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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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Would You Take Down a Blog

Yesterday's post talked about taking down a blog and ways you can easily do so that still give you the option of restoring the blog on the existing url or a new url.  There really are many, many reasons to take down a blog.  Here are a few I came up with:

  • lack of interest - Essentially you are no longer interested in blogging.  It isn't for you so you have the choice to leave is stagnant to die a slow death or take it down.  If you know that blogging isn't for you taking down the blog may be the best choice.  Chances are it wasn't old enough to have earning potential so taking it down will have no effect. 
  • life events - Life tends to interrupt blogging.  At some point you may be dealing with things that are considerably more important than blogging.  Sometimes it is easier to temporarily take down a blog rather than worrying about constantly updating it.
  • online stalking - As a victim of online stalking I can attest that sometimes it is easier to take down a blog then move it to a new url just to keep your stalker at bay.  If it is a real problem setting your blogs to private effectively puts you undercover then while in the private setting a couple of months later move to a new url solves a lot of this type of problem.   If they can't find your blog they can't stalk you.  Just make sure you don't put some type of notice about the url change on the original blog but you can notify followers, directories and that type of thing about the url change behind the scenes.
  • death - This is a topic I don't see a lot of bloggers addressing.  Upon the death of the blogger the blog essentially ceases to exist.  At that time those left behind may choose to delete the blog or they may have been left instructions to delete the blog.  But that only happens if someone close to the blogger has access to their blogging account.  It's important to let others know your wishes about how your intellectual property is to be used after your demise.  For example, my husband has my log in information and instructions on what to do with respect to my blogs should I pass away.  Others may choose to leave their blogs to go into the ever expanding wasteland of cyperspace. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When to Take Down a Blog

I author six public and two private blogs.  The question always in the back of my mind is when to take one of them down.  Obviously this would not be something I would consider with my more popular blogs and if any paid private advertising is running I couldn't take them down until the advertising period ran out.  So, when do you decide to take down a blog?

Well if you listen to Google you don't.  You should leave the blog up as a reflection of you the author and adding to their content.  But, I don't feel that is the best advice.  Sure it adds to their search engine content but at some point any content is dated.  Organic traffic will decrease and gradually die out.  You don't necessary have to delete the blog either.  Blogger has the option that you can easily set the blog to private.  So the blog stays intact but no one can read it unless you allow them to.  That way if you decide to bring the blog back to life all you have to set it to public then start blogging again.  Another option Blogger offers is to download your blog complete with comments.  You can effectively download your entire blog, take down your blog then restore it with a new url if desired.  That can be a nice option in some circumstances.  If you choose this option be sure to download your template as well.  Once restored the entire blog will function as normal at it's new url location if at some point you decide to restore the blog.  The choice whether or not to take down  your blog or blogs should always be your own.  If you take down a blog I recommend doing so in such a manner as to be able to restore the blog if at some point you desire. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting Back on Track

Blogging or rather the actual writing blog posts has been very much a challenge for me almost since returning home from our winter vacation in January.  Prior to that and even while on vacation I could easily write four or more posts in a day, and enjoy it.  The nice thing is I was able to have a nice stockpile of posts to rely on while I dealt with the writers block.  I started running out of scheduled posts as we neared our spring vacation in May but managed to write daily while on vacation.  I had enough to get through until the end of the first week after we returned home but life threw us a curve ball with my being hospitalized a couple of days after getting home.  Needless to say I got little blogging done and what blog posts I did write focused on my primary (most popular ) blog.  It didn't help that we have our house back on the market either.  The further I got behind in writing the easier it was to stay behind. 

Things seem to be calming down a bit now.  My husband is well on the mend, pretty much back to normal.  The house is still on the market which means continued decluttering and doing all those little odd jobs to make the house show better.  It has been so hot here that I've been spending more time indoors.  There's less outdoor work to do as well since I only have container plants and the herb bed to tend.  I'm hoping to get back to doing a bit more writing.  It's time to get blogging back on track. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Team Blogging

Team blogging is a blogging method that involves two or more authors.  This can be a rather effective technique for business or organization blogs.  It may be effective for personal blogs if the team members have a real life relationship (eg. sisters, husband/wife, mother/daughter, etc).  In the first scenario, problems should be minimal since posting will be part of employment expectations, business promotions or volunteer members of an organization working towards a common goal.  There will more than likely be clear guidelines as to content and presentation of that content.  Often this type of team will involve one person responsible for design, one person responsible for posting the actual articles to the blog, and the authors.  Essentially only the design and posting members have direct access to the blog.  The authors simply write the articles.

