challenge2

Collaboration Challenge

…and we’re back.

challenge

Summer posting is hard but I have some really good posts coming up (not counting this tidbit). I have to admit that I’ve spent a little too much time on them (at least story boarding them). After my last couple of posts, I decided to scale things back and bump up the quality a bit. If I feel it doesn’t work out, I’ll switch back to my regular posting habits.

Today, I want to offer up my thoughts on collaboration and it is simple:

Collaboration is not for everyone but everyone should try it.

I absolutely love collaboration. I love working with other people and I always have. I love getting feedback and I love giving feedback. For crying out loud, I have worked on side projects just to collaborate and even set up peer reviews with other professionals. All for the sake of collaboration!

But you’re thinking: “If you love it so much, what’s wrong with it?”

Personally, I chalk it up to personality traits. I’ll admit that I’m not the most outgoing person in the world but I certainly see its value. I originally forced myself into it to hold myself accountable on my side projects (way back when). For this very reason, I think that everyone should give peer collaboration a try, even if you don’t like it! It’s easy to put off side projects when you’re the only person involved!

Trust me. Call up one of your peers and offer to start a project together. Obviously, pick something you both care about and run wild!

I challenge you! Do you accept or have you already conquered it? Please share!

PS – Yes, this is a teaser post!

G is for Goals

2014 Goals Review

As promised, it is now time to review my blog goals for 2014. Please be sure to review the original goals  here.

  • Publish two blog posts a month. I have been doing great on this. Today’s post marks the sixth of 2014, perfect! This goal has really helped boost my website traffic. Remember: more content = more traffic, quality content = more return traffic.
  • Redesign the portfolio section of my website. In February, I conquered this task. You can check out the new section here or via the link above. I chose to display the absolute best examples of my work (as you should for any portfolio). However, this is by no means complete. There will always be room for updating and improvement. I’m thrilled with it at the moment.
  • Maintain a website traffic log. This was the trickiest one to maintain but I managed to do it. Even though the numbers aren’t final, March 2014 has proved to be my best (read busiest) website traffic month of all time on any website I have ever set up. I can proudly hang my hat on that achievement. In future posts, I would like to reveal what I’m doing and it can apply to other blogs.

So, that’s that! How are you doing on your goals? Please feel free to use the contact page to share!

HTGP

How to Guest Post (or What I Did)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Well, almost. It may help you to know that I am a small fraction Irish. I’m guessing that is why I felt the need to set my featured image to something green. Just a theory.

I’ve taken a small blogging siesta as I’m gearing up for my big first quarter review of my 2014 goals! I’m really thrilled to be working on it but its not ready yet. Please check back soon. I promise it will be up before the end of the month. But today, I have another treat for you. Please read on.

It would seem that my last post on increasing web traffic was a winner. So much that I want to bring you a second part (sort of) on guest posting on other blogs. Pause a second and take it all in. It is all for you!

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying the only reason to guest post is to increase your traffic. You need to let your passion for quality blogging fuel the guest posting mobile. Focus on providing value to your readers first and foremost. If you do this then they will waltz over to your blog and check out your other posts. Focus on networking with other bloggers and see the traffic you may get as a bonus. Consider returning the favor as well (I’ve  linked back to their blog in several locations including this post). Please keep this in mind.

In the last month, you may have noticed the emergence of my press page. This was something that I’ve thought about since the middle of last year. Surprisingly enough, it was a timing issue. I decided to hide it away in my idea vault, let it marinate, and let it come back with a vengeance. And it did! At press time, I have guest posted once and been interviewed. Additionally, I have another guest post in the works.

Now, I want to warn you. Finding and reaching out to bloggers can be time consuming. You need a strategy. I repeat: you NEED a strategy.

What I did: I made a spreadsheet of every prospective blog I encountered. I reached out to them one on one, I didn’t blast or spam anyone! While you compile this list, you want to only reach out to blogs who share your niche and be picky! For example, my niche of marketing/design is rather large so I had some nice blogs to target. If this strategy isn’t for you, then I highly suggest checking out My Blog Guest, its a very nice website for finding blogs that need your posts.

