Category Archives: Blogging

5 Reasons You Need To Have A Gravatar

Funny how time flies. Turns out it was 4 1/2 years ago that I actually wrote my last piece on gravatars, how to create them, how to set your blog up to show them, etc. What I missed in that piece all those years ago was why anyone should have them. I guess I thought that would be obvious, but time has proven that no, most people still don’t get it. So, let’s look at 5 reasons why you need to have a gravatar.

Dad Me Uncle Morris
Which one is me? 🙂

1. Identity – Having a gravatar gives you an identity and helps you stand out from all those people people who comment on blogs and don’t have an image of any kind. People are more trusting of you and your comments if there’s an image associated with it.

2. Brand – Although your face should probably be your strongest brand, you can also use a logo of your business for your gravatar image. Truth be told, I have multiple gravatars and each one is associated with a different email address. Each one also uses a picture of me, which allows me to change up from time to time when I’m commenting because people always recognize the face sooner than the website or blog it’s attached to.

3. Protection – I’ve seen times when comments are somewhere that don’t read like the person who’s purported to have written them, if you know that person. Sneaky weasels do that to promote spam, and it can ruin the name or reputation of the person whose information they’re using. However, if you have a gravatar associated with your email address and no image shows up, that could vindicate you. Spammers aren’t as smart as we all think they are; they don’t always know your email address when writing spam comments.

4. Looking good in your own space – You write a blog others comment and have pictures next to their names, and you’re responding with nothing except one of those default gravatar things showing up; how professional does that look?

5. Influence – If you comment often and you have an image associated with your image eventually you start getting better known, and that helps your influence spread on the internet, even if it’s only within your relatively small sphere of influence. People love seeing my face (so they say lol) on their blogs along with a comment or two.

There you are. Now, having a gravatar won’t help you with blog sites like Typepad, but for pretty much everywhere else a gravatar will help you stand out. Come on, what are you waiting for? Check out the first post I linked to if you want to know how to do it, or just go to and follow the very easy instructions. Go now… okay, go after you comment. 🙂

5 Ways Blogging Is Like Visiting A New Store

I live in the central New York area and my favorite grocery store is called Wegmans, which is also usually in the top 5 corporations in the nation every year as best places to work for. I also border a Wegmans via my backyard, the one I won’t go out into. I love Wegmans; let’s just get that out of the way.

With that said though, I’d be lying if I said everything at Wegmans is perfect. Indeed, there are some things that I can’t find at Wegmans that I have to go to other stores for. There are some other things I’m not crazy about that Wegmans offers. That’s just the way life is; you almost never find perfection anywhere you go (kind of like Japanese and Chinese restaurants and their horrible desserts).

Truthfully, for many years, probably at least a decade in fact, I never went to another local grocery store chain. I did go to the one individual store in the village that where I live is associated with, family owned, but that’s it. However, I have found that sometimes you’ll discover some interesting things in other stores. And when I was thinking about that I also realized that there are ways that going to stores you’re not used to correlates with blogging. So, in my never ending quest in trying to convince people just how special blogging is, I offer 5 ways that blogging is like visiting a new store.

General store
Alex Eylar via Compfight

1. Sometimes you’ll find something really tasty elsewhere. Wegmans has these amazingly juicy rotisserie chickens, big and plump at a pretty good price. They supposedly have 4 flavors; I say that because once you take the skin off, they have no taste at all. At another store I found rotisserie chicken as well, smaller, close to the same price, but marinated throughout the entire chicken and it tastes wonderful! Sure, I have to drive 8 minutes to get there as opposed to the 30 seconds of a drive it takes to get to Wegmans but it’s worth it most of the time.

Visiting multiple blogs opens up a world that you might have never known existed. There is a lot of wonderful talent out in the blogosphere and a lot of different styles. One of the recommendations I’ve made in the past over and over is that a great place to get ideas for your own blog posts is to visit other blogs and see what others have to say, then use your blog to comment on it. There’s nothing wrong with expanding your horizons that way.

