I have worked pretty hard to produce some great posts over the past year (if I do say so myself). Recently, I considered what a shame it would be if some people have missed out on some gems just because they were not following my blog or me on Twitter at the time of publication. So I thought I would have a look into ways of exposing my old posts to a new audience. I have now tried and tested two methods, which have both proven quite successful.
Why draw attention to old posts?
- It can bring more traffic to your website, which can only be a good thing
- It maximises the profit from your past efforts
- It highlights your breadth and depth of experience
- If done the right way, it can look very professional
- It takes little time to set up
- It costs nothing
- It can be used to disguise inactivity in busy periods
Method 1: Wordpress Plugin “Tweet Old Post”
This plug-in is already quite popular, and some of you may already be using it. However, if you are not, this post should come in quite handy.
This is a pretty standard, well-functioning plugin for WordPress. It takes mere minutes to install and the settings are very straight forward. Take a look:
These settings are wonderfully customisable: you can set what precisely is tweeted (e.g. title, excerpt, etc.), set the additional text and where it appears, include a link, set which shortening service will be used (my only gripe: I can’t use my custom xl8.in shortener! That, and the typo…), any particular hashtags – which can also be made from the post tags, the minimum interval between tweets plus a maximum random interval, the minimum and maximum ages of a post for it to be retweetable, and, conveniently, a means to exclude certain categories or posts that you may not be as proud of. You can also keep a log of what has been tweeted, although this will be evident in your own Twitter profile, anyway.
One note of warning: the default frequency of posts is pretty frequent. I did not want to annoy people, so I set mine to be a LOT less frequent.
There really is not any more to it than that! Since using it, I have seen an increase in hits, even without posting anything new to my blog. I have had tweets, retweets, new followers, new likes on Facebook, comments and thank you messages. That all seems pretty conclusive: it is worth using.
Method 2: Mozilla Thunderbird Add-On “random(signature)”
This one is a little harder to set up, but well worth it if you happen to be a Thunderbird user and understand the basics of HTML. First, you need to install the add-on, either through the Tools > Add-ons menu (easiest), or downloading the add-on from here. Once you have it downloaded, you need to configure it. Have a look at how I have configured mine:
You will see I used the “fortune cookie file” method. These methods are all explained well within the add-on, if you click the yellow question mark, but I will talk you through this method just for clarity.
You will need to know a little basic HTML if you want to have active links in your email footer. For those who do not know any HTML already – do not worry, it really is not too complicated! I put together a tiny text file for you with instructions on how to insert links and add bold or italic formatting which can be downloaded here: Basic HTML for signatures. All you clever people that know HTML already will not need it.
First you will need to set up a “Fortune cookie file”, which should just be a text file, which can contain HTML, with each random option you want to appear in the text file, separated by % and with no % at the start or end of the file. To give you an idea, you can take a look at mine.
Next, you will need to assign a blank HTML file for the program to write its randomly generated file to. In my example, this was footer.html.
Then you should enter the signature text that should appear before and/or after the randomly generated part from your fortune cookie file. The first part should be entered in the first tab, called prefix, then click the suffix tab to enter the final part.
Finally, you just need to select how often you want the signature to change in seconds. Finished!
So, that is all! I would be quite interesting to hear how you all get on – especially with the random signatures trick!
Some of you might have noticed that I store my signature in my Dropbox. This is because I use multiple computers and Dropbox is a handy way to keep any changes I make to my signature consistent. To find out more about Dropbox, please see my post on sychronising and backing up files online.