The Next Challenge blog has been running consistently for three and a half years. For the last two years I have posted new articles twice a week, every week, at 7am every Monday and Thursday. The only exceptions to that were whilst away on expedition when updates were more sporadic from the field.
Obviously, this takes a lot of time and effort but I consider it be a very worthwhile use of my time. However, this year I am taking on some extra work commitments outside of the expedition world. As a result, I’ll be dropping the blogging schedule to one new article per week, posted every Monday at 7am, with just the occasional extra (like this one).
Hopefully we can maintain quality whilst still retaining a reasonable quantity of new material.
About this time last year I asked for some feedback on my website. Over the past twelve months, I’ve been trying to incorporate some of what was passed back to me. Here are some of the suggestions that were made:
Make it graphically more interesting with better photos
I’ve re-designed the site since last year for what I hope is a nicer looking web page. It’s got a bit of scrolling imagery on the front page, neater lay-outs for pages like the Resources page and Articles page, and I’ve created a snazzier looking Portfolio.
I also paid for an upgrade to my Flickr account and took the time to upload hundreds of images covering most of my expeditions. Hopefully this has improved the selection of photos I use on my article. My wife’s new cameras should improve things in the future too!
Give us more ‘top tips’ advice, adventure stories and opinion
By far the most popular articles in the survey seemed to be the ’10 Tips for your first…’ series and the other advice articles. As well as continuing with some more of these articles, I created new pages so it was easier to find past examples of these articles. Just visit my Resources page.
Stories of my adventures and the creative pieces came out as popular too. To capitalise on this, I’ve added a page with all of the highlights of my more creative writing and adventurous accounts. There also pages for my Opinion pieces and Motivational articles.
No one told me about any articles they didn’t really like which could be because everything I write is brilliant or perhaps just because most of my readers are polite Brits.
Get the site to load a bit faster
Most people don’t seem bothered about page-load speeds but it does seem to effect some people. This is really hard to improve and right at the limit of my technical know-how. I’ve spent several days reducing image sizes, optimising content and using special plug-ins to improve efficiency. I am hoping that an updated bit of software next month will improve things but there’s not much more I can do at the moment. (N.B. If you get my RSS feed, it will load like lightning!)
Do something a bit different once in a while
I’m usually a bit paranoid about straying off-topic and using an adventure website as a platform for other things that interest me but might no interest my readers. BUT it was suggested that, very occasionally, I might include the odd article about something other than expeditions. Well, I’ve done a couple to test the water and have some others in the pipeline about music, books, films and food.
Is there anything else I can do to improve your experience? Something you’d like more of or less of? Let me know in the comments below.