Welcome to The Blog Report

I'm so glad you stopped by and hope you find this blog an interesting read. I've been blogging since April of 2006, currently the author of six public and two private blogs. In the beginning I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. Over the years through trial and error, frustration and elation, and a few tears I've learned a lot. However, the learning process when it comes to blogging continues to evolve. Here you will find a hodge podge of my blogging experiences, useful codes and how-tos, sprinkled liberally with my opinions. Enjoy!

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Couple of Nice Bloggers

We saw the last of our house guests off this morning.  All in all it was a wonderful time spent enjoying several of our friends over a two week period.  As wonderful as it was I am looking forward to getting things back into a bit more of a routine.  That will likely be difficult for the next week that promises to be quite busy but I will have more blogging time, something that is quite needed.

From time to time I like to blog about other bloggers.  A few years ago I came across a blog called Margie and Edna's Basement.  This blog is written by two bloggers Jane and Beth who are fans of Jericho.  They take on the rolls of Edna and Margie in a conversational type setting reminiscing about the good old days.  Now this blog is quite entertaining!  I stop by quite often to see what they are up to usually leaving with a chuckle or two.  Honestly it is like popping into a conversation with two quite elderly sisters!  It is well worth the read so if you have a minute pop on over and tell them Garden Gnome sent you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Bit of Blogger's Block

I knew well over a month ago that we would be having house guests with the first arriving on the 18th and the second arrivals on the 24th with a day's overlap of both parties being here and the final party leaving on the 30th.  In light of this I did a fair amount of work to get several posts scheduled.  The end result was a bit of blogger's block.  There were a few times I sat down to blog drawing a complete blank.  Even on partially composed posts I had a few problems concentrating enough to finish them up.  Once our house guests arrived finding a bit of spare time to siphon off for blogging was a bit more difficult than I anticipated.  At any rate I've managed to get posts out on a fairly regular basis.  It will certainly be nice when things calm down a bit so I can get back into my normal blogging routine!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marketing Changes to Your Blog

The marketing industry has long known that people are creatures of habit.  That means they either have to hit you big with overexposure to sell a new idea or they have to subtly modify an old idea to get you to buy it.  There really isn't any in between.  By far the least risk involved is subtly modifying over a period of time gradually introducing consumers of the updated look.   and so it is with blogging.  Major changes can bring major dissatisfaction for your readers to the point you may get complaints or lose readers.

If you decide to do a major overhaul of your blog that will include new template and design features then be prepared to hit those changes with a good advertising campaign and you may want to tell your readers what to expect.  That means buying additional advertising on blog advertising networks for one to two months.  Create a special promo ad for this purpose announcing the new look and/or features.  It also means additional pinging and posting during the transition phase.  So by all means do the major changes but up the promotion.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blogging on the Fly

When I started blogging over 4 years ago I actually did the majority of my blogging on a Mac G3 laptop.  It was equipped with Photoshop CS and iPhoto so I basically had everything I needed to blog anywhere I could plug into an internet connection.  I was somewhat limited because I didn't have an Airport card but for most of our get aways and traveling I usually managed to get a connection.  Back then motels were equipping their rooms with ethernet and DSL connections and an extra cable got me connected when staying overnight at any of our kids houses.  About a year after starting blogging I upgraded to a slick iMac with dual core with both Mac and Windows operating systems.  I love my iMac and it is equipped with everything I need to use for blogging.  When I'm away from home I use my husband's laptop (Windows XP) and the iPod Touch for transient type of blogging.

Blogging on the fly means you learn to be quite versatile at not only what OS you are using but also what programs you are using. There may even be times when you end up blogging from a public library where you aren't even using your own equipment but with a bit of pre-planning it is all workable.  This laptop does not have Photoshop but more importantly it does not have Photoshop set up the way I have customized it for the Mac which means I don't have a lot of the specialty fonts or custom made brushes I'm used to working with.  I downloaded a copy of Photoshop Elements 8.0 to evaluate but it is nowhere near to my beloved Photoshop CS.  However, free trial versions of familiar software is an excellent way to get what you need for a short period of time away from your regular blogging environment.  There is also completely free photo editing software like GIMP.  I think the biggest problem I came across while blogging on the fly was with Safari as it just seriously messed around, froze up, crashed and honestly I was ready to give up all together.  I did a disc clean-up, defragged, upgraded to Safari 5.0.2, and things improved from there.  My gosh I forgot how much work maintaining Windows was!  I managed to get TweetDeck set up on the laptop fine but of course didn't write down my custom colour scheme so am looking at some horrible colour settings.  Then there is my photo downloading program.  I'm using PhotofunStudio from the disc that came with my camera instead of iPhoto.  