Edmond Mille - Vegetable Fruit & Potatoes
Mahdi Abdulrazak via Compfight

2. Other stores have deals that your own store won’t have. Something I discovered relatively recently is that when it comes to health care in this area each grocery store chain and probably drug store chains as well offers something that another store doesn’t. Wegmans offers Lipitor for free. A store called Price Chopper offers insulin syringes for free. And of all things, it turns out that Walmart Superstores offers their own insulin brand where, instead of paying $285 for a month’s worth of insulin, it only costs $49 from them.

Not only is there a lot of talent on the blogosphere, but there are tons of different topics that people love to write about and everyone has their own style. Hopefully that includes you, because even if you have a topic that people love, if all you’re doing it regurgitating what someone else said first no one will care. Like above, all the stores have the same things, but each offers them at different prices. Your blog should be just like that.

Caden Crawford via Compfight

3. Sometimes you can only get what you want at a place you’d never think to visit. I love cinnamon Altoids. I used to buy them all the time at Wegmans. Then they stopped selling them and I thought I was out of luck. I visited all the other grocery stores and none of them sold this particular flavor anymore either. On a whim I decided to stop in at a drug store and, happiness, they sold them. I’ve now found that 3 drug store chains in the area sell them; whew! I’m someone who never really went to drug stores but I’m finding some amazing things these days that I thought were lost forever.

I’ve talked to people who say that there are certain types of blogs they’ll never go to. Heck, I’m the same but my list has gotten smaller. That’s because every once in awhile you find that you’ve categorized someone as one thing because of how they describe themselves and realize that they’re so much more than that. This is the only one of my blogs where I’m not sure how people categorize me, yet I write my posts with the hope that wherever they put me they also see me as someone who offers them something they can’t get elsewhere. And I hope that’s a good thing.

Jerry in the sugar isle face down
TheeErin via Compfight

4. You get a better appreciation for quality. I mentioned above that Wegmans is one of the top corporations in America multiple years in a row. What’s ironic is that one of the worst grocery store chains in the country is also here in central New York, with one store about 5 minutes from my house.

In most places you visit a grocery store and there’s not much difference from one to the other. That’s not how it works here, and that’s not how it works in blogging. Sure, some blogs and websites are prettier than others, but that’s not the only thing that decides whether one blog ends up with more visitors and traffic than another. In the end no blog or website is perfect, but all it has to be and seem is better than someone else’s, seem to be written better and offer something better than what someone else has to offer. Sure, there’s room for everyone, but sometimes there’s a great separation between quality and not so much, and it’s everyone else involved that makes the difference.

Choose Wisely!
Chris Goldberg via Compfight

5. When all is said and done, there’s a place for everybody as long as they show some competence and spirit. I gave you a link to the grocery store chain ranked as the 6th worst in the nation above. However, they have two things that are pretty cool. One, they have their own chicken nuggets that taste fantastic and are plentiful at a pretty nice price. Two, they have their own discount program where sometimes they discount certain items as much as 75% off the normal price; you kidding me? True, it’s not always about price but wow!

Same with blogging. We can’t all be (insert your favorite blogger here) and we can’t all have blogs ranked in the top .1% and we all can’t put out as much content as Huffington Post or Copyblogger. What we can do is be the best we can be, offer opinions and information, entertain, educate or inform, be interesting and original, and just write our own blogs and contribute to conversations on other blogs. If you can’t be the best then be the best you can be; no one will ever fault you for that.

Now, was that so hard? 😉

6 Things I’ve Seen While Cleaning Up Old Comments

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been spending time here and there going back to clean up comments. This is a daunting task by the way. The blog is over 5 years old and there are nearly 26,000 comments. The reason I’m looking at comments isn’t to pick on anyone in particular. What I’m doing is taking care of some maintenance because of Google’s Panda and Penguin and also because I had to get rid of that Broken Link Checker plugin and the one I’m using right now isn’t quite as good; okay, it’s not even close.

