Saturday, May 29, 2010

Google Analytics is a ClusterFuc!

Do not get me wrong. I love statistics for my blogs. I am OBSESSED tracking the data. Ooohh...look what post got the most hits. Aahhhh...where are my referrals coming from? Aha! How many page views this week? or even I had no idea folks are spending 2.5 minutes on my blog.

My PragmaticMom.com blog is in Wordpress.org which means I host it myself at BlueHost (which I love because they have awesome customer support), and I moved my Wordpress Stats over.

But then DesignTrackMind starting asking me about new visitors versus returning visitors and Wordpress Stats doesn't track that. So, she tsk tsked me and told me to add Google Analytics and that is when the clusterfuc! began (pardon my French!).
  • Signing up is the easy part.
  • Finding your code is sort of easy. But good luck locating it later as it's in a weird, non intuitive spot.
  • In fact the whole Google Analytic site seems like it was designed to MindFuc! everyone because nothing makes sense on the site.
  • So I add the code and it's totally NOT clear where it should go on my blog...it seems to indicate that I should put the HTML code on every page. Which I do. Which is very time consuming. And fuc!s up by Feedburner email subscription so now it's not working.
  • So I now I have to strip the Google Analytic code from every post (200+) which takes me hours and cramps my hand.
  • Does the code go into some template page in my Blog? Unclear on the site!! And which page? Unclear on their site? And where on the Template page? You see where I'm going with this?
  • So I don't dare mess with the backend HTML code on my site so I Google for help and find that you can use a plugin instead for Google Analytics although the cleanest way IS to embed into a Template HTML page in the dark recesses of my blog.
  • So I actually research which Google Analytic widget because there are MANY!
  • I actually find the correct widget that gets 5 stars because there are SEVERAL!
  • I actually install it (correctly!) and activate it ... and I get flatline reports because I didn't input my Google Analytics code.
  • So I do that...go to the site and find my code and then put in precisely as instructed which, again, has murky instructions.
  • And guess what?! Yes! It fuc!s up my site which has "script" running issues and runs slower than molasses.
  • When I call the nice folks at BlueHost to see if I need more space, they indicate that the Google Analytics plugin is a dicey thing and that they've been fielding questions on it for a while.
  • So, I deactivate the dam! thing, and guess what: my blog runs fine now!
So...goodbye very professional stats but I can NOT deal with you! Get yourself together Google Analytics! Redo your site. Don't use wonkheads to design it who probably wrote the code for the tracking. Do some Usability research and get a UI designer and an Interaction Designer to make your site work for non technical human beings. Or monkeys. Yes! Design it so that a monkey can figure out your site or WE ARE FINISHED! Yes, I am dumping you because YOU SUCK and YOU HAVE SCREWED ME FOR THE LAST TIME!

Hah! Deep breath! Yes, I feel a lot better!

Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World

http://PragmaticMom.com
I won't be able to tell you how many pages views, new visitors, or what % of visitors leave my blog after one click, but I blog on parenting, education and children's lit.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

30 things I learned my first 30 days of blogging

From a site called Doughroller - funny and helpful post about blogging. I find things in random ways sometimes. This I found while following someone back on Twitter and looking at other tweets they had received. Sometimes you don't know where your cruising will take you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Overcome Your 3 Greatest Blogging Challenges

From CopyBlogger (Hey how come you are reading this here; subscribe and get your own copy every day!)

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of The Remarkable Marketing Blueprint.

Let’s say you thought it would be pretty neat to climb Mount Everest.

You find two “how-to” web sites that explain what’s involved.

One details a tough training regimen, spells out all of the financial costs, has a serious conversation with you about the risks, and gives you a complete list of the gear you’ll need to maximize your chances of a successful ascent.

Another tells you that since you go for a 20-minute run every day, you’ll be totally fine. Nah, don’t buy a bunch of fancy equipment. Just wear your flip-flops and a sweater.

Who’s doing you the favor?

There are plenty of people out there who’ll tell you that if you want to promote something — anything — you need to start a blog.

Don’t be intimidated, just jump right in. Start with a free account on Blogger, do a bunch of Google searches for good content, rewrite it with some cheesy automated blogging tool, and that juicy search engine traffic will just start rolling in.

Think that person is doing you a favor?

Or might they be sending you to the blogging equivalent of eternal rest as part of Everest’s permafrost?
Here’s the really good news

Publishing a successful blog that supports your business goals?

So much easier than climbing Mount Everest.

Also, much, much less chance of dying or losing your nose to frostbite.

But there are times when you start out when it doesn’t feel easier than climbing Everest.

* Maybe you’ve been wrestling with installing *$%#^ self-hosted Wordpress for a month and every time you think about it you burst into tears.
* Or you’ve been stuck at 22 readers for a month and you’ve already nagged everyone you know until they refuse to take your calls any more.
* Or maybe you haven’t posted in a month because everything you write looks kind of stupid to you.

Does this mean you’ll never figure out how to run a decent blog?

