Category Archives: Blogging

Blogging For The Right Reasons

In the video below you’ll find myself and the other members of the Hot Blog Tips Hangout crew discussing the topic title “Is Blogging Hard.” It turned out to be an interesting conversation because the responses received and given weren’t quite what anyone was expecting, and we had a lot of fun with it.

Donald Keene at home: Tokyo, 2002
Aurelio Asiain via Compfight

So, do you think blogging is hard? Based on the frequency of my posts lately one might conclude that I would say yes. Based on the number of blog posts I’ve written on this and other blogs some would think I’d say no. I’m not actually going to give my opinion on this post because I want to encourage you to watch the video (heck, I know someone will eventually watch it & break the news to everyone else lol).

What I will do is give 3 reasons why blogging is easy and three reasons why blogging is hard, and then I’ll sit back and wait to see how y’all respond to what I’ve had to say. And trust me, I could say way more, but this gets the conversation started.
 

Let’s start with the reasons why blogging is easy:
 

1. Anyone can do it. You don’t need a special degree. You don’t need fancy equipment. You don’t need a word processing program. Truthfully, if you want to only post videos to your blog or audio files you can, along with images, which means you don’t even have to write if you don’t want to.

2. It doesn’t have to cost you anything. There are lots of free blog forms out there that you can decide to hook up with and you’re good to go. I don’t like any of them I must admit but this isn’t about me.

3. You have no deadline or no schedule that’s mandatory to follow. You post whenever you want to post and that’s that.
 

Now, 3 reasons why it’s hard:
 

1. If you care what you’re writing about you want to get it right. This could mean editing time, time to find images, time to check your keywords, scheduling time, writing so many posts a week… lots of stress there.

2. Responding to comments. This must be hard for so many bloggers because more than half of the blogs I visit don’t show that the writers have taken any time to acknowledge the comments that people leave them. I’ve been thinking about creating a blog post that would continue to grow of blogs where the owners don’t respond to comments; then again, why bother since they probably don’t visit other blogs either?

3. Coming up with unique things to write about all the time. It can be hard for some people to think of something to write about for a week or two; think about how hard it could be to try to think of what to write about for six months, a year, two years or even 5 1/2 years as I’ve done with this blog (or 8 1/2 years as I’ve done with my business blog). At a certain point most people run out of regular ways to talk about whatever it is they know and may not have the knack for being creative enough to find new ways and new things to talk about.

There you are, six things to think about. I’m sure y’all will have more and I’d love to have you share your thoughts. In the meantime I offer the video below; trust me, it’s fun. 🙂
 


 

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Comments That Get Sent To Spam

I must say it’s been an interesting last 4 months on this blog as it pertains to comments. I wrote a post back in March saying how I was changing how I accept comments here, and much of what was on that post is above the comments box.

Commit no nuisance
Simon Webster via Compfight

Yet, for some reason, comments still come in with those things that I said would send them to the spam box. And you know what… not one person who’s shown up in the spam box because of a violation of policy has ever written to ask about their comment. Those who have are folks who, for some reason, end up there even though they do everything correct, and I pull their comments out of there; I say sorry in public to Adrienne & Rummuser for that. Go check out their blogs because they’re very informative and entertaining; in that order. 🙂

What is this quest for good comments you might ask? And what makes bad comments?

The quest for good comments is because it makes interactions relevant. A bad comment is one where I talk about colors and you come back and say “looking at colors is important on a blog” or something like that, and that’s all you offer; ugh. I deleted 3 of those from my previous post on being a colorful blogger. I know those are people being paid to write comments or people who are cruisin’ and could care less about their comment being responded to; I mean really, what can you say in response to something like that?

The same goes for people who use “info” as the beginning of their email addresses. Once again, how do I know that the person leaving the comment is going to be the person reading the email? I’d bet that at least 75% of the time no one’s going to read the email because when I was letting those email addresses through in the past I think only 2 people ever responded to anything I specifically said to them. If this is you and it’s supposed to be legitimate let me teach you something about branding; that’s not how it’s done. You want people to trust you then you make sure you use “your” first name and the extension should be your website.

