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, December 8, 2014

Blogger Mobile

Oh my gosh!  It dawned on me that Blogger might have an app for blogging on the fly using a mobile device so I checked the App Store.  Sure enough there is an app!  I downloaded it to check out.

This post was written using Blogger mobile app.  It's a rather slick app!  After signing in, simply scroll to the blog you want to manage.  Clicking on new post shows the editor window to write your post.  Easy, peasy blogging on the go right from your mobile device 😄

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rekindling the Fire

My blogging has been hit or miss since the new year.  Call it a case of major blogger's block or perhaps I'm simply losing interest in blogging, but whatever it is, my blogs won't survive much longer without new content.  The reality is, content is king when it comes to blogging.  So today, I'm picking up a bit of the blogging creativity and starting again in the hopes the shear act of starting will rekindle the fire.  And so it begins...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dealing With Inappropriate Comments and Those Who Make Them

I quickly learned that allowing comments on my blog would result in undesirable comments at times.  These comments fall under two categories - spammers and inappropriate.  Readers of blogs are usually familiar with unmoderated and moderated groups.  Anything goes on unmoderated groups like usenet although certain things can get the poster into hot water with their ISP.  That meant an abundance of usenet trolls and folks who thought they could be as offensive as possible under the guise of anonymity.  Moderated groups and forums attempted to circumvent the problems of unmoderated groups.  Moderators would watch the posts, screening out spam and problems before they started.  If a poster proved themselves they would be unmoderated only to be reigned in if they started causing a problem.  When blogging came onto the scene, the general consensus was allowing comments would help the blog traffic grow.  However, it quickly became apparent that if you cared about quality comments, comment moderation was a must.

Comment moderation doesn't stop the spammers or inappropriate comments, it only stops those types of posts from going live without being approved first.  Some readers, feel it is their right to make whatever comment they want on a blog WITHOUT realizing that commenting is a privilege not a right.  They have no problem trying to attack or provoke other commenters or the blogger themselves.   They have no problem being rude, nasty or threatening.  If comment moderation is in place which it should be, these types of posters will in many cases escalate leaving multiple comments because they don't see their original comment posted.

Bloggers DO NOT have to tolerate this type of behaviour on their blogs.  You, the blogger, own your blog so ultimately it becomes a 'your blog, your rules'.  Keep comment moderation turned on.  In most cases, after a few attempts, they will move on to greener pastures simply because they have no idea whether their comments are even being seen by the blogger or simply filtered to the trash.  In the event a reader becomes rude, nasty or threatening they can be reported to their ISP.  This type of behaviour is against most AUP and TOS so their ISP will act on the complaint.   If it persists, you can block their IP from accessing your blog.  If the person is targeting only one or two posts, turn off commenting on those posts until the problem is resolved.  You can also turn off commenting for your entire blog if the problem is severe but in most cases you shouldn't have to do this.  At no time should you ever engage in a battle of words with them or communicate directly with them via email or otherwise.  Remove your contact information on your blog so the only way they can communicate with you is through the blog commenting system. 

Keep in mind that the comments are from someone seeking attention so don't take it personally.  If they don't get a response from you they will quickly move on to somewhere that they will get attention.  It is just a matter of carrying on as usual without giving them the satisfaction of attention. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reporting Back on Solution for Technorati Spam Comments

I recently wrote about disabling comments on one problematic post.  The post in itself is not the problem as it is only a maintenance post with my Technorati code.  The problem is this post that is of no interest to readers has for some reason gained the attention of spammers or more specifically their spam bot.  After a couple of weeks of receiving multiple daily attempts at spam commenting on this particular post, I finally disabled commenting.  I am pleased to say the problem is now solved.  It has six days now with no further attempts on that post but more importantly, the spam bot has not been diverted to other posts on that blog.  This confirms my belief that it was a spam bot not an actual person trying to leave the comments.  Peace has been restored to my inbox!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Disabling Comments on One Post

Yesterday, I wrote about the amount of comment spam one particular post on one of my blogs was drawing.  Considering it is a post for the Technorati code only there is nothing of any interest for any reader so no reason for comments.  I opened my mailbox this morning to discover several more pieces of this type of spam.  The good news is because of comment moderation the spam never sees light of day but by now even deleting the spam from my mailbox is getting annoying.  So, I went to that blog's posts and pulled up the post, clicked edit then in the right side bar, clicked on options and turned off comments then hit update for the change to go into effect.  Essentially what this does is prevent the spammer (more likely spam bot) from leaving a comment on that post without affecting other posts.  Problem solved!

