Following the Old School Way

I know I am a little late to discover the iPhone but I recently did for the first time. In this post, I touch on how I feel it will increase my feed reading. That daily activity is of high value to me. It increases my knowledge of people out there I enjoy and it also gets me more ideas to write in my own feed. I would hope people follow me as well but I am more concerned these days with who I should learn from and network with. If you are like me you have a busy schedule. Between teaching and being a dad as well as a husband and online writer, my plate is full 24/7. There have been times when I have been standing in line at the doc or the dmv that I have wished I could read my blogroll and news feeds while waiting. I’ll share with you that when I get home, sometimes I just “mark as read” many feeds I just don’t have the time or energy for. When my wife got her iPhone last year, I thought briefly it might be the answer to my feed-reading-time problem but I never really thought about it more than that. Some of you may have read on Facebook or Twitter that my wife got me an iPhone for my birthday this week and I am seeing some real hope for reading a lot more throughly.

I have been a little gun-shy about exploring the iPhone because I haven’t had the time yet. But, after a few days and a few lines, idle time between obligations, etc., I have learned the iPhone will squeeze more content from my reading time. I could never read the tiny feed view on my LG but now I can go through more content in a given day. LG was old school. Some people see it as worthless but it’s still good. The iPhone is just like that. This means I will have more information and more access to networks that for me have grown dormant. I look forward to following the old school way: reading blog posts. Following folks on Twitter is just the beginning. Being able to actually click the posts they leave and subscribing to blog feeds is where I want to go. The trick is not who to follow, it’s who to let go. I’m very pleased with my iPhone and plan to write more about how I use it as creation/invention continues. I can hardly wait to learn more about this device. If you have any iPhone tips and tricks on this or any topic, I’d be much obliged if you shared. What do you think of the word “follow?”

Whats This About Getting Rich Through Blogging?

I use my PayPal card often (a card bloggers usually get paid through) to buy my circle of friends stuff like pizza and Baja Fresh … that’s enough for me to feel successful!

When I tell people I “blog” part time they immediately blurt out one of three responses: They, 1) seem confused and ask what blogging is, 2) want to know how much money I make -or- 3) ask if I can get them making money immediately.? For this reason, I usually don’t get into the topic of what has become my part-time job.? On the other hand, I use my PayPal card often (a card bloggers get paid through) to buy my wife, kids, and friends stuff like pizza and Baja Fresh (Baja tacos in the photo were paid for through blog money)? .. that’s enough for me to feel successful!? In fact, it’s amazing to me that I get paid for writing and tweaking code!? That, to me, is blogging.? This is probably due to the fact that 1) I don’t do it primarily for money, 2) I love to communicate and broadcast ideas, and 3) I prune my blogging to fit into no more than 15 hours a week (strict personal guideline).? I read an article tonight a Stumbleupon friend sent me that decries blogging as a “get-rich-quick” method.? I’d have to agree with that.? You won’t get rich quick doing it.? Having said that, you can make “fun money” through writing and tinkering with code and graphics.? I couldn’t ask for more in a part time job.

I did my time in college earning a BA, MA, and a teaching credential in California, one of the most rigorous states for credentialing.? I have a great job as a teacher and I work 185 days a year developing young minds.? What more could I ask for?? Well, there is something and I am doing it: blogging.? I have developed, after over 2 years, a method of setting blog goals and strictly organizing my time to create income as I go.? When I did my 2008 taxes I saw that I made nearly $3,000 blogging … it adds up!? Who would have thought you can make that kind of money writing about things like: appetite suppressants? If I was seeking a full time income, this would be disappointing but I am not.? Without my job, what would I write about?? Beyond that, I feel my blog helps my career.? Reflective journaling has been proven study after study to be an ideal habit for leaders in their fields.? I don’t blog to escape my life, my blog is integrated with my life.? Reading my blog you get life as I see it and I wouldn’t want to sit around in pajamas raking in millions through my blog.? Furthermore, I get comments and emails all the time from readers who tell me my “journal” has helped them in some way.

