Got My First iphone – Comment With Any Advice Below

My blackberry curve all but died on me so I have replaced it with an iphone 4. I am trying to figure this thing out so all of you guys who are whizzes with this thing feel free to offer up your advice and suggestions in the comments. What free apps do you recommend? What settings do I need to adjust? What tricks should I know about? Thanks in advance!


10 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic

I find blog traffic to be pretty fascinating. I have always been a numbers guy. I took something like 40+ hours of statistics between undergrad and grad school so needless to say blog stats and traffic are interesting to me. One of the first things I had to decide in blogging was that I wasn’t in it for a popularity contest. Early on, I loaded up my sidebar with a couple of different religious blog rankers but after a while I wondered why those we really necessary. Does it make a difference if I am ranked 1 or 100 if I am doing something that is helpful to others? I decided the popularity contest type blogging was not a winning battle and it was not a priority of blogging. When I first began I considered blogging anonymously to make it even less about me but I decided against that because there is something to being able to associate content with a particular person, perspective, and background that I believe is helpful to readers. Being relevant is far more important than whether or not traffic is going up or down. So before I go any further I wanted to make sure that people understand that I don’t see increasing blog traffic as a good thing in and of itself. I do, however, see being relevant and finding ways to spread your important message to as many people as possible as a positive thing.

Back to blog traffic…it really surprises me that some of the very best blogs out there get very little traffic and have very few feed reading subscribers. I read great post after great post but hardly anyone else seems to be reading. Then there are some blogs out there that are weird and don’t really seem to have a whole lot going for them that get loads of traffic. What gets some sites tons of traffic while other, better (in my opinion) sites get little? Here are a couple of things that can drive blog traffic.

  1. Google Page Rank. If you are using the Google toolbar you will see the page rank of each page you visit. It is on a 1-10 scale. The higher your rank, the more likely you are to be higher up in the google results on a given search. Obviously, if you can get in the top 5 hits on a google search for something fairly common you are going to get a lot of traffic based on that. I have seen some posts on other people’s blogs get 200,000 hits in a matter of months just due to search engines. How valuable is that? Not all that valuable unless the post people are reading is something actually worthwhile and something that is a good representative of the content of your blog. I have personally never been that lucky and have never gotten more than 5000 hits off any individual google search term. How do you get a good google page rank? Most of it has to do with how many people have linked to your blog. When people link to you it gives you a certain sense of authority in the eyes of the search engines. It is like saying – other people say this is good so there must be something to it…so google gives that site an edge in google searches. One way to find out how well your blog ranks in searches can be found out through Google webmaster tools. You can read how to use that with wordpress here.
  2. Links from other blogs and websites. The more blogs and websites that link to you, the more opportunity people have to click on your blog. It also gives your blog more authority in search engines. It is important that they see your blog is up to date and has something to say. Giving credit where credit is due is so important. If you get an idea, video, picture, etc from a blog make sure to give them credit through a link.
  3. Shameless self promotion. I know several guys that email everyone on their email list any time they post something new. I don’t fault anyone for doing that. I just can’t do that myself. I figure if I am writing something worth reading, hopefully people will come without me having to stick it in front of them. If people want my posts emailed to them they can subscribe to that service without me forcing it on them.
  4. Content – One way to drive traffic is to be an expert on something. When people actually do arrive at your blog they will be more likely to come back over and over again or even subscribe to your feed if you have something to say that is worth reading.
  5. Your comments – The more you comment out there on other people’s blogs, the more likely people are to click on your comment or your link in the “recent comments” section on the sidebar. It also shows other bloggers that you read their blog and they might want to find out more about who is reading their blog. I know I often click on the web address when someone I don’t know leaves a comment/link to their blog. Personally, I have found that I am not a very good commenter. I am better at reading what someone has written and posting a link to what I find to be exceptional rather than just leave a bunch of comments around. It is never a good idea to comment just to get linked to…it is important you have something to advance the conversation on that person’s blog!
  6. A feed reader that displayed toward the top of your blog. Feed readers may actually reduce the amount of traffic you think you are getting because people will be reading your blog from their email inbox without actually visiting your blog. So your traffic may actually decrease. That is a problem if you are in a popularity contest to see who gets the most hits. That is not a problem if you are wanting your content to reach as many people as possible and make as big an impact as possible. Make it convenient and people will appreciate it.
  7. Wildcard factor – Some blogs just fill a niche and so while they seem weird to us they get tons of traffic because of the personality of the blogger, or because it fills a very particular niche.
  8. Your background – Everyone seems to be an expert in something. Blogging toward your strengths will interest people and draw them in as you talk about the things you know the best. Your experience, writing style, and education can all play a role in making your blog interesting to a particular group of people. It is then just a matter of getting those people to know that your blog exists and that it has content that is interesting to them. Tags and categories are key to accomplishing that.
  9. Effective use of tags and categories. One way of getting your content toward interested people is by effectively using tags and categories. They allow you to put your content in with any of a number of other blog posts that are on a similar subject. People who want to read about your topics can easily find your content there. Tags and categories should be broad and they should be narrow. In other words, using a broad category like “politics” will get a wider audience of people who are searching that category but will also be lumped in with a zillion other posts. A tag like Randy Harris will probably only be with a few dozen other posts at best and so people looking to read about Randy will be likely to view your content.
  10. Blog frequently. The more content you have, the more likely search engines are to pick up your content. Again, make sure what you type is of acceptable in quality and don’t just blog just to blog. Increasing the frequency of your posts will help people see that the blog is an active one as well.

