Blogging

Blogging After Hiatus

I have not been blogging recently due to personal loss.  Blogging just has not seemed all that important to me.  I find myself not really knowing where to jump back in.  So what happens next after a blogging hiatus?  Do I pretend that nothing is wrong? Do my readers really care about what is going on, or do they just want to come to the site like always?  How personal do I want to be, or do I continue with my blog as is?  There are many questions I find that I am asking myself.

During this hiatus, I used this as an opportunity to clean up my blog a little bit.  I had too many popups from too many plugins.  I changed the theme.  This blog has not taken off the way I wanted, and time off to reflect has not necessarily been a bad thing.  I know I need to post more and better ‘content’.  I have checked out tons of blogs to get ideas.  The other issue I think about is are there too many blogs now? Is there a saturation of blogs? So many people seem to keep having success though, so maybe that isn’t an issue.  I’m trying to stay active on Twitter and Pinterest to keep interest up on social media.  Some days it seems ideas fill my head so fast that I can’t write them down fast enough, and on other days I picture my mind as a barren desert.

I guess my point is, I’m going to keep plugging away at blogging for a while.  I’m going to keep researching ways to make my blog better.  Like the tortoise and the hare, blogging is a long run, not a sprint. Maybe every blog needs a little hiatus from time to time.  I hope to have a new blog post up soon.  I’m still not sure what topic it will be, but stay tuned!

 

 

To Blog or Not to Blog

Just a note to my followers that I have had a rough month.  I haven’t given up on blogging, but honestly, I’ve thought about it.  I am not having the success I thought I would by now, and its not because I haven’t tried.  Then the Holidays have come along, and now there are some things going on personally that have just made blogging seem not very important at the time being.

Blog

I hope to get back in the swing of things soon, but I don’t know when that might be.   And I’m still just not completely sure what it is I want to continue to blog about.  I tried engineering topics, but that did not seem to garner a lot of interest.  How to save money?  Well there are THOUSANDS of blogs doing that.  I just can’t seem to fit in.  Or stand out maybe is a better term.  Why is my blog better than anyone else’s? Or more importantly, why is it worse?? Do I not do enough SEO?  And if I hear the word CONTENT one more time, I’ll explode.  I’ve read plenty of blogs and seen plenty of content.  Do you know what content really is? It’s a bunch of words that don’t mean anything that people use to fill space to try to get a good SEO rating.  Just my opinion there.  Everyone says you need quality content.  But hardly anyone explains just WHAT that content is!

I thought I was pretty highly advanced in the technology sector unitil I started my blog.  I thought, I’ll type what I know about, inject some stupid humor, and people will come flocking.  I had no idea that you had to artificially create interest in your blog (isn’t that what SEO is? Tricking search engines into thinking you are important??)  I check out websites because I like what they say or have to offer.  I could really care less about a free newsletter that gets me spam email for the rest of my life.  I would rather actually learn something, or get a real review on a product.  Like lets say Product X.  I would love to know if Product X actually works.  I don’t care if you got paid to try it out.  Does it work???  Not ‘I’ll tell you if it works if you join my 37 step plan on why it might work if you just subscribe to my newsletter, which ironically will contain NO news whatsoever.’   Or endless linking to outside sites that have nothing to do with whatever it is that you were there for in the first place.

Yes, I would LOVE to make some money on my blog.  I’ve set up a few ads.  I’m an affiliate.  Yay.  But apparently, I haven’t tricked Google and Bing into thinking I’m important.  And if I read one more ‘See how I made $300 after just  weeks of blogging!!’, I’ll puke.  I’ve saved pins, tweeted, facebooked, stumbled, you name it.

And I’ll keep trying.  Maybe I’ll start a new blog ‘TheIrritibleEngineer’, where I make like Frank Costanza and just air my grievances.  I’m 43 but I feel like shaking my cane at the world and giving it my best ‘EHHHH!’  I’m going to try and possibly redesign things.  Maybe have my kids help.  I never thought I’d be at that point where I was thinking ‘I’m too old for this.’  But there are things about blogging and web design that I just don’t understand.

At any rate, I hope everyone is patient with me as I sort things out.