Sadly Sarah's clone took a step back in development, so it looks like she needs a vacuuming lesson with our trainer vacuum (complete with mysteriously vanishing hose).
via Compfight

With that said, as I’ve been going through some of the much older comments I’ve seen 6 different things, one that’s actually more a help to you if you decide to do the same type of thing than the others are. Let’s take a quick look shall we.

1. On WordPress blogs (I’m not sure about blogs but possibly), if you want to delete someone’s link you don’t have to go into edit or quick edit to do it. There’s an X right next to the link; just click that and it’s all gone. If you have CommentLuv it looks like it eliminates that as well, though you’ll still see it sitting there.

2. It’s amazing just how long some blogs and websites have been gone. While some blogs had totally disappeared, many blogs still existed somehow. By that, I mean there wasn’t anything new on those blog for 3 to 4 years, but most weren’t hooked to a website and weren’t on a free blogging site, so I wondered if the people paid for 5 years or more when they made their initial purchase.

3. I found that there have been some folks other than my buddy Sire who’ve been participants on this blog for a long time. Two of them, Rummuser and Ajith, have been coming by since 2009; thanks guys! Others have popped in here and there for the past 3 years; I thank you all.

4. There were some pretty good bloggers who have stopped by here and there over the years. I’ve looked at a lot of sites and some of them I decided to stop by and leave a quick comment on a recent post. It’s so cool seeing some old faces and I lament that we seemed to have drifted apart on the blogosphere. It kind of makes sense; how the heck could we all keep up with each other in the long run right?

5. There were a lot of bad sites as well. You know, when we first get going in blogging we just don’t pay much attention to the links that are coming into our sites, and as I was going through I was stunned by what I was seeing. Luckily I think BLC (see above) took care of lots of those links in some fashion but some of the rest… Folks, you need to make sure you take care of your blog by looking at some of the links people drop.

6. There were some old friends who’d stopped blogging for one reason or another. Out of three that I used to talk to all the time I know one stopped blogging because he got sick, another stopped blogging because she got a gig writing for her local newspaper, and the third… well, our bet is that he got sick and just up and disappeared because he had a pattern of doing that, and the previous time before this one he was laid up for 9 months. The rest… well, you just never know what someone’s circumstances might be, and as I think about it my belief is that one day it’s going to happen to most of us because I’m betting most of our spouses have no idea how to do anything with our blogs. So, one day there just won’t be any more posts, and unless we live close to a person we’ll never know what happens, only be left to suspect. Kind of sad isn’t it?

That’s all I’ve got. Any of you doing any maintenance on your sites? If so, what are you seeing?

Changing How I Accept Comments On This Blog

Just over a month ago I wrote a post where I questioned the types of links I was seeing on this blog. I’m not the first one to wonder about this type of thing but with the types of things going on with Google, Panda, Penguin and whatever else they come up with, I’ve started looking at them more.

DMU Comment Study (with)
Chris Martino via Compfight

I’ve also noticed that most people aren’t paying attention to the comment policy, the very short one that’s right above the box you write comments in. What happens is people are putting in keywords in the name area, which I’ve asked you not to do, and your comments are going directly into the spam filter. Then I’m having to go in and pull them out of the comments seem like they’re pretty good. After that I then go in and remove the keywords from the name, then approve the comments.

Frankly, that’s getting tiresome and I shouldn’t have to do that because, well, I did ask. So I’m making some changes to how I’m going to accept comments from this point on, and it’s going to involve a couple other things as well.

