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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Monday, October 31, 2011

Holidays and Special Days

When I first started blogging I tried to acknowledge every special day and holiday.  I even made custom made graphics and animations for some of them.  Now, I don't do that much.  The reason being aside of Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving we don't celebrate much and even those celebrations are low keyed.  We don't celebrate birthdays and anniversaries in a big way even the milestones.  That is reflected in my blogs.  I always pay tribute to Remembrance Day and Canada Day but on some of my blogs it is also low keyed. 

I honestly cannot believe how much time and effort some bloggers have put into the spirit of Hallowe'en.  They have decorated their blogs, blogged about everything Hallowe'en related possible and some of them will likely win a municipal award for best dressed house of the season.  Me -> I did nothing on my blogs for Hallowe'en but I did put up a few removable stickers on our windows.  I have a costume that I may or may not actually wear and I managed to remember to buy candy to give out.  Two houses ago we got at most 10 trick-or-treaters and last house a whole 4!  Apparently here according to the neighbours we should get about 100 so I'm prepared but aside of one blog I likely won't blog about it at all.  I did blog about our Thanksgiving (October 10) but just barely.

Do you blog about holidays and special days or do you just continue blogging as normal?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Forming a Kinship With Other Bloggers

I started blogging in the spring of 2005 and shortly after that got involved with BlogExplosion where I had the wonderful opportunity to meet other bloggers.  It didn't take long for me to develop a bit of rapport with a few of them and over the years that relationship has grown.  They are friends even though we have never met in real life.  Not only do I make it a point to visit and comment on their blogs, I chit chat with some of them on Twitter as well as a few forums.  I've even got to know a few well enough that we chat back and forth via email.  What is nice is even though some of these bloggers no longer blog or are barely blogging they still stay in touch.  I think that is one of the great benefits of blogging!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Big Mac Clean-up

About 90% of my online activity is done on my iMac.  Unlike a Windows based PC, the iMac removes a lot of the online security issues but it is not without it's own issues.  My iMac started slowing down but because I was using about the most horrible internet service available (Xplornet) I blamed the slow down on the service.  Now where I really noticed a huge slow down was after the move when we got real high speed DSL.  Don't get me wrong as the majority of the problems were due to Xplornet but it was clear that my iMac needed a little TLC.

I was trying to blog the other day and spent more  time looking at the pizza wheel than I did blogging.  The pizza wheel is the system trying to work and sometimes it results in an unresponsive program to the point the program needs to be forced quit then restarted.  After about five Camino crashes while writing a post I decided to trouble shoot.  Ok, so I'm a packrat keeping way more files than I need but that shouldn't be an issue as I also have an external hard drive.  Yesterday I bought macTuneUp then installed it and within a few clicks my iMac was feeling much better.  Then I checked out Adobe Settings Manager and oh my gosh, obviously there must have been a conflict as I went through all the websites listed either reducing what they could store on my computer or deleting them entirely and all of a sudden my iMac was in tip top shape!  Blogging will be a lot easier without seeing that pizza wheel :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Busy Day But Not For Blogging

I spent much of the day unpacking and working on my pantry.  In hindsight I should have had a notepad in there with me as I came up with several great blogging topics only to forget them by the time I was finished for the day.  I know many authors keep small notebooks to jot down ideas as they pop into their heads.  At one time I kept one by the bed because I often wake through the night so would write down any interesting thoughts when I was doing extensive research.  I even used a voice activated mini tape recorder to catch all those thoughts even during the day.  I'm still doing research but not to the degree I was doing before so the tape recorder isn't seeing a lot of use.  It might be a good idea to pull it out to record a bit of blog fodder!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hit or Miss Blogging

My gosh!  I didn't realize I had run out of scheduled posts for this blog which just goes to show how chaotic things are with getting settled into our new home.  Blogging has become rather hit or miss.  I either get a stretch of two or three hours to do online work in a day or get no time.  There doesn't seem to be an in between.  There have been utility installers, repairmen and we have hosted three large events since moving in.  Today, a good friend of ours who does custom carpentry is installing a custom made medicine cabinet and mirror trim in the upper bathroom as well as a custom made shelf for some of my cookbooks in the kitchen.  I thought I would get a bit of blogging done while they worked but then a friend dropped by for coffee so there went that plan.  The worst part is I'm running out of blog fodder for a couple of my blogs.

There is little to do in the gardens other than a bit of clean-up which really isn't all that interesting to talk about on my gardening blog.  So, I'm talking about houseplants and indoor gardening.  I've been keeping the cooking simple and we are still in eating out mode meaning I am scraping the bottom of the barrel finding something to blog about on my cooking blog.   On the other hand I have copious amount of blog fodder for my homemaking blog but not enough time to get blog posts.  Here's hoping things get settled down quickly so I can get a bit more blogging time in!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Are Bloggers Their Own Worst Enemy?