Turning off comments can be done prior to the post going live or anytime after the post has been published.  This handy little feature is something I haven't used enough but in all honesty until this past couple of weeks, really did not have a big need for it.  However, there are some posts that may be best with comments disabled if they have the potential to draw a lot of negative or spam comments.  I don't have many posts across my blogs that fall into that category but it is something to keep in mind.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Technorati or Not

Back in 2006 when I was setting up my first blogs, I added a post with nothing but the code for Technorati.  This code tells Technorati that the blog is mine and to track it.  Technically, since it should be getting no attention other than from the Technorati bot.  Well, over the past couple of weeks the Technorati post on one of my blogs has gained a lot of attention.  I'm not kidding!  The spam comments on this particular post are rather impressive, coming in at four or more a day.  I suspect that the spammers think linking their comment with any "Technorati" post will gain a bit more attention even if it is only a blog maintenance post.  It would be quite easy for spammers to set up a bot targeting any post that mentions Technorati. 

This is just one more reason to keep comment moderation in place.  In the long run, it saves a lot of time in having to remove comments posted without moderation.  It also prevents the creation of a huge PR hole.  Had I not had comment moderation in place, those comments would have been instantly published.  All of them contained links that definitely would have created a PR hole.  The real problem would have been had I been away and not had comment moderation in place!  I suspect many a decent blogger has lost PR because of this very problem.  At this rate, there has been no harm done.  I'm just curious how long the onslaught of spam comments on the Technorati code post will continue.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spammers Making Multiple Attempts to Comment

Some spammers don't understand the concept of comment moderation.  Over the past week, a spammer has tried several times to get a comment posted on one of my blogs.  I kid you not, the first round of attempts numbered seven.  The second round was only four.  Now, it gives me a bit of pleasure thinking of some moronic spammer wasting their time, shaking their head and freaking out because they know they hit the publish button but their comment is not visible.  Frantically, they repeat the process.  Then again and again until finally they collapse in a heaping pile of frustration that their comment has not been published.  If only that were the case.  Sadly, it is likely a bot making comment attempts set up to try a certain number of times then move on to the next blog.  If successful, multiple spam comments will appear on that blog until the blogger notices but these days with so many abandoned blogs, the comments may stand for eternity.  This is all the more reason to keep comment moderation on your blog!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Matt Cutts Announces the Death of Guest Blogging

A very common strategy for some looking for exposure to their site or blog is to offer to write a guest post with a link back to them.  I get several of these requests per week but as interesting as they sound, I have declined for several reasons.  First, a guest post does not always capture the flavour of the blog they are requesting to write a guest post for.  Second, quite often a guest post request content simply doesn't mesh well with the blog.  Third, for me this is very important, if a guest post request is for a product that either I haven't used or I've had a negative experience with, I cannot in good faith say yes to that guest post.  Finally, I really don't get a benefit out of a guest post other than not having to write a post myself.  On the other hand, with good traffic the link in the guest post will get exposure and continue to do so again at my expense.  So, I haven't accepted guest posts on my blogs which apparently has turned out to be a good call.  Matt Cutts has announced that guest posts with their nofollow links are spammy, so guest posts are dead.  What this means is bloggers accepting guest posts will now be penalized by Google.  This might be a good time to go through and remove any nofollow links just to be on the safe side.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

And So It Goes...

