Blogging: Tend Your Vineyard

Blogging Tips

I’ve been blogging for more than a decade. That seems hard to believe, but it is true. During that time I’ve cycled through a number of trends and “pro” advice, and one thing about internet writing that is ALWAYS true is that it will constantly change.

So how do we find “evergreenContent that keeps having value over time” advice?

Quality

Like any business certain things don’t change very much and one of those is quality. Quality lasts, and that is true of writing and photos.

This is a variation on the oft-repeated “Content is King”.  Besure you putting up content, because the online reader is voracious. I used to joke that that blog always wanted to be fed more content, “Feed me!”, but it isn’t a joke, so pace yourself. And post the best, constantly improving, content. that you can.

Consistency

This was my hardest lesson; and the most important.

You must develop consistency as a blogger.

It doesn’t have to be every day, or even week, but it must be regular and something your readers can count on.

Since it was always my biggest challenge in life to be regular about anything… I have suffered most in building my blog from shortcomings in this department. So here are some motivators for you:

  • Being a consistent writer will improve your writing.
  • It will help build your loyal “tribe” of fans.
  • It will keep the search engines happy with your blog, if you continually add content that is original and of good quality.
  • It will help you to develop good business work habits.

Writing with consistency helps you develop a rhythm that also creates something of a flow and is a generator of inspiration.

 

Pick Up The Pace

Aim for two posts a week if you can. I have several different blogs, and some of them only recently have congealed into their topic focus. They started as experiments or I had some loose idea of what I wanted to write, but now they are gelling into a true fix on subject and intent.

Now that I know what I want to focus writing about, I am posting. Choosing a subject that is large enough, but that I’m interested in, has helped to give me motivation to write.

Take this blog for example, it began as a revival of one single page that I had originally developed long ago in my first website. I remembered how I needed to compile my most helpful tips and links in making my website at that time. All the things that I was learning, although I was a newbie, could be helpful for other newbies!

Now that blogging has changed so much and the learning curve is steeper before we see results, I know these articles will serve a need.

Writing more often has become one of my main goals for these newly minted blogs.

Tend Your Own Vineyard

I spent a lot of time writing on free sites, most recently writing for Squidoo, and now Hubpages.

There were several reasons for this:

  • Squidoo ( now defunct) was promoted as a way to increase links to my website.
  • It was fun with an active community of new acquaintances. It taught me a great deal about marketing.
  • It earned me money.
  • Hubpages continues in the vein of earning money online, but all sources nowadays are diminishing.

Tending ones own vineyard is advice from the Bible. It means taking care of what you own and can harvest from. Everyone wants you to jump onto their wagon and work in their field of dreams. We do that for the kinds of reasons that I listed, but we ought to, first, grow and maintain our own blog.

Write for your own domain and sites, first. Be very judicious about the time you invest in others blogs and sites.

Why?

  • They own it, run it, and make decisions about it without you. Your interests come very low on the totem pole.
  • They can change it, close it ( witness Squidoo, and Geocities before that) and there is little you can do, but be ready to change gears.
  • You may lose work.
  • You will keep increasing your time and effort investment.

And those are not even all the possible “cons” in the equation.

So while I like to keep my hand in writing for such places, and they do pay me (which is often reinvested in these self-hosted blogs), my best advice is to mainly work on your own blog. Build it, improve it, keep consistently adding articles and creating a masterpiece of work.

 

In Sum

You know the drill by now:

Write.

Produce quality and keep adding to quantity.

Be a consistent writer and post regular articles.

Add to this (very important today):

Participation and growth of your social media.

You don’t have to be in everything, but you should be growing a presence in the communities that bring value to your blogs. Google Plus 1, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Pinterest (this one is huge for me), Instagram, and many others including their byways that help to collate the many social media avenues (Rebelmouse is one).

Write for yourself, your own domain and sites, first, and in a regular way.

Go ahead and participate as a content writer elsewhere, but remember your priorities.

Tend Your Vineyard

Google Adsense Plugin Is A Success

I started using the plugin from google for adding Adsense to my site. The idea was to give it a couple weeks. And although coincidentally the spring is my most visited season on my garden site, the amount of income that came from using the plugin has proved that it really is a success.

I am not a big earner, by any means, but the amounts from 2013 had become downright pathetic. I would be happy for 2 cents a day.  Now it is much better, and I have hope that with hard work on the site, Adsense might be a supplement to online income.

I says it is still in Beta, but I am hoping they continue to develop it; this plugin has been a real boon to my site. I am hoping to use it on more of my sites, soon.

If you are interested in trying it out yourself, here is the link in the WordPress repository:

Google Publisher Plugin

Trouble Updating and Saving WordPress?