In the little over six years that I've been blogging I have seen blog advertising networks wither up and go away.  So far there has been the beer widget, 125exchange, BlogRush, BlogExplosion, Spottt and there were likely others.  Now CMF Ads is folding effective October 30 but essentially it is finished now.  The common cause cited for the closing of these blog advertising networks is lack of support from bloggers.  So are bloggers their own worst enemy by not supporting blog advertising networks?  My answer is no, but let me explain.

Bloggers fall into two basic categories - those trying to make money with their blogs and those not trying to make money with their blogs.  Let's say it is an even split of 50:50 so 50% of bloggers are trying to make money with their blogs so a blog advertising network is beneficial in gaining them more traffic that should increase that income.  However, of those bloggers trying to make money, a good 50% of them use Adsense that clearly says you cannot use a traffic exchange.  That leaves a total of 25% of bloggers to support the blog advertising networks.  But some of those blog advertising networks charge actual money to advertise your blog something many bloggers cannot afford to do.  Essentially, the blog advertising networks are trying to stay in business with income from less than 10% of the bloggers in the blogosphere.  It does not take a lot of calculation to realize the economics of this.  Clearly less t 10% of the bloggers in the blogosphere cannot possibly support all the blog advertising networks so there are bound to be casulties.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Removal of CMF Ads Widget

About midway through the first week of October I started noticing the absence of CMF Ads widget on many of the blogs I visit daily.  I had removed the widget from five of my blogs earlier in the week.  It was sad to see the widget go but I saw no point in advertising a site that was closing down nor advertising their referral link for Project Wonderful when I have my own referral link.

Over the years of blogging I have reduced the number of widgets I use across all my blogs.  While I am sorry to see CMF Ads go, I'm not sorry to be able to reduce the number of widgets once again.  Less is more with respect to widgets.  Fewer widgets means less chances of scripting conflicts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Do You Blog?

I currently do not work outside of the home but that does not mean I have 24 hours a day to do nothing but blog.  At the same time I''m not blogging as a source of income other than to make enough to pay for blog advertising so I have no real set time for blogging.  I tend to blog when I'm in the mood to blog and believe me that can be anytime during a 24 hour period.  I have blogged in the wee hours of the morning when I can't sleep but for the most part I tend to do my blogging in the mornings after doing Adgitize and playing Cityville and a couple of other 'villes on Facebook while enjoying my morning coffee.  As I slowly wake-up and it is slower these days with getting older things pop into my mind that I want to write about so usually by about 9 AM I have written one or more blog posts.  By about 10 AM I'm ready to go about my daily chores, do a bit of cooking, work on genealogy and basically anything that doesn't involve the computer.  After dinner we watch Coronation Street then I have a little nap but then may or may not do a bit of blogging in the evenings.  I'm trying to get away from doing that at our new house and we can't get Coronation Street at our vacation home other than on YouTube.  So basically most days I'm blogging in the morning before mid-morning.  When do you blog?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meeting Other Bloggers

I am the only blogger in our circle of friends.  I get a lot of questions, support and a bit of good natured ribbing about blogging.  While I have virtually met a lot of other bloggers and even become virtual friends with them, I have yet to meet another blogger.  I know there are blogger conventions but have never been to one since they tend to be in California and my travel funds are destined for Las Vegas and Florida.  In our previous very small rural community we were about the only ones out of about twenty families that even had internet access at home.  Moving into our new urban community doesn't sound all that promising for meeting other bloggers either.  Do you know some of our friends actually do not have internet access and others go days without using the internet?  So in our small, community meeting other bloggers is not looking too good.  I would certainly love to meet up with other bloggers.  I think it would be a great way to build a bit of blogging community as well as make new friends!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blogging is Cheaper than Therapy and a Heck of a Lot More Fun

My very first blog was my gardening blog followed a few days later by my cooking blog and well the rest is history.  Little did I know when I started blogging that putting my thoughts and feelings into words was a good thing.  There have been days I've been so upset about an event, yet blogging about it gives a calming effect.  Believe me there have even been days where I have written one of the best rants you have ever read but by the time I wind up the post, I am calm enough that I save it in draft mode then go back and read the posts a few days later to see if it is still something I really want to share with the universe.  Quite often the answer is no so the beautiful rant is deleted but I feel better and it cost me nothing!  The best part is I can write a post anytime I want even in the middle of the night without ever having to leave my home.  I'm telling you if more folks blogged there wouldn't be a need for therapists ;)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Long Do You Spend Composing a Blog Post?

