Category Archives: Blogging

Quick Ways To Identify Spam On Your Blog

I can’t believe it’s been more than 3 years since I wrote on the topic of how to identify spam. In that period of time a lot of things have stayed the same while there are some new players in the game that try to trick us all.

No Spam
Thomas Hawk via Compfight

This will probably be a short post from me, which is rare, but I’m hoping to make it easy for everyone instead of getting too deep into the issue. If there’s anything here you don’t understand, leave it in the comments and I’ll give it more time later. Here we go:

1. If a comment doesn’t use your name but calls you something, it’s probably spam. Admin, webmaster, buddy, etc.

2. One line comments are most probably spam unless you know the person.

3. If a comment looks familiar look through previous comments on that same post. Most of the time I recognize that someone has scraped a previous comment but not all the time, and I end up responding to both; ugh.

4. Totally off-topic or not on the topic at all.

5. The comment is way too long. I’ve known a few people who leave long comments but in general most really long comments are spammy sales messages or rants about something totally not based on what you’ve just written about.

6. Questions about your blog in general; not on topic, and please don’t even waste your time responding to this stuff.

7. Female picture with male name, male picture with female name… that should be pretty easy to spot.

8. The email address says “info” or “admin” in it. Not always spam but my policy is it all goes into the spam filter because, unless I know the person, it often means someone’s been paid to leave a lousy comment on your blog & they’re never coming back.

9. Keyword names or somewhat offensive names. I don’t allow either and will just delete the comments without reading them because most of the time they’re spam.

I’ll stop at 9 because that’s one of my favorite numbers and it’s the 9th month. Anyone have any other quick ways to identify spam?
 

5 Ways Blogging Is Like Traveling Through Airports

Yes, this is another one of my comparison posts on the overall subject of blogging, this time relating it to airports. I’m in my consulting mode these days which means I’m flying a lot, although most of the time when I’m consulting I drive. However, I’m 17 hours away by car, thus this didn’t seem to be the smart thing to do, as I kept hearing from my wife. Lol

Syracuse Airport

The thing is that there are some things about blogging that really can compare to being in airports. If you’ve only ever been in one or two you may not be able to relate to these, but if you’ve flown at least 3 or 4 times you’ll see that I’m right on this one, even if you never thought about it before. Let’s begin.

1. There are some processes that never change. In airports, you always have to first get past the person who checks your ticket against your ID. Then you have to pull all your electronics out and put them in a tray, take everything out of your pockets and put them into a tray, take off your shoes and belt and put them in a tray, walk through the scanner and hope you’ve passed, and then put all that stuff back into where you took it from. Then you wait at your gate, walk forward when it’s your turn, put your stuff in the overhead, sit down, put on your seatbelt & fly to your destination. No matter what else happens, no matter the deviations, you always do these things.

When it comes to blogging, you probably always do these same things. You think about what your topic is going to be that you’re writing on, you verify your facts or your opinion, you open with your premise and then you write your post. Afterwards you check it for spelling (please do this lol), verify your keywords, then publish your post so others can read it and bask in your brilliance. Your process almost never changes once you get it down; if it does, you’re probably not writing all that often.

2. Often things are out of your control, no matter what you do. I’ve had a couple of flights canceled or altered because of the weather. I’ve had seats where I’ve paid for an upgrade taken from me for whatever reason. I’ve been pulled out of line and I’ve been selected to have a bag or two go under extra scrutiny. These are irritations but we get through them and move on with life.

With blogging, you can write what you feel is the best thing you’ve ever written and have no one read it or comment on it. You can set up all sorts of protections on your blog and still get hacked. You can have your hosting company suddenly go buggy and no one, including you, can get to your site. Some of these things are more critical than the others but you need to know that you can always overcome anything. Waste just a little bit of time worrying about it, then either get back to what you know or move on.

3. You can never find enough charging stations. At least there are places where we can charge up our phones, laptops and electronic readers these days. But there are never enough of them, and they get scarfed up pretty quickly. Every once in awhile there might be one last remaining spot but there are no seats close by, so you have to make a quick decision as to whether you trust the people who stand around the station or not.

For many bloggers, there are those days when you think and think and think and just can’t figure out what you want to say. Maybe you have a germ of an idea but you just can’t put it together. One of the realities of blogging is that you write an article, put it out, and at some point you have to write another post. It seems like there aren’t enough ideas or enough ways to come at your topic. But there are; look at what I’m comparing blogging to in this post. : – )

4. If you travel a lot you get to a point where you see the same thing over and over and some of it loses its excitement. When that starts to threaten to happen, you have to try to find new things to concentrate your mind on because, in reality, there’s always something different. For me, I’ve started people watching, and it’s the most amazing thing. As I write this there’s a kid who’s climbed up on one of those arrivals boards, a really attractive woman in very high heels and the tightest pants standing at the charging station in front of me typing away on her phone as if there’s nothing else in life to do, a Hasidic father and son, both with high black hats, looking for their gate and next flight, a young mother playing with her cute baby, and some people just chilling, watching TV or talking on their phones because they have a long wait for their next flight.

In blogging, sometimes it seems like you’re seeing the same thing over and over, whether it’s your blog or someone else’s blog. I lament often that I see multiple blogs writing the same thing all the time, as if they’re copying each other. The thing is that you should be able to have 30 people write about the same thing and end up with 30 totally different perspectives and taken on that subject. If you’re seeing the same thing over and over you need to broaden your perspective and look for other bloggers who can offer something different. If it’s your writing, work on your creativity and stop being so pedantic in using the same language and terminology.

5. Even in airports it can be all about networking and relationships. This is the 4th month of traveling for me and what I never really thought much about until it started is how often I see the same people. What’s also stunned me is that with so many people passing through airports every day that some of those people will remember my face. Though I don’t remember their names I’m familiar with certain flight attendants, the guys who load and drive the bus from one terminal to the next, some of the people working in certain restaurants, and some of the security people who check to make sure I’m not trying to sneak anything onto the plane. There’s a comfort in the familiarity and it helps in knowing that those times when they have to pull me out for a random heck there’s nothing personal about it.

The best blogs will have a consistent group of people who stop by to read and comment, and if you’re a smart blogger you’ll not only welcome them by responding to their comments, but when you can you’ll visit their blogs and try to find something to comment on. When all is said and done true blogging is about relationships and networking, whether you’re trying to make money or not. I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say that you’re building friendships as if those people lived in town all the time, but you’re building friendly interactions and trust, and some of those people will help to promote you when they like you without your asking. There’s never anything wrong with that.
 

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. 🙂
 


 

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. 😉
 

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