Not at all. It just means you haven’t done your training. And that well-meaning person who said, “It’s really not that hard” was either full of baloney or forgot that when you’re starting out, damned right it’s hard.

So here are some ways to get over three of the toughest hurdles bloggers face. The sooner you get these out of the way, the sooner you can get to the fun part.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But it’s also not as hard as it looks right now.
If the technology is killing you

I’ll admit it, I’m not a technology moron.

I’m worse. I’m almost a technology moron. Because I have mastered formatting a bulleted list in HTML, I believe that I can do anything.

This belief is incorrect.

I have been known to spend days trying to fix technical problems that a well-trained chimp could code up in 20 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s all learnable. Apply a little stubbornness and some focused attention and you will figure it out.

But is that actually what you should spend your time doing?

If you’re pounding your head against the technology and trying to make stuff work, allow me to suggest that you forgo your favorite treat for a few weeks (Starbucks, cute shoes, that iPad that’s been calling to you so sweetly) and hire someone to help you get this thing done.

There are plenty of people who will set you up with a WordPress blog for an impressively reasonable price. And there are thousands of other very capable folks who can help with the related stuff.

Eat ramen for a month if you have to, but get some help.

Then take the time you’ve saved and develop a simple, inexpensive product. Get it onto your now-functioning blog and pay yourself back.
If your reader numbers aren’t budging

The hardest, loneliest part of your ascent is right at the beginning, when you’re writing and posting and you’re not at all sure there’s anyone there to hear you.

The first training tip is to spend that time making your blog someplace worthy of all that traffic you want to attract.

If you got 10,000 visitors today, what would they see? Three posts about your cat, one about how you can’t figure out Twitter, and the “Hello, world” post that you never bothered to delete when you installed WordPress?

So while you still have some privacy and the utter freedom of anonymity, write some good cornerstone content. While you’re at it, get an email autoresponder up and running. Make your blog someplace worth going to.

Once you’ve got the place presentable, it’s time to get out there and do some guest posts. Make friends with people who blog about the same topics you do. Make intelligent comments on their posts. Follow the people they follow on Twitter. Be interesting and helpful.

Then offer to write some guest posts. Start with smaller blogs at first, then work your way to medium and then larger blogs.

Guest posts are still the best way to build your audience, find new loyal fans, and grow your subscriber numbers.
If you’ve run out of things to say

This is an interesting moment.

One possibility is that you’re midway up the ascent and you realize, “Oh crap, I actually never did want to climb Everest. I’d much rather swim the English Channel.”

The difference between climbing Everest and running a blog is that your attempt at the summit takes a day. (It needs to, because if you stay on the mountain overnight you die.)

Your blog is something you’ll think about every single day until the day you shut it down or sell it.

So if it’s not where you want to be, the right answer may be to shut it down now, or to radically change direction until it’s something you actually want to spend this much time on.

That’s why the experts all tell you that passion matters. Trying to write on a topic you don’t care about is really, really hard over the long run.

On the other hand, you may just be chickening out. You may need to deal with your own fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of mediocrity.

If it’s not one of those, it might be something very, very simple.

Just write. Write every damn day. Write when you don’t feel like it. Write when it’s stupid. Write when it’s not coming out right. Write when you think that no one in his right mind would read what you have to say.

You don’t have to be an amazing writer to be an amazing blogger.

But you do have to write. A lot. (Even if you’re a podcaster or a video blogger, you need a smart, sharp script or outline.) The more you write, the more ideas will come. Sounds weird, I know, but it works.

So get off on your backside and do it.

If you’re looking for someone who will tell you the truth about marketing your business, and will give you the step-by-step training to make it a lot less overwhelming, you may want to look into my Remarkable Marketing Blueprint. It’s open for new members, but only until 5:00 pm Mountain Time today (Monday, May 24). Check out the details now, because tonight, the opportunity goes away.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

blogging for dummies by Jeffbulla's blog

I follow a few social media types around here and there and just found his great post called How Did A Blog Reach 2.6 Million Followers? It is about Mashable (who I also read) and mentions The Huffington Post (also a staple) and is really interesting. This led me to read the above post, Blogging For Dummies and more reading found more cool stuff. Like his favorite twitter apps like Tweetdeck (I have but under-utilize despite excellent tutorial from Jordan) Tweet3 (very cool - analytics and more) and Tweetlater (tweet while you sleep) Now, if only it could grocery shop while I sleep, too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

10 Ideas to Inspire Great Posts from Jon Morrow

I have to say that the email newsletter from CopyBlogger (www.copyblogger.com) that I get is generally quite kickass. Am I allowed to say that? Oops! Seriously, there is always a nugget if not a pot of gold, of g,ood information from them about writing great content. As our guest speaker, Nick Copley, founder of The Sherpa Report, advised us yesterday: great content and links are the key to a successful blog or internet business.

Here, associate editor of Copyblogger, Jon Morrow, who cranks out excellent copy on a regular basis shares. We can all learn from him! Thanks Jon!

