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, May 30, 2011

Life Happens

My gosh!  I hit home from our vacation with a back load of blogging to do considering I have more than three weeks' worth of pictures and blog fodder to sort through.  Life though has had other plans besides me blogging.  From the start of our vacation on May 8 to now my husband has had to be seen in emerg three times, twice since this past Friday with last night's visit being of most concern.  I've been up most of the night, in two hospitals today, sat through a CT and waited for results all on less than three hours of sleep.   We are finally back at home with him sleeping soundly and me checking on him every 15 minutes still not much wiser as to what is causing the current problems.  It's a wait and see game with more tests scheduled.  Needless to say I have got almost nothing blogging related done today.   I've been blogging long enough to know that live happens.  There are days where despite your best intentions blogging or blogging related activities simply are not possible.  I'm ok with that though. 


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Going Into Lurk Mode

Despite the rave reviews of some bloggers regarding boosting their traffic via group or forum participation, I am not a huge fan of them.  One reason is forums and groups tend to get emotional which can negatively affect your blog.  A case in point on a blog advertising network forum that I am active on one member decided to go against the conventional placement of the widget.  Then he asked the opinion of other members on the forum and when other members gave their honest opinion, he got pissy.  My response was to make sure his ad would not run on my blogs and not to visit his blog again so because of his actions in the forum he lost at least one daily reader although in reality he lost a lot more.

The problem with groups and forums is emotion tends to get in the way.  It can really reflect negatively on your blog.  What I have discovered over a number of years is you can follow a group without ever making a comment.  It doesn't  help in promoting your blg but it doesn't do any damage either.  This is called lurking.  Basically you read but don't comment.  So you get the information you want without creating the possibility for any negative impact on you blog.  Lurking doesn't have a negative impact on your blog 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spam Comment Trend

There are days that I actually sigh in relief of not having any comments to deal with.  It's not that I don't like comment but rather I don't like spam comments.  What I have noticed is a trend in spam comments.  I will get several over my blogs usually on Saturday then few to no spam comments for the rest of the week.  It's logical the spammers would be more active on the weekend but I would have thought it would be the full weekend not just the Saturday.  Hmm...


Monday, May 23, 2011

Potential Adsense Ad Conflict

Many bloggers are using Adgitize, CMF Ads and Entrecard as traffic building advertising networks.  In some ways all could be a grey area with respect to Adsense as to whether they are technically traffic exchanges.  Of the ones mentioned, Adgitize is the closest to not being a traffic exchange,  CMF Ads is borderline with the spikes and Entrecard is the closest.  However, none meet the definition of a true traffic exchange like BlogExplosion that offered a 2:1 ratio meaning for every two blogs you visited in their system you received one visit in return.  Regardless of whether at some point Adsense will rule these blog ad networks as traffic exchanges remains to be seen.  However, there is another problem with these ad networks that could get you into hot water with Adsense.

In the interests of maximizing the earning money potential using the ad networks there is a tendency for some bloggers to accept all ads.  This is the worst thing you can do.  The TOS for Adsense are quite clear.  You cannot promote alcohol, gambling, pornography or sexually explicit material, paid to click sites, as well as a few other things.  In looking at some of the sites being advertised in all of these ad networks there are ads that are against the TOS for Adsense so they should not be running on your blog if you are running Adsense ads.  Any site for an ad in the ad networks should be checked to be sure it is not promoting paid to click sites as in their affiliate link or banner, and the site should be checked to be sure it is not against the TOS for Adsense.

This does not mean you have to give up using these blog ad networks unless Adsense clearly indicates otherwise.  What it means is you have to be careful where that ad points to.  Reject any ads that do not conform to the TOS for Adsense then relax and enjoy the benefits the blog ad networks can bring.  Never set new ads to automatically run on your blog when using a blog ad network and don't use a blog ad network where you don't have the option of rejecting ads.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shields Up!

I do the majority of my online activity on an iMac so don't worry about viruse, trojans and other malware unless I'm using my husband's PC laptop.  Back when I was on a PC desktop the mantra was practice safe hex.  During our recent vacation, I had to use the laptop.  To me it seems slow and sluggish but in fairness it is an older laptop.  I was doing my Adgitize drop when AVG anti-virus was triggered for one of the member's site as having malware.  Needless to say I did not go to that blog even though I had been there several times on the Mac.  That incident was beneficial as it reminded me to run a scan on the laptop.  Lo and behold a trojan had been picked up since the last scan!  I cleared that, updated the definitions then ran a full scan again.  The laptop is now clean again.  This is a good reminder to keep the anti-virus definitions up to date and run the scans often.  When I was active in Entrecard one of the biggest complaints was picking up viruses from other members and some of them were rather nasty.  To date I had not heard of this happening much with Adgitize.  One member suspected getting a virus from another member in Adgitize but I don't recall if that was ever confirmed.  However, with AVG triggered it is apparent there is the potential for these types of problems so stay prepared just in case.  


