Friday, May 11, 2007

Introducing Belshaw's various blogs and web sites

Anybody who reads this blog will know that I have a number of blogs and web sites.

They all started with a logical purpose, but have become mixed together to some degree simply because topics and interests overlap. Recently I have been struggling to maintain them properly because of other pressures. As a consequence, I have missed some significant anniversaries and milestones. I thought therefore that I should provide you with an overview, in so doing also consolidating my own thoughts.

My first on-line endeavour was the creation of the Ndarala Group web site. Back of this is an extranet that I also try to maintain.

Ndarala is a cooperative network of independent management related professional practices and professionals. Our mission is to help the independent achieve their professional, personal and business objectives through cooperation while retaining true professional and business independence.

The Ndarala web site links to two management related blogs.

I began Managing the Professional Services Firm on 3 July last year (2006). A significant proportion of my own work as a manager and as a strategic consultant has taken place within this sector, while it is also of interest to my Ndarala colleagues. So we saw this blog with its focus on improving management in professional services as a natural extension of our work.

Since then there have been 133 posts, while the blog has had 7,968 visitors, so should click through 8,000 shortly. The blog has been quite well received professionally, something that gives me personal satisfaction, with click through from links on other sites a major source of traffic.

The second Ndarala blog began on 7 November 2006 as the Ndarala Group blog but has since been renamed Management Perspectives to better reflect its scope.

Initially we saw this blog as a way of encouraging conversation within the Group while also presenting Ndarala material and experience to a broader audience, material that could later be consolidated on the main web site. Fifty six posts, 3,491 visitors, later we are still feeling our way as to best direction.

I have found this with all the blogs. I think that all bloggers start with a very general idea as to what they want to do, then evolve through experience. I think with Management Perspectives that the blog is only now getting to the point that it is starting to take identifiable form.

One particular frustration here is that my colleagues, all busy, have not been able to properly generate supporting content. We presently have fifty seven professionals working across professional fields and and industry sectors in five countries. They are doing some fascinating stuff that deserves greater exposure, but time is always the issue.

The Group web site plus the two blogs form one Ndarala linked management related suite of sites. There is a second, very different, suite.

Back in 2004, Ndarala became a major sponsor of Country Week, a promotion intended to convince Sydney residents of the virtues of regional NSW for work, life and play. We did so because a number of our people worked in regional NSW and were interested in regional and community development.

As part of this process, we identified a major problem with access to information about life in Regional Australia generally.

At first we tried to meet this need through a section on the Group web site, but this was not very effective. This then led to the launch of the Regional Living Australia web site in April 2006 to provide an entry portal showcasing the interest and diversity of life in Regional Australia.

On 23 July 2006 - this was a busy blogging month - I started the Regional Living Australia blog to support the main site. Again, the idea was to use the blog to cover things not suited to the main site and to build up content for that site.

I have found it remarkably difficult to make this blog work. The very diversity that I am trying to promote is also the blog's curse. Part travelogue, part guide to regional living, the wide range of topics makes it hard to keep a clear focus. I also keep being distracted into interesting by ways.

Still, after 115 posts, 3,933 visitors, the blog is starting to take form. Pleasingly, there has recently been a steady increase in traffic.

New England Australia began on 8 April 2006 as a strictly personal blog. I described it in this way in my first post: This blog is dedicated to the history, culture and activities of the New England region of Australia.

I am happy with this blog. So far I have put up 147 posts and have begun to build a solid core of content. I have also built reasonable visitor numbers, with 7,205 visits so far. I have also found a helpful interface between this and the Regional Living blog because of common issues.

One problem that did emerge with the New England blog was that I found that the New England history theme, a core interest of mine, was becoming submerged. This led to the creation on 24 November 2006 of New England's History as a special purpose blog.

With only 19 posts, 228 visits, this is the cinderella blog. I thought about killing it, then decided to maintain it just for my own purposes. Having it there forces me to make posts from time to time, thus keeping some historical focus.

The final blog, this one, is my oldest and most active blog.

I began on 19 March 2006 as an experiment to test blogging, only to become addicted. Since then I have written an astonishing 286 posts, 287 counting this one.

At 12,777, visitor numbers have been reasonable. However, the real joy from this blog has come from the intellectual stimulation and the personal interaction with people that I have never met but now think of as friends. I do not have many regular readers, but I really value those that I do have.

So many sites, too little time.

Recently I have had to think very seriously about just what I can do in the now very limited time that I have. There have been days when the need to keep up has made blogging a chore rather than a pleasure. Then there are the other things that I should be doing, including just maintaining my ordinary email traffic.

I have yet to work out a clear answer here. It's not just maintaining what I have. I know that there are many things that I can and would like to do too build from the current base. So I am experimenting with different approaches just to see what is possible. I will report on those that work.

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