Monday, January 05, 2009

Blog Improvement Project Week 1.

Some time ago last year I decided to sign up for The Blog Improvement Project hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. The first and last Monday every month, Kim writes a post which in one way or the other is about how you can improve your blog, whether you want a new look for your blog, want to be more specific in your posts, want to write better etc. I have been waiting for the first "challenge" to come up and now it is here! Click here to read the full post.

The first challenge (if that is the right word) is about setting goals for your blog. Sophisticated Dorkiness links to a set of interesting articles around the net about blogging and setting goals, and I have briefly "leafed through" some of the pages and read a few of them more throughly. It was interesting reading and I recommend all to have a look, if only a brief one. On the Problogger blog I found a list of questions the blogger can ask herself, when trying to set some goals for 2009.

I know it may sound a bit weird to start off the whole goal-setting theme by mentioning what are NOT my goal, but it is important to me to stress that I blog for fun, not for money and/or free books. Not that there is anything wrong with professional blogging, but it is not my goal to become a pro.

However, I do have some goals for my blog(s) for 2009. First of all I want to have a nice looking blog. I know there are many templates out there and I keep trying different ones. Either nothing seems to work or else I cannot figure out all the html involved . I do have an idea about how I want to blog to look: nice and cosy but not too cluttered, more sidebars (three would be nice) and the ability to make organized archives. I am pretty sure most can be done if I took the time looking at the dashboard's possibilities, around the net or changed to another provider. But I did try another provider (with my Danish blog) and I was not happy about it and had to change back. So for now I am sticking to Blogger.

I am very happy about the visitors stopping by here on a regular basis and it has proved much easier to have people visiting here than on the Danish blog. I know that the English-speaking world is larger, but it is actually surprising how few Danish book blogs there are and how reluctant people are to come visiting/commenting there. It may have to do with the posts, of course, so another goal is to make better posts. Written in a better way and being to the point.

Writing better is also a goal for my English blog. I don't mind people being able to read that I am not a native English speaker, but I would like less grammar- and spelling mistakes. Grammar and spelling is not an issue with the Danish blog, but I know it is here and I would love to be able to express the same in English which I am able to do in Danish. But that is probably a more longterm project.

My goal for this blog's theme is still going to be books and book related subjects. I don't feel the need for a personal diary-style blog, although I do not mind slipping in some personal stuff along the way.

A year from now I want my blog to have a fresh, new look and I want to be able to look back and say that I have written some interesting posts that people liked to read.

Julia from A Piece of my Mind also has a post up about her goals for 2009.
A note January 6, 2009: Since I wrote my post above, a lot of other bloggers have put their links up in the Mr. Linky on the Blog Improvement Project page. I have also done a blogroll (see left sidebar) containing the participants so far, and I urge you to check out the various posts. There are many great goals and ideas! I know I have become very inspired so far by reading other posts as they tick in :-)

42 comments:

softdrink said...

You know, if I didn't know you were Danish I'd never guess that English wasn't your first language. Your written English is fantastic...it sounds very natural.

I found the blog template I use here:
http://www.ourblogtemplates.com/
It plays well with blogger, so it hasn't been too much of a hassle to customize the colors and set up the sidebar.

Happy New Year! And good luck with the improvement project.

Bogsider said...

Softdrink, what a freaking nice thing to say! Thanks. Made my day :-) However, there are still things which are much easier for me to get flowing in Danish than in English. Just have to work on it.

I will check out the link you provided and will play around with different templates the next weeks I think, unless I find just the one right away.

Have a great day and thanks again :o)

Julia Smith said...

I'm in complete agreement with Softdrink - your command of English is exceptional. I'd hate you to read my Danish blog... ;-)

Bogsider said...

Now I am blushing, Julia! Thanks so much. I don't feel it is hard to express myself in English and I have many years of experience doing it. BUT....even though it looks fairly nice and all that, there are things I express much better in Danish (of course) which sometimes put an annoying stop to some of the things I wanna say. Okay, don't know if that was clear at all.