I have been producing daily posts for my Advent blog. Everything was working well, until recently (the past couple days). Suddenly, I found most of the post missing, which was supposed to be ready to publish. Strangely, I also had trouble getting some of the admin areas to work, especially Tags.

This problem only seemed to be inside the main editing page, and did not affect the Quick edit. I couldn’t seem to eradicate the problem with turning off plugins, or even deleting them. I did, however, find that the Chrome browser functioned just fine. I rewrote the post, added new illustrations, and published.

It appears to be a problem with my bloated Firefox browser. The Firefox has been touchy for awhile, requiring me to completely close out -which is often forced to quit- and then restarting my machine to get it to work.

I think I need to use Chrome for further editing and writing my posts from now on.

Troubleshooting Changes

The entire problem in my WordPress blog while using Firefox looked like this:

  • Tags were locked and wouldn’t open in the “choose from most used” link. Also new ones wouldn’t save.
  • Posts didn’t save
  • Trouble getting images to save
  • Generally java scripts weren’t working
  • Visual editor stopped working ( couldn’t switch from text to visual, though I could the previous day)
  • Revisions were lost

I have many add-ons that I love in Firefox, but this could be causing problems.  All this post consists of is conjecture since I am not a programmer.  What I do know is that I lost a days work to Firefox and WordPress somehow not functioning properly, and that today Chrome came to the rescue.

Autosaves

Depending on autosaves causes one to grow lazy about manually doing saves and backup of posts.

I have always written my posts online in the software editor, even though I have offline programs… they just don’t get use.

But when the autosave runs into a problem, there is lost work and lots of regret.

 

But Maybe It Isn’t Firefox

I also strangely noticed that much of the updating that I had done on my sites ( several!) went missing. The theme for this site had been changed, but now reverted to the old theme. So maybe a hosting failure with a backup replacement that predated my changes?

That also may have been the explanation.

-But I am not quick to lay blame. I have everything compounded by the fact that my internet provider sometimes experiences difficulties which wrecks havoc on the saving process, and the browser functions, etc.

 

So for now, my most reasonable idea is that it was Firefox which cause my problems with WordPress, or maybe it had been the perfect storm of factors mentioned here. However it worked, so far Chrome worked. But if it happens again- I’ll be looking at the site hosting as the next most likely suspect.

Page Speed, Image Optimizing, And Caching

BluCloud

I ceased the experiment with Google pagespeed mainly because I changed hosts. The hosting I have has Cloudflare as a recommended default. Cloudflare has been updating most of the time I have been using it, so I can’t really report on whether it is helpful or not. I have been deleting extra plugins and themes, as a precaution against hacking, although it is still a concern.

If you are just starting out with WordPress on your own hosting, what I would do if starting over, is to sign onto a hosting site that specializes in WordPress platform and that promises reliable security.

Site security has been a big learning curve for me, and probably for many other WordPress bloggers.

The choice of theme and the use of added plugins are both factors in how fast -or slow- your blog will be. Another consideration is the image size files. It is good to reduce the image to resolutions and sizes that are optimized for the web. If you have Gimp (free program), you can export your files and choose the quality of the file, otherwise go ahead an use an online optimizer.

Here are some choices for image optimizing:

Posting For Pennies

laptop ladyIf money were the only reason I write online, in my blogs and communities, then pennies is the payout and I wouldn’t consider it worth the time. But if writing is more than earning a paycheck, then my success has made me wealthy.

It all depends on how we value our time, effort, and results.

I’ve been attempting to build an online business, and part of a business is producing something, while the other part is its ability to provide income.

While I started out writing and creating websites just for the excitement of it (and watching the site statistics!), the reward of feedback in reader commentary became an important part of the reason to write. At that time it was reward enough for me.

As the internet became bigger it became important to put some of my writing into its own hosted domain. That cost money. Thus was born my initial attempts at monetization with much trepidation. In fact, I was so timid about adding Google ads and Amazon associate links that I made almost zero every month. And only a penny or two usually on other months. That went on a long time, long enough that I wondered whether online earnings might be an Urban Legend.

Caution
While taking advice from this post, use it mainly for information purpose only. The “content farm” writing sites have changed so much in recent times that this information is outdated.

I finally earned something

money1
After I did start getting some small results, it just seemed that the boat had passed me by, and I did miss out on the early days when some savvy entrepreneurs were turning their websites into businesses. Today, though, I see that with lots of hard work, it is possible to build your income with writing online.

I’m not successful enough to parlay expertise into training and tutorials, but I can share how some endeavors are working for me.

 

Continue reading “Posting For Pennies”

The Newer Model: WP Twenty Twelve

Although I liked the Twenty Eleven theme for WordPress, I changed the Advent Blog to the newer version theme. One of the reasons was that I found the header was too large for my blog post style, and the Twenty Twelve had more features that I liked.

