The 3 Critical Elements To Getting Your Blog Post Noticed

PJ with bullhorn

What do you need to do to get your blog post noticed? When we are drowning in a sea of content, how can you make your post stand out? How can you maximize the chances that people will actually find your blog post, read it and then hopefully share it?

In the 15 years I've been blogging, I've seen that there are three critical elements that help in getting your post noticed. There are, of course, many other things you can do to improve your posts... but I want to start with three elements that can help get people to follow the link and VIEW your post.

First, though, let's agree that almost everyone today finds your blog post through either of three mechanisms:

  • Search results
  • Social media sharing
  • News aggregators - sites like Reddit, Hacker News, Digg, etc.

Given that, your goal is make your post accessible in a way that supports these three mechanisms and makes people want to choose YOUR link to follow versus all the other ones they see in search results or in social media streams.

Three caveats before I begin:

  • There's a separate discussion we could have about the SEO work you might do to make your post appear in search results... but let's park that discussion and just assume for the moment that your post is visible in search results.
  • Think of what I say below in terms of someone finding your post and then sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, whatever... or on news aggregation sites like Reddit or Hacker News... all they do is drop the URL in. Typically the title "automagically" appears. You want to make it easy for this to "just work" for them.
  • There is no magic silver bullet. These are just suggestions. There are many other factors that can come into play, including just random accidents of timing. But these are tips that can certainly help.

And for the "Too Long; Didn't Read" crowd, here's the quick summary:

  • You need a strong title that someone would click if that was all they saw on a site like Twitter or Reddit.
  • You need a first few sentences that when seen in a "preview" on, say, Facebook, would make someone go "Huh?" and want to learn more.
  • You need a visually compelling image that will draw viewers' eyes to your link versus the other ones.

With that, let's dive into more detail...

1. If You Saw Only Your Title, Would You Click The Link?

The first thing I tell people is simply this:

If you saw this title in your Twitter feed, would YOU click the link to find out more?

If yes, great.

If no, think of a title that WOULD make you click the link. (And in place of "Twitter", it could be any other social network...)

The companion to this question is:

If someone in your target audience saw this title in his/her Twitter feed, would he/she click the link to find out more?

Be harsh on yourself when you are asking this question. A Twitter feed is a FIREHOSE of information being sprayed out at you... in the midst of all of this, would your title cause someone to click the link?

And yes, this is exactly why Upworthy comes up with such cringe-worthy headlines as (and these are all real):

  • She took off her bra and put it over Paul Krugman's face because science.
  • Her Olympic dreams were nearly crushed, until an unlikely coach saved the day.
  • The 4 most ridiculous arguments people use to defend Bill Cosby, presented by Amy Schumer.
and Buzzfeed uses headlines like these:
  • 21 Things That Happen To Everyone Who Wears Makeup
  • This Gay Teen Is Taking The Internet By Storm With Her Feminist Yearbook Quote
  • Can We Talk About How Hot Drake Is In This Instagram Photo?

Mind you... I DON'T RECOMMEND YOU FOLLOW THIS PATTERN! (And in fact, social networks are fighting back against this kind of "click-baiting"!)

But it works.

Ask yourself... didn't you want to click on at least one of those headlines to learn more?

Upworthy, Buzzfeed and all these similar sites understand that the title is what makes people want to click. (And yes, they do A/B testing to try out many different titles for a post before they converge on the one that will work the best... but they have zillions of visitors and can easily do this.)

Now, you also have to have a title that fits in with the kind of style you want to have on your blog. And, going back to "discovery", you want to have a title that has some meaning related to your content.

Similarly, you want a title this relevant to your content! You don't want people to feel betrayed if they followed a link because of a title - only to find out the text is something completely different.

With those thoughts in mind, the question goes back to - if you saw this title in a social network, would you click the link?

A strong title is critical.

2. Do Your First Sentences Make People Want To Know More?

This is one that people often miss... they come up with a great title but the first sentence is insanely boring.

Remember this...

most social networks and search results SHOW A PREVIEW of your text!

Twitter doesn't... it just shows the title. But Facebook... Google+... LinkedIn... others... all show a preview of the first sentence or two of your text. Search results from Google and other search engines typically show a preview, too.

