Blog Improvement Project Week #16: Blog Somewhere New

I have been pretty slack with the BIP these days. I kind of got side tracked with summer and the house and I sort of forgot all about the project. Now that all the distraction are gone, i'm ready to get back into the swing of things and continue with the assignments. So here is the next assignment...

"Since it’s summer in most places, and everyone (myself included) seems to be in a blogging slowdown, I thought this would be a great week to, possibly, get away from the computer for a bit.

No, we’re not going to just ignore our blogs — we’re going to look for blogging inspiration somewhere new.

Darren Rose at Problogger suggested something like this during the 31 Day Build a Better Blog Challenge, except he suggested leaving your blog behind and taking a trip to the mall for some inspiration with just a notebook and a pen. I like that idea, but I’ve got a lap top and so I want the chance to take my blog with me when I go out somewhere new.

There’s no real way to do this. If you’ve got a laptop, take it out of the house and write up a post somewhere different. If you don’t have a laptop, grab a pen and paper and do some brainstorming outside the house (check out BIP Week 2 for brainstorming techniques). Go to the park, a local coffee shop, the library, a friend’s house, your backyard, wherever you feel like it. Just get away from where you usually blog to see what inspiration you might get from a change of scene.

I’m feeling pretty loosey-goosey about this. If you want to write up a post talking about what it was like to blog someplace different, feel free. If you just want to write a post and not mention it was from a different place, feel free to do that too. Just leave some links to whatever you do in the comments on this post so others can be inspired.

As my favorite professor often said to me, “Go forth and do good work.”

P.S. Yes, I know I skipped Week #15. I forgot about it until it was too late to do effectively, so I just decided we could all use the break. Forgive me?

Do you have a favorite place to blog? A favorite place to write or read? Where is it? Does going somewhere new help you focus or get inspired?"



Revisiting Goals

1/2 way through the BIP

Here’s the task for revisiting goals:

  • Find your original BIP goals post and take a look at what your goals were. Or, if you came to the BIP late or are just joining now, look at the Week #1 assignment to learn about setting goals.
  • If appropriate, reset your goals. Get rid of goals you’ve accomplished, and add new ones that make sense. Think about where you want to be at the end of the year. Or, if you’re new, set some goals for the remainder of the year. Write a post with your new goals, and leave a link here in the comments or sign Mr. Linky. Stop back to this post and revisit some BIP blogs to check in on their goals too.

Answer the following questions in your goal post, in the comments to this post.

  1. What BIP task have you liked most? Least (including ones you have skipped)?
  2. Which tasks have been the most helpful? Least helpful?
  3. What are the top three things you still would like to work on this year?
  4. Are there any blogging-related topics you feel like you know a lot about and would be willing to write a BIP guest task on?
  5. Any other comments about the BIP?



Book Reviews by the Numbers

So this is assignment #11 and I have to admit, I haven't been all that interested in the last three of the assigned tasks. This assignment does sound interesting so I shouldn't have trouble finishing this one (that is as long as I don't get distracted by something else).

This week’s task is a content analysis of book reviews to get some info about reviews. How long are they? How personal are they? How many paragraphs does the average book review have?

By comparing book reviews written by bloggers to reviews written by professionals, I hope we can come up with some interesting stats to know more about what makes a book review.

Add here’s the task:
* Pick a book review you’ve written that you’re particularity proud of. Then, search around until you find at least one other professional review of the same book. If you don’t write book reviews, compare a review of something else instead.

* When you have some time (I’d say 30-45 minutes) follow this link to a Google Docs spreadsheet (nice anchor text, right?). It should look something like the picture at the right (but hopefully with more lines filled in).

* Fill in your name, blog URL, and book title in the lines. Feel following the columns and answering the questions as best you can for both of the reviews you have.

* Once you’re done, spend some time thinking about what you’ve observed. This can be about the numbers, or it can just be general impressions of the two reviews. If you’re feeling excited, write a post explaining some of your findings and what this comparison helped you learn about your reviews or about reviewing in general. Leave a link back to your post in the comments.

* For extra credit, find a few more reviews of the book you chose (another blogger, or a professional), or pick another book and add the stats for your review and a professional review. The more entries we have, the more I think we can learn.



Linking with Anchor Text

Linking with Anchor Text is a pretty easy thing to understand, and is important for blogs when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (how high up your blog appears when people use a search engine like Google to search for a particular phrase).

When you make a link, some of the text in your blog post will change to indicate it’s the link. Whatever words make up the link are the anchor text. In the second paragraph of this post “this post to find out what "Help Another blog is about” is the anchor text of my link to BIP Help Another Blog.

Here are a couple of articles that help explain the idea of anchor text in more detail:

Even if you don’t care about search engine optimization, creating good anchor text is just good blog practice. I would guess people are more likely to click on a link if they have some sense of what it’s about. Making link anchor text clear is a simple way to make your blog easier to navigate and more useful for your readers. With that in mind, here’s this week’s task:

  • Read the two articles and one forum topic on anchor text and why you should pay attention to it.
  • See if you can find out how to see what words and phrases people use in search engines that gets them to your blog. WordPress makes this easy, I’m not sure about Blogger. Can anyone help me out? Share your favorite keywords and searches here or on your blog.
  • Focus on writing good anchor text for all your links. Instead of saying “You can read more here” and linking to “here,” describe your link in some detail and use that for anchor text. Try to make this a regular part of your blog practices.

This week is pretty simple, but anchor text is really a huge part of growing your blog. Getting good search engine rankings can bring more casual readers to your blog who can be turned into regular readers through your great content and other fun features. Anchor text is just a way to help get them there.