Of course the drawback was that I lost a few features, like the asides posts. For some reason WordPress developers didn’t feel it was important, although I could still add them in with an extra plugin. Another drawback to going with the latest and greatest default theme is the lack of child themes. Twenty Ten had lots, …T.Eleven, not so many, and T.Twelve had almost nil free child themes made for it. Its font sizes were way too small, too.

What did I most like about it? The newest themes, including Twenty twelve are “responsive” themes to show up well on mobile phones,etc. And that is where the internet is going…. mobile. It doesn’t make sense to have themes that look wonky on a phone, anymore.

I suppose those are things that will be ironed out in the future. For now, I am happy using the Twenty Twelve theme for my Advent Devotionals, which now have monthly devotionals throughout the year. I wish I could settle on just a few ideal themes for my wordpress blogs, but I seem to have a problem being truly satisfied, even with premium themes that I pay for each year.

Getting Social About It

twitterbirdThe social plugins out there are familiar to all of us, who read blogs and who make them. I’ve used a number of them, but just added one to this blog: Shareaholic.

I’ve seen it on other blogs and always liked the look. If it works out well here, I think I will replace other plugins I am using on some of my other blogs.

One of the criticisms of social sharing plugins has been the way they slow down a site, which is a real problem for some of my sites (although not necessarily for this one). This site is not image heavy and the theme seems fairly fast. If there are problems it likely come from the unfortunate fate of Netfirms, which was bought by EIG. I have had lots of hosting woes since ownership of Netfirms changed. And they seem to buy out every hosting company I look into, so far.

Back to the plugin… Shareaholic for WordPress is HTML5-compliant, its JavaScript is hosted on Amazon’s CDN, and it is customizable in ways that are easy to implement. It includes sharing sites that others don’t always include – like Squidoo.

I like it.

Add it to the list of important WordPress plugins to include in your list.

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

wordpress

I have new favorites. I’ve been replacing some of the old favorites and adding new plugins that accomplish important tasks… here is the scoop.

Plugin Good For Ads

For Adsense I used to use Easy Adsense until it changed into something second rate, not to go into a rant or badmouth it. It served well for many years, but now I use Post Layout which gives much more control and doesn’t seem to try and siphon off earnings (of which there was never very much and is quite low at this point). Post Layout allows for other ad programs to be added, as well. So far, I like it.
Post Layout Plugin

Plugins Every Site Should Have

Some of my sites have been WordPress based for many years, and during that time went through changes including problems with permalinks, etc. I had lots of redirects and broken links to other sites, etc. So I am super excited about the plugin I tried, called “Broken Link Checker”.

It is very easy to use and I have gone through just about all the broken links to either unlink, or -more often- find the new links on site that dropped their pages or changed the location. I am looking forward to this plugin changing the speed and (possibly help) google rank. At least my site is updated and far better experience for readers!!!

(1.) I recommend every WordPress site to have the Broken Link Checker plugin.

For many years I used “All In One SEO”, and I have no complaint about it, but when I read about all that Yoast’s WP SEO plugin could do, I started using it. It is complex and I don’t have the learning curve completely mastered, but it is working well, and I think it will be a huge improvement for my site. It imports all of the settings and info from ‘All In One’.

(2.) Yoast SEO for WordPress

“Yet Another Related Posts Plugin” is one that I have used from very early on. It has been reliable and helps people find more posts, which is more important than ever on sites that have lots of content. I tweaked it to provide graphics, much like “LinkWithin” but without the nuisance keywords of the LinkWithin site coming up repeatedly. The new version of YARPP now has those thumbnails builtin.

I wouldn’t do without this plugin.

(3.) Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Other New Additions

I started using the Jetpack because it was so highly recommended. Mostly the stats part of it interests me, I’m not sure about the rest of it (and it is extensive). The verdict will be in later in the year. But it is well worth trying, especially if your blog uses more of the features than mine would.
Jetpack.

Jetpack Plugin

Google XML Sitemaps isn’t perfect, but it helps provide a sitemap which is necessary and which I don’t understand well enough to provide for myself. I liked it much better when you could add pages, a feature which they have not restored as of this writing. Still, the plugin is a useful one.

Google XML Sitemap

WP-PageNavi is built-in to some templates, but if you don’t have it, this navigation tool is very worthwhile. It gives a logical and good looking way to navigate through the sites pages. Plus you can style it.

WP-PageNavi


I have used many plugins over the years, some of which I regret, some that I get more excited over the more I use them. If I wanted the essentials this list is one I would start with. It is not a definitive list by any means, but a great way to start your WordPress site.