Blogging on the fly means a lot of times blogging in unfamiliar software environments that can be time consuming and frustrating.  At the same time this offers a learning experience that in itself ads to your blogging knowledge base.  What's really neat about blogging on the fly is anytime you have a few free minutes you can easily blog.  Even if there isn't an internet connection you can be working on draft posts while sipping on your favourite drink sitting on the beach listening to the sounds of the ocean.  You can easily be blogging anywhere you can take your laptop or mobile device.  Ideally you can synchronize your laptop to your main computer or at least copy the files  like custom graphics and image editing software from the main computer to your laptop so you have them to use wherever you are blogging from.  You can also upload your edited images to a flash drive or a photo hosting website (eg. Photobucket) if you won't be using your own computer.  Apparently there is a new Photoshop available for the iPhone as well.  So have fun exploring blogging on the fly!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blogging is More Than Just Writing Posts

A couple of days ago I wrote about a paid to click program and within a very short period of time another blogger sent me a heads up (thanks John!) that Google doesn't like these types of programs promoted on blogs even if the blog itself has nothing to do with the program other than having a referral link.  I decided to not take any chances to removed the banner and link in the post but I left the name of the program in case anyone is interested in checking it out.  This type of heads up from another blogger is a perfect example that blogging is more than just writing posts.  As a blogger you become a member of the blogging community.  You interact with other bloggers through forums, comments, social networking, blogging advertising networks and email.  You form friendships with other bloggers.  So it really is a wonderful support system where bloggers help other bloggers.  If you see a problem on a blog it is nice to let the blogger know.  This type of pay it forward makes for a stronger blogging community aka blogosphere.  For the most part bloggers are a very friendly and supportive group.  Oh sure as with any community there will be a few bad apples but for the most part those tend to get weeded out over time. As bloggers we all make mistakes from time to time.  It's nice to know that we aren't in this alone though.  It goes without saying always thank those bloggers who help you with a link to their blog and don't forget to pay it forward.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm Ticked Off

Not to beat a dead horse but you know when another blogger calls you out publicly making false accusations based on false reporting of a faulty browser, it leaves a rather nasty taste in your mouth.  Now this is a blogger with a long history of jumping the gun, making accusations and not really caring about how it affects the other blogger he flings his nonsense at.  Every single person that sees his false accusation that my blog has malware may choose not to visit my blog just on the basis of his unfounded complaint.  The problem is cornyman loves to fling around mud, doesn't care of the outcome as long as he get 2 seconds in the lime light.  Now this blogger for whatever reason doesn't understand in the blogosphere it really isn't prudent to stab other bloggers in the back.  You see we have things called blogging advertising networks  and Twitter.  His antics are going to get his ad on my PR4 blog how many times?  Oh I'm thinking right now!  His let's accuse then let the chips fall where they may  will get me to likely unfollow him on Twitter as well as ban him from reading my tweets.  If I get really ticked off of which I'm not quite at that point I will be sure to blog about what a little piss ant this clown really is!  And you can be dog gone sure I won't give him a link.  He has systematically been ticking off as many bloggers as he can and some of the most respectable bloggers to boot.  He causes uproars in the forums and in general tends to be a pain in the kester.  So you can bet your bottom dollar I will blog about him because he is the perfect example of what you don't want to be as a blogger!

Friday, September 24, 2010

False Accusations

Yesterday I received an email from a blogging friend that said someone had reported my cooking blog as containing malware over on the CMF forums.  I of course felt that horrible feeling of panic!  I know for a fact that none of the HTML has been edited in well over a week so there has been no new widgets added.  The suspected malware was rpc.blogrolling.com but I don't use them.  I checked all the widgets on my blog and could not see a problem.  By then I was really starting to panic so I went over to Blogger help forums to do a bit of digging.  I found that bloglinker.com is malware but I don't have that either.  In fact compared to many bloggers I don't have a lot of widgets and those I do have are from well trusted sources.  In Blogger help I found the link to Google's Safe Browsing Diagnostics so typed in my cooking blog url.  Here's a link to the full report:


My blog is not considered suspicious and has had no malware detected in the past 90 days.  The last time Google checked my blog was September 23, 2010 (yesterday).  So despite the report it did not appear there is any basis for it.  The blogger who issued the malware alert was browsing with Chrome and a second user reported Chrome flagged my blog as containing malware yet Firefox did not.  I checked it with Safari (5.0.2) and Internet Explorer (8) with AVG not flagging any malware.  To be on the safe side I ran a full computer scan using AVG that showed no malware.  So my blog is clean of malware and always has been.    A quick Google search shows that Chrome has had a history of false malware reports though.

However, thanks to another blogging friend I found that the problem seemed to be the malware detection algorithm in Chrome that was flagging my blog due to a link in the Key Ingredients Blogroll that pointed to their host Blogrolling.  Blogrolling hosted many blogrolls and are aware of the problem but won't be fixing it because according to one report (Sep 17, 2010) they are closing up.   Their recommendation is to remove any blogroll widget that was hosted on their system.  Anyone using a blogroll that was hosted through Blogrolling is going to have this problem.  So either way the widget would have become a problem.  Essentially Chrome was picking up that my blog linked to a blogroll that in turn linked to Blogrolling.  My blog was never the problem in the first place. I should also point out that the particular widget in question has been on my blog for a good couple of years if not longer and Chrome certainly had no problem with it up until apparently yesterday.

