Tag Archives: commentluv

Andy Bailey Interview

Something special for y’all today. Andy Bailey of CommentLuv fame, has agreed to an interview on CommentLuv, plugins, and business in general. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in saying this was one of the most important plugins of 2008, in my mind, and has helped the blogging community greatly; at least those who use it. This is great stuff; I hope you enjoy it:

andy_bailey

1. Tell us about your business/businesses/websites.

The Comluv network was set up to act as a hub/portal for the 10,000+ users of the Commentluv plugin so they can register their site urls, see who clicks their links and looks at their info. It’s also a place where anyone with an internet connection can start a WordPress blog with the Commentluv plugin already installed for free.

There are lots of features on the site that are set up so new bloggers or those with limited free blogs can move to the next step of blogging. They can try out a new blog or import their old one and if they are happy with what they can do on a WordPress platform, they can carry on (for free). If they then go on to take their blogging a bit more seriously or want to make some income, they can become a supporter and get access to things like domain mapping and other awesome upgrades in the future like a global commentluv search engine or custom CMS themes and an ecommerce shop theme.

I have a number of other sites and run a web design company too. (oh and a Chinese Takeaway & delivery shop)

2. What made you think about doing CommentLuv in the first place?

It was to fulfill a need, I wanted to reward my blog readers. Not the ones who came, looked and went but the ones that took the time to comment and build a discussion around my posts. There were a few other widgets that got released at the time that were supposed to do that but I found that they only rewarded the blogs that were already popular, the more hits you got, the more links you got etc. I didn’t think was fair just to reward those who needed it the least, that didn’t make sense! so I wrote commentluv to level the field and reward every blogger who comments with a titled backlink to their site.

It was only for my own site and the first version only worked for people that commented who had wordpress blogs themselves, but as soon as it went on my blog, people started asking for a copy. The rest, as they say, is history.

3. How do you find the time to work on it?

It’s my hobby, my passion. It consumes every spare moment!

It’s harder and harder to put the time in because it’s getting more and more complex with a hundred new ideas and (sometimes) bugs to fix every day. If it was my entire job then I’d be fine but I run a Chinese takeaway and a company too so it’s even harder to find the time to go through code, answer support, write new content, make tutorials, market the site, visit bloggers, catch spam, delete spam and all the other ‘normal’ things that having an online life means.

But, after saying all that, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I luv it.

4. Have you only received positive comments about it?

The comments I receive are wonderful, I regularly get emails, phone calls and sometimes donations via paypal from happy users. It’s what keeps me going when I see someone write a long and detailed post about commentluv or start a series of posts about how to use commentluv blogs with proper comments to increase site traffic/community.

The only negative comments I get are from users who didn’t read the instructions properly or are trying to do everything too quickly without making proper backups. I can fix most problems pretty quickly because there’s only a few things that can go wrong with a script include so they normally cheer up when it starts working!

Overall, there always seems to be something positive to read about it every morning in my inbox.

5. Have you made any money from it?

Nope. Not a dime. In fact, it costs me money from my own pocket! That’s ok though, there are avenues for passive revenue like the Adsense that appears on the search page and some of my own 125×125 ads I show create a commission payment now and then which helps with the server costs.

There’s plenty of time to make money! I think I can just worry about making the site good, the features work and keep it improving and when that happens, just the sheer amount of traffic and being able to communicate with over 10,000 registered users (now) and the millions who see the comentluv badge below a comment form in an instant will surely open up monetization opportunities.

I do have ideas and code ready for when the site is fully stable as a free option and the userbase goes over 50,000. Things like a supporter option where a user can pay a small monthly fee and get more space, use their own domain name, access to a newsletter software, CMS themes and other ‘premium’ options for paid subscribers only but I think it’s important to get the free side of the site completely stable first before I start trying to make money from it.

I have implemented adverts on the main site and users of comluv can signup to be an affiliate for selling those and make 50% of the fee, maybe that can bring in some revenue to pay for the awesome server I had to upgrade to but, this is my hobby, I enjoy it and if I didn’t do it, I’d spend more on radio control helicopters or start drinking at the pub so I’m not too worried about getting-rich-quick. (unless I get completely bought out by one of the blogging/commenting platform companies!)

If I do it right and get the site and plugin popular enough and used by enough people, there wont be any need to charge anyone anything. If I can continue to find ways for people to make money from their site, all I’ll need is a tiny piece of it for providing the platform they use to make it and I’ll be set. 1% of 100 peoples effort is the same as 100% of my own. Imagine if I got 1% of a million peoples effort? No need to do the math.

6. Have you won any awards from it?

Yes, I won the WPMU plugin contest with it when it went to the new 2.0 version. I got a free WPMU premium account as part of my prize which has been instrumental to me being able to build the new network site. Best thing I have ever won from my pc (apart from a massive lottery syndicate win from my online lotto business).

