Written on January 26th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:01 am by Darren Rowse

What to Do when Your Blog is Attacked

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 24 comments

Fight

‘Blogging would be great if it wasn’t for the people.’

This is the comment of one blogger that I spoke with recently after they’d had a particularly hard week of blogging. He had come under quite intense criticism from a number of other bloggers in his niche who had attacked him after he’d rather unwisely picked a fight with one of them. Some of the attack he received was fair enough (he deserved it in part) but other parts got personal and spiteful and left a sour taste in the mouth of all concerned. To say there was a ‘blog fight’ would be an understatement.

There comes a time in most blogger’s experience when blogging just sucks. When you communicate in a public forum you are automatically put under scrutiny - when you communicate online there seems to be an added pressure as there is an anonymity on the web that seems to cause some people to loose all sense of reasonableness, curtsey and inhibitions (a dangerous combination).

So what should you do when it all gets too much and blogging begins to suck because of the actions of others? Here are a few thoughts that come from my own experience of sucky blogging days over the past few years.

1. Thicken Your Skin - For starters, and even before you start a blog, you need to prepare yourself for the day that ‘one of those days’ comes along in your blogging. As I say, it will happen if you blog for long enough so you might as well start preparing yourself for it sooner than later. In fact while some people don’t like criticism and sometimes it’s not much fun to see the weaknesses in your work pointed out - it’s actually one of the strengths of blogging and a certain level of critique should be expected and will help to make you a better blogger. Having said this you might like to also prepare for how you might deal with it before it happens rather than reacting in the heat of the moment in a way that might do more damage than good.

2. Establish Boundaries - This is another thing you should do before a conflict to help preempt them. I’ve talked about setting boundaries on many occasions on this blog in terms of deciding what you will and won’t blog about - but another type of boundary to consider is the type of things that you’ll allow in the interActive areas of your blog. For instance, what level of language will you allow? Will you delete comments that engage in flaming? What tolerance will you have for trolls? What will you do if someone leaves a comment that could be defamatory towards someone else? What types of comments will and won’t you respond to? Once again, thinking about these things before a conflict is helpful once it actually happens. While I know that some people have problems with editing the comments of others on their blog, I do not. If someone leaves a comment that I think goes beyond what I’m comfortable with take approapriate action. While this has happened to me on only a handful of occassions in three years - it does occassionally happen (usually when I feel someone’s comments are defamatory, racist and/or very offensive).

3. Remember the Humanness of the Other - There have been many times where I’ve seen interactions between people online that make me wonder if those participating in the conversation fight have any lost sight of the fact that they are talking to and about another human being. Online interactions are quite unique in the anonymity that a person can have. This causes people to say and do things that they’d never say or do in person. It is easy to get drawn into this mindset (I’ve done it myself) and it’s worth reminding yourself before, during and after the conflict that as much as you might be angered or frustrated by the other person that they are a real person and deserve to be treated as such. This doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for yourself, but it helps you to remember to do it with a little more respect and dignity.

4. Step Away from the Computer - One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to not respond in the heat of the moment in anger. Online disagreements have the ability to escalate incredibly quickly to a point where they go beyond what is reasonable. This is partly because people respond out of the anger and pain that they feel in the moment rather than taking a deep breath and responding with some thought and perspective. Take a break away from the computer for a few minutes, hours or even over night and then come back to the dispute. It will still be there when you come back. If you do need to respond quickly it might be wise to write a short response that you’re feeling angry and will respond more fully in an hour or so because you don’t want to do so out of anger.

5.Listen - This might be the last thing you want to do when under attack (it’s far easier just to think you know what the other person is saying and to just respond to that) - but learning to listen to the arguments of others is vital for a number of reasons.