Saturday, May 21, 2011

CMF Ad Widget Changes

It is so nice dealing with Admins that listen to their members.  CMF Ads announced awhile ago they were fazing out the old style widget that had the CMF Ads band across the bottom in favour of one without.  In order to do this members needed to add a base code then update the custom code.  For members not comfortable working in HTML the base code proved to be a challenge.  Some voiced their concerns so CMF Ads solved the problem by creating an integrated code that could be added instead.

I updated the widgets on all of my blogs.  I must say I like the slick, streamlined look of the new widget that shows only the ad without the CMF Ads bar on the bottom.  I currently am only running one CMF Ad spot per blog but with the new look I think I may run a few more.  There is even an option to adjust the spacing between ads when running multiple ads.  Kudos to a job well done by the CMF Ad team!


Monday, May 16, 2011

On Vacation

We vacation for about three months of the year divided mainly between three time periods - spring, fall and winter.  Summer is spent at home in our vacation-like setting.  Blogging and vacationing can work but it is work if you know what I mean.  For shorter vacations I try to pre-schedule blog posts but for longer vacations it is almost impossible especially with six blogs.  Last year I really tried the pre-schedule route and while it worked reasonably well then it hasn't this year.  I think though being off base on blogging with my injury and everything else going on has really affected that.  This year I'm simply not on my blogging game plan so I've decided to go with the flow.  I'm seriously blogging on the fly and somehow it is working.

The airports have free Wi-Fi which really makes that wait time productive.  I can easily edit pictures while on the plane so that when we get to our destination all I have to do is upload them to Blogger and write the post. I have Photoshop Elements on the laptop that is a bit stripped down from my Photoshop CS at home but was able to add my custom made brushes making photo editing almost as easy as at home.  I can easily download my camera so essentially even in Las Vegas I was able to carry on as normal.  It was nice too because when I felt like a little down time I just headed up to our room to do a bit of blogging and other online activities like CityVille.  I'm finding this style of vacation blogging a bit more enjoyable!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Internet Connections

When I first started blogging I was on dial-up service.  It was the only internet service available in that rural location.  A few years ago we moved to our primary location where we had the choice of satellite internet or dial-up.  Satellite internet is faster than dial-up but in no way comparable to DSL or highspeed broadband like I can get when traveling or at our vacation home.  The internet connection does make a huge difference in what I can accomplish in a day.  It will take close to the entire morning at home (satellite) to do my Adgetize drops and yet at our vacation home it takes under 20 minutes.  That's with distractions being fairly close to the same!  I can wait 5 minutes or more for Blogger to load at home and yet at our vacation home it is almost instantaneous.  There is no doubt about it that the internet connection speed affects my blogging.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time Zones

My normal blogging time zone is EST/EDT so I try to have posts scheduled to go live at 7:00 AM local time for me.  I also have until 1:00 AM EDT as the cut off time to finish up any Adgitize activity.  Recently we spent time in time zone PST/PDT which threw my blogging into chaos.  Even though I wrote a post at my normal 7:00 AM it went live at 7:00 AM PDT but 10:00 AM EDT.  All in all the time zone change ended up being rather confusing.  I was glad I had pre-scheduled a few posts to as to not be concerned over the time zone differences.  It's funny how something so minor can throw the blogging train of thought off kilter!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Outage

Those bloggers who use the Blogger platform for blogging know that Blogger was set to read only for about twelve hours over the past twenty-four hours.  It sounds like something went wrong with their recent maintenance resulting in the necessity of having to remove all posts made after Wednesday, May 11 7:37 AM to resolve the problem then restore the posts.  I was disappointed at losing a bit of blogging time but all things considered was not overly concerned.  Blogger seldom has outages and if they do they generally are for short periods of time or only partial outages.  It is a good idea though to back-up your blogs on a regular basis regardless of your blogging host.  That way if the host goes completely down you at least have the file to restore the blog posts and comments.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Contests

When I first started blogging I noticed other bloggers using contests as a way to bring traffic to their blogs.  I have not used this method but have thought of trying it.  There are several problems that I see with blogs, the first one being contest promotion.  A contest is of little use if no one knows about it.  A second problem is unless you are going to foot the bill for the prize or prizes you need sponsors.  Finding sponsors can be a problem.  The third problem is the prize has to be something that would appeal to the majority of your readers.  For example awarding an advertising spot would be of little use to readers who do not blog themselves.  Finally, contests are a lot of work.  The time spent on the contest might be better spent on writing blog posts and blog promotion for a higher return than running a contest.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Deep Linking

Once I had been blogging for over six months I realized that linking back to some of those posts rather than creating duplicate content would be a good idea. This is known as deep linking.  It is a good idea to use deep linking on blogs to keep a bit of link love coming to older posts.  I've seen some bloggers recommending to use as many deep links in a post as possible but I disagree.  I think at most three deep links are effective in any post without overpowering it.  Readers for the most part do not not want a lot of links in posts but a few are fine.  The search engines line this technique as well so it is a win:win.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Vacation Dilemna

