as well as stopping nasty’s, backs up my SMS and other information to the Cloud and has some additional tools to protect against Theft or loss.

Every electronic device in the house is marked with UV pen, and registered on Immobilise – the UK National Property Register.

We also have a number of CCTV cameras around the exterior of the house which record footage to a Geovision Server. Reassuringly, all we ever seem to record is local Fox Cubs play-fighting on the lawn, and Spiders making webs across the lenses of cameras. Money well spent then.

On individual PC’s I use Microsoft Security Essentials, my pick of the Anti-Virus products.

All my passwords (which are unique for every site I use) are stored in KeePass, which is synchronised between my devices using Windows Live Mesh 2011.

Finally, my GoogleMail, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter are backed up by Backupify. Yes, I use a Cloud Service to backup Cloud Services.

 

Photos and Videos

I mentioned I use YouTube thanks to my Flip HD camera.

I upload just about every photograph ever to Flickr, both for sharing with friends and family, and to use as an on-line backup of my photo library. I rely on the tagging facility here.

I also use a lot of photographs from Flickr under the Creative Commons license, to drop into my blog articles and presentations.

Lots of photographs find their way onto Facebook too, especially from my Mobile Phone.

PhotoBucket is used when I’m uploading photographs solely for use on eBay listings. The ability to use PhotoBucket’s HTML facility is invaluable.

I use the Image Resizer Powertool and Paint.Net to edit photographs locally.

If I’m editing videos locally, I’ll use Windows Live Movie Maker. Free, and relatively powerful.

 

Entertainment

I use an aging Topfield TF5800 as a dual-tuner Freeview PVR. It runs a number of cool 3rd party apps that enable me to record the Television programmes I want.

This is attached to a Sony Bravia KDL-40W4500 Widescreen Television, a Sony Blu-Ray Player and a Sony ST8-DG820 Multi-Channel AV Receiver with what feels like a billion input and output sockets.

imageAlso in the living room, we have a Nintendo Wii (which admittedly, I only seem to play Donkey Kong and Monopoly on) and an Xbox 360 which I use to play games on-line with friends on XBox Live. Attached to the XBox 360 is also a HD-DVD unit, which allows me to play DVD’s from the loser in the Blu-Ray –vs- HD-DVD format wars.

We won’t talk about my “retro gaming” room, which has everything from Atari’s to Commodores to Dreamcasts. That’s a blog post all of it’s own… Smile

For home media, I run a D-Link DNS-320 NAS box with 2 x 2TB HDD’s mirrored. This stores nearly all of our Music CD’s, Podcasts and many movies and other videos.

All of our audio media is kept in a structured and tidy fashion thanks to MediaMonkey (Paid for edition) on a PC, and TwonkyServer on a server. I try to avoid the horrible iTunes wherever I can, be it’s sometimes necessary.

In the living room I also run as Acer Aspire R3610 with Windows 7 Home Edition installed. Thanks to CoreCodec this can play HD content from the network to the Television.

I’ve mentioned I’ve got an iPod Touch, which I use for Music. I also own a Microsoft Zune HD, which tends to get used for Podcasts in the car. The HTC HD2 also gets used for Podcasts when I’m walking.

We’re big fans of DAB Radio, so radios are scattered around the house (including a Roberts SolarDAB in the bathroom). One of my follies is a set of yacht speakers flush into the bathroom walls, fed by a Pinnacle Soundbridge HomeMusic wireless steaming device. It’s nice to listen to good music whilst soaking in the bath.

I listen to Spotify at home on the PC, but not too often, and only the free edition.

Phew! An extensive list, but there are probably others. I can see myself adding these over-time as people ask me about them – so feel free to ask me directly.

 

Now …how about adding yours in the comments below?

 

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to enable them to feel more in control and to grow their business. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) and the chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Trust 30 Challenge

Last week I was fortunate enough to be asked by GFI Max to deliver a webinar to over 200 IT companies on my thoughts for using Social Networking in Business (If you missed the live webinar, it’s now available to view again at the MSP Business Management web-site).

There were a flood of really interesting questions from the participants, but none more so than around the topic of blogging.

I suggested that the benefit of blogging to me was less about reaching lots of people with my message, but more about me growing better at delivering my message. By learning how to positively express my thoughts and ideas through blog articles, I feel I have become a better boss, a better public speaker, a better salesmen and perhaps even a better party guest!