  • ‘They’ Could be Right - ouch, this hurts when it’s true and is hard to admit to, but sometimes you will get it wrong and someone else will be speaking truth (or at least partial truth). The quicker you identify the truth in the other person’s arguments the better - this only comes by listening as impartially as you can.
  • Debate Skills 101 - I never did very well in debating at school but I did learn one skill reasonably well. If you want to win a debate your arguments should always take into consideration and be built upon the what the other person says. If the other person is wrong - you need to be able to point out why or how. To do this you need to actually hear what they are saying.
  • Finding Common Ground - The funny thing about some online fights is that the people that are arguing fiercely can often be not too far away from each other’s positions. Listening carefully helps establish the common ground and areas of agreement which is a conflict resolution tactic that can take some of fire out of the interaction and allow a more productive and peaceful result.

6. Accept responsibility - If your attacker is right (or at least partially so) it’s important to admit this up front. It takes swallowing your pride and perhaps loosing some face - but in the long run it’s better to do this up front than at the end of a long arduous battle. I find that when you do this it can also take the heat out of the situation and that the other person might be also willing to admit their own wrongs in the situation.

7. Don’t get Personal - This taps into the ‘remember they are human’ point above but is worth reemphasizing. Getting personal achieves nothing but escalating a conflict and perhaps even creating a lifelong enemy. It takes the focus away from the actual disagreement and further away from any productive resolution. Personal attacks are easy to get into but resisting the temptation (especially when others don’t) can be a powerful thing and win you a lot of admirers.

8. Take it private - There are some discussions that are useful to have in a public forum because they are done in a way where people come away from them having learnt something. On the flip side there are some discussions all in online brawls that achieve little except to enrage a two different camps of people. I find that if someone leaves an inflammatory comment on my blog that if I email them quickly asking if I can do anything to sort out the situation that more often than not a potential ongoing rift can be sorted out in just a few emails. I remember one case in the past 6 months where a reader on one of my blogs left a series of very angry comments within a couple of hours and when I emailed to ask if I could do anything to rectify it he promptly apologized and explained the hurt in his life that had caused the comments and asked me to delete them. If I’d responded in anger to his comments it could have gotten ugly very quickly - but because I politely attempted resolution in a non threatening private way it was quickly sorted.

9. Keep Perspective - ‘It’s just a blog’. Late last year I found myself saying this to myself quite a few times. While in the heat of battle the fight can see so important and worth having - with a little distance it can look more like a couple of kids having a schoolyard fight over nothing at all.

10. Look for Opportunities - This is difficult to do when you’re hurting - but one thing to keep in mind is that every threat is an opportunity waiting to happen. One of the lessons I remember about my business studies was a tip that a lecturer on customer service. He said that every customer complaint is an opportunity for a loyal customer. If you can turn around an angry and dissatisfied client to a point where they are satisfied you could just end up with a client for life. This is true in blogging. I know that a number of the most loyal and Active promoters of this blog once were it’s biggest critics. Not only are their opportunities in the one on one sense, but because so many blogging conflicts are public ones in comments and blog posts, you also have the opportunity to respond in a way that could attract new readers to your blog. Once again I think of the times when I’ve come under attack the most in the past year and I can see that they were times when I had an influx of readers and that these were times when some marginal/occassional readers became daily loyal readers.

11. Anger = Threat - This time I’ll reminisce about a lesson I learned when I studied counseling (another of my ‘lives’ that I don’t talk much about). One of my counseling lecturers one day made the observation that behind almost every instance of anger than he’d seen was some sense of threat to the person experiencing the anger. This is good to keep in mind both as you deal with angry people but also as you consider your own anger. Talk about and deal with the threat (the source of the anger) that you are both feeling and you might find resolution is not that far away.

12. Dialogue - While I don’t mind a good old debate from time to time another approach when being attacked is to respond in a dialogical way. This incorporates a number of the above points (listen, accept responsibility, don’t get personal etc). Dialogue is when both parties agree to allow the other person to share their perspective and where they make a genuine effort to understand where they are coming from. It’s not about proving one side of things right or wrong but about understanding and learning. The beauty of dialogue is that you might end up agreeing to disagree - but in the process you will hopefully learn something about the other person and their perspective.

