This blog is poorly. It has been for a while. What started in the mid-naughties heyday of the blogosphere, has been limping along for a while now with barely a dozen posts each year.
It long since ceased to be commercially viable, ever since Google’s “Panda” update relegated blogs and promoted Q&A sites. It’s also changed focus as my work has moved on. These days I rarely get involved in tech. And I don’t even do as much strategic consulting as I’d like. I’ve been managing the odd post here and there but I seriously considered shutting it down.
Except I have a lot invested. I know it’s just a sunk cost fallacy, but about 17 years and just under 2500 posts is a lot to throw away.
Inspired by my polymath friend, Matt Ballantine (@ballantine70), I tried writing weeknotes. Unfortunately, they became another task to fit into the Thursday night list as I shut down my work for the week, or something that ate into my Friday off, or sometimes something I still hadn’t done on Sunday night.
So I’m going to try something else that Matt does. More frequent, short posts. 200-400 words on something that’s happened and made me think. When the mood takes me. Hopefully you’ll still appreciate the content (it may not all be tech-related), and maybe the blog will get its mojo back too.
Featured image from Max Pixel.
And then I read Mark Vale’s post on Does GDPR apply to you as a Blogger? It seems it might. Perhaps.
I’ve also stopped running ads on this site. Not really anything to do with GDPR but Akismet wanted to charge me $5 a month for spam protection on a “commercial site”. Since Google Panda (an algorithmic change a few years ago), I only make about that much each month on the ads (and hosting costs me another £8 or so)… so I binned them off. So this site is now exclusively funded from my own pocket. Except that I may need to put them back on for a couple of weeks to get the £1.86 that will tip me over the trigger point for payment of the £58.14 I currently have stored up with Google Adsense…
Having a popular blog is great. Mine’s probably not as popular as it once was – mostly that’s because I don’t get the time to write all the content that I would like to – but there are still more than 2000 posts here, so I do see a reasonable volume of traffic.
Unfortunately, that also means I get a lot of emails (sometimes several a day) asking me to add a link/feature some content/something else – much of which is clearly scripted bulk email. And not replying only results in multiple chaser emails… so I’m fighting back with my own scripted response (I actually got the idea from a journalist who provided advice to PR teams to help them only pitch items he’d be interested in…):
You’re receiving this email because you recently emailed about the website at markwilson.it/markwilson.co.uk. Thanks for getting in touch; however, I receive several emails each day that take a lot of time to respond to (or multiple chaser emails if I don’t respond) so please don’t be offended by this automatic reply.
- If you’re looking to place ads on my site, please don’t ask me what I would charge. Instead, please make me an offer. I don’t really know what the market rates are but you probably do. Please also include details of the page you’d like to advertise on, the landing page you would like and the period you would like to advertise for. I’ll only advertise sites that I think will be relevant to my readers so please don’t be offended if I don’t reply.
- If you have a great resource that you’re sure would improve my content, please consider that markwilson.it is a blog. I’m not going to go back and edit posts from months or years past but you could always leave a comment on a post instead, as long as it’s genuine and not just spam.
- If you’re offering to create content, please note that the content on the site is all written by me or by one of a very small number of trusted colleagues or family. I do not feature content written by others to promote their goods and services. If you’re starting out as a writer, I wish you well but would politely suggest you write on a public platform – or maybe start your own blog.
Thanks for your understanding.
It’ll probably make no difference at all… but at least I can legitimately ignore repeated requests that haven’t acted on my reply…
I got a bit of a surprise in my email recently, when I saw that someone had nominated this blog for the UK Blog Awards 2017. That’s a nice touch – after 14 years and well over 2000 posts (some that even I now regard as drivel and some that people find useful), it’s exactly the kind of feedback that keeps me going!
The site has no marketing team (just me), no social media campaign (just my website and my Twitter feed @markwilsonit) – and now it’s the public vote where I’m up against all of the other entrants in the Digital and Technology category vying for a place on the shortlist of 8 blogs.
So, if you’ve ever found something I’ve written useful (or maybe just because you think I sound like a decent bloke and you’d like to support me), please head over to the UK Blog Awards website and vote for markwilson.it in the Digital and Technology category!
Voting is open from Monday 5th December 2016 at 8:00 until Monday 19th December at 10:00 and each email address only counts once!
Ad blocking has become increasingly common on the Internet. We all hate those sites that place obtrusive ads in the middle of content (Forbes, ZDNet, I’m looking at you!) but for many sites it’s fairly passive content – simple images, banners, etc. placed above, below or to the side of the main content. We might not particularly like it – the ads are not always intelligent (how many times have you bought something and then seen ads for the site where you already made a purchase based on the cookies on your computer?!) – but nothing in life is truly free and the websites that offer advice, etc. that help fix our problems are often at least part-funded by ads.
My blog currently has over 2000 posts written over a 12 year period. Some are good, some are bad. Some are rants, some are really useful with lots of positive comments saying words to the effect of “thanks for sharing this”. A few years ago, I used to make about £50 a month from Google ads. With hosting charges of around £100 a year, plus domain name registrations of about £25 a year, that gave me some profit to go towards IT equipment and let me write more blog posts. I even set up a company for my writing and consulting. Then along came Google’s Panda algorithm change which de-emphasised blogs in search results. Almost overnight, I saw 90% drop in revenue.
