Category Archives: Blogging

The Trouble With Getting Your Friends, Family & Local People To View Your Blogs

A few days ago, myself and the rest of the Live Google Hangout Crew decided to discuss the topic of blogging for local folks and businesses and the issues we all seem to have in getting those people to even take a look at what we write. This isn’t a new topic for me actually, as I talked about it first in 2009 when I wrote a post leading with If You Can’t Get Your Family And Friends To Subscribe… and again in 2011 when I asked Why Aren’t You Well Known Where You Live?

This one is a little different and yet the overall theme is the same. I always make the recommendation to businesses that if they want to increase their SEO and the potential for doing more business online that having a blog can do wonders for each. Just being a player gives you a great boost in local search, which is a great thing, but do those people read your stuff, and if not why not?

I tend to want to look at my own sites, and I’m going to share statistics on two of them. And of course there’s the video at the end of this post where we talked about it all, and the other site I’m going to talk about is mentioned in the video.

For I’m Just Sharing, the last month’s stats show that there were 32 visits from what I’d call the local area, which includes Rochester, which is about 75 miles away. If I only include the Syracuse area I have to remove 11 visits. That’s pretty poor if you ask me. New York state is my highest volume state, and the majority of visitors come from New York City, but that’s not quite local. I consider this my flagship blog, even if it’s not my highest ranked blog anymore (that now goes to my finance blog; how about that?). Now, I have to admit that I’m not sure how many local people might be subscribing to the feed, and via the feed this is my most read blog, so it’s possible the number is much higher. But since I can’t confirm that I’ll stick with Google Analytics for now.

My other blog is called Syracuse Wiki, and it’s my local blog. It’s not a highly visited blog, but I don’t write a lot of posts on it because I only write when I do or see something where I can capture pictures regarding local events. In a way I can’t gripe all that much because the visitors on that blog are 54% local, but I have thought that blog would attract way more people because it talks about local topics. And I do market it on Twitter, but I have to admit not many other places.

This brings us back to the original issue and why it’s a problem. If you’re running a local business and you’re trying to get local people interested in what you do, what can you do to advertise yourself and get local business? On the video I offer suggestions to companies that sell products, which includes coupons and lots of pictures, and even advertising the blogs in their stores so people can keep up with new things they offer.

But what about those of us who offer services, who don’t have offices outside of our homes or even if we do, we don’t own the space and thus are more limited with some of our banner advertising, if you will? Is there a way we can target our blogs so that it attracts local traffic and thus local business?

And what about our friends and family members? One’s best advocates are always those close to us, but if we can’t get them engaged then can we legitimately hope to engage our community, no matter what we do?

I’d like to know what you think. I’d also like you to check out the video where Sheryl Lock of Fuzzy Wuzzy Anipals (yeah, that’s right! lol) offered a lot of good stuff last Sunday, and maybe it can help me and some of you. At the very least it’ll get you thinking; there’s never anything wrong with that.


 

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The Death Of Twitter Tools

It was a nice run, but I was finally pulled into the 21st century kicking and screaming, and I’m not all that happy about it. Since last Friday I’ve been lamenting the apparent death of one of my favorite plugins, Twitter Tools, and now I’m ready to write about it.

Into The Unknown
Sean Molin via Compfight

Truthfully, it was almost like that. I wondered why none of my posts for the day had automatically gone to Twitter, and I saw there was an update to Twitter Tools. Since the same thing popped up on all 5 of my blogs I decided to use my SEO blog to test it out. When I upgraded, it said something about having to add a plugin called Social to run the plugin. I was wondering why I had to use a different plugin to run a plugin.

I loaded Social and went to its settings, where it said I had to get an API to use it. I had an API already set up for Twitter Tools so that was disturbing. So I skipped that part and decided to see what I could do without it. Well, it seems that without that you can’t post-date your articles to go live, and the only way you can get your post up is to actually tweet it through the post itself. What the hey?

I went into Twitter Tools, where everything I’d set up before was still there, but there was no option now on a post, as I went to do a test post, where it had a place for you to tell it to automatically post to Twitter.

