Category Archives: WebWorld

A Twitter Soap Opera? Why Not?

So I found myself a new soap opera to follow. This one’s not on TV, though — it’s on Twitter.

For the few of my friends who haven’t heard of it yet, Twitter is called a “microblog” — you can send messages of up to 140 characters (like on your phone) about your day or your new blog post or the movie you just saw. Some people use it to market themselves or their stuff; some use it as a microdiary and to talk to friends; and some are just there to spread the fun around. I’m one of those extreme weirdos that has more than one account, so I spend a lot of time there. It’s fun.

For the many of you who don’t know me that well, I should let you know that when I showed up to my very first Science Fiction convention in 1986, the name on my badge was “Blue Rose,” and that the only name on the 30+ con badges hanging on my wall. I feel kinda proprietary about the name, in my own little Pacific NW corner of fandom, at any rate.

I told you that so you’d understand that when I saw a post on Twitter to someone named @Blue_Rose I had to go take a look. It turns out that @Blue_Rose is a character, and is currently running around the Tardis with @DoctorJohnSmith. There seem to be about half a dozen characters involved in this thing, and I’ve come in in the middle and am still trying to figure things out. I’ve set up a group in Friendfeed to catch all of the action, because when they’re talking they take up a lot of feed bandwidth. In other words, they’re noisy. But they’re interesting as all get-out, too; especially in these lean, hungry TV-Doctorless times. The other night they discovered Gelth in the Boston Museum; today they’re having relationship discussions. Great to eavesdrop on for picking up backstory.

I’ve heard of other role-playing stuff on Twitter, but the only one I know of personally is @MotherAbigail and @TexasWalkinDude, who are playing their roles (from Stephen King’s The Stand) more than role-playing with each other. And let’s not forget the dozens of people out there Twittering as celebrities or historical figures.

Who says the real-time web has to be from the Real World (TM)? 8-)

My EzineArticles Swag — and How it’s Affected Me

Friday before last, @ChrisKnight asked for a ReTweet of his “Follow @ChrisKnight” post, and promised swag to those who did. Because he is a great guy to follow on Twitter, and because I do love swag, I retweeted him; and, true to his word, he asked for my address and this last Saturday I received a box in the mail. In it were an “I Heart EzineArtcles.com” coffee mug, a T-shirt and baseball cap, stickers, a pad of paper (“My Next 10 Article Ideas”), stickers and a monitor rearview mirror. The baseball cap, rearview, and stickers all include the words “Expert Author.” (He must have looked me up.)

I’ve had a brief and stormy relationship with EzineArticles.com; I’ve only published one article with them, and it took me three tries to get it through their editorial system. I’ve been less than excited about trying it again, although I’ve been following @ChrisKnight and @EzineArticles on Twitter for the great advice they give. But now I’m finding the printed words “Expert Author” in front of me to be a great incentive; I’m actually thinking again about how to tie articles to the subjects I’m covering on my blogs, and just typed up a rough draft of what will be my first submission in a long time. The back of my brain seems to want to earn the title I’ve been given.

I was just looking for free stuff; I’ve come away with motivation and incentive to create. Mr. Knight was looking for more Twitter followers; he’s gained not only those (I hope), but one more site member coming off the inactive list. Which just goes to prove that giving things away is not always a “no return” expense. The return just won’t always fit in the account book. 8-)

Godzilla vs. Catra

When I’m disheartened or brain-dead or just not sure what I’m up to doing (as has been happening a lot lately — post OryCon SAD, I guess), I waste some time on www.icanhascheezburger.com; I just love to aww and giggle at the kitties and the strange captions that humans give them. Today I discovered thelolcats.com; another fun place to upload your cat pictures. Some have captions, some don’t, but all are funny/cute/full of pathos, and fun to scan. And when I saw my favorite movie monster featured, I had to share!

Try to stay sane! 8-)

“Ask Not” — Fixing my Blog, and Asking for Nominations

I got the best compliment this weekend — one of my FriendFed friends nominated me to be the first recipient of a FF room full of help! She suggested a review club: every few days or so, someone nominates a web site and we all go look at it and make suggestions for improvement, then the recipient nominates another lucky sot to get the same help. And the first nomination? Me!

