5 important things I learnt when Blogging

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1. Don’t just rely on your blog’s RSS feed

Firstly, I used a tool which generates an RSS feed for me, and once I did this, I thought that was it.

Once you have your RSS feed set-up, you should use an analytics feed tool such as https://feedburner.com. You tell it where your feed is, and they will generate a URL for you to use so others can subscribe to you.

Next, you need your blog or website to tell others about your feed. The tools they use tell them where your feed is. When they visit you, their blog will know you have a feed. Take the following code as an example…

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/RSS/Getting_Started/Syndicating

You will be even more thankful you can now track who subscribes and unsubscribes from your blog.

2. Make sure you can analyse your blog properly

This one may sound pretty obvious, but it can be easy to forget when setting up your blog. You need to ensure you either sign up to https://analytics.google.com/ or https://piwik.com. You can even use any analytics software which comes with your blog, as long as you understand it, and get results from it.

Next up, you need to ensure that you understand the analytics coming from your blog, read up some articles on the subject, and watch some Youtube videos and absorb as much information which they give you as possible.

3. Maximise landing pages on your blog

If you have a specific niche, you need to create beautiful landing pages and maximise your click-throughs.

4. Ensure you have the correct tools set up

We mentioned your feed is the most valuable tool to have set up. You should ensure you have your mailing lists, analytics, and landing pages complete.

You also really need to sit down and think about any others you could potentially need as the sooner you add them to your blog, the more useful they will be in the long run. By this, I mean that even if you feel like a tool might scare people away, or not bring constant viewers, you’ll never know until you implement these tools and test them. I went through this phase with email forms and pop-ups. I felt that people would get annoyed, and I left them for a very long time.

As soon as you feel a tool could be useful, start using it on your blog and test for further validation to ensure it is correct.

5. Don’t lose faith in your blog

Finally, never lose faith in your blog even if it feels like no one is watching, if you give it enough time, the viewers will start to show. Tell your friends, family and start socialising on other media sites.

Even when the viewers start showing, if it doesn’t fit your expectations, you still shouldn’t lose faith. Just lower your expectations and create more realistic goals.


I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please subscribe to hear more in the future and contribute to the discussion by commenting below. Thank you

Challenging myself

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Something I would like to try out for this month is post less on social media (excluding Instagram) and post more on WordPress. I rarely spend time posting to social anyway, but it could be interesting. Even if it’s just comments on other people’s blogs.

This will help me gain a larger blogging circle which I feel I am missing at current. I always want to encourage new readers to like and comment on my own posts, and I feel I should return the favour. If you can recommend anyone to follow, then please let me know.

This doesn’t include Medium, because I feel there’s too much “Premium” content now. It’s frustrating, because you can no longer invoke a conversation. The only thing you can do is applaud. This takes away from the whole “conversation” of blogging. (I’ll post more on this later).

If you would like me to follow you, then please comment below. Alternatively, if you know of interesting bloggers, then please share away. The more of a community we can create, the better.

A brave new world

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The beginning of a new chapter

My wife will be leaving her place of work this week to go on her own adventure and creating her own pet sitting business. She is very scared and nervous, but I keep reassuring her that everything will be okay and if it doesn’t work out, we can move on to something else.

Where it all started…

All her life she’s wanted to work with animals, but becoming a vet is hard because you either have to know the right people, have a lot of money or join a waiting list to earn the qualifications before you can become a vet. She never really had her sights set on anything else animal related as she didn’t want to work in a pet store as a cashier, because you don’t really get to handle the animals much.

Stuck at a fork in the road.

She then took a fork in the road and went into accounting and administration. She received a level two accounting qualification, but she couldn’t get an accounting position, because she was either not qualified enough or because she didn’t quite fit the role.

So she started an administration role with the promise that she could further her career into accounting work. That promise was never kept and she kept being given more and more work as people left whilst still being paid the same amount even after multiple discussions on having her wages increased.

Onto the next chapter we go…

Now here we are, I helped her start her own venture and I will be here to support her through the entire process. If anything should go wrong, then I will be there to offer my support and knowledge to her. The entire running of the business will be all her work and I will be here when she needs me like a good husband should.

If you’re curious as to what it is she is doing, then take a look at… http://www.brookspetsitters.com. She is now a fully insured and DBS checked pet sitter and she has already had a handful of clients who are coming back for me. This is definitely going to be the start of something great.

