What Would Make You Really Love Your Blog?

This is a much different question than what you think it is. I was thinking about it last night as I was reviewing some information on goal setting and dreams and the like, and it hit me; what would really make me love my blogs.

Sugar Skulls, Paper Flowers; Chasing Light, The Golden Hour
Brandon Warren
via Compfight

Yes, for me it’s blogs obviously, since I have 5 of them. I write in this one the most, and I love that I can pretty much write about anything I want to, breaking down the norms of those who say that it takes a specific niche blog to actually generate traffic and get people to stop by on a consistent basis. Of course, it helps to write about something that people are looking for on the internet because it helps drive traffic, but the love of writing a blog and sharing thoughts… is that what I really love about my blog?

The question isn’t what you love about your blog, or about the process of blogging. The question is what would make you really love it. I can easily answer that one; if they made money.

Yes, money is the big deal for me, even if I don’t necessarily go out of my way to do it. As I’ve said before, I make money off only one blog, and it’s not outstanding money. My finance blog makes the most money out of all my blogs. I get that money from multiple sources; people paying me to write for them, people paying me to post an article they’ve written, and people paying me to advertise on it. The advertising part has dried up as companies have gotten scared because of Penguin and Panda and misunderstanding how proper linking and advertising works, but so be it.

Now, I wouldn’t even have to make the money directly, as I do on that blog. Whereas I love writing about the topic of leadership on my business blog, I would love if it generated speaking engagements or requests for training of some type. It has in the past, but not lately. I still love writing it, but if it only made money I’d really love it.

Thus, I put the same question out to you; what would it take to make you really, and I mean REALLY, love your blog? And for those of you who complain about long posts, this short one’s for you; don’t get used to it. lol
 

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5 Random Thoughts About Blogging After A Local Blogging Get Together

After all the lamentations I’ve made on this blog periodically about how hard it is to get local people to notice your websites or blogs I got invited, last minute, to a local blogging get together in downtown Syracuse. It was a lot of fun, and if you’re interested in my little writeup about the event check it out here on my Syracuse Wiki blog.

IMAG1883

It was a lot of fun and I had a good time. Matter of fact, we all had a good time, so much so that we stayed 30 minutes past when we had planned on leaving, and I was ready to go another hour. I hope some of you get to do such a thing one of these days, as it was as much fun as some of the tweetups I’ve gone to.

Being me, once I got home I decided to look at all of the blogs just to see what people do and how they blog. After doing that, and looking back on the event, and thinking about a question Brian Hawkins was pondering lately about how people perceive what blogs are, I came to some random thoughts about blogging, perception, and reality. I decided to keep it at 5, otherwise we could be here for days. Here are my thoughts; I’d love to hear your impressions about these later on.

1. There’s no one way to blog. Yeah, I already knew that one, but this brought it home. We all live in the same community, some for many years, some for a few. Some of us have shared experiences, as I knew a few of the people there. And yet, each of us has something different to say in many different ways. Our language is different in how we describe things, and how we share our passions are different as well. It’s truly fascinating.

2. Images really do enhance blogs drastically. It was only a couple of years ago that I started adding images to every post of mine and I thought it was just a nice touch. As I looked at many of the blogs from the local people I realized that there’s something about images, especially personal images or images highlighting something folks have done, that makes some posts special. One of these days I’m going to have to figure out how to get myself into more of my images, although the ladies are easily more photogenic than I am.

3. The question about what makes a blogger is hard to answer. All of the people who showed up saw themselves as bloggers. Yet, about 33% of them haven’t written a new blog post in 6 months or so. Does the act of owning a blog make you a blogger, or are you a blogger if you’re actually blogging on some kind of a consistent basis? I’m one of those folks who feels if there hasn’t been a post within at least 3 months you’re not a blogger, but who gives me the right to determine such things anyway?

4. All bloggers need to find ways to communicate better with each other when it comes to comments. Only one of the blogs that I commented on actually sent me something telling me someone had responded to a comment I left. That highlights something I come across on many other blogs, where people sometimes actually have responded to a comment, but their notification system is out of whack thus commenters never know that their missives were responded to. It’s something we all need to check from time to time by leaving a comment on our own blogs, after signing out of course, then responding to it and seeing if you get notification from yourself; uhhh, use a different email address for your original test comment of course. lol If you don’t get a response, you know you have to fix it somehow, probably with a plugin of some sort.

5. When all is said and done, it’s about community. Even folks without a lot of blog posts or comments on their blogs crave a community of some sort, people they can relate to in one way or another. The night of our event it was cold, with wind gusts up to 40 MPH. The lady who put it all together said she was worried only 3 or 4 people would show up because of that, yet a lot of people braved the weather, which was actually worse the next day.

Why should we write blogs? I often say there’s only 3 purposes in writing a blog; to entertain, to inform, or to educate. It turns out there’s a silent 4th purpose; to connect with others. No matter whether you’re writing about food or interior design or poems or short stories or blogging or running or whatever, you’re hoping someone stops by, reads your words, comments or subscribes to what you put out, and at some point maybe talking to that person outside of a blog and, if you’re lucky enough, meeting some of those people in person. I mean, how social can social media get!

