Dadlog Updated; design crit requested

I’ve finally got around to tweaking the “dadlog”: design. Just in time for father’s day too! I’ve done some fun stuff with a fixed background. I think this is a good example of design supporting the concept and purpose of the site; it’s a perfect visual summary of what the site is about.

I’d really like to get your feedback on the design. Thoughts about the drop down menus?

Pen site up for grabs.

File this one under “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew”.

Are you or anyone you know passionate about pens, journals, and assorted ephemera? Want to write a blog on the subject and maybe make a buck or two?

I’ve made the (very difficult) decision to pass “A Quiver of Quills”: on to someone more able to do it justice. There are no ads on the site at this point, and the traffic is very modest. That being said, other than sticking a link to the site on the sidebar here, I’ve done absolutely zip to promote it. It has a pretty targeted topic, and should be able to deliver a fairly decent bit of cash with some work.

The site is running on textpattern, which is dead simple to use. I’ve paid the hosting for a year, and would like to recoup that. I’d love to get a couple of hundred bucks for my design, but more than that I’d like to see the site continue. I’m going to accept offers for the next week (until June 25th). If you’re interested, send an email to peter at flashlightdesign dot com

Improving page views

Time to start getting a bit creative with almost cool. As time permits, I’m going to experiment with some features and layout elements in attempt to boost my number of average page views.

The first step is to set a baseline. Where are we now? A quick review of the stats give us the following:

Kind of fun to analyze. That unique visitors to total visitors number is interesting. Part (if not all) of what it shows is the number of times I check the site relative to everyone else! The more I tinker with stuff, the more times I re-visit and refresh the pages.

I’m quite surprised the average page views are as high as they are. It makes sense that they should grow at a somewhat greater rate than traffic (meaning a rising trend) since the number of posts also increases over time.

June’s traffic is way up and avg page view down due to my having been “lifehacked”: I’ve got half a month to try and improve that figure.

My first step will be to add a “my favorite posts” list and possibly a “most commented post”. I’ve also started to regurgitate a couple of oldies from the archive.

Other possible strategies include posting excerpts on the home page and increasing the number of posts displayed; re-thinking the archives so that they’re more useful, adding a suggested reading link at the bottom of each article (“If you liked this article, try “blah””).

I welcome any suggestions or feedback you may have along the way.

Power of recommended links redux

Cruising right along on my journey down memory lane, I bring you “The Power Of Recommended Links”:

My point in the article is a bit obtuse. What I was _trying_ to say is “Ask your offline customers and friends to link to you”. Most people have no idea that incoming links boost your google juice. Heck most _bloggers_ have no idea. If having a good search position is important for your business, ask your friends, relatives, customers and suppliers to link to you.

Writing by hand

OK, so I’ve got a nasty case of tendonitis (too much typing) And I just discovered that Tiger has hand writing recognition built right in. Did you know this? It works pretty well, too. This whole post was written and edited with my Wacom tablet It has taken about ten times longer than normal to write, but at least l *CAN* write!

In order to play with this function you need a tablet of some sort and a mac (although I’m sure Bill took care of those of you on the PC) Plug your tablet in, turn on INK from the system preferences and just start Writing( Now, if only I could figure outhow to make my W’S lower case )

have fun!

I was almost cool

I’m going to do go dumpster diving in the old ego and recall a couple of articles from my early blogging days, yon eight whole months ago. Ahh sweet innocence…

(note to self: excessive use of the ellipse [which is this character: … hit option+; on your mac) is both annoying and a sign of lazy writing)

This little gem is from the very earliest days of almost cool. I clearly hadn’t found my voice yet. The content is useful if you’re wondering about how to set up your own blog. “How I Became Almost Cool”:

More to come (like it or not).

A rant on the topic of short posts vs long posts

Yes, I’m just a little late to this party. But I’ve been busy, so please allow me a little leeway. Let me begin by saying this: What’s with the hate for long posts? I mean, hello? Clearly, the lights are on but there ain’t nobody home.

For the sake of my hopefully-soon-to-be-blossoming career as a blog designer, I’m going to avoid naming names. Suffice it to say that some of the people on my blogroll (which is readily available under the “links”: section) were spewing forth venom that was way *way* out of proportion to the actual “crime” or requiring your audience to have an attention span longer a microsecond. I mean WTF?

h2. This is a rant, as stated in the title, so I’m just gonna roll.

