My blogging experiment: The major tools

I started at a Wordpress.com blog and then moved everything over to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog at mitchwagner.com. That was surprisingly easy, with the coaching of the redoubtable Black Eagle.

The hosting provider is WestHost. I’ve seen some negative reviews of WestHost recently, but I’ve always been happy with them. They gave me support when I was making the transition. The support wasn’t perfect but it got me where I needed to go.

Initially, when I set up this blog I just posted links to my blog posts to Facebook and other social media, and pushed people back to the blog to read. But that seemed rude. So now I post to six places: The blog, Google+, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Medium.

That sounds like more work than it actually is. I use a WordPress plugin called SNAP: Social Networks Auto Poster. Once I’ve finished a post on WordPress, it takes me about a minute to use SNAP to post the same thing to Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, manually formatting each post correctly for each service.  SNAP handles mirroring to Tumblr automatically; I don’t have to worry about that. I use IFTTT.com to post to Medium. I just started doing that a couple of days ago; my previous tools for posting to Medium were flaky. IFTTT seems to work pretty well.

I do not love the setup for posting to Google+, Facebook, etc. I’m constantly making careless errors. I accidentally share links back to this blog when I meant to link to some external content elsewhere on the web. I wish Google+ and Facebook would just let me mirror content that originates here, as Tumblr and Medium do.

I rely on one other notable WordPress plugin: Auto Post Scheduler. That plugin lets me space out posts, posting one post at a time at intervals, rather than bunching everything up at once. Right now I have Auto Post Scheduler set up to post at 90-minute intervals 7 am to 7 pm Sunday through Friday and 7-5 on Fridays and Saturday. I also post manually when I want to comment on the news. Using Auto Post Scheduler, I’m posting all day, not in big bursts all at once.

4 Replies to “My blogging experiment: The major tools”

  1. Mitch, I also love SNAP! If you didn’t see it, they added Medium support in their last update after Medium released their write API. Medium also has their own WordPress plugin which will allow you to broadcast there easily and quickly too.

    if you’re game, there’s a few other tools you might think about adding to your workflow:
    First you should know about indieweb.org and take a look at their WordPress section at indieweb.org It’ll help you more easily suck back likes and replies of your syndicated posts to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, et al. so that you own all the data and comments from them. (This will also make your blog look more “lived in”. They’ve got a cool range of other nifty tools for making/using your WordPress blog — all of them free.

    One particular one that integrates well with SNAP is Syndication Links [https://wordpress.org/plugins/syndication-links/] which pulls in the URLS of the social sites you send your content to with SNAP and displays them under your content so you (and others) have a better idea of where you’ve sent them in the past.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I’m pretty happy with IFTTT for Medium integration. Does SNAP offer something better?

      I have looked at IndieWeb. It seems way confusing, doesn’t really solve my problems, and — as for sucking social media comments onto the main site — I see a problem with that in that people commenting on Facebook and Google+ in particular may not want their comments on the public Internet.

      Also, sucking comments onto the blog is confusing for me. Makes it harder for me to separate comments on the blog itself (like yours) from comments that I’ve already seen on social media.

      1. I have just gone through the process of setting up Medium’s plugin, so I’m giving that a spin for a couple weeks prior to kicking the tires of SNAP’s integration. SNAP has done an excellent job on other platforms, so I’m guessing they’re using all the available features there and probably have a stronger 1-1 mapping of data from one platform to the other, particularly as Medium is aiming at WordPress directly first. The one thing you might want to be careful about with Medium is making sure you don’t have a “rel=canonical” tag [https://indieweb.org/rel-canonical] showing up on your Medium post, otherwise you might be getting docked by Google and others with respect to SEO. I know the Medium plugin handles this well, but haven’t checked on how IFTTT or SNAP handle this yet.

        I’m curious what specifically you found confusing about IndieWeb? Some of us in the WordPress group have been trying to make the value proposition and workflow better, particularly over the past several months. (Admittedly, before about April, the onboarding process was MUCH messier and the end user had to do a lot more reading/discovery and work to set things up, but I think the hurdle has moved much lower since then.) If you take a look at it again, I’d love to know where you experience problems/issues, so we can make things better for others. If you need help, there are many of us on IRC [https://indieweb.org/IRC] who can often help in real time.

        As for privacy, in general, Facebook, Google+, et all are all public facing networks, so people posting there are really posting for everyone to see in the first place. If they’re posting privately, I believe that the IndieWeb protocols respect that and don’t import private webmentions. Most of the rest is about data ownership for you and your blog as well as trying to maintain a central repository for your blogs posts of all the conversation taking place around what you’re posting. Part of the downfall of social media is that it can often fragment conversations. In some sense IndieWeb helps glue them all back together.

        On your last point, I had a bit of cognitive dissonance with this as well when I started into IndieWeb, but I’ve just streamlined my workflow significantly (and for the better). I’ve turned off all the emails and notifications from individual social media platforms (at least as they relate to my content) and I rely on my WordPress install to do all the notifications. This way, for example, when someone replies to one of my posts on Facebook, I see the webmention via WordPress, and then use that to click on the contained link to the reply on Facebook. I’ll then reply natively on Facebook so the other party sees it there (typically by Facebook notification), but then the IndieWeb backend ports over my comment back to the comments section of my own blog. My “audience” can follow me on their platform of choice, and I can still interact, but I still own all the resulting data: Win-win-win!

        1. I found Medium’s plug-in to be unsatisfactory — it didn’t post all the posts I set up with Auto-Post Scheduler, which I use to schedule many of my posts. IFTTT posts everything.

          As for Google rank: Good tip, although maximizing SEO is low down on my priority list. I’m not hugely interested in building traffic through SEO, or drive-bys. Traffic numbers are only passing interest to me on this blog (traffic is more important to me at work — and that’s one of the reasons it’s less important here. Worrying about traffic seems too much like work.)

          What do I find confusing about IndieWeb? Well, I think the last time I looked at it was well before April. I’m encouraged to see you’re working on usability, so I need to take another look. However, your final statement about folks being available for help on IRC — that points to what I find confusing. I’ve barely ever done IRC, so the first thing I’d have to do is look up how to use IRC, which I know is easy but I haven’t done it in years so I need a refresher course on clients and whatnot.

          I am definitely part of the IndieWeb movement for the simple reason that I try to implement its principles, even though I haven’t ever participated and the technology seems to be a level above my capabilities. (For example, though I installed WordPress myself, it was the limit of my capabilities when I did it and frankly I don’t think I’d do it again.)

          You’ve talked me in to taking another look at brid.gy. I’ve been looking for a central hub for all my notifications and brid.gy looks like it might be the answer, particularly because I’m about 100x more interested in comments than I am in likes and +1s. Comments are valuable, whereas likes and +1s are barely one step higher than noise.

          I like the way you’ve configured your blog and website. I like it a lot. What software do you use to publish stream.boffsocko.com?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.