Some bloggers are all about the numbers. Others do it just because they like it. I’m definitely in the latter group. However, after two years of doing this, I’ve decided to spend a little time trying to increase my readership. As a result, you will probably notice a few changes around here.
So far, I’ve added Facebook “Like” buttons and Google+ “+1” buttons to the site.
I’ve also created a Blogger website. Blogger has its own network allowing people to follow blogger sites very easily. I thought it might be beneficial to tap into that by posting a link on that site whenever I add a new post here. That way people can follow the blogger site to see when there are updates. Whether it generates any traffic or not, I wanted to check out blogger to see what all it offers. So far I’m rather impressed with its ease of use and relative flexibility (which I didn’t expect in a template site).
My next step is to make a number of improvements around here that I’ve been putting off. There are lots of little things that I’ve been meaning to work on for some time but just never got around to. For instance, some buttons and other page elements still use images where CSS would be better. Also, my archive list is getting rather lengthy. Instead of a list of months, I want a collapsible list. I have one in the sidebar that I am testing but have left the original in the footer as a backup.
One issue that has bugged me for a while is the Contact page. It works just fine but behaves rather oddly. When you fill out the form and click “Submit”, it sends me two emails instead of one. It should then notify the user that the email was sent and offer a “Continue” button to return to the Contact page. It does that but it also displays another copy of the confirmation message and Continue button in the upper left of the page. Looking at the generated source, I see that this extra copy is placed in the header instead of the body. So far I have been entirely unable to figure out what’s going on. But as I said, it works just fine. It just looks odd.
The contact page also was using plain old boring input boxes. I prettied those up a bit and increased the font size (as well as the size of the message box). It was using a default submit button but I replaced that with an image-based button last night. Tonight, I should be able to replace all the image-based buttons on the site with css buttons (which speeds up page rendering).
I’ve had a “Popular Posts” box in the sidebar for at least a year. However, it was just a list of some of my favorite posts and wasn’t updated very often. I’ve installed some code that will actually track page views and generate a dynamic list of popular posts based on those numbers. It currently shows the top five but I think I’ll bump it up to ten.
As you probably know, I’ve been playing with mapping again lately. I think it’s time to add a “Tutorials” section. I already have a number of tutorials and plan on doing many more. In fact, my tutorial on Realistic Coastlines is by far the most viewed post on this site. It received awards from the Cartographer’s Guild and sees a great many hits regularly from them. I’ve been meaning for some time to revisit that post and expand upon it. Hopefully, I’ll get to that soon.
Most embarrassing of all is my RSS feed. I just recently became aware that it isn’t styled properly. The text and images are just dumped there. It’s very readable but it’s not pretty. I will be correcting that soon (ish). Similarly, I have done nothing to support mobile devices. Having never done that before, it may take some time as I’m not sure what all will be involved. All my design has been around a fixed width site so adapting it to a fluid format may be a bit involved.
I would really like to add a “followers” box in the sidebar (similar to what blogger uses), where people can “join” the site and it lists the number of followers as well as a random selection of avatars. I cursory search through WP plugins didn’t find anything. I’ll look more fully later, but I suspect I’ll have to write something myself.
Aside from improving the site, I don’t have many ideas as to how to increase readership. I’m well versed in SEO (although I choose to ignore some aspects that would make SEO “experts” cringe). I’ve added a few social networking buttons and use twitter at least minimally. Posting on other sites and in forums, with a link to the site is effective. Seeing the aggressive nature of posters in many forums, I tend to shy away from that tactic though.
That’s about where I’m at at the moment. Sorry for the ramble but I’m still sorting out exactly what I plan to do. Mostly, I’m focusing on making some improvements around here and then throwing some links around in likely places.
I tend to work on the site live so if you see something odd, it’s probably just me fiddling with the code.