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.

Do You Still Have The Thrill To Blog?

There was a New York Times article from a little over a month ago called Blogs Falling In An Empty Forest, talking about how many people stop writing in their blogs because of different reasons. One lady dropped because she started to freak when people noticed her out in public; she lives in NYC. Another person dropped it because she didn’t get a lot of comments and was disappointed by that. Still another person dropped blogging because he thought he’d make a lot of money from it quickly, but didn’t.

Blogging is both easy and hard at the same time. It’s easy because all you have to do is write. It’s hard because what you have to consistently do is write.

There’s not much problem with writing for many people, per se. What the problem becomes if trying to think of what they want to say. It’s one of the problems with niche blogging, when a person has defined their niche so rigidly that they don’t know what to write about pretty soon because they feel they’ve covered it all. They might not have, but that’s how they might feel.

If they’re not a niche blogger, they may feel like, all of a sudden, blogging is a chore. Suddenly, it starts to feel like work to them. Well, if your intention was to make money, of course it’s work. If your intention was just to write, and you didn’t feel the passion just to write when you started, you made a mistake.

There were a couple of statistics in the article. Per Technorati, only 7.4 million out of 133 million blogs they track had been updated in the past 120 days, or less than 5%. Also, CEO Richard Jalichandra said that, at any given time, there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but “it’s probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views.”

Heck, I’m glad to see it’s that high. It means I still have a shot at breaking into the big time with this, or any of my other blogs.

Now, I’ll own up to having some of the same feelings with my business blog some years ago. I was on the verge of giving it up back in 2006. I was on the road a lot, it seemed like a lot of trouble for almost no return, and then my ISP had lost all my content in a total system crash. I had a perfect reason to give up the ghost and move on with my life. Instead, I decided I still had lots to say, and would dedicate my time to making sure I kept writing updates. I guess I felt I still needed a place to say certain things, an outlet to vent, mainly about topics relating to my business. But it’s amazing how one can turn a post about almost anything into something that can be related to business.

See, inspiration really is everywhere and anywhere. Just as I found my inspiration for this post in the NY Times article, anyone can find inspiration in things they read, see, or experience. And if you have any passion whatsoever, you will, and you’ll continue blogging. And it won’t matter how often you blog, or how many posts you have. It will to potential readers, though, because if you don’t post often enough, people won’t come back. So, you also have to decide how much you care about that.

In the end, it’s not about money (though we want it), and it’s not about comments (though we crave them); it’s about self expression and knowledge. How much do you love blogging? And how will you express yourself today?


Swarovski - The Magic of Crystal

Hidden Messages In Email Images

What would your reaction be if you received spam email that began with something like this:

“I believe the Ku Klux Klan has been badly maligned in the history of the United States.”

What about:

“The Tyrians whom Pharaoh Necho sent down the Red Sea more than six hundred years before Christ, brought back after three years a story of their finding Africa an island,…”

Or even:

“To figure in drawing-rooms with the reflected lustre of her husband’s fame, and to find other women envious of her, was to Augustine a new harvest of pleasures; but it was the last gleam of conjugal happiness.”

I hear you now saying “I don’t receive any junk like that.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you do. Want to know how?

Any time you open up a spam email, or receive one, and it’s got a template image over it, you can bet that someone has written or posted something like that underneath it. You may never see it because the image template covers it all up, but it’s almost always there. I know this because I use Mailwasher to check my email before it gets downloaded to my computer, while it’s still sitting on the server.

Sometimes it’s amazing just how much stuff from a junk message is there. For instance, all three of these examples came with more than 2,000 word articles, though, if you ever deign to read any of them, most make no sense whatsoever.

Why do they do this? Because it makes it easier to get these messages through most spam filters, that’s why. Using a lot of text can sometimes overwhelm normal spam filters, which explains why these things sometimes get through to your inbox. Many of them look at the text, and the thing is that if they post a lot of stuff that at least, to a spam filter, looks just like a long email, it’ll go through. These people don’t care about SEO, and they’re not worried about repeating words over and over, which would trip a filter. They just want to get this stuff through to you in any way possible.

Of course, the other side of this is that sometimes this stuff brings malware and spyware to your computer also. It’s hard to hide a real virus in an image, though it’s been done, but the other stuff is pretty easy. Both of the emails my wife got contained malware scripts in them, and if she’d downloaded it, thought it was interesting and clicked on it, she’d have definitely had malware on her computer, and I’d be in there fixing the sucker right now.