When it comes to blogging as a team for personal blogs (eg. niche blogs) the team may or may not have a clear agenda with respect to content or presentation.  Each team member usually has access to logging into the blog and posting.  This involves a considerable amount of trust.   A common caveat is 'business and family don't mix' because conflict can at times create a nasty situation and hard feelings.  The same thing can happen with blogging and family.  The worst case scenario if one member may change the password so other members can no longer post.  The more team members, the greater the chance for problems.  The best scenario is all the members contribute equally with the blog becoming successful with good regular content, good earning potential and Page Rank. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guest Posts

Ken from Adgitize started a topic on the forum discussing whether guest posts should be allowed.  I commented on the thread but thought it would be a good topic to discuss in a bit more detail.  As an author of six blogs I get a fair number of requests to guest blog on them.  Over the course of the six years I've been blogging, I have written one guest post and allowed one guest post on one of my blogs.  Despite the idea that guest posting will build traffic to your blog and in theory it will, I am not a fan of guest posting.  One problem is the guest blogger may get their content from a content farm without your knowledge.  Another problem is the guest blogger may write the same article for more than one blog.  Both of these problems create duplicate content that is not a good thing in the eyes of Google.  If done often enough, you could end up being penalized by Google because of guest posts if they are from content farms or create duplicate content. 

My blogs really are about me - my ideas, information I want to share, my writing style and so on.  I prefer to control the content on my blogs, keeping it 'me'.  If I were to accept guest posts, I would of course determine if the content was appropriate and the backlink went to an acceptable blog.  This creates a couple of problems though.  I would feel bad turning down an article someone had taken the time to write for one of my blogs but would have no choice if the article did not meet the standards I've set for them.  Quite often those offering to write a guest post are inexperienced bloggers looking to establish backlinks.  The problem with this is two-fold.  Newer blogs usually don't have Page Rank and the average life of new blogs is three months.  Both of these create holes in your PR. 

In fairness, allowing guest posts can keep fresh content on your blog when you don't have the time to write your own blog posts.  I don't feel that this is a real benefit in that you still have to do the work of publishing the guest post.  Rather than allowing guest posts it may be better to form a writing team where each member has the ability to publish but beware as there are problems with that approach as well.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adsense Ads Placement

I run Adsense ads on five of my six blogs.  According to Adsense some positions for the ads are better than others based on reader's eye patterns when reading the blog.  I don't like ads to be obtrusive so mine are on the sidebar.  I may not make as much but my readers are happy.  Recently I came across a blog saying the best placement for Adsense is integrated with each post.  They apparently were getting excellent results with this placement.  However, there are two major problems using the integrated ad placement.  First off, readers don't like it, period.  It interrupts with the natural flow of the blog.  From a blogger's point of view though, I think the real risk is the increased possibility of click fraud.  That is a real concern as it can get your Adsense account terminated.  My oinion is Adsense ads should be kept away from the posts.  The sidebar or possibly the header is a better location that won't encourage click fraud.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blogger's New Design Causes Eyestrain

I was quite excited when Blogger announced their new dashboard and editor design.  It is now available in draft mode (draft.blogger.com) so I have been testing both out.  For the most part I do like the new designs.  They are slicker and cleaner.  I posted earlier about a few of their buttons that are now a pale grey with white font.  These are almost impossible to read!  Until yesterday I was only doing a couple of posts so had not had the opportunity to do multiple posts or layout changes.  Writing the actual posts in the editor is fine.  It's a couple of buttons that's the problem but once you get used to the what the unreadable buttons are, you can get around fairly easy.  The layout page is also a bit more difficult to read with some buttons again being unreadable.  After working for a couple of hours yesterday my eyes were burning and stinging from the eye strain and I had developed a pounding headache.  I do hope they correct this annoying problems!  Oh and there is a glitch in the schedule feature too as it will push the post ahead a day later than you intended so if using schedule be aware of that.  I also don't like the new drop down menus under schedule.  They are hard to read and involve a lot of clicking adding to the eyestrain issue.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blog Research

