Force of Good has been an active blog going on eight years. It started off using a standard Typepad template. In 2008 Paul Stamatiou moved the design from three to two columns and Blake Perdue created the custom design template that is currently being used. With the exception of the move to Disqus commenting in 2011 the look and feel has been pretty much unchanged in six years.
It's time for a facelift.
While I still love the relatively clean design of the blog I have managed to clutter it up over the years. Moreover the site is not optimized for mobile and visitors that are accessing FoG via mobile is growing rapidly. I intend to move to a single column design to address this change in audience behavior.
I can provide pretty good creative input and design direction. Wireframes even. I lack technical design skills and need some help with that work. Blake is a bit too busy at the moment to lend a hand. If you are a reader of FoG, have design skills, and are looking for a fun quick project I would love to hear from you.
Truth be told I seriously contemplated using the occasion to shut it down. Outside of family I have very seldom done anything in my life for more than five years. Seven in my mind is the absolute longest time anyone should do any one thing. But for some reason I could not bring myself to turn it off.
The annual stats over the life of the blog show a certain disinterest. The past year was the lowest number of posts that I have authored since FoG started. And the comments, which is the only thing that really makes this more than just a self-aggrandizing free flow of not totally organized thoughts, dropped 6x.
But it seems that over the past month or so I have figured out how to discuss some of the things that are going on in my startup world and that I may be able to keep on a pace to put up two posts a week which in my mind about what is needed to build a healthy community.
So I decided to remain calm and carry on. Like family, FoG has become a little too cherished to leave.
I switched comments to Disqus based on some reader feedback which on the whole is a better user experience and increased engagement. Unfortunately unless I want to shell out $299 a month they offer no analytics. While really wanting to know how many comments/reactions have been made since the switch it seems a little rich to me. And for whatever reason HubSpot killed Blog Grader. All in all too many NAs in the table above.
Given what I have the most important thing to note is that posts are down 40%. Primary cause being that I am now directly involved in a startup as opposed to helping other folks with their startups. It's hard to find time to write and many of the most interesting things that I do are difficult to discuss in an open forum.
Back in February when I reported stats for FoG at the age of five I noted the large drop in comments. I received a few responses, two of which are shown below.
Pretty interesting to note that they came via Twitter, somewhat proving the point Andrew, and Wayt were making. It also confirmed that FoG needed a commenting and social facelift.
So I facelift she got. Using Fred Wilson's A VC as a model FoG now is using Disqus as its commenting system and has some nifty new bottom page naviagation that I believe will increase page views. The sidebar has also been cleaned up a bit. Most of the heavy lifting of this project was done by Matt Smith a rising young star in this community.
If anyone has any other thoughts for improvements or specific requests please let me know. In the comments.
FoG turned five this week. As been the habit here are the stats over the course of the life of the blog.
OneTwo Three Four Five Visitors 2,525 12,792 43,166 46,445 40,745 Posts 135 204 178 152 158 Comments 52 253 685 655 402 Conversational Index .38 1.24 3.85 4.31 2.54 Technorati Rank 788,400 189,138 180,054 46,798 41,981 Blog Grader Rank 10,442 56,879
Interesting. Posts are basically flat while visitors and comments are down. I still attribute this to a conscious decision to not write to build traffic. I have moved away from articles that get things all stirred up while not being impactful.
The most concerning thing to me is the drop in comments. At its core FoG is a an Atlanta startup community blog. One of the few that has remained active over the past five years. If the community is not talking it is concerning. Part of that may be the type of content I am presenting. Part of it may be that FoG needs a bit of a commenting/social facelift (a goal for 2011) as reflected in the Blog Grader rank drop. Part of it may be something that I do not quite grasp just yet. If you have any thoughts on that I am eager to hear them.
Lastly the Technorati rank is interesting. Yes, I am aware that this is a bit of an old metric but perhaps also meaningful. If you take the drop in traffic coupled with the increase in ranking it would lead to a conclusion that less people are reading blogs these days. Not a big surprise to an online ADD world that is being trained to think in 140.
So FoG is five. Happy birthday. And thanks to all of you that make it what it is.
It's Atlanta Web Week. Altanta Web Week is a series of events, parties, and studio hops built around Web Directions USA with the intent to celebrate Atlanta's vibrant web community.
Web Directions was founded down under back in 2004 by Johnn Allsopp and Maxine Sherrin. They put on conferences in Australia, Japan, and England. They decided to bring their web goodness to the USA and chose Atlanta as the place to do so. Smart folks are John and Maxine.
They take a different approach to conferences. Call it the Regator approach. They do not call for speakers, they put together programs based on current industry trends and find entertaining and practical speakers. Their overall philosophy is to put together conferences that they want to attend. Sounds good to me. To pull this all together John has been making the rounds and is working with Atlanta Web Design Meetup Group and AIGA Atlanta.
The whole week has lots of free industry events and parties. The Web Directions conference itself is $999. Use the code ATDC to get a big bad discount. I am looking forward to dropping in from Lift for the open web landscape discussion (Loews Midtown is going to be hopping on Thursday).