I alert you to this if you’re wondering why you might keep getting this junk in your email. 🙂
 

A Bad Day In The Life Of A Diabetic

I am a Type II diabetic. Every once in awhile, I write about things on this blog related to diabetes. That’s not necessarily because I feel I need to tell people about my struggles and successes, but because I don’t think that people who aren’t diabetic know what we can go through sometimes.

When I talk about it, I don’t only talk about things that affect diabetics. I have talked about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sugar alcohols. But I did talk about the day I was diagnosed as being diabetic, and I have given some diabetes information here and there.

Now I’m going to tell you a quick little story about my day, just to give you an example of why it’s important for me to try to pay attention to what I do, and what I go through here and there.

During the week, I’ve been sticking to a recent eating plan. My glucose was out of control for maybe three weeks, and I know stress brought some of that on. One thing that helps me overcome stress is putting myself on plans and schedules. In this way, since I set it up, I tend to follow it closely enough to get things done, no matter what they are.

Some quick numbers, since I’ll be talking numbers in this tale. A good glucose range is supposed to be 80 – 120. Some people don’t necessarily do well in that range, and I’m one of them. For me, I should be between 100 and 140. When I’m lower than 100, I get lightheaded and just don’t feel well. That doesn’t happen often, but once last summer I got down to 44 after a very strenuous walk in a lot of heat, and in late spring the same thing happened again, only I didn’t have anything to check the level, but I remembered the feeling after recovering some.

Anyway, during the week, I was averaging around 155, which isn’t bad; slightly high, but way better than the 244 I had averaged during that 3 week period, and better than the 223 I had last Sunday. I give myself the weekend to kind of be worse than perfect, but I might have to rethink that strategy a little bit.

This morning, after a day where, I’ll admit, my wife and I weren’t quite perfect, my reading was 238. My wife gave me breakfast, which was grilled cheese sandwiches, which is good and bad at the same time. I had it on wheat bread, but it does have a touch of HFCS and enriched white flour, another thing not quite as healthy. Then she gave me a cookie she’d bought at the farmer’s market yesterday. I took my medication, which includes my injection, and I figured I would be fine.

After about 90 minutes, I got overly tired. It can come on quickly, and so I went to lay down. My wife said she was leaving to go to do some shopping, and it’s Sunday so I figured it was a great day to take a nap. I went to sleep and slept for about an hour. I woke, but I was extremely groggy. The phone rang, and I barely grabbed it; it was my wife asking if I wanted anything while she was out. I hung up the phone, felt like I just couldn’t move, and went back to sleep. I slept for another hour, awoke, and still felt just as bad. I knew this wasn’t good.

Timing is everything; my wife came home within a couple of minutes, and once she made it back to the bedroom I asked her to bring me some water. Cold water sometimes helps me snap out of it, and with the cold water, I at least felt like I could move again. I came to the computer, ready to do some work, and I noticed problem number two; I couldn’t read the screen. With the browser, I can make the letters bigger, but for TweetDeck or Mailwasher, which I use to check my email before downloading it to my computer, you can’t increase the size. I couldn’t read either, and that was a warning sign.

I knew I had to check my glucose, which I did, and it was 311; ouch! That doesn’t usually happen if I inject when I eat, but today it did. I knew that the water had probably brought it down a little bit, which allowed me to get out of bed in the first place, but that was scary.

I knew I had to eat again, as it had been 5 hours, so I got something to eat, then gave myself a second injection, a smaller dose, which isn’t part of my plan, but I had to get this under control. My wife and I also went out for a walk, to try to stimulate the blood flow. At least I was fully awake at this point, and the walk went smoothly enough.

We got home, and I came to the computer; I could see again. Whew! Now, the thing is that I’m supposed to wait at least 2 hours until after I’ve eaten to check glucose again, and I’ve just checked after 2 1/2 hours; my glucose is at 91; ouch! I’ve brought my glucose down 240 points in 2 1/2 hours, which might be a bit extreme. It’s easier lower than where I want it to be, so now I have to eat something again. That’s not a bad thing because during the week, when I’m doing well, I eat every 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours anyway, smaller meals to stimulate the metabolism, which also helps me lose some weight, along with the exercise. But I hadn’t thought that, even with the exercise, I would see a number like that.

For more information, when someone has high diabetic numbers, the blood thickens, and doesn’t run through the body all that well. That can make one sluggish, but it can do a host of other things to people as well. For me, it makes me logie, but if it gets too high it can also affect my eyesight. I don’t need to be doing that sort of thing all that often, as it’s not good for me, or any diabetic, long term.

