March Madness in July

I’ve admittedly been infrequent (some might even say derelict) recently in developing new posts here on SMUG. The main reason is my focus during this season on my son Joe’s AAU basketball team, and chronicling their spring and summer season.

Right now we are in the middle of what I call “March Madness in July.” It’s the time when NCAA coaches are able to be on the road scouting talent and offering scholarships. Joe and his cousin Tom, both seniors-to-be for Austin High School, are playing with the Minnesota Magic Elite AAU team, based in the Twin Cities. And aside from my work-related blogging, my discretionary effort recently has been on the Magic site, where we have profiles of each of the players as well as video highlights from many of their games.

As I write this, Lisa and I are in the air above Tennessee on the way to Orlando for a national AAU tournament at the Wide World of Sports complex. Next week we head to Las Vegas for the Fab 48.

I probably will do a post with more analysis of the Magic site as part of the curriculum here, but for now here is video from the first half of one of the team’s stronger efforts, from a tournament in St. Cloud at the end of June:

The Magic site is similar to the site I developed for the Austin Packer Fast Break Club, which support the Austin High School team.

Both are examples of what you can accomplish with a Flip camera and $30 or less for a custom domain on

When You Start Your WordPress Blog

Note: This is reposted from what was originally part of the “page” structure of this blog. It shows what you can expect when you decide to start a blog on

Suus Not Ut Difficile!


When you click this link to start a new WordPress blog, you will see a screen something like this:

Wordpress Signup Page

All you do then is enter a name, like this:

Aase Family Blog Creation

And then, provided your name is unique enough, you get a message like this:

Blog Created

Congratulations! You now have a blog!

It’s that simple. It’s really that simple.

RAQ: Tips for Starting a Personal Blog?

Today I had the opportunity to do a presentation for a group in St. Cloud, Minn., and afterward Misty Sweeter (@MistyS01), a recent PR graduate, tweeted a question:

Hi Lee, good job presenting at Creative Memories today! Got me thinking about starting my own personal blog, any tips?

A. First, I think it’s great you’re considering starting your own blog. As you’re looking for ways to distinguish yourself, starting a blog is a great way to do it. It lets you show you can write, and to expand on your ideas.

I would recommend using as your platform, because it’s easy, fast and free, but yet gives you a lot of power to develop your own customized look. is likewise free, and some say it’s simpler, but unlike it doesn’t give you the opportunity to move to a self-hosted solution as you grow.

Even though the basic service is free, I would recommend that you spend about $20 for one upgrade.

When you set up your account, your blog’s URL would be something like That’s fine unless you decide later that you want to move to a self-hosted version of WordPress. So you want to take “” out of your URL. You can accomplish this by purchasing a URL (like, if it’s available) and using domain mapping to have that be your blog’s URL, even though it would be hosted on

The whole thing will probably cost you about $20 a year, but the value is that it helps you build your personal brand, and one that can have some staying power. The last thing you want to do is write some good posts, have others link to them, and then move your blog to a new domain, which would mean those external links would be broken.

So buying the domain name will probably cost you about $10 a year, and the domain mapping on also will cost $10 per year.

This course, Blogging 305: Domain Mapping, give details on how you do this.

Beyond that, just think about what you want to write, and whether you want to include video posts as well. I think having some video will show you as a more well-rounded communicator, and having some text-based posts will enable you to showcase your writing and thinking processes.

I’ll look forward to seeing what you do with this.

A Present for Evelyn

Our family is in Grand Rapids, Michigan this weekend visiting my daughter Rachel, her husband Kyle and my granddaughter Evelyn, who turns one today.

Evelyn got to open one of her presents Saturday night when we arrived, as she sat in the lap of her Aunt Rebekah. This is one of those priceless moments that’s a great reason to have a Flip video camera (or something like it):

Because we won’t know the baby’s gender for at least several months, we’re thinking we will refer to him/her as “Thermie” for short.

If I would have know what the news was going to be, I would have been focusing more on Bekah than on Evelyn.

This is another example of how you can embed video from Facebook in a self-hosted WordPress blog, whereas you can’t in a blog.

Meanwhile, here’s the video we shot a year ago right now, when we welcomed Evelyn to the world. She’s changed quite a bit:

Lisa and I have been truly blessed, and are looking forward to Evelyn having a sibling and to becoming serial grandparents.

SMUG is Global

One of the benefits of self-hosted WordPress is the ability to run Google Analytics. The statistics package on is nice, but in Google Analytics you can get much more in-depth information about your blog visitors.

Here’s a map from Google Analytics, which shows the location of visitors to SMUG during March (click to enlarge):


The Global Reach of SMUG
The Global Reach of SMUG

While we definitely have some gaps in countries that have not yet enrolled SMUGgles, it’s neat that we’ve had visitors from every continent except Antarctica.

I’ll have a future post with more about Google Analytics as an advantage of self-hosted WordPress, but when I saw this map I thought it would be fun to share.

Thanks to SMUGgles across the globe for your participation!