In this particular case it would have been nice if the blogger who issued the malware alert had contacted me first before jumping the gun and dragging my blog through the mud so to speak.  Browser detection services can and do fail.  In this case there is absolutely nothing wrong with my blog it is from the browser being used to view the blog  picking up an external link from another external link.  A simple check of my blog with another browser would have shown there was no malware AND the person could always have ran my blog url through Google's Safe Browsing Diagnostics just as I did to see my blog did not contain malware.  I think it was irresponsible and drama seeking to issue a public malware alert when in fact there never was any threat of malware on my cooking blog nor has there ever been a threat for malware on it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making Money Online

When I first started blogging one of the things I quickly realized is a lot of bloggers are quite intent on making money online.  Some of them are considerably more blatant about it than others.  There really are a lot of ways to make money online with some of them not requiring you to be a blogger at all.  Ideally if someone wants to make money online with a little effort they can easily do so.  It will take a fair amount of effort to get the income up to a full time job though but from all accounts it is doable.  Here are a few ways to make money on line.  I'm sure with a bit of creative thinking there are a lot of other ways to earn money online as well but these are just a few of the ones I've found.

  • affiliate programs - These programs require a blog or website.  Referrals will help boost your income.
  • paid reviews - There are two types of paid reviews, one is written on their site (eg. Epinions) and the other is written on your blog (eg. Paid Per Post).  Of these sites like Epinions pays more without chasing readers from, your blog.  There are very few paid reviews that I've seen on blogs that come across as sincere so I just don't like those types of paid reviews.  In most cases the paid review is monetary but it can also be in the form of a free product.  
  • advertising networks - The largest or most known advertising network is Adsense but there are others (eg.  Bidvertiser, Pepperjam, Chitika, etc.).  All of these networks have very specific terms some of which may restrict what content you can have on your blog or website.  The nice thing about these networks is once the code is installed the only thing you need to concern yourself with is building traffic.  The ad networks will continue working providing trickle-in income as long as you leave the code on your blog or website. 
  • private advertising - Any blogger or webmaster can sell links, banners or badges on their blog without the use of a third party network.  It is a bit more work but is not difficult and it pays more.  Organization is key so that the advertiser is notified before their ad/link expires.
  • online sales - There are many ways to sell items online.  The most popular and most equitable ones are online auctions (eg. eBay).  Other sites allow you to produce on demand items with your logo or tailored to your blog (eg. Cafe Press) while others help you sell hand crafted items (eg. Etsy).  All of these can be used even if you don't have a blog.  We've been members on eBay since 1998 well before I started blogging.  At peak sales we were averaging a little over $400 per month net which wasn't bad considering that there isn't a lot of work involved.  You can also sell directly from your blog or website.
  • ebooks - Ebooks have become quite popular.  There are a number of online sites to help you create your ebook as well as market it.  According to some resources, ebooks are really the way to go if you want to make a bit of serious money online.  You don't need to restrict the sale of your ebook to one site either.  You can sell directly from your blog or website, through specialized websites and through eBay.
  • writing articles - If you love to write and most bloggers do look for sites for article submissions including magazines and other publications.  Many will pay you directly for each quality article they accept.  The nice thing about submitting your articles online is aside of faster approval times that you don't have to worry about any postal costs or problems.  Depending on your academic credentials, you can make a tidy little sum of money online simply by writing niche articles.
  • web design - If you remotely know a little html and photo editing you can use those skills to make money online.  You can sell your services or pre-made templates.  This can be profitable for bloggers but can also be targeted towards scrapbookers looking for digital scrapbook elements.
  • telecommuting - As companies try to boost profits by reducing costs it has become cheaper for them to higher someone willing to work from their home via the internet.  The beauty of this is not only are you making money online you actually ending up with a higher net income through reduced expenses (eg. dress clothing, commuting to work).  The main downside to working from home is a lack of focus.  You have to be dedicated to putting in the time required and organize your day without letting distractions get in the way.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Couple of Little Irritants

I switched over to Blogger's updated editor several months ago.  For the most part I like this editor over the old editor.  I understand that Blogger is going to be retiring the old editor.  I have two problems though.  First I have a signature file for my posts so that part stays the same without having to re-enter the information.  The problem is the updated editor doesn't recognize the formating so I have to edit that in HTML.  It's not a huge problem but it is just one of those minor irritants.  The second problem is in the old editor you could highlight the picture/image then add a link to it so if someone clicks the picture/image it takes you to that URL.  I cannot despite a lot of frustrating attempts can't figure out how to do this in the updated editor and forget it in draft mode editor.  I don't mind updates but I don't like it when a feature I use often enough is taken away even though they give you extra features.  I want a simple way to add a link to any picture I upload if I want too.  Please Blogger?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Paid To Click Program

I discovered a new paid to click program [link removed] called Paid to Click yesterday [so have added their banner above].  This program according to reports does pay out as promised.  It is not a get rich quick scheme either.  You can click on a maximum of 4 ads per day and there is a 30 second timer before your account is credited with the funds.  Your total daily time commitment works out to be 2 minutes for a payout of 3¢ or 21¢ per week but the good new is they do pay out upon request once you have earned 2¢.  You must have a Pay Pal account for the payout.  While it is not a lot of money there is the potential to earn more money if you get referrals and you can buy referrals as well.  Actually it is more like renting referrals.  The price for renting a referral is 25¢ for 30 days starting in packages as low as $2.50 for 10 referrals to a maximum of $25 for 100 referrals for the free membership. Of course getting direct referrals will help increase your earnings as well. You can also buy tickets for jackpots that have a cash value.  Going to the next level of membership will cost you $3.50 for the year.   I'm going to try out the free membership for a couple of months and I bought 10 referrals just to see how the referrals work and difference in earning potential. My total investment was $5 which is enough to rent 20 referrals in one shot or 10 referrals for 2 months.  Oh and you can pay to advertise in their system.  The only problem I see is there would be a conflict with Adsense if you were running ads but having the referral link on your blog or earning money from the site would not be a conflict with Adsense.  So basically if you are using Adsense the only thing you can't do is run your blog ads on Paid To Click.  It would be nice if their banners came in more sizes though.   So wish me luck and I will report back.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello! Do I Have a Stupid Sign on My Forehead?