My company ceased trading a while ago – and my day job now means that I can’t continue it for contractual reasons – but, to be honest it had long since become more effort than it was worth.
I now make about £60 a year from ads and maybe a few more pounds from referrals. The UK Government takes 42% of this in tax. I write less content than I used to (I’m a busy guy but I’m also less motivated to do so). My website hosting costs far outweigh the revenue of the site but the ads help a little. This blog is nothing more than a labour of love.
On the last site redesign, I moved my ads to the bottom of the page. I also added a notice asking people not to block the ads. Now I’ve upped the ante a little by using Pat O’Brien‘s Ad Blocking Advisor WordPress plugin to display a notice when the site detects ad blocking. I’m not ad-blocker-blocking because you can still read the content, but I do ask people with ad blocking software to reconsider:
“It looks like you use ad blocking software in your browser. I devote a lot of time to this website and the advertising doesn’t even cover my hosting charges but it helps a little. Please support this website by adding it to the whitelist in your ad blocker. Thank you!”
Ironically, I had to install an ad blocker to test the website functionality!
I’ve offered email subscriptions on this blog for years now, initially using FeedBlitz, then FeedBurner and also via WordPress.com. Ironicially, given that FeedBurner is now owned by Google, it’s FeedBlitz that I’m least happy with – primarily because of the poor quality adverts that it wraps around my content.
For this reason, I’m going to be switching off the FeedBlitz feed over the next few days. I’ll contact every existing subscriber on the FeedBlitz feed, before switching them over to the WordPress-powered subscription, but thought it appropriate to post an update on the site as well.
It’s great to know that people still read the content I create – you can always subscribe to the RSS feed or for email updates via WordPress.com or using the Subscriptions section on the right hand side of the blog homepage.
Thanks for your continued support.
Right from (almost) the start, this blog has suffered from spam. I guess it just goes with the territory but I’ve written in the past about people who’ve left spam comments and then found Google’s index quotes them out of context or tech companies criticising their competitors “anonymously” in blog comments.
Even when I was helping my then-CTO to raise his social media presence, my employer’s PR agency was encouraging the use of comments on blogs to generate backlinks and now the tide is turning as Google cracks down on low-quality backlinks.
As a result, I’m getting an increasing number of emails from digital agencies including phrases like the one below:
“I’m writing to request the removal of a link to my clients’ [sic] site which is located at the following page:”
They’re (or their clients are) wasting my time, so I reserve the right to charge for removing such links.
The irony is that, over the last few years, Google’s index changes have penalised original content creators like myself in favour of corporate websites and this blog has just a fraction of the traffic it once enjoyed (oh, those were the days)…
Would be blog spammers at this site should check out the Rules for Comments.
My hosting provider has told me that they are moving this website to a new server over the weekend.
All being well, the move will be transparent but I will also need to point the domain names at new DNS servers, so, if I disappear offline for a while on Sunday night, please bear with me and I should be back again once the interwebs have updated…
Unfortunately, some half-baked EU directive about privacy and cookies (half-baked – get it…) takes effect this month after even the UK government needed a year to get its act together (the Information Comissionners Office, which is responsible for enforcing the associated UK legislation, only removed its last cookie in March).
What’s worse is that the ICO’s guidance for website owners is really difficult to follow. Peter Bryant (@PJBryant) pointed me at an article in PC Pro magazine that suggests I should be OK without doing anything, meanwhile Kuan Hon (@Kuan0) from the Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary University suggested a few weeks ago that we all need to be looking carefully at our sites if we want to avoid a fine…
I’m no lawyer and I can’t afford to be paying fines so I checked out some WordPress plugins that might help me. Some were linked to websites that should check my site for cookies… except they didn’t seem to work – and, anyway, I don’t really want to be making a big deal about cookies (they are, mostly, harmless).
I selected a very simple plug-in called Cookie Warning that presents a message (importantly, not a pop-up) to first time site visitors. The message is customisable (although changing the size of the text on the buttons will involve me editing the plugin) and it seems to be enough for me to gain consent from users. Importantly, it doesn’t seem to impact the way in which search engines see the site.
Only time will tell if this change negatively impacts my traffic – I’d like to think that most of my visitors understand enough about cookies to realise that this is not really such a big deal – but it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months as companies big and small update their sites to comply with the legislation.
This time last year I was pestering blog readers and Twitter followers to vote for markwilson.it in the Computer Weekly IT Blog awards and I was surprised (and absolutely stoked) to win the Individual IT Professional (Male) category. This time around I haven’t entered as an individual but I do have a favour to ask…
As part of my day job last year, I launched Fujitsu’s blog platform for the UK and Ireland. Although I handed the platform over to our marketing teams following incubation, the CTO Blog is still my baby and I edit most of the content (although I do try to ensure it’s written by others).
One year on, I’m pleased to say that our CTO Blog has been shortlisted for what is now known as the Computer Weekly Social Media Awards and I’d like to ask for your support again:
- If you don’t currently read the blog, please check it out.
- And if you like what you see, please consider voting for “David Smith/Fujitsu CTO Blog” in the CIO/IT Director Category.
It’d be pretty cool to win an award again, and a great finish to the year for me at work…