Archive for the Category »Plugins and Widgets «

After you’ve blogged for awhile, you realize there’s more to blogging than just writing.

There’s behind the scenes maintenance; a task some of us would rather forget about.

Today’s Lesson

Over the past few weeks, I learned two great lessons.

  1. If my blogs load slow, chances are, I haven’t done my homework.
  2. If I don’t empty out my spam folder, I may be in violation of the terms of service for my web host.

When I first noticed my blogs were loading slow, I blamed it on my old computer. Then I thought it was Firefox. But after I tested my blog speed on WebSiteOptimization.com and YSlow (a Firefox addon), I found

  1. I had too many images on my home page.
  2. I had images which were not compressed.
  3. I wasn’t utilizing my caching plugin to it’s fullest potential

To correct the above problems,

  1. I removed a few of the images from my home page.
  2. I installed the “Smush It” plugin – which compresses photos.
  3. I chose more options for the WP Super Cache plugin.
  4. I also made a note to myself: when I make changes to my blogs, test the blog page loading time.

With regard to my second problem, my web host (BlueHost) sent me an email stating my account had been deactivated. They requested a call from me to discuss the problem(s). When I called them, they stated I had “inappropriate” content in my spam comments folder and I was in violation of their terms of service, which reads, in part:

Prohibited Offerings. No Subscriber may utilize the Services to provide, sell or offer to sell the following: controlled substances; illegal drugs and drug contraband; weapons; pirated materials; instructions on making, assembling or obtaining illegal goods or weapons to attack others; information used to violate the copyright(s) of, violate the trademark(s) of or to destroy others’ intellectual property or information; information used to illegally harm any people or animals; pornography, nudity, sexual products, programs or services; escort services or other content deemed adult related.

Profanity. Profanity or profane subject matter in the site content and in the domain name are prohibited.

Because I wasn’t able to access the back side of my blog (dashboard), the technician (patiently) gave me instructions on how to delete the spam comments via my cPanel. When I was done, I was instructed to call them back, which I did and they immediately reactivated my blogs.

This problem taught me two lessons:

  1. Read the terms of service for your webhost
  2. Empty your spam folder(s) on a regular basis

In order to avoid having the same problem in the future, I

  1. Installed the G.A.S.P. plugin which verifies those who comment are not spammers or spambots, thus reducing spam.
  2. Delete any spam comments which do come through.

As much as we’d rather spend our blogging time writing or commenting, in order for our blogs to run smoothly, regular maintenance needs to be performed, too.

What say you?

Today’s Assignment

How often do you do maintenance to your blog(s)?

When’s the last time you tested your blog’s loading time?

Care to share?

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P.S. All of my blogs have been hosted with BlueHost* since March 2007. The problem I had resulted from me not reading their terms of service and not deleting the inappropriate spam comments.

*Affiliate link

How to find balance in bloggingWhen we start blogging, we usually add blogging to our already busy schedule. As our platter of life fills up, we begin to feel overwhelmed.

Finding balance is ideal, but where do we start?

Today’s Lesson

Listed below are a few blogging tips to help save time and find balance.

  1. Write mission, vision and value statements.
  2. A clear blogging focus will help to keep us on track.

  3. Evaluate how much time is spent on social networking sites.
  4. Social networking is a great activity if we want to get, and keep our name out there and catch up with our online friends. However,  it’s often unproductive time. Reducing the amount of time we spend on social networking sites may be beneficial.

  5. Ask, “what can I automate?”
  6. With WordPress there are many plugins we can use to save time. Take, for example, the WordPress database backup plugin. We set the schedule. It does the rest, automatically.

  7. Reduce the amount of time spent checking statistics.
  8. I used to be a stataholic and would check my statistics WAY too often. I finally realized it was a waste of time. Now when I look at my stats, it’s to see what search strings visitors used to find my blogs and where the traffic is coming from i.e. social networking sites, search engines, direct.

  9. Access what blogging activities are helping to get our blog found.
  10. If visiting other blogs and commenting is helping, concentrate on that. What about social networking? Is it beneficial? What about  SEO (search engine optimization) work?   (This information can be found in your stats.)

  11. Quit guessing. Time yourself.
  12. Use a timer to check exactly how much time you are spending on blogging activities. I timed myself on Twitter and although I guessed I had only spent fifteen minutes socializing, it was closer to an hour. Yikes!!!

  13. Trying to make money with a blog? Start simple (or wait).
  14. When I started blogging, I wasted many hours placing and changing affiliate ads on my blogs. Little did I know spending that much time trying to make money on a blog which got very little traffic was worthless.

  15. Give ideas time to work.
  16. Impatience can be our enemy. Let’s say we decide to try something new on our blog. After a week it’s not getting the results we expected, so we drop that idea and go to “plan b” or “plan c”. In blogosphere (as in life) new ideas take time. Practice patience.

  17. Ask for help
  18. Like many of you, I don’t like to ask for help. However, it’s tough to do it all and do it good. Asking others for their suggestions or hiring a professional to handle specific aspects of our blog (such as coding or design) will allow us to spend time on that which we enjoy.

  19. Have fun.
  20. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our blogs we forget to enjoy the blogging journey. Make time to get away from the blog. Introduce yourself to other bloggers. Jump on a social networking site. Exchange ideas. Share a joke. Have a laugh. 😆

Your blog will wait.

Control your blog. Don’t let your blog control you (and your life).

Today’s Assignment:

How do you find time to do it all?

Do you have any time-saving tips or ideas of how to gain balance?

Or do you have a question either I or someone else can answer for you?

Care to share?

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Photo Credit: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent)

Although bloggers may not use advertisements on their sites, donate links or widgets are something you might see. free to use image for buy me a coffee plugin or widget

I include a donate page on some of my blogs and am always grateful for those who have used it (you know who you are. :)), but…I don’t expect my visitors to make a contribution.

Unless I’m hired to design a custom header or ADvatar, the information I offer is free.

Today’s Lesson

I don’t mind seeing donate buttons considering how blog, plugin and theme authors are providing valuable information, for free. I see it as a way for them to be compensated for their knowledge, talent or services.

But the question is, do they work?

Or, do they make the blog, plugin or theme author seem greedy or needy? Or, make it look like they’re panhandling?

Based on what I’ve seen, I believe donate badges or pages can work, however unless we put the donate link in front of our readers, chances are they won’t see it, nor will a reader realize donating is an option.

I used a plugin named “Buy Me A Beer” which also had an option for “Buy Me A Coffee”. A click on the button would take you to the blog author’s PayPal account where you could enter the amount you’d like to give. (The plugin appears to be retired.)

I liked the plugin, but when I cleaned up my blog, I removed it and opted for a “Donate” page.

If donating is something you’d like to add to your blog, setting up a donate widget would be easy. Just find an image of a glass of beer, cup of coffee, tip jar, or…, add your own copy, code it to link to your PayPal account and voilà, there it is.

Or, set up a “Donate” page and include the link and button PayPal provides.

Today’s Assignment

Do you use a donate page or widget on your blog? If so, are readers using it?

Do you, or would you donate to a blog, plugin or theme author?

Or do you view a donate button/badge as a form of panhandling and ignore them?

Care to share?

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P.S. The coffee cup image in this post is free for you to use. Just right-click on it and hit “save as”.

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