Posted by: Jim Adcock | May 16, 2011

And then there were two…

Two years ago today I started my first blog, Working It Out.

Last year I posted a look back at my first year on Working It Out. This year I am posting it here to keep meta topics off Working It Out, reserving it for posts relevant to career and SharePoint topics.

So how has my second year gone?

Last week I passed 23,000 total pageviews.

In the last year, 17,958 hits on 86 posts and pages, which means that all but two posts got a hit in the last year.  In the last 30 days, 76% of my posts and pages got at least 1 page view, a higher percentage than the last 30 days of the first year.  That is some shelf life!

Median is 77 views per page, and discounting the home page hits (which includes hits to category pages), the mean is 190 views per page. Four posts had only one hit each, and one page had over 1,300 hits (again discounting the home page).

I wrote 43 new posts during the year on Working It Out, and 26 other posts on my other blogs.  Which means I posted more in my second year than I did on my first.  Onward and upward!

Top 11 posts and Pages of the second year:

Publish an InfoPath Form to Multiple SharePoint Sites 1,351
Limiting SharePoint Workflow Due Dates to Business Days 889
Automated SharePoint Site Provisioning Solution – Act Four (…They Will Come) 888
Error: SharePoint List – Cannot Edit in Datasheet, Export to Excel, or Import Spreadsheet 746
Add a Unique Auto-Incrementing Column to a SharePoint List 745
Secrets of the Successful Jobseeker – Part 1 692
Automated SharePoint Site Provisioning Solution – Act One (The Setup) 692
Use Calculated Columns to Close Technical Gaps in SPD Workflows – Another Solution 685
It’s No Secret – Optimism In the Job Search 595
Automated SharePoint Site Provisioning Solution – Act Two (The Decision) 568
Resume of Jim Adcock 517

 

Most importantly, I had some really strong response to several posts. I talked about how it happened here, and it led to a succession of “Biggest Days Ever” – 221 views on June 29, and 469 views on October 11.

Most importantly, I’m pleased and proud to have helped so may people in so many different ways.  Thanks to everyone who has read my blog, whether you read in Year One, Year Two, or both!  Without you, this whole thing would be an exercise in futility.

Thank you, and I promise more helpful information in the coming year!

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

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Posted by: Jim Adcock | May 11, 2011

Promotional Venue – LinkedIn

This is the third post in a series on places you can go to promote your blog.

This also follows up on the advantages of maintaining a professional demeanor in your social media.

Whether your blog has a specific theme relevant to your profession, or you’ve just written an individual post that is relevant, you can use LinkedIn as a venue to promote your blog.

First you have to join LinkedIn (which, hopefully, you already have. Do I need to get out my hammer?) Once you have done that, look for relevant groups to join. For me, as a SharePoint administrator and developer, most of the groups I have joined are SharePoint-related. I have also joined local general technology groups, local job hunting groups, and some groups related to software process. Some of the technical user groups I am a member of in the real world of have LinkedIn groups.

Along with regional and local professional interest groups, there are also University and (for large companies) company alumni groups.

Find the groups that apply to you professionally or that have relevance to your career history. Then when you write a post that is relevant to the group, you can post a link in the group discussions to you blog post. (And you can do it very easily once you configure the WordPress sharing features!)

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | May 10, 2011

Just Like Riding a Bicycle (A Mea Culpa)

During February, I was doing so well on this blog. 23 posts in 22 days. (Not to mention the 8 posts to my other blogs in the same period!) I was setting them up and knocking them down. I was UNSTOPPABLE!

Until I stopped…

Then things got busier at work, and my after-work schedule got loaded with meetings and tasks, and the few minutes I had that I could use to write got eaten away. I fell behind, and my meagre cache of completed posts got eaten up… And I fell off the (daily post) bicycle.

To an extent, daily blogging was indeed like riding a bicycle. The inertia of movement kept me upright: I would polish the skeleton of an idea from the day before and post it, and create the skeleton of the next day’s post, and maybe come up with a couple of titles for future posts.

But inertia works both ways… once I had lost my velocity, regaining it has been VERY difficult.

Recently I have begun to work on creating a catalog of completed posts, holding them to build up a reserve of material to keep things going, even when I hit a bump.