Yes, there are ways to influence what search engines or social networks show as the preview... but the simplest way is just to write compelling sentences that will intrigue people!

Here's an example from my own Facebook feed that I think works well:

Blog post example

First, the title:

Yet another reason to love Netflix: It's helping to kill reality TV

Yes, okay, so maybe it's a bit inflated, but it got me to pay attention.

But notice the text:

15 years ago, the reality TV craze took off in America and many people assumed that quality television programming was doomed to extinction. The reasons for this were...

Wait.. wait... What are those reasons? How is Netflix killing reality TV?

I WANT TO KNOW!

See how it is sucking me in? (FYI, here's that post if you want to read it.)

Now, there's many ways to do create this introductory text... and yes, there's really an art to it. One simple way is:

Ask questions!

I do this a lot. Perhaps too much... but I've found it works. Here's a recent post of mine:

Danyork questions

Ignoring the fact that I royally screwed up on the title and entered "March" instead of "May" (subsequently fixed, but not before it went out in social media), look at how I began:

Would you like to learn more about what the WSIS+10 Review process is all about? How can you participate in the process if you are not with a government? What is "WSIS" all about anyway — and why should you care? Those questions

Why yes... I would like to know the answers to those questions... let me click on the link and see what the answers are!

Scroll back up and notice the questions I used at the beginning of this post. Did you see them in a preview? Did they perhaps pull you into reading this post?

Questions work.

Think of questions you are answering in your article... put them up in that first paragraph.

Sometimes questions don't work with your text, of course. Here's another example of a recent post I wrote:

Danyork scourge of cancer

Again... a title designed to intrigue people: who was struck by cancer? Was it anyone you knew? What effect will it have on him? (i.e. me)

And then the introductory paragraph:

I haven't written about our journey with cancer for a while because my wife's own journey has been one of the ongoing tedium of Tamoxifen ... another day, another pill... and more fatigue, joint pain and so many more issues. It is, though, unfortunately

What journey with cancer? (for those who don't know about it) What is going on?

The goal is again to get people to FOLLOW THE LINK.

3. Do You Have An Image That Draws Attention To Your Post?

Look back at the three examples I gave you above... all three of them have an image that shows up in the preview. This draws people attention to your post when it shows up in a newsfeed. (There was a study that I can't seem to find right now that showed how much higher of a click-through rate a shared post had if an image was included. But think of your own usage - which links do you click through?)

If the first one about Netflix, there is an image of smiling young actress. I actually have no clue who she is, even after reading the article... but the photo is something visual that will draw people in.

My second example from CircleID isn't the best in my opinion. I mean, it's my standard headshot, so perhaps it helps in the "Gee, he looks serious so maybe I should read this because it's a serious matter" kind of way.

But it's better than NO image.

The third example with the cemetery is again a visually interesting image. It pulls you in.

Now - how do you get an image to use?

I generally get my own images from three sources:

  • Photos I have taken ... or photos that someone else I know has taken and then sent to me with the permission to use the image. This is the easiest and simplest. If it is your photo there's no need to worry about attribution. You can modify it in any way you want. Generally these are the photos I try to get, either myself - or from a colleague or friend who is at an event or something like that.
  • Flickr's Creative Commons-licensed photos - Flickr provides a wonderful service to bloggers by letting people upload photos with a Creative Commons license that allows other people to use the photos under certain conditions. Generally this means that you need to include a link to the photo as a source of attribution. In some cases there might be restrictions on commercial usage, but it varies. Flickr supports a range of CC licenses that you can search on:

    Flickr creative commons

    I used Flickr to find the image I used in this post.

    A companion point is that if you upload photos to Flickr, please do consider putting them under a CC license so that other people can use them like this.

  • Screenshots. I'm a heavy user of Skitch on my Mac and use it pretty much every day for images that I put into blog posts. Sometimes it might be the logo of a website I am writing about... or the logo of an event... or it might be an image from a website ... ... or, as in a case today, I might take a screenshot of a PowerPoint slide where I very quickly created an image to use in a post. :-) There are many other similar tools for Mac and Windows - the key point is that you can rapidly take and then modify/resize an image.