10 New Ideas for Getting Inspired to Write

1. Browse concept photos

Ever browsed through a stock photography site like iStockphoto, looking for the perfect picture, but you just couldn’t find anything that . . . you know . . . grabbed you?

Well, try doing the opposite. Look at concept photos before you write the post, and then let the photo inspire you.

On iStock, you can type “concept” or “[your subject] concept” into the search box, and it’ll give you a selection of photos that represent different ideas. This is exactly how I came up with the idea for my The Courage to Be Wrong post.

2. Write a letter to your internal editor

I got this one from one of my college professors, and it sounds really weird, but here’s the idea. As writers, we all have a voice inside our head telling us our work sucks. Normally, it’s just a nuisance, but sometimes the voice is so loud that it overpowers your creative flow, making it impossible for you to write.

In those cases, here’s what to do: instead of trying to ignore it, confront it. Write a letter to your internal editor and tell him (or her) how irritated you are, how he’s ruining your career, and to shut the hell up. Really let him have it. Oftentimes, it’ll shock the little bastard into silence, and you can get back to work.

3. Use a pattern interrupt

I once met a painter who said that, whenever he is feeling bored with his art, he pulls out a peacock feather, sticks it in his pants like a tail, and goes back to work. It’s so strange, so wrong, that it always gives him a fresh perspective on the painting.

Before you go looking for feathers though, let me tell you the secret: it’s a principle from neurolinguistic programming called a pattern interrupt. Whenever a thought process isn’t working for you, one of the best ways to get unstuck is to do something really strange.

Throw water in your face, scream at the top of your lungs, dance around naked. People might think you’re crazy, but hey, you’re a writer. You’re supposed to be crazy.

4. Take a hit of caffeine

I know, it’s bad for you. Over the long run, it also robs you of more energy than it gives you.

But if you’re propping your eyes open with toothpicks, and you have to get a post done or else, I’m the last person to condemn you for needing a little pick me up. All of my best posts here at Copyblogger were conceived under the influence of Mountain Dew, and I’m convinced it’s eloquence in a bottle.

If you need it, I say drink it. Caffeine may be bad, but it’s far, far better than your best ideas dying inside of you because you couldn’t stay awake in your chair. Just my opinion.

5. Get off your butt

Whenever you’re feeling stuck, the worst thing you can do is sit at the computer and try to grind it out. You’re far, far better off getting up and walking around. Movement creates a sense of energy, and it can help you get your creative wheels turning when you just can’t figure out how you want to approach a post.

Personally, I find pacing in circles to be the most helpful because it requires no conscious thought, and I can concentrate on the problem at hand. Taking a walk can also work, especially if it’s a path you know well.

6. Unlock your unconscious mind

The longer I write, the more I realize it’s largely an unconscious process. You could be taking a shower, washing the dishes, sleeping — regardless of what it is, your mind is ticking away in the background, figuring out what to say and how to say it.

Sometimes though, our minds are so cluttered that we can’t hear our intuition, and when that happens, writing is a struggle. The only way I know to solve it is to sit still and meditate, deliberately quieting your mind and doing your best to listen instead of think.

Many times, a fully developed idea will just pop into your head, and you’ll know exactly what to write and why.

7. Browse the archives

The next time you’re struggling for post ideas, try browsing through your blog archives for a few minutes, rereading old posts.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll always have a different perspective now than you did then, and the old posts will bug you because they are a little outdated. You’ll see points you should have made, metaphors you should’ve used, nuances you should have noticed. All of which make great fodder for follow-up posts.

8. Lecture an idiot

Sometimes, the best way to get inspired is to write a good, old-fashioned rant. In your mind, conjure an image of someone who said, did, or believes something idiotic, and then start writing what you would like to say to them.

Sure, it’ll be angry and condescending. Sure, you’ll probably go a little too far. Sure, you’ll need to edit it before publishing it to the world.

But who cares? Writing great prose has a lot less to do with mechanics than it does with figuring out how to get your blood boiling and then having the courage to put your passion into words.

If writing a rant helps you do that, go for it.

9. Let other artists charge you up

Creativity is contagious. Whenever you feel like your batteries are drained, find another artist doing their thing and just watch them for a while. If they’re good, something about it will charge you up, and you’ll want to get to work.

Personally, I like to watch reruns of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. The show has nothing to do with writing, but the dedication of the dancers, the beauty of the choreography, and the emotion of the moment are so inspiring that I can’t help wanting to emulate it in my work.

For you, it may be something else. Whatever it is, find it, and set aside the time to let it inspire you.

10. Look within

Let’s get down to the real answer, shall we?

If you’re really serious about writing, if you want to make a career out of it, if you want to be so good that people talk about and remember you, then the secret to inspiration isn’tgetting inspired. It’s being inspired.

It’s about loving what you do. It’s about loving who you are. It’s about loving your life.

I’ve never heard of anyone who worked a boring job, came home to a boring family, watched three hours of boring television, and then proceeded to write something of spellbinding greatness. It just doesn’t happen.

Here’s why: your writing is an extension of who you are.