My results: The results were mixed. The responses I received ranged from yes, maybe, no, not right now, to a few people who ignored me. However, I got enough positive responses to fill up guest posting availability (that’s the important part). Honestly, I feel that I’m contributing value to the blogging community. For me, its a win/win!

What I’m Doing For You: If you want to follow my strategy, good for you! I’m thrilled I could help you out. In fact, look below! I have included a link to the template for my spreadsheet (its green for guess what!). Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Guest Blogging Spreadsheet Template

2013 Web Traffic Graph

Ways to Increase Website Traffic

One of my goals for 2014 is to maintain a web traffic log (You can read my 2014 goals here). However, I was running reports and occasionally reviewed my website stats but I wasn’t logging them anywhere. Simply because my traffic wasn’t anything to write home about until I established my blog and then it sky-rocketed. I could always ballpark my numbers and easily see when I had a red-letter month but I want to begin analyzing my data and looking into where I can improve. I truly believe keeping a traffic log will help give you a sense of ownership and only fuel your fire.

Below are things I am doing and will continue to do to help my web traffic grow.

Add more content to my website. Up until a few weeks ago, almost all of my website content was stored in my blog. This is disturbing because my blog has under ten posts at press time. I began beefing up in natural places such as my bio page. I made my bio more descriptive and used a few key words from my LinkedIn page. I also plan to link my social media outlets to my bio.

Ramp up blog posting. As I mentioned, I have been blogging since last spring but now I’m just becoming more regular about it. Another one of my goals was to start posting a minimum of two posts per month (as opposed to one monthly). You can read everything on blogging only to discover the easiest way to ramp up your web traffic is to post more content relevant to your key words. Simply put: content is king and always put quality before quantity. I don’t know anyone who would rather read a dozen rambling posts as opposed to one excellent post. Do you?

Utilize social media. I have a decent following on Twitter but I have fallen off the tweeting wagon. What I like to do (at the very minimum) is pop in once and awhile and tweet about an interesting blog post I wrote. I try to not do this every time I post as I do not want to annoy anyone. This has the result of adding a few drops to my web traffic water bucket. Don’t forget that every drop counts if you want to increase your numbers!

Contribute to a forum. I am new to the forum world and so far I have only been active on My Blog Guest (Link here. Check it out!). Don’t post promotional material (Warning, Will Robinson: Most forums do not allow this kind of behavior!). Keep your posts/comments relevant to the topic at hand. Focus on giving your unique viewpoint and establishing yourself as an expert. Note: It helps to put your website address on your signature (which leads into my next point…)

Link your website address everywhere. Simply put. Add it to your email signature, LinkedIn headline, Twitter bio, forum signatures, etc. I have put mine on all of those. Don’t forget my web traffic water bucket analogy (It’s very true!).

There you have it! Those are the things I’m doing and I hope to get better at them through the sands of time. If you are not doing these things and you want to increase your traffic, I suggest you get cracking! Don’t forget to tell me how it works out for you!

Website Traffic Boom

The Great Website Traffic Boom

I have to admit that since my website traffic boom in the last few months, I have found it easier to blog. To me, this doesn’t make much sense. Sure, more people reading what you post will motivate you. However, last year I was struggling to think of topics. Now, for some reason they are everywhere I turn!

 My theory is the traffic spike motivated me, which made me think about my blog more. That made me want to find ways to improve it, which now fuels inspiration. That’s a strange cycle.

I’m seriously considering posting my traffic log (from 2014 Goals) on this blog monthly and analyzing trends and finding ways to improve. However, I don’t think I’m quite ready for that. For one, my goal was to post twice a month and I don’t want every other post to be analyzing my traffic. An easy solution would be to make the analysis posts quarterly (also giving me more time to tinker) and another would be to just post more! Decisions, decisions…

Finally, I will say that I made a traffic goal (a personal goal not included in post linked above) for January and I was roughly half way there 10 days into the month! Suffice to say, I am thrilled!

