Tag Archives: blogging

Flock has Lifted

Flock, the hard-to-describe all-inclusive web-2.0 internet experience machine, has gone from beta to 1.0. If you want to check it out, head over to flock.com and download your own shiny new copy. What is flock?  Well, it’s sort of a … well, kind of like … ok, imagine a half-man, half-bear, half-pig … no wait.

Just try it out. It’s like a web-browser with built-in applications for posting to your blog, managing your flickr account, navigating facebook, and doing a dozen other utterly hip things to kill time online.

Blogged with Flock

Happy Blog Redesign for Super Joy!

It was time.

As always, if you find anything quirky or broken, let me know. Especially those of you who are using Internet Explorer. I tried hard this time around to make everything cross-compatible, but that’s always a tricky proposition. If someone wants to take some screenshots with IE and email them to me, I would appreciate it.

Also, this is the thread to submit tagline suggestions. Yes, the people have spoken, and taglines are back. Rejoice, you miscreants and anarchists. Thanks to Bobby for writing the PHP code that is powering the taglines. Turns out somebody wanted them back badly enough to actually do something about it.

Also, check out the menu. Not all of the links work yet, but the little greybox popup is very cool. If you want to make your case for being included in the “our other gigs” section, email me.

If any of you miss the old design, here’s your nostalgic look back:

addy old design

One Thousand Sets of Ears, Pt. 2

Yesterday was story time. Today is the technical study. I thought it might be cool to look at some of the things that helped propel The Bible Podcast forward, presented in no particular order, as a guide to anyone else who might think about launching a podcast.

The Title

This has got to be the single biggest factor in moving the site up through search engine rankings. The name of the site is the name of the podcast is the 3-word description of exactly what it’s all about. If you launch a podcast about how awesome bunny slippers are, and title it “The Mr. T Show”, and host it at www.crazy4u.net/mrtpodshow, people have no idea what it is you’re doing. There are packs of raving bunny slipper fans out there searching Google for a podcast that meets their needs, but all they can tell from your page hit is that you’re a confused, possible psychopathic teenage girl. This doesn’t work to your advantage.

Promote One Distribution Channels

Since the very beginning, The Bible Podcast committed to iTunes as its primary distribution channel. I started with the assumption that most of my listeners wouldn’t be podcast people – they would be people venturing out into the world looking for this specific sort of thing (in the same way that most Addison Road readers aren’t really blog people, they’re people who come to this one specific blog). I assumed that most of our listeners would find our blog either through a Google search, or by flipping open iTunes and using the podcast directory search function. The iTunes search results are weighted in favor of popularity (number of subscribers).

podcast openingArmed with this knowledge, I push iTunes as the sole distribution channel for the podcast. If you look at the first page of the site, you’ll see what I mean. I stole this idea from Scribe Music Show (thanks, Trevor), and about 40% of the first-time visitors go directly to iTunes without ever having to visit the site itself. If they do click through to the website, they’ll see a link to iTunes prominently displayed, should they decide to subscribe. If they poke around the site a bit, they’ll find a “How do I listen?” page which, again, directs them to use iTunes to subscribe.

There are many, many good podcast aggregators out there, like Odeo.com, and the podcast is listen in most of these, but these sites are still, by and large, only used by the Nerd Herd. If you walk up to 100 people on the street and ask them about podcasting, they’ll beat you up and take your iPod away. This is LA, after all. But if you were to do it in someplace nice, like Boise, most people, if they knew anything at all about it, would say, “Oh yeah, that’s the button on my iTunes where I can listen to shows people do.”

By committing early to a distribution channel that would be most popular with my average listener, I made my popularity within iTunes artificially high. Instead of a few hundred subscribers scattered across dozens of distribution channels, I had a few hundred subscribers all listening through iTunes. Within the first 6 months, The Bible Podcast was in the top 4 results for the search term “Bible”, which in iTunes means getting banner placement on the search results page.