7. How does one go about creating a plugin?

It’s easy peasy, I didn’t know anything about php before I got a version of wordpress installed! Everything I learnt about programming came from the web, for free. Just start simple, find some tutorials to get you started and the rest is just making the format of the file correct. Don’t try to make a new akismet or cforms straight away, try a flickr image widget or other simple get and display plugin and ask around on the wp forums or visit the squillions of wp specific blogs.

8. With everything going on, do you still have time to blog?

Blogging helps me release the words in my head that have no place elsewhere, it’s my inner-monologue on screen sometimes. It helps me remember what I’m doing if it’s down on paper/keyboard too! I wish I had more time to make the type of posts that are floating around in my head but, I can’t have commentluv and have that type of blog experience at the same time so I try to do the best I can with what time I have.

That to me is the best thing about blogging, I do it because its fun, its nice to reach out and touch people without ever leaving the comfy man-cave that is my office and there are no obligations or standards of performance quotas to reach. If you think it, you can blog it. If you don’t have time, never mind!

9. Do you have another plugin on the horizon?

I have about a billion ideas and quite a few proof of concept scripts floating around the pc. I have a cracking one in mind for twitter and some “make it so anyone can do it” plugins too but, with the popularity of commentluv and the sheer amount of effort it takes to keep a plugin and site up to date, there’s not much hope for releasing them (yet)

10. Have you achieved everything you expected or hoped for with CommentLuv?

All I wanted to do was reward my readers and provide a way for others to do the same without needing a degree in computers or an established community so I guess you could say I have achieved everything I first expected from commentluv but there is so much more to be discovered and added. I really want another day in the week, hell, even an extra hour a day would make a difference!

11. One last question; what’s up for Andy Bailey next?

I’d really like to get a good company as a partner, someone with a team of programmers, developers, designers and marketers so I could hand over the maintenance and feature updates to them and concentrate on coming up with the good ideas and seeing them through to fruition. I already have a book of notes and folders of code for what I would like to add to the site to help people with the blogging, even make them an income but as always, time (or the lack of it) and supporting the users of the existing fruits prevents me from working on them enough to share them.

The sky’s the limit though, as long as I have a keyboard and an internet connection I will always have something to do ‘next’.

As I said, great stuff from Andy. If you’re not already on CommentLuv, you should be, and if you are, let Andy know how much you enjoy it. I did.

My Gripe With Blogger/Blogspot Blogs

I’ve come to a realization of something, and I’m just going to get it out now; I hate Blogger blogs! There, I’ve said it; now I’ll talk about why.

To begin with, I don’t have a Blogger or Blogspot blog; never have, never will. I do have a sign on, though I have no idea how it got there. Actually, I think one of my friends put it on there some years ago when I said I didn’t want to have to log into anything to make comments. This isn’t a new position with me, and I even wrote about it on this blog.

Truthfully, I do understand how one has to log into certain things, such as forums, in order to participate, but I’ve never understood all these people who want you to have to register to leave comments on their blogs, then gripe because no one is commenting on their blogs. Heck, you can’t have it both ways. Just as you have to decide that you’re going to comment on other blogs as well as not waste anyone’s time, you have to decide if you’re going to make it easy or hard to do so.

So, my first gripe is that many Blogger blogs are set up so that the only way you can leave a comment is if you have a Blogger account; I absolutely hate that. My second gripe is that if some blogs do open it up so that you can leave something other than a Blogger account, it limits you to name and link. I guess that’s not overly bad, because many people not on Blogger do that, but I’ve just gotten so used to CommentLuv (no, I’m not linking to it again right now; looks like I’m pimping for Andy!) that I hate not having the opportunity to direct someone to a specific post if I comment on their blogs, though one can easily link to an article from their blog that they want people to see.

My third gripe is just how many Blogger blogs look the same. Come on folks, there’s tons of colors and styles; break it up some. Okay, I’ll own up to this; I hate green, and, even though I live in Syracuse and our local football team is the Orangemen, seeing green and orange together really freaks out my system, and adding that pukey looking brown, or tan, with it,… just too much folks. Anyway, there’s just so much “sameness” to so many Blogger blogs that I don’t even want to bother taking the time to read many of them, as I’m bored as soon as I look at the page. Unfair, I know, but true.

And finally, my fourth gripe, that being that I’ve yet to see a Blogger blog where, if you’re already reading the main post, you can’t just put your information in there and write your comment. Instead, you have to click on “post a comment”, then go into another window to write your post, and not everyone has it set up so that you can click on a link to see exactly what it is you’re commenting on. Yeah, you’d think we’d all remember that, but heck, I’m getting close to 50, and my short term memory sometimes fails me; nope, not proud of that, but it is what it is.