Those are my random thoughts; what are yours?
 

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Questioning Links In Comments

Just over a week ago I wrote a post where I asked about editing comments and whether anyone else does it. There was a lot of discussion, some pro, some con, but all handled with courtesy, and I thank everyone for that. A couple of comments centered about the thought about what makes a good or bad link that someone will use whenever they leave a comment and how people handled that, which I saw as a different issue at the time.

DMU Comment Study (with)
Chris Martino via Compfight

But it’s a good time to talk about it now. This is an appropriate discussion to have because we all know that our blogs are judged by search engines, most particularly Google, on the types of links we end up having because of those who comment on our blogs.

Those of us who have been blogging for a long time aren’t naive. We know that probably half the comments we get aren’t coming from blog owners, or anyone who has anything to do with the site links that appear next to the comment. We know that a lot of the comments we get are coming from people who could care less about our blog; they’re only looking for the backlink.

Over the last week I’ve been taking a look at some of the links from people who are either brand new or relatively new commenters on this blog. I’ve seen some interesting sites that have left me somewhat confused as to what to do about them. The comments haven’t been bad, but the links… questionable.

What am I seeing? Links going to sites that are going to sales pages, not businesses. Sites with blogs that are on topics that make you wonder “how the heck did that person come up with that as an idea?” Sites with blog posts that are over a year old. Sites to blogs that aren’t really blogs, but are presented as niche blogs that don’t even allow comments. Links to sites in another language, not blogs, where I can’t figure out what they’re about.

Part of this puts me in an interesting position. After all, this isn’t a niche blog per se, but it’s a blog that talks mainly about blogging and blogs. So, I’ve always dealt more with the arts of writing a blog and commenting on blogs than looking at links from those who comment. And yet, one can’t dispute the reality that my buddy Adrienne helped hammer through that bad links can take you down, and what Brian Hawkins said in our Google Hangout video that he’ll remove dodgy links or links he doesn’t fully trust in a heartbeat.

And of course we had that debate about editing comments, but I think we all have to view this one differently. Back in December I talked about my blog traffic and how it was falling drastically and how I hoped it would start to come back in the new year. Well, it’s recovering, but barely, and it may or may not be related to a lot of bad links. But since I can’t trust Broken Link Checker on this blog anymore I guess it’s just on me. Actually, maintaining our blogs to the best of our ability is on all of us, but I’m the one writing about it today.

So, I will be removing links here and there, even if I don’t remove the comment. If that bothers you I’m sorry. I’m going to be fair by looking at links, but I’m not going to entertain a discussion on why I removed your link; you probably already know why.

Here’s the deal, so we’re clear. If your site looks like a sales site instead of a real business site or a blog, it’s gone. I don’t care what niche the link is in if it’s a legitimate business.

If it’s a blog that looks kind of dodgy, it’s gone. If the blog doesn’t accept comments, it’s gone. Blogging is supposed to be about conversations; I’ve said that here often. So, blogs where comments are closed; gone.

If the email address given doesn’t have the same name as the person writing the comment, gone. If the email address doesn’t have a person’s name in it, gone. This part is because I’ve been getting a lot of email bounces lately and I’ve noticed that most are either from “info@” or names where it’s one sex but the email begins with another sex. I’m not going to deal with that part at all. On this one, it now means that if I’m going to have such a policy that I need to create an email address for my finance blog with my name on it to be consistent; can’t expect others to follow a policy I won’t follow for myself, although I almost never comment via that venue. But I do from time to time and don’t want to be a hypocrite.

There it is, out in the open. What’s going to happen is some aren’t going to read this, since they don’t read the comment policy anyway, and a very tiny few aren’t going to like it, or will be wondering what’s going on. That will just prove that people aren’t reading the articles; shame on you. Let’s see what happens; thanks Adrienne! 🙂
 

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What’s Wrong With Being Nice?

Isn’t that an interesting question? Truth be told it’s nothing new, and yet I’m irked lately by what I’m seeing as people either not being nicer to each other or not liking someone who happens to be perceived as nice.

The kindness of strangers
Ed Yourdon via Compfight

What is this thing against niceness anyway? I remember growing up that there were people who hated that I tried to be nice to others, or that I liked smiling. I remember listening to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about being a friendly kid who smiled a lot and some kids didn’t like him, beat him up for it, and that’s why he rarely smiles even today. What the heck is that about?

As I say in the video, a lot of people are going to say that they like when people are nice but truth be told, there’s going to be people who will say that because it’s the right thing to say, but their actions don’t back it up. There are people who hate Oprah, who’s been nothing but nice to others. There are people who hate LeBron James when all he’s ever really done is be nice, give away lots of money to charity, helped raise more money for charity, and actually took a major pay cut to join a team so he could win a championship. Yet people perceive that as him being selfish; once again, what the heck is that all about?