Now the site nominated at first was this one; this was a wonderful thing, but this is about the only website I’m playing with right now that was never intended to make any money, so I pointed people at Popular Delusions, which is the one I started after the 30DC (and the disaster which was my first blog). I got several helpful suggestions about my links (too pale and hard to see) and my lack of images (I need to go play with the CC license stuff on Flickr). I also got reminded that my index page was a sight to make people click the back button; practically nothing there. I’d always wanted to do other things with the front page, and the category pages, but got stuck and started the blog entries just to get something done. Since I’ve always just pointed to individual blog posts, I forgot the index. My bad.

See, I’m a big fraud. I write OK </humble>, but I know next to nothing about the mechanics of playing with WordPress. I can change my links colors, for example, but I have no clue how to make them “brighter,” or less pale; and I have absolutely no clue how to take a plugin and make it appear on a page without frelling it up and having it also appear in the sidebar. I went to install a plugin today, and it had a fatal error. I have no clue how to chase the error down and fix it; I’ll just have to find another one that does something similar. I have great ideas, and have seen sites do similar things, but I have no frelling clue how to implement them. And the tutorials I find are no help — “read the readme.” Most of the readmes I’ve read are version lists and how to install. I know how to install the bloody thing, but how do I USE it?

I also spent some time today crying over my front page text. (OK, I was having a bad day overall; ignore the tears.) Someone suggested my text needed to be “punchier” — I needed more appeals to like-mindedness or challenges to my readers; I needed more calls to action. As you can see, I tend to explain a lot and ramble a bit; as I said to MiLady at one point, “I’m not punchy, I’m folksy!” But I think I got better text on the home page — more pointers to parts of the blog, more calls to action. Now I need to figure out the “Featured Offer” thing. I need one — I just need to figure out the formatting. So the suggestions have been really helpful, and I’ll be implementing them as I write more posts.

Which leads me to my final problem — I’m supposed to pick the next blog to look at. I have a couple of good FF friends whose blogs I’d love to nominate, but I don’t know what they are. See, the 30DC had a problem with copycats ripping off site ideas (and occasionally the text on the site, as well!), so my friends aren’t putting their “money sites” through FriendFeed. The one friend whose site I do know has been too busy to hang out on FF, and might not appreciate a nomination with so much other stuff going on in her life. So how to pick? I don’t know — got any ideas? Want a free trackback to your site? Nominate yourself in the Comments! Use my Contact Me page! Help me out here!

Want Your Picture Next to All Your Blog Comments?

You’re being a good Net Citizen, participating in your community by weighing in on the posts of your favorite bloggers — but next to other people’s posts they have a picture, where your comments just have an outline. How do the other commenters get their pictures on other people’s blogs?

What they have that you don’t is a gravatar — an avatar linked to their email address that will show up when called for. The good news is that you can get a gravatar too, for free!

The site you need to go to is en.gravatar.com. There’s a great explanation of gravatars on that page, and they’ll walk you through the signup process. (All they need is your email, and you can add other email addresses — even have a different picture for each address!) When you put some effort into “personal brand recognition,” and you use the same avatar wherever you can as a recognition tool, having that gravatar available will be a big help.

If you have a WordPress blog (or at least a WPD blog — I have no idea whether this is a plugin thing or not), you’ll want to turn on gravatars so that everyone will have their picture show there, too. If you log in to www.yoursite.com/wp-admin, and go to Settings->Discussion, you’ll find the “Show Avatars” radio button near the bottom of the page. Click it, and Save Changes. Your time lag when a comment posts might be a tad longer, as the software goes and grabs the image, but I think having the images next to the comments is worth it. 8-) Have fun!

For 30DCers: How to Access your WordPress Direct Blog Without WPD

[To my non-internet-marketing friends: Hey, thanks for looking! This post is going to be IM-tech heavy, so if it sounds like Greek, that’s ’cause it is! It’ll be more fun next time, I promise . . .]

To My 30 Day Challenge Friends: Hi! I’m glad you found the best internet marketing training on the web! Hope you’re learning a lot and succeeding with your goals. My best wishes to you! I’d like to talk about how to get into your blog without going through WordPress Direct.

