James Mayes

Posts Tagged ‘Blog’

Moving to a self-hosted blog?

In Blogging, Personal Development, Social Media on November 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

So this almost happened as a tweet – but then I figured I had more than 140 characters of questions, and likely as not, some of you have similarly lengthy opinions – so I’m putting it here instead!

Been running this site since February 2010. It was a quick launch to begin with, just a standard theme on a WordPress-hosted account. It’s served me well enough and while it’s due a refresh on theme, I’ve loved the service provision from WordPress.  More though, I’m seeing plug-ins I’d like to use to evolve what I do with the site.  I’d like to experiment more… and I think self-hosted is the next step.

First up… for those who’ve made this transition before, what’re the scary parts? What screwed you over? Do the benefits outweigh things like maintenance and cost overheads?

Second… any recommendations on hosting? Not up for running my own box, so I’ll be purchasing a service somewhere – and as with most things, peer recommendation will count heavily!

All contributions gratefully received!


Blog: When not to blog is just as important

In Blogging, Social Media, Social Recruiting on February 6, 2012 at 7:56 am

when to shut upI see regular posts on why blogging is good, how to get best results, why you should blog often and so on. Thought it might be fun to run through some opposing thoughts I have.

Consider it the art of knowing when to shut up (and yes, I know, I’m aware of the irony of such a post coming from me!).

If it’s PURELY self-promotion/sales

That’s not to say you can’t talk about what your firm does though. I follow a number of blogs from tech companies where the blog is a product-focussed update – what got fixed, what’s being worked on, what ideas they’re testing. I love that – but I don’t want to see “buy my stuff, it’s awesome because…”

If you can’t say it nicely…

Don’t say it at all. Sometimes criticism is valid. Sometimes a blog post is a great way to give feedback. Just remember that what you post will most likely stay out there forever, with your name attached. You want to work with that company or person in five years’ time? Chances are, they’ll have no problem with constructive, well-formed criticism, but may view a hatchet job somewhat differently.

If you don’t care, don’t blog

I hear many people talk about the need to blog regularly, to maintain a link with your readers, meet their expectations. Balls, in my humble opinion. I don’t want to read the stuff you felt you had to write in order to meet your own self-imposed production schedule. I want to read the stuff you care about. Something you believe in, something you think is game-changing, something you’re passionate about, a service you think is worth shouting about. I know you want the same too. I know this because the off-the-cuff posts about something that’s really got me riled or excited? They’re the ones that fly.

Take care when you’re under the influence!

I know many who blog later in the evening, lacking the time during the working day. I’ve been known to write whilst enjoying a quiet glass of wine or two. As with point two though, remember this stuff could stay out there and haunt you. Weigh up whether that post needs to go live right now… or whether it should wait till morning for a quick re-read.

Finally, a caveat and a question. First, I reserve the right to completely ignore my own advice at any time! Second, what did I miss?


Blog: Where’s the value in being sentimental?

In Blogging, Personal, Personal Development, Social Media on August 22, 2011 at 6:30 am

I wrote a post recently concerning a possible renaming exercise for this blog.  The for and against, plus some really helpful comments, can be found here. Short version: the name stays, but the theme and layout could use a little work.

Something came out of the exercise that warrants further discussion though, this digital age seeing a faster pace of change than ever. I had a gut feeling that despite the changing focus of the blog, the name was still sound. I wanted to rationalise, and indeed, take on some feedback from other people who both read this blog and also run their own. I guess as much as anything, I wanted to stick with the name because of emotional attachment, but wanted to be sure it was justified for wider reasons.

On reflection, it certainly was. Comments like “genuinely authentic”, “personal and honest” and “we get a sense of you” suggest that while the title isn’t a perfect reflection of the subject matter, sticking with it and talking through in public  has assured me that I’m staying on course with all that I aspire to be (transparent, reasoned, honest).

Considering the reasons in favour of the change, they were all sound technically, but none driven by my aspirational values; sentimentality in this case being better than technical accuracy

Do we move too fast in search of technical excellence, ignoring the things that make us who we truly are? If so, we risk becoming less than we all aspire to be.

Blog: Renaming the… er… blog!

In Blogging, Personal, Social Media on August 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I’ve contributed to a number of blogs over the past year or two, but this has always been my main home.  Originally, it was a thinking space. It was here for me to play with, test thoughts, rant, share the odd personal tale. No real plan or strategy for it. It was for personal Musings, I’m based in Sussex, the rest is history.

renaming a blogSome things change.  The blog still has no commercial agenda.  I write about what I want – sometimes that gets a great audience, sometimes it dies without trace. However, I’ve found I particularly enjoy poking around with new software tools, platforms or apps and writing about what I find.  It’s also fair to say I now get invited to a few product beta tests precisely because of this.

As a result, I’ve naturally written more on those topics than personal tales or things that relate specifically to Sussex.

Should I recognise this in the title?

Arguments for:

  • I’ve had more than one person say things like “musings from Sussex? It’s a little bit jam sandwiches at the WI isn’t it?” – yeah, OK, it’s provincial. C’est moi!
  • The SEO would be better with a URL title relating more closely to the topics written about – it’s not all about reader numbers and marketing though
  • I’d likely get more referred traffic / back links if the subject matter were clearer – see above!
  • It would better support my personal brand if my name were more prominent – if people like what I write, they’ll come find out who I am. If they know me, the blog is easy to trace.

Arguments against:

  • I like the name. Social media is about transparency and honesty. The current name feels like it has that sorted.
  • Current articles already have a bunch of back links and referred traffic. Will I irritate owners of friendly blogs if I go break all those links?
  • It’s currently on a WordPress-hosted platform precisely because I don’t want technical aggravation in my life. This feels like creating tasks for no good reason!

I’m not looking to crowd-source new blog names here.  I would, though, welcome opinions on my reasoning. Did I miss something? Am I misleading myself with the arguments for the sake of sentimentality? Am I kidding myself, as per Bill Boorman‘s assertion that EVERY  blog has an agenda?

Let me know. I really do appreciate it.

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