How I blog, my blogging tools

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

I began blogging at Elephant's Eye in June 2009. Between Blogger and Wordpress, Blogger won with David Kutcher who gives technical support and encouragement on Google Plus and his blog Confluentforms.

Iron Bridge on the Berg River near Porterville
Iron Bridge on the Berg River near Porterville

Daily - I moderate comments. Check Gmail (for spam, and) to retrieve where the spam filters have been TOO enthusiastic. Stats at Blogger include referrer spam (which David K says is harmless, ignore it). StatCounter - Came from (which blog or website brings me traffic?) - Exit links (did you click, what?) - Downloads (why THAT image?) I read about 100 blogs via Feedly.


Berlin Wall from MeinGartenImFliesstal
Berlin Wall from MeinGartenImFliesstal

Weekly. Webmaster Tools for Crawl errors, to sort out or redirect. Pageloads and Visitors 'last week' from StatCounter.

Monthly. In March, January posts got a Jump Break and I closed comments. StatCounter - Daily visits last month. Pingdom load time - clear away what slows my blog. ClustrMap - running totals. Blogger Audience last month - what % of my readers are on Mobile? Clear cache and cookies, reset blocking cookie at Blogger. Check Blogger and StatCounter and Feedburner - for popular posts last month. Feedburner - number of subscribers - remind unverified email subscribers.

Lady Loch Bridge near Wellington
Lady Loch Bridge near Wellington

Inspiration. I schedule rough ideas for weekly posts. Garden photos collect in a file across a (normal after building) month - towards WFW and EOMV. Travel or daily life - and a wild card today.

Photos first. Sorting my ideas as I chose which ten (stretched by collages, NOT good for mobile readers. Sigh). Each image tells its own slice of today's story. Trim the photo to focus on what I want you to look at. Watermark against scrapers. (Yes, I know it is easily removed, but, it's like locking the front door to our house). It's not about - flattered that you like my photo. It is about - perhaps they tweak a little, perhaps they add their OWN watermark, perhaps they SELL our photo. Fair use with a link back to me and mine, OK. Better to ask first, I've learned. Reduce the image size to 600 pixels across the long side - quality is fine for the blog, but doesn't appeal for scraping a print. Last - give each image a useful meaningful searchable name.

Doring River Bridge
Doring River Bridge

Post text. I aim at 500ish words - enough to tell a story, but not demand a chunk of your precious time. Caption the photos - information for the reader who wonders which yellow flower is ... and it's Search for Images (which brings me a chunk of readers).

Jaundiced eye of a Cape weaver lady
Jaundiced eye of a Cape weaver lady

I look at my blog home page (only the latest post so it's quickest) with a jaundiced eye each time I post, to tweak and adjust where something jars. Byline and tagline at the top of the post, link to G+ profile and back to my blog with info on links and comments at the bottom. Day and Night map as your reward for reaching the Footer. I use lots of links, back to my own posts where they add depth, and also out to other sites where they add breadth - with useful searchable text in the hyperlink (we want to rank high on Google for Click Here?)

Bridge near Redelinghuys
Bridge near Redelinghuys

I've learned the hard way - when I can't find my own post about ... to confirm that I did actually USE those words which I think the post is about. From David Amerland, I've learned to edit out old posts which no longer draw traffic. I've deleted all the dead blogging posts from my original blog. My blog runs smoothly with Avira, Glary and CCleaner.

June Blogaversary collage with Canva in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains
June Blogaversary collage with Canva
in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains

Disclaimer - my blog, my rules.
PS I am NOT throwing Shoulds at you. This is what works for me and mine.

Pictures by Diana Studer  
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay 

(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.
To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below,
or click this post's title)

Comments

  1. I think I will bookmark this post for later reference. You do a lot of things I probably should but have never thought about. I use Wordpress, but I'm sure much of this would translate. Thanks for taking the time to share this information.