When I got my blog last month, the first thing I did was figure out how to get into it without using an intermediary; WPD is a great blog installer, and wonderful if you can use the Autocontent feature (I’m in a niche that doesn’t generate any content; my Google Alert on my key phrase only sends me email about my own posts), but I hate doing things through third parties when I can just do it directly. So I explored WordPress rather than WordPress Direct, and found out all the wonderful things that can be done there. Let me show you:

Assuming your blog URL is yoursite.com, you type yoursite.com/wp-admin into your browser. When it asks, your username is “admin” and your password is the one you gave WPD when you installed the blog. Ta-da! Welcome to your Dashboard! Here are buttons for writing a new page (like “About Us” or “Special Sales Offers” — things that stay the same no matter what) and writing a new post (blog entry). If you want to change your sidebar, you can get into it by clicking on the widgets hyperlink. In fact, there are a lot of hyperlinks on this page; every one takes you somewhere where you can change things. There are places to see your latest comments and trackbacks, news and new plugins; and WP news stories. It’s worth taking some time to explore it.

At the top of every page are tabs and links. The tabs are Write (page, post, or link), Manage (edit pages, posts, links and categories, among other things), Design (change or edit themes, play with widgets), Comments, and cformsII. Opposite the tabs are three hyperlinks: Settings (where you can set or change everything from the name of the blog to the names of your posts), Plugins (where you turn plugins on and off and change their settings), and Users (where you can add or delete other people, and change your own settings — I refuse to have posts by “admin” on a blog with my name on it! 8-)). And no matter where you are in what’s referred to as the “back end” of WordPress, there’s a link to the Dashboard — so you’ll never get lost.

And if you have a question, I just found a nifty resource in the most obvious of places — faq.wordpress.com. Click on the word in the tag cloud that comes closest to your problem, and get a list of questions that they’ve answered. Or you can ask in the comments, and I’ll do the best I can to find an answer.

Hope it helps!

I’m Drownding in Info — How am I Supposed to Get Any Work Done?!?

So I ordered Stomping the Search Engines 2, which was (and will be) valuable info for way cheaper than usual; with STSE2 I got all of the bonuses, many of which are on the same 30-day trial as the magazine (and the disc — I was weak). So now I have audio and video lessons coming out my ears, and membership sites I need to go and take thorough looks at, to see how much I can learn and if I want to pay the fees after the trial is over. Many of the “free bonuses” came up on the thank you pages for opting into their lists, so I have to watch the videos NOW or lose them when I close the page. My browser gets slower and slower as these things build up (and better as I watch them — I’ve learned not to click on the email link until I know I’m ready to deal with whatever comes up. In other words — NO CLICKING DURING MY SOAP! Yes, I still watch the stupid soap. Now I just miss half of it because I’m doing other things while I watch it.)

[Soapbox: I’m really becoming convinced of something I’ve been reading from the time management gurus: multitasking is overrated, it reduces your effectiveness instead of enhancing it, and eventually it will make you stupid. Someone found a study proving that multitaskers have more attention and thinking problems than stoners. Really. And I’m beginning to understand how; just quiz me on the details of a movie I claim to have watched, all the while with my face buried in my laptop. I won’t know much more about it than if I had seen it a week ago. I keep looking up just after my favorite parts. It’s annoying. Anyway . . .]

So I have a month’s worth of info from STSE2, and at least a month’s worth of info from the bonuses (and only a month to get at it), and the streams I have set up in Reader and FriendFeed and FaceBook (which eats time all by itself) which can take all day to parse. So that’s three day’s worth of work in any given day.

And When during this time am I supposed to get any work done on my site???

For the past two days, ever since my STSE2 package arrived, I’ve been listening and watching stuff almost continuously. (<rant>Whatever happened to PDFs? Why does EVERYTHING have to be audio or video? Why do I have to listen to or watch you stutter, ramble on and get off point for an hour when I could read the transcript in 15 minutes?? I know it’s the latest greatest thing, but for Pete’s Sake, people! Different people learn in different ways — why do I have to be forced to deal with a format that is suboptimal for me just because it’s easier for you? Put some time into it, Dude! </rant>) I haven’t done a thing to PD — no blog posts, and no Pimp My Site Pages, as I wanted to have done by the weekend so I could shop for a WP guru.