I sat down to write about our experience at a celebrity chef's restaurant in the fall.  That involved going through the multitude of pictures, selecting the ones I wanted to use then preparing them for my blog.  Once they were ready, I uploaded the pictures.  Then, it took me almost four days to write the post!  I'd write a little, putter around, get side tracked then write a bit more.  Honestly, that post should have been a lot easier to write than it was and yet it proved to be a rather challenging post.  Go figure!  And so it goes...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Need a Personal Blogging Trainer

A month before the holiday season, I embarked on a get fit plan.  For inspiration with some of the exercising, I have apps that actually do the count down, tell you when to take breaks and cheer you on.  As I was doing my squats today, the thought came to mind that there should be an app for blogging to help get into a better routine of blogging, keeping you focused and meeting your blogging goals.  The occasional pat on the back would be nice especially upon completion of that difficult post you've been struggling with for quite some time.  Just saying...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Setting Blogging Goals

In my quest to get back on track with my blogging, setting goals may just be an option.  I don't think they need to be carved in stone or on a schedule, just something as simple as planning a blog post daily on at least one of my blogs.  Or perhaps a goal of blogging each morning.  Actually the blogging each morning sounds like a plan!  Now to put it into action and see where things go from there...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Changing How to Monetize a Blog

When I first started monetizing my blogs, I followed one the two examples set by fellow bloggers.  Essentially, bloggers were monetizing their blogs by displaying and writing paid posts.  I didn't get into the paid posts and glad I didn't as they quickly were looked down on by other bloggers.  Like many, my introduction into monetizing my blogs was with Adsense.  I've used other advertising networks in addition to Adsense.  The biggest problem with networks like Adsense aside of all their rules and regulations is they don't pay much.

Back in 2010, the blog advertising networks (eg. Entrecard, Adgitize, CMFAds) were all the rage.  They networks popularized the 125 x 125 badge although they did offer banner advertising as well.  Somewhere along the line and if I recall correctly, it was through the Entrecard system, running your own 125 x 125 advertising was encouraged.  This put the selling and displaying of ads directly with the blogger effectively sidestepping the middleman.  If you sold advertising space for $10, you kept the entire $10.  What that led to was the bloggers so interested in making money they set up splogs filled with networks and private ads.  It was hard to find the post for the ads.  That was about the time I started simplifying, pulling advertising off my blogs leaving just enough for a bit of income to cover my internet costs.  It was also about the same time, tweeting for money came to be. 

Fast forward to today.  I love the cleaner look of not running a lot of ads on my blogs so aside of a few Adsense units across my blogs, I stick to the direct sales of ads.  Things have changed a lot though.  While it has always been true that you need the traffic to earn money from the networks, it really isn't true for the private ads.  It's about exposure.  If the buyer gets a little traffic they are elated.  Quite often the private ads are not by bloggers either.  It's normal to have a company buy a year's worth of advertising for a spot on one of my blogs.  However, displaying ads is not the only way to make money with a blog these days.  There is selling your brand AND in my opinion that is where the real money lies in blogging!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I Got Paid!!!

When I first started blogging in 2006, I had no aspirations of monetizing my blogs.  That changed and by 2010 when we bought our vacation home, I was making a small but steady income from them.  By small, I mean enough to pay for internet access at both homes, blog advertising and have a little left over to treat myself usually on eBay.  Well, the blog advertising networks closed cutting dramatically into my blog earnings but I still have a small income from them.

December was a nice month.  I got paid from Lijit, Epions, and Adsense!  Quite frankly, all the payments came as a surprise because they only pay out after reaching the minimum payout amount.  Adsense has the highest minimum payout at $100.  I also earn a pittance through Project Wonderful but they charge $1 per withdrawal after reaching the minimum so I have been leaving the funds there to use for advertising.