I've blogged before about spam that isn't comment spam because it is send directly to my email rather than going through the comment form on my blogs.  Here is the email as I received it with the spammed website changed to fit my current mood:

I know this email is out of the blue, but I just posted an article on my blog entitled “a very nice spammed title to supposedly spark my interest” at http://im_a_total_loser_of_a_spammer.spammedwebsite.com . Anyway I figured I’d bring it to your attention in case you thought it interesting enough to drop a quick mention on your site about it as I’m trying to increase readership of my blog.
 Either way, hope you have a good week
Cindy Cullen

Well thank-you so much Cindy.  I really appreciate your kind offer.  I'm sure my readers like me are absolutely thrilled with spam but what the heck just in case I am going to decline your offer.  You see the contact form on my blogs is for reader who want or need to contact me not for spamming.  I love your honesty though since few actually admit they want to increase the readership of their blogs.  Since the link you provided is not an actual blog that leaves me shaking my head a bit but again at least you were honest with your intentions.  So I have a question for you Cindy.. Do I have a stupid sign on my forehead?  

I'm serious every single blogger out there want's to increase their traffic!  The reality is most bloggers do so using legitimate methods without spamming.  And who the heck are you to think you even have the right to suggest to me what my readers might be interested in?  Should I point out that every blogger of which you are not one is trying to increase their readership?

Personally, I am sick and tired of getting these types of messages several times a week.  I have now started taking affirmative action thanks to my old PC days.  That means if you the spammer sends me one of these types of messages I will seriously launch the LARTs  (loser attitude re-adjustment tool).  Quite frankly that means you will have an attitude adjustment forced on you through the loss of your internet services or whatever other measures I deem appropriate.  Heck I may be in a good mood and turn you into blog fodder.  Or I might be in a really pissy mood so that means you will lose your account and being in an even pissier mood may mean your IP will get a warning from their upstream provider.  My goodness depending on my mood your IP may be reported as a spam IP as well.  If I'm just toying with you I may only write a blog post about how your IP in this case going through Google so I will complain to them while posting your email cindycullen84@gmail.com You do know that spamming is against Google's TOS don't you?  Well just in case you don't I made sure you got a reminder.  And I will keep launching them until you get the idea that spamming me or anyone else is not a real good idea.

So thank-you Cindy for wishing me a good week.  I am certainly going to be having a good week knowing you will be shopping for a new ISP.  It is a real bright spot and one I have absolutely no problem sharing with my readers.  I'm going to chuckle most of the week knowing you are going to have one huge headache to settle all because you picked the wrong person to spam.  I hope you enjoy your week as well.  Toodles!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Great Blogosphere Mystery

Shortly after starting blogging I joined a blogging advertising that actually glorified traffic exchange.  Basically what you did was mindlessly click on ads that were placed by earning credits for mindlessly clicking on ads.  Without going into further detail on the particular ad network, there was a blog on there that was quite popular.  It was called Monkey Tales.  I used to visit it quite often while doing my drops.  Then one day everything blew apart!  The author behind Monkey Tales was found to be copying articles from other sources then using it on his/her blog.  In fact there wasn't any original content on this blog at all.  This person had serious dubbed every member in that particular network.  He/she was an active member in that network's forums and rather well respected within that network community.   When this came to light the author never gave an explanation just took down the blog.  Through the blogosphere there are rumours this author is back doing the exact same thing. 

Now here are a few things to ponder on this whole bizarre situation:

  • The blogger never had any type of advertising other than the ad network mentioned.  At the time there was speculation the owner of the ad network was behind this and maybe he was but there certainly was no obvious monetary or any other type of gain by the author.  
  • The author of this particular blog actively engaged with other bloggers and on forums so basically was viewed as a blogger within the blogging community.  
  • The author simply and very quietly removed the blog of question and as mentioned has reappeared as the author of other blogs.  They are always Blogger blogs, never have any advertising, use very minimally modified Blogger templates and all content is 100% cut and paste from another blog.
  • The reasoning for doing this is really rather baffling as the author wasn't making any money off of the plagiarized content.  The chances of doing much harm to where the original material was posted as far as SEO due to duplicate content was pretty much nil since the original content would have been indexed while the for the secondary content would have been flagged as duplicate.  So there really was no apparent gain for the author by any stretch of the imagination. 
  • The author offered no  explanation upon being uncovered just simple deleted that blog and left the ad network leaving other bloggers to speculate what the heck had happened.  But as mentioned rumours are the author is still doing this using the same MO.  The last I heard at least 4 active, plagiarized blogs were being attributed to this particular unknown author. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Old Switch-a-Roo

Have you even gone to a restaurant, placed and order then got something entirely different than what you ordered.  If you have you can related to this.  The first feeling is disappointment followed by anger then demanding your money back.  Well that is exactly how I feel sometimes when I click of someone's 125 badge expecting one thing and getting another.  What is with that?