Because, just like riding a bicycle, once you fall off, it is important to climb back on and try again.

On the upside, the drop in my posts has created an interesting laboratory for my page view statistics.

The chart begins on Week 5, the first week of February. I stopped posting during Week 8, and you can see the page views drop dramatically.

Want less traffic?  Post infrequently!  Which shows content, especially new content, is in fact king.  A point I shall return to.

In the meantime, we return you to our regularly scheduled (daily, damn it!) program….

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 23, 2011

Professionalism

Today’s post is a segue from my post about promoting your blog using Yahoo Groups and tomorrow’s post about another venue to promote your posts.

Nearly two years ago I attended a presentation by Jason Alba, creator of JibberJobber.com. It was that presentation that launched my blog. I learned sever things there, and the one I’m going to talk about today is professional presentation in social media.

Many companies do a background check once they are ready to make an offer. But background checks are expensive. An inexpensive tool to weed out potential problems from making it to the short list candidates is… Google. Yes, companies are Googling you. What will they find?

And, yes, I have pulled out my hammer again.

I encourage you to be professional in you blogging, Twittering and Facebooking. If it would give a hiring manager pause before hiring you, why are you putting it out in public? Given the economy, given that employers are already disqualifying unemployed people for consideration from employment, do you need another albatross?

On the internet, consider behaving as if you are on stage in front of your next boss… because you are.

Also, professionalism opens the door for the next promotional venue…

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 22, 2011

Are You Ready?

Hey look, it’s a PostADay2011 daily prompt I can use!

Topic #54

Here’s a meta topic, which should illustrate that if you don’t know what to blog about, you can always write about how you write.

How do you decide when a post is ready to publish?

The easy answer is “When it’s done.”

When I start a post, I have a general idea of what I want to say. I’ve started with an audience, so I know who I am aiming my content towards.

What level of detail will I need to describe the topic to that audience? I try not to assume too much knowledge in the reader, but I don’t want to treat readers as if they are stupid either, so balancing specific detail with brevity is always an issue. I try to include links to basic information where I can, so that readers can click to get more information if they need to, while the flow is not interrupted for readers more familiar with the topic.

Once I have all of the information in place, I re-read the post for clarity, and make changes. Then do a spell-check and re-read the post again. Once that is done, I add the bells and whistles, if I need any – links, images, etc.

I follow that with validating categories and tags, check the publish schedule, the publicize settings, and save the draft.

One more read-through, and I hit “Schedule”.

I’ve gotten in the habit of using Schedule rather than Publish immediately, even if I am posting “right now”. It gives me a couple of minutes for second thoughts before the post goes live.

Once the post goes live, then the publicity machine goes into action. Remember that audience I identified at the beginning? I go to where the audience is, and let them know the content is here….

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 21, 2011

Promotional Venue – Yahoo Groups

Yahoo Groups may seem a little pre-iPhone, a little early-21st-century, a little old-fashioned, but there are still millions of people using the service.

This is a great way to find an audience for your posts on specific topics.

If you have never joined a Yahoo Group, here are the basics:

  1. You need a Yahoo account. If you already have one (and lots of people do), you are pretty much set to start. Yahoo also lets you create an account with your Facebook or Gmail account, too.

    Signup is pretty simple.

    You can use your accounts at other services to set up your Yahoo account.

  2. Find groups! If you have a specific topic for your blog, or a number of specific topics you revisit regularly, find the groups that best match those topics.
  3. Some groups require moderator approval before you can join, and may require you tell them a little about why you are interested in joining the group.
  4. Once you have set up the Yahoo account and joined a group, you can then have the group e-mails sent to whatever e-mail address you own that you want the mail to be sent to. This setting is configured on a per-group basis.

    Once you have signed up for a group (and been approved, if needed), you can change your membership settings.

    Choose these options when you sign up for a group, or you can edit them later.

  5. You can choose to get the e-mails individually or in a daily digest. You can also choose to not get the e-mails and just read the posts online, which is a perfectly acceptable selection if you are already getting more e-mail than you can deal with.

My advice is to get the e-mails and interact with the group at least occasionally. This will enhance your ability to draw on the membership as a readership base.