    BE REALLY, REALLY CAREFUL HERE! Just because "it's on the Internet" does NOT mean you can just freely capture an image and use it. There's a whole other post that could be written about image licenses... and many good articles can be found out there. When in doubt, do NOT use an image you capture if you do not know that the person who made the image available would not want you to. For example, I often use event logos freely because typically the event organizers WANT all the publicity they can get... and by using their logo when I write about the event I'm reinforcing their branding and helping spread the word. But some events are very sensitive about what logo gets used and so you need to always check and see if they provide guidance or restrictions.

I know some folks like the image collection at the Internet Archive and there's many other sites. I generally avoid "stock photography" purely because so many other people are often using the same images... but I have sometimes used photos from such sources.

The key point is that you need an image of some type to help draw people to your post.

You do, of course, want to be sure that the image has some relation to the content of your article. The best images are ones that reinforce the message and ideas in the article.

As I Said At The Beginning...

There are many more things you can do to draw attention to your post, but these are three of the critical elements I have found help in getting attention to posts.

But don't trust me...

... think about these three things when you are next scanning down your Facebook feed... or your LinkedIn feed... or Google+ ... or Twitter...

What draws you in?

What makes you click/tap on one link versus another one?

What makes you reshare/retweet a link?

If you think about it, odds are that it will come down to some combination of:

  • the title grabbed your attention; and/or
  • the image grabbed your attention; and
  • the preview text reinforced that following the link would be worthwhile.

And in the end you clicked/tapped the link...

Learn from what drives your behavior!

Comments are definitely welcome... please feel free to leave them below or on social networks where this gets posted.

I look forward to being attracted to your posts! :-)


An audio commentary on this topic is available:


Image credit: Paul Schreiber on Flickr


Celebrating 15 Years of Blogging! Starting with Advogato...

Just keep bloggingFifteen years ago today I did something that I had no clue would transform my life in the years ahead. On May 10, 2000, I was sitting in cavernous basement office of Linuxcare on Townsend Street in San Francisco. It was after 9pm and being a visitor I was just working late. Sitting there, I created an account on a site called Advogato and...
... I started blogging!

Well, in truth it wasn't called "blogging" right then. On Advogato it was called a "diary". The words "weblog", "blog" and "blogging" were still working their way toward becoming the conventions they are today.

Still, it was the start of my journey into what we call "blogging". Oh, I had been writing online for many years before that... after all, I'd first gone online in the mid-1980s. And in fact the reason I was sitting in that office in San Francisco was because of a series of articles on the Linux Gazette site that had brought me to the attention of the Linuxcare founders, who then funded me to help create the Linux Professional Institute (LPI).

But that first post on Advogato was my entry into personal writing on my "own" page and in a form that interacted with others.

15 years later - and THOUSANDS of blog posts across many different sites - and several jobs that came about because of my blogging... it's kind of fun to think back to where it all began.

Look Back At My Blogging Journey

As I look back on that very first entry (still online! (and numbered "0" in typical engineer fashion)) I can notice a few things:

  • It was long, as per usual. (As I note at the end - and it's still true today - "no one has ever praised me for my brevity!")
  • I was working with the CVS version control system. I haven't touched that in many years and now, of course, use git for version control.
  • I had just picked up a paper book about DocBook. I would go on to write and speak about DocBook at many events, and would use DocBook as the source format for all of Linuxcare's documentation in a single-source publishing system. MANY years later in 2011 I would write my "Migrating Apps To IPv6" book for O'Reilly entirely in DocBook.
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto was new! :-)

I love that I included this line in the entry:

I decided to join this experiment... let's see if I actually keep up with it.

I would continue to write there... close to 400 more (typically long!) entries until June 2004 when a 5-6 week site outage (Advogato was at that time one man's labor of love, not a dedicated hosting site!) would see me and a number of other folks move over to LiveJournal. I posted only very rarely on Advogato after that, although a few years ago I set it to pull in and cross-post the feed from my Code.DanYork.com blog.