Some cutesy ads and some not so cutesy ads lead directly to make money online sites.  At one time there were a lot of sexually suggestive ads that also lead to make money online sites as well.  Then there are other really cutesy ads that reflect nothing of what you end up seeing.  In the real world of advertising this is called false advertising and there are financial penalties for using false advertising.  If bloggers are to be taken seriously on the advertising front they need to be bit more professional and honest with respect to their badge design.  Use your logo, your brand, your colours but seriously don't use a thinly clad female to get visitors to check out your boring let's make money online blog.  That is deceptive and I hope blogging ad networks start to deny these types of ads.  They are an insult to the blogosphere!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Life's Curve Balls

Regardless of who or where you are as a blogging life is going to throw you a curve ball at some point.  The curve ball is usually big enough to throw you off your blogging schedule even if it isn't an etched in stone schedule.  It may even be so big you don't feel like blogging for quite some time.  The beauty of blogging is you have the freedom to deal with these curve balls.  Decide what is more important in your life at that moment then go ahead and tend to those needs first then either fit in short periods of blogging or take a hiatus from blogging.  Let's face it even tendered professors take a hiatus from their university duties to catch up on life or just catch up on rediscovering themselves and their research.  Sometimes life curve balls by forcing you a break from blogging can make you stronger as a blogger.   Embrace them and find the strength in the curve balls that life throws you.  Despite the added stress they really do enhance our lives.  We learn from them then we blog about them.  That's what makes us real as bloggers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Authors Write More Than One Book So Why Can't Bloggers Author More Than One Blog

Many authors have been notorious for writing more than one book.  In fact those writing professionally often write several, some in the same gendre or not not but the important thing is their readers get to know their style which in some cases reflects their personality.  So why can't a blogger author more than one blog.  Well the reality is there is nothing to say a blogger can't create and author as many blogs as they choose.  Heck there are no limit, no guidelines, no anything other than express yourself.  A blogger could easily author 20 blogs that may each in their own way be quite successful.  The main difference with authoring a book over a blog is with books the author tends to work on one book at a time while a blogger will author more than one blog at a time.  So it can be a bit more confusing but you know I would hazard a guess that many authors writing more than one book have a couple on the go at one time.  I think it is human nature to do so because it is not always easy to focus your thoughts in one direction.  A couple of irons in the fire so to speak just keeps life interesting!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Authoring Multiple Blogs

Ben Barden of CMFAds asked a very good question on the CMF forums.  He wanted to know what others thought of authoring multiple blogs.  I gave a brief reply since I am the author of 6 public and 2 private blogs.  However, I thought the whole question deserved a bit more of an in depth feeling.  There's a few things that come into play with multiple blogs:

  • pro bloggers encourage multiple blogs -  In fact the magic number pro bloggers encourage is 10.  I'm not sure where they came up with that number but am assuming when done properly that is the number of blogs needed to make a living off of blogging.  Since I'm not trying to make a living off of blogging this is rather a moot point but for those that are that is the number to strive for and be prepared to write your butt off!
  • filing - Much like a filing system, multiple blogs allow you to file your blogging into the appropriate file (aka blog).  For me, this type of filing helps me to organize my thoughts and determine where I want that blog post to appear.  If I'm blogging about canning tomatoes it is rather obvious to some it belongs on my cooking blog but if it is a generic I've been busy canning tomatoes then it might be more appropriate for my personal blog.
  • controls the chit chat - In my opinion blogs are supposed to be chit chatty by nature.  That's what makes them interesting.  However, the chit chat needs to be somewhat controlled.  So the chit chat that may be a bit too much for one blog may fit nicely with another.
  • rants - Oh gosh!  For the most part I tend to keep rants to a minimum across all my blogs but seriously if I get into a rant mode it automatically goes to my personal blog.  
  • stimulates creativity - Multiple blogs stimulate creativity and keeps your thinking.  That is a great thing.  You do want some overlap because that becomes your mark, your style that defines you as a blogger.  What you don't want is massive duplication of content across your blogs.  Yes it is a bit more work but bringing in that whole creative element to express one more faucet of your being is well worth it.
  • enhances learning - Blogging by nature will get a bit stagnate if you don't keep learning.  Multiple blogs just enhances the overall learning experience and encourages further learning.
  • blog promotion - It is a bit more difficult to promote mutiple blog without paying a fair amount of money for advertising or wasting a lot of time dropping cards.  What I did was start promoting the heck out of the most popular blog then as it started making a little money diverting that money back into promoting the other blogs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Being Me

