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Posts tagged with: Blogging

Back to basics – a new blog design


The previous incarnation of my blog – more of a magazine style – allowed me to present a more diverse range of content. But what is the point of that if the format imposed means you are restricted in how to categorise what you write? Finding a way to make the old Max Magazine theme work for the sorts of things I wanted to write never worked quite the way I wanted it.

So I’ve gone back to basics. This blog now, once again, looks more like a blog. It is based on the Focused theme by Site5. Here’s a summary of the main changes:

  1. A more blog-style homepage
  2. Fully responsive design – so the pages should look good on anything from a small phone screen up to a 30″ monitor
  3. More space for larger photos
  4. A clearer, lighter and simpler design
  5. Use of Google fonts for headlines
  6. 2-click social media sharing buttons for better data protection
  7. A clearer overview – in the main menu – of the main themes of the blog
  8. Dedicated sections for the articles I am writing elsewhere, and for live streams and videos of my presentations, including adding all old material into these sections

A slight mishap during the rebuilding process meant some subscribers were deluged with e-mails – this has now been solved!

Anyway, do let me know what you think of the new design!

Do let me know what you think!

[UPDATE] A few stats looking back. This is at least the 5th different design of my blog in the 8 and a half years I have been writing it. The first year it ran on pLog (that became LifeType) and since then on WordPress. There are 1778 published posts, meaning 1 post every 0.57 days in that time. 11086 comments have been approved at the time of writing.

3 years of BloggingPortal.eu

Today marks 3 years of our little blogging project – BloggingPortal.eu

It started as a conversation between Stefan, Andreas and I, and all the coding work was done by Stefan. The inspiration for it came from this blog post I wrote, and I still own the domain name. Beyond that I am a rather inactive partner in the enterprise these days – others have taken on the everyday work.

The aim of the project is as important now as it ever was – to bring an alternative perspective on EU affairs to a wider audience. The site does not try to be a complete take on EU affairs – we cannot achieve that. But for an alternative view, something from outside the Brussels bubble, it remains a vital resource. We still have no cash and no real organisation behind the site, something we wonder about fixing, but we’re still going strong.

Why there’s no LabourList column from me today

It seemed like an excellent opportunity – to write a weekly column for LabourList, one of the biggest left-leaning blogs in the UK. Take EU matters to a new, wider audience. So I thought. In the second half of 2011 I churned out more than 20 columns, and a variety of other pieces.

But things have not turned out as I had expected and – at my own choice – I am weighing up whether the columns should continue. Things are on hold for now.

Above all, the joy of blogging (here on this blog in any case) is that hitting Publish is only the start. I learn from the comments, the comments are largely civil, and themes grow over time. Importantly I get an e-mail notification every time a new comment is posted to allow me to follow discussions. On LabourList I can’t get this, meaning that by the time I go back to the website I’m treated either to a stream of critique, or comments that have departed at a tangent. There I don’t have the tools to engage with the audience properly. Secondly, there is no RSS feed of just my posts, meaning no way to auto-import into Facebook or auto-tweet my posts, two important ways I generate useful discussion around what I write here. I’ve even volunteered my technical assistance – for free – to solve these issues, to no avail.

More widely, writing to a weekly schedule is rather tiresome, as I am used to the immediacy of blogging, while writing columns on a Sunday morning is probably the last time I would choose to do it. Plus – apart from an interesting spat with Emma Reynolds over my critique of Douglas Alexander – what I’ve written has generated very little substantive follow up. I also have no meaningful feedback on whether what I write – either in terms of style or substance – is what the readers of LabourList want.

Thoughts and comments from LabourList readers and others would be most welcome in light of this blog post…

The notion that social media is a great leveller is wrong

For someone as active as I am in social media, perhaps the title of this blog entry is a little extreme. But bear with me. Or, to be more precise, bear with me those of you in the ever dwindling band of people who are going to read this.

This blog, I have concluded, exists mostly thanks to a combination of fortuitous circumstances 6 years ago that has seen me through to this, my 1461st post.

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brusselsblog.eu – a little project for readers in the EU capital?

Back a couple of years ago when I lived in Brussels I was struck by the lack of good quality information online in English about life in the city. Too many people in Brussels for work in and around the EU institutions never see the best of Brussels, and the idea was to create a blog – www.brusselsblog.eu – that would address that need. The inspiration was drawn from the French language BXL Blog.

Anyway, I still own the domain name, WordPress is installed and running, and I have an initial expression of assistance from @bramsmets on Twitter. The need for the blog very much still exists. Anyone else want to chip in and help? If so please comment here, or contact me!

Why it’s not yet time to capitulate to Facebook

Joe Litobarski wrote a post earlier today entitled “Blogs are Dead… Long Live Facebook!” Like a lot of Joe’s stuff it’s a thoughtful case, but, ultimately – in my view – wrong.

Far from becoming redundant, blogs are simply changing – blogging and the mainstream media are merging (more from Charlie Beckett here), so as some blogs become bigger and more influential, so many hobby bloggers stop. I’m not sure this is a problem, and it’s definitely not the death of blogging. Joe and I are largely in the same boat – we don’t make money directly from blogging, but the pursuit complements the rest of the stuff we do.

The question as a blogger is then: who are my readers, and how do I engage with them?

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