I’ve talked on this blog about the concept of writing whatever you feel like but being ready to deal with the consequences or your words. I’ve said that on Facebook as well, yet people don’t like it when someone comes back at them for a point of view that, well, isn’t all that nice.

I like to think I’m nice most of the time but I have a mean streak. I don’t like people who are intolerant. I don’t like people who write stupid hateful messages against something where they make it more personal than it has to be. I’ll call people out in my own way on some of the things they say; sometimes I’m not so nice about it, but more often than not I am. And they don’t like it, no matter how I try to put it.

Such is life. Because someone doesn’t like the message doesn’t mean you weren’t trying to be nice. Nice doesn’t mean weak; perceive that and, as The Rock says, you might get the smack laid down… I’ll leave the rest for those who know the line. lol

Please watch the video (I’m expecting only 10 views, per norm, but I’ll ask anyway), and leave a comment on the video after you’ve watched it to prove to me that you’ve watched it. Then, if you have the energy, leave a comment here on your thoughts about being nice, niceness in general, and why you think so many people dislike “nice”. Yeah, I’m asking for an awful lot; come on, be nice!


 

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Broken Link Checker – Gone!

Yeah, I hear you, two complaint posts in a row. Well, the first one I felt was appropriate in warning you against a company that’s so deficient that you’d be throwing your money away. This one is to help you protect your blog; rather, to access your blog.

Highway Insomnia
Brett Weinstein
via Compfight

As you know, I mentioned back in December how my traffic seemed to be going down, along with my Alexa rank, but that always happened in December. Since the new year began, my traffic has been going up but my Alexa ranking continues going down. I’m not going to argue the merits of Alexa here; just going on with the post.

Anyway, I decided to check with Google Analytics to see what could possibly be going down. Indeed, not only has my traffic been going up, but it’s already higher than it was in either November or December. As a matter of fact, it’s ended on par with last August; that’s an upswing in traffic. But there were some interesting numbers, which I want to share:

October to November traffic from Google – 40%
October to November traffic from direct source – 37%

November to December traffic from Google – 37%
November to December traffic from direct source – 45%

December to January traffic from Google – 34%
December to January traffic from direct source – 43%

You notice that I’m actually driving more traffic in some fashion to this blog that Google’s doing; no idea how I’m doing it unless it’s through commenting on other blogs, since all other sources are listed as well. You’ll also notice that the gap hags been growing; Google doesn’t like me anymore. lol

Google did have another one of their famous updates, and I started to wonder if it might be related to bad links. I kind of addressed it in the past when I was talking about broken links, and last week when I talked about editing comments. When I talked about it in the past, I mentioned a plugin I used called Broken Link Checker. I’d also written about previous problems I had with the plugin, but that was awhile ago.

The fact is that when the thing works, it works great. However, when it doesn’t… man, it’s the worst in the world. This is what I went through a few nights ago when I decided to check my links to see if I was having problems with any of them from other people. After all, when I last ran the thing in May it found 750 bad links; ouch! Well, I do get my share of comments, and the blog has been around a long time, so that’s to be expected.

When I went to check on it some time later, it showed that I had close to 400 bad links. I then started the process of trying to do maintenance, and the blog shut down. I mean, it just wouldn’t do anything. I closed it by going to another page, then tried to come back to it; now I was locked out. I thought that was strange so I opened a different browser. I was able to pull up the blog, sign in, but as soon as it was in admin it locked up again.

I tried one more browser and got the same problem, so me being me I decided to try it on the laptop. Same issue; signed in and blog froze. I then went into Firefox’s private browsing mode, unsure what to expect, got into the admin panel and once again into Broken Link Checker. However, as soon as I started trying to to maintenance, the blog locked up on me, and I couldn’t even view the home page again.

Frankly, that kind of behavior is unacceptable at this juncture, and I feel like I knew better, but with all the updates they’ve made that it would work better. I have this same problem on 4 of my blogs; the only one that doesn’t shut down is my local blog, probably because I have few links and fewer articles on it than all the others.

What to do? First, the next morning I was able to log into the blog and this time I went to the plugin page and deleted the plugin. I don’t even want to be tempted to use it again. But I needed something to help me get rid of some bad links. I decided to use a plugin called Automatic Link Checker, which goes through your blog and checks links against Google to see if they exist or not, or if they’ll come up. I changed the settings to say if a link hasn’t been live in 30 days to remove it from the blog; the default is 60 days but I’m not feeling that generous these days. I’ve been periodically checking it and it seems to be working great, without any input from me. And, because I set it at 30 days, if someone’s having a temporary server issue it won’t automatically delete your links; I think that’s pretty cool.

Broken links can mess up your ranking and visibility on Google; can’t have that type of thing going on, and it’s something we can actually do something about. If you’re having trouble with the other plugin or haven’t loaded anything to help you check for broken links, try this new one. Thus far, no complaints. And if traffic goes up even more, or Google referrals start increasing again, I’ll let you know.
 

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