Written on August 13th, 2007 at 08:08 am by Darren Rowse

Behold the Expertise of the enternetusers Community - 95 Reader Tips

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 31 comments

Building-A-Better-Blog-2It’s day 13 in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project and this morning I woke up to four emails from readers reporting enjoying different aspects of the month’s activities.

  • The first had recruited 12 friends to do the project with them
  • The second told me about how they’d seen their new blog’s readership triple this month already by following the daily tips
  • The third told me how he’d had his biggest traffic day through the traffic from the last batch of reader submitted tips
  • The fourth told me that he’d added 20 new blogs to his feed reader after finding them from the reader tips in the first couple of batches of submissions.

I’m glad to hear people are enjoying the project so far.

Today’s batch of reader submitted tips total 95 in number which takes the total number of submissions to 246. Once again there is some quality reading in this lot. I’m still only about halfway through them but have really enjoyed the breadth of topics covered and the expertise in the wider community.

To Participate - to submit a link to be included in the next batch follow the instructions in the introductory post to the 31 Day Project

See the Full List - to see the 13 daily challenges written so far and the full 246 reader submissions see our 31 Day Project Main Page

Here’s the latest batch of reader tips! (warning - you might want to grab a coffee and make yourself comfortable before attempting to read it all!):

Written on August 13th, 2007 at 05:08 am by Darren Rowse

Redesign of enternetusers.net - Designer Tells All

enternetusers Site News 43 comments

enternetusers-RedesignThe last few days here at enternetusers have been pretty hectic to say the least. It’s been crazy on two fronts:

1. Complete site redesign
2. We’ve just put our house on the market (yep the one that blogging built) and are building another one (how many freaking types of sinks/light fittings/door handles can a guy look at!?!!

OK - enough about the house (although I’m sure that at some point there will be a post about why building a blog is like building a house or one on why selling one is like selling yourself as a blogger)….

The new design has been live for 48 hours and 97% of the bugs are fixed. We’re still working on a couple more issues and you should see a few fixes for a couple of them in the next 24 hours (for example the ie6 sidebar issues are almost fixed, we have a favicon coming very soon and the newly designed job boards will follow).

The reaction from readers via comments in previous posts, posts around the web and emails has been mixed - although largely positive and encouraging. The critiques have all been read (thank you to everyone who has commented) and once things settle in the coming weeks and after we check how the site is performing Ben and I will sit down on Skype and work out how to shape things next.

In the mean time - Ben Bleikamp the designer of the new look has written a post on some of the reasoning behind the new design at his blog called Redesign of enternetusers.net. In it he shares 3 parts of the brief that I gave him and how that unfolded from his perspective.

PS: I’m getting a lot of questions about how the new design has impacted things in terms of traffic and page views. It is to early to really report on this as I’ve found previously that a new design causes an increase in both visitors and page views as people surf in from RSS feeds to check things out and as they then go exploring how different pages look and operate.

As a result both unique visitors and page views are up so far - but I’ll update more on this in the coming weeks.

A Free Tip If You’re Contemplating a Redesign - don’t forget to transfer your blog’s metrics package across to the new template. I learnt this the hard way as I completely forgot to move the Google Metrics Code for 36 hours after the relaunch :-)

Written on August 13th, 2007 at 12:08 am by Darren Rowse

Search for an Affiliate Program that fits your Blog

31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Affiliate Programs 28 comments

Building-A-Better-Blog-2Today your task in the 31 Day Project is to carry out a search for an Affiliate Program that fits your blog.

Those of you not interested in monetizing your blog might want to go back to one of the previous 12 days in this project to repeat one of the earlier tasks (you can’t do these sorts of things enough) - but for those of you who are making money from your blog (or wanting to) through affiliate programs - this is an exercise worth doing from time to time.

New products and services are constantly being released in all manner of areas and it’s highly likely that in the topic that you write about there are some undiscovered affiliate programs that you might not have found yet.