Starting in 2004 dyork.livejournal.com would become my "personal home" on the web (under the domain-name blog.danyork.com) for a few years until 2008-2009 when I switched to my DanYork.com site I still have today.

Meanwhile, in late 2005 I decided to split off my telecom/VoIP writing and also my PR/marketing/social media writing into focused blogs at:

Those two remain the main places I publish my own personal content, although they are not the primary places I write these days.

Years later I would come to regret splitting those two topics as they would come crashing together and the lines would blur... but at the time, working for Mitel Networks, I wanted a separate place to write about telecom and VoIP.

In 2007 when I was "synergized" out of a job at Mitel after their acquisition of Inter-Tel, it was a couple of blog posts that brought me to the attention of Jonathan Taylor and RJ Auburn who brought me into Voxeo where I had a wonderful four years.

It was amusing... I had been trying for most of 3 years to get Mitel to have a corporate blog, but they were at the time reluctant to engage in the more conversational medium. (They have a blog today, of course.) At Voxeo, within 3 weeks I had a corporate blog portal up and over the years that would grow to a peak of having 20 separate blogs for different people, channels, audiences and products.

I also had the most amusing title I've ever had: "Director of Conversations". (Yes, that was on my business card!)

The deep experience in WordPress would serve me well when I left Voxeo in 2011 to join the Internet Society where I was charged with very rapidly getting a web site online to help accelerate the adoption of key Internet technologies. The result was the Deploy360 Programme, a site where I still write quite frequently today.

It was, in fact, my blogging as well as my speaking that had brought me to the attention of the Internet Society.

My blogging over these many years would also lead to:

  • MANY different speaking presentations at conferences and events around the world.
  • My two latest books (on IPv6 and VoIP security) came about due in part to people finding me due to my writing.
  • Countless other opportunities and conversations.
  • Learning an insane amount (because to write about topics you need to know them!).
  • Getting into podcasting... both audio and video.
  • All sorts of new connections and ideas.
  • Friendships with some great people.

This last one is important... the Internet is ultimately about people... and it is through the sharing of information on sites like blogs that we get to learn more about our shared humanity.

Today

Today, in 2015, I write across so many different places that I had to build a site to aggregate my feeds just so that *I* could keep track of them all! That is:

http://danyork.me/

My main personal sites continue to be Disruptive Telephony, Disruptive Conversations... and also increasingly CircleID. There are a number of others I list here:

http://www.danyork.com/blogs.html

The great part of today is that my regular daytime job is focused around blogging! As I explained back in February my new role at the Internet Society is to look at our content across all our different sites and blogs. As a result I'm writing not only on Deploy360 but also on the main Internet Society blog and other sites we have. (A curious new aspect is that sometimes I am ghost-writing posts for other people, which is something new for me... but that's a good topic for another post...)

Though the role of "content strategist" didn't even remotely exist (at least as a title) fifteen years ago, it's a sign of how far we've come in the distribution of writing / content creation that roles like mine now exist.

A Long Strange Journey

It's fascinating to me to look back and reflect where that action 15 years ago has ultimately taken me... but it also reflects what I've been saying for all these years:

There has never been a better time to tell your own story in your own words through your own channels!

The traditional ways we communicate have been fundamentally disrupted... and the opportunity is there for anyone who can consistently create high quality content that others find helpful.

It's been an amazing 15 years... and I look forward to seeing what happens with what we now often call "content" over the next 15 years!


The Tension Between Consumption and Creation of Content (a.k.a. spending time reading Facebook doesn't help with writing)

Facebook newsfeedThere went another hour! I wanted to do some writing tonight but first I sat down and said "I'll just take a quick look at Facebook"... and there I was... an hour later... having learned all about the lives of friends (well, the parts of their lives they want to post about on Facebook), read a bunch of interesting links, and gone off into topic areas that were fascinating - although probably didn't really add anything to the fullness of my life.

Meanwhile, the total number of words I'd written was...

zero.

There is this fundamental tension between consuming content and creating content.

It has nothing directly to do with the Internet, of course. Long before the Internet it was easy to be distracted from writing by TV, radio, books... or just conversations with friends and family, or projects around the house or office.

Distractions have always been numerous... the Internet just does what it does best by removing the middlemen and making it even easier to be distracted.