I have a rather extensive background in scientific and genealogical research so it came as not surprise that sometimes a bit of research is needed when blogging about certain topics.  As with any research, it is important fo use reliable and accurate resources for blogging research.  While it is easy to find information available online it is not aways the most accurate in some cases so always use more than one reliable resource.  Resources with user submitted content (eg. Wikipedia) may have unconfirmed content and/or errors.  However, there are a multitude of peer review journals available online as well as credible news sources that can be used.  If blogging about a particular restaurant or product the best place to find information is directly from their website.  Government websites can also provide reliable and accurate information on certain topics.

When using information from other sources as part of your blog post it is important to reference that information.  You can use anchor text, linked footnotes reference style or linked superscripts.  This allows your readers to easily read the reference source if desired.  If using  a hardcopy source, use the reference sytle method giving name of author, book or journal, title of author, year of publication and page number.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Following the News

Sometimes breaking news and current events present wonderful blog fodder.  Not every blog lends itself well to using current events but when they do a fair amount of blog fodder can be gathered.  I have been following the news by blogging about the Casey Anthony trial.  This trial lasted 33 days resulting in a rather unpopular outcome for protesters.  It was and remains a big human interest story that lends itself nicely as blog fodder for my personal blog. 

The time to use current events as blog fodder is as they are happening.  That is when the interest will be the highest.  It is not good enough to just blog about the event either.  This is the time you add your own opinion and commentary on the implications of that particular current event.  Refrain from using any picture or image related to the event uless you have specific permission to do so.  The exception to this is if you were at the actual event and were able to take pictures yourself but even then you have to be careful especially with respect to images of people used without their permission.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Problem Using the New Blogger Dashboard and Editor

I honestly do like the new Blogger dashboard and editor.  For the most part I have no complaints.  However, the new slick design is hard to read sometimes.  For example I'm writing this in the new blog editor and 'publish' is in a white font on a pale grey background which is quite hard to read.  The same thing happens on the dashboard where some of the buttons are white font on a pale grey background.  I know that Blogger is moving away from their traditional colours but going too neutral is not the answer especially if users can't read the font.  I'm hoping they correct this problem to make both the new dashboard and editor easier to read.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blogging is Like a Box of Chocolates

To modify slightly a well known phrase from the movie Forest Gump, blogging is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get.  It is amazing to see the wide variety of blog designs, blogging methods and topics as you wander throughout the blogosphere.  It is interesting that those authoring multiple blogs can have such a varied interest as well.  I've run across some blog authors that have one or more blogs that are somewhat entertwined creating a logical connection and then all of a sudden they also write a blog that has no real connection with the other blogs.  Just like a box of assorted chocolates without the guide...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Working in the New Blogger Dashboard and Editor

I've been working in the new Blogger dashboard and editor in draft mode.  It has a completely different look and feel than the old editor.  Quite frankly I like it.  The only complaint I have is in the old editor there was a option to 'return to posts' that could be opened in another tab to get the link of a former post I wanted to backlink to.  It was quite convenient.  I can still do this in the new dashboard but not directly from the editor so it is not quite as convenient.  Aside of the look the additional functions added are text background colour and define/translate.  Both are nice features.  Oh and the labels are now presented in a nicer drop down menu with each term separated by a comma rather than the single line drop down style.  I like that a calender has been added to the schedule option as well.  Over all I reall do like the new editor.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blogger Update

If you want to get a feel of the new Blogger dashboard, head on over to draft.blogger.com.  Once it has been tested the new dashboard will roll out to everyone.  I've heard a few complaints but I like the new format.  Yes, it will take a bit of getting used to but from what I've seen it is more streamlined.  At any rate this is a nice change. 

Garden Gnome

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Kind of Blogger Are You?