What other ideas have you thought about or found effective?

Facebook – The New Tool for Ministry

I have been amazed at how many of our 20s and 30s are on facebook. Seeing this trend I decided that I would see how well this social networking tool could be used to enhance existing ministries. I started a facebook group for our 20s and 30s aptly called Northwest 20s & 30s we got over 50 members within weeks. What amazed me was the fact that our group members sent invites to their friends in facebook they thought might be interested in joining our group. There are many aspects of this that are very helpful in organizing and advertising a ministry that may be helpful in expanding an existing ministry or beginning a new one.

Creating Officers:
Facebook groups allow you to assign officers. Since we had existing leadership roles in our group it was helpful to label them in the Facebook group so that their role would be more visible.

Facebook allows you to create events and invite the members of the group through their facebook account. You can put in the start and stop times, address, and any other information you like. Facebook even links it up to google maps. People can RSVP and if they do it will put a reminder on their facebook homepage a few days before the event. Since many check their facebook on a regular basis this provides a regular reminder of upcoming activities. You can list devos, upcoming Bible studies/classes, service projects, etc with this.

You can also post discussions in the group that people can reply to similar to a blog. Through this you can find out things they would like to study, mention what is coming up, etc. and get their feedback on it.

The Wall:
Facebook has something called a wall that provides a place for random comments and ongoing discussions within the group. This is like a running conversation within the group.

Post pictures, videos and links:
You can post videos or photos from past events and you can also post links to websites that they might find interesting. Photos and videos in facebook are very interconnected as the people in the pictures can be labeled and then it can show up in their own photos and not just in the groups. This provides another means of connection with group members and also a way to get more visibility with their friends as their friends may view their photos and see pictures from the latest devo or service project.

Many ministries are now using Facebook to network ministries/ministers and to organize groups of young people. Here are some examples (you may have to sign up with facebook to view these):

Northwest 20s & 30s

Riverpark Community Church (John Alan Turner)

Campus Ministry – Churches of Christ

Missional Conversations in Churches of Christ

Church of Christ Youth Ministers

On a humorous note – this was the first jpeg I made but it just looked like something from The Shining…like the Here’s Johnny Facebook.

Just When You Thought You Owned Everything But a WordPress Hoodie…

After you purchase your new WordPress Hoodie here is something for you to consider…It is a nifty cover for your laptop for those sunny days on the beach. It is called, get this, “Lap Dome.” If I saw someone with that I would have a hard time not laughing. I am really sorry about that but it is true.

(HT: Gizmodo Australia)

The Biggest Time Waster on the Web…

You could say endless google searches, repeated email checking, or even blogging can be big time wasters on the web (I would have to disagree with that third one!). But you probably already do all of those really well already so why not become aware of another one?

Andcon Arcade provides thousands of ways to waste your precious time.

After spending a few hours there come back and inform us which games are best to waste our time on.

So Many Connections and So Little Connection

How many ways can someone contact you during any given day?  We have more ways to be connected than ever before: phones, cell phones, pagers, email, faxes, letters, internet (including blogging, facebook, myspace,,, flickr, friendster, LinkedIn, Twitter, Xanga, and about 500 other options…). We have never had this many ways to find people and be connected ever before. When I look through my facebook, I see people from high school, college, mission trips, graduate school, work, etc. all in one place. If you need to get in touch with someone there is almost no escaping it any more. When I was on call in the hospital during graduate school I thought I was really something. They gave me a pager to wear, which I thought was pretty amazing. Then I found out that people actually page you and expect you to answer and do something for them. Being connected all the time was not as much fun as I first thought.

Things have gotten so crazy that you can even slap a phone to the side of your head and talk away “hands free.” That is a schizophrenic’s dream – just put on bluetooth and no one will know you are actually talking to yourself! You have probably experienced the awkward moment when someone is looking right at you and talking…you figure they are trying to tell you something but they are just talking on the phone. I saw a couple the other day at Wal-mart and I thought they were married because they were standing next to each other talking back and forth…little did I know they both had bluetooth. I figured it out when they went their separate ways!

With all of these means for connection, how connected are we? It used to be that people had a few dozen connections and know those people extremely well. Today many of us have hundreds if not thousands of people that we are connected to in a very limited way. We don’t really know people like we used to because we give 1000 different people .1% each. What is the result? Community has been destroyed. Relationships are loosely connected even between husbands and wives, parents and children, ministers and Christians. What does that say about the relationship with have with God? How connected have we stayed with him? Have we realized that prayer is still the most important and effective means of communication that has outpaced any technology that the world has ever or will ever see?

How have you remained connected with God and others in a generation that has remained so loosely connected?

Sitemeter Widget Password Fix

SitemeterIf you have tried to use the Yahoo Sitemeter Widget you have probably run into the same problem I did. It says you need a password but there is no place to put your password on the widget. The solution is to log into sitemeter and change your privacy level to normal. I don’t know why they don’t include that in the instructions!