13. Consider a Mediator - I’ve seen a couple of instances over the past month where a third party has come to a conflict as an independent person to help two parties work through their differences. A mediator doesn’t take sides but helps each party to say their piece and to find peace with the other. I find a third party can also be useful to tell me to pull my head in occasionally. On more than one occasion of late I’ve gone to other bloggers that I respect to ask if I’m in the wrong in situations - quite often they are honest enough to tell me that I am.

14. Control the Rhythm and Tone of your Blog - One of the traps that I see some bloggers fall into when they come under fire is that they allow the conflict to dominate their blog. Rather than continuing to write posts at a normal rate and on a normal topic they get sucked into what ever they are angry about and can become quite obsessed by it. While you may need to write some posts on the controversy to convey a message to your readers - you should keep in mind that most of your reader are not as fired up as you and could become quickly disillusioned with you for allowing your blog to loose focus. When I write a post that buys into conflict here at enternetusers (and I try to avoid doing so most of the time these days) I always attempt to follow it quickly with a ‘normal’ type post so that regular readers who are not interested in the conflict have something to get on with reading. If you don’t keep some sense of normalcy to your blog you might find the negativity of it all has led to you losing some of your regular readers.

15. Move on - Sometimes after using all of the above strategies the battle rages on and both you and the other party are angrier than ever. Unfortunately in these situations you can end up being quite consumed by the negativity of the dispute (it can become quite addictive proving you’re right and proving that another person is an idiot). In such cases there comes a time when it comes necessary to disengage from the interaction in one way or the other. This might mean closing a comments section, black-banning yourself from visiting someone’s blog (I’ve done this a few times) or just agreeing to disagree with the other person. Keep in mind that if your fight is a public one that your readers can easily become disillusioned by your negativity and obsession with pointing out the faults in another person so for their sake it might be worth moving on sooner than later.

Of course the above tips are just my perspective and what I attempt to do. Of course we all have our bad days from time to time and I can get sucked into breaking all of the above ‘rules’ as much as anyone else in the heat of it all. Hopefully the above will be of at least some help next time it happens.

Written on January 25th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:01 pm by Darren Rowse

Midday Links

Pro Blogging News 4 comments

So many linkworthy things in my RSS today that I thought I’d compile them before I grab some lunch.

Written on January 25th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 09:01 am by Darren Rowse

YPN to Expand in the Spring

Yahoo Publishing Network 1 comment

Loren at Search Engine Journal writes that Yahoo Publisher Network is Expanding This Spring (I’m presuming that’s Spring in the Northern Hemisphere).

Written on January 25th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 04:01 am by Darren Rowse

Most Blog Readers Don’t Care they are Reading a Blog

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 34 comments

One of the problems of immersing yourself in any one sub-group of people is that it’s very easy to lose the bigger picture.

This happens in many areas of life but is true for bloggers and more specifically for those who are Active in the ‘Pro Blogging’ part of the overall blogging community.

One of the traps that it’s easy to fall into as a blogger is to think that your readers care that they are reading a blog.

While there is definitely a growing percentage of the wider population that know what a blog is and that would intentionally seek them out to read - the vast majority of web users either are blissfully unaware of blogs or if they do know about them couldn’t give two hoots about them.

In my experience what web users DO care about is getting relevant and quality information quickly.

Whether they find it on a forum, a static web page or on a blog doesn’t concern them.

What worries me as I surf through many blogs each day is that there seem to be quite a few bloggers (and some blog networks) who in my mind are a little obsessed with reminding their readers that they are on a blog. While there is nothing wrong with educating readers about blogging occasionally I suspect in most cases readers don’t really care and that constantly reminding them of the fact that they are on a blog is something that can actually work against you.