As Seth Godin puts it in this brilliant video with Tom Peters, “If you’re good at it (blogging) then people will start reading it. If you’re not good at it, then stick with it and you’ll get good at it".

This thought apparently struck a chord with a number of people who attended the webinar who wrote to me to say they’d been sitting on the fence with regards to blogging, but were now thinking again about getting started.

The response that brought the biggest smile to my face was from AstoldbyGel who was inspired enough by our webinar to start blog writing, and posted this blog post to explain why.

But I received many more e-mails saying that whilst they could see the benefits of blogging, they felt they had nothing to write about, or that they couldn’t see how they’d find the time to write. I understand, because I’ve been there too.

Front Cover of "Self Reliance" book by Ralph Waldo EmersonIf you’re one of those people, then serendipity strikes – check out #Trust30.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey.”

The #Trust30 initiative is brought to you by The Domino Project and features a “Pledge” that I think will help get those people who wrote to me about hesitating to blog, get started.

The Pledge Details

  1. The #Trust30 challenge starts at 6am ET on May 31st and runs for 30 days.
  2. Each day we’ll post a prompt from an original thinker and doer on RalphWaldoEmerson.me. You can also sign-up for daily emails.
  3. Fill out the short form here to commit to participating in the #trust30 online initiative.
  4. Blog, journal, or create something on each of the 30 days.
  5. Tweet using the hashtag #trust30 to show your support and involvement.

I’ve signed up to #Trust30, and I’ll be doing my best to generate as many new blog articles in the next 30 days as is possible.

I hope you’ll join me in doing the same! If you do so, please let me know so I can let others know about your work! Smile

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to enable them to feel more in control and to grow their business. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) and the chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Effectively using Social Networking to build your IT Support business

GFI Max Building Blocks LogoA heads-up that I’ll be running a Webinar in conjunction with GFI Max entitled “Effectively using Social Networking to build your IT Support business”. It takes place this Thursday, May 26th at 4pm GMT (that’s 12pm EDT).

We had around 600 people register for our webinar last month entitled “Finding Customers through Networking” (which you can now view again on-line) where we touched on Social Networking, but the amount of questions we received from the audience about Social Networking during the Webinar prompted us to run a second webinar this month focusing on the subject and allowing us to go a little deeper.

During the webinar we’ll cover:-

  • The principles for using Social Networking
  • The ROI of Social Networking
  • Social Networking vs Social Media
  • Tips for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Why Blog?
  • Content Loops
  • The Tools to use
  • Social Networking vs traditional Business Networking
  • Question and Answer

Registration is quick and free – just visit the “Effectively using Social Networking to build your IT Support business” page and sign-up!

Hope to see you there! Smile

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to enable them to feel more in control and to grow their business. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) and the chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Finding customers by Networking

Max with Building BlocksA heads-up that I’ll be running a Webinar in conjunction with Big Chris Martin and the folks at GFI Max entitled “Finding Customers by Networking”. It takes place on Thursday, April 28th at 4pm GMT (that’s 12pm EDT).

When I’m asked about how I grew my own IT business, the first thing I talk about is networking – that includes face-to-face business networking meetings, Social Networking on-line, and all the steps in between.

The free webinar is aimed at smaller IT companies who are looking to grow and over one hour, Chris and I will share with you some of the ideas, tips and techniques you can use for enabling business networking to deliver profitable clients.

We’ll cover:-

  • Why business networking works
  • Finding networking meetings (in both the UK and USA)
  • Tips for attending business networking meetings – including preparing for meetings, tips for “working the room” and how to effectively follow-up afterwards
  • Using Social Networking
  • General Tips
  • We’ll also be having a question and answer session

Registration is quick and free – just visit the “Finding Customers by Networking” page and sign-up!

Spaces for hecklers are strictly limited, so you’ll need to register fast! Smile

UPDATE:- If you join us at the webinar, then you can also expect a free copy of Chris Martin’s latest White paper “How to do Break/Fix well” as an attendee. Make sure to get yourself registered!

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to enable them to feel more in control and to grow their business. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) and the chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tubblog at 500 – Tips on Blogging Longevity

It was way back on August 14th, 2005 when I wrote my first blog post entitled “To Blog Or Not To Blog?” where I wrote that I was going to “try blogging and see if it is interesting to me”.

