A Message From the Headboy – April 2017

The observant of you, if there are any people left, will have noticed that I’ve been rather quiet recently. There have been a number of reasons for this and none are by any means excuses. I realise that my overall traffic has taken a gradual dip as I go along. As of late I’ve only been posting one article per month. Unfortunately I missed March altogether.

This article goes some way to explain what has been going on. The proverbial ‘skinny’.

 

Book Writing

The 515 Lost World Saga (Working Title)

I have been very busy with book writing behind the scenes. My novel has been taking shape since 2019. Since finishing my Open University degree last year, it has opened the flood gates of time available. My goal is to finish this novel this year and in order to do that I need to be committed. The novel is getting there but I am concerned that it might be considered amateurish and I would find that a crushing blow. The only way to know for sure is to press on.

To see my continuing progress head on over to www.jackowrites.com for more details.

This neatly segways into:

WWW.JACKOWRITES.COM

The website/blog that hosts more on the writing side of my endeavours has been receiving a much-needed dose of branding. I think anybody who had viewed the site over a year ago would have been disappointed at how little personality the site had. I am still developing the site at this time and working out what shines best in this area. This blog differs to BlogPrefect because it serves a different purpose.

Part of my ongoing ideas are to assert myself more into writing, as such I felt that JackoWrites would receive the first true piece of valuable content that is not a blog post.

 

Writer’s Block Guide

This guide is perhaps one of the largest free elements of a site I’ve ever given away and I’ve been developing the guide over a long period. It grows with every edition and I am trying to incorporate a wealth of healthy tips from all over the web. You can download it for free here at www.jackowrites.com

This guide as yet is just a white paper and requires a considerable amount of graphical improvement. At the moment I am refining the textual content so please mind the work in progress.

 

WWW.MEDIUM.COM

I’ve been active over on Medium for a while now, both writing and making responses. Medium, I have decided, is not going to be a regular gig. Reason being is that it simply takes too long to put together a post for exactly no audience. I am going to be re-posting more of my content on medium in hopes that it will entice more audience to check out my work on my various platforms.

I seem to be far more popular for responses than articles.

There will be a feature on more about my Medium experience in a future article at blogprefect.com. If you are considering the experiment you can hopefully learn from my toe dip in the water.

I can be found here.

As a point of note, I do talk politically on Medium where I don’t here on my master blog or on JackoWrites.com. I have no set plan for what my Medium content should be, I just write about whatever I like. For those of you who are disappointed with my views I can only offer my apologies but I don’t cede to changing my views without a serious look at the facts.

The reason I started writing on Medium was because I often had an urge to write about something that I would throw up on BlogPrefect but which had very little relevance to the niche. Any good blogger knows that the natural process of a person finding you through a search engine depends on you staying on topic.

 

General Minutiae (the boring stuff)

I have had a glut of projects to catch up on and a lot are still unfinished.

I must note that because my degree took such a prime focus and that I went through a painful end of a relationship, the house I moved into is not finished to the level I’m happy with. This has been true since 2013. My parents have nagged me on this front for the best part of 2 years but I’m still moving at my own pace.

One of my rooms is now decorated bar a few minor touches and a new carpet and it has lifted my mood no end since I finished it.

One of my key goals to make my blogging, writing and general enterprises more fun, is to fully realise my 2nd bedroom’s study potential and as it stands, the decoration is horrific. The tiny room should be easy to decorate but requires re-wiring. I am at a loss to understand how the previous owners made do with one socket in this room.

I believe that my productivity will skyrocket once my house is more presentable.

 

Weight Loss

Something else that was neglected was my slim trim self. Since the beginning of January to the end of March, I had lost a total of 20lbs and have recently rekindled my passion for cycling. I am getting towards my healthier weight where I am to be less than 14 stone by the end of the year at the very least. For the American readers that goal is less than 196 pounds and for Europeans that is less than 88.9KG. The weight is not so much important as reaching a trouser size of 34 inches. I am not happy at the current 36, it precludes me from purchasing trousers from certain shops where waistband sizes don’t often head into my current size. I am a short-legged fellow so am taller in the torso.