My friend Donna Papacosta once posted an image on Facebook that I printed out and taped up on my window frame right at eye level that said simply this:

Writing is
3% talent
and
97% not getting distracted
by the Internet

I see that every day when I sit in my home office, with the ever-present reminder that the key word is:

FOCUS

and the need to do that.

Two years ago I wrote a post that took the rather draconian line of "Every Minute You Spend Consuming Content Is A Minute You Are Not Creating Content".

That is, of course, very true. But there is the reality that sometimes we NEED to consume content. Sometimes it is because we are researching something we want to write about. Sometimes it is just simply that we want to relax... that we need to give our minds a break.

I've come to appreciate over many years that there is strong value in stepping away from the creation of content to give yourself a break... and often when you then return to the creating you return refreshed and renewed. Reading a good book or seeing a movie or reading good articles online can often lead to new lines of writing or thinking. There is value in staying up with what friends are doing - and sharing what you are doing.

The trick is trying to find the balance. There is a natural tension between time spent on consumption vs creation. Too much consumption leaves little time for creation. Too much creation can leave you without the benefits of some consumption.

Somewhere in between lies the point we need to achieve.

I don't have the answer... each day I'm trying to find that balance. Some nights like tonight I don't do so well... other days I do.

Focus.

Balance.


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Keeping The Web Open: Dave Winer's "Radically Silo-Free" MyWord Editor

silosDave Winer is at it again. The creator of some of the original blogging software back in the early 2000s and one of the creators of RSS released last week his "radically silo-free" blogging editor MyWord Editor (MWE) with this purpose:

A shot in the arm for the open web. A way for JavaScript developers to collaborate on a new fun project. A way to escape from the silos that threaten to turn us into commercial robots, consumers and promoters, when we aspire to be thinkers and doers.

Think of it as bringing the ease and beauty of writing of Medium... without being locked into Medium's platform. (Or at least... I would say that is the aspiration... Dave's MWE is still in development.)

The MyWord Editor code is available as open source on Github at:

Dave calls it "radical" for this reason:

These days blogging tools try to lock you into their business model, and lock other developers out. I have the freedom to do what I want, so I decided to take the exact opposite approach. I don't want to lock people in and make them dependent on me. Instead, I want to learn from thinkers and writers and developers. I want to engage with other minds. Making money, at this stage of my career, is not so interesting to me. I'd much rather make ideas, and new working relationships, and friends.

He goes on to explain why MWE is “silo-free”:

  1. There's an open API that connects the in-browser app to the server. So you can replace the app. Or the server. Or both.

  2. Because there's an open API, you can build anything you want at either end. You're not limited by my vision of what's possible. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

  3. The app is provided in source, MIT license. So there are no secrets. And you can use my source as the starting point for your own editor.

  4. The server is provided in source, MIT license. No secrets, etc./p>

  5. The app has a command that downloads all your content in JSON, so you can move your data from one server to another, at any time. If any instance removes this command, alarms should ring out all over the land. It's your content, ladies and gentlemen, not theirs.

  6. Of course every MyWord user has a great full-featured RSS 2.0 feed. We love RSS and it feeds us and we feed it, it's doing great, and anyone who disses it is a mean rotten silo-lover.

He followed this with another post explaining more:

and then he further expressed his view that WordPress is also silo-free... but there is also a need for a better and simpler user experience:

where he made this statement:

Blogging is frozen

There haven't been new features in blogging in a long time. Where's the excitement? It looks to me like there's been no effort made to factor the user interface, to simplify and group functionality so the first-time user isn't confronted with the full feature set, left on his or her own to figure out where to go to create a new post or edit an existing one. Blogging platforms can be both easier and more powerful, I know because I've made blogging platforms that were

You can read more about this at http://myword.io/ ... and you can play with a hosted version yourself at:

(Yes, of course, I had to try it out.) It uses Twitter as an identity provider right now... but of course the code is open source so someone could hack away and look to use a different identity provider.