In 2010, I had hoped to create a steady income from my blogs but the hopes of that somewhat dwindled over the past couple of years.  Now I'm reconsidering the earning potential of my blogs.  While earning a bit of income from my blogs is not a high priority for me, it might just be the incentive needed to get my blogging mojo back.  Something else for me to ponder...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Image Uploading Problem in Blogger

I converted to using a graphic for my post signature.  I change the graphic each new year to update the copyright.  This year I ran into a problem with Blogger changing images with white or light backgrounds to grey.  'Twas most annoying!  At first I thought Blogger was doing some tweaking but towards the evening after trying several times, I checked Blogger help.  Apparently Blogger introduced an auto-enhance feature for photos uploaded that does not play nicely with white, light or transparent backgrounds.  According to the source this can be remedied by going to https://www.google.com/settings/plus and toggling off auto-enhance.  I followed the link and as a heavy user of Google products including Blogger, expected no problems.  Wrong!  I clicked the link and it took me to my profile however there was no auto-enhance feature to be found anywhere.  Perhaps the reason is I haven't connected to Google+ but I'm not sure as I do appear to have a profile.  The last time I checked Google+ it appeared making your actual name public was a must and since I write under a pseudonym I didn't check into it further.  Besides Google+ doesn't look as if it will give me anything more over Facebook.  Anyway, since the first solution did not work I fell back to another work-around.  I uploaded the graphics to Photobucket then copied the links to my blogs' templates to update instead.  It worked like a charm but hopefully I can figure out how to get that auto-enhance feature changed.  I don't see a way to turn it off in Blogger or Picasa either.

Friday, January 3, 2014

It's That Time of Year

It's that time of year for a bit of blog maintenance.  For me that means modifying the copyright notice to include the new year, checking for dead links and doing a back-up.  Modifying the copyright notice isn't difficult although the way I have set up my blogs there are a few spots that need to be modified including the signature graphic.  Checking for dead links and doing a back-up is just basic maintenance that I do on a regular basis but it's nice to do both these tasks to start the new year fresh. 

Another of my tasks this year will be to open each blog to see where a few minor changes can be made just to freshen the blogs up a bit.  This type of tweaking falls more into the blog design category.  It is meant more to get the readers attention.  Really, this tweaking is changing the blog accessories like ad placement, external content script placement (eg. quote of the day) or perhaps font.  The changes are minor, just enough to be noticeable that something is different.

Off to make some changes...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another New Year...

And so it begins, another new year waiting to unfold.  I found it a frustrating struggle for blogging in 2013.  Part of that came from feeling alone in the blogosphere as a result of the demise of the blog advertising networks.  Part of it came from making three major life changing decisions in my personal life.  In fact, a good part of the frustration with blogging was likely a direct result of the changes.  Mind you, I am very dedicated to the changes made because of the personal growth.  That in itself is priceless!  The question remains as to whether I can recapture the magic of blogging.

When I first started blogging almost eight years ago, it was new and exciting.  The creative element aside of writing was enticing!  It was a challenge to create my own blogging graphics which really meant learning how to use Photoshop and Image Ready.  It meant doing the research, tweaking HTML and learning ways to make my blogs visually appealing.  Then blogging quickly became a social activity with the blog advertising networks of which I was very active in three, later abandoning one in favour of another but one by one they folded.  Suddenly, the blog hopping and forum participation was down to nothing!  At the same time, I was very active in several other forums and special interest groups. 

For me, my blogging relationship in 2013 was very much akin to the proverbial 7 Year Itch in a marriage.  The seventh year of marriage is one at risk of failure because one or both becomes discontent in the marriage and not necessarily due to actual problems but because of lack of excitement and boredom.  It didn't help that we increased our time at our vacation home in 2013 to three months split over three trips, the perfect distraction from blogging.  Oh the time gave plenty of blog fodder, just hit and miss for actual blogging or so I convinced myself.  Seriously there were 15 million distractions in 2013 but in all honesty those distractions were there right from my blogging beginner days, just they affected me differently.

I'm looking forward to 2014 and recapturing some of that blogging magic.  I'm not making any promises but one thing is for certain...I'm not giving up blogging any time soon.  Bring on 2014!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Wishing each and everyone of you a very Happy New Year!  Welcome 2014...