When I first started blogging I came across many blogs that sounded a bit stifled as if the writer was holding back who they were as a person.  Others sounded way too happy, happy, joy, joy while others were one rant after the next.  I decided to just be myself.  Chances are any mood will show in my blog posts simply through my choice of words and presentation.  There isn't any point trying to stifle it.  I am who I am!  I write the way I talk.  I'd like to think that if a reader met me in person they wouldn't be too surprised.  I think just being me, expressing my ideas and feelings, works well as a blogging style for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Thoughts on Paid Reviews

I recently did a review of Tattler reusable canning lids on my cooking blog.  Now this was not a paid review and I clearly stated this.  I bought the lids at full price then after doing a fair amount of testing I wrote the review for the benefit of some of my reader who like me are looking to secure a reliable supply of canning lids in the event the single-use metal lids become unavailable.  I've done the same type of thing with other products that I really like so I was not expecting the requests for a review to land in my inbox.  These aren't paid reviews per say in that they aren't offering me money to do the review.  Instead they are offering me a free product to test then write a review.  I should be flattered but in some ways I'm not.  Why?

I have participated in epinions for quite some time so it isn't like the concept of paid reviews is foreign to me.   Those are really quite different reviews than paid reviews on blogs.  In fact with epinions you have no idea if you will ever be paid for a review but with a paid review on a blog you are either paid ahead of writing the review or once the review has been approved by the sponsor.  My personal feeling on any product review is it needs to be my honest opinion both the good and the bad.  I don't want to feel cramped that I have to give a good review because someone is paying me for it.    This isn't a concern for me with epinions because again I never know if I will get paid or not so quite frankly I call a spade a spade.  When it comes to paid reviews for blogs if you want to get paid calling a spade a spade is not likely that great of an idea.  Mentioning anything negative is likely to get the sponsor ticked off enough to not pay you. 

Now the funny thing is on the Tattler lids after I did the review that included my honest opinion that $9.33 was too expensive for shipping I actually got an email from them telling me they thought that was a bit unfail.  What the heck!  Here I am tooting their product, recommending their product to my readers while paying full price for that product out of my pocket and they think I shouldn't mention a negative like high shipping costs?  I replied to the email stating the reasons why that was included in the review.  Basically my reviews are based on my opinion and my opinion only so I don't want something like being paid influencing it.

So now I'm getting offers of freebies to review.  How can I possibly give an honest opinion of something someone sent me free.  My gosh!  If they send me their product to review and I feel it is total junk I am sure shooting going to say so and they just might not like that.  I have in the past ranted about inferiour products, incompetent businesses and even given this type of thing special awards.  Payment in any form would cramp my style and deny my readers of my very honest, sometime brutal opinion!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Best Time for Blog Posts to Go Live

When I first started blogging I wasn't concerned with when the post went live as long as it did.  So it ended up being different times.  When I started using Blogger's scheduling feature I set 7 AM as the time for my posts to go live and for the most part unless I'm running behind as in today's post, the 7 AM time seems logical to me.  Some of my readers especially on my cooking blog like to check the post before heading out for work.  That way if the post is about something they might like to make for dinner they can pick up anything they need on the way home from work.  I think the 7 AM posting time for the cooking blog works quite nicely because it fits in with my reader's needs.  With respect to my other blogs an early posting time is not all that important or if it is I haven't seen any indication.  I still aim for the 7 AM post time especially when scheduling posts but if I miss that I try to get the post on by noon. 

I read on one blog that the best time for a post to go live was 10 AM.  I'm not sure of the reasoning and the only logical explanation would be is perhaps this is the first break for many during the work day.  I can't say that I really notice a busier time during the day for traffic though.  It seems to be rather consistent throughout the day regardless of when I make the post.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tacky Blog Notices

I ran across a blog today while bloghopping that had a cute little, custom made graphic that says "I'm sorry entrecard uses this widget for advertisements I don't agree with."  I'm sorry but I find this incredibly tacky.  First it is a put down for the advertising aka traffic exchange in this case.  Second it is telling your readers while you don't agree with the advertising you will pimp your blog using it anyway.  Now you can't have it both ways.  Readers have a reasonable expectation that you agree with any third party content on your blog.  Openly saying you don't agree with the content while using it anyway loses credibility in my eyes.  If you don't agree with the content then either don't use it or reject the portion of the content you don't agree with! 

Quite frankly as a former user of entrecard I can find nothing good to say about it.  You won't find that widget on any of my blogs and two of them never had it in the first place.  As much as I dislike this particular network, it's mindless clicking that generates high bounce rates and pretty much everything about it, I would not take my time to make a cutesy graphic to say so.  This philosophy applies to any blogging network I don't agree with.  If I don't like what the network is doing or what it stands for I simply don't use it. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Comment Spam Reporting

Comment spam is a problem for many across the blogosphere.  It just seems to be a growing problem which is one reason I am glad Blogger has introduced the comment spam detection system.  The nice thing about this is no attention goes to the spammers.  I see more and more of bloggers having widgets that say XXXXX spam messages have be caught by this spam program.    First off I would not want readers knowing how many comment spams I get because quite frankly that doesn't enhance their experience of my blogs.  What it does do is send a message to potential spammers that you are using a certain program  or site to catch spam which really gives them the motive to circumvent your spam blocking.  If you don't have comment moderation on then if they do get around your spam blocking their spam will be on your blog until you notice it and delete it.  Quite often these types of comments can stay on your blog for several days or until someone points out the problem to you.  In this case the spammer has won and they have got the attention they want.  In other cases some spam bots can get through the programs or sites providing spam blocking for you so again the spammer wins. 