As someone who has been gravely concerned about "lock in" and the need for us to have control over our own content (think back to my posts about Known And The Indie Web), I am pleased to see this entry into the range of tools we can use for sites. Yes, I do most of my own work in WordPress these days... but I also very much understand Dave's notion that we need simpler tools with an easy user experience.

As I have the time I definitely intend to check out MWE and set up my own instance of it. I'm glad Dave is out there building tools like this... let's see where it goes!

What do you think?

Image credit: Doc Searls on Flickr


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Google Says Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly By April 21 - Or Drop In Search Results

Mobile friendly testIs your website "mobile-friendly"? Does it display nicely on a mobile device such as an iPhone, iPad, Android or other smart phone? If not, you have until April 21 to make it mobile-friendly... or you will suffer a drop in Google search results!

In a February 26 post on Google's Webmaster Central Blog, Google very clearly indicated their direction (my emphasis added):

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

Google does not often clearly state what signals it uses for ranking search results... but here they are.

Get "mobile-friendly" ... or drop in search ranking for mobile searches!

This last point is important - they say the mobile-friendly status will be used as a ranking status for mobile searches. I interpret this to mean that if your site is not mobile-friendly you might still rank highly in searches from regular computers/laptops/desktops, but your ranking would decrease in searches from mobile devices.

However, given how many people are now using mobile devices to access the Internet... and how that trend continues to increase over time... NOT having a mobile-friendly site is going to impact people being able to get to your site.

UPDATE: I also recorded an audio podcast, "FIR On Technology, Episode 4 - How To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly" about this topic. More information and links can be found on that page.

Tools To Help

To help with the transition to a mobile-friendly web, Google has provided several tools. First, they have a "Mobile-Friendly Test" tool at:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

It will analyze your site and tell you if you are "mobile-friendly" in Google's view (which is presumably what they will use in the ranking signals).

Second, Google has a guide to creating mobile-friendly websites at:

https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/get-started/

A key section here is:

where they explain options you have to make your site mobile-friendly.

Moving To A New Theme

In some cases, such as this Disruptive Conversations site that is still hosted on TypePad, my only choice is to move to a new "theme" that uses "responsive design". I've already done this with danyork.com, but haven't yet done that here (but I will before April 21). This can be a larger process if you want to continue to use your existing style and design.

With other content management systems (CMSs) such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, you can also move to mobile-friendly themes as there are many available. When I've been creating new sites on WordPress in the past year or two I've made sure that all the themes I've been using have had "responsive design" as one of their attributes.

Using A Plugin

With some of the CMSs, there may be plugins that can help you make your site mobile-friendly without changing the theme. For instance, with WordPress, there are two that I've used to make sites mobile-friendly:

Both of those plugins essentially provide a responsive-design theme that gets used for your site when a mobile device connects to your site. You may not have all the design capabilities that you would have in having your main theme be responsive (in terms of having the mobile theme look like your main theme), but these plugins provide a quick way to get your site to be "mobile-friendly".

Other CMSs may have similar plugins, modules or extensions - you need to check with your CMS. Google's guide has links to help you get started.

Other Options

If you don't use a CMS or your CMS doesn't offer mobile-friendly themes or plugins... well... you may want to consider moving to a CMS that offers such capabilities (although that can be a huge task). Or you can read up on the principles of "responsive design" and see what you can apply to your website.

Getting To A Mobile-Friendly Web

The end result out of all of this will be a mobile-friendly web... and as all the millions and billions of new users come on to the Internet odds are pretty good that they will be using mobile devices, so the good news is that your content will be readily accessible on all those devices.

The bad news is that you may have some work to do between now and April 21 if you haven't already made your site mobile-friendly. (Well, assuming you care about ranking highly in Google search results - but if you are reading this site you probably do!)

If you've needed a deadline to make this happen... here it is!

Get mobile-friendly by April 21... or watch your Google search ranking drop!


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Suggestions For An Editorial Calendar Tool/Service? (For Content Strategy)

Editorial calendarWhat kind of tools or services have you found most useful for maintaining an "editorial calendar" for the content creation your organization does? What have you found helps you best plan out your content strategy?