That’s another point. While we all let these things go through, addresses that use gmail, hotmail, yahoo or the rest aren’t great for branding. If you want people to take you seriously, use a website or blog extension as the email, with your name or nickname at the beginning in some fashion.

Let me say this; I’m not necessarily against people who write comments for a living. What I’m looking for is a bit more effort, an attempt to at least look legitimate as far as someone who might actually care about what’s been written. Yes, as a writer of multiple blogs, I like to think my efforts are being appreciated and not just a place where you get to drop a link to your client, or your own blog, with little effort. At least give people a reason to say “hey, that’s a great comment, let me go back to their blog to see what they’re all about.” After all, aren’t you really being paid for that, to help drive business, rather than just trolling for links?

A guy who’s pretty good at that is Carl, who comments here often. He gets paid for commenting, but he leaves true comments, will respond to some of my comments back to him, and still gets to drop links to his clients. I don’t mind that as long as he’s not linking to an affiliate program; yeah, don’t do that either because even if the comment is good I’ll keep the comment but remove that type of link. And don’t even think about dropping a link to an inappropriate site. What’s inappropriate? If I don’t like it, it’s gone; that’s inappropriate. lol

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Adrienne, whom I mentioned above, has a very strict commenting policy. My Hot Blog Tips buddy Brian has started doing the same thing and he’s even harder than I am. Sure, we all risk losing people commenting, our traffic going down, and our rankings suffering in some fashion. But those who are serious about things know that they can come here and, if they’re predisposed to do so, can even talk to others who have left comments because they’re pretty good, and yours truly has vetted them; oh yeah!

Still, if you think I’m a bit too harsh, let me know below, but don’t write something like “I agree; people should write better comments” and think I’m leaving it here. That will just prove you didn’t read the post. Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger. 😉
 

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Being A Colorful Blogger

Have you ever given thought about all the colors of your blog? You’ve probably given thought to the colors of your blog as you look at it but that’s not the only color on your blog.

IMAG2211

For instance, your font color is something to consider. Have you ever noticed that the font on this blog isn’t really black? It’s kind of a charcoal grey color; close but not quite black. The blog of one of my clients has gold print. There’s nothing wrong with changing certain things like that up as long as it’s still readable against its background.

What about language? Have you ever heard the name William F Buckley Jr? He was acknowledged as one of the smartest men ever, had a TV show that lasted 33 years, wrote a weekly newspaper column and multiple books. In one of them, which I can’t recall at the moment, on the same page he used the words proboscis, stentorian, and miasma of perfidy. There were words like that on every page as a matter of fact, and I only made it through 20 pages before I got tired of pulling out the dictionary so often. I have a pretty good vocabulary, but I try to temper myself, and instead look for synonyms that people know every once in awhile so I don’t sound the same over and over.

All of these things help to give your blog a fresh feel and helps to show what you’re made of. Sure, you want people to learn your style and get comfortable with it. But every once in awhile you need to be fresh, update things a bit, and try not to be so predictable.

In that vein we have the video below which talks about colors and blogging; yeah, I know, you’re not going to watch it, but I’m putting it out here anyway:
 


http://youtu.be/dr80OLxWQHg

 

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Time To Do It All

Yesterday on a Google Hangout, I led a discussion on the topic of trying to find enough time to do it all. I state how I’ve found it much more difficult to keep up with everything these days as I’m leading a plane-hopping life where only one of the 3 airports I deal with has free wi-fi, which means there’s an extra 4 hours of time I lose.

Keeping An Eye On Time
Ian Foss via Compfight

In the past I’ve been able to write content in advance, and in the case of this blog, I’d actually written some posts in advance. But it caught up with me, and thus here and on my other blogs I’m not keeping up as easily, though I’m learning a few things based on that.

One, I find myself having to pick and choose what’s most important. Therefore, this blog stays up to date moreso than the others. I also comment less, though I save a lot of links in my Evernote program so I can get to those I really have something to say on later. That’s actually a very helpful program because I have it synched with my main computer, laptop, smartphone and now my Nook; oh yeah!