 

Stumbleupon Referrals

The Blogger's Pit Stop

One of the first things I learned as a blogger was how important it is to put your blog out there on every social media platform that is feasible.   Stumbleupon was on that list, and quite frankly, I had never heard of it before I started blogging.  But after learning a few tricks here and there, and learning how to check the analytics of my site,  I saw just how important Stumbleupon can be in creating referrals to my blog.

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For one thing, Stumbleupon is SO easy to use.  Just set up your profile, pick some interests, and start stumbling.  When setting up your interests, set up things that are most relevant to your blog first, then things that are relevant to your niche in general.  Thumbs up if you like what pops up, thumbs down if you don’t.  You can link your profile to your Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ profiles.  And Stumbleupon is one of the many social media buttons that can be added to your blog to generate traffic.  You can follow people just like on other social media platforms.  I try to  follow back the people who follow me, and  follow friends when I find them.

Even if you aren’t adding new content, Stumbleupon can be great when you have a few minutes here and there.  You can pop on, stumble and move on.  I like the fact that you can stumble very generally, or be more specific and stumble just within one of your interests.  It is important to stumble in relation to YOUR content, so generate solid traffic to your blog.  You can share articles you like with others as well.   A Stumbleupon button can even be added to your browser, so that you can stumble as you surf, not just stumbling within the site itself.

I add similar content when I stumble, not just my own.  In fact, if you promote ONLY your content, you may be locked out.  You can even check out if others are liking what you have added to be stumbled. That way you can see what is interesting to others, and drive your focus.  I have not done it yet, but you can use their ‘Paid Discovery’ service, which will send users directly to your site.

I have been very happy with the traffic generated so far, with a few minor complaints.  I notice a LOT of articles that come up are old; for some reason, articles from 2009-2011 pop up quite a bit.  I’m not really sure why, and maybe it is just a coincidence within my interests.  Also, when I stumble using the app, after a few minutes it seems to lock up or start behaving slowly.  Again, this could be specific to me as my phone is two years old today (yeah, ancient I know, I might as well be using an abacus, right??) although I do regular maintenance to make sure its operating correctly.

Thanks for checking out my article.  Hey, maybe even stumble it for practice, then check out my Stumbleupon profile at http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/mtheengineersadv

By adding Stumbleupon to your social media strategy, you should be able to generate many more hits to your blog.

Let’s hear how Stumbleupon drives traffic to YOUR blog!

Finding Your Niche

The more I blog, the more I come across terms that I hear repeatedly.  Niche is one of those terms.  Blog in your niche.  Follow blogs in your niche.  Branch out to other niches.  Niche, niche, niche.

Engineering

Blogging within your niche is very important.  I blog (mostly) about engineering, because that is what I know.  I don’t want to come across that I am an absolute expert, or know everything, but I just want to throw some useful information out there.  What I am discovering however, is that maybe engineering isn’t that exciting of a niche.   Or a lot of us engineers already know everything, so why would I need to seek out a blog to learn anything else? (Ok, so we aren’t known for our sense humor either.)  But I’m hoping enough people want to know a little more about how things work, not just taking for granted that they do.

What I am discovering, is that blogging itself is a niche.  And a very big one!  I googled ‘engineering blogs’.  46,200,000 results showed up. That’s a lot! (I think mine must be about number 46,199,998).  Then I googled just ‘blogs’ 2,670,000,000!  So just 1.7% of blogs are about engineering.  And that is misleading, since many of those results may be for the same blog, or matching just one word in the search.  But offering tips, shortcuts, hacks, and advice about HOW to blog is definitely a topic in itself!

Following other blogs in your niche can help you out too. Commenting on other blogs is a great way for others to find out about your blog.  Especially if you are commenting on other blogs in your niche.   Others may see your comments and decide to check out your blog too.   You can do internet searches for similar blogs, and see what those at the top are doing right.

So yes, I think you need to blog what you know about, but also don’t be afraid to branch out.  Blog about things you kinda know about.  Or maybe even just about things you like.  Offer reviews, tips, etc. about what you know.  If I can answer one person’s question, I feel like my blogged has helped out.  Maybe you aren’t an expert on a topic, but maybe you know a great hack or shortcut to help out.  That to me is one of the things blogging is all about.   Don’t just blog to be blogging, but blog with a purpose.