It’s easy as a blogger to become a little complacent about finding new income streams for your blog - but this can be a trap. For starters you could be missing out on some new affiliate program that could be making you nice money - but secondly one of the problems with affiliate programs on blogs is that because many blogs have a loyal readership, readers do tend to become blind to affiliate programs that they’ve seen you promoting before.

The simplest way to find new affiliate programs is simply via Google (type in ‘your topic affiliate program’) but it can also be worth spending a little time digging around in some of the larger affiliate networks like Clickbank, Linkshare, Commission Junction or to even look in Google AdSense’s Referral program (where there are new options being added all the time).

Another way to find them is to check out other websites and blogs in your niche to see what affiliate programs they are promoting.

This is an exercise that I’d recommend you do every month or so as you’ll be surprised what programs pop up.

Let us know how you go in your hunt for new affiliate programs in comments below. How do you find them? Which ones convert best for you?

Written on August 12th, 2007 at 12:08 am by Darren Rowse

Introduce Yourself to Another Blogger

31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 40 comments

Building-A-Better-Blog-2Today your task in the 31 Day Project is to Introduce Yourself to another blogger

Email or IM another blogger in your niche to introduce yourself and your blog. You don’t need to ask them to link to you or anything - the point isn’t to get any specific outcome other than to touch base and hopefully build a relationship.

I find that the most fruitful interactions that I’ve had with other bloggers don’t come as a result of me asking for something - but out of me giving something.

What can you give? This will of course vary from situation to situation but it could a tip, a suggestion, a question for them to post about, an offer to write a guest post, a thank you for a good post they’ve written or a word of encouragement to let them know that you appreciate them.

While nothing may come of such an email (don’t be offended if you don’t get a reply) you might be surprised at the results.

My only other tip is to keep your email brief and to the point. Many bloggers are inundated with email and to be confronted with a long rambling email of introduction might not create the impression that you’re after.

Written on August 11th, 2007 at 12:08 am by Darren Rowse

Dig Into Your Blog’s Statistics

31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 43 comments

Building-A-Better-Blog-2Today your task in the 31 Day Project is to dig into your blog’s metrics or statistics package.

Take some time out today to do a little analysis of your blog’s statistics. There is a wealth of information in them that can be incredibly useful.

Here’s a few metrics to dig into to start off with:

  • Most Popular Posts - what posts are being read more than other posts? Knowing this is important for a couple of reasons. For starters it gives you a hint of what topics you could write more upon - but secondly it gives you some key pages on your site to optimize (ie think about how you can drive people from these posts deeper into your blog - I’ve got a video post on this for next week).
  • Referral Stats - what sites are sending you the most traffic? If it’s another blog or site, perhaps you could develop a relationship with them to see this increase. If it’s Search Engines, how can you adapt the posts to see it rise even more using on page SEO techniques).
  • What Questions are being asked? - what questions are readers typing into search engines to find your blog? These could make great future posts (learn more about how to do this here).
  • What Keywords are sending traffic? - knowing the keywords that people search for to find your site is very useful. It helps you to know how to optimize your blog for SEO even better and can give hints on what content to write more of.
  • What seasonal traffic is there? - are there any seasonal trends that you should be aware of and could use to capture more traffic? What caused the bumps in traffic and how can you prepare yourself better for next time those conditions might happen again (read more on seasonal traffic and how to capture it).
  • What’s Your Bounce Rate? - metrics packages like Google Analytics provide you with a ‘bounce rate’ stat which measures how many people arrive at your site and then leave again without viewing any extra pages. I find this a key metric to watch and attempt to change. Set yourself some goals to get this rate down and the page views viewed per visitor up by making your blog sticky.

There are many other types of metrics that most statistics packages will provide you with. Feel free to share the metrics that you check most often and how you use them to improve your blog in comments below.

