Categories
technology

The Shiny New Thing that just came out last week!

Overheard by a friend talking on his phone:

Friend: Do you have an iPhone 5 yet?
Pause
Friend: Yes?! Really?!?! Cool!
Pause
Friend: No, I’m waiting to get the new iPhone 5s because I want the newest phone.
Pause
Friend: Yeah, I know it’s not out yet, but when it does come out, you won’t have the new phone anymore and I will.

And on and on the conversation goes…

Shiny New ThingIt seems like a cool new feature or widget or website or data feed or doodad or wahoo is coming out every day. And it seems like we need to constantly be on the cutting edge, out with the old, in with the new. And dressing our sites up like a Christmas tree with the latest bells and whistles.

And for what?

Seriously – why do we need to have the latest stuff on our sites?

Tim Ferriss boasts 25,000+ subscribers, and a net worth of $15M, all from his online endeavours which stem from his blog. And guess what he uses for email management: FeedBurner. Yep – Feedburner. FeedBurner is sooo 2004. The product hasn’t changed much in a few years. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Google had the product on idle. But the product is great. It’s stable. It reliably delivers. And it works.

So why recreate the wheel? Sometimes, there’s a new tool that adds value. But it’s been a while since I’ve seen one.

The key reason for new platforms, widgets and doodads is to chase crowds. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ – these are all walled gardens that limit access to people. You can’t send a tweet to someone’s Facebook wall. So instead, you have to send your message twice. You tweet it. And you put it on Facebook. And on Google+. And on Instagram. And on Pinterest. And… you get the idea.

So, to interact with those people, you’re not finding new people. You’re simply finding new ways to get in front of them. And that can be painful after a while. How many social networks can we have? It seems there’s a shiny new network or tool every week. Is it worth chasing all of these new networks? Not a chance.

Then what should we do?

We want eyeballs. We want to reach our target audience. We want to make sure our content reaches as many people as possible.

I’ll tell you how I do it:

PublicizeI use the Publicize feature of WordPress to advertise my blog posts on the main social networks: Facebook and Twitter. I don’t use Tumblr (it would be a duplicate of my WordPress blog) and I save LinkedIn for business communication. The only major social network that misses out is Google+ and that is a shame. I would like to distribute my posts to Google+ as well, but for now, the walled garden philosophy has kept the big players from playing nice together. So, until WordPress.com has a post to Google+ feature, I’ll live without it. I feel that the bulk of the audience still resides within Twitter and Facebook anyways. And, Google indexes my content so search still brings people to my blogs (a high proportion of my blog visitors arrive via search results from Google).

From there, I might get fancy with some tweets from time to time, duplicating my original “this post just went live” tweets that go out when I post something new.

Now back to Feedburner for a minute: Feedburner has stuck around because it does email well. Sure, MailChimp and Constant Contact do it great as well, but it’s hard to revolutionize that space. So, if you’ve got Feedburner, you’re not really motivated to migrate.

So yeah… that shiny new thing – you could kill yourself chasing all of the new things instead of focusing on your content. And that would be too bad. Focus on your content instead. The rest will sort itself out in the wash.

So there we go… this section of my “So you want to start blogging…” series is now over. Now that I’ve finished with my “Set up your tools” section, it’s time to move on to the next section, called, “Build Your Tribe”. In that section, I’ll talk about growing an audience.

Stick around and stay tuned for more content coming up soon!

Todd

Categories
technology

Using Google Reader’s “Send To” feature in WordPress

I’m a heavy user of Google Reader (GR). In fact, I pretty much read all of my web content from GR. I rarely visit a blog directly. It’s so much easier to aggregate all of my favourite blogs in GR and read them that way. It makes me more efficient, as I can quickly skim through tens or hundreds of posts. And, I can email interesting posts to friends. I use gmail, and Google has integrated the ability to send to people in my address book directly from GR. Easy peasy.

A new-ish feature of GR is the ability to “Send To”. Basically, within a post in GR, I can send some content to another app. Some default places a post can be sent is Blogger, delicious, Digg, Facebook and Twitter. But I use WordPress. What’s a person to do? Well… there’s good news. The good folks at Google have opened up the API to allow additional “Send To” locations to be added. So, a bit of tinkering and I was able to build in a custom “Send To’ so that I can submit stuff I read in GR directly to my blogs. This makes it much easier to blog about items that I find in my reading within GR.

And, to help you out, here are the steps to add your own custom “Send To” for your WordPress blog:

GRwirepaper

  1. In Google Reader, go to “Settings” (top right hand corner of the screen);
  2. Click the “Send To” menu option in the top nav bar of the settings area of GR;
  3. Select any default “Send To” places;
  4. To add your custom “Send To” destination, click the “Create a custom link” button at the bottom of the screen;
  5. Here are the settings that I used to get my wirepaper blog set up:
  6. Name: wirepaper.com
  7. URL:”http://wirepaper.com/wp-admin/press-this.php?u=${url}&t=${title}&s=${source}&v=2” (without the quotes and obviously, replace the “wirepaper.com” with your domain name)
  8. Icon URL: http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/e64c700ba8356e85df84a3da28224b81?s=16&d=identicon&r=G (this is my custom avatar – feel free to substitute it with your favourite)
  9. Click “Save”.
  10. Voila! All done.

Go back to GR and give it a try. Let me know how this works out for you.