31 Days to a Better Blog – Day 2 continued…

If you read yesterdays post, I was embarking on the challenge of 31 days to a better blog and had a new reader which commented (thanks to Liz at Smoke Free Wisconsin!), and I duly emailed back and am pleased to see she is joining me on the challenge with Michele Martin at the Bamboo Project.

Well, the people I was aiming to tackle as being my first time readers to do an audit with had no internet connection when I turned up. So, I kept quiet about my ‘secret life’ as a blogger until something amazing happened later in our evening conversations…My friend said she’d actually looked at my blog and told me without any asking and prompting of how she viewed the site and so on. Really useful. (She liked it! Didn’t understand it all as it wasn’t her thing but liked the style and the layout and the clarity!)

Still not satisfied though, I managed to get another friend to do the dastardly task earlier today. They really only used the web for online management of their accounts and using it to find out information or for researching other organisations and funders. They didn’t get the point or reasoning of blogs and weren’t really enthused at the idea of reading my blog at first but were prepared to give it a go for a bit of bribery on my part, as they know that I am abit of a ‘nptech’ enthusiast and wanted to help!

(A good specimen to try out with!)

It was really interesting to watch them have a go with viewing a blog instead of a ‘normal’ website.
They found the whole experience strangely enlightening. They usually found ‘blogs’ a real put off as they were used to using the web for a different purpose and usually were turned off from reading blogs due to the clutterness that many blogs contain. Never ending home pages due to all the blog-rolls and links at the sides and content which had no reality to their needs. Too much mixed media and mixed messages.

  • Although my ‘trialler’ couldn’t quite understand all that I ramble on about at times, they did like the format and the layout (although pointed out that I need more navigation for the site at nearer to the top of the page where they could get to where they needed easily, especially as a new reader trying to decide whether to spend their time on my site or not.).
  • They said my site had a nice balance of resembling a more normal website which they felt comfortable with (they are non-bloggers!) and used too. They liked the new side quotes feature which I have recently introduced to pull the reader in further to an article and show some key bits of relevant text, and as they said like a magazine, a format which they are comfortable with.
  • They found my site ‘user-friendly’ although took a while to understand what it was about, as they usually viewed traditional websites to scour for relevant information. They liked the language I used. They liked the font and size and balance of colour and space and it not being too cluttered, which they felt was a barrier to them viewing many blogs. Over-clutteredness turned them off.
  • They found my site ‘user-friendly’ although took a while to understand what it was about, as they usually viewed traditional websites to scour for relevant information.
  • They liked the language I used.
  • They liked the font and size and balance of colour and space and it not being too cluttered, which they felt was a barrier to them viewing many blogs. Over-clutteredness turned them off.

Overall I was quite pleased and intrigued with their comments. The person I chose to view, knows me in a different vein as the Manager/Chief Officer of a busy non-profit charity which provides support and advice to others charities and community organisations. We tend to be abit of a mentor and friend to each other as she has a similar role. We often meet and network to share the burden which at times can be heavy and share the humour of the predicaments we can be in, and also to innovate and challenge our processes.
They new that I was a tecchie on the side, but didn’t know about my blog. They liked that I was trying to pull together information and my thoughts on my ‘other activities’ and asked if I would produce a blog on my thoughts and ramblings of being a non-profit Manager of an organisation, highlighting the highs and lows of much of the work that I am involved in, struggling to make sure the money is there, partnership working, strategic overload, looking wider than our remit, and to add some of the funny sketches I produce as an aftermath to record some of the meetings that I take part in. She said I would have a whole host of readers who would love to read this in our local non-profit, voluntary and community sector who would likely become blog friendly and regularly read my blog if it was in this vein to help enlighten their days when they themselves are having ups and downs managing their own organisations. When meeting lots of organisations face to face, they like my innovation and enthusiasm and the way that I can turn deep and dark situations into opportunities rather than threats.

It made me think.

Why am I blogging in the first place?

Why am I not blogging in this way suggested?

Well, if the blog was connected directly to my role and the organisation I work for, I would no matter what have to watch not only my integrity so not to upset partners and potential funders. I have considered a works blog, and we may implement that as time grows.
If I were to blog my own personal views and observations on the work surrounding the charity I manage and my role in partnering with other sectors, I fear at times I would put my organisations core mission in jeopardy, if I blogged too much of the (my personal) humour and the strains and my own personal sketches too. Maybe I would have to do this anonymously, as like some blogs I follow do.

So why do I blog?
Really only from the persuasion of others. When out of my main role as a non-profit manager, and being either a web designer or information architect or circuit rider helping groups find out about new ways with technology or fixing their problems, I am told that I become excited and animated when talking and enthusing about how non-profits can use technology in innovative ways to achieve their mission. Lots of people said “we’d love to read your blog if you produced one” for the last couple of years, so I spent a bit of time thinking about it and finally plunging into it.
I’ve been involved in supporting a wide variety of organisations of all shapes and sizes with all manners of technical support and also designing hands on and also enabling many groups to get on the internet and communicate through good design for themselves for a few years now. So maybe it was the right time to begin to ‘talk on the web’ with my blog. I’d been worried that after reading so many other people’s great blogs, that I would just be regurgitating their stuff and ideas. If I wanted to write about something that was on my mind, I could guarantee that others had already been there and done it before me. Quick searches on Google proved that one and faltered me early on. Then the whole part of information sharing and the fact that ‘information gains value when shared’ (one of my major mantra’s in life) was okay. We all (as bloggers) have our own communities which we are building, supporting and informing in our own way as well as connecting to others wider than our communities. I suddenly felt all okay about it all and had the courage to blog. I should practice what I preach after helping many others begin blogging, so there it was – I will do it too.

Am I writing what people want to read? I don’t know. I have an odd mix of what I want to write about. As well as the nptech side, I am also fanatical about good design, something which often gets let down with the sector I work with. We all do a fine job and bring social change and support the move forward of so many communities so why are we so shy in marketing it well, especially here in the UK?
I’ve spent a bit of personal time out from designing for the last month to get more acquainted with this web 2.0 and fully integrate and understand what benefits it can have with non-profits. I’ve dipped my feet in the waters of Facebook, Twitter and more to get involved with others. It’s been great fun, and helps me to think and write more. Identifying the gaps that I can hopefully aim to meet.

Yes, day 2’s challenge of having a first time reader audit my blog really has helped me to take a well earned step back to begin to evaluate my blog, not just how it looks and how people navigate and can use the site, but also what it is about. and why. It’s helping me to keep a focus already.