Advent Calendar 2011 aka Blogging Bootcamp: What I’ve Learned

It occurred to me shortly into it that this Advent Calendar project would be more than just writing down stories.  I haven’t really had anything that spectacular to talk about but I’ve been finding something to fill the space each day so that I can attain my goal of completing the advent calendar.

I figured out on the first day that it’s not as simple as it seems to “just do it”.  There’s a lot involved if one cares to at least make an attempt to do it with some semblance of quality control.

Day 1.  I wanted to add a photo from my box of treasures.  That would have been simple if my Brother machine hadn’t been inoperable since switching internet providers a couple of months ago.  I spent about two hours and found a firewall issue.  Finally, pictures!

Day 2. Neat!  I’ve got these pretty posts.  How does anyone see them?  Where do I get those buttons that everyone else has?  Widgets?  Mastered!  Subscription and sharing buttons added and Twitter and Google+ accounts revived.  I’m on a roll now!

Day 3.  People are leaving me comments!  I need to learn how to approve their comments and I need to interact with these people.  Got it!

Day 4.  I tend to be disorderly.  Very disorderly.  I’d better get a handle on this now.  Categories to the rescue!  All posts are now filed neatly where they belong.

Day 5. I want to use a photo from the internet.  What are my options?  Creative Commons – that sounds interesting.  I’ll learn more about that.  Perfect!  Now to make a caption.

Why do I get the feeling I’m living inside the children’s book If You Give A Moose A Muffin?

Day 6. Tag Cloud.  I’d better make some tags first!  Time for a quick SEO refresher course!

Day 7.  Disclosure Policy.  I’ve heard that we should have one.  I made one of my own here.

Day 8.  I added a plugin to automatically add copyright lines to my posts.  I noticed that my verb tenses are all over the map.  Must brush up!

Day 9. Hyperlinks.  I cannot tell a lie.  I already knew how to do these but it’s late and I’m out of time.  This is the first time I’ve used them in a post so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Day 10.  I took a guess that it might be beneficial to tag popular people when mentioning them in blog posts.  A bit of further reading shows that this is, indeed, a good way to get noticed when you’re new to the blogging scene.

Day 11.  My Google Page Rank is 0.  How sad.  I guess it’s to be expected when a site is just two weeks old.  Since I’ve been mainly doing the Advent thing to get on a roll, I’m not convinced that my content is worthy of too many backlinks yet.  I’ll revisit this in the new year when I begin writing some organic content.

Day 12. Today I signed up for StumbleUpon.  I’ve seen it used and had never taken a look at it.  Social bookmarking is now on my to-do list.

Day 13.  I, of all people, should know better than to leave anything not backed up!  A new WordPress version came out today and I had to create a backup before installing it.  I am now using Backup Scheduler and WP-DB Manager plugins to make sure my blog is backed up every three days.

Day 14.  I may have found a solution for those bad grammar moments.  After the Deadline plugin uses artificial intelligence to check spelling, grammar, and style.  Installed!

Day 15.  W3 Total Cache is supposed to dramatically improve the speed and user experience for my blog so I added it.  Here’s to faster page loading!

Day 16.  Time to get my festive on!  I added Christmas Lights plugin to decorate for the holiday season.

Day 17.  I read a tip today to mention your sources.  As genealogists, I hope we do this regularly!

Day 18.  I feel like these posts are getting very boring!  Remember to write with the reader in mind!

Day 19.  I’d like to have a section for book reviews so I reread Chapter 21 of Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians  today and started my first book review.  Hopefully it will go well and be ready for publication soon!

Day 20. I read that it’s good to have at least 5 posts per week.  I’m doing that now but I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up the pace once I’m writing truly quality posts.  I think I’d rather put quality over quantity.

Day 21.  Even with the spelling and grammar check, I’m finding that some typos slip by.  It’s really important to proofread!

Day 22.  I’ve been using words like yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Research shows that this tends to date the post and makes people think it’s old.  Avoiding these types of words will help to make the content timeless.

Day 23.  I got rid of the monthly archives.  There is probably no need for this section.  I think it will be better for my readers to look by subject.

Day 24.  I made it!  The final day! I’m not absolutely impressed with my last few blog entries but I am thrilled that I finished my commitment!!!

Merry Christmas!

 

© 2011, Jennifer Zinck. All rights reserved.

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