I was irked, as I’d used that bad boy for more than 2 years, and I’d even taken the time to write a tutorial here as to how to set it up to work on Twitter. It was one of my post popular posts. Now it’s gone, as well as a couple other posts about that plugin and every article that I’d linked to talking about it.

But I needed something new. I knew a couple of friends had me hooked up to auto-share my posts when they went live, so I asked both of them what they did. Enter Twitterfeed, which takes any RSS feed and, when something new pops up, posts it to either Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. I was hesitant at first but Holly convinced me to go through with it. I did, ran some tests, and it works pretty well. I haven’t been able to figure out how to get it to post as soon as my articles go live, but I do have it set to check every 30 minutes for something new, and I guess I can wait 30 minutes or so.

As I said, I’m coming into the world of having to use web-based services instead of controlling everything on my own kicking and screaming. I wonder what the next technological shock will be.
 

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Do You Hate Your Own Blog Posts Or The People Who Comment?

I’ve noticed an interesting trend with many blogs that have some popularity. It’s actually not something new, but it’s the first time I’ve had it bother me in some fashion.

Bright Eyes
Jose Roberto V Moraes via Compfight

I’ve noticed that there are many bloggers who will respond to some blog comments… at least initially. If you catch them really early they might be good at responding. They may even respond to some comments for a couple of days. Yet at a certain point they’ll stop responding to comments, no matter how many time and no matter who it is that’s commenting.

I’m not going to call anyone specific out, but I’m betting you’ve seen the same thing happening. You get to a blog, see there are some comments on a particular post, sometimes a lot of comments on it, and you see that the blog owner responded to some of them. So you leave your comment, think it’s pretty good, then wait to see if you get a response.

Nope, nada, nothing. Now, it’s not all that often that I’ll go back to see if someone responded to my comment, but here and there I’ll do it. However, if I get to a post and see there’s a lot of comments, I look to see if the author has responded to them, and how many of them. And if I see they haven’t responded to anyone after the first few comments, I’m not wasting my time.

So what is it that makes these folks decide to ignore your comments? Are they bored with their own posts? Have they decided you’re not worth their time? Are they just too busy once their post has gone life to worry about it anymore? In essence, have they moved onto the next post, the next challenge, with no regard to their past?

How do you, the writer, justify this kind of treatment to your visitors? For that matter, how do you, the visitor, feel knowing that your great comment is going to be ignored because you weren’t fast enough to be one of the first to cross the finish line?

This particular blog keeps posts open for 2 years. Any comment I get during that two year period that I approve, I comment on. How many of these other bloggers are writing more than me? Some write as much, but are they more special than I am and verifying that by not replying to your comments? Are they busier than I am and thus can’t reply to your comments? Do you feel like they’re just mailing it in?

Am I being melodramatic? What’s your overall belief on this one? Go ahead, share your thoughts, or write an article about it on your blog because you know it’s true. Let’s hear it. 🙂
 

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5 Problems With Guest Posting/Writing Requests

Yeah, I’m revisiting this topic again. I’m doing it because I know that there’s a lot of us that accept guest posts somewhere (I don’t for this blog but do for my finance blog) that try to be accommodating to those who ask us if we’ll accept it. I know that it not only helps them but helps us because we don’t have to write everything for those particular blogs. In my case, those guest posts are helping me to earn money from that blog, so I’m not overly mad at the process.

Go ahead; make my day
Nora Arias Loftis via Compfight

But some of the writers themselves are getting on my nerves. I also have to add those people who ask me to write a post for them and include their links in the article now, which is something I do for a fee (you’d be surprised how many people are willing to pay me to to that… sort of). I will be including that in my little list of gripes that I’ve already titled above, and thus I’m not going to repeat it again… oh, who am I kidding, of course I’m going to repeat it again. Here’s 5 problems I’ve had with guest posting and writing requests.

1. I have this in my guest posting policy on my finance blog:

I do accept guest posts geared towards financial issues on this blog, and by having a guest posting policy, it means in your query you don’t have to ask me about it, you don’t have to have all that extraneous stuff about how it will help this blog work better or have better SEO; please, I get that and your letter looks canned, which it obviously is since most of the requests that come aren’t from writers but from people marketing for someone else. If you’re supposed to be some kind of writer then write something original; give it a shot, it won’t hurt.

