RAQ: Tips for Starting a Personal Blog?

Today I had the opportunity to do a presentation for a group in St. Cloud, Minn., and afterward Misty Sweeter (@MistyS01), a recent PR graduate, tweeted a question:

Hi Lee, good job presenting at Creative Memories today! Got me thinking about starting my own personal blog, any tips?

A. First, I think it’s great you’re considering starting your own blog. As you’re looking for ways to distinguish yourself, starting a blog is a great way to do it. It lets you show you can write, and to expand on your ideas.

I would recommend using WordPress.com as your platform, because it’s easy, fast and free, but yet gives you a lot of power to develop your own customized look. Blogger.com is likewise free, and some say it’s simpler, but unlike WordPress.com it doesn’t give you the opportunity to move to a self-hosted solution as you grow.

Even though the basic WordPress.com service is free, I would recommend that you spend about $20 for one upgrade.

When you set up your WordPress.com account, your blog’s URL would be something like mistysweeter.wordpress.com. That’s fine unless you decide later that you want to move to a self-hosted version of WordPress. So you want to take “wordpress.com” out of your URL. You can accomplish this by purchasing a URL (like mistysweeter.com, if it’s available) and using domain mapping to have that be your blog’s URL, even though it would be hosted on WordPress.com.

The whole thing will probably cost you about $20 a year, but the value is that it helps you build your personal brand, and one that can have some staying power. The last thing you want to do is write some good posts, have others link to them, and then move your blog to a new domain, which would mean those external links would be broken.

So buying the domain name will probably cost you about $10 a year, and the domain mapping on WordPress.com also will cost $10 per year.

This course, Blogging 305: Domain Mapping, give details on how you do this.

Beyond that, just think about what you want to write, and whether you want to include video posts as well. I think having some video will show you as a more well-rounded communicator, and having some text-based posts will enable you to showcase your writing and thinking processes.

I’ll look forward to seeing what you do with this.

Tweet for Proposals (TFP) on WordPress MU Hosting

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My good friend Lucien Engelen (@zorg20) tells the story of how he used Twitter to find someone able to develop an iPhone application for him in an extremely short time. He says it would have taken him weeks to do an RFP or ask one of his analysts to identify options, and by using Twitter he had the whole project completed (and the app in the iTunes store) within just a couple of weeks or so.

I’m taking a lesson from him, but in a different application, and doing my first TFP, or “Tweet for Proposals.”

Here’s the background:

Our Mayo Clinic blogs, including our Health Policy Blog, News Blog, Podcast Blog and Sharing Mayo Clinic, among others, have been hosted on WordPress.com until this point.

We started with WordPress.com because it was easy, fast, reliable and didn’t require us to dedicate IT resources and servers, and because it would eventually enable us to move to a self-hosted solution without losing Google juice. The URLs would all remain the same, but would be pointed to a different server.

I believe the time for our migration has come, and I would like to move our blogs from WordPress.com to a WordPress MU installation to create an easier growth path and also to give us more flexibility in plug-ins, widget embedding, etc.

Here’s what I think we need:

  1. Help setting up the WordPress MU platform.
  2. Help in migration from our existing WordPress.com blogs to the new platform, including mapping each of the URLs to the MU platform.
  3. Hosting and support that is rock solid and available 24/7. WordPress.com has been excellent in meeting traffic surges and has enabled us to focus on content instead of technical issues.

In essence, I think our ideal provider would have experience in migrating blogs from WordPress.com to the WordPress MU platform, and would currently be hosting several blogs on a WordPress MU installation. We’re not looking for a provider to do anything with content or comment moderation, but solely hosting and technical assistance, managing plug-ins, and otherwise enabling us to gain extended functionality as well as flexibility and scalability.

We could consider hosting on our own servers, and if you would want to propose that kind of model, we would be open to discussing. I would like to see, though, if we could get the 24/7 support from someone who is in the server business instead of expecting it from our IT staff.

I would appreciate it if you would pass this TFP on to anyone you think would be qualified, and I welcome any recommendations you have for suitable providers. Please leave them in the comments below. If you want more information or to discuss this off-line, send me a note here: aase (dot) lee (at) mayo (dot) edu.

Exploring Facebook Connect

I decided to explore adding Facebook Connect functionality to SMUG on Friday night.

I know what you’re thinking: “So that’s how you spend your Friday nights?”

At any rate, I just wanted to explain some clunky looking interface issues that you may see for a day or so while I figure this out.

Please bear with me. After I get the bugs worked out I will share how I did it.

Meanwhile, I appreciate Nick Dawson’s encouragement to try this. He said he’s using the WP-Facebook Connect plug-in in version 2.8.x of WordPress, even though the directory says it’s only compatible through version 2.6.


ISHMPR Presentation in Sun Valley

Idaho has one of the unique state associations for hospital or health care marketing and public relations. It actually has a vowel in its acronym, unlike Florida (FSHMPRM), Wisconsin (WHPRMS) and Minnesota (MHSCN). But then again, they don’t really have a choice since their state begins with a vowel.

Here are the slides I’m showing as part of my presentation to ISHMPR today. You can follow and participate in the discussion on Twitter using the #ISHMPR hashtag.