This was illustrated to me a few months ago when after being Slashdotted I read the comments thread on the post that had linked to me there and was very amused by the fact that quite a few readers were paying out blogs but were completely unaware that their beloved Slashdot was in fact a blog itself. When some pointed this out to them there was a shock among some who said that they’d never considered Slashdot to be a blog because it had never promoted itself as such.

Instead of promoting itself as a blog as such, Slashdot works hard at presenting itself as a space where nerds get news about ’stuff that matters’.

I listened to an interesting podcast this morning with Jeremy Wright and Tyme White where they picked up on this theme for a few minutes towards the end of their conversation. In it they talked a little about how many blogs and blog networks seem to be writing for other bloggers but are perhaps missing the bigger market of ‘non-bloggers’ who are not as technologically minded or web savvy but who just want information about the stuff they love.

I think their observation is correct. While I’m not suggesting bloggers need to dumb down their blogging I think the mind-shift of moving from writing for other bloggers to writing for ‘normal people’ (I can see bloggers everywhere scrolling down to the comments section after that phrase) is one worth making for most bloggers.

This means getting out of our own little Pro Blogging Ghetto and learning to communicate with others in ways that are accessible and smart - otherwise we limit the potential for our success.

Written on January 25th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:01 am by Darren Rowse

Becoming a enternetusers - A story in Many Parts

Pro Blogging News 77 comments

During the first year of my blogging ‘career’ I worked three jobs simultaneously and was studying part time - and blogged on the side.

Sorry - that was a bit of an odd way to start a post - but I just didn’t know how else to do it (It’s been a long day).

On a number of occasions this week I’ve been asked about my early days as a blogger and how I got into it as a way to make income. I know from some of the comments and emails that I get that some people come to this blog and see the few posts that I’ve written about how much I earn and see blogging as a get rich quick kind of thing but don’t see the full picture - so I thought I’d document it a little more. So if you want to hear my story grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable and relax - this could take a little while.

Once Upon a Time…

Back in November of 2002 when I first hit ‘publish’ on my original (and short lived) Blogspot Blog I did so believing that this ‘blogging thing’, which I’d only just heard of, would be a bit of fun. I started for a number of reasons but in short it was curiosity and the hope of a new hobby and perhaps some new connections that drew me to it. At the time I was working three jobs.

My 3 Jobs

My main job at the time was as a Minister of a Church. It was a part time thing and I was not ‘the’ minister but one of 4 working in a team. My responsibility was working with young people and I did so 3 days per week.

As I was engaged at the time and trying to save for a wedding, pay off my little car and pay for my college fees I had taken on a number of other part time jobs (ministers wages are not fantastic at the best of times but part time they were even less spectacular). My second main job was working for an online department store. While that might sound interesting and useful for what was to come - it was not. I was the warehouse ‘dogs-body‘ and my job consisted largely of sweeping, cleaning, lifting, packing, unpacking and other menial and boring jobs. Still - it did help pay the rent.

My third job was as a casual laborer. I was on call with an employment agency and did all kinds of temping work ranging from mind numbing production line work on a conveyor sorting through the rubbish that comes off planes at the end of 15 hour flights (not pretty) to helping to assemble circuses (don’t ask).

As well as this I was finishing off my Theology degree (a long term - 10 year - process) at a half time load.

There wasn’t much time for much else in my life at the time as the Minister job tends to fill up any gaps one has in their life with a lot of weekend work, although I did have time for a fiancee.

This was my life that fateful day when I first got the taste for blogging….

Hobby Blogger

Now I’d like to say that at the moment I hit publish on my first blog that the earth shook and a light from heaven came down and I was suddenly transformed into a full time blogger - but as we all know it doesn’t happen that way. In fact for the first 12 or so months of my blogging very very little changed. In fact if anything I became busier as I took on an extra subject in the attempt to finish my degree before my college booted me out for taking too long and I left the church where I was working to start another one).

Blogging in this time remained something that was a hobby and a way to connect with others who were involved in thinking through similar church stuff to me - nothing more. My blog had become quite popular in ‘emerging church’ circles at this time and my hosting and ISP costs were starting to escalate.