If are not able to make the scene at Loews Web Directions is holding their first ever Amped hack event on Saturday at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. It’s a free hack day for web devs and designers. It's going to be catered. There's going to be have a party at the end. There's going to be prizes including an all expenses paid trip to Japan for Web Directions East. Sounds like a hack day like no other.
This week in Atlanta is going to be a world wide web extravaganza.
Unlike past years the numbers presented above are not cumulative. Doing so makes it easier to understand what is transpiring. I also added a row showing the number of posts and used this info to calculate a Don Dodge version of a conversational index.
The number of posts written on FoG has fallen. Part of this, I am sure, is that I manage multiple blogs these days. Another big part was I took a spring break from writing last year to gain a little perspective. When I cranked things back up in the summer I had made the conscious decision that I was not going to write to build traffic, I was going to write to build community as well as devote more of my free time to other endeavors.
Traffic continues to grow, albeit at a decreasing rate. More important to me is the fact that the conversational index is a healthy and a good indicator of the community here.
The Technorati rank also has taken quite a jump, driven by the number of inbound links currently pointing to FoG. I also ran FoG through Blog Grader and it emerged with a grade of 95.8 and a rank of 10,442 which put FoG in the 94% percentile.
Somehow or the other I came to be known as a quasi-expert on personal branding. And with the unemployment rate topping 8% the pace of people coming to me and asking about personal branding has taken quite a spike in the past month of so. Surprisingly, all of the people that are doing so are currently gainfully employed (those that are not just want job leads, which is a bad strategy).
Also surprising is that they are really coming to ask me about online identity management, which is just one facet of a holistic personal branding effort. While I may save the broader personal branding discussion for a real expert or a later day, personal branding is essentially the way an individual communicates their unique promise in value in the same manner a company would. Online identity management focuses on creating a positive and distinguished Web presence of a person on the Internet.
Here are ten steps I recommend to manage your online identity.
1. Conduct An Vanity Search Audit
Have one of your friends do a vanity
search audit (Google, LIve & Yahoo!). I recently had a meeting with a young lady to discuss
managing her online brand. She was a little surprised I googled her
before our meeting. Even more surprised that I found one of her niche
social networking profiles with a reference to drinking and partying.
2. Clean Up Your Debris
If the audit uncovers anything unseemly, pick it up and discard it.
3. Control Your Social Network Audiences
Control is not a bad thing. Close down your more social social network profiles to your real friends. You don't want people that are searching for you as part of a background check to see comments from your college roommate on Facebook or MySpace. Maybe that is just me. Then again, maybe not.
4. Be You
Cleaning up your debris and making sure some potential hiring company or business partner does not have full access to all your social networks does not mean losing your personality and becoming some sterile drone (discretion is a good quality). Be nice, be helpful, demonstrate a little expertise, and above all be yourself. It is the only way that you can be consistent enough to create a brand of you.
5. Create Home Base
A place where you put all the stuff that you want people to find out about you. It can just be a collection of links to other places to find you on the Web, an online portfolio, a blog, or all of the above. You can do this on the cheap with tools such as blogger.com but you don't want a cheap personal brand and...
6. Home is Really Google
Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research believes that a company's home page is really google.com. So is your personal home page. Professionals are googling you. Before they meet you. Before they interview you. As an example the number one keyword phrase driving traffic to FoG is "Lance Weatherby". It has the second keyword phrase beat by 100%
In his article Jeremiah points to some research that indicates the top three search results are clicked on 75% of the time. You want to own those SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) and if at all possible you want to dominate the entire default preference of 10 results. How can you do that?
7. Register a Personal Domain
I can not think of a single person that I know that has a personal domain that does not have the number one SERP on a vanity search. Fifty six percent of the people that search for you are going to click on that number one link. Own it and control you online identity destiny.
8. Customize Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is purely professional and can be effectively managed as a pillar of your online identity. Personalize your LinkedIn public profile to the form http://www.linkedin.com/in/lanceweatherby. It will return better search results. Instructions for doing so as well as other methods to promote your public profile are here. To expose your profile to anyone using LinkedIn go to the Edit Public Profile Settings and select Full View. Make your profile as complete as your resume.
9. Scribd It
Great place to post your bio, resume and other portfolio materials. Make sure the files you upload are saved with your full name in the file name. I put my resume up in January. It is currently the fifth SERP on my name.
10. Use Niche Social Media
You can use niche sites to fill out your top SERPS. ClaimID (which I really like a lot), Naymz, and Rapleaf are all online identity management services that could be utilized. If you are really active and social online a number of niche sites could fill this void. Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, you name it. Just be aware if it is searchable people will search and find it.
And everything else. To create a positive online identity that highlights your achievements and skills you must actively manage your Web presence. Hopefully these steps will get you moving down that road.
On Friday Patrick Clements tweeted out that I had linked to a presentation about personal marketing. He could not find it. Either could I. Made a comment to me that it was something edgy. The only thing I could think of was Marta Kagan's social media marketing deck.
But my Startups in 12 Quotes deck attracted a follower that had faved "how we all become ELVIS, a note on personal brands."
Force of Good is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You are free to share, remix, and share alike with attribution.
The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone (with the exception of comments by others of course). They do not represent the opinion or position of any other person or entity. All postings adhere to my personal values.