My opinion is that the best way to deal with comment spam is quietly.  If you are using a program or site to help control comment spam, don't announce it, just do it.  The most I'll say on my blogs about dealing with comment spam is comments are moderated and I don't say it is due to spam.  Comments are moderated period.  This is all part of what I consider the behind the scenes part of authoring a blog that readers really don't need to know about.  Readers are looking for the information not how you get the information to them so don't bore them with the details.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blogger's Stand Alone Pages

When Blogger introduced their stand alone pages, I really did not think I would have much use for them.  For many blogs the stand alone pages doesn't add a lot with respect to design but for others they certainly allow you to pack a lot of information into your blog in an easy to find manner thanks to the tab feature.  The information doesn't get buried into the bowels of your blog but it doesn't clutter up your blog either.  Rather it is right out there for those readers interested in that particular content to simply click on the tab.

I've been using the stand alone pages for a few months now.  I am liking the stand alone pages for my cooking blog, a private blog and may add them to my gardening blog as well.  I likely won't add them to my other blogs though but that may change.  I think the stand alone pages are a great way to add a lot of organized content to blogs.  For the most part I like the way Blogger is handling them too.  Perhaps they will offer a few more unique features for the pages in the future.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Do Notice

I would love to say I don't pay a lot of attention to my stats but what the heck every blogger worth their salt pays attention to their stats.  That's just the way it is.  My stats across all 6 blogs tend to be rather predictable with Thursdays always being the lowest traffic day.  What I have noticed though especially on one blog if I mention certain key words like HST or Dalton McGuinty I get some rather interesting traffic.  I've even blogged about it!  What the heck you certainly can't let good blog fodder go by the wayside.  Seriously though I do notice the referring urls in my stats as well as the IPs.  I will often check out referring urls to see where the link is and leave a comment if possible.  I think noticing these details in your stats is important because it is one of the first clues as to how readers are finding your blog.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Daily Posting Gets You Noticed!

For the first part of 2010 I strived to make daily posts over my 6 blogs.  During July and August that did slow dow a bit because I was quite busy with day to day activities.  I managed to get fairly regular posts out on the blogs without daily content but what I noticed rather quickly is my Alexa ranking started decreasing on those blogs I did not get the daily content onto.  In fairness Alexa had a few recent  problems with their widget and I suspect the problems are continuing to the point if they don't get their act together shortly I will be taking their widget off my blogs. I've noticed  that daily posting does get you noticed which makes sense if you think about it.  Daily posting adds more content to your blog increasing the chance that search engines will index your blog which ultimately brings more traffic to your blog.  If at all possible keep those daily posts coming!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Talk About Shooting Yourself In the Foot!

I am a member of a couple of blogging networks. About a month ago one of my fellow bloggers who tends to be rather on vocal bordering on anal side made a comment on a network that resulted in a few other members being vocal enough to say they would never visit his blogs again. From his perspective it is well assured he lost a couple of readers but because he is on another ad network he lost visitors from that as well and he ended up losing those that were not vocal. Even though I said nothing I seriously will not ever visit his blogs again! I've blocked all of his ads on both networks as well. So he has lost all credibility and a lot of potential traffic which in hind sight is a rather poor decision on his part to tick off a lot of bloggers. He seriously shot himself in the foot and for wanting to make money online that's not a real smart thing to do!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Picking Up a Stalker

Anyone participating in online activities runs the risk at some point of picking up a stalker.  In most cases the stalker will remain online but there are a lot of examples of stalkers taking it over into real life.  I have recently been dealing with such a case.  After 16 months of dealing with this nonsense (emails, phone calls, blog comments, Twitter) I took some affirmative action.  I have any calls from this person's phone number set to block and have reported the number.  All comments on my blogs have always been moderated so the stalker gets no satisfaction by seeing one of their comments posted.  I have an IP blocker set up.  I set my Twitter to protected so this particular stalker cannot follow me then I removed the Twitter feed from my blogs.  However because I have a large number of Twitter followers I still get traffic from Twitter.  Local police have been notified of the issue and I have applied for a restraining order. 

A lot of times bloggers seriously do not realize what others are capable of and believe me I didn't.  I'm a careful blogger giving out enough personal details to make my blogs interesting but not enough details for personal identification.  I honestly would love to blog under my own name rather than a pseudonym but what I have been going through in the las 16 months makes me glad I didn't.   I don't blog about controversial issues either.  The most controversial issues I blog about is politics occasionally on my personal and Canadian blogs.