Okay, I guess Andy’s CommentLuv is going to get a little bit of love because he recently modified the program so it will work on Blogger platform, so maybe that will help bring many of those blogs up to what the rest of us have been enjoying with WordPress. And, I will acknowledge that a few people have figured out how to use the Blogger platform and change the look so that it doesn’t look like Blogger anymore, even if it still behaves that way. Man, I much prefer WordPress’ blogging platform; talk about being a “homer”.

I guess I shouldn’t complain; at least I’m not being subjected to eating Nutraloaf. Still, Blogger could do better if you ask me.

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Dofollow/Page Rank Discussion

I believe it’s time for my first controversial blog post, because a topic has come up that I see so many people writing about, even here in comments, that it needs some exploration and conversation. There will be another controversial post after this one on a different topic; so much to talk about on a Sunday afternoon.

I wrote my post about blogrolls because I love looking at the blogrolls of other people, as well as having a few of my own. But it got integrated into another conversation about “dofollow”, “page rank”, et al. I don’t necessarily mind that, because it’s what’s on the minds of people, but it just seems like it deserves its own prominent spot on this blog, so here it is.

I love getting comments on my blog; who doesn’t? I’ve also wanted to grow the readership of my blog, for more than one reason. One, I’d like to make some money from my blog; I stated that, in my own way, with my very first post back last December. Two, I like to see that people enjoy my blog, or possibly hate the blog but just can’t stay away. I have always believed that we all should mainly write for ourselves, for the love of writing, but having people acknowledge your writing in some fashion is always pleasing. As a sidebar, I was at a health care conference last week, and at the registration desk I came upon a “fan”, who told me she’s been reading my blog, newsletter, and comments on a listserve that we’re both participants of for years, and once she knew I was coming she wanted to meet me to tell me how much she’s enjoyed my writings. There’s nothing better in the world than having someone not only recognize you in some fashion, but then tell you something nice like that; totally unexpected, and yet, lucky for me, it happens from time to time.

Anyway, I started getting a little bit of comment activity around April, but it was still fairly low. Then I was introduced to more WordPress plugins, and after adding the dofollow plugin and this became a dofollow blog, comments started to rise, especially after I also decided to add CommentLuv and joined Sire’s little F Group blogging community. That, plus expanding my own commenting on other people’s blogs, has really gotten things going for my blog.

However, the most controversial piece of this whole thing has been the dofollow/nofollow controversy. It basically encompasses two things. One, the conversation of page rank. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this one, and ever since last year it’s been a hot topic, even on Matt Cutts blog, although he seems to always be right on the fringe of deciding how to answer the question everyone wants answered directly. Two, the conversation about paid links and Google penalties, and once again, Matt Cutts comes right to the edge without fully answering the specific question, but on this one he’s more the company man than on the other one. Let’s look at both issues in more depth.

All of us seem to scramble for Google page rank on one hand, then decry it on another. Let’s face this fact; ranks are ranks, and while none of them mean all that much in the long run, some seem more impressive than others, and can help us out in more ways than others. For instance, being a PR 0 or 7 doesn’t help me and this blog all that much because it’s a blog, with a wide range of topics, even if many are concentrated in a couple of areas. I’m much more impressed by page rank as it pertains to my business site because that’s the one I’ve worked on optimizing for specific keywords to generate offline business. I’m number one for quite a few search terms on that site, and yet it just dropped to a PR 3, after being PR 4 for at least 18 months. My traffic hasn’t dwindled, though, and my search terms are still at number one, with many others in the top 5, so what does that say about page rank overall?

Now, it’s possible that I’ve dropped page rank because at the same time I added dofollow to this blog, I added it to that blog, which is attached via subdomain, to my main site. However, I got slightly increased traffic for the site by adding the dofollow and CommentLuv plugins; do I want to give those up and possibly lose participation?

It’s actually the same question to ask for this blog. What’s the better “problem” to deal with; having more visitors and participation and worrying about page rank, or not having to worry about page rank and not having anyone reading my words? I checked my statistics on Google Analytics and the percentage of blog visitors that come here via Google is around 4.6%, which isn’t even half of the traffic I get from search engines, which is 9.6%. So, for this blog, my visitors are coming from other blogs most of the time; why worry about who’s finding me on Google searches at this time? If I can end up going the John Chow route, without directly attacking Google or flaunting any bad practices in their faces, and my traffic grows and I end up with more readers and purchasers, so much the better.

Which leads me to my second point, that being paid links. In reading Matt Cutts post on Selling Links That Pass Page Rank, the premise seems to be that it’s all on us individual bloggers or website owners to make sure that every advertisement that’s on our sites are set up as nofollow, as Google has a right to determine that paid links are there to help page rank only. I have some problems with this, as do others.