I know it’s my fault: I have no discipline, and do tend to deal with whatever’s in front of me. If I’d lived in a perfect world, I would have had thirty days of uninterrupted time after the 30 Day Challenge to get my Web Site the way I wanted it, to get the traffic flowing and settle into a routine before I got swamped with new learnings. I’d have been better able to apply them. But NO — the rotten marketers have to ride the 30DC wave until every last drop of opportunistic cash is squeezed from every wallet. I don’t blame them for it; I just wish I could have chosen the time to receive it.

So I’m griping — and I’m typing this post at 1 in the morning because it was running through my head and I couldn’t sleep and I figured if I wanted to type it out, now is better than later — ’cause when am I going to have time later? I have got to manage myself better. I know that, and know how; it just seems impossible. It’s not really. Oh, look — new Tweets! Now, cut that out . . .

FaceBook is the Biggest Friend Tool / Time Sink I Know

I woke up in pain this morning. It’s going to be a Crappy Day. (“Have a Crappy Day!” “Why, thank you, Mr. Carlin. And a Crappy Day to you and your wonderful family as well!”) On Crappy Days the medication count is higher and the expectations are lower than usual. Most of the business goals go out the window — and really, when I’m feeling like this, do I actually churn out stuff people want to read? Not really. See for yourself.

So anyway — it’s a Crappy Day, and I’ve been rolling like a rotisserie in bed since 4, and I finally gave up on sleep at 7:30, and opened my trusty laptop. Now, when I went to bed last night at 10, I had no FaceBook notifications, nothing in my Google Reader, all my Tweets and FriendFeed items all settled, nothing but a couple pieces of email waiting till morning. My laptop lit up like a Christmas tree this morning — 30-some items in GReader, 9 notifications in FaceBook, 10 tweets (that’s what I get for following people in the UK and Austalia), and I don’t know what all. I just got done. 12:30, and I just got done. Now, I admit that I’m being slow today, but for Pete’s sake! How productive can everyone else be?!?

I feel forced to also admit that I actually read what I get; I actually do click on links to follow-ups; I actually try to understand what’s up. This morning’s big deal was the social networking stuff Google is trying to sneak over on us; and because it’s a Crappy Day, I spent more time than I should have on it trying to understand it. It turns out I stumbled onto the Google Profile a while ago, and filled it out, so that’s done; I just need to figure out the Friends Widget for Non-Blogger Blogs and
how to get the other end going. But it shows how rotten my powers of comprehension are right now.

And then there’s FaceBook. FB is the bane and boon of my existence. It’s been a wonderful thing; I can now look at a specific place in my profile and know that people give a hang (20 of them at the moment). I’ve connected with people I haven’t seen in years, people who’d dropped out of being social before we did and we haven’t seen them since, people who lived far away that I hadn’t kept up with. It’s all very cool! And there is stuff to do on FB, too. Games and puzzles and trivia and groups and fan pages and charity stuff you send to your friends and semi-pseudo role-playing games and . . .

This is where the bane comes in. When I can type in a list that long at top speed and stop myself rather than running out of items, then it’s just too tempting. I’m supposed to be working over here! Writing blog posts and running down affiliate offers and mocking up pages on PD to show WordPress gurus. All the stuff I feel guilty about while I’m building my castle or rearranging my garden or getting 90s on my Days of our Lives trivia quizzes. Of course, that’s also all the stuff I don’t have to worry about on a Crappy Day . . .

I can talk myself in circles, can’t I? Stream of consciousness, that’s what you get on a Crappy Day. Which is why I’d rather not try to do marketing stuff in this state.

So, to the point: Although you may see me fiddling in FaceBook throughout today, with any discipline on my part that will NOT be a regular thing. I can’t be doing this all the time or I’ll FB the house right out from under us. Money eventually needs to be made; Popular Delusions needs to be ready to be a community soonest; I’ve got to get content out so I can start marketing. The 2Du list for tomorrow will be long. PD needs to be ready by OryCon, so I can drop some flyers on the Freebie Table. A community needs people, after all.

Crappy Days are for notes. Non-Crappy Days are for Action. Today I take notes . . . 8-)