You’d think people would get that message, but no. At least 70% of the requests I get are those canned letters; sigh…

2. I have this in my guest posting policy:

When you write me, give me an idea of what you’d like to write about so we can start from that point. I have to review the site being linked back to and then determine if it’s a site that should be paying for advertising or one that I allow a free link back to. If you’re actually reading this then please send the link to the site you want your article going to; I’m always having to tell people that I need to see their link first and that’s wasting a lot of my time.

Nope, people who aren’t reading the first part aren’t doing this either. This includes those people that I know have read the policy, and I’ve got it highlighted just like you see above. Now, how do I know the difference between people who are actually reading the policy?

3. I know because of this:

To request a guest posting opportunity, or to ask questions about advertising or anything else on Top Finance Blog, write to Mitch. If my name isn’t in the email, I’m not reading it and you won’t hear from me (unless you’re willing to pay for it); I don’t have the time.

This is true; 90% of the requests I get are to sir/madam, webmaster (really?) or just “Hi” or something like it and nothing else. And I don’t respond to any of them; I delete them immediately.

4. When I have to send people my advertising policy, they don’t get it.

I’m not going to post that here because either people ask me for it up front or I look at their site & determine it needs to be paid for and then they ask me about it. At that point I sent them a standard email with the policy already typed up. The policy specifically says two things. One, no blatant advertising for their company unless they want to pay me twice the rate it costs for me to write a post. Two, if I write a post, I’ll use your keywords unless their blatant advertising, in which case the twice as much as writing a regular post thing kicks in.

Someone asks me to write a post for them at the individual post rate. I do it, add their links, set it up to go live, and expect them to pay me when it goes live. No one sees the post before it goes live; sorry, but I was burned once and that’s never happening again. Anyway, they finally see the post, then they write me and ask if I’ll include the company name in the post. I refer them back to the policy and say that if I do that they have to pay double. Then they get upset; well, a couple of them do. And then they don’t pay and I dismiss them forever.

You’re probably asking why I don’t charge them something up front so I don’t get burned. I don’t do that because I write articles for the blog as well, and in a way they get credit for giving me a topic to write about, so I’ll take it, but I don’t like not getting paid my fee for writing it. Why? Because it’s in the policy!

5. People who don’t come back to address comments.

I wrote about this one on another post on guest posting. I’m not the only one that’s written on this subject, although right now I can’t remember where I read someone else talking about it. No matter; if you write a guest post you have to be willing to address comments or questions because the owner of the blog just might not be qualified to respond to everything. And even if that person is, you’re losing the chance to establish yourself in the eyes of others by doing a posting hit and run, so to speak.

Those are my main 5 issues at this moment. If I write this same post 2 weeks from now I might have different gripes, but you won’t see that one coming from me. All I’m looking for is a little bit of courtesy, a bit of professionalism. By the way, I also share this little funny video in my guest posting policy; for those of you who get requests, I’m betting you can identify with this:


 

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Spam Settings On My Blogs

Last week I talked about adding Akismet back on one of my blogs to help in my fight against spam and Brian Hawkins had a post on his blog about crazy things people do to control spam, impugning my wondrous reputation by griping about something I do (LOL) on this blog. Regardless, we all end up having to deal with spam in one fashion or another.

Agent [smith]
[martin] via Compfight

Some people do some crazy things, as Brian stated, but I find the majority of people don’t know what they can do to fight some of the spam at least. Therefore, I thought I’d share what I have set up on my blog under the Discussion settings area and then talk about my settings in the GASP plugin, since I’ve already talked about AkismetIf you don’t know about the Settings / Discussion area this is a good time to go there and follow along as I tell you why I’ve set up what I’ve done.

The first thing you see are the default article settings. I have all of mine checked, but if you use the GASP plugin and have unchecked the box saying to block all trackbacks, the middle choice makes no difference. If you don’t want comments on your blog you can uncheck the last box.

Next we have other comment settings. I have checked the first one, which should be standard for everyone.