For the last 3.5 years at the Internet Society, I've been using the insanely awesome EditFlow plugin for WordPress to plan out the content we've been creating on our Deploy360 website. EditFlow is an amazing amount of awesomeness bundled into one plugin... and if you use WordPress and aren't yet using EditFlow, I'd strongly recommend you check it out!

But here's the thing - in my new role within the Internet Society looking at content strategy across all our different sites and channels, I need a tool that lets our team plan:

  • content across several different websites we maintain
  • content on external websites (ex. CircleID)
  • content in social channels
  • different types of content (ex. blog posts, articles, videos)

Unfortunately I can't easily do this within WordPress. Yes, I could create a dummy "site" on a WordPress server and then use EditFlow as a tracking tool... but that would be a bit of the proverbial square-peg-in-round-hole.

Here's what I love about EditFlow and use on a daily basis:

  • Convenient calendar view - with filters - I can just go into Dashboard -> Calendar and I've immediately go a view into everything we've published and everything we have planned. I can filter the view to see only items based on:
    • Status (ex. published, draft, idea)
    • Category (topic)
    • Author
    • Post type (ex. blog post, resource page)
  • Drag-and-drop re-ordering - One of the single biggest features we'll use is the ability to just drag unpublished content around in the calendar view. When we have our weekly editorial calendar meetings, we will look at what is being planned and just move things around if we need to do. Super simple and easy.
  • Fast creation of new ideas - In those meetings as we talk about what content we want to create, we can just click a "+" button and add a new story idea directly into the calendar interface. (In the background it creates a draft WordPress post scheduled for the relevant day.)
  • Easy deletion of content - Similarly, if we decide to cancel an idea, we can just trash it from the calendar.
  • Story Budget - EditFlow also has another view that it calls the "Story Budget" where I can easily see over a given time period how many pieces of content were created for any given category. On a site where we write about many different topics, this is an easy way to see how balanced we are across the different topics. Similar to the calendar view there are many ways to filter the view.

    Storybudget

  • Multi-user - EditFlow works well because we can give access to as many people as we want (and you can control who has access) - they just need to have an account on our WordPress server. Our team simply logs into the server from wherever they are in the world and we walk through what we have planned for the week. After we move items or create new items, people need to refresh their browser view - but that's it. It works really, really well.

Now, we don't even use the editorial comments, editorial metadata, notifications and user groups that are part of EditFlow. Our Deploy360 team is small enough (4 people) that we haven't yet really needed those capabilities.

But now I'm looking for something with those kind of capabilities that can be used by our larger Communications team and also other people across the organization. I'm NOT necessarily looking for something that will connect to our various publishing platforms. I'm okay if there is simply a way to check off that an item has been published.

Any suggestions or ideas? Some searching around online has shown me DivvyHQ, which is a hosted service that looks from the YouTube videos like it will meet many of what I've listed above. (Not sure about the "categories"... but I think that may fit into their "calendars".)

Other suggestions for hosted services? Suggestions for software we'd host ourselves?

(Thanks in advance - and I'll plan to summarize what I learn in a future post.)


View a discussion on this topic at:


Suggestions So Far


UPDATE: I'd also love it if the service/tool had some of the kinds of content creation statistics I wrote about desiring earlier.


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WordPress iOS App Now Has WYSIWIG Visual Editor

Writing blog posts for a WordPress site on an iPad or iPhone just got a whole lot easier! Or... at least, a whole lot prettier! With the new version 4.8 out this week, Automattic included a new visual editor that can give the "what you see is what you get (WYSIWIG)" experience:

Wordpress 4 8 wysiwig

Here is what it looked like before the change on my iPad - basically, it was just a raw HTML editor:

WordPress ios app before upgrade

There was a preview mode that would let you see what it was going to look like, but all the writing was in HTML. No big deal if you are a long-time HTML coder like me... but probably not the most fun for newer writers - and the HTML markup is also distracting.

Here is what the new post-upgrade view is:

WP iOS app after upgrade

A much nicer view - and also some of the commonly-used features are more accessible. There's also the "HTML" button for those who want to get into the actual HTML code.

The WordPress.com blog post about the new iOS version gets into a few of the other features that the new app has. I do like the updates to the navigation. I haven't yet worked with the new image settings, but look forward to doing so.