This year I hope to make more than last year but it still won’t be enough to pay my student loan each month.? One of my blog tenets is “100% transparency” and I publish my blog stats every month.? I’m not seeking to get rich blogging but I am seeking to get rich-er.? My college degrees, my teaching career, my 3 children and lovely wife make me rich in ways far beyond money.? I am comfortably writing about that every day and broadcasting a weekly podcast every weekend.? One part of my individual earning method is having 4 blogs instead of just one and scheduling post deadlines for myself throughout the week.? This allows me to have more variety in advertising pull and all I am doing is journaling, in essence.? I have been a mentor to a total of 11 people formally since I started this.? I tell them all I don’t know how to get rich at this, I only know how to manage time and tasks to write good content and and make some side money.? No one has backed out of being my mentee after hearing that.

In conclusion, If you read blogs to learn how to get rich, don’t waste your time on mine.? On the other hand, if you want to compare notes on how to get tacos and pizza and take your wife out on a fancy date once in a while, you would definitely profit from reading and listening to my stuff:

http://www.rileycentral.net/ – My thoughts on psychology and inspiration
http://www.rileycentral.net/ – My personal blog
http://www.rileycentral.net/ – My teaching reflections blog

What’s your take on blogging?

Reflections on Grind Show 7-28-12 and Why it Was Awesome

Reasons the Grind was awesome last night:

  • It was an encouraging crowd (as opposed to the silent kind).
  • I felt really relaxed which allowed me to hit some of the single string stuff better.
  • My family came and that rocked.
  • My dad took some great photos which I can use to promote future gigs.
  • I got some tips from people who thanked me for the music
  • and … I remember most the lyrics!!! (Bonus) Rocket Man felt really great as if the room changed colors.
  • I play the Grind again 8-11-2012 7:30-9 I hope some of you can make it out.

I Didn't Realize Google Gave Free Images to Bloggers!

Just ran across this on Twitter. This looks like a cool feature for getting fair use photos for free through Google. Google rocks, I must bow down. This is an excerpt and then a link to the original article below that.

I like to use images in most of my blog posts. Whether it’s for my own blog or a client’s, the use of the right image can enhance the post and compliment it perfectly.

Whilst in some instances it does require for a stock image to be purchased, more often than not there are suitable royalty free images available to use online – it’s just finding them that’s often the problem.

Fortunately, Google Images makes the process so simple that you can be presented with a screen of suitable images in a matter of seconds and all you have to do is go to the ‘Images’ section of Google’s search engine, click on the ‘Advanced Image Search’ link and then choose ‘labeled for reuse’ from the ‘Usage Rights’ dropdown box.

via 5 Reasons Why Google Rocks My Freelance Writing World | Get Paid to Write Online.

The Type of Blogger to Be

I’ve been writing in speculation on blogging for almost 4 years now. I have pondered what blogging is and what it is not. More than that, I have passed judgment through words on what respectable bloggers are and what they are not. In the process, I think I have been a little of all the things I’ve despised. There is an upside of all this however, I have let the meaningless stuff fall away and have focused on what matters. Because I have done this, I feel qualified to describe the kind of blogger to be.

Let me start by saying what kind one should not be. An automated blogger is to be despised. This is pretty self-explanatory but basically it means the coward blogger who has nothing to say nor inspiration to spread. These blogs are all over the place and some people even make some money at them. Unfortunately for them though, people catch on fast and expert seo with good keywords tend to burn out when blogging is automatic. Another type one should not be is the emotional gusher. Need I explain the lack of appeal these hold?

There are other types to avoid but I leave it for you to think about. The type of blogger I have become and strive to remain is one who writes from an area of specialty or expertise and works blogging into her/his routine of life. This causes less headaches and produces a blog that is much more interesting. If you can monetize this type of blog you are set because it is integrated into what you do, automatically.

How to Monitor the Analytics of Your Blog

This is a quick way to check the daily visits, or analytics, to your blog and how you’re doing compared to your monthly average.

Nowadays, a lot of people have blogs. At the same time, not as many know how to check and monitor their stats in a productive way. This is a quick way to check the daily visits, or analytics, to your blog and how you’re doing compared to your monthly average. Just like custom address labels are there when you need them, so a few tools can help you check your analytics quickly on demand.

