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Manchester

The First BBC Manchester Blog Workshop

  • Robin Hamman
  • 23 Feb 07, 11:27 AM

A big thank you to the 20 people to turned up for the first BBC Manchester blogging workshop on Thursday evening.

Because it was the first session, we spent some time at the beginning introducing the project itself and explaining what both you and the BBC can expect. This was followed by a whirlwind tour of blogging tools and techniques which, we hope, gave everyone from complete beginners to experienced bloggers some useful ideas and information.

The tools we looked at included some blogging platforms that are easy to use and, where not free, at least offer you a free trial period to try them out: Blogger, Typepad and Vox. We probably should have also mentioned Live Journal, Myspace which offer some basic blogging features along with social networking. Some of the more technically minded people at the workshop also spoke about MovableType and WordPress. This isn't an exhaustive list - you may find other tools and services out there that more closely meet your requirements.

We also had a look at some bits and pieces that you can use in tandem with your blog to make your content available to a wider audience. Those included the photo sharing site flickr where you can host and "tag" photos then use the "blog this" feature to post the image to your blog. This is a good way of putting some of your blog content out where audiences are, so make sure you link back to your blog from the images you put on flickr. We also briefly mentioned NowPublic, a social news site where you can post newsie audio, video, images and stories and YouTube where you can post video - again, linking from this content back to your blog to help audiences find you.

There are lots of other bolt on services that add functionality to your blog. We pointed out StatCounter which is a useful tool for understanding more about who your visitors are and how they found you. We also briefly showed Technorati which helps bloggers track the buzz their posts generate revealing all the posts on other blogs that link to you. I also showed winksite, a service that makes it possible for people to read your blog on their mobile phone, and Last fm which tracks and displays the most recent music you've played on your computer or mp3 player.

Blogging is both the use of a blogging platform, often with lots of pieces of functionality from other services bolted on, but it's also a technique that enables you to become part of the conversation. Technorati, mentioned above, is the tool of choice for many bloggers who want to find and participate in that conversation. A lot of bloggers also use RSS feed readers to make it easier to watch lots of blogs and other news sources at once. I also finddel.icio.us useful because it allows me to bookmark and share interesting content and can also publish those links to my blog.

The first workshop was also a good opportunity for to find out a little bit more about you. It seems from the feedback that next time round we need to try to have two sessions, one targetted at beginners and that specifically helps them get registered for and start using some of the tools and techniques above, and another session targetted more at intermediate and advanced bloggers. The first session is pretty straight forward for Richard and I to plan so watch this space for details. The second session, however, is a bit more difficult for us to dream up on our own so please do drop us a line or post a comment below if you've got some ideas.

A few people have already blogged about the workshop. We'll do a wrap up post linking out to all of those in the next few days, giving people a chance to blog it if they haven't already done so. We're also looking for photos (silly us - we brought our camera and didn't take any pictres!) so if you've got some, maybe use this opportunity to post them to flickr and tag them with "bbcmanchesterblog" to make it easier for us to find them.

Finally, we'd really like for everyone who attended to post a comment below or send us an email giving us the address of their blogs so that we can put them into our RSS reader and start watching. In the coming days, we'll also send round an email with a few of our editorial guidelines so that you have a better idea of what we can and can't link to.

Many thanks again to everyone who came along and in particular to those who helped spread the word in advance. We're looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the next session(s).

Robin and Richard

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Was nice to meet both of you last night - as well as the some of the other (potential or otherwise) bloggers from around the Manchester area.

I've got some pics from the night, but I've not processed them yet- I'll get them on Flickr once I get a chance (assuming any came out!)

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Hey, sounds like a great time - sorry I missed it. An intermediate-level workshop sounds great. I think it would be good to delve into the shady world of boosting one's rankings. I also hear people complaining that they don't understand how to customise their blogs on the new blogger, so maybe some really techy stuff would be great. Maybe Chris the Mancubist could help us with that?

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Really pleased this took place after having to be cancelled last month due to an act of God (was he trying to tell us something???). It was excellent to meet with Richard and Robin and begin networking amongst fellow bloggers too. I look forward to applying plenty of the ideas nicely summarized above - useful linkage galore! - and making a more effective blog, both in terms of audience and appeal.

To quote a fellow Mancunian, this night has opened my eyes. So thanks!

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I didn't attend as I was otherwise engaged, but will try and make the next one. I'm now onto my 4th (or is it 5th) blog and now have a set of golden rules on how to get, keep and grow traffic. If you'd like some help on any of your future events, feel free to get in touch.

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Hi -

it was fantastic, I was glad to finally see people whom I already knew, as well as all the new faces. And, Robin, your passionate talk about the opportunities and the beauty of Flickr has finally convinced me to use my Yahoo! account to upload photos. Please follow the link, https://www.flickr.com/photos/loscuadernosdejulia/

Needless to say, I'll put this link up on my blog. As for whether or not I begin to geotag my photos, I'll see to do this, providing my mobile is good enough.

All in all, it was a wonderful meeting, and whenever you and Richard need a helping hand at prospective workshops, I'm always there!

All the best, Julia at Notebooks.

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It was really great to see new faces as well as old. Monetizing the blog is of great interest to me but the primary reason I blog is because I love it. As a consequence of last nights workshop I think I will separate my blog from my work and portfolio site Wordcast
and give it its own dedicated site. I will make the new URL available on here in the next few days.

If you would like any help for the next meeting as far as informing people of the adaptability of Wordpress, how to host it, set it up and add plugins I would be only too happy be be of assistance. I think a lot of the existing bloggers have complimentary knowledge to each other .

Heres to future sucessful meetings. Jonathan Fox at Wordcast (for now)

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It was good to see you all there.

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Robin/Richard,

Excellent workshop and I took away many ideas and suggestions that covered a whole host of blogging areas - resulting in a busy weekend!

Unfortunately I didn't get chance to mingle afterwards but hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future.

Regards,
Danny.

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Robin/Richard

I'd have loved to come to your blogging event - I was otherwise engaged.

However, as a long-term blogger (over 400 posts on my favourite blog) I look forward to the advanced workshop. I fully agree with your advice on statcounter - a tool I use. I also use Google Analytics which is even more powerful.

One thing I don't know if you mentioned in your workshop was using a blogging writing tool on your pc before posting. The ones I currently recommend are Elict (if you've more than one blog) and Windows Livewriter for it's loveliness and ability to do most things!

Jim

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