My Romance With Drupal

September 2nd, 2008 · 5 Comments

A Whirlwind Romance
Why do you hurt me so?

Why do you hurt me so?

In the course of one day I met Drupal, fell madly in love, got married, experienced the end of the honeymoon, nearly got a divorce and finally settled in to a uneasy truce. I’m not yet sure I haven’t made a mistake, but for the time being I’m willing to have an open mind. After all, for a few short hours I was madly in love.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is a Content Management System (CMS) like Joomla! or WordPress. It is a way to wrap up your content easily and manage it without having to write scripts or generate lots of pages. Drupal however has several characteristics that make it valuable for someone like me.

Drupal is highly modular

Even the most basic functionality of the CMS is deployed in modules (often user created). This allows you to build in what you want and leave out what you don’t. A nice feature especially when you’re “hacking” around in the code.

Drupal is highly configurable

This is the part that really works for me with Drupal. I really feel like whatever it is I want to do, if I was a skilled Drupal hacker I would be able to do it quickly and efficiently. I sense the potential to be able to “whip up” non-trivial sites without re-inventing the wheel. However…

Drupal is NOT easy to use

I am a fairly tech savvy person and even I spent considerable time figuring out how to do trivial things. Even in their documentation they make the point “who told you Drupal was easy?” Although I found that I was able to do several complex things with ease, the difficulty of several simple things quickly seemed to be offsetting the euphoria.

Final Analysis

At the end of the day I continue my involvement with Drupal because of the potential. Like so many young women lured in by a “bad boy” they think they can fix, I am settled in for a long period of heartbreak, but I do not want to walk away until I’m sure the promise I’ve seen cannot be fulfilled…oh dear what a disturbing metaphor.

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Tools You Should Be Using: Google Alerts

September 1st, 2008 · 1 Comment

Google Alerts has a myriad of uses. We will approach this subject again in other contexts, but today I want to talk about using it for relationship building. As we discussed in a previous article, developing relationships with other motivated site builders in your space is an excellent way to benefit both of your efforts.

One difficult component in doing this is it’s hard to find people who are motivated and promising, but not so big that they get no benefit out of working with you. If you just go and search for your keywords, you will basically find the people who have already “made it.” We’re looking for people who are going to “make it,” but are still climbing the ladder.

Enter Google Alerts

With Google Alerts, we can put in search terms and Google will let us know when something new appears for that search. While this will sometimes just show new posts in the “blue chip” sites, very often you will get results in up-and-comers. Quite honestly new blogs tend to post more often than established ones, so we’ve generally found that we get a higher percentage of new than old.

I recommend going ahead and creating a Google account to manage your alerts if you don’t already have one. While you can receive alerts without having an account, they are easier to manage and remember if you have an account from which to manage them. Especially since there are so many uses for Google Alerts. You will eventually have so many it will be nice to have a list you can reference.

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Relationship Building

August 31st, 2008 · No Comments

At Walt Disney World for Grownups we were a bit frustrated in developing our forums. We were having trouble getting enough traffic to have our site look “credible.” The most common advice was to get your friends to post to get the ball rolling, but most of our friends are not “Disney people.” They lacked subject-matter expertise.

New friends can be hard to make.

New friends can be hard to make.

In a way it was something of a blessing that so few of our friends were optimal for this job as it forced us to think about a better solution. While having friends post would be fine, we instead developed a win-win by approaching people who wrote some of the best blogs in our space. We asked them to post in our forums, and we commented on their blogs. Basically we helped each other with content and simultaneously advertised our own sites.

Even more importantly we’re essentially trying to “make friends” with these people. They are motivated and net-savvy, and by making friends with them we essentially each bring the other into our content networks. So if either of us gets a boost in readership, it will help the other. Plus we can help each other out on other projects.

Ultimately it’s hard to approach people and say “let’s be friends,” so it helps to start out with a small goal. We basically just asked them to join our forums and bring the level of conversation up. In return we tried to provide them content through comments and sometimes guest articles or interviews. The result is we establish credibility with each other and help each other out. Hopefully we can keep up these “friendships.” While so many people focus on “link building” we feel like “relationship building” is a much more valuable vehicle.

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