Anyway, if you haven't yet upgraded the WordPress app on your iOS device, you may want to do so... and if you haven't tried the app in a while you may want to give it a new try.


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Anyone Else Having TweetDeck Not Show Search Results?

Anyone having trouble with TweetDeck not showing results for some columns? Today 5 of my 12 columns are failing to load with this error:

No recent Tweets.
New Tweets will appear here.

You can see part of what I'm seeing here:

TweetDeck NorecentTweets

They are all columns that are configured to show search results for certain terms. They've been working wonderfully until last night when I opened up TweetDeck on a home computer (an iMac) after being away for a week. I've tried:

  • Closing and restarting the application (multiple times).
  • Changing the search query to trigger a reload of the column.

Nothing works... and I know there are new tweets to show for some terms, in part because I can see them in other working columns... and in part because I have sent out tweets using the search terms.

TweetDeck's Twitter account shows some issues with logging in, but that works fine for me. Tweetdeck is working fine for sending tweets, sending direct messages and for some of my searches... but just not for others.

I've tweeted TweetDeck asking about this, but not heard anything yet, so I'm just curious if others are experiencing anything like this.

Anyone?

P.S. And yes, I know there are now many other tools... but I've been a TweetDeck user since its very early days and have my searches and systems that, until today, have worked wonderfully for me.


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Is It Finally Time To Dump Feedburner? All Subscriptions Go To Zero...

Is it finally time to suck it up and dump Google's Feedburner for RSS feeds?

The writing has been on the wall for quite a long time that Google doesn't really care about Feedburner. There haven't been any substantive updates to the service in years and in fact they've removed services and integrations.

Tonight Dave Delaney posted an update to Facebook that let us know that Feedburner's stats were now showing 0 subscribers for all his feeds. I logged in and sure enough...

My Feeds

I can't find any mention of an outage or issue on Google's pages... and so we have no clue whether this is a temporary transient outage - or whether this is a sign of a further decline in Feedburner's service.

I'm one who has continued using Feedburner for most of my sites, in part just out of sheer inertia (i.e. having many other things I want to do that take higher priority to fixing things that aren't broken) but also because I've liked the service provided by Feedburner, particularly around statistics. I've tried other services (although not in the last year) and hadn't really found anything that gave as good a view into who is probably reading your feed.

Obviously I can just start promoting the raw RSS feeds that are the ones I added to Feedburner... but they don't give a sense of how many subscribers they may be.

But if the statistics are no longer working, then perhaps there is no longer a reason to stay at Feedburner... and so maybe I do have to actually make the time to make the move.

What do you all think? If you used to use Feedburner and don't, what are you using as a replacement?


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New WordPress 4.1 Provides Much Improved Distraction-Free Writing Experience

WordPress version 4.1 is out today and the greatest feature I like is a new and MUCH improved "distraction-free writing" experience.

Wordpress4 1 dfw

The beautiful part about this is that when you click in the window and start typing, all the sidebars and menus fade way so that you can just focus on writing...

BUT...

... the moment you move your mouse outside the writing window all the sidebars and menus come back!

This is a huge improvement over the previous experience with WordPress 4.0 where once you clicked the button you were in a white screen with no way out unless you scrolled up and clicked the link in the menu bar that appeared:

Wordpress4 0 dfw

I found the WordPress 4.0 way so annoying that I never used it. Inevitably after I entered the mode I needed to change categories or tags or something like that - and so it was simply easier to NOT use the distraction-free mode.

The WordPress development team produced a video that shows how well this new writing mode works.

I like it because it lets me write but also makes it super easy for me to get back to the menus and sidebars.

All you need to do to enable the "distraction-free writing" mode is to click on the box on the right top of the editing window:

Dfw

It acts as a toggle to turn the "DFW" mode on or off.

Very nicely done!

There were of course many other aspects of the WordPress 4.1 release. The release post and the field notes as well as the codex entry go into much more detail. The Twenty Fifteen theme is pretty cool... and some of the other features are also interesting. But for me... I just like this new writing environment!

What do you think? What do you like best about WordPress 4.1?


An audio commentary is available as TDYR 200:


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