My non-blogging friends are always asking questions about my blogging.  One common question and the subject of many a conversation is "how long do you spend composing a blog post?"  The answer to that varies greatly for me.  If I am on a roll with a lot of good blog fodder it takes be fifteen minutes or less to write a blog post.  That timing usually applies if I have a number of edited images ready to blog about or something has happened that is fresh in my mind that I want to blog about it immediately.  On the other hand I have had days where it really has taken me much of the day to finish a blog post because of distractions or blogger's block.  Then there are the posts I've started and didn't complete.  Those happen sometimes especially when the thought was a good one at the time but the post itself wasn't.  So how long do you spend composing a blog post?

Friday, October 7, 2011

September Was Brutal on Blogging

I started of 2011 with the high hopes of writing one blog post per day for each of my six blogs.  On average if each blog post takes 15 minutes this would be a time commitment of on and a half hours daily.  In reality when I'm on a blogging roll I can easily write eight or more posts in a day meaning that some of the extra posts could be scheduled to go live at a later date.  So the good days ideally would make up for the days that I don't feel like blogging or can't blog.  What I didn't consider was the disruption that moving would make.

The house was on the market about eighteen months before it sold.  Showing the house took it's toll but the actual moving period was worse because actual internet access was affected, as in we went six days at the new house without any internet and spent on very short periods of time each day at the old house.  What I did was write a few blog posts and edited pictures during my down time so I could do a cut and paste during the very short periods of internet access I had throughout the move.  Then to make matters a bit more interesting we left for our vacation home on September 19, only four days after of official closing date for our new house even though we were able to move in two weeks earlier.

September was just a brutal month for blogging all the way around.  The thing is there really was nothing I could do about it other than adjust as best as possible.  All in all, it could have been worse.  Now that we are back home from our vacation home, I'm looking forward to settling into our new house as well as getting back to a bit of a routine!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Blogging

I started blogging a little over six years ago using a PC desktop running Windows 97.  Since that time most of my blogging is done on a Mac but I still use my husband's laptop when traveling.  I've blogged using an iPod Touch and on public computers.  I've blogged in train stations, airports, restaurants, motel rooms, marinas, libraries, club houses and at our kids' homes.   I've blogged indoors and outdoors, sitting in gorgeous locations while enjoying beautiful some of the most beautiful eye candy as blog fodder.  The weirdest place I have ever blogged is on the guest bathroom floor of our vacation home during our first trip there.  The carpets had just been steam cleaned so were still wet and I wanted to blog.  I have even blogged from a cemetery but I don't  consider that very weird since I was blogging about genealogy.  I don't have any kind of set schedule for blogging.  I like to blog when the mood hits and ideas pop into my head.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Should Blog Advertising Networks Offer a Cash Payout?

I have participated in several blog advertising networks.  Some allow publisher who display the widget but never pay into the system in the form of advertising to earn a certain amount of money based on participation.  The problem with this is the publisher is consistently taking from the ad network rather than supporting it.  Don't get me wrong as I do feel the space the widget takes up should be compensated in some fashion but I really don''t feel taking money from the system is the way to go about it.  I have religiously supported both CMF Ads and Adgitize.  I've never cashed out on CMF and anything I've earned on Adgitize has gone directly back into advertising.  What bothers me is some were only participating to make money which means some of my advertising dollars went to line their pockets.  These publishers have no problem complaining if their earning potential lessens and quite frankly don't give a hoot about the blog advertising network unless they aren't making money.  In all honesty and I am being quite frank is some of these publishers are not worth having your ad run on.   So it is a waste of advertising dollars all away around!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blogging for a Cause

Other than a focus on all things Canadian, I really don't blog for an actual cause. While I do not blog for an actual cause I mention my causes in the sidebar under 'in the community' or directly in the post.   I know some bloggers do blog for a cause though.  The problem with blogging for a cause is causes come and go and not all readers support your cause.  In fact some readers will take offense to your cause to the point of posting nasty comments or even stalking you.  It really doesn't matter what the cause is because someone, somewhere is going to have a problem with it then they make it your problem.

Whether or not you blog for a cause I have noticed those blogging for a specific cause tend to not be long lasting blogs.  Perhaps they tire of the negative comments.  I can count on one hand the number of blogs I met six years ago when I started blogging that were blogging for a cause that are still blogging.  Given that the lifespan of any blog is 3 months that's still rather good.  But still, cause blogs are few and far between anymore.  It's not that they can't be successful it's more that the niche is just too narrow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Few Problems Blog Advertising Networks Face

Last month it came as a surprise to many when Ben announced that CMF Ads would be closing effective October 30.  I think CMF Ads is three years old or close to it.  The reality is anyone starting a blog advertising network has a lot of long hours and hard work ahead of them.  Most who start a blog advertising network were are are bloggers themselves which does not always equate into having good business sense.  There is a large initial outlay of expenses to get a blog ad network up and running.  Even with the generous help of volunteers, friends, and relatives working for free the cost may still be prohibitive and there's guarantee of any kind of payback.  Many bloggers will not pay for advertising or if they do it is a pittance of what is necessary to run an advertising network.  They are quick to complain if the widget or site doesn't work properly and fickle about their loyalty.  At the first sign of problems many bloggers will simply move on to another ad network resulting in a further decline of the network they left behind.