One thing to look out for, some groups are set up so that when you hit reply, you are replying to the individual and not the group, other groups are set up so that you are replying tot he group as a whole, not specifically to the person you are responding to. When you reply, check to see who the e-mail is going to before hitting send, and make sure the reply is headed to the target you intended.

OK, so now you are signed up, you’ve got your e-mail straightened out, and you have found some groups and hopefully begun to interact. Now what?

Make posts on your blog, and send an e-mail to the group(s). If your posts are meaty, tease them with a portion of text (a paragraph or a couple of sentences) and a link to the post.

If your posts tend to be shorter – that is to say, if the couple of sentences to tease the post contains the majority of the content of the post – send an e-mail regarding several posts at once, with the titles of the posts, something about your blog, and a link to your blog.

Either way, give them something that will make them want to click the link (and make sure your content made it worth it to have clicked the link, or they won’t come back!)

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 20, 2011

A Built-In Audience

No man is an island, or so they say.

You come complete with an audience, even if you didn’t know it. 

You have friends and relatives.  You have a social network that you can present your posts to, people who could be part of your audience.

But it doesn’t end there!  If you blog has a specific focus, you are likely to be involved in a larger sphere of people with similar interests.

Let me give you an example.  On my main blog, one of my subjects is career management, with a particular focus on people struggling with unemployment.  I had a certain amount of experience with this over the last several years with the economic downturn, so it seemed a natural fit. 

I became a member of an organization called Launch Pad Job Club during a previous layoff a number of years earlier.  LPJC helps people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and helps them cope with the interim between jobs. The group is very large (over 10,000 people have been members over the last 10 years), with a Yahoo Group that has over 4,000 subscribers. (We might have more, but we require that people attend at least one meeting before allowing them to join the Yahoo Group.)

So when posting about employment issues, dealing with unemployment, and tips for getting re-employed more quickly, I found an easy way to get a couple of hundred hits: send a note to the Yahoo Group.

This also works if you blog about more than one subject. Another example: my other main subject is SharePoint. As far as I know, I was the only SharePoint expert at LPJC. So it really wouldn’t do much good for me to send announcements about my SharePoint posts to the LPJC list – I wouldn’t get readers, and the audience would be trained to tune me out. So I needed to find a different forum, one where my audience was. Since my SharePoint posts are related to my career, I turned to a career-related forum – LinkedIn. So far this year, 403 page views were referred from professional groups on LinkedIn. (And of course, some of those people went on to view other posts besides the one they initially clicked to view – as much as a third of my page views come from people viewing additional posts beyond the one they came to find.)

A final example – I wrote a review of a technology book. At the time I was much more focused on providing content than on getting page views. So I was surprised when Google searches were leading people to my post. I did a search myself to try and understand why and found that my post was ranked third or fourth in the search results. I looked at the other results and found a discussion board with the question “How good is this book?” So I added my answer, “See my post!” Guess what? That URL is the fourth biggest referer to my blog, behind LinkedIn, Yahoo Mail, and Google. From making one little comment.

So what are your posts about? How does that topic intersect with your life? Where that intersection is, you will find people, a potential audience.

Where would you go to find out more information about the subject you are writing about? There you will also find people.

Find your community, and there you will find your audience.

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 19, 2011

Progress Report

So last week I gave you a look into how this blog is doing relative to my other blogs, and projected the relative results for this past week.

How did I do?

First Two Weeks WIO/CWAN MBB
Views 281 187
Posts 5 15
Words 1716 6066
views to posts ratio 55.6 12.5
words to views ratio 6.17 32.43

As I projected, I didn’t keep up in raw numbers to my first two weeks of blogging, nor in proportional ratios of words to views or views to posts. The ratios of views to posts and words to views will always lag, I think, because I am simply putting a lot of volume in this blog.

As I mentioned before, my main blog breaks the posts so you have to click to view the whole post, something I am not generally doing here, at least so far (excepting yesterday’s extremely long post). 57 people have viewed my home page in the first two weeks, and they could have actually anything from a single post up to the 10 per page displayed by default.

All in all, I am pleased with the performance, since this blog didn’t come with a built-in audience that my original blogs did (and I’ll have more on that this coming week).

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 18, 2011

Spam Referrers

Spam has become a part of our daily lives. We get it in our inboxes, we get pop-up advertisements when we visit websites.