OurMedia.org

So, you’ve signed up for a fancy new hosting plan with Jim’s Big House of Web Hosting, and you’ve started to do the math. You realize pretty quickly that by the time you hit 100 daily subscribers, at 20 MB per podcast episode, you’re going to rip through your bandwidth in about 8 seconds. What do you do? Well, don’t host the files! OurMedia.org will host your audio and video files for free, and you can directly link them into your site. In other words, your listeners don’t have to click through to Our Media to listen, the files can be embedded directly into your site. There are two advantages to hosting your files off-site. The first is that you don’t have to pay for as much bandwidth. The second, you will pick up some drive-by traffic from people searching through the Our Media site looking for the things your podcast is about. I get about 20 hits a day from people who searched Our Media for the title of a specific book of the bible, and then following the links over to the podcast site.

I should mention that the Our Media servers have been pretty bloaty since the very beginning, and if an episode hasn’t been downloaded in a while, it seems to take forever for the server to actually find it. I eventually switched back over to hosting the audio files myself, instead of using Our Media. Still, I think they were an important part of getting up off the ground.

Content

So, those are some of the early choices that I made with the podcast, that I think contributed to it getting up off the ground. I don’t think they were the biggest factor in the podcast’s success, though. The inescapable truth is that “Content is King”. People come because they want the content. They want to hear the bible read by someone with a clear speaking voice, recorded with good equipment. Everything else is just lipstick, pointing people in the right direction.

I’m curious – anybody else out there in The Roadhouse running a podcast, or thinking of starting one? I’d love to hear your experiences.

January: Blog Push

so, I think January is going to be “blog promotion month”, where we try to expand the reading audience of Addison Road. Anybody have any good ideas for doing that? Ya know, other than writing good content and publishing it on a regular basis?

A Blogging Fast

solitudeIt works like this: every ball you add to your juggling act looks small when you first pick it up, and get ready to throw it in the air. But before long, those balls become chainsaws, and the plank in your own eye prevents you from seeing the pearls of wisdom that you’ve cast before swine. Or whatever.

Starting over.

The end of this post marks the start of an internet fast. I’m shutting down my newsfeed reader. I’m taking firefox out of my dock. I’ll be offline, except for email, until the end of November. My friends, you’re on your own for a little while – please don’t trash the place.

Life has a way of stacking up, until the tower leans over and can’t support it’s own weight. That’s how it feels to me, right now, and I’ve realized that I’m using the internet as a means of escape. I pop on for 10 minutes in the morning, and it turns into 60, or I come home at night and log on to unwind. The result is that, even when I’m in the same room with my family, I’m not really there with them. I want to figure out a better balance between all of these things, but in order to do that, I need to clear some brush first.

The blog isn’t going anywhere – the other fine authors will continue to shovel meaningless drivel out on a semi-daily basis, and you should all keep coming back for that. Chad, Aly, Gretchen, and Ash all have administrative access on the blog, so they can approve your comments that get held up for moderation. Hopefully they can all keep the spam under control as well.

Take care, my friends, and I’ll see you all again in December.

(P.S. DO NOT throw a kegger in the backyard while I’m gone. The neighbors have my cell phone number, and THEY WILL call me!)

A Totally Unbiased Blog Retrofit By A Guy Who Just Finished 7 Days of New Faculty Indoctrination

Last Thursday was my final day of New Faculty Indocrination at (University Name Withheld, in the interest of continued employment), and I realized that many of the new educational theories that were being promoted during that time can be applied, with great effect, to how we run this blog. My hope is that you will find the following new guidelines an aid to you as you attempt to carry forward this blog’s mission of Actualizing Reader Experience.

1) Post Summaries

Prior to submitting a post, please submit a brief summary of your intended post. This will generally be 8 or 9 pages, and must include the following: when you intend to publish the post, the primary points of your post, a detailed correlation of how each of those points relates to the mission of the blog (Actualizing Reader Experience), and a catalog of “objective and measurable reader outcomes”. Please also include the blog mission statement, the blog integrity policy, and your own policy for reader assessment.