It was after about a year of blogging that I accidentally started Digital Photography Blog (another story) and discovered AdSense and the Amazon Affiliate program. I’ve talked in numerous interviews and posts about this time so I’ll gloss over the details except to say that my hope was to pay for my ISP and hosting costs and to perhaps help pay for a blog design.

I quickly discovered that my hope of covering my expenses was a realistic one. This was not because all you have to do is put AdSense on any blog and you’ll make money but because I put it on an established blog that was doing several thousand readers per day (this is important to keep in mind). Even with established traffic the earnings in the early days were not high. My first month (October 2003) saw me average about $1.40 per day (and that was with lots of curiosity clicks from my readers in the first few days - thank goodness Google didn’t boot me out) and November hit $3 per day. The money was very small but it covered my costs and I began to wonder if with the extra few dollars a month I might be able to afford one of those Apple Laptops I’d been eyeing off (up til this point I was blogging on dial-up from a 6 year old PC that worked most days).

December saw daily earnings hit $6 per day, January $9, Feb $10 and March $15. Hardly big dollars but I began to wonder what would happen if I saw the same sorts of increases in income over a longer period of time. By that I don’t mean adding $2-$3 to the daily average per month but what would happen if I could sustain 30%, 40% or even 50% growth each month. I began to think in terms of exponential growth.

Part Time Blogger

Around this time I began to find myself with a little more time on my hands and in need of another part time job. My study was winding up (I finally graduated) and the grant I’d had to start up the church was on a declining payment system over two years (something I was fine with). ‘V’ (my wife) began to hint that maybe I should start looking for another part time job (rightfully so) and we decided that when I finished my degree at the end of June that I’d need to get serious about finding another two days per week work. All this time I was secretly doing the calculations in my head to see how much I’d need to earn per day to be able to call my blogging my part time job.

April’s earnings came in and averaged around $20 per day and I began to realize that I might just have myself a part time job. The beauty of blogging income is that it earns you money 7 days per week so totaled $140 per week. The other beauty was that AdSense and Amazon pay in US$ which equate to $1.30 in Australian currency.

June was looming and I decided to increase my efforts in blogging to see if I could get it to a level that might justify me pitching to ‘V’ that I dedicate 2 days per week to it. I started blogging more posts per day (this is when I started working late into the night after work) and learnt as much as I could about SEO and ad optimization.

The work paid off because in May earnings hit $32 per day and by the end of June I’d broken $1000 in a month for the first time and was bringing in $48 per day.

It was crunch time now and V and I had to consider our next move. I could probably keep growing things each month by working after hours on blogging and go find another job - or I could put the two free days that had been taken up by study and the church work that had just decreased by a day per week into blogging and see if we could make a go of it.

We decided to give it a few more months of increased effort into blogging to see where it would end up. I also got my first Apple computer (an ibook) - but was still doing it all on dial-up).

I’ll pause here in my story to say that this was a bit of a freaky moment for both ‘V’ and myself. Neither of us had started a small business and while I’ve always had something of an entrepreneurial spirit we are both fairly conservative people in many ways and while the figures indicated that there was potential on many other levels it just seemed plain weird. I mean who makes their income blogging? Needless to say we didn’t really tell too many people of our decision and when we did with a few family and friends there were plenty of raised eyebrows and lots of comments like ‘that’s nice but are you going to get a real job?’ and ‘how’s your little hobby business going?’

I’ll stop going into the monthly earnings at this point except to say that investing the 2 days per week into blogging at this point proved to be one of the best decisions we made. I will stress that this decision came after I’d been blogging for 19 months already and after establishing a number of blogs that were obviously earnings reasonable money. It is not something I recommend people just do off the cuff in their early days of blogging - work up over time because while it worked out for me there are plenty of others that it has taken a lot longer for and some who it just hasn’t worked at all for.