First, if your comment goes into the spam filter because there are keyword names in it, I’m leaving it there. Almost everyone who comments often knows this because I’ve mentioned it directly to them. Also, I’d set up my spam filter to automatically send all comments that have the @ symbol in the name field to spam. So, those comments will never show up; sorry. I will alter the program a bit though because I know a few folks who comment often really want to use that 3rd word, something else that automatically sends comments to spam. I don’t feel like pulling y’all out of there all the time either so I’ll make that change; thank me later Brian. lol

Second, I’m not accepting anymore comments where the email address goes to “info“. Do you know that almost no one who uses that has ever responded to a single comment I’ve written then directly, asking a question? That proves to me that it’s not you writing for you but for someone else, and you’re not seeing it and they don’t really care about this blog or about engagement. It’s always been my intention that we have engagement on this blog and since I know it’s not coming, that this is just a weigh station to drop a comment and move on, those are gone.

Third, the same goes for certain links. I don’t mind business links and I certainly don’t mind blogs. But I’ve seen more affiliate looking links popping up, folks trying to add specific pages to go to and such, and I know those are killing this blog. If the link is questionable I’m removing it. To date I’ve been removing links because I’ve noticed some folks leaving comments from different businesses, and I talked about that previously. Thing is, if I know it’s your website or blog I don’t have a problem with it; my buddy Sire has 7 or 8 blogs and he’ll switch up the links from time to time. I do it as well. But my picture comes with all of them, as does his; most of the folks dropping these things don’t have an image and thus it’s questionable.

Fourth, and this is the last one, if the name in the email is different than your name or your business name, I’m removing those comments as well. If you use a male first name & it’s a female name in the email, or vice versa, those are easy. I might miss a John and Jack and that’s okay because I know those two names can be used interchangeably. But I won’t miss a Bob and Steve; way too distinctive. If people are paying you to write for them the least they can do is give you a proper name and email; if not, I don’t need it here because I know for sure you’re not ever going to see what I’ve written back to you.

I know Adrienne’s going to be proud of me for taking these steps, that’s for sure. I appreciate when people comment here but I’d like to know that people are doing it because they care and want to exchange ideas, not as a pathway to a linking strategy. Yeah, I know it happens, but at least be more clandestine about it.

That’s all I’ve got; I suppose the commenting will drop some, but I’ll know who cares and who doesn’t from this point on.

Do You Need A Pretty Blog To Be Successful?

How many of you eat tuna fish? I know a few are going to say they don’t, but did you know that tuna is ranked as the most favored fish in the United States, with more than twice as many people eating it than salmon, which is #2? I was stunned by both of these because when I go to restaurants, most of the time they serve either haddock or cod. But these don’t seem to translate well to eating at home, which is why tuna and salmon rank so high.

my tuna mix

You know one of the strange things about tuna? It’s not a pretty food. Look at this picture of some tuna I made up the way I like it. When I posted this picture on Instagram some months ago and had it also going to Facebook, it was universally hated for its appearance. Yet, I know that all tuna looks pretty much like this after it’s been mixed with people’s favorite ingredients; have you ever seen Subway’s tuna?

Do I have a point? Of course! Lately there’s been a lot of discussion about what people’s blogs look like. I covered some of that on my previous post where I said if a website or blog works for you then go with it. I also said that it’s possible that people might not necessarily agree with you and that if they decide to stay away and you’re okay with it then fine, but if you want visitors you might decide to make some changes.

In my opinion, it’s not the look of blogs that drives people away as much as what a blog has to say. There are some very ugly and plain websites that draw thousands of visits a day. Why? Because someone found their content compelling enough to keep them coming and indirectly got them to share the content to help make them popular.

salmon teriyaki
Yeah, salmon…

This isn’t a slam on pretty websites or on fancy themes. They can be as pleasing and tempting as the dish on the left. It’s a postulation if you will that states content really matters a lot more than what one’s blog looks like. The idea of having a website look professional is a big one, but professional can be minimalistic as well as fancy-dancy with all sorts of things popping out and videos and music automatically playing and flash pages and… well, you get my drift. You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a blog theme unless you really want to.

That’s all I have; share your thoughts below.