If your life is a soul-sucking heap of mediocrity, then your writing will be a soul-sucking heap of mediocrity. Similarly, if your life is an adventure that brings you such joy you want to weep, then that joy will seep into your words, and anyone who reads them will begin to smile.

The difference between a legendary writer and a merely good one isn’t mechanics. It’s intensity.

Train yourself to find that intensity, and you’ll never lack for inspiration again.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Socialnomics09--Are You In or Out?

http://www.youtube.com/user/Socialnomics09

View this, and then decide if social media marketing and your online brand is important. Are you on the train or is it leaving without you?

Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World

http://PragmaticMom.com
I blog on parenting, children's literature and education

How to Monetize Your Blog

Today, we had Nick Copley, founder of The Sherpa Report as our special guest. He is a serial entrepreneur and has successfully founded and sold a few online businesses. The Sherpa Report provides news, reports and analysis on on private residence clubs, destination clubs, private jets and luxury fractional property. If you just went, "Huh?" Translation: The Sherpa Report provides reports on upscale, luxury timeshare plus other stuff for very high end clients such as fractional jet ownership.

We, of course, are very interesting in how to monetize our blogs and Nick provided some excellent insights:

  • Don't think ads as your revenue source. There is a surplus in inventory for online media (think all those blogs out there) that are seeking ads that ads have been become a commodity and are practically free.
  • Google Adsense and Google Affiliates Programs are a great toe into the pool as you begin, but this will never generate more than a cup of coffee revenue a day for you. Seriously, I have a friend with a blog that gets 3000 unique visitors a day, and he makes $5 a day on Google Adsense.
  • There are other ways to think about monetizing but first step back and think about who your audience is. And more importantly, who care about your audience? Is this audience hard to get elsewhere? If not, that is harder to monetize. Segment, people! Segment your market!
  • Will your audience pay for your content? If yes, give a teaser and charge. Maybe this is your revenue source.
  • Will companies pay for lead generation? If so, figure out how to get that audience to your site and collect their data as they prepare to make a purchase. If you went, "Huh?" again, here's an example. Nick's previous company sold White Papers on IT. A White Paper is like a short thesis that is comprehensive on a particular topic. Companies will create this to show that they are an expert in their field in hopes of generating more clients and being perceived as an expert in their fields. If they hire someone to "ghost" write a White Paper, that could cost $3000 to $10,000 to create. Nick could have sold the white papers to CTOs (Chief Technology Officers); that is one way to go and CTOs would probably happily pay $300-$500 a pop for a relevant white paper from their company budgets. But, instead, he sold the companies who produced the White Papers space on his site -- hey, they want to promote their site and in exchange they get lead generation from CTOs who must fill out a form to get the free White Paper.
  • So, there's two ends to charge: the person./company on the front end (ie the person who seeks the information) OR the person on the back end (ie the person/company who seeks the sale).
  • Paying for Lead Generation! Brilliant! Now, how to apply to our online brands?
More on that later!

Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World

http://PragmaticMom.com
I blog on education, parenting, and Children's Literature


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I blog from The Atlantic Magazine

Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic Magazine wrote this beautiful piece about blogging. I like how he says that a blog's tone should be conversational which is how I feel, too. He has some serious writing skills and is a pleasure to read.

Why I blog

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rain Out Sat = 8 Hours of Blogging and SEO

I realize that I may have a problem. On Saturday, my kids' three soccer games were rained out so I spent 5 hours working on my blog and SEO. I went to the school play that night and saw DesignTrackMind there and she said the only thing she wanted for Mother's Day was a clean house and hours of her SEO expert husband's time working on the CoffeeShopBloggers.com blog -- it needs categories and other fun stuff and we don't know how to do it in Blogger. Then, after the play, I figured it was almost Mother's Day and I had taken the kids myself to the play and my youngest was a handful so I spent 3 more hours on my blog stuff.