Over the second half of 2004 I continued to put 2 days per week into blogging while maintaining another 3 days a week of other work (some church work and some warehousing). In actual fact it was more than 2 days per week in practice as I continued to work long hours in the evenings to keep things moving forward and at times worked literally around the clock (like during the Olympics when I partnered with another blogger to run a blog on the Games).

This was a time where I began numerous blogs (I got up to 20 at one point) and experimented with many different income streams and advertising systems. It was in this time that I also started blogging seriously about blogging and had an Active blog tips section on my LivingRoom blog. This didn’t go down too well with some of my readers there and so I decided to move all of those tips to a new blog called enternetusers.net - it launched on 23 September 2004.

Full Time Blogger - Evenutally

By mid December of 2004 we had pretty much decided that 2005 would see me go full time as a blogger. I’d already ditched most of my warehousing work as the earnings had continued to rise over the month or so before and the grant for my church work was going to run out early in February 2005 (we transitioned leadership of the church to more of a team thing which I still lead voluntarily).

All was going well with some amazing figures in terms of earnings in November and December until what felt a little like disaster happened in mid December. Google did one of it’s notorious updates where some bloggers go way up in search results and others go way down - I was in the later group and most of my blogs virtually disappeared from Google - taking with them almost three quarters of my traffic and earnings. Ouch!

Things looked a little uncertain for the first time in over six months and we wondered if the next Google update would see things back to where they were or to get worse. The Google update in mid December left us at a level where we could still get by - but we wanted to be sure so it was time for a contingency plan and I promptly applied for a six month position doing some research for 7 or 8 months a couple of days per week which started the day I finished the church work. I got the job the day before the next Google Update (at the end of January 2005).

The update brought things back to a level just under what they were before the fall in December and we needn’t have worried as much as we did - although it did teach me many many lessons including the importance of diversifying your interests, the necessity to not just rely upon Search Engine traffic and to expect the unexpected when working online.

2005 was a massive year. I worked in the research position as well as working full time on my blogging (a juggling act but both were worthwhile). You can read the story of this year in the archives of enternetusers (I won’t go into the details on this post but did do some end of year reflecting here) but it has seen me continue to diversify my efforts which has resulted in new blogs and partnerships (most recently with Andy in Six Figure Blogging and with Duncan, Jeremy and Shai with b5media).

2006 is upon us and where as last year was a year of diversification this year is looking like being one of consolidation (I say that now but suspect I won’t be able to help myself and will get into new things too).

Lessons from the Journey

So why am I telling this story? Is it just a self gratification thing? Maybe, I have enjoyed reminiscing - but there’s more to it than that.

Firstly I wanted to tell it because I’ve been asked to on a number of occasions - but secondly (and mainly) I wanted to tell the story again and in this extended way because I think it’s important to keep reemphasizing a number of points:

1. Blogging for an income takes time - while there are stories around of people making good money from blogs much faster than I have, from what I know of the many bloggers that read this blog my own increases have been faster than most. I’ve had my fair share of luck, I worked insane hours and I started out at a time that was a lot less competitive than it is now - all of these things have contributed to any success I might have had. It took me over 1.5 years to get things to a point where I could say it was a part time thing and another year after than before I went full time. It takes time.

2. One Step at a Time - Unless you have a massive pile of cash somewhere or a sugar daddy to cover your expenses in the mean time you need to approach blogging for money one step at a time. My approach was to always have a back up plan and to increase the time I dedicated to blogging only gradually as it started to show me earnings that justified it. We made a decision of what level of income we wanted me to be earning and decided that as long as blogging was under that that I would need to have other work. While there was one point where we broke this rule and I stepped out into two day per week blogging we put a time limit on it. If income didn’t reach the level we wanted within that time frame I would have been looking for work. While this might sound a little rigid or a bit of a downer - I believe I have a responsibility to my family and it’s goals and didn’t want to run off ahead of ‘V’ in my own direction without our decisions being joint ones that we were both comfortable with. V has been incredibly supportive in all this and has allowed me to follow my dreams even when they seemed quite bizarre - but there have also been times when she’s rightly been the voice of reason and pulled me back to earth to be sensible with the dreams.