This post summary must be received at least 6 months prior to posting, and will be reviewed by both the Blog Posting Committee (Paul T. Reisser, Chair) and the Blog Posting Summary Committee (Aly Hawkins, Chair). Any errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, or content will result in the summary being rejected. If your summary is rejected, you will receive notification with 3 months, detailing the reasons for that rejection, so that you can make changes and resubmit.

2) Emerging Church Worldview Integration

This blog began as an exploration of the Emerging Church Movement. Recently, we’re expanded to cover a multitude of other topics, including Music, Apple Computers, Art Review, Nostalgia, and Blasphemy. While we recognize that these are all signs of a healthy, growing blog, we want to make sure that we stay true to our original mission. Therefore, 30% of the content in every post must consist of “Emerging Church Worldview”. One of the distinctives of this blog is our unique Emerging Church Worldview, and we firmly believe that every topic we post on should be overtly saturated with this distinctive.

For example, say you have decided to post on the fact that Apple has released three new commercials in their humorous “PC vs. Mac” series. After giving the link, you might include the following statement:

“One of the reasons why Apple is embraced by the Emerging Church Movement is because of its strong identification of design (form) with function (content). Both Andrew Jones and Ryan Bolger have examined the premise that the ECM constructs worshipping communities that follow that same value.”

Or, say you’re posting a movie review for Snakes on a Plane (Review? How about just one word: Samuel L. Awesome!). You might include the following in your post:

“Snakes on a Plane might be the first movie to have a cult following prior to its actual release. This is due in no small part to its immediate embrace by the blog-o-sphere, and subsequent use as a meme. The Emerging Church Movement also uses blogs. Samuel L. Jackson decided to take the role when he …. “

See how easy, and non-forced, that is? We hope this new standard for Emerging Church Worldview Integration will be a positive and uplifting guide for you as you prepare your posts.

3) Strengths Based Posting

One of the challenges of this blog is our desire to embrace a readership with a wide range of personal strengths and non-strengths (formerly called “weaknesses”). We recognize that each person is unique in their mix of personal attributes, and we want to make sure that the content we are presenting is accessible to all people.

In order to maximize the accessibility of the content, each post will be submitted three times: once as an analytical, fact based piece; once as an emotive, relational piece; and once as a pictograph. For example, the news that Pluto is no longer a planet would need to be blogged about in all of the following ways:

(Analytical) “Pluto does not meet the orbital standards established by IAU for a planetary class object, and is therefore now a member of the class ‘Dwarf Planet’.”

(Emotive) “A group of scientists didn’t feel like Pluto should be a planet, so they all decided to start calling it a ‘Dwarf Planet’. How do you feel about this?”

(Pictograph)

pluto

This way, the content is accessible to people with a wide range of comprehension strengths!

4) Comprehensive Posting Assessment

A significant portion of the Google AdSense income from this blog will be diverted to fund a new “Comprehensive Posting Assessment” team. In order to fully implement these new guidelines and strategies, we need a method for assigning numbers to the effectiveness of blog posts in each of the areas mentioned.

We’ve rounded up the finest statisticians, software engineers, PHP programmers, and graphic designers, and asked them to design a system of assessment for determining how effective each blog post is at achieving the “reader outcomes” listed in the post summary.

We’ll have more details later on what this assessment looks like. Since most of the people on the assessment team have never really seen a blog before, the first few months will be spent orienting them to the language and culture of the new media. We’re confident, though, that their comprehensive understanding of both math (including prime numbers!), and of the technology that hosts the blog (php, apache, etc.), will make them very effective at developing an assessment strategy.

In Conclusion …

Thank you for taking the time to review the new blog policies. I know we’re all on the same page when I say that Actualizing Reader Experience is our number one priority here at Addison Road, and I’m confident that the best way to improve reader experience is through detailed micromanagement of every aspect of the posting process.

Either that, or I would somehow have to just recruit good writers, and then let them write.

Nah.