So... you might wonder what a blogger would do when they work 8 hours on their blog? Thanks for asking!!
  • I hadn't posted in three days so I posted 3 posts. One was a freebie as I found a good post elsewhere that I could report and one was a Mother's Day Post I had found and saved until Mother's Day so I really only wrote 1 posts. That was maybe 30 minutes?
  • Each post then gets tweeted, and the tweet goes on facebook. Twice because I have a facebook page and a Fan page for my blog. So... 3 tweets and 6 Facebook wall updates. My tweets automatically get posted on my LinkedIn Account. So...another 15 minutes?
  • I have been having trouble getting my Feedburner RSS email newsletter feed to work. It seems to conflict with the code I put on each page from Google Analytics. GreenCollarGuy, DesignTrackMind's husband (also at school play), said that I was not supposed to put in on every page or post; it was supposed to go into the template of my blog.
  • So... I had to figure out how to put code in my template and worked on that, adding the code to the Page Template because I did not see a Post Template. I hoped that is the right one and that I placed the code in the correct spot.
  • But to be sure, I started researching Feedburner and Wordpress. I found another method using a plugin that is supposed to be the easiest way to go. And my research on the best plugin for Google Analytics generated a blog post of 30 best Plugins so I posted this on the CoffeeShopBloggers.com blog. So I used the new post to figure out which was the best plugin for Google Analytics on Wordpress because there are several.
  • But when I installed it, it caused a database conflict and my blog melt down. I realized that I now needed to strip out all the google analytic code out of my 150 posts and pages. And deactivate the Google Analytics Plugin. And strip the Google Analytics code from the template of my blog. So I did all of that. And got a tweaky neck in the process. This took hours!
  • Yay! Once the Google Analytic code is removed, my feedburner email newsletter finally works!
  • I also went to BlogFrog because it's the best Mom Blog Consolidator out there. I find that I get 10% return "Followers." BlogFrog is like a Mom Blog Consolidator combined with Twitter and Facebook. So I followed a gazillion moms. This is nice brainless work. This took an hour or so.
  • I wanted to increase my Twitter to 3000 this week and was several hundred shy. I follow all my BlogFrog new friends and they tend to follow back. Follow back on Twitter any new Blog Frog Friends took about a hour.
  • Also to increase Twitter, I cleaned out the people that I follow who don't follow me back. I use a free website, TwitterKarma.com. It's great but a little time consuming. I have to "Whack" three time which is about 15 minutes of waiting around. Then I have to manually find those who don't follow back, select and block. That takes a while. Another half hour gone.
  • With a cleaned out Twitter, I can now follow a few hundred before I hit my max. I decide to follow @BostonMamas because she has the right demographic for me and she doesn't follow anyone back. I figure anyone who follows her might be inclined to follow me. Another half hour?
  • Not done yet, I decide it's time to up my Facebook to 1000 friends. I export my LinkedIn connections and filter them through Facebook to find who is on Facebook but isn't Friended to me. Surprising quick after you do it once. 10 or 15 minutes?
  • I also import my gmail email list to Facebook to find more friends.
  • Finally, I go to my Fan Page in Facebook (PragmaticMom) and ask all 950 Friends from my personal Facebook to "Fan or Like" my blog page. I did it the slow way by accident so it took 15 minutes, but it should only take a few minutes if you know what you are doing! (I know now! Nothing like learning a lesson the hard way to really pound it into your brain!)
  • I am also answering and DM-ing from Twitter about 400 emails generated from this Twitter-Get-Followers Frenzy. I am also retweeting when I see something good. And adding links to my blog when I find a great blog I want to visit again. Hard to tell but probably an hour in bits and pieces all day keeping my email account cleaned out.
  • My 5 comments a day is way behind so I write some comments from my Google word Alerts but not all of alerts in my email box because I'm way behind.
It's finally time to go to bed but there is still so much to do:
  • Rotate my ads. Mother's Day is over so some of my ads need to be deactivated and more new ones added.
  • Rotate the posts on my slider.
  • Make sure I stripped all the Google Analytic Code from my posts so I need to run a search for "Google Analytics" in my posts and continue to strip html code.
  • Do I dare try the Google Analytic plugin again?...
  • Ugh..I still haven't done all my comments.
I need Mother's Day to spend on my blog catching up! I wonder if my kids will let me spend the day on my blog...

PragmaticMom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World

http://PragmaticMom.com
I blog on parenting, children's literature and education.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

30+ Must Have Wordpress Plugins

wordpress 128 30+ Must Have Wordpress Plugins

Here is the most comprehensive list of all the Wordpress plugins you need as of today to maximize the potential of your own blog. For months, I’ve been able to bookmark hundreds of plugins, and now I’ve done all the work for you by sorting the best plugins you only need to truely leverage Wordpress! In no particular order, here they are!

All in One SEO Pack
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
Optimizes your Wordpress blog for search engines by Automatically optimizing your titles and META tags.

IntenseDebate
http://intensedebate.com/
Replaces default comment system with advanced commenting, threaded replies, karma points (not for individual comments), Gravatars, RSS, ability to reply to comments from email (great to reply from your Blackberry), all in one management from the website for users. It also comes with the optional Intense Debate Top Commentators sidebar widget to display your top commentators, great to encourage commenting (however, the Disqus one below is a lot more comprehensive).

Disqus Commenting System
http://disqus.com
Replaces your comment template with the more advanced Disqus comment system. Disqus is also the only system to support Facebook Connect out of the box. I’ve contacted IntenseDebate directly and they told me there is no current plan to support Facebook Connect. Disqus also features RSS, Gravatars, threaded comments, comment karma, and lets you easily see comments made by the same user on other sites. I prefer Disqus as it offers Facebook Connect support out-of-the-box that could help you tap into the Facebook community. Disqus also features top commentators, recent comments widgets. Also, with Disqus you can enable video comments with seesmic.

Digg Digg
http://www.mkyong.com/blog/digg-digg-wordpress-plugin/
Adds Digg, Reddit, Yahoo Buzz buttons with counters for your readers to easily vote for your posts from your page. I was able to contact the author who also told me Stumble Upon support is on its way as well.