3. Hard Work and Discipline - As I mentioned a number of times above, there have been countless nights when I’ve worked into the wee hours of the morning blogging. While I’m not quite as full on these days it wasn’t unusual for me to post 50 times per day over 12 hours in front of the screen). I love blogging so this isn’t a chore all of the time - but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t days (and weeks) that I didn’t want to slack off and ignore my business. One of the common reactions of friends to me talking about a home based business is that they say they’d never be able to do it because they’d be too tempted to never work. I always thought I’d be like this too but I’ve worked hard at being disciplined and working hard and put a lot of progress I’ve made down to this.

4. Follow your Dreams - The main point of this post was to communicate the above three points - I never want to be accused of giving an unbalanced view of blogging or hyping it up as a get rich quick thing. I’ve gone out of my way on numerous occasions at enternetusers to emphasize this (although am still regularly accused of being unbalanced). Having said all this it would also be irresponsible of me not to say that it is possible to make money blogging - and for some (not all) it is possible to make good money doing it.

I do no know where my story will end or how long my good fortune will last but I’m certainly attempting to prolong it and am making the most of every day it goes on.

I hope in this people catch a glimpse of where I’ve been and some of the lessons I’ve learned so far (I’ve written about many more lessons here previously). I look forward to sharing the next part of the journey here at enternetusers in the coming years.

Written on January 24th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 11:01 pm by Darren Rowse

Liquid Width or Static Width Blog Design?

Blog Design 33 comments

Graywolf has started a worthwhile series titled Maximizing Profits With Website Design and Layout which I’ll be following closely. The first in the series tackles the eternal debate of web designers over wether liquid width or static width designs are better.

This is a question I have pondered over the past few months also as I’ve considered new blogs. To this point I’ve mostly gone with static width blogs (with a couple of exceptions) but what do you prefer and why?

Written on January 24th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 11:01 pm by Darren Rowse

Vatican Copyrights Pope’s Words

Pro Blogging News 4 comments

In slightly related news - Copyright issues are not only big in blogging circles at the moment - TimesOnline reports that the Vatican has decided to impose copyright on all of the Pope’s Papal pronouncements. It not only covers future words of the current Pope but all of his predecessors from the past 50 years.

Written on January 24th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 11:01 am by Darren Rowse

Blogger Finds Voice with Blogging

Pro Blogging News 3 comments

I’m really inspired with the story of Jon Morrow from Real Estate Answered who is using blogging as part of his business activities. This alone is not amazing as many do it, what inspires me is that Jon has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and as the press release says he can barely move his fingers - yet using voice recognition he’s able to have a voice online.

I wrote over a year ago on another of my blogs a post on how blogging has the potential to give a voice to the voiceless and it’s great to see that people are discovering this for themselves and making it work.

Press Release



Jon Morrow can barely move his fingers, but he’s designed a web site to teach everything he’s learned while managing over $20 million of real estate investments. Mr. Morrow designed the entire site using nothing but Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a popular voice dictation package.

Disabled real estate executive Jon Morrow has built a web site answering the most common questions people ask about real estate investing without lifting a finger… literally. Dictating through voice recognition software, he updates the site several times per week with answers to new questions that visitors submit.

Mr. Morrow has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative disease that causes increasing levels of weakness. It limits him to the use of one hand and his voice. Yet he manages three companies that oversee an estimated $20 million in real estate investments.

So, if he’s so successful, why is he answering people’s questions for free? “It only seems fair,” he says. “Everyday of my life, I’ve required extra help from everyone around me. My parents, teachers, friends, and even strangers — they’ve all given of themselves freely, asking for nothing in return. It’s time I returned the favor.”