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    1. While admitting I have no practical knowledge of WP, yes I think all those tools would work for you. Pick and mix what seems useful or interesting.

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  2. Those tips are really good. As I said earlier, thanks for sharing them with us.

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    1. tried and tested over almost 6 years ;~)

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  3. It's always good to hear how others do things. I also always learn a thing or two. The best part of blogging for me is the people I meet. Like You. You've introduced me to Susan Tweit, and what a pleasure that has been. Another thing I do—by way of tips—is keep my gmail address for tweets, Google+ notes, and other social media and my personal address for friends, which includes the blog, which feeds directly into that email. I like it that way. Of course, there is overlap, but it doesn't overwhelm me when I sign in.

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    1. yes, that Gmail division I learnt a little too late. I use the personal one to log in to the blog. The second for G+ and the third for this blog's comments. If I was starting fresh I'd have one for RL friends, and a second for social media.

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  4. It is good to know what works for you Diana, and a lot of it will work for others. When I switched from Blogger to Wordpress it was the perfect time to get rid of the clutter. Both Blogger and Wordpress are great platforms to use. We shouldn't be influenced by those places that say we need this or that to make things better. Do what works for you. I'd sooner have 10 people visit and comment and return than a 100 people just pass through and you never see again. I hope you keep sharing your tips and ideas.

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    1. I use Pingdom to prompt me to get rid of slow clutter. It's the readers I value (including the 9 out 10 who don't comment, I don't always comment altho I read every word when I do visit). This post was prompted by traffic to an old blogging post - many of those tools are gone, or abandoned by me. Today's post is what I DO use now.

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  5. Oh, you are much more organized than I am. Yes, I need to do some of these things, too. I have so many post ideas running around my head at any given time. My problem is finding the time to do them all. Will your sixth blogaversary be in June? Congratulations!

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    1. Blogging's learning curve feeds into my OCD. It is a little piece of my world that I can shape and control - among the utter building chaos. Sob.

      When the ideas sparkle - I collect a named folder of images, or do a VERY rough draft - which is what I need as I plan April's posts.
      Not sure when to celebrate this new blog's aversary - so I've decided to stay with I began, in June.

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  6. Thanks for the tips, Diana. I am pinning for future reference and I have shared your post on the new Wednesday feature on the TO40's group today. xo Laura

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    1. coming to see the new Wednesday ...

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  7. Interesting reading and thank you for all the tips. I have to look into some of these things.
    Wishing you a Happy Easter!
    xoxo Ingrid

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    1. your flowers always light up my blog reading

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  8. What works for you, Diana, makes excellent reading for us! I always find your tips and ideas useful in my own humble blog efforts. P. x

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    1. Useful to me as well, to review the tools that I do use, and steadily edit out what doesn't serve me.

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  9. Wow, you do a lot of the things I have been meaning to do for so long but I can’t seem to find the time – I have even had to cut down the amount of posts I make as I simply haven’t got enough hours to spare. I also have a website which I have had up and running since 1999 – very long for a website. I started a revamp on some of the 20 or so sections some years ago but all the ‘under the bonnet’ stuff has sadly slipped to the back burner. Where can I apply for 4-5 more hours in the day?!
    Thanks for the links to helpful tips, I have bookmarked them and will read them – when I get a spare moment :-)

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  10. So interesting, I decided to scroll back up again open and check out another of your post links, well I suppose you can guess what happened, when I came back to my almost finished comment, it existed no longer.
    I must say, I think this is the first time I have book marked a post. Now, I am wondering if the free version of glary is any good. Just an observation, I see that your external links do not open in a new window. I once received information saying its best to have them do so, now, I am not so sure..

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    1. been happily using the free Glary for years. Since my blog isn't monetised I only use free tools.
      I right click links to open in a new tab, unless I'm ready to move on. Some blogs have right click disabled - Stop Thief - which seems rude.