Whatever you decide to blog about, enjoy yourself.  Yes, you want readers and subscribers.  But blog for yourself too.   It is definitely work, but don’t make yourself frantic and miserable.   Have fun and good luck!

 

Advice for Growing my Blog

As I continue to blog, I keep running into some recurring questions. Ironic that a blog with ‘advice’ in the title is looking for some.  I can

The whole SEO is really new to me.  I’ve followed a few suggestions, heeded some good advice, installed the Yoast SEO plugin, and went through the steps.  I’ve noticed a few more hits through Google, but NONE through Bing.  I know my site is still very new, but I thought by now I might be generating some traffic.  I have researched, and just can’t figure out what some of these terms even mean.  I need to add a meta-description.  Cool.  What is it?  Besides ‘a snipet of code, blah, blah, blah.’  More work is definitely needed on my part on this topic obviously.

The other BIG problem for me is E-mail subscriptions.  I have none.  I have a subscription form on every page, and a pop up.  I’m coming to the realization that maybe my site just isn’t that interesting, that there just isn’t much interest in the whole engineering thing.  Maybe I’m just not very good at coming up with content.  I’ve been doing fairly well with ‘hits’ to my site, but no one is subscribing.

Need Ideas

Facebook groups.  This has been driving me nuts.  I have a personal page.  Have had it for years.  So now I create a page as ‘theengineersadvice‘.  Simple.  But Facebook wont allow me to join groups as my page?  They will not allow multiple profiles, but at the same time, you can’t use your ‘page’ as your business effectively.  Maybe I am missing something, but I really have no desire to link my personal page to my business page.

So this post is pretty much a cry for help, desperate plea, or whatever else you might want to call it.  Maybe I’ll start a new page called “Blowing off Steam Saturdays.”

Thanks in advance for any help and advice!

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Tips and Links for New Bloggers

So far blogging has been a little more work than I expected.  I by no means expected it to be easy, but I thought my engineering background would make the computing part a breeze.  Wow was I wrong!  I probably feel like my dad does when I try to explain to him what the heck e-mail or even the internet is.  There are so many terms that I don’t have the faintest clue what they mean!  The marketing and social media promotion of the blog seems to take up more time than working on the blog itself.  And SEO? What the heck is that? (Search Engine Optimization…would love a guest blogger to explain that one!)

Luckily, there are TONS of other helpful blogs out there.  There are so many topics, it can be overwhelming at times when looking for an answer.  One thing I can’t seem to lock down it Pinterest.  I know its a valuable tool, but literally making a decent pin seems like a mystery.  And for every part of a blog-social media, SEO, etc., there are many blogs with great tips.

Here are just a few that have really helped me get off the ground:

Janice of mostly blogging has really been helpful.  One of her best posts in my opinion is the 89 free blogging tools that will save you time blogging.  She has answered questions, and is very active on Twitter.  She hosts ‘linky parties’ and a link exchange, and is very open to cross promotion.

I have recently discovered the site www.successfulblogging.com by Sue Anne Dunlevie.  She has tons of information on blogging.  What I like about Sue’s blog, is that she tells what apps and websites she uses on her own site.  For example, through her site I discovered Canva, which has lots of ideas for all kinds of graphics.  There are several templates for different kinds of social media, including Pinterest.

Another great blogger is Marc Guberti.  This guy is only 18, and has over 305,000 followers on Twitter! He has lots of great advice on how to grow your blog including Youtube tutorials.

These are just a few of the many helpful sites I have discovered.  You just have to make time.  You can start out and say, ‘Ok, today I will grow Twitter followers’, and the next thing you know you are on your 17th Pinterest page of the day.  Making a schedule would probably help.   Explore all options that are out there.  I use the following:

Twitter:  Myself, I don’t just follow everyone that follows me.  Make sure the topics or person are relevant to your blog.

Pinterest:  The hardest part about Pinterest is actually making a pin!  But like I said above, Canva has a lot of templates and even some free stock photos.  Pinterest is great too, because the titles are right there on the pin.  You have some sort of idea what you are going to be reading even before clicking on the pin.  I am going to be looking into rich pins soon.  I’m still not sure what they are, but I hear they are better than non-rich pins.