I do want to thank both of you A LOT for your very, very nice words and it is not like I am trying to fish for compliments and all that, I just wish I was that extra bit better :-)

grayskyeyes said...

Hi Lou! I love reading all the Problogger stuff, but some of it never applies to me because I'm not blogging for money or anything like that either.

I think getting more visitors has to do with good posts and with going out and commenting on other blogs. One of my goals, once I get around to writing them, is going to be to leave more comments on blogs I like to read.

Also, I agree with everyone else, your English is really quite good given that you're not a native speaker. I used to tutor ESL students(English as a Second Language), and that made me remember how hard English can be because it's such a weird language!

Kim

birdbrainbb.net said...

One of my goals is to do a redesign of my blog, as well. Finding a decent template and then making it more personal is tough (I just added my own header, but there's so much more one can do: colors, background images or patterns, what to stick in the sidebars, plus lots more), so I look forward to seeing what you end up doing. :D

- Anastasia

Eva said...

I agree with everyone else-your written English is great! :)

I sympathise about the blog design. I know enough html to make my blog look nicer, but wordpress doesn't allow me to edit the html unless I upgrade to a paying account. :( And since, like you, I don't want to be a professional blogger, that's really frustrating!

I know that for Blogger there are lots of free templates that should be pretty easy for you to install on your blog. Have you tried any of those?

Bogsider said...

Thanks to all once again for your rather nice comments about my English :o) It means a lot!!!

Bogsider said...

Kim, I agree with you. One way to get more readers is to comment more on other's blogs that I enjoy reading. I do comment a lot, but I often find that I don't know what to say exactly and also I don't want to "stalk" people day after day saying stuff like: What a great post. Have a great day... I want to be better at commenting! Because I do have a lot to say.

So that is also a goal: Being better at commenting.

And thanks for hosting this interesting project. I am looking so much forward to see where it will take all those interesting blogs I am going to know about.

Bogsider said...

Anastasia, thanks for your comment and welcome here at my blog. I just checked out your blog and put it on my blogroll and I look much forward to follow your progress. And I agree that even finding the right template is tough! I see so many which look nice, but have a darn hard time deciding!

Cathy said...

One of the best things about the Blog Improvement Project is meeting wonderful new (to me) bloggers like you!

Bogsider said...

Eva, thanks for your comment! I was sure I already had your blog on my blogroll because I know I have visited you before. Maybe not often, but I've been there ;o) It is a nice blog you have with a ton of interesting posts. I look forward to read some of your posts later on.

You are quite right that there are many blogger templates available. Some of them are pretty cool. And while I am not expert at all, if I am told the html and told exactly where to put it, then I can manage. However, I have been trying to install some 3-columned templates the past days (using another blog as a guinea-pig) and I simply end up loosing too many things I don't care to loose....today I used my Danish book blog as a guinea pig and lost my whole blog roll. And even though I made a copy of all the html, I haven't been able to rebuild it. It is not such a catastrophy though, as I didn't have as many blogs there as I have here, but I will try and put ALL my blogs I am reading and following into a reader, so that I can always find them there again!

Mim said...

I'm another who thinks your English is perfectly fine - hey, you CARE about spelling and grammar, that puts you way ahead of the pack, perhaps if you mostly visit book blogs you haven't seen some of the more unreadable blogs out there!

I do understand what you mean by not being able to express some things as well as you'd like though, languages often lack direct correlations between words and a concept or idea that might be simple to express in one language can be almost impossible to replicate in another.

I had a lot of trouble finding a 3 column template that worked for me among the multitude of freebies out there, I was so happy when I discovered a tutorial that showed me how to modify the html to make my own from the 2-column minma template. Still haven't figured out how to do clever things with backgrounds though, all I can get is one colour over the whole thing. I'd love to learn how to create one of those templates where the background stays put and the sidebars, header and postbody sections scroll over it.

Have fun experimenting, I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Bogsider said...

