I Take Away Control From Google+

My personal site is in state of revival, as I follow through on a long-contemplated change to my blogging style. I let inertia hold me back. No longer.

Since July 2011, I reserved most of my personal writing for Google+ and built there a fairly robust following (more than 16,000 Circles at present). The social network makes easy posting and connecting to others. Elsewhere, I write for BetaNews (e.g., for work).

Henceforth, I split my personal posting here and there and duplicate some posts on Google+ and joewilcox.com.

Five Reasons
1. As journalist Ian Betteridge recently observed, Google+ is now too much a place for Google fanboyism. You can disagree. But that’s my observation, too. Plus is a great place to share with the Googlie gang, and I will continue to do that.

2. I want to take more control of and better build up my personal brand, and that’s something done with greater efficiency (or so I believe) off my own site.

3. I can’t keep track of my Google+ posts, and so cross-linking to them is burdensome, even with search. WordPress provides better tools, and all my stuff is contained in one place separate from other content; again, reason it’s easier to find and manage.

4. Google+ tools for writing basics, like hyperlinking, are inferior to WordPress, which today is as much a robust Content Management System as blogging platform.

5. The change fits with concepts that will appear in my forthcoming book Be a Better Blogger (please contribute to the crowdfund that ends Feb. 28, 2014). My goal is to build audience, not Google page rank. I’m not afraid to duplicate content, for example.

I don’t vacate Google+, just spread out, which means to other social services. My Twitter usage is up, for example.

Revival Time
I’ve been too contained in one place for far too long. That’s a lesson learned from my Be a Better Blogger campaign. Initial response isn’t what I expected, and one reason is obvious. My brand and personal social reach are much less today than before investing myself almost solely in Google+ and BetaNews. Branching out is long overdue. Connections matter. Engaging and helping others is good for you as much as them.

Letting this site languish creates impression it’s an absolute ghost town. There are few comments, in part because I moved things around a few times (and left comments behind) or copied posts from Google+ and appropriately back-dated them. There is much social interaction where the posts—the majority going back to 2010—originated.

Then there is simple reality: I did abandon the site for a long time, so of course there is little social activity starting back up. My followers went with me elsewhere, and they won’t as easily come back. Social networks like Facebook, Google+, Reddit, and Tumblr offer great tools with broad social reach.

Consider this site—”Five Minutes with Joe” but for years called “Chronicle of Technology, Culture, and Stupidity”—a work in progress. I start with major makeover, following the loss of my previous WordPress theme, “Standard”, which developers 8Bit abandoned in autumn 2013. Standard Theme’s code is clean and design appropriately sparse, with emphasis placed on the written word. Woo Themes acquired Standard—to support users, not to continue development.

Work in Progress
For now, I use the wonderfully fluid Namba theme, created by Elma Studio. Namba is Tumblr-style, organizing posts by type, such as image or video. Photos are huge, as much as 840 pixels. PC users might find the dimensions overly large, but the scale is just right for smartphones and tablets—where more and more people browse the web. The German design company gets the mobile designs just right.

As I write, I’m in process of updating most older posts with larger-size photos or video embeds and correct post format. I also consider other theme options. Namba is great for flow but not for surfacing older content. Much of my writing has long shelf life, what editors call “evergreen” content.

I also debate where this site should be, whether to continue with my hosting provider or move everything over to wordpress.com. For now, if you’ve just stumbled onto “Five Minutes with Joe” welcome. If you’re a regular but silent reader, please comment.

Note: Comments are curated. This is my home. If you want a soapbox to call me an idiot, use your own. I curate cautiously, being a big supporter of free speech. You’re free to speak any old way you like from your site. That said, criticism is welcome, just not accusing rants that lie, misrepresent facts, or ridicule rather than make logical arguments.