Sociable
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociable/
Automatically add links to your favorite social bookmarking sites on your posts, pages and in your RSS feed. You can choose from 99 different social bookmarking sites including Digg, Reddit, SU, Mixx, Propeller. You can also add e-mail and print buttons. It also supports TwitThis, but the plugin can be made easier by using TinyURL (or another URL shortening service) and automatically logging the user into Twitter with the URL and Title already shown.

Google Analytics
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/
Google Analytics provides highly advanced website tracking and management information free of charge. Use this plug-in to easily add the code so Google Analytics can immediately begin to track all of your pages

Lifestream
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/lifestream/
Lifestream displays your social feeds and activity from many social sites. Includes support to display your Flickr photos, Facebook feed, Friendster feed, Youtube videos, Twitter updates, any other RSS feed, from your other blogs, etc.

DB Backup
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-db-backup/
Easily backup/restore your posts and entire Wordpress database. Download or send your back to your email.

WP Greet Box
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-greet-box/
Displays different greeting message to your new visitors depending on their referrer URL. For example, when a Digg user clicks through from Digg, they will see a message reminding them to digg your post if they like it. The plug-in also includes out of the box support for getting messages from users coming from Reddit, SU, Facebook, Google (shows searched keywords as well), Mixx, etc. You can also easily add your own custom greeting from people coming from any site you choose.

WP-SpamFree
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-spamfree/
An extremely powerful anti-spam plugin for WordPress that virtually eliminates comment spam, including trackback and pingback spam. I find the plug-in works surprisingly well by eliminating all automated spam. It does somewhat use a bit of bandwidth sometimes.

WP Super Cache
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/
This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts. Some people have complained about compatibility problems with other plugins, so exercise some caution here and follow the instructions carefully. However, the plugin is very good and can save you a significan amount of bandwidth.

Google XML Sitemaps
http://www.arnebrachhold.de/projects/wordpress-plugins/google-xml-sitemaps-generator/
Generates a XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog. This format is supported by Ask.com, Google, YAHOO and MSN Search.

Category Posts Widget
http://jameslao.com/2008/04/18/category-posts-widget-13/
Displays any amount of posts you want from a specific category in your sidebar

Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form
http://green-beast.com/blog/?page_id=136
Lets you create a very secure contact form with custom fields so your readers can easily contact you.

Popularity Contest
http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress
Shows your readers your most popular posts based on views, comments, pingbacks, among other criteria. You can also change the weight of each criteria to determine the most popular post.

WP Since Last Visit
http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress
Indicates with a small “New” picture beside your post to users who have not yet seen your post from their last visit. Also works with comments.

Twitter Tools
http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress
Allows you to pull your tweets into your blog (as posts and digests) and create new tweets on blog posts and from within WordPress.

Wordpress Download Monitor
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/download-monitor/
Download Monitor is a plugin for uploading and managing downloads, tracking download hits, and displaying links.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
http://mitcho.com/code/yarpp/
Gives you a list of posts and/or pages related to the current entry, introducing the reader to other relevant content on your site

WP Page Numbers
http://www.jenst.se/2008/03/29/wp-page-numbers
Adds pagination to your Wordpress navigation, good for search engines.

WP-PostRatings
http://lesterchan.net/portfolio/programming/php/#wp-postratings
Allows your readers to vote on how they liked your article. You can also display your highest or lowest voted posts on your sidebar.

WP-PostViews
http://lesterchan.net/portfolio/programming/php/#wp-postviews
Allows you to display the number of times your post has been viewed.

AdSense Manager
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/adsense-manager/
Lets you add Google AdSense, Yahoo, AdBrite, among other ads, to your sidebar or anywhere else on your blog.

Smart YouTube
http://www.prelovac.com/vladimir/wordpress-plugins/smart-youtube
Allows you to easily insert Youtube videos in your post, comments and in your RSS feed

Video widget
http://www.nikohk.com/plugin-wordpress-video-widget/
Easily display videos from many different video sharing websites on your sidebar or blog, including from YouTube, DailyMotion, Google Video, Metacafe, Reever, MySpace, Blip.tv, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, among many others

FlickrRSS
http://eightface.com/wordpress/flickrrss/
Lets you easily display your Flickr photos on your blog, comes with a sidebar widget. Note: Lifestream plug-in also supports this so you may not need this plugin.

Facebook Connect Community
http://www.sociable.es/facebook-connect
Allows your users to sign in with their Facebook account. It also supports comments to be sent to the users news feed, which can draw you some good viral traffic. However, it does not work with IntenseDebate. I just contacted IntenseDebate and they told me they do not plan to offer Facebook Connect support, which is unfortunate because that would make life a lot more easier, especially for people who want all the advanced features of IntenseDebate but also want the ability for comments to be sent to the Facebook newsfeed.

DropCap First Character WordPress Plugin
http://www.rc.au.net/blog/2006/07/27/dropcap-first-character-wordpress-plugin/
What it does is it makes the first character of the post BIG in a magazine style.

