Posts Tagged 'WordPress'

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.

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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.

Goodbye Windows Live Spaces, Hello WordPress

After over five years and almost 500 posts, I’m finally moving Tubblog from the Microsoft Windows Live Spaces platform, to the more mature WordPress service.

I wrote an Open Letter to the Windows Live Spaces team back in May of this year, bemoaning the fact that the Windows Live Spaces blogging platform had become plagued by spam comments, instability and not only a lack of new features, but the removal of existing features.

Windows Live + WordPress logoI didn’t receive a response from anybody in the Windows Live team, but that may have been because they were keeping quiet about the fact they were planning to withdraw the Windows Live Spaces service altogether. Sure enough, at the end of September an announcement was made that Microsoft and WordPress were teaming up to offer an upgrade, migrating all Live Spaces customers across to WordPress.

Truthfully, I’d already given up on the Live Spaces platform by that time, and it was only the huge task of migrating 5 years worth of my blog posts, along with hundreds of comments and links that had me dithering on moving to a new blogging platform anyway.

Screenshot of Windows Live Spaces upgrade messageSo it was with glee that I learned that as part of the WordPress deal, the Windows Live team had created a easy-to-use migration tool, which made the migration process from Live Spaces to WordPress a painless affair.

As well as migrating all my blog posts across to WordPress, all my existing comments and links are also migrated. What’s more, any visitors to the old Live Spaces URL’s are instantly re-directed to the new WordPress URL. The only thing that isn’t migrated automatically are my lists (I can manually re-create these if I choose), and any pictures not included in blog posts. I can live with that.

I’m happy to say that the process worked without fault. Just about everything that was available at my Live Spaces hosting, is now available at WordPress. I’ve also had my eyes open to the world of WordPress – by far a superior platform, with plenty of opportunities to do cool new things. I’m still chuffed at the most basic of features on WordPress that we never had on Live Spaces – a search box in the top right hand corner, for instance. Wow!

I’d appreciate any feedback on the new blog-setup – how does it look and feel. Any pointers from WordPress veterans, or any features you’d recommend I check out? Drop me a line or leave a comment below.

So farewell Windows Live Spaces – I’ll remember you fondly, even though we had our up’s and down’s. You looked after me for over 5 years, and I’m grateful for your assistance in finding me a new home!

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.

An Open Letter to the Windows Live Spaces Team

Dear Windows Live Spaces Team,

Back in August 2005, I decided to start writing blog posts. When looking for a blog platform at that time, I investigated Live Journal, but decided upon using Windows Live Spaces (or MSN Spaces as it was called back then) as it was very easy to setup a blog, and Spaces seemed to have plenty of features.

Since that time, I estimate I’ve written over 500 blog posts, and have built up a modest but loyal following of readers and contributors – many of whom leave comments – of which I am always flattered to have received. Those readers don’t need to take the time to give me feedback, and so I appreciate them doing so.

Like all modern communication platforms, I’ve been inconvenienced by spam – comments with links to spurious sites with products that no sane individual is interested in buying.

On the whole though, this spam has been manageable, a few comments here and there, easily removed to avoid inconveniencing or inadvertently insulting visitors to my blog.

However, over the past few months I’ve seen a horrible trend where my blog (and others hosted on Live Spaces) have been targeted by wholesale comment spam from a specific company – Batteryfast.

We’re not talking just a few spam comments either, over the past few months I’ve had to clear up one or more spam comments from this same company to almost every blog post I’ve ever written – so we’re talking thousands of spam comments, taking a very long time to clean up. My heart now sinks when I realise my blog has been attacked in this way – it’s a massive inconvenience.

Members of the Windows Live Spaces Team – surely, on a platform as mature of Live Spaces, you could find a way to block such obvious spam from such persistent offenders?

To users of Windows Live Spaces, in your “Blog Options” settings, you give a single setting to control Blog comments. Allow or Don’t Allow.

I can therefore turn blog comments off, but then I lose the whole two way communication channel with my readers.

Surely there is a method to only allow comments from Live ID’s, or to check for such obvious spam from such persistent nuisances?

Even your “Report abuse” button takes you to a complicated form – why not make it easy for your loyal end-users to report a frustrating situation, not make it more frustrating for them with dozens of questions?

Searching the Help function on Live Spaces for advice on fighting spam is no better – a search for “spam” yields zero results.

As for www.batteryfast. (com) (uk) (au) – investigation shows that Batteryfast has web-sites in the UK and Australia, but is (no surprises here) ran by a Chinese company – Shenjun of Guangdong, and run through a German registrar – Key-Systems.net

I’m sure this will fall on deaf ears, but to the people at Batteryfast and Key-Systems.net – whilst you are clearly fraudulent losers for having to *repeatedly* turn to spam for business, have you ever considered just what low-life’s you appear to be by spamming a genuinely personal blog article such as this one?

Getting back to Windows Live Spaces Team. Colleagues and peers keep telling me to dump the Live Spaces platform and head across to WordPress or another blogging platform. This is increasingly looking like the best option for me, but before I make that decision, I wanted to give you the chance to respond, as I’ve been a Live Spaces user for over 5 years, love to the Live Tool Suite as a whole, and as the owner of a business that is a committed Microsoft partner, would love to continue to be a raving fan in this way rather than migrating to another platform from a competing company.

Windows Live Spaces Team – can’t we please do something about the comments spam? Please?

 

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.


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