We had the great pleasure of attending a belated Canada Day celebration this past weekend complete with a whole roasted pig and amazing fireworks display at my husband's aunt and uncle's farm.  Folks feast all day long.  It was funny that as conversations go it turned to blogging but rather innocently.  I went up for pig skin.  Ssshh, please don't tell my doctor!  While I was up there another guest was asking about one particular salad when I casually said "Oh, that tabbouleh".  I knew the salad well since one branch of my husband's family is Lebanese.  The thing is we only keep three Kebanese dishes as part of our family favourites.  They are tabbouleh, kibbeh and hummus.  She was interested about the salad so I told her how to make it and then the subject of blogging came up.  I told her I was a food blogger and I am but I do write five other blogs that are not food blogs.  I think I identify most with my food blog though even though the first blog I created and took my online nym from was my gardening blog.  Ultimately the gardening feeds into my foodie tendencies though.  If you were asked what kind of blogger are you, what would your answer be?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Off Schedule

During the winter months I was doing really good at getting daily posts to go live for 7 AM across all of my blogs.  The momentum was good fed by the good days where I could add an extra scheduled post or two.  Then I injured my leg that saw me on crutches for a couple of weeks and it just seemed everything came unwound then.  I started getting behind then we went into our spring vacation where it seemed I was just hold my head above water with respect to blogging.  During our spring vacation and since then we have been dealing with my husband's health issues so I have not been able to build that momentum again.   It doesn't help that our house is on the market as well.  I have been struggling for the month of June just to get posts out without worrying about my self-imposed 7 AM deadline.  July started slow but is improving so hopefully I will get back into some type of routine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Changes at Adgitize

I noticed a couple of interesting trends on Adgitize today.  First the total points in the system are on a downward trend.  On July 1 there were 10,2301 points; on July 2 there were 95,911 points and on July 3 there were 95,355 points.  This indicates there are fewer advertisers paying into the system.  Now part of that could be due to the Canada Day (Canada) and Independence Day (US) holidays with advertisers late in renewing their ads.  It could also be due to the point changes announced that went into effect on July 1.  Lower points in the system will mean higher earnings for those members who actively do their drops each day as well as post a daily blog post.  However, lower points means fewer advertisers which translates into less income for Adgitize.  I decided to do a bit of investigating.

As a blogger who is spending between $28 and $42 hours per month at Adgitize, I want to be sure I am getting my money's worth.  Checking my Adgitize stats showed that visits from Adgitize is down.  In fact, on one blog the traffic from Adgitize was only 18.  Now that's not good!  At $14 per month, that breaks down to 46¢ per day.  Eighteen clicks breaks down to 3¢ per click, very close to many other advertising networks that give a considerably better traffic result.  I certainly hope this trend will not continue!

What I think has happened is those interested in only earning money through Adgitize may have moved on resulting in a lower traffic count.  I also think some of the advertisers have decided to not renew their ads.  In fairness, some advertisers won't renew because they aren't happy with how their ad performed or they simply can't afford to renew.  I think the possibility of reduced earnings to recoup the costs of advertising may have scared off a couple of advertisers. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Adgitize Problems Are Fixed

It appears that the programming error for Adgitize is fixed. Kudos to Ken and the Adgitize team for solving this quickly. As always they do a top notch job listening to the membership.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Effects of Adgitize Forum Point Change

On June 4,  Ken Brown of Adgitize announced that the 2010 Summer promotion awarding 100 points for a 200 word forum post or equivalent would end July 1.  Many expressed concern over what will amount to a lower earning potential.  Some members are interested in only earning from Adgitize rather than advertising so losing 100 points means a loss of about 10¢ per day.  Other members participate daily in order to earn enough to pay for their advertising so a loss of 10¢ per day translates into a loss of $3 per month, meaning some members will be paying more into the system.  I'm in the advertiser category, currently running three ads (3 x $14 =$42) and earned $26.01 through daily participation so paid into the system $15.99.  Imagine my surprise this morning checking my earnings to find them at only 6¢ for July 1.  Some reported negative earnings.  If you are seeing this problem, Ken has announced that this was a critical programming error and all earnings will be corrected.    They are working on the problem, so don't worry.