Front Page Excluded Categories
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/front-page-excluded-categories/
As the title suggests, it blocks categories you don’t want from displaying on your home page

Subscribe-Remind
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-remind/
Invites your readers to subscribe to your RSS feed below each post

Exec-PHP
http://bluesome.net/post/2005/08/18/50
Executes PHP code in posts, pages, or your sidebar.

How to Stay Motivated to Keep Writing Excellent Posts

From CopyBlogger:

About the Author: As a leading confidence coach with clients around the world, Steve Errey has a reputation for talking sense and getting results.


What drives you to write?

To earn some green-backs and keep the wolves from the door? To earn praise? Create a community?

Or maybe you’re convinced your story will help someone else? Or that you can help other people find important information?

Are you compelled to write because you’ll settle for nothing less than changing the world?

You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, right?

Motivation, man, motivation.

Okay, so I mangled the old joke, but the point remains — you won’t get far unless you’re motivated.

Just any old motivation won’t do either – it has to be the right motivation and you have to be honest about what it is.

If you’re writing to build a business, but your real motivation is attention and validation from peers, you’re going to go off the rails.

Dan Pink, author of the terrific new book Drive, says that real, self-directed motivation is based on three things — autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

When we’re motivated, we achieve all of these things. So why do we think it’s so normal to be unmotivated?

Lack of motivation isn’t normal

Notice when you’re not motivated.

Don’t get used to it and teach yourself that it’s normal. It isn’t.

When your motivation starts to slip, you need to address it immediately. It’s telling you something is wrong with the way you’re thinking about your work.

Maybe you don’t feel like you have autonomy any more. Or that you’re not growing as a writer. Or that your work no longer has purpose.

Let it slide and your declining motivation will strip your confidence until you forget why you ever wanted to write in the first place.

How do you fix motivation that’s starting to slip?

If you’re unmotivated, start by looking back to Pink’s three factors:

1. Give yourself more autonomy

When you’re able to have a say over what you write, how you write it, and when you write it, your work becomes a task you can tackle with creativity and a greater sense of ease.

That may mean you need to make room to work on your own projects, rather than spending all of your time on other people’s deadlines. Or it may just mean that you need to be more conscious of what kind of clients you’re working to attract.

2. Increase your sense of mastery

If you’re able to increase your skills and capability as a result of your writing, then you’re really onto a winner. You get something done and you get better in the process.

Work on your craft. Get passionate about the fine points of whatever kind of writing you do. Push yourself to get better every day.

3. Expand your sense of purpose

If your work means something to you, it feels right, like you’re making a real contribution.

Know that what you do is important. Know how it benefits your clients. Work on projects that support your values, rather than conflicting with them.

But . . . motivation isn’t everything

It’s nice to read about drive and passion. That message is everywhere. And while it might end up making you feel lovely inside, it doesn’t offer you any insight as to why passion and motivation aren’t enough.

See, what Dan Pink didn’t mention is that while congruent motivation and the ability to course-correct are essential parts of success, no amount of motivation can be enough without a supporting belief.

As Bruce Lee once said, water adapts to any container. In other words, your life shapes itself and adapts to the barriers you’ve set. It doesn’t matter if you pour 20,000 gallons or a glass of water into an empty swimming pool, the water is constrained by the dimensions of the pool.

How big is your swimming pool?

You could have all the motivation in the world to build your business, but if you have abelief that says you “can’t” or that you’re “not good enough,” then guess what?

You’ve just built a wall that stops that motivation in its tracks, or at the very least turns it into one hell of a struggle.

Your beliefs about your writing and your ability to build a meaningful business act like the circuit-breaker in your home, shutting down the power when there’s a perceived risk.

But here’s the thing — you don’t need protecting. Those beliefs that limit you and keep you “safe” in your comfort zone aren’t necessary.

If you were a house, you’d be one that can grow and move. You’d be a house that can add, remove, and re-order rooms as it needs to. You’d be a house that can rewire itself on the fly. You’d be a house that can repair itself and strengthen itself. You’d be a sentient house with arms and legs and hair and . . . okay, the house metaphor’s gone too far.

Here’s what it boils down to:

You’re more than a match for any challenge

Your capability is bigger than any problem your business can throw at you. You are designed to take on meaningful challenges and learn what’s necessary to succeed.

You’re great at stuff. Really, you are. But you won’t be able to do any of it until you reset the boundaries of your beliefs so that they allow your motivation to flow where it needs.

Build a pool with no boundaries and what you’ve got is an ocean for your motivation to swim in.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Twitter and Tweetdeck

Twitter, apparently, is a U.S. mom blog phenomenon not matched by mom bloggers elsewhere in the world. They seem to prefer Facebook. What's the deal with Twitter as a tool to grow your blog audience?