6 years later, this is my 500th blog post. I’m guessing I can now say that yes, I do have an interest in blogging!

I'm Blogging This T-ShirtI often get asked why I blog. The simple answer is – I blog because *I* enjoy it! Back in March 2008 I commented on a report from Australia that stated that blogging actually makes you feel better. Whilst “Blogging The Blues Away” isn’t for everyone, for me it serves a number of purposes.

Firstly, I find it very therapeutic to put my thoughts down in writing. Those who have maintained a written diary at some point will probably agree with me in that when the mind is whizzing with a dozen ideas, focusing on writing about one thought alone gives a sense of clarity to work from.

Secondly, over time my blog has turned into something of my own personal Knowledgebase. There have been a number of times when engineers who have worked with me have told me they’ve been researching a technical problem and that a blog article I wrote in the past came out in a Google search and provided them with the answer! It’s even more amusing when it happens to me personally too!

Thirdly, I’m a lazy, lazy man. Whenever I see an opportunity to systemise something for future efficiency, I will. Being in the fortunate and flattering position where people regularly approach me to ask my advice, I like nothing better than pointing them towards a blog article I wrote on the subject they’re asking about and then offering my help with any follow-up advice I can offer after they’re read that article. I’m able to spend more time helping more people this way.

Finally, and probably most importantly, I’ve met a LOT of people thanks to blogging. Before “Social Networking” was even a buzz word, I used to write blog posts and wonder if anybody even read them (this was way before I started using WordPress with its fancy analytics to track reader metrics!). Then a strange thing started happening. As I attended User Groups, Trade Shows and Conferences – people used to walk up to me and say “I read your blog”. They spoke to me in such a friendly manner as though they knew me well, even though it was the first time we’d met. I realised that in a way they did already know me – because as I tell people when I’m delivering presentations on Blogging and Social Networking nowadays, producing content on-line gives people a chance to get to know you from afar – and what’s more it builds trust in you and your services.

Likewise, I’ve found blogging helps introduce me to like-minded people. I always bang on about “community” – well I consider myself to be a part of a worldwide blogging community in which I’ve built some great friends in all corners of the world.

The content I write about has changed over time as I’ve changed as an individual. Visiting those first posts in 2005 when I was working as an “IT guy” – fixing PC’s for a living, I wrote about anything and everything from concerts, to computer games, to what I’d been up to that week.

As time went by, my articles focused more on Technical topics. Microsoft Small Business Server featured heavily as I became a part of the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community.

When I started to move away from being the “IT Guy” into becoming a Managed Service Provider (MSP), the content changed again and became more business focused. Slowly, the business articles outweighed the technical articles.

Now the articles are typically about my thoughts and experiences as a business owner. They’re primarily aimed at my peers, who I want to help to grow their businesses in the same way that I did.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, that’s now what I do for a living as an Independent Consultant – working with my peers to help them.

I remember my friend Susanne asking me who my blog was aimed at. I answered “My peers… I guess?!”. The uncertainty over my answer was simply because I just wrote whatever I fancied writing, without any “grand plan”. If it looks like I intentionally ended up in the position I’m in, then I can assure you that’s just a fluke!

I’ll admit I’ve flirted flirted with giving up blogging. Firstly due to micro-blogging site Twitter – which I wrote about in January 2009 under the title “The Death of Blogging?”. Later due to haters who I let upset me with negative comments and feedback. Once I got back to the fact I enjoy blog writing primarily for me, I was off writing again.

I’ve recently started writing White Papers and getting involved in some academic studies. I’m finding it a challenge to adapt my “conversational style” of writing – which I’ve had a lot of people comment that they enjoy in my blogging – to the dryer less chatty style required for White Papers. I’m told most people struggle to go from dry to chatty – not the other way round – so hopefully I’ll adapt too. The point is, I write my blog the way I enjoy writing it – there are no right or wrong ways on the style in which you should write your blog – just write it.

The question I’m most asked about blogging is “Where do you find the time?”.

The answer is simple – like anything that is important to me, I make the time.

I don’t have a set schedule, and I don’t block out time in my diary to write blog posts.

However, I do write whenever the urge takes me and I don’t always publish blog posts in the sequence I originally wrote them. If I get an idea, I’ll either add it to a list of blog posts I want to write about in the future, so that when I’m feeling less inspired but want to write – I’ve got something to work on.