5 important things I learnt when Blogging Old

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1. Don’t just rely on your blog’s RSS feed

This is probably the most important lesson I learnt when creating my blog and it could be yours as well. Firstly, I used a tool which generates an RSS feed for me, once I did this, I thought I was done and little did I know just how wrong I was. You see, when you have an RSS feed, you don’t have any analytics on who is subscribing and no one can easily subscribe to you, no matter what tool they’re using.

Once you have your feed set up, you need to use an analytics feed tool such as FeedBurner. You simply tell it where your feed is, and they will generate a URL for you to use for others to subscribe to.

Next, you need to your blog or website to tell others and the tools they use where your feed is, so when they visit you, their blog will know you have a feed. Take the following code as an example and place it in the head of your HTML…

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" href="/rss.xml" title="Michael Brooks Blog"/>

You will now be thankful that users can subscribe to your blog, but you will be even more thankful with the fact that you can now track who subscribes and unsubscribes from your blog.

2. Make sure you can analyse your blog properly

This one may sound pretty obvious, but it can be easy to forget when setting up your blog. You need to ensure you either sign up to Google Analytics or Piwik. You can even use any analytics software which comes with your blog, as long as you understand it and get results from it.

Next up, you need to ensure that you understand the analytics coming from your blog, read up some articles on the subject and watch some Youtube videos and absorb as much information which they give you as possible.

3. Maximise landing pages on your blog

This is one which I am still yet to do and I think it’s mainly down to the fact that my blogs are more personal, but if you have a specific niche, then you need to create striking landing pages and maximise your click throughs to get maximum impact and really lure your readers in.

4. Ensure you have the correct tools set up

We already mentioned about your RSS feed which is definitely the most important tool to have set up correctly. You should also ensure you have your mailing lists, analytics and landing pages sorted.

You also really need to sit down and think about any others you could potentially need as the sooner your add them to your blog, the more useful they will be in the long run. By this, I mean that even if you feel like a tool might scare people away, or not bring constant viewers, well you’ll never know until you implement these tools and test them. I went through this phase with email forms and pop ups, I felt that people would get too annoyed and I left them for a very long time and now I regret that decision and wished I tested early and gained concrete data with what works.

Always test tools and if they’re not working for you, stop using it. As soon as you feel a tool could be helpful, start using it.

5. Don’t lose faith with your blog

Finally, never lose faith in your blog even if it feels like no one is watching, if you give it enough time, the viewers will start to show. Tell your friends, family and start socialising on other media sites. You can also share your posts with relevant sites who may find it useful and they may also share it to others.

Even when the viewers start showing, if it doesn’t hit your expectations, you still shouldn’t lose faith. Just lower your expectations and create more realistic goals.


I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you did please subscribe to hear more in the future. You can also sign up to my mailing list for updates in the future and contribute to the discussion by commenting below. Thank you.

Docker has been fun, but it’s time to move on…

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As a few of you may know, I have been using Docker for some time to deploy my site with. It’s been a great learning experience for me and is something I wish to carry on with.

However, because of the nature of the beast, and the lack of knowledge I have with the technology, I have decided that I shouldn’t be using it to host my live Blog when I am still learning how it works.

Therefore, I have decided to create a new DO Droplet and deploy my site with Laravel Forge. This is a cheap, but great solution which allows for unlimited servers and domains, and allows me to create a deployment strategy using many cloud services/servers.

As I am already using Digital Ocean, I thought it would make sense to carry on using this as it is just such a great service.

What the future holds

I do hope to carry on with Docker, but as I am still learning what it’s capable of, I will carry on using it locally. There are many things I am still finding out such as making your website code a data container, which is something I didn’t know at the time and could have been one of the reasons why my site was very volatile.

Every time I tried to update my CMS (which is running OctoberCMS), it would break something. This could have been due to my lack of knowing, or it could have been down to file permissions, or maybe using the wrong OctoberCMSversion.

Whatever it was, it now works a lot better being on a server management/deployment strategy and it should continue to keep working as long as I use the service. There are also plenty of great tutorials on how to use the service and it has a lot of great tools to help ease the stress of server management.

Like I say, I should never have used it on my live site before fully knowing, but I will continue to explore it’s uses and find easier ways of deployment. This is definitely not the end of my Docker usage, and I hope to have many more great experiences using such awesome technology.