What you need (materials):
A Google Analytics account for each if you have multiple blogs.
Optional: Mozilla Firefox (for ease of shortcuts)

Steps:
1) Make a new folder on your shortcut bar entitled Analytics (or whatever you choose).

2) Go to your blogs “Overview” page in Google Analytics.

3) Drag that url into your new Analytics folder on the toolbar.

4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 with any other blogs you wish to monitor.

5) Click on the folder. When all GA shortcuts drop down. click “Open all in tabs.”

6) Start on the left tab. Look at your graph. Note yesterday’s number of visits by scrolling over the point. (ie; 151 etc.)

7) Now find the monthly number of visits on the bottom left of the graph (ie; 4,846 visits etc.) Click on that.

8) In the same area you will now see a visits / day number. That is your daily average for the past 30 days. (ie; 156.32 etc.)

So, if you had 151 visits yesterday, you were about 6 visits lower than your monthly average.

9) Go back to step moving one tab to the right and repeat the rest of the steps until you’ve monitored all your blog analytics.

10) Note the changes or lack thereof. Make tasks for the week that will help you raise your analytics or keep them high.

This is an excellent way to monitor the “A” in my acronym CAN. CAN is a method I created of improving blog stats through setting strategic goals.

Better Presentation of your Blog Writing

My wife talks to me a lot about presentation of her crafts and foods she makes (yes, I am a lucky man folks!). She is a stickler for making just the right presentation. She has been known to spend hours finishing a tray for company or a project for work. Though I usually roll my eyes and tell her she has OCD, (that is a joke folks), I see the value of presentation with food, work, and of course “blogging.”

Use sub-headings
Okay, so my first suggestion is hypocritical. I rarely use these. It doesn’t mean I don’t love reading posts with sub-headings. Sometimes, I’ll admit to you that all I end up reading of a post are these. I am sure I am not alone in this so choose them well. They may be the only post your audience ever reads. Here is a classic example of powerful sub-headings in a post by my blogging friend Michael Kwan.

Break up long paragraphs into smaller ones
This one I do try and practice with every post. We can argue as to how many sentences a paragraph should be but currently I am averaging about 8-10 sentences a paragraph. I am flexible on this number. As I said, I am not sure how many sentences make a good blog paragraph but I am sure we should think about it and experiment with it. Science tells us the human brain likes “small meals.” Making a blog post that is one long piece of prose is like traffic suicide.

There are other aspects of presentation I could get into such as themes and ad integration, but I’ll open up the floor to discuss these two aspects first. How do you use sub-headings and paragraph breaks in your blogging?

Bloggers, Pat Yourselves on the Back

They will not call on you because of your grand ideas or connections in the industry. Instead they will call upon you because you have hung in there and proven yourself an established blogger.

Walt at Random has a borderline “classic” post that chronicles Technorati’s blog and post counts the past few years.  It’s staggering how many blogs they count while so few are actually actively posted to. Walt writes (italics mine):

  • In April 2007, Technorati counted an average of 1.5 million posts per day.
  • In June 2008, Technorati counted an average of 900,000 posts per day: 40% fewer.
  • Extending back, Technorati reported 1.2 million posts per day in April 2006?and 900,000 in August 2005.
  • Here?s an odd figure: In August 2005, Technorati reported 14.2 million blogs and said 55% of them?or 7.8 million?were active. If that?s right, then the active blogosphere is basically where it was roughly four years ago, but with a whole lot of churn in between.
  • That also comes out to about one post every eight days for the active blogosphere (although of course the average doesn?t exist?1.5 million blogs had posts in a seven-day period)

So folks, once again we see that blogging is not something just anybody can do.  This “gold rush” attitude of getting your credit card out and buying web space isn’t turning into gold for just anybody.  In fact, it’s not turning into gold for hardly anybody.

So where do you stand?

I don’t know about you, but I blog because I enjoy it.  There is something amazing about broadcasting words immediately to the masses that gives me a sense of importance as well as responsibility.  When a cause somes along, I have 4 blogs to post on about it.  When there’s an opportunity to make some money, my blogs are like fishing nets out there capturing opportunity.  Are you like me?  I feel what is happening is kind of like a shakedown, or a gatekeeper situation:  the truly talented and intelligent bloggers are making a way for themselves that can’t be broken.  The weak-skills,  money-driven folks unwilling to hang in there are falling by the millions.