If I’ve got time then I’ll begin to brain dump my ideas down into Windows Live Writer there and then. This makes it easier for me to flesh out a blog post later.

Ideally, and time permitting, I’ll write the blog post from start to finish as the idea comes to me. Often, I’ll save it as a draft, and then publish it some time later when I’ve had time to go back and reflect upon it. This can be important, especially when I’m writing about something that I’m passionate about. It’s similar to the tactic of never responding to an e-mail when you’re angry. Always wait some time, re-visit what you’ve wrote and revise once the emotion has had time to settle.

Of course, if you read many of my blog posts from years gone by (which I never delete, even if I cringe to read them now) then you’ll see this is only a technique I’ve recently adapted… Smile

As to the second most common question (or statement, I guess) I hear about blogging from those who are interested in it, but are not writing, is “I wouldn’t have anything to write about”. To them I say this. The stuff I write about most often are things that I experience. It could be a technical challenge, it could be somewhere I visit, somebody I meet, advice I’ve been given and acted upon, advice I’ve ignored, stuff that makes me happy, stuff that makes me upset. Basically, stuff in my everyday life. If you’re stuck for what to write, just have a think about what you’ve done recently and use that to get started.

If you’re worried that nobody will read it, then realise that to begin with – nobody will. Most people give up writing a blog within the first few weeks because they don’t receive any feedback. I kept writing because as I’ve already stated, I was writing for me alone. Over time, I realised people *were* reading. Consistently publishing blog posts will see you pick up an audience sooner or later, but just be aware it might be later.

What’s more, all those old blog posts you wrote and nobody read at the time suddenly find a new audience as time goes on. The blog post I wrote about “Using SSL Certificates with SBS 2003” hardly got any visits when I first wrote it, but is now in my top five visited articles each week. People stumble across your blog posts via search engines, word of mouth, forums and the like – but they can only stumble across it if it’s there in the first place.

At the start of 2011 “I Got Freshly Pressed” – which saw a huge amount of new visitors. In both 2009 and 2010, I was nominated for the Computer Weekly Blog Awards in the “IT Consultant” category. In all three cases, hugely flattering, and it meant lots of new visitors finding my blog. All this from publishing articles I enjoyed writing!

So there you have it. If you’ve never blogged before – why not try it? Go visit WordPress.com or Blogger and you can get started straight away.

You never know, 500 posts on you may still be enjoying blogging too! Smile

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to help them feel in control and grow their businesses. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL). You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

I got “Freshly Pressed”!

I keep track of basic metrics for visitors to my blog. Doing so gives me an insight into which blog posts people like, and which articles stand the test of time. For instance, I can tell you that my blog post from 2007 “Using SSL Certificates with SBS 2003” is still regularly visited almost 4 years on.

I also try to respond to all comments left by visitors to my blog posts. If someone has taken the time to leave a comment, I’ll do my best to acknowledge that comment with a response.

So I was surprised last Friday when a couple of hours after post a blog article called “It’s All About Communication” – that I started to get more than the typical amount of comments coming in. Further investigation showed that the visitor numbers to my blog had doubled, and yet more visitors were reading the article every hour. What was happening?

The answer was that I’d been “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress.com!Screenshot of WordPress.com

Every day, the WordPress.com content team read all the articles published at WordPress and choose their ten favourite blog posts for the day. Or as WordPress.com put it “Freshly Pressed: The best of 391,568 bloggers, 464,975 new posts, 443,577 comments, & 90,910,873 words posted today on WordPress.com.”

My article, “It’s All About Communication” – where I talked about West Midlands Police initiative to engage with local residents on Twitter – made the cut and so was brought to the attention of every visitor to WordPress.com

Seven days on from being “Freshly Pressed” and the visitors and blog comments are still coming! Smile

I didn’t set out to be “Freshly Pressed” – but I’m honoured I have been! If you’d like to learn more about you can improve your chances of being “Freshly Pressed” yourself – here are “Five Ways to get featured on Freshly Pressed”.

Thanks to Erica Johnson, the Editorial Producer at WordPress.com and her team for choosing my article to be “Freshly Pressed” and I very much appreciate all the visitors and kind comments that have been left!

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to help them grow their businesses. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.


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