*First*, do you have such little respect for your readers that you assume they cannot follow three consecutive paragraphs?

*Second*, is your writing so insipid and monotone that you fear that you can’t hold your reader? Are you worried that those other, better writers will lure them away?

*Third*, where the HELL do you get off telling others what a blog post *should* be? Who came down from heaven and declared you the arbiter of blogging? That’s my job! (joke, relax)

*Fourth*, if you don’t want to read it, don’t! Was that so hard? Is there some sort of mystical force blog posts emanate that strip you of the ability to STOP READING IF YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED?

Would I have a larger readership if I posted shorter pieces? Frankly I don’t know. Odds are I’ll never find out either. Short posts have their place. I have nothing against short posts. Some of my best friends write short posts… Sorry, joke got away from me.

Well, I feel a bit better now. I’d really like to hear from you though. What do you think. I mean, you wade through my drivel, so you can’t be that off-put by longer pieces. I know you all know how to use your mouse wheels too. And I trust you have the ability to stop reading something if it doesn’t interest you (a skill we clearly do not all share).

*So please weigh in now, both of you.*

What a time.

Man. What a time we live in. Forgive me if I get all misty eyed here, but I’ve been working really hard lately, and I haven’t had a second to step back and look at the world with any kind of perspective.

This blog thing is pretty amazing. Look back eight months. There I was, just some designer up in Canada, going about my day to day work. Flash forward to today, and I’m still just some designer up in Canada, but one with a gazillion ideas trying to make themselves real. All involve the web, and all involve communities of like minded people. For me, blogs and other collaborative sites have created an incredibly rich and active backbone upon which to build small, quick, and useful applications and services.

The thing about these services and apps is that they can be built by two or three dedicated people in a short period of time. There’s no massive infrastructure, no money to raise… Just build it and go.

Passion and intelligence, plus a dash of good sense is all thats required. The low barriers to entry mean anyone can play. I love it. I absolutely love it.

A Business Blog is an investment.

This topic may sound shrill, given that I’ve just launched The Blog Studio. Rather, I launched The Blog Studio because I _believe_ in the topic. Also I told you once that I’d try to keep this an open learning experience for all of us. Here’s what I’ve learned:

h2. A Business Blog is an investment.

You cannot achieve your business blogging goals unless you commit some_thing_. You can spend time or money. Both are equally valid. One option might be more appropriate for one, the other another. But both are valid.

This is the insight that drives The Blog Studio. Here’s how I apply that to business. Let’s start by drawing a chart:

We have two axes, the x is time and the y is money. We draw a line, from lets say y = 100 to x = 100. Like so:

That line is the fulfillment of your blog goals; maybe its “hit 100 visitors a day”, or “find 25 references to my business in Technorati” or “receive at least 2 comments per post” or some other such metric.

Make a mark on the line at the point where the money to time ratio is right for you. Bingo.

As a direct result of this thinking, I designed what I’m calling a Coached planning session (I figure if I capitalize the C it will look official. But if I cap the P and S, it just looks self-important). The planning session is an opportunity for me to meet with a client, gain a sense of their business, and help them decide where they’re going with their blog, and what milestones they’re going to hit along the way.

The meeting is followed up with a strategic plan – really a summary of what we discussed, with links to resources and recommendations for software/hosting etc. Included with the plan is a chart like the one we drew above. Voila:

On the chart I’ll list three ways that we can help the business achieve its goals. No pressure. No commitment. I think the planning session is incredibly valuable, and *way* underpriced. But I do think it will bring in more business long term.

I also looked at services we can offer that add value to bloggers all along the time/money spectrum. We offer content services as well as design/nerd services. For many – ok, most – business owners, time is at least as valuable as money. We’re offering things like an email-to-post service and a phone-to-post service, as well as a scheduled interview-to-post service for the truly harried.

All this from the simple realization that time is money. Go figure.

There’s lots more on the go, including plans to get this site in front of the right eyes. Thanks to everyone for your wishes and support. If this works, I owe everyone reading this a beer.

The one thing that drives me nuts about

is that the sig file always appears at the bottom of the message. Which is fine if you’re starting a conversation, but after a couple of rounds of hitting reply, the bottom can be way, way down there. Why must I scroll down, cut, then scroll up and paste?

Does anyone know a way around this?