P.S. I’d love to hear your feedback on this. If you have any advice, please drop me a line via the contact page.

Blog Design Jan 2014

Matching a Blog to Your Website

I hope you had a safe and happy new year! This is officially my first post of 2014!

Today, I would like to discuss something that has been on my mind since I added this WordPress blog to my website last year: the reason my blog looks different than the rest of my website.

Many people will tell you that your blog must match the rest of your website so that people will recognize it as part of your brand.

I agree if you are managing a corporate brand it should match all the way around. However, I’m a professional and not a corporation. My blog is the one place I speak in the first person. Every other page of my website is written in the third person (corporations rarely speak in the first person). To signify this change, I wanted my blog to be slightly different so that my audience would recognize that this is deliberate. If I didn’t signify this change somehow, it would look like my website was inconsistent and I designed it carelessly.

My blog works because it fits my professional brand. My logo is displayed on every page of this blog, the URL never changes, and it uses the colors of my professional brand.

There are many multiple schools of thought of this subject. I believe that everyone has different needs and that their website should address their needs. What works for me will not work for everyone.

2014

2014 Goals

I want to post my top three website goals for 2014. I hope you are creating goals for yourself as well!

  • Publish two blog posts a month. I have been struggling with maintaining one post per month but I believe that two will give me enough pressure to keep it up. My biggest blogging weakness is that I write posts in advance (several at a time) but then I attempt to rewrite them and miss my deadline. Since I now have a WordPress blog on my website (a 2013 goal by the way), I plan on taking advantage of the post scheduling feature to make this a reality.
  • Redesign the portfolio section of my website. This item is long overdue and I keep postponing it because I have had many varying ideas on how to accomplish it. The biggest obstacle is setting aside enough time to tackle it. My approach may make an interesting blog post.
  • Maintain a website traffic log. I do run reports and review my website stats but I do not log them anywhere. Simply because my traffic wasn’t anything to write home about until I established my blog and then it sky-rocketed. I could always ballpark my numbers and easily see when I had a red-letter month but I want to begin analyzing my data and looking into where I can improve.

There you have it, my 2014 goals.

If you haven’t made goals for yourself yet, you should. Even if you don’t hit all of them, they can help you see where you need improvement by reviewing why you fell short. I plan on reviewing these in a few months and seeing how it goes.

Happy New Year! May 2014 be a prosperous year for you both personally and professionally!

Towson University Center for the Arts, photo courtesy Towson University

Making the Jump to Grad School

Towson University Center for the Arts, photo courtesy of Towson University

Towson University Center for the Arts, photo courtesy of Towson University

In the beginning of September, I finally made the jump to grad school. I returned to my alma mater, Towson University, to study Interactive Media Design.

“The Interactive Media Design Certificate is a graduate program that focuses on the applications of advanced visual communication and graphic design theories to interactive web sites and multimedia packages. The program emphasizes front-end web design over back-end web development and includes classes in the following areas: Elements of WWW Design, Typography (graduate level), Interactive Media Concept and Theory, and Graduate Design for the WWW.”

I have anxiously awaited my return to school since my initial graduation in 2010. Now, I can fully realize my “dream” as I juggle working full-time and going back to school. Initially, it was a bit of a struggle getting into the routine. Looking back, I can tell you the transition has been incredibly rewarding and worthwhile.

Photo courtesy of BCPL

The Library, photo courtesy of BCPL

One of the minor drawbacks of the transition was the fact I had to give up my second job. I had worked at a library since the beginning of college (seven years). While I must admit the move was quite overdue, it was an incredibly challenging one. I had made many friends there and learned many a lesson along the way. We had many adventures such as when we moved into a new building in early 2009 (pictured above).

A few weeks back, I made my first appearance since leaving. It felt good to be back in the building seeing familiar faces but also strange to be there in a different capacity.

Nearly a month later, it still feels right (as I pop into the library on a weekly basis). Change isn’t always a bad thing.