Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blog Archives are your Hope Chest

Mack Collier
Do you have a blog? If so, are your previous posts archived and accessible as a reference for your readers? Maybe you remember meeting Mack Collier when I wrote about #DellCAP. Mack Collier is also the standing host and moderator for the Twitter #blogchat. Some weeks Mack will tweet that he is looking for a #blogchat topic. August 22nd's tweets went like this:

@mackcollier Thinking of discussing posting schedules for #blogchat tonite, sound good or do y'all have another topic you'd rather discuss? 9:42 AM Aug 22nd via TweetDeck
@judyhelfand @MackCollier pros and cons of archive lists. It doesn't have to be a full time topic, it is a question. #blogchat 9:46 AM Aug 22nd via web in reply to MackCollier
@mackcollier @JudyHelfand I like that, maybe 'Maximizing your sidebars', what content to include, where to position it, anyone else like that? #blogchat 9:48 AM Aug 22nd via TweetDeck in reply to JudyHelfand

@mackcollier Tonite's #Blogchat topic is managing and maximizing your sidebars - http://bit.ly/bJ7qxU 10:12 AM Aug 22nd via TweetDeck
@mackcollier BTW @JudyHelfand thanks for suggesting tonite's #blogchat topic, I've got a free pass for you to #Optsum if you want it, just email me ;) 10:13 AM Aug 22nd via TweetDeck

@judyhelfand @MackCollier glad U like the idea -sidebars-archives. Yesterday I visited 2 blogs looking 4 1 or more old posts- no archive list! #blogchat 9:55 AM Aug 22nd via web in reply to MackCollier

By 12:55PM, Mack had published a blog post #Blogchat topic for 8-22, Managing Your Sidebars! announcing the topic. The rest is now history.
I would expect by now you want to know why I asked Mack to discuss archives and maybe you want to know why my post today uses the analogy of a hope chest.

My mother had a hope chest. It was a Lane Cedar Chest. I once asked my mother how she came to have her cedar chest and she proudly announced that my father bought it for her when they married in 1942. According to a 1942 ad a new Lane cost $29.75! I suspect that many of your mothers had a hope chest or cedar chest, but my most vivid memory of this chest is that it held my mother's keepsakes. I know this because when my two older sisters and I were young we would love to wait for our parents to go out on a date and then we would open the cedar chest and carefully read my father's love letters to our mother, we would try on wonderful little pieces of jewelry (gifts sent by my father to my mother during WWII and the Korean War), we would carefully touch clothes and other keepsakes. These items were part of the family archives and each item was part of a story. As a very young girl I never took the time to read my father's military records, but I learned much later that my younger brother had often visited the cedar chest when he wanted to learn more about our family. Both of my parents are gone now, but after my mother passed away in 2006 I met with my sisters to go through the cedar chest. We each took some things as keepsakes and my middle sister's youngest daughter now has the hope chest.

In my August 9 post I introduced you to Ridgely Johnson. On August 11 I went out of town for a few days.  I traveled with my laptop, but I really wasn't on-line much. Once I returned I took a few minutes to catch up on blogs that I try to read on a regular basis (see BLOGS Judy Reads in the right sidebar). I was "curious" why Ridgely had not published a post since August 10. A few more days went by and then my intuition told me I should send an email to see if Ridgely were ok. But I didn't. Then on August 20 Ridgely posted "I hit a bump..."

Over the weekend I tried to find one of Ridgely's previous posts and then I tried to find one of Jorja's (our mutual virtual friend) previous posts, but neither Ridgely nor Jorja's blogs has an archive feature. Thus my reason for asking Mack about the efficacy of an archive feature.

Here are some final thoughts about archives:
  • Make them available for your readers, they may want to link to a particular post!
  • No room on the sidebar - make an archive page.
  • Short of sidebar space, use a pull-down box for your archives
  • @designmilk I say remove tag cloud and blogroll - add archive links and popular posts. Use your sidebar to drive traffic to your best content
  • @KseniaCoffman Use archives in sidebar: shows how frequently content is updated (& for self motivation)
  • @BabsSegal [archives give] Insight into how long you have blogged
  • @MackCollier I have an archives section because I know SOME of my readers get value from it, I personally don't get much
  • @BabsSegal I use archives daily for many reasons. Years of posts. Make me want to dig in on other's blogs. On my own I re-tweet.
  • @SbuxMel Agree with many comments abt monthly archives. They can show off that a blogger is persistent w/his or her blog.

Your archives have value to your reader, to your clients, to your company, to yourself. They tell your story. Take care of them as if you were saving them in a hope chest. You won't be sorry.

Let me know what you think. Do you use blog archives? Your ideas are appreciated.

Today, I am dedicating this post to Ridgely, wishing her good health and better days. Here is a photo poster I made of Jorga and me giving Ridgely a virtual hug, savoring it beyond the pale!

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Jonathan Saar said...

Thanks for sharing this article with me Judy. Now that I have a year under my belt of blogging it will be interesting to see where archives will take me with my viewers and with SEO. Be well!

Judy Helfand said...

I am glad you found my post helpful. I know that I often refer to our archives on our Webconsuls blog and many times I refer to others to either link to it for my readers or to see what the most recent commenters might be saying. Archives are a learning tool. Let me know what you learn.

Mack Collier said...

Hey Judy, great #blogchat recap! As I said in #blogchat, I don't use Archives that much, but do have a section for them on my blog, cause I know some of my readers use them. I prefer search to find old posts.

Judy Helfand said...

Thanks for stopping by to read this post. I learn so much from you and the #blogchat participants. By the way, I saw that you rearranged your sidebar based on what you heard on #blogchat. I like the new order very much. Very crisp and conveys your mission and invites people to look around.

ridgely johnson said...

What can I say? Hugs got me through- you are such a dear, dear friend. Oh, BTW, I have an ARCHIVE section now ;-)

Judy Helfand said...

I saw the new "look and feel" of your blog. I actually saw it this morning, but I was sidetracked. I really love it. Also, archives...what can I say. I can easily find all of your posts.
Thanks for the link, also don't forget to fix the link to your website on your Twitter profile!!!

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