Blogging 102 — Taking your blog to the next level

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By Dave Munger

Today, I’m leading a workshop at the Science Online 2010 conference entitled Blogging 102. The idea behind the session is that many people have been blogging or working online for years. We’ll be discussing new tools and techniques that can help them bring their blogs to the next level. We’ve had some preliminary discussion about the workshop here, but I wanted to use this post as a rough outline for the workshop. Even if you can’t attend the physical workshop, the links here (and discussion in the comments) may help you improve your own blog.

Content tools

  • Poll Daddy — Free, stable polling site.
  • YouTube — Yes, you’ve all heard of it, and it can be useful for displaying crude video. But there are some limitations to this site — it’s not very good for displaying rapid, slide-show type video. I’d love to hear of alternatives.
  • Odeo Player — Handy for streaming an MP3 on your own site.
  • Survey Monkey — This is the best-designed site I’ve found for free online surveys, if you have fewer than 100 respondents. You can also pay for unlimited responses.

Recommended by commenters but not used by me:

Analysis tools

  • Google Analytics. Comprehensive tool for analyzing site traffic. Not quite real-time, though.
  • Sitemeter. Less comprehensive than Google, but gives real-time information. Especially useful for learning where your traffic is coming from.
  • FeedBurner Good way to see who’s subscribing to your RSS feeds. You can also use it to syndicate your posts to Twitter.
  • Backtype. Find out who’s tweeting about your posts, or linking to you in comments. Nice, new service. It also offers a WordPress plugin that allows you to embed twitter comments in a post’s comment thread (link is an example of it working)

Improving content
Improving content can be the subject of an entire workshop, and indeed, I’ve led such workshops in the past. But here are some links to blog posts with tips. We’ll collect additional suggestions at the workshop.

Connecting with social networks
Networks like Twitter and Facebook could be becoming the most important way people learn about blog posts. But content itself is still largely produced on blogs, which give users the most control over their content. I’m still a newbie when it comes to integrating blog content with social networks, but I’d love to have a discussion about how best to do this. Possible topics:

  • Facebook pages, groups, and getting blog content there (here’s an example of an excellent fan page)
  • Using Facebook, Twitter, and Friendfeed (and more?) together
  • Creating mobile-friendly blogs

Beyond the workshop
I’m hoping this post will become a living space where the workshop can continue long beyond Science Online 2010. Feel free to share your own insights in the comments. In the future, I’ll try to revise this post to synthesize our collective insights.

31 Responses to “Blogging 102 — Taking your blog to the next level”

  1. Travis Saunders Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 11:11 am

    The blogger widget allows you to stop the poll at a predetermined date.

  2. Walter Jessen Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 11:17 am

    A downloadable flash player to host and display flash video on your site: http://www.longtailvideo.com/players/jw-flv-player/

    I’ve found JW Player 4 to be more reliable than 5:
    http://www.longtailvideo.com/players/jw-player-4-for-flash

  3. Travis Saunders Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Disqus for comments – http://www.disqus.com

  4. Tyler Dukes Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Disqus is a great commenting system you can install that integrates social networking.

  5. Ben Younglandis Says:
    January 15th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Google also has a survey tool:
    http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2008/02/stop-sharing-spreadsheets-start.html

    And re: “Geek This”
    I believe I read about the “geek this” blogging idea in Field Guide for Sci Writers by @maryknudson http://ow.ly/WQhg

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