It would be extremely hard for one person to run a blog ad network given that it needs to be up and functioning properly.  They need to approve new members, check for TOS violations, and in short keep a good working relationship with their publishers and advertisers.  They need to deal with any problems swiftly while listening to their clients wants and needs, adapting and updating as necessary.  They need to be available 24/7 or at least have someone who can deal with problems as they arise if they are not available.  In this poor economy, unless one is working home it would be quite difficult to run a blog ad network.  Even if they are working at home they aren't getting paid much for the work they have to put in.  The bottom line is a blog advertising network is a business and the only way to stay in business is to make money!  Many bloggers are trying to make money not spend it so paying for advertising is at the bottom of their list of priorities.  That ultimately means any blog ad network is in for a long struggle just to make ends meet as well as justify the time spent.  At some point, the network has no choice but to close.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The End Draws Nigh for CMF Ads

I checked CMF Ads yesterday.  Both spikes and firework ads have been disabled.  What I did notice is once the ads scheduled to run on my blogs were finished the house ads automatically started which seems a rather moot point.  Why run ads advertising an ad network that is closing down?  Any balance over $1 is to be paid out if requested before October 23 but the payment is not immediate.  It will be paid sometime between the 23rd and October 30.  The nice thing is there will be no PayPal fees on the payout but there is still the 10% tax.

Some bloggers are quite concerned over finding a replacement for CMF Ads.  The main replacements if using Adsense are: Project Wonderful and Adgitize.  A possible replacements if using Adsense is Entrecard but it may get you into trouble.  If you are not using Adsense then Expose Your Blog may be a good choice.  It is quite similar to the old Blog Explosion and you might even get a bit of traffic from BE if it is still up and running.  I have checked lately.  Ben from CMF Ads recommended Bloggeries, a paid blog directory.  It starts at $49.99 then quickly rises in price.  The question is whether it will deliver the traffic or not.  There is a forum so I might check it out and do a bit of research on their ability to deliver traffic.

I am not going to look for an immediate replacement for CMF Ads.  We just recently moved, have been on vacation, and need to get settled before the holiday season approaches.  Goodness, it's hard to believe that our Canadian Thanksgiving is only 8 days away!  Another reason I am not looking for an immediate replacement is many of the blog advertising networks have come and gone in the six years I've been blogging.  Some of the free ones like Blog Rush and 125Exchange just disappeared.  Some of the paid blog advertising networks have failed to deliver or decided to call it quits (eg. CMF Ads).  I know I definitely do not want to pay high dollars for blog advertising that doesn't perform or folds up before I get my money's worth.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dealing With Image Copyright Infringement

When I first set up a personal website eons ago the whole idea that someone would steal your images was rather foreign.  I found out more about this problem when I started blogging over six years ago.  You certainly cannot stop this from happening but you can set things up so if your images are stolen you can file a DMCA cease and desist notice.  If the blogger/webmaster stealing your image was dumb enough to use a direct link, changing or deleting the image can send a very effective message as well.  In fact, for awhile that was a common way of dealing with the problem throughout the blogosphere.  Some bloggers have caught on so they simply steal the image.  Here are a few things you can do to prevent that:

  • use low resolution, saved for web - The image is basically useless if not used in it's saved format especially if they try to enlarge it.
  • use a watermark - There are all kinds of methods of adding a watermark to your images.  A watermark is very, very faint but will interfere with any attempted future editing and allow you to identify your image if necessary.
  • use a copyright notice -  The copyright notice should include the © and your blog url.  Be sure to add a drop shadow to the notice to discourage removal.
  • use some type of frame - The use of a frame forces anyone who wants to use your image without your permission to crop it causing a bit of distortion.  I like using frames that are subtle like bevel and emboss for many of my images but a one or two tone stroke works nicely too.
  • flatten your image - Edited images may consist of two to several layers with each layer having a particular effect.  For example, the copyright layer is a transparent layer with nothing more than the notice and layer effect.  Flattening the image prevents anyone who lifts your image from simply removing that layer leaving the rest of the image intact.
  • add animation - I have noticed some bloggers are adding animation (eg. twinkling stars, flirting butterflies, etc) to their photos.  This can be effective at preventing theft of your photo but in general should be avoided.