Turns out that I'm the wrong person to ask because I've been going about it all wrong mostly. Luckily, I got clued in by some SEO experts at work:

  • Think of Twitter as a cocktail party. Join in the conversation when the topic appeals to you.
  • Thank, as any polite person would, any one who tweets about you or retweets your messages. That's right; just send some love out there right back at them.
  • Your tweets should be a combination of outbound messages (ie shameless self promotion), retweets of interesting content you want to share with your audience, and messages to respond to other tweets.
  • Grow your Twitter audience by following people. A lot of them will follow you back. After a decent interval (of 72 hours to one week), unfollow those folks who don't follow back and go after a new batch. I noticed the more targeted the audience you seek, the better the follow back rate.
  • Eventually, Twitter will cap your ratio of Whom You Follow: Who Follow You Back so max it out while you can. The first cap comes at 2000. Before that, you can follow up to 850ish more than your followers.
  • Tweetdeck is a great and free tool to help you keep track of relevant Tweets. It tracks your mentions. You can set it up to track Twitter lists or key words.
  • Oh, and that pesky # symbol. #word is a kind of "index" to track categories or topics. You can make up your own or research existing #categories first. For example, you may care about CincodeMayo so you want to track #cincodemayo. But maybe the category you really care about is #MexicanHolidays.
I wish I could add more, but that is all I know at the moment.

Oh, one last tip. I use http://twitterkarma to unfollow those who don't follow me back. It's free and it works fine but it's a little labor intensive and the site can be down a fair amount.

Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World

http://pragmaticmom.com
I blog on parenting, education and children's literature

It's A Small World, Blog-Wise

This interesting article is from Media Post Publications. It's about Mom Bloggers from around the world and what is different from country to country. Interestingly, there are the same 5 core values that all moms care about; but we mom bloggers are using different tools to get our messages out there....

By Maria Bailey Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Today, more and more brands are reaching beyond borders to connect with moms, while advancements in technology have empowered mothers to socialize with moms around the globe. Both McDonald's and Disney World now have global mom panelists while Huggies, Coca-Cola and Purex also engage moms across continents in marketing programs.

Although my mom marketing books are published in 12 languages, it's only been recently that I've seen a dramatic increase in interest by American brands to expand their mom marketing programs overseas. The trend has taken my studies of moms from South Africa to South America and, most recently, Europe. Each stop provides a unique opportunity for learning.

The highlight of my journeys occurred three weeks ago when I hosted a Mom Blogger Mixer with FattoreMama,www.fattoremama.it , the leading Italian mom portal, in Milan. Not only was it exciting to host 60 social media mom influencers, it was fulfilling to be able to share the event with over 1,200 U.S. moms who tuned in online.

For over two hours, moms from both sides of the pond compared notes on social media, parenting and motherhood via live chat and online video streaming. It was social media mom networking at its best.

So what do companies who want to engage moms outside the U.S. need to know? Here are a few considerations.

1) Moms around the world share five core values.
Regardless of where you are, marketers can connect with moms by speaking to one of these: 1) Child enrichment, 2) Health and safety of her family 3) Value 4) Time management and 5) Simplying life. Brand messages should connect the benefits or features of your product to at least one of these core values in order to create relevance and value.

2) Twitter is an American marketing tool.
You won't find Twitter Parties in Austria, Spain, Belgium or Switzerland. There are very few moms who have adopted Twitter as part of their social media tools. Many moms outside the U.S., question the need for Twitter when most of their friends and followers can be found on Facebook.

3) Cultural differences contribute to the style of mom bloggers.
It was only recently that Mom bloggers in the United Kingdom decided to disclose their identity on their blogs. The "bulletin board" approach to life, as my husband calls it, is a trait that American moms seem to possess in greater quantity than mothers in France and German . Bloggers who are moms in the Netherlands focus their posts not on their role as a mother but on their life in general. Being a mom blogger seems to be trumped by the desire to be identified as a lifestyle blogger.

4) Product reviews are far and few between on mom blogs.
Even in countries with a proud population of mom bloggers, few moms review products. In fact, the state of the mom blogosphere in Italy reminds me of the U.S. mom blogosphere three to four years ago. There is a strong and active debate among Italian mom bloggers regarding whether or not it's right and ethical to review products. Marketers would have better luck sending product samples to traditional journalists who are mothers and female webmasters in the hopes of obtaining an online review.

5) Indoor play centers and festivals present an effective vehicle for sampling product.
Moms everywhere enjoy spending quality time with their children, and in Austria, Greece and Germany these occasions present a good opportunity for demonstrating products. Moms are open to interacting with brands related to their roles as mothers whether they are at the zoo or an indoor playground.

6) Limited Internet access has slowed growth of social media in some countries.
This is particularly true in Turkey, Greece, and southern Italy, where online mom magazines are more popular than blogs. For marketers, the most effective way to connect is through these magazine message boards and forums.

7) European moms were green before green was cool.
Long before it became trendy to take along your own shopping bags to the grocery store, moms in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France were eliminating plastic waste. Green-friendly products and services are a great way to connect with moms worldwide.

Moms present buying power around the globe, and, with the right tactics, marketers can establish a dialogue which drives brand awareness and ultimately sales.