Picking up a stalker seriously cramps your blogging style.  It hinders what you are willing to divulge  and it puts you on guard as a blogger.  In short it does affect your writing style.  If this type of thing happens to you there are a few guidelines:

  1. track IPs - This is very important.  Use your stats to check the IP of your stalker and the number of details of the time that stalker visits your blog.  This can be very important when getting a restraining order by proving stalker activity.
  2. set up an IP block - This is not the most effective solution but will keep those not knowing a lot about computing to keep them off your blogs.
  3. set up comment moderation - Comments will get through to you but not your readers using this method.  Without an apparent audience the troll usually will go away.
  4. avoid any and all visible contact with the stalker - In this case it becomes less is more.  Do not give the stalker any type of recognition.  This is hard to do but it is very effective unless your stalker takes it to off line.
  5. keep all evidence - This one sounds like a given but trust me keep records of any online contact including stats records.
  6. seek legal help - The reality is online stalking has resulted in personal harm and death.  If you feel threatened at any time take all the information you have along with what you have done to your local police department.  If need be get a restraining order!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Blogger Navigation Bar

Quite some time ago I read a blog post that said removing the Blogger navigation bar gives your blog a more professional appearance.  I use the code on my blogs to hide the navigation bar because I do agree they look nicer without.  A few days ago I had an email complaining about the navigation bar not being on one of my blogs so the reader could easily follow my blog.  This is something I had not considered.  The navigation bar gives the reader the opportunity to easily follow your blog simply by clicking on the follow icon.  It's not that they can't follow without the navigation bar only that it is easier for them to follow.  Now I am rethinking whether or not to use the navigation bar. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

The LOL Smily Infested ROFLMAO Blog Post

With advent of newsgroups came the use of acronyms to express certain phrases rather than have to type the same phrase over and over.  These acronyms became more popular with text messaging and now social networking like Facebook and Twitter.  It is now quite common to see acronyms like YYMV (your milage may vary), LOL (laughing out loud), ROFLMAO (rolling on floor laughing my arse off), OMG (oh my god), IMO (in my opinion), IIRC (if I recall correctly) as well many more.  At the same time emoticons are widely as a way to inject emotion into online writing.   These include :) smiling, :( sad, :P sticking tongue out but there are a lot more.  Acronyms and emoticons have their place but other than a rare occasion really don't fit in well with blogging.  Why?  In my opinion blogging is all about the effective use of words.  It's how you use those words to describe the event so the reader can visualize it in their minds, empathize with the feelings the description evokes and perhaps move them to laughter or tears.  You are the narrator of your blog so the writing style of your blog should reflect your natural way of talking. 

JMO (just my opinion) and YMMV:

  • If you are LOL several times in one post you are either on something or need to be on something.
  • If you are ROFLMAO while writing a blog post chances are very good you are having a seizure and should seek immediate medical attention. 
  • If you are peppering your posts with OMG you should quit putting the knife into the toaster to prevent any futher shocking incidents.
  • If you are :) several times in one post consider that there are a lot of other keys on a keyboard to use as well.
  • If you are :( several times in one post it might be better to step away from the computer until you cheer up a bit.
  • If you :P once in a post, shame on you!  It's very impolite to :P

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Annoying Writing Style

Everyone has their own writing style when blogging.  For the most part bloggers write in a manner that is fairly consistent using words constructed into sentences and sentences constructed into paragraphs.  Most bloggers use capitalization and puctuation.  Spelling and grammar are of course important so most bloggers make an attempt at ensuring both are correct.  Sometimes minor errors slip through but they aren't severe enough to distract the reader.  What happens when a blogger tries to be creative by ignoring the conventional rules of writing?

Example:  There is a poster in one of the forums that I participate in.  This person claims to have a Master's degree in English and has written 3 novels.  Her posts are always extremely long, quite often well over 100 lines that in itself is very annoying.  Here is a mocked sample of her writing style:

one word...first fractured sentence...i'm have a degree in english that i like bragging about but can't find the cap key on my computer but who needs caps anyway...i can't find any punctuation keys either...but i really really really like that little dot so i use that to separate all my long boring run on sentences because i can get more thoughts into a long boring run on sentence than i can with short to the point sentences because i have lots of experience in academia don't ya know...i just finished writing my third novellllllllll...can't find exclamation mark so just stretch out the last letter of word to show importance...but-then-i-found the dash to connect words together...way kool lol...all that money wasted on and english degree...

I thought perhaps that this was just a writing style she used on the forum thinking it was a bit on the cute side.  At the end of her posts she has a link to her food blog so being curious I clicked on it.  You are not going to believe this!  Her blog is written in the same style!  I find it very difficult that someone who claims to have an advanced English degree would actually think there is anything cute about this writing style.  It is about the most annoying writing style I have ever come across in the blogosphere yet.  If I were her I would be asking for a refund on her education costs because obviously she learned nothing and I do mean nothing about the English language!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some Days I Just Want to Blog

As the author of 6 public and 2 private blogs, this is the only one of my blogs that is not graphic intensive.  By graphics I mean creating my own images via Photoshop® or taking my own digital images then editing them as need be via Photoshop®.  Creating and editing images all takes time and sometimes the simplest image can take a lot more editing than it initially appeared.  While I really do enjoy working with Photoshop® there are some days all I want to do is sit down to write a couple of blog posts without all the extra work involved.  It is my own fault because that is the way I set up my blogs to take advantage of the pictures I take but now I feel guilty on those blogs if I don't have my own image with every post.  Sometimes I cheat a bit by using a YouTube video either one I made or someone else's and sometimes I use a piece of clipart.   At any rate there are days all I really want to do is blog as in the actual writing and nothing more.