Getting back on my bike I realise just how out of condition I was so I am all the more determined to get back into the swing of things.

My goal with my cycling is to cycle to work on a more regular basis. This will help me keep fit and save me a lot in my weekly fuel bill.

My weight loss regime has also reduced:

  • Overall number of days sick that I’ve experienced in recent years
  • Alleviated pressure off my right knee which was causing me issues when walking long distances inner city, especially in the damp
  • Eliminated a sciatica issue that was extremely painful
  • Reduced my sugar and salt intake which has alleviated the frequency of my migraine to a rare event (alongside other managing techniques).
  • My waistband which makes wearing size ‘L’ clothing a lot more comfortable. I’m still a way off 34 at the moment but I’ve definitely noticed a thinning of the waistband. With more continued work on my core, I should reduce to the right level.

 

Writing for Blog Prefect

I must admit that my progress has slowed to a crawl and I can only apologise for that. Visitors do journey to the site on a regular basis but not in the number that I truly crave to make it all seem ‘worthwhile’. Regular posting will be restored in the not too distant future and there is a plan for a specific ‘burst month’ to see how I get on with some exposure. Stay tuned on that.

I have two posts in the works for launch in April and I do have a suitable window to work on these two items.

The first is on research. The second is on Commitment. I believe that the second of these two articles will have the bigger impact but as part of my series expanding on a core post, I have decided to write in more detail about how to start a blog and keep it running. I have decided on doing this not only to bring thoughts and ideas to you as the viewer but to remind myself of ‘the purpose’.

 

Distractions

I have been having a bit of a bad time as of late. Despite all the positive elements that can be picked out from the above.

My day job has become a tumultuous and unhappy relationship and I feel that I am coming to the end of my time there. This means that I’ve been actively searching to move elsewhere.  Job searching takes time unfortunately and it is not an activity I enjoy. It is the equivalent, to me at least, of choosing between two brands of spam, both tins are ultimately not the height of nutrition.

The lack of motivation with the same old same old has been making me less motivated in other corners of my life and I feel that the relationship with my company is no longer something I can service.

I’ve been an employee for 13.5 years and in that time, feel very under-appreciated. This has had a negative effect on bringing you timely posts and I apologise for that.

 

Habits

As part of feeling unsatisfied in general, I have fallen into some bad habits, rather than the proactive ones that I used to have. I realise that I’m going to have to modify these habits and eradicate them to put myself in a happy place again.

One of the ideas you might see banded around by bigwig bloggers is the notion of the right forms of habit-forming activity, a drill or a regime to organise the day for productivity. The only problem with this is that it can also squeeze fun out of your life. Spontaneity is thrown out of the window. I will have to create a regime that provides some rigidity and flexibility in equal measure.

 

Call to Action

If you follow this blog or not I’d welcome some quotes about motivation. So if you have a few minutes to spare, please email me at headboy@blogprefect.com and your words could be included in one of my upcoming articles.

Best wishes.

 

Jackson

How and What to Plan when Starting a New Blog

There are a number of reasons why planning comes first and in order to answer; How and What to Plan when Starting a New blog, we will need to explore a bit more about a plan.

In my article; 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, the Planning stage headed the list.

7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January

Why do you need a Plan?

  • The plan is the basis of your start point. If you don’t have a plan, where do you start?
  • A plan provides ideas on what to research. You will need to do a lot of research to understand how you can help your audience.
  • A plan puts a framework to the deployment of facilities you may need to include on your blog.
  • A plan can identify a priority to the order in which you instigate the information finding, creation and operation of your blog.

 

Problems with Plans

Plans can be linear if you don’t make them dynamic.

The problem with a linear plan is similar to how you might progress in a linear computer game. Linear games have one direction, they move from start to finish.