Written on August 10th, 2007 at 01:08 pm by Darren Rowse

enternetusers Redesign - Bedding Down for the Night

Featured Posts, enternetusers Site News 192 comments

RedesignAfter a few hours of testing, tweaking, tracking down bugs and fixing up a few small glitches I’m happy to say that the enternetusers Design Relaunch is looking stable and we’re tucking it into bed for the night.

Ben has also just headed to bed (after pulling a late night) for some well deserved rest.

There are still a few things that we’ll work on over the next 24 hours or so including:

  • Search - the search field in the top right hand corner isn’t producing results yet
  • Archives - link in top menu will produce more than just dated archives
  • Print Stylesheets - while the new template does print better Ben will produce an even better option for this
  • Job Board Integration - the Job Board will receive a similar makeover and the latest jobs from it will appear on the front page of enternetusers
  • ie6 bugs - we’re aware of the sidebar issue with ie6 and will produce an ie6 stylesheet to rectify this

There are also a few minor styling tweaks to be made and I need to tidy up the categories and other links in the footer a little - but apart from these issues there’s not a lot more to do to get things up to speed for the time being.

At this point it’s over to you. There will no doubt be a few more bugs that we’ve not found yet and different issues for those of you on different browsers. If you find anything that’s not covered above please do let us know.

I’d invite your comment and constructive feedback in comments below. This is a work in progress and while we’re happy with where this design takes us both Ben and I would like your help in taking it to the next level.

Once again I’d like to thank Ben Bleikamp for his amazing design work, Mike Rohde for his logo, Gary King for his reworking of the Job Board (he’s completely reworked the back end of it - we’ll go live with the new version tomorrow) and the b5media tech team for their support through this process.

PS: both Ben and I intend to write more on the process of this redesign in the coming days so those of you with questions feel free to continue to ask them and we’ll attempt to get some answers together for you.

Written on August 10th, 2007 at 08:08 am by Darren Rowse

We’re Entering New Design Transition Phase

Featured Posts, enternetusers Site News 146 comments

Just a short note to let readers know that in the next hour or so you’ll begin to see changes to enternetusers as we launch the new design.

As with all such launches we’re sure there will be a few bumps in the road as the team behind it get things up and running - do checks - find glitches - carry out fixes etc

We ask for your patience and understanding as we do this as it will probably take us a little while to iron out any issues. If you find any issues/bugs/dead links etc please feel free to let us know in comments below. Your help in this will be greatly appreciated.

Once things are stable I’ll write a post outlining some more of the changes and thinking behind them and I’d then love to hear some discussion on what you think. Your constructive feedback will be appreciated and will help make enternetusers a better resource for all.

Darren nervously backs away from the old orange design….

Written on August 10th, 2007 at 12:08 am by Darren Rowse

Declutter your Sidebar

31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Blog Design 49 comments

Building-A-Better-Blog-2Today’s task in the 31 Day Project is to Declutter your sidebar

Blog clutter has a way of creeping up on almost all bloggers. I’ve let it creep up as much as the next blogger and a big task in getting a new design together has been working out what to remove, what to move and what to keep in my sidebar.

Take a critical look at your blog’s design today and work out what you can live without.

  • What widgets, links, buttons or tools are just adding to the clutter of your blog and which are serving a purpose?
  • What could you move into your footer or other key pages (sometimes things could be more suited to a contact or about page)
  • What could you redesign or feature in a different way?

Written on August 9th, 2007 at 10:08 am by Darren Rowse

New Design Update

enternetusers Site News 36 comments

Just a short note to let you know that we’ve put off the launch of the new enternetusers design for 24 hours. It’s almost ready to go but we felt it would be wiser to do it when b5media’s tech/hosting team were all not traveling to Gnomedex :-)

Plus it gives me an extra day to get a few more things ticked off my ‘to do’ list.