For one, having any paid links on one’s site is only for the purpose of making some money; we all know that having one way links doesn’t benefit us in any way except for either making some money or passing along information. Look at all the links in this post already; there’s more coming. Not a single one of these is a paid link, and not all of them link back into my blog; what algorithm is Google going to run to determine whether any of these links are paid or not? And no, I haven’t typed nofollow into any of these links, one because I don’t feel like it, but two, because Google themselves have acknowledged that it’s not that they don’t index nofollow links, just that if it’s there they won’t count them in their algorithms.

Therefore, Google’s expecting me to do their job for them; and that benefits me how? Oh yeah, that page rank thing again; well, I already talked about that. Now, am I selling space? I ask this question; is my having Text Links Ads any different than some blogs that have banner ads saying that people can pay to advertise there, or already have advertisers there? Matt Cutts said in one of his blog posts that Google doesn’t care about affiliate ads or whether they’re dofollow or nofollow; once again, how would they really know? Relevance is a red herring in this discussion.

For two (I’m never sure if one says “for two” or just “two”; does it matter?), just what is Adsense anyway? It’s paid text link ads that come from Google, and if you’ve ever checked (just right-click on a link, then go to Properties), you’ll see that every Adsense ad is a dofollow link; interesting. So, if Google is doing it for their advertisers, why are they so gung-ho to deny it to anyone else’s advertisers? Why? Because they can; just like the government, they’re the big dog, and big dogs don’t play by their own rules.

I wrote a comment a few days ago on someone else’s blog, I believe, that I also find it interesting that Google’s present ad partner, Yahoo, is allowing sidebar ads to run for this Text Link Ads company, and that company comes up number on if you use Yahoo search; seems these two big dog partners haven’t quite connected on a common philosophy as it regards paid links. And yes, Yahoo is also running Google’s Adsense these days, and of course it’s dofollow there also; what a dichotomy. Also, isn’t it troubling that Google can just erase a company from its search engines, which is supposed to be impartial? Try typing in Text Link Ads on Google; you’ll notice that the site itself doesn’t come up for even its name, but it’ll be listed as a topic of discussion on many other people’s sites. Hey, at one time in America, blacks weren’t considered as people either, but property; that’s a different conversation, though.

So, let’s ask some serious questions, and relate it to comments I’ve seen on this blog, other blogs, and many other articles I’ve read over the past couple of days. One, is Google really going to come after someone like me, who still has fewer than 2,000 physical visitors a month stopping by, just because: my blogroll, which is dofollow by default, shows up on every page, no matter how many links I put up; because I have a dofollow blog, which means every commenter who writes here gets some love from me; because I have two Text Link Ads that just started on my blog a couple of weeks ago, that’s going to net me less than $10 and is also “only” on my main page, but is also more than I’m going to earn from this blog from Adsense for the month?

Two, is my page rank going to overly suffer because of the same reasons I listed above? And, if it does, is that the end of my blog in the blogosphere?

Three, is fear really so rampant that people are afraid to try to do a few things here and there to improve their blogs, their monetary status, and their minds? Will fear suddenly make people scared to post here, or fearful of what they write and where they write? And, fear of Google, of all things? Does Google have a gun to your head? Sure, they’re the number one search engine, and I like Adsense just as much as many other people, but would that end my life on earth as I know it?

Four, have I done anything sneaky and below reproach? Have I done a single black hat SEO thing? Have a link farmed this site?

Five, and what about Naomi? Okay, just threw that in to lighten the mood a little bit and to see how many people actually remember it.

I know where many of you are going to stand on this issue, so I’ll ask the question this way, though you can still comment as you will. Realistically, just what is your main fear, and if it came to fruition, would it be the end of how you run your blog, or would you find another way? That’s all; I’m out!

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CommentLuv; A Must Have PlugIn

I added a WordPress plugin called CommentLuv about a month ago, and it’s turning into a wonderful program.

Basically, its purpose is to encourage people to leave comments on your post, and if they put in their blog information it will go into the blogosphere and look for the last post they made, and it will show the link to that post on your blog. This encourages other visitors to look at the link, see what the commenter might have been talking about, and, hopefully, encourages them to visit that blog.

It also gets around some blog versions that automatically have comments set to “nofollow”, which means that a person leaving a comment get no love back to their sites as far as linking is concerned, and since many people leave comments not only to be heard, but hoping for backlinks to their sites, CommentLuv helps them out, and you also, since creating links for your site is part of what it’s all about.

Anyway, you can get the plugin at the link above, and of course you can test it out first by writing a comment on this blog. 🙂


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