If you know how to open your admin section and craft a post with pictures and links in it, you have the skills to start.  If you know far more than that and you are posting regularly to your blog, pat yourself on the back because you are a rarity now.  Just hang in there and you may find a little farther down the road that people will call on you and they may have money!  They will not call on you because of your grand ideas or connections in the industry.  Instead they will call upon you because you have hung in there and proven yourself an established blogger.

If you liked this post and it’s message of encouragement to bloggers, please feel free to stumble it

3 Tips for Writing Better Blog Content

Okay, I want to especially thank Justin, an Apache engineer, for helping me out with some backlinks tracking issues. It pays to have contacts in blogging!

Here are my 3 tips for better content:

1) Don’t create blog topics, Be open and let them come to you. Carry a yellow pad on a clipboard and/or an mp3 voice recorder with you. A lot of the new cell phones now have that function. (I have the new Walkman phone and it does).

2) Keep your sentences and posts as short as possible. Make this question your mantra: “Is there a better way to say the same thing only shorter?” With that in your system of composition, you cannot go wrong.

-and-

3) Write whenever you have an idea even if that means multiple posts per day. You have some options here. You can future-time-stamp posts through the WordPress admin or you can just publish them. Put no limitations on your urges to blog, especially at the beginning. When you start getting text-link work or recent Sponsored posts you will be glad you have so many posts to insert them in and place in between. I could explain what exactly I mean by that but it would take another post.

To new bloggers out there: Want to do the same as I did almost 3 years ago and start a self-hosted blog? Want to become a successful blogger? Want to get paid to blog? Break away from the crowd of free-hosted blogs. Questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments. I reply to all my comments.

How to Pick a Blog Niche

It is more or less common knowledge in the blogging profession that a blog in a certain niche will make more money than a “journal.” When deciding what your blog will be about, there are a few things you can do to help. One thing to do is decide what topic, or niche as the blogosphere would call it, just flows through your mind daily. For example, in my case, I think about teaching all the time. It’s my job! This means I get topics for posts about every hour or even more often than that! Once a blog is setup, I don’t have to work very hard to come up with inspired and authoritative posts. Key words being “not work very hard!”

I see a lot of blogs that attempt to be all things to all people and it’s not a mystery to me why their traffic and subscriber numbers stay low. These types usually counter with: “I don’t care who reads my blog.” Hmmm, I’ve spoken to this statement many times publicly so I won’t give a rebuttal here. Summary? “Get a journal and keep it under your bed then.”

Spend some time with a broader mission statement but make your goal to narrow your niche. The ideal situation is when you are writing directly from your life as you know it. People who want to hear about your subject just naturally read and the advertisers fight to get on board as that process is going on. If you are worried about limiting yourself with a niche, have a few blogs. BUT, I suggest you develop them one at a time. Has something like this ever annoyed you as much as it has me?

Someone emails you:
“Please support a starving dad” (or starving mom, soccer mom, whatever the heck else they beg with) by visiting my blogs!

HowIfeelonsaturdays.blogspot.com
dogsandwhyIhatethem.blogspot.com
unemployedandlovingitpleasedonate.blogspot.com

yadda yadda

Did I mention you should have a WordPress self-hosted blog? Free blogs will not make you money.

Blog smart. Get a niche, work your personal experiences into it, and work out from that nucleus.

The Constants of Good Blogs

letter cChange is a constant with me and blogging, anybody who knows my online work can attest to that. But through testing and trial error, I have learned some constants. When I determine one, I put it on all my blogs. When I started back in December of 2006, I had no clue what social media was or, for that matter, what pagerank or 777 “writeable” permissions meant as well.

Now, I know … well, more about blogging. Here are a few constants of good blogs I have noted:

First of all, I am keeping it simple. There was a point I used “Kubrick” on all three of my blogs at the time. I only altered the header photo. It was a dream as far as maintenance but I learned that was a bit too simple. I still have simple themes with minimal sidebar distraction.