However, it’s better lower than higher, so I’m not all that upset right now. At least I can see, and I can eat something and bring it back into a normal level. Still, this is what some diabetics go through, which is why I wanted to mention it here. This isn’t a joke, folks; sometimes, it’s pretty scary. And another scary thing is that there are a lot of you walking around right now, suffering some of the same things, meaning you might be diabetic, and you don’t know it yet, or aren’t paying attention to the signs. I know many people who found themselves in the emergency room with numbers in the 500’s because they kept ignoring signs until they finally crashed.

That’s a terrible thing to have happen to you; read my story of how I learned I was diabetic, which is one of those links above. Please pay attention to what’s going on with you, because the sooner you find out, the sooner you have a chance to take care of it.

Oh yeah, it sometimes brings on depression also; I need to keep a check on that as well.

Bayer 561440 Ascensia Breeze 2 Blood Glucose Monitor System

Bayer 561440 Ascensia Breeze 2 Blood Glucose Monitor System






Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

Reviewing Visitors

Last night I watched a short video on a site called Inside Adsense. The title of the article was Speeding Up: The Basics And Analytics, which was kind of a goofy title because, if you ask me, the video had nothing to do with the title.

Anyway, in the video, which is about 4 minutes, the presenter talks about ways to check the type of traffic you’re getting based on looking at a few specific areas. One of those, the one I’m going to talk about here, is Visitor Loyalty. This basically states how often someone decides to come back to your website, or in this case, to my blog. It doesn’t tell how it knows who they are, and it doesn’t tell you who they are, but it knows.

I decided to look at some statistics, and of course I wanted to share with all of you. I’ve also looked at visitors before, but never at this stat, I don’t believe. I’m also doing two different time periods, one current, and one from last November, when this blog was humming.

For now, I’m choosing June 1st to June 30th. First I look at just general visitors information. During this period, I had 1,301 visitors, 883 absolute unique visitors, which means never been here before. People stayed an average of 2 minutes and 18 seconds, which means enough actually stayed around to read what I had to say. And it said I had 64% of absolutely new visitors. That percentage different from the number of visitors and absolute unique visitors, which comes in around 68%, and my thought is that the 64% represents people who have never been here before, whereas the other group has been here before, but hadn’t been by in a very long time.

Next I looked at Visitor Loyalty. It starts with that figure of 64% of new visitors, which are also one and done; thanks for coming, sorry you had to leave so soon. The rest of the figures are intriguing, though. They’ll tell you how many people came twice, three times, up to 8 times, then you get divisions such as 9-14 times, 15-25 times, 26-50 times, 51-100 times, 101-200 times, and finally 201+ times. All of these comprise my remaining 36%. My highest is people who’ve come back more than 200 times, at 11.61%; wow! There’s true loyalty, I must say. Next is twice at 6.15%, followed by 101-200 times at 3.77%, and 9-14 times at 3.54%. That’s a total of 326 visitors.

One other interesting statistic is looking at what they term Visitor Recency. This shows the percentages of how quickly visitors come to see your content. My figure is at 88% within 24 hours of posting; nice! I’m wondering if a lot of that is the Twitter factor or the subscriber factor, since all my posts show up on Twitter immediately, and of course if one subscribes to a feed they’ll know about it pretty quickly also.

Now to compare this period to November. In that month I had 1,602 visitors, 867 of them absolute unique visitors. They stayed on the site an average of 5 minutes and 59 seconds; nice. And my absolutely new visitors was around 52%.

More comparing, out of that 52%, my highest group of people coming back to the blog was from 101-200 at 12%, 2 times at 7.7%, 51-100 times at 7%, and 15-25 at 3.9%, totaling 491 visitors. And, the final statistic, my Visitor Recency figure was 92.5% within 24 hours.

This points out some interesting things. One, some of my readers have stuck with me through a lot, and I thank you for it. There’s also a lot of new readers who visit, which is great, but I’m not capturing all of their attention since their bouncing quicker than in the past. Probably many new people who visit this blog take a look at one other post, since that’s the second highest number, and then decide it’s not for them; gotta keep ’em coming. What’s a great figure for visitor loyalty? I’m not really sure, but I’m not necessarily mad at either of the figures I have.

One final thing to throw in here, since I’m talking about visitors. Out of my top 10 visited articles in the month, only 4 of 19 were written in June. My fouth highest was written last November, third highest written in January. That’s probably not a bad thing, having older posts that still bring visitors to the blog.

So, there you go. More information you probably didn’t need, but information that, if you’re on Analytics, you might think about looking at to figure out something about your visitors.

Visitors Guest Chair, Air Grid Back with Leather Seat

Price – $159.99