Where people have given Mr. Morrow their physical and emotional support, he is giving back information. “My father started grooming me to take over the real estate empire at the age of 4. When you’ve been in real estate that long, you start to understand how things work and see patterns.”

Now, he’s taking all of that knowledge and turning it into a web site that promises to eventually answer every question about real estate investing. Broken into categories, Mr. Morrow has written articles about foreclosures, landlording, flipping houses, financing, and lots of other subjects. He also publishes free reports and performs audio teleconferences.

Is Mr. Morrow just another overhyped real estate guru? He laughs at the question. “I don’t have anything to sell, so how can I be a guru? No, for me, this is largely an altruistic venture. I might eventually make some money from it, but that’s not why I built the site.”

Yet, even for an altruistic venture, he has big plans. He intends for Real Estate… Answered to become the largest free information resource about real estate investing on the Internet. He doesn’t care if it takes years. “For my entire life, people have helped me selflessly. The only way I know to repay that is to help others as much as I can.”

You can see the site at http://www.realestateanswered.com.

Written on January 24th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 11:01 am by Darren Rowse

LifeTipper Wins enternetusers URL competitioin

enternetusers Site News 14 comments

Those of you who have been waiting for me to announce the winner in my ‘help me choose a domain name competition‘ (catchy title I know) will be happy to know that I’ve selected a winner and it can now reveal it.

The winning entry was from Liam Daly who was one of the first entries within the first hour or two of the competition. He wins the $100 USD gift voucher for Amazon (or $100USD to his PayPal account).

He suggested the name ‘LifeTipper’ (lifetipper.com).

Now before you all go over to look at the new blog - it’s not there and won’t be for a little while as the last week has seen me swamped with life.

Why did I choose LifeTipper as a name?

There were a number of reasons for it including:

  • It fit with the vibe and keywords that I mentioned as being the goal of the blog
  • It has a similar ring to enternetusers which might help to tie them together a little as sister blogs
  • I think it’ll be pretty easy to remember

Close to 300 URLs were submitted so the choice was not easy. Some of the other short listed finalists were quite similar to this name and others were completely different. It was fascinating to see how people came up with names. They ranged from rearranging the letters of my name, to incorporating the ‘Pro’ from enternetusers into a name, to looking at Latin/ancient greek etc as a basis for names. I was very tempted by two names that were just ‘bizarre’ and had nothing really to do with the subject matter and three names that were ‘dad’ focused (I’m tempted to choose one of them for a second new blog down the track) but LifeTipper just fit with me (and V who was my other judge) and so it got the nod.

I know in choosing any one of the hundreds of domains that were submitted (close to 300) I’m rejecting 290+ others but I want to thank all who submitted URLs to the competition. As I mentioned previously - some of you put in quite a bit of work to submit your URLS and I appreciate that.

I hope no one is offended by me not choosing their entry but there can only be one winner.

In terms of when LifeTipper.com will be up and running. Stay tuned. It could be a little while but it’s definitely towards the top of my to do list.

Written on January 24th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 10:01 am by Darren Rowse

Keywords in URLs and AdSense

Search Engine Optimization, Adsense 12 comments

Interesting post over at ipears (love the name) on The importance of a good ‘post slug’ where Jan reflects upon the impact that changing URLs of individual posts from number extensions to content related keyword extensions had on AdSense ads.

‘I left all titles as is, but started renaming all post-slugs from numbers to content related (yeah, now I know it is meant for that) slugs. While doing so and saving I saw the immediate reflection in the google ads. Quite amazing and quite stupid that never before I paid enough attention to it. ‘

This is a good observation - often we talk about the importance of keywords in URLs for SEO purposes and forget ads. I would add to this that I’ve found that meta tags can also have an impact upon your AdSense ads. While most people believe they don’t have much impact upon SEO in Google these days it’s one of the first things I look at when people tell me they are getting irrelevant ads on their blog.

Keep in mind that AdSense is reliant upon keywords in a very similar way to SEO draws on them - work on one and you might just work on the other without knowing it.



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