By the Way - thanks to everyone for the feedback on the new logo. As expected, the reactions were a little mixed (as I expect them to be on the new template as it’s a departure from what we currently have) - but in the main the reaction was both positive and constructive. Thanks to everyone for hanging in there with us with this change. I’m looking forward to introducing you to the next phase of the relaunch this time tomorrow.

Written on August 9th, 2007 at 03:08 am by Darren Rowse

A New Look for enternetusers - Coming Soon (Very Soon)

enternetusers Site News 97 comments

Over the last month or two I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions that I’ve had a small team working on a redesign of enternetusers.

I’m happy to say that some great progress has been made and we are aiming for a release of the new design tomorrow (all going well).

While the current enternetusers design and logo has served me well (thanks to the talent of designer Rachel Cunliffe who designed it - and who I might say came up with a very innovative design for the time it was done - over two and a half years ago) I’ve increasingly become aware that it’s become a little dated and tired - particularly as I’ve added new features such as a job board, b5 blog roll, new ad formats etc.

While I’m sad to see the old design go and I’m a little fearful of how the new direction will be received I’m also excited to show it off as it marks a new beginning and direction for enternetusers.

As a result I engaged the services of Ben Bleikamp to redesign the template and Mike Rohde from MakaluMedia to redesign the logo.

Ben and Mike have both worked hard at their tasks and together I think we’ve come up with something both fresh and functional that will hopefully see the site through for some time now.

The Logo

While Ben puts the finishing touches on the new template I thought I’d start the show and tell sessions by revealing the new logo.

So without further ado….


A few notes/thoughts on the process:

  • You’ll see that it’s a real departure from the previous logo (and you’ll get a hint at some of the colors of the new template).
  • The brief I gave Mike was that I wanted something simple and clean - yet something with symbolism.
  • We wanted to retain a ‘P’ but also keep the word enternetusers.
  • The colors are more subtle (no more bright orange/gold - a color that some readers struggled with depending upon their monitors). Having said this - the coloring isn’t a complete departure from the current design.
  • The ‘atom’ like design is about community/network (although some who I’ve shown it to have read into it that it’s about the ‘energy’ of the enternetusers Community)

I’ll be honest in saying that the design of the logo (and the overall redesign of the template) was not an easy process. Not because of the guys I was working with but because there were so many possibilities and potential goals. enternetusers has come to mean many things to many people and to come up with something that summed it all up was impossible. My hope is that rather than the logo bringing meaning to enternetusers that enternetusers will bring meaning to the logo (for more on what I mean by this check out a short piece that Seth Godin posted a while back on Logos - thanks to Seth both for the post and for his feedback on the logo during the testing process).

The template - Teasers:

The new blog template will hopefully be launched in the next 24 hours and once again is another departure from the current design in many ways. I’ve been testing it with a number of readers and the reactions have been encouraging - although some have been surprised by the extent of the changes.

  • The new design features no AdSense and will be monetized only by 125 x 125 ads (enquire about being an advertiser here) and a few affiliate programs/recommended products
  • The blog itself will be fresher, cleaner and less cluttered
  • We’ll be utilizing a footer area to de-clutter some of the sidebar
  • The front page at enternetusers.net will look and operate radically differently - but there will be an option for people who just want to see a more normal looking ‘blog’

The new template is just one step in the evolution of enternetusers and I’m certain that in the days, weeks and months after we launch it this week that there will be numerous changes, tweaks and new features added - many of which I hope will be a result of your comments and suggestions. I’d love it if you’ll beta test it with me over the next few weeks.

Thanks to Mike and Ben for all their work on this - particularly Ben who has been on the job for weeks now and has poured a lot of time and energy into the project. Thanks also to the numerous people that I asked to look over this logo and template design - your feedback and critiques were all very helpful in refining what we have produced).

So now it’s over to the enternetusers community to have your say about the logo. As always, your opinion is valued and will be heard - all I ask is that you be constructive with your critiques so that we can continue to improve what we’re building here with the site.

PS: stay tuned for the new template design in the coming hours.

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