I’ve found that it’s not just my social media or blogging life that’s suffered. Unlike when I’m at home, where often on Sundays I prepare meals I’m going to eat off for the week, I’m in a hotel room with two small burners and a small pot and small skillet. Those aren’t great accoutrements for cooking big meals. So I have to plan them, which means I eat out a lot. I try to find time to workout, time to do laundry, time to get to the grocery store, etc. Work is the only thing I’m always able to find time for; I guess that’s the important one.

As you’ll see in the video below, we discussed this and some options were offered, though to tell you the truth one of the options I already do, and the other options won’t help for everything. Still, it was entertaining, especially with our guest for the day; I hope you enjoy it.


http://youtu.be/lK6vqxckmdI

 

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Insulin, Injections And Blogging

Some of you know that I’m diabetic. If you don’t, welcome to my world. Overall I go on about my business like everyone else but there are issues here and there. I’ve told the story about how I learned I was diabetic, how every once in awhile I have depression because of it and on my other blog talked about the day I had to start taking insulin injections, which I still do to this day.

insulin and needles

What I’ve never done is related any of the diabetes stuff, especially injections and the like, to blogging. Those who have been around understand how this works. I find that there are lessons one can learn in life that relate to other things. I’ve related blogging to quite a few things over the years including how blogging is like poker, chess, and visiting new stores. Now it’s time to make the connection to blogging, diabetes and insulin.

Before I begin, I’m going to explain why posts like this can work and why they might not. People love stories and don’t always like learning new things. But if you couch your points within a story, even if people don’t understand the full frame of reference, they’ll usually learn the lessons better. And with posts like this one, there are multiple lessons to learn about both blogging and diabetes and insulin. It’s all good! And here we go:

1. As you can see in the image above, there are two different ways of delivering insulin through a needle. I had to switch from the one on the left to the one on the right because of costs; I save more than 80% with the one on the right. I didn’t want to switch, but I did what was economical, ergo correct, because insulin can be expensive and going with a delivery method that was easier to manage rather than saving money on it so I could roll it over to something else just didn’t make sense.

When it comes to blogging, the switch kind of goes the other way if you’re serious about it, depending on what it is you’re looking to do. As both Blogspot and WordPress.com start coming down on more people who try to make money or write controversial posts through those platforms, and now that Yahoo has purchased Tumblr, more people are going to find themselves feeling squeezed by a presence that has the ability to not only censor but block you. Self hosting may not be free but it’s not expensive on a yearly basis and gives you much more freedom and way more choices of things you can choose from. It’s scary to switch from one thing to another; I get it. But sometimes you have to think about the benefit of doing so.

2. It took me about a week to get used to the new syringes as opposed to the big needle. That’s because the process totally changed. I went from screwing a needle on, turning the thing on the bottom to the proper dosage, pushing it into my abdomen somewhere and pushing the thing at the bottom to an alcohol swab on top of the bottle of insulin each time, unsheathing the syringe at the top and bottom, having to work the plunger around so I could do something with it, plunging it into the bottle, turning it upside down, having to try to balance it without bending the needle while pushing air into the bottle, then withdrawing the dose I need, and then having to figure out how to handle this little thing so I could push it into my abdomen and push this plunger.

You know what? After a week I started to prefer the syringe. The thing is that as tiny as it is it’s set up for more stability when it’s time to inject myself. Whereas I was hurting myself at least 3 times a week with the big pen, I only hurt myself once every 2 or 3 weeks now; I never saw that coming.

My impression of syringe needles was so far off that I had built up this major fear factor without any real history or research to base it on and it turned out to be nonsense. Not that I want to inject myself at all but with the lack of pain, I’m more inclined to make sure I take care of my personal business every night.

Something that stymies many bloggers is this sense that they’re stuck in a rut and have to do things one way and one way only, otherwise they have to shut things down, intentionally or not. When I started this blog, even though I had another one, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, how to write it, or really what I wanted to say. I only knew I was going to say what I wanted to say, whenever I wanted to say it.

Within a few months I’d pretty much found my voice, but I did keep changing things up here and there. Now, even though I’ve found my voice, I doubt anyone can say that they always know what to expect when they read a post from here. For instance, did any of you even dare to believe one could tie in blogging with the other topic from today?

It’s okay to take chances with your blog, to shake things up, to go off topic here and there. It’s what makes you interesting and keeps people coming back to see what you’re going to do next time.

