Last night I joined fellow bloggers for another rendezvous of the London Bloggers Meetup Group. After some humming and hah-ing about which venue to assemble at, we found ourselves back at the Coach & Horses in Soho, for a night of blog-ducation.
M3Mobile sponsored the evening, buying beers for the first twenty-ish people. I must (typically) have been number 21 to arrive because there were no beers for me and the upstairs wine was £5.75 a glass! (Didn’t realise at the time that we weren’t supposed to bring drinks up from the downstairs bar, so I avoided the queue and did just that. The downstairs wine was cheaper by far! Later on in the ‘Naughty Corner’, as we dubbed the tiny upstairs terrace, we wine drinkers had a therapeutic moan about that. We need to corner a wine sponsor!) Almost immediately I managed to meet Barbara, one of the bloggers on my must-meet list. She runs a company called Glocal Travel specialising in sustainable travel to Mexico and blogs about it. She’s up for an award so congratulations on the nomination, Barbara!
I also chatted with Chris, who blogs about music and must meet The Plummet Onions writer, Tim, who was at a gig last night so unable to join us. Then there was Mehrdad, a photographer who is also web-design-techy enough to give me good advice about how to get help jazzing up this site so it doesn’t look so WordPress-y anymore so thank you to him. Kate, who blogs for cheapeats told us about a wonderful Thai in Waterloo. Apparently its looks belie the tasty food to be had inside for a song. Kate – when you read this, please would you send me the name again?
Then Andy introduced the first of our Blog School lecturers, Xavier Damman, who told us all about his brainchild, Commentag, a tag filtering plugin that helps organise your discussions and displays tag clouds for your comments. “If you have no tags, you have no visibility,” he told us. “And if you make a comment that receives no response, it’s a waste of time.” Well, yes and no. I think it depends on what you want to get out of your blog.
Next, Improbulus took the floor to talk about her blog which receives upward of 2000 hits a day. Here’s some of her advice for us blog-folk:
- The title is important. Use good words in the title to capture your audience’s attention.
- The first 55-60 words should contain the key words relating to that post.
- When tagging, use synonyms, UK AND US spelling, singular and plural forms, and when words could appear as one, two or hyphenated, use all forms. As one blogger pointed out, this is often sorted out for you automatically by the search engine.
- Link OUT, especially to Wikipedia. This encourages discussion.
- Multi-link the same reference to Wikipedia and one or two other sites.
- Refer to previous posts. You don’t have to do the “click here” method each time; you can highlight key words and link them instead.
- When you get your own domain name it will take a while to build up your readership under the new name so if you’re intending to change, do it sooner rather than later.
- A single comment feed for the entire blog helps raise traffic.
- Specialisation tends to help. (although some disagreed with this point. As one chap said, it depends on what you’re looking for.)
- Use Friendfeed to aggregate all your activities, such as Twitter.
- Frequency of publishing is important.
- Write posts ahead and build up your stock.
- Re: Google Adsense, put the Google search box on the blog. Most of Improbulus’s revenue comes from the box, not ads.
After a quick break for a chat with our new best friends (cue Jed and a crowd from Qype), we had further presentations from Tony Scott about the upcoming Wordcamp UK and M3 about their product. Then it was time for me to go, or so I thought, only somehow I ended up (yet again) putting the world to rights with Tony, Andy Roberts DARNETand Tony’s friend, Tim, over some extra beverages. We talked about the blogging evening, whether or not marriage is a valid institution, Wordcamp, the meaning of smirting and new age festivals.
That’s what I love best about these evenings: how many conversations you can have about completely unrelated topics with people you’ve only just met. I went home with a handful of new Moo cards and a head full of ideas. Thank you again, Andy Bargery, for organising the event. I will be back.
PS Do you think I squeezed enough tags into this post???
The next London Bloggers Meetup will be on 29th July at 7.30pm, venue TBC