I don’t want people logging into my blog so that’s unchecked. Actually, back a few years ago it was recommended that you don’t allow people to register on your blog because some folks knew how to then break into the rest of your blog once they had gained even a modicum of access. The new CommentLuv Premium gives owners the option of allowing it to have access to more posts, but I still wouldn’t recommend doing it.

I have the box checked talking about automatically closing comments on posts and I’ve added the number 720 in the final box, which is just under 2 years. Many spammers target old posts and I figure that people can read them but two years is long enough for someone to discover them and comment on them.

The next box I have checked and I’ve added 9 into the box, though many people only have it set at 4. I hope for extended conversation but I’ve never reached 9. By the way, this doesn’t work for all blog themes, so you might have to add a plugin to get it to work correctly. For this theme, which is older, I had to add the Threaded Comments plugin, but for all my other blogs this works fine.

I have the final box unchecked, which means that if I end up with more than 50 comments they’ll continue on the same page instead of turning it into more than one page. Frankly, it can be confusing going to a blog and seeing that there are a bunch of comments yet not seeing them. I think it messes up continuity, so I have it turned off.

I’m skipping the email me whenever and going to the next one, before a comment appears. I have both unchecked because frankly I hate moderation and thus I won’t do it to anyone else. Now, some folks are probably saying “hey, my comment ended up in moderation”; we’ll get to that.

Next up is comment moderation. I don’t have anything in the main box here and I’ll tell you why. To me, why would I want to add words or domain names or numbers to have things go into moderation, or the pending area? Anything that goes into moderation might as well go into the spam filter so I can review everything in there. Now, this used to be an easier decision when you could approve a comment directly out of the spam area but since WordPress took that option away and sends comments to the pending area instead (a stupid move people), you might decide to have some things go into pending instead, since now you have duplication of effort. Having said that, I do have a 1 in the box about links, so if you add a link it does head to moderation.

Soldier from 1 Yorks on Patrol in Afghanistan
UK Ministry of Defence via Compfight

The final thing I’m going to talk about here is the comment blacklist space. This is where you can list words or urls or IP addresses, which are those numbers under each comment you see in the Admin area of comments, and if the comments have any of these associated with them they’ll automatically go to the spam filter. What I’ve done is added a few specific words that I know are spam since I’d never write about any of that stuff here, and I’ve added lots of IP addresses.

This part bothers Brian a little bit because there’s a lot you’ll end up having to do, but there is a shortcut. For instance, there are some IPs that send you multiple comments but rotate the third and fourth set of numbers. I’ve taken care of that by logging just the first two numbers, and from that point anything that comes in with the first two sets of numbers automatically goes into spam. That’s ended up saving lots of time.

Okay, let’s talk about the GASP plugin settings briefly, since I know most people just go with the defaults. I left many defaults so I’m only going to talk about the things I’ve changed.

First, I’ve unchecked the box for trackbacks, which I mentioned earlier. Yeah, I know that it offers a way for others to let you know they’ve written about you but there’s no real SEO benefit to it and it’s how spammers can really bombard your blog. I unchecked it during a time period when I was averaging nearly 20 spam messages an hour that were all trackback spam; ugh!

The big one, the most controversial I suppose, is the next to last box, which says Maximum number of words allowed in name field. I’ve put 2 in there, which seems to be throwing a lot of commenters into the spam filter, and those are the folks who believe they’re being moderated. Sorry but that’s staying, and we’ll just have to hope that I pull your comments out of the spam box. The overwhelming number of spam that comes in is keyword spam, and most of those keywords are 3 or more words. Most people either go with one name or first and last name. A few of you have decided to add your initial; that’s on you. Also, some of you continue to add keywords to the end of your name because some people offer the Keyword plugin; I don’t. I used to take the time to remove all of that but now it’s rare I’ll remove it, especially if you’re a return commenter. At least now you know why I do it.

That’s that. I didn’t think it would turn out to be this long but there you are. If this is new stuff to you then it’s worth it. If it’s something you hadn’t thought about in awhile then it’s also worth it. And if you don’t like it… LOL!
 

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