Cathy - right back at you. Great to meet you and welcome here. I look forward to check out your blog, although I just had a little peek over there just now. What you said about a 3-columned blog easily being too cluttered rang a little bell. Perhaps I should re-think my wish for a 3-columned blog. Perhaps it will feel even more cluttered than now....Am going to think about it at least.

Mim said...

Oh! I had the same problem with losing stuff from my sidebars. What I ended up doing was copying all the contents of the widgets (html where possible) into a document and then re-creating the widgets once I'd switched templates. Didn't ever lose the blog-roll though, that would have been a right bugger to have to rebuild.

I did all my playing around on a test blog, I created another blogger blog, copied my existing template over to it (complete with widgets) and experimented on that so I couldn't do anything disastrous to my real blog.

Bogsider said...

Oh Mim, thanks a lot for your kind words! And what you say, that is exactly how I (sometimes) feel :-) There are just some expressions etc where I have to work around it what I want to say with 3 or 4 sentences in English - things I could've said in one sentence in Danish. Anyhoo, enough about that. I will practice ;-)

And I have seen places where you can get those backgrounds where the texts keep rolling and the background stays put....and I think the only thing was that your original blog had to be the minima blog....but I cannot remember the page on top of my head. How to make it yourself...geesh, I wouldn't know ;o)

Bogsider said...

Good idea to make a test blog! I will have to look into that one of these days. So annoying loosing all those links and stuff you so carefully have collected over the years, right?

Mary said...

I just want to get a fresh look to my blog this year - perhaps a 3 column format. Content will not change much. I think I'll use a test blog to try a few things out.

Krissi said...

Seriously! In light of grammar, spelling, and overall use of the English language. You do better then most. Including myself!

Bogsider said...

Mary, I tend to switch between wanting a 3 column blog and sticking with 2 columns :o) As I really cannot decided, I think I will have to leave it like it is for a little while. Thanks for stopping by.

Bogsider said...

Krissi, I am beginning to feel like a professor in English with all those kind words. Of course I know I am not ;o) Oh the prepositions which ones to use when...is it called ON the street or AT the street or....IN my blog or ON my blog...., the overall syntax, the spelling of weird words....LOL. I KNOW I can be better!

Alessandra said...

Hi! I'm not a native English speaker either, so I understand the frustration of struggling with your English... or maybe struggling isn't the right word... well, let's say battling with words hoping that they'll come out right! But I also tyhink we don't have to worry too much.

I took my template from pyzam.com; they have lots of free templates for blogger, and they're fairly easy to install, even for those who don't know a thing about HTML like me. The only problem was that I lost all my widgets :(... it was a bit of a hassle to have them reinstalled.

Bogsider said...

Hi Alessandra, welcome to my blog :-) I have been reading yours for a little while. Found you through Weekly Geeks actually. I think you have great English, at least I am able to read your posts with no problems at all. Thanks for your kind words. I will check out the pyzam website :o)

Bernadette said...

Lou I am so jealous of your command of a second language. I speak a little French but could never hope to express myself in that language in anything close to the way you do in English.

Good luck with improving the blog...I'll watch with interest as I'm in the same boat as you...Not interested in becoming a professional blogger.

Bogsider said...

Thanks a lot Bernadette. I read and enjoy your blog often and as one of my goals, I will be better at commenting on your posts as they are always well written. And thanks for your kind words about my English, it means the world that so many are checking in and actually saying that it is not a complete babble I write and that it is actually understandable ;-)

CoversGirl said...

I'll second everyone else's comments on your English; it's perfectly intelligible and actually better than some I've seen in the local newspapers.

I'll also second Mim's suggestion of a test blog. I've just used one of those for my template-to-layout switch and it makes the process much easier. If you do decide to tinker with the HTML, trial and error works well. Changing something to see what happens is a pretty good way to learn which bit of code does what.

Good luck!

Beth F said...

What more can add about your mastery of English? As you know, I'm a regular reader of your blog -- you always have great reviews and interesting posts. And ever since I visited your country last May, I've had a fondness for Denmark. Hoping to get back there in 2010.