I started blogging back in early 2006.  Three weeks after getting my first two blogs ups and running we were off on vacation for two weeks.  Back then, blogging was new and I was still feeling things out so daily posts were not an issue.  I was aiming for daily posts but if they didn't happen I didn't get too worried about it.  I honestly thought that I could find and internet cafe in Las Vegas to pop into and perhaps make a post or two.  Apparently those beasts were just starting to die down there and quite frankly there was a lot more to see and do than sit in an internet cafe anyway.   The following year I took my husband's laptop.  At that time the motel charged $8.99 per day so I reasoned spending that for internet for a day rather than in the machines would be money well spent.  The next year we had two extended vacations but Wi-Fi was available.  I had the laptop and the iPod Touch to use but by then Blogger had introduced scheduled blog posts. 

Scheduled blog posts are awesome!  Essentially you right a post whenever you have time then scheduled to go live when you want.  This was what I thought an ideal solution to my blogging dilemna.  However, the logisitcs of writing enough scheduled blog posts for six blogs over the span we would be away was a bit more work than anticipated.  In perspective for a 10 day vacation I needed 72 posts written in advance to cover the time period away plus a day on each end.  When we bought the vacation home and knowing we would be away for a month or so at a time, well relying solely on pre-scheduling was no longer an option.  I had no choice but to come up with alternative solutions.

We fly if going to Las Vegas, and either fly or drive when going to our vacation home.  If we fly, I take the laptop and iPod touch.  There's free internet at the airport and since there always seems to be a long wait time, I amuse myself by writing a blog post or two.  If we drive I know I have internet service wherever we stop for the night.  The nice thing is I can relax and do a couple of things online while enjoying my morning coffee before getting on the road again.  If we are at our vacation home I have full internet service so life goes on as normal and I can blog if and when I have the time.  I did cost me to set up the laptop for Photoshop Elements and while I'd rather have the full version of Photoshop that I'm used to working with on my main computer, it works for my needs when away plus I can use some of my custom made brushes.  I also found that when driving to our vacation home, my main computer (iMac) travels just as easily as the laptop.  Regardless of which computer I'm using I can still upload pictures and edit them for blogging purposes.  Essentially blogging continues pretty much the same on vacation as it does when I'm home but on a lower scale.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Heads Up Possible Blogger Algorithm Change

Rumour has it that Google is preparing for an algorithm change that will take into account bounce rate.  If they do there are going to be a lot of blogs that are using Entrecard see their Page Rank plummet.  Entrecard is one of the number one ways to boost your bounce rate.  In many ways if Google does this it will be bloggers who pay the price and it could very easily spell the end of earning any money from blogging.  Time will tell but it will be interesting to see how this development unfolds.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm Still Waiting

My gosh it has been almost two months since I reported the upcoming changes to Blogger.  Aside of noticing a change to the image uploading popup notta!  I would have thought the way they were promoting the changes that we would be on the new system by now but that is not the case.  The changes are not even coming up when going over to draft.blogger.com.  It's the same old format.  I for one would love to see the changes really soon, like yesterday!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blogger Picture Upload

Yesterday I uploaded a picture for one of my blogs.  The entire photo upload pop-up was changed so perhaps this means that Blogger is finally unrolling their much talked about upgrade.  They do seem to be taking their time with the new upgrade.  I think I reported it here almost two months ago and yet still aside of the picture upload change have seen nothing.  Here's hoping we see the much promised update from Blogger very soon!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blog Fodder Overkill

I am not one to ever complain about getting blog foddder.  Seriously there are enough dry spells with respect to blog fodder I will take all I can get.  This past week, not even a full week blog fodder has been coming at at angles.  First there was the royal wedding followed by the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death then the Canadian election the next day.  Over a period of four days I suddenly found myself with blog fodder overkill.  The problem with this type of blog fodder is it really needs to be used as it unfolds which means blogging has gone into overdrive.  Still I can't complain.  I will take too much blog fodder over not enough any day!


Monday, May 2, 2011

In the News

I was online last night finishing up  bit when the first tweets of Osama Bin Laden started coming through.  I immediately turned on the news statying up considerably later than I had planned.  I've had the news on all day.  Guaranteed his death will be the blog topic of choice today!  Unless you have a niche blog like a couple of mine (eg. cooking, gardening) bloging about the in the news of the day can be extremely effective.

Ideally the time to blog about in the news topics is as they are happening or as close as possible to the event.  Then if there are developing updates blog those as well as they happen.  Blogging about them even as lat as twelve hours later is almost pointless.  The reason being as soon as the news hits in the media folks are turning to the search engines.  The sooner you are blogging about it the more organic traffic you will get from those searches.

In the news posts are very much a hit an run thing.  You want the post out to get the attention but you don't want to talk about it to the point you bore your readers.  It's important to get that first post out before your readers are inudated with sensory overkill from other media sources as well.  It's a good idea to ping as soon as you make that post as well to get it indexed by the search engines as soon as possible.