Diabetes in the US
GDS Infographics
via Compfight

3.You know what? It’s possible that half of you reading this post right now are diabetic; isn’t that scary? What’s even more scary is that some of you know it, or know that you’re possibly pre-diabetic, yet you won’t go to the doctor because you don’t want to know.

Here’s the truth; whether you have diabetes, cancer, MS, or bad breath, nothing goes away until you know you have it and can start to do something about it. I may not always be the best diabetic, but I know the rules, know what I have to do to be good and feel better, and I know medication helps. If my wife hadn’t encouraged me, with help from my dad, I might not have gone to check things out, but I should have been more willing to do what was best for myself to begin with. It’s a major lesson to learn, as Beverly reminded me days ago about a review of her book I wrote in 2011 that contained a quote by yours truly; check out the link because it’s a very good book.

With blogging, you never know how far you can go until you give it a try. Yes, I’ve asked if you’re ready to be controversial but I’m not saying you have to go quite that far. If you think your blog writing is boring spice it up. Look through a thesaurus and use some different words. Try being funny, try using images or different images if you’re already doing it. Try adding a video, whether it’s yours or one on YouTube that you like.

Most fear is when you’re scared of things you don’t know about, but some fears can be conquered. Some can’t, such as my fear of bugs (ick), yet I’m never afraid to take a chance on things where I have to make a decision one way or another. You shouldn’t be either; why?

4.Even though I said earlier that I’m more inclined to take care of myself at night, it doesn’t mean I’m perfect at doing it. Some nights I just don’t get around to taking all of my medication. Some nights I don’t remember if I’ve taken it. I have a pill box that maybe once every 3 weeks I remember to put pills into so I can remember.

I’m also kind of a reactionary eater. If I want dessert I’m eating it. I’m good at staying away from pasta most of the time, as it’s worse than desserts, but I’m not as good up front as denying myself other foods when I have a craving that, later on, I remember are high in carbs, thus bad for diabetics (contrary to popular belief sweets aren’t the worst things for diabetics).

In other words, sometimes I make mistakes in my care and in taking care of myself. However, I always make up for it the next day and usually for a few days afterwards. Actually, I’m pretty good probably 90% of the time I’d have to say. I think my mother is the only person I know who’s perfect at taking care of herself, when she eats, how much she eats, when she takes medication, when she brushes her teeth… on and on. She actually has a written schedule. The only thing she’s bad at, which I inherited, is having a specific time to go to bed every night; no one’s perfect.

When it comes to blogging sometimes you’re going to make a mistake, even if you didn’t know it at the time. Hey, it happens. Typos, misspellings, not getting facts totally straight, merging lines… we all do it. Don’t ever be afraid to take a chance at doing something out of the norm, or even in the norm that you’re worried you might be making a mistake on. For some backup, check out this Google Hangout video that I led:



http://youtu.be/TMVPogrwuwM

5.Over the 16 years since I was first told I was diabetic I’ve learned a lot. I don’t always apply it; sometimes it’s my fault, sometimes I don’t work as hard in overcoming some of the challenges that make it hard to keep up with, such as when I’m on the road and trying to follow all the proper rules, which includes exercise. What I have learned though is that when I’m good and apply everything I know and stick to the plan, things always end up better for me. If feel healthier overall, my glucose numbers (these days they call it blood sugar but I just don’t like that term) are better, my outlook on life is better (and my outlook on life is usually pretty good so having it be better is miraculous)… life is good.

When it comes to blogging, it’s great to find a routine and pattern that works for you and then try to stick to it unless you can improve it. Routine doesn’t mean if you’re boring stay boring. What it means is that if you need to set a schedule for yourself to make sure you write a blog post a week, then do it. If you have to give yourself an hour to write a post, do it. Sure, you’ll slip every once in awhile, but consistency is the key to not only great blogging but great participation from others. When you do the things you should be doing for your blog you’ll feel better, it’ll perform better, and you’ll be a happy and positive person.

There you are; I’m betting you didn’t think I could do it. I hope you’ve learned lessons about both and are not only willing to try it yourself but to give me a good comment below on your thoughts of this venture. Come on, don’t be afraid; didn’t I cover fear above? 😉
 

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