The limitations of a linear game are that they have no replay value. Once you have completed that linear game it won’t appeal to return to it so soon.

Blogs don’t run in a linear fashion, audiences don’t remain in a linear fashion.

Your Modus Operandi, your calling card, cannot remain the same forever. You have to evolve. Therefore your plan needs to evolve also.

 

Re-Plan the Plan

As I know all too well from working in a planning department, you have to; “Re-plan the plan.” Creating one plan that works is rarely feasible. The more complexity you work into a plan, the more external (uncontrollable) factors play into the success of your objectives.

A plan will always be imperfect because you never have the full amount of information you need to get everything right on the first pass.

The Plan’s aim is to generate some confidence in the fact that you know what you are letting yourself in for. It helps generate some expectation of the kind of commitment you will need to channel into making your end product worthy.

 

What to Plan for a Successful Blog Start?

You will definitely need an infrastructure plan if you plan nothing else.

Here is a list of the infrastructure I employ in BlogPrefect.com:

Core Elements

Domain – This is the blogprefect.com name, it is held by a registrar and is the way that both identifies my personal contact and allows my audience to search for me on the internet.

Hosting – This service provides me the architecture to provide this website. All the files including the database, code and images are stored on a server here. I’m currently with BlueHost but there are many other web hosts out there.

CMS (content management system) – This is the management control that I have to write articles and layout content on my website. I use self-hosted WordPress but there are other options. Determine which one fits you best!

Plugins – Whilst the theme you choose can cover a lot of the functions of the blog, there are some extra functions you will need to include that aren’t provided as standard with the theme. You will need plugins for extra functions such as security, caching and communication. Plugins incorporate speed overheads and also require you to spend time administering to their updates and settings along the way. There are a number of plugins you could need and so you may need a separate infrastructure list for these.

Theme – This is the user interface that everybody sees when they visit the blog. All themes are not created equal. Some work better than others depending on what you need them to do. My theme is Clicky, available at Theme Forest (Envato), it is a premium theme as it has certain features that aren’t provided with the selection of free themes WordPress provides. You have to decide on a tradeoff with a selection of theme. You can start with a free one and nobody will think less of you but you will reach the limitation of that free theme soon. Changing themes can provide challenge because the formatting of your posts may change and not always for the better. This is why it is best to decide on a theme you are going to keep for a while.

Email Elements

These are not essential to the core of your blog but they are essential for the marketing foundation of your blog.

Email List Provider – This provides me the ability to provide content to my subscribers and helps aid in generating direct traffic. I use Mailchimp.

Email Management System – This tool allows me to send and receive emails using my domain’s address. I use Fastmail but there are other options.

 

Notes about your infrastructure list:

You don’t need everything straight away. Your traffic is naturally low in the start so you can slowly introduce elements as you go along. You should think about the core elements you need and add the less essential elements later.

 

1st Question to ask

Have you identified what problems you seek to resolve for your audience?

This is something you can plan but you will more than likely need to review after some time researching.

 

Milestones

A corner-stone of planning activity are milestones. You may have heard of this term if you’ve put together a project. All it means is that you lay down a marker, a point by which you must have achieved something.

Exceedance

Planning has exceedance, the dictionary might not like the word but it exists. This means that should you not reach a goal by a certain point you have to push it out to the right, but analyse why. Some goals cannot be pushed because you will miss the ‘window of opportunity’ which leads to;

Critical Path

The Critical Path may be a list of elements you need to complete regardless of any superfluous goals. You often have “nice to do’s” and “must do’s”, when planning you have to prioritise the “must do’s”.

 

What Can I Apply this to?

  • Blog Posts
  • Marketing
  • Emails
  • Everything

You can literally plan everything. New logo, strategy for social media, return after time away, everything!

Remember

What’s Next?

I will be looking next at stage 2 of the  7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, which looks at Research.

 

Image Credits

All images creditable to copyright free images acquired from Pixabay.