Facebook:  Facebook is supposed to be great at driving traffic to your blog.  So far I haven’t really figured out the difference between a ‘page’ and my personal profile.  You can’t just ‘like’ pages as your page without taking a few extra steps.  It shouldn’t be that hard to understand that most people who run a blog or business would want to have a page separate from their personal profile.  Unlike other social media, Facebook will not allow you to have multiple profiles.  And apparently you cannot join groups with a page, just your profile.  Yes, confusing I know.

Google+:  Well, this one is pretty new to me, but I thought what the heck.  To me it feels like a cross between Facebook and Pinterest.  I still have a lot to learn about this one, so I can’t really offer much feedback.  Still, its social media, and worth joining to promote your blog.

Instagram:  This is another social media platform that I am very new to.  For one thing, I take pretty crappy photos!   But if I can snap some things that are relevant to this blog, or that people find generally interesting, then its worth a shot if it will help drive more traffic to my blog.

Stumbleupon:  Stumbleupon is unique, because you are searching mostly topics, not people.  You simply ‘stumble’ until you find something you like.  Then you like it, or save it to your pages.  You choose topics you wish to stumble.  This one really has helped drive traffic to my blog.  I’m still trying to understand why exactly, but I’m glad I joined!

There are still several platforms that I haven’t joined yet.  I’d like to get the feel for a few before I branch out.  But I encourage you to get out there and promote!  If anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to comment.

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Growing your blog

Well, I have had my blog for about a month now, and I can honestly say I have learned a lot.  Maybe most importantly is that it is not just as simple as having a blog and hoping that random people decide to visit your site.   I cannot put enough emphasis on how important social media is in driving people to your site.  And the more platforms, the better.  Don’t expect to publish your site and the hits just start coming.  Here are a few things that may help you get started on your own site and maybe even help grow your existing blog.

  1.  You will have to put in the work.  Maybe even before your start, you should set up your social media accounts.  I started with an email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.  I just added Stumbleupon.   Tell your friends.  Tell their friends.  Search for similar pages and blogs that are in your area of interest.   I’m not even sure exactly what I am doing yet, but just put yourself out there.  You will need to check your accounts several times a day, as well as make sure your blog is functional, and has a nice flow.  You will get frustrated.  Unless you are already a professional website developer, you will have questions.

2.  Don’t be afraid to try.  What seems like should be a simple task may be more difficult than you think.  Before you throw in the towel, Google it.  Bing it.  There are THOUSANDS of websites out there about whatever topic it is you are searching for.  For me, the WordPress.org forum has been a huge help.  It may take some sifting, but there are tons of topics out there, and you will find out pretty quick you aren’t the only person with that same question.  You will be saying things like ‘I just want to change my font!??’  You will find an answer and in a short time feel at home editing your page.

3.  Ask for help.  No one assumes that you are going to be an expert right a way.  There are thousands of bloggers out there, and they all had to start somewhere.  If you get stuck, just ask.  There will be more than a few who are willing to help.

4.  Take notes.  Before you know it, you are 27 topics away from what it is you set out to do.  I keep a notebook full of my login information, websites, or anything else that I think can be helpful.  Yes in the computer age we can pin it, link it and do many other things digitally.  But jotting down an idea on paper is still a great go to way to keep track of your thoughts.

5.  Like and Share.  After you have set up your social media accounts, seek out similar pages and people.  You have to be proactive.  There are tons of folks that will be happy to reciprocate your like and maybe even retweet or repost an article you share.  A big part of growing your blog will be visiting others.  Don’t forget to comment on their blogs too.  A lot of bloggers will help you out if you leave your blog address, and will probably at least give your site a visit.

6.  Give props.  I have received some shares and likes simply because I said a specific site was helpful.  There will be bloggers that appreciate the shout out, and may return the favor.

7. Share what you know.  Whatever your blog topic is, then by all means share what you know.  No one expect you to be an expert.  Unless your blog is expertadvice.com.  Just be honest, and speak from your mind and heart.  Be confident but not cocky.  Your way isn’t the only way.  But it may be a better way, so let people know what is locked up in your brain.

This is definitely NOT a comprehensive list by any means, but just some suggestions that will hopefully get you off the ground.

Best of luck!

Matt

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