Second, I am making my blogs readable and catchy. Minimum of 100 words a post and paragraphs broken up by subtitles in bold to keep the reader’s attention. I don’t always do this but I recognize my readers’ time is valuable and that I need to get on with my point.

Last, I am featuring companies and doing sponsored posts on my blogs. This is a new and real marketplace of our times. If you are making fun of it, you should stop and view it as a profession. It is not for “blogs that suck.” It takes a lot of work to get work from these companies. There are companies that pay you to blog.

Over the past two years I have doing well at adhering to my CAN Blog Stats System. It is going quite well and keeping me focused on what I know is important.

Can you think of a constant(s) of good blogging? Let us hear it in the comments.

How I do WordPress Blog Backups

Restoring your blog’s files or database after a crash or something else is something you hope you’ll never have to do. Still, it is something you probably will have to do at some point. You need to know your method to get it done.I currently run 8 valuable blogs so I can’t afford to just say, “Oh well.”

After years of trial and error backing up databses (mostly error) I have finally arrived to a method I feel is superior to any I’ve yet run across. It involves no plugins and I use it for my WordPress self-hosted blogs.

1) Login to Cpanel (this assumes you have a Cpanel interface).

2) Go to File Manager

3) Select the Worpress blog folders you want to backup and click “compress”

4) Click to reorder the files by type so you see all the compressed folders at top.

5) Select the wordpress blog folders you want to download for backup, download them to your computer.

6) Now for the databases … go to the backup wizard selecting sql files. My path to it looks like this:

http://www.rileycentral.net:2082/frontend/rvblue/backup/wizard-backup-type.html?type=mysql

7) One by one, click and download zipped files of each.

8) Organize all zipped files according to blog. hint: You find out the name of the database for each blog in the wp-config file of a blog.

There is a lot of help on the web restoring these files but there is no help in the universe that can get files back you don’t have. Something to remember.

CAN Acronym – A Blog Tip

Whether you are looking to make money or you’re just experimenting with it as a journal, there are three universals you probably are interested in seeing and ways you can increase them.

I’ve noticed that blogging draws people for a million reasons, it isn’t just the desire to share your life online anymore. But whether you are looking to make money or just experimenting with a journal, there are three areas you’ll want to increase. I use the acronym CAN to identify them.

C stands for Circulation. This is the number of references to your blog in the form of links. It is known by several names: backlinks, inlinks, blog reactions, linkbacks, and sometimes trackbacks (though those are falling out of use). Here are a few things you can do to increase circulation:

  1. As you read, save links for speedlinking, or linking out to them in your posts. This by itself will not increase your circulation but people will stop by your blog if you reference them most the time and most the time, they will reference you back. It’s a great way to make circulation friends quickly.
  2. Take “Nofollow” off comments. In the same way, those who see their comments are linking back to their site will be noitified and this is likely to get them back to your site as well as returning the favor of linking to their site. You can find out how to do this in a simple Google search of your blog platform. In WordPress there are plugins.
  3. Submit articles to Article Avenue and the like.
  4. Submit your guest posts to social media. When you do a post somewhere other than your own blog, make sure you submit it to as many social networks as possible. This can (and does) ultimately lead readers back to you

A stands for Analytics. This is the traffic of visitors to your blog. Here’s what you can do to keep that number rising:

  1. Do a series post like “Blog Tip of the Day” or other “…of the day” or your choice to keep people coming back.
  2. Ask a few friends to announce them on their blogs.
  3. Blog-Hop and comment intelligently as much as possible.
  4. Stumble your best of the week (or ask others to).

N stands for Net. This is simply the amount of money your blog makes. The more I blog, it seems the less I care about this number. It seems to grow so I don’t look at it as much as I used to. To me, it’s all about influence and I think if you’re showing that on the internet, compensation will follow. Having said that, here are some practical steps to making bucks with your blog:

  1. Check for opps. with the companies that pay you to blog.
  2. Work on C and A more.
  3. Be faithful to the opps you get.
  4. Do quality work.

I hope that helps you out with your focus. Blogging is a fun journey and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Remember this phrase with regards to blogging: “I CAN!”