As for the BIP: Our goals are quite similar; I plan to put up my post in the next couple of days.

Finding a personalized template is a major goal of mine, too. I have learned to play around a bit with the settings, but I want to find a new background. Then I see your blog, and I like the cleanness of this version -- no background clutter. It's going to be fun to see where this project takes us.

And thanks sooooo much for posting about it last month; if you hadn't posted, I wouldn't have known about it.

Bogsider said...

Coversgirl, welcome to my pages, it is great to see you. And yes, I do think I will set up a test blog and use that as a guinea pig for when I play around with templates and html :-)

Bogsider said...

Beth, if you are ever coming through Copenhagen again, let me buy you a cafe latte (or a beer) and maybe I can show you where I used to work (sadly I was laid off early summer 08 due to the freaking credit cruch): The New Carlsberg Glyptotek. If you missed it last time you were here, you are under no circumstances to miss it again! And thanks for your support re. English language skills.

I already adore this project and can't wait to see where it will take everybody.

Debi said...

Oh my goodness, you've got nothing to worry about on your grammar/spelling. I can't believe that English isn't your first language...seriously, I never would have guessed otherwise! And I understand just what you mean about not wanting to be a professional blogger. For me, it's all about having fun and making friends! And you seem to have that down perfectly, too! So, all in all, I'm thinking that you don't really have much room for improvement! :)

Bogsider said...

That was sweet Debi :-) I am thinking about each and every comment and they are all so nice. I still need to do something about the lay out though and I think I will also have to work on the other goals as well. I cannot click into your blog through your name, but perhaps you can leave your blog's name here if you stop by another time? Maybe I already have your blog on my blogroll - I do remember your name, but mostly I remember by the name of the blog...

bermudaonion said...

Good luck with your goals. I am very impressed with your English. I lived in France for 2 years and my French never got as good as your English is.

splummer said...

Hi!
I like your goals you have set. I am the same, I blog for me. I would have never knew your blog as danish. The English is excellent! Have a great week!

Sherrie

J. Kaye Oldner said...

WOW! I had no idea English wasn't your native tongue. You are so impressive. :)

Bogsider said...

Bermudaonion, thanks for your nice words. In Denmark, we are taught English from the 5th grade (nowadays it is actually from the 3rd grade), music, movies etc are in English...it is easier to pick up than French. I have been taught French for 3 years, but I can barely say my name in French. LOL. I also lived in US before and I have read English books for half my life. So I do have years of training, but it is still hard. Thanks again, it means a lot.

Bogsider said...

Splummer and J.Kaye, also a big heartfelt thanks to you both. All those kind words are really warming and feeling good, but trust me, I do not feel impressive at all ;o) Not at all. I feel average!

Florinda said...

I accidentally ended up on your Danish-language blog before I got here - this blog is much easier for me :-). And trust me, I've read plenty of blogs by native English speakers who don't use the language as well as you do :-).

I'm planning to stick with Blogger as my platform too. Good luck with your goals for the year!

Debi said...

Yep, you already have me on your blogroll. (I'm nothing of importance.)

Elizabeth said...

I am a stickler for spelling and grammar and I would never have known that English wasn't your first language!
I'm participating in the BIP, too, and getting lots of good ideas.
Regarding the 3 columns, I also use blogger and I found instructions for adding a 3rd column at bloggerbuster.com. It was very easy.

Bogsider said...

LOL, Florinda, glad you found your way here after the Danish blog ;-) I enjoyed visiting your blog yesterday.

Bogsider said...

Debi, yep, I found out who you were after I had tried clicking on your name and then I knew that I knew you :-)

Bogsider said...

Elisabeth, thank you very much for your kind words. I am going to put your blog on my blogroll, so that I can find you later when I have better time than now (just got back from work and have an awfully looking apartment with stacks of stuff lying around, plus the dishes from last night and I need to get going on that before I get caught up in the blogospere). I will definitely look into all the tips for 3rd column blogs I have gotten so far.

Louise