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  11. Oh Diana you rather put me to shame with your professionalism - I tend to post as though sending out a message in a bottle and so have lots of old bottles lying around. Half these tools I have not even heard of so thank you for the prompts.
    p.s. had to go back and read your June 2009 post - your images are brilliant (no wonder they should be watermarked) but it was always your way with words that brought me to EE - now EEFB
    pps I think 'wild card' is a great title in place of 'miscellaneous' category - one of your first pieces of advice to me was get rid of that word!

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    1. different strokes for different folks.
      I like to make order out of chaos, and a blog is a perfect little My World.
      Building chaos in RL has slid me off the rails a bit.

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  12. You are very thorough and organized! Maintaining a blog is a lot of work. Would we have started if we had known? I do some of the same things you do. I also started my blog in 2009, but I have not yet deleted any of my old posts. I probably have not published nearly as many as you!

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    1. It's been my choice step by step that my blog is how I spend my free time. I enjoy both the creativity and the learning curve. But soon ... I'll be in the garden or unpacking boxes.

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  13. Interesting read Diana, I had no idea most of these sites even existed. My own blogging is extremely simplistic. I have Statcounter but never check it anymore as Google changed how keywords are done. I can't tell what people are searching for and that was the one thing I liked to see. Curious why you delete out old posts. Do too many posts slow down the blog?

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    1. for the what, I read between the lines - which post are they coming to. Do they dip in, and out? Do they linger to read that post? The rare reader putters around from post to post and reads, and reads ... Google analytics does give some feedback - 10 people searched for Hibiscus tiliaceus, and 2 clicked on my post. If they searched for ... and did NOT click, perhaps I can rework that post.

      The old posts I deleted are - fluff, link dropping. I've also gathered up a few small posts - from when I was dutifully trying to Post Every Day - and reworked them into one proper post. Everything I've written about blogging is now this single post. My blog is virtual, live, not an archive. If Google Reader is sunsetted, that post is no longer of any use or interest.

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  14. I've never thought of deleting old posts. I think I'm attached to them, not sure if I want to, even if it is sensible. I always appreciate your generosity in sharing your methods and resources. David K is a great find. Like Alastair, I will bookmark this post.

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    1. I've deleted the cringeworthy fillers. Much like pruning, weeding and deadheading in the garden, and a blog doesn't need mulch ;~)

      Paraphrasing William Morris, what stays is either useful or 'beautiful' to me.

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  15. I envy your discipline and organization skills, I truly do! I have learned a lot here today,

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    1. I'm using the blog to get me thru the renovation and cabin fever!

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  16. I never look at the stats, seems like lots of extra work to me. But then I write for me and not anyone else. :)

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    1. Comments are NOT welcome on your blog? If you 'write for me', why a public blog? Why not keep a pretty paper journal?

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  17. Diana I continue to learn so much from you as I did when I started blogging. I need to remind myself to give my pics searchable names.

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  18. Diana, how long have you been blogging? I remember when we were on Blotanical together, seems ages ago. But blogging has gotten more complex and involved since those "oh look a flower" days...in some way good, and others I wonder if the soul of it will recover. But it makes me chuckle when I read the BLOGGING IS DEAD posts, keep them coming...it has only shifted, not croaked.

    Loved your very impressive and delightfully organized list...you my dear should monetize, you would easily be one of those publishing the monthly income reports in the ten's of thousands.

    Jen

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    1. almost 6 years now. During that time we've both moved house and started new blogs.
      I tried adsense and hated it. Not sure I could do advertorials.

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  19. I have not been deleting old posts. Perhaps I should. Thanks for the tip. I must say that I am fascinated by your sunrise map.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

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    1. About the old posts - some of my early ones were cringemaking, so they are GONE.

      The sunrise map draws a steady flow of clicks from 24/7 around the world readers. And that's my proof that readers do get all the way to the bottom of my home page!

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  20. Thanks for the great tips, Diana. I will definitely be checking out some of these ideas and thanks for being such a great member of TO40's. xo Laura

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