Blog Prefect Situation Report January 2017

Firstly, Happy New Year, I hope you all had a great festive season however you celebrate! 2016 was a year of ups and downs (I’m not talking politically) so it is good to finally see a new year in.  They say you shouldn’t wish your life away and that is definitely true. I always like to think of a New Year starting as a prime time for a renewal of interest in all things.

On Blog Prefect I have stepped away from publishing purely seasonal articles mostly because they don’t have longevity. If Blog Prefect was a news site I would rely more on seasonality in my marketing mix. This is a little departure to inform you of what is going on with the blog. Undoubtedly this article will date so I will only be leaving it up until the end of March this year.

There are a number of elements to address in this report so without further ado, let’s get into it.

Traffic Reports

The Blog Prefect Traffic reports are my most fun element of writing for BlogPrefect.com. I have developed dashboards, get to interact with all of the analytic goodies and generally talk over the data. I enjoy stats a great deal, doesn’t have to be mine. I have always been a statistic fan.

These are officially on Hiatus for a number of reasons:

Anomalous Data

There was a period during the Trump election where data, especially on Google Analytics, became very unreliable due to an attack by, you guessed it, Russians. The Trump election wasn’t the only sign of dodgy dealings so lay down your Kalashnikov. There were some other unpleasant marketing ploys which have warped the analytical data. It will take me a while to sterilise the infected elements. When producing my dashboards I rely on two sources of data, one of those is compromised at this time.

Low Numbers

My readership of this blog has dropped to a whimper. Part of this is my own fault for not pushing more content and doing more to keep the tribe moving. Otherwise my competition is doing better so I am bound to take a hit.

My Concern

I often feel that my Traffic Reports, whilst informative, take out the wooden bat on myself and beat me. Also, as posts are in short supply at the moment they become the only post some months which doesn’t look great.

Blog Re-tuning

Last year I performed a mass effort to clear deadwood and non-performing posts. I’ve deleted a lot of content. Some of this content occasionally scored hits which provided me some inflow of visitors. They just happened to be the type that didn’t gel with my other content. Until I have more of the right material on the blog, I need to improve what I already have.

Until I feel that the traffic is making a positive bounce Traffic reports will be on hold until further notice. I will still continue to record data and generate monthly dashboards but they will not be on public view.

Image/Logo

I will be refreshing the logo this year to aid with branding efforts. I will be continuing to use the FIMO related picture logo but will create a new scheme for this year with some alternate colours.

Social branding will be uniform.

Watermarks will be applied to personally produced images. (I will be continuing to use Pixabay images.)

Theme

I am quite happy still with the Premium Clicky theme. It does everything I need it to beyond the defaults that were provided with the WordPress install.

Welcome Page

This area needs work as I feel by the data presented that it is a poor converter to viewings. I will be revealing more on this during 2017.

General Feel

I have grown a little distant from BlogPrefect.com over recent time owing to the fact that post-graduation I’ve had a lot to rekindle. I aim to return the sense of fun I initially had with this blog back when I started in June of 2013.

Part of my major plan going forwards is to complete my first science fiction novel. It is currently residing in a 3rd draft status and moving along well.

For BlogPrefect.com over the past year I had really enjoyed some participation between Ahmad Imran and Eli Seekins and want to make this flourish and hopefully carry this interaction on going forwards but with new faces also. I have also enjoyed Twitter immensely whilst Google+ has dwindled.

Current BP project

I’m putting together a toolkit for new bloggers at this time to cover off on a blog post I floated in December. This toolkit will feature in the Resources page and may replace the welcome page.

This was entitled 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January. I have one of these steps covered in detail so far and am not far off launching it. The next will follow.

 

A Callout to You the Viewer

This site is not intended for my own pleasure so if you have a burning desire for something to be covered in detail regards blogging (or any of its constituent activities) feel free to contact me.

headboy@blogprefect.com

Via twitter on @blogprefect

Even leave a message in the comments.