As bloggers we get spam comments – comments that aren’t really from people, saying generic things that might make sense in many contexts, but that are full of links to spammy web pages, or to pages whose owners have paid for high SEO rankings without caring about the unscrupulous tactics used to get those rankings.

WordPress has done an excellent job with the Akismet comment system, which spots almost all spam comments and holds them for moderation. Yay! This keeps our blogs from being polluted with nonsense and prevents the polluters from being rewarded with backlinks.

(An aside for people new to SEO, aka Seach Engine Optimization – search engines use the number of links pointing to a page as a way to determine a page’s value – someone linking to a page obviously values the information on the page, in essence voting it up. The more links pointing to a page, the more the information on the page is considered essential by the internet community at large, right? Except that companies specializing in SEO know this, and help their clients by gaming the system… planting links all over the place pointing to their client’s web page so that the search engines will rank that page higher.)

And now a new form of spam rears its ugly head – spam referrers.

If you aren’t checking your blog stats (and you should be), you may have missed out on this variation. If you have, then you’ve almost assuredly seen them.

A composite image of a small number of some of the spammy referrers I have had

A referer (a real one) is a web page containing a link to your blog or one of your posts. When someone clicks on that link, you get a page view and the referring page gets logged and displayed on your stats page. The idea of a spam referer is that you see these referrers on your stats, and say to yourself, “There is a link to my blog on this page? And a lot of people are coming from that page to my blog? They must be saying the nicest things about my blog there, maybe I gotta check it out!” And you go there and find an advertisement for something or other that you don’t actually give a damn about, or a come-on for a get-rich-quick scheme, or anatomy enlargement, or perhaps the page loads malware on your system… but gee, that’s funny, there isn’t a link to my blog on this page. What happened????

You have played into the hands of the spammy referer. You’ve been advertised to, or scammed, or infected with a virus. They get you curious and you click on the link, and they win.

If I thought it was needless to say, I’d not say it… but it needs to be said: don’t click the link.

Now, I’m sure a lot of these spammy referrers are like search spiders, automated programs that search out blog posts and send a page request to the web server with the phony referer attached as part of the request. Which means that any click you get from one is likely to not have been actually seen by a person. The WordPress support staff clued me into another possibility – that the phony referer might be coming from a real person visiting your site legitimately – but that person’s browser had been hacked to put phony referrers in the logs of any web host that the unsuspecting user browsed.

WordPress wants you to report any spam referrers you find, but don’t post the link in the WordPress support forum. Send an e-mail to WordPress support listing the referring link.

Not sure how to spot a spammy referer? Read this on the support forum.

The problem has gotten a lot worse recently. Read More…

Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 17, 2011

Evaluating Your Blog

Here is a great post with some concrete tips for blogging:

By: Molly Campbell I began writing in my kitchen as a diversion when recovering from massive facial reconstruction surgery. I wrote to keep myself cheerful, and to entertain my friends. What began as a lark turned into a real passion, and now I am a “writer.” I have learned a few things along the way about promotion, readability, and blogging. I am happy to share what I now know: 1) If you want to blog, you must decide what your blog is “about.” … Read More

via The Happy Freelancer

Using that above post, Carolyn Holland devised a scoring method, evaluated her blog and rated her performance:

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS EVALUATING MY BLOG QUALITY   Molly Campbell presented tips about blogging which I find are consistent with other sites I’ve researched. Her post discusses blog promotion, readability, and techniques. Using her points, I’ve evaluated my site on a score of 1-10, 10 being the best. ·         Decide what your blog is “about.” (7) My blog does not zero in on a single-topic. My blog is about writing—in any genre, on any subject … Read More

via Carolyncholland’s Weblog

I found Carolyn’s scoring method to be a bit arbitrary, but I think the idea of creating a scorecard against which to compare your performance is an excellent idea.

I’ve said it before (and I know I’ll say it again… and again… and…), I’m a stats geek. And measuring performance and figuring out based on SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) fits in very nicely into my Process Improvement background.

I’m going to come up with my own scoring system, and put it in a future post. If you have any suggestions for measuring against the goals set by Molly Campbell, or new goals that should have been included in the list, post them in the comments. Or, if you already have a measurement system in place, post a link to your own scorecard!

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

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