Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Apr 11

Attention Bloggers: Heartbleed Affects You!

Heartbleed Patch Needed

What to do in the wake of Heartbleed

Normally, when you log on to a website and you see the green “HTTPS” in your address bar, you feel pretty safe. Your bank, PayPal, Facebook and Google are all among sites that use encryption to make sure that your private information stays private. However, the Internet just got news of Heartbleed. What is this strange thing with an even stranger name? It’s a bug in OpenSSL, one of the popular methods used to encrypt data such as passwords and credit card numbers.

What does this mean?

In short, OpenSSL hasn’t necessarily been doing its job for almost 2 years.

What should I do?

Expect that your passwords and log-in information have been floating around the Web for 24 months. In the best case scenario, no one has this information. In the worst case scenario, someone has it but hasn’t decided to use it — yet! Changing your passwords is essential.

What sites are effected?

Not all websites that use HTTPs are affected. Not all sites that use OpenSSL were vulnerable. Those that are have, hopefully, fixed the bugs  (if they’re smart). However, there are a lot of websites that you might use as a blogger that are effected.

Mashable has a more complete list of all the websites affected by Heartbleed, and you might use some of them! Check it out.

Mar 22

Sverve 101: Pinterest Meets Klout for Bloggers

I’ve been quite active on Sverve lately, and I thought I’d take the time to write about it. If you hadn’t heard of Sverve, it’s a site where female bloggers can go to connect with one another and with brands. Sverve has a funny name, but it also has a “tip” system that works like Pinterest and a rating system like Klout. In fact, I think that Sverve takes much of the better points of both of those sites/networks and combines them. I would love to see marketers using Sverve scores and bloggers promoting each other via Sverve.

You can check out my Sverve profile and my thoughts below to see if this site is worth your time.

Of course, you’ll edit your name, bio and avatar. From your Sverve profile, others can follow you, and you can follow them back.  When new people follow you, you’ll see a notification.

My current Sverve rank

My current Sverve rank

Your Sverve Rank

When you log in to Sverve, you’ll provide your social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) links and your website URL, and Sverve uses these to calculate a score that’s broken down into three categories:

  1. Blog influence
  2. Social media influence
  3. Sverve influence

According to Sverve:

 Sverve influence is calculated by the number of endorsements an influencer has received in her top three areas of influence as compared to her peers.

So that’s interesting to know.

The site then changes these ranks (from low to high) and applies a number to them. Your Sverve rank is from 0 to 100, and some campaigns — which I’ll talk about later — use rank as a metric for qualifying. You can see your rank breakdown by going to your profile and clicking on the rank badge by your name.

In just a few short weeks (if that), my rank is 55. It’s grown about 20 points since I signed up, which is mostly due to endorsements. Rank updates every day at 8 PM.

Areas of Interest and Endorsements

When you sign up, you can pick areas of influence. I was able to pick 5, and I’m not sure if you can pick more. You should carefully think about the best areas of influence. Mine are:

  • Giveaways
  • Reviews
  • Social media and blogging
  • Technology
  • Shopping

It was hard to narrow the areas down, especially when Reviews by Cole is such a broad blog. I’m also adding tips (see below) from Her Realm. If you want to change them, you’ll have to delete an area and enter a new one — starting from 0.

When people visit your profile, they can click to endorse you (like Klout) for a specific area of influence, but others can only endorse you once. Endorsements will show up in your notifications tab, too. Like Klout, you can tweet whenever you endorse someone.

You can also get a Sverve badge like the one here to place on your website.

sverve tip categories

sverve tip categories


When you sign in to Sverve, you’ll see the newest tips from the people whom you follow. Tips on Sverve are like pinning, but they’re about the content that the tips link to rather than the image itself. This was really the intent with Pinterest, but most people are too lazy to click over to read recipes so you’ll see them directly on the pin. You can like, comment on and share tips (like Pinterest) and I am pretty sure that the more people who like your tips, the better your Sverve score will be.

Sverve has a bookmarklet that you can add to your bookmarks toolbar to quickly pin things, and you can choose images just like you would with Pinterest. However, you can also add tips from sources that don’t have images with a generic placeholder. Obviously, images help get the user’s attention.

Unlike Pinterest, you’ll select a category for every tip that you add. You’ll also select one of your own areas of influence. These categories and areaas of interest will appear when you’re looking at tips that other people add, and you can endorse them directly from the tip, which is handy.


Sverve offers a variety of campaigns. There are 4 tabs:

  • Sponsored post/affiliate
  • Sponsored share
  • Pinterest sweepstakes
  • Youtube campaigns

As you’d guess, you can find companies looking for sponsored posts in the first tab. You’ll also see people who want you to promote their content without compensation — just affiliate links. These are almost never worth your time. Sverve lists several types of campaigns: a referral program, guest blogging opportunities, product reviews, and community management. Brands can specify that only users with specific Sverve ranks are considered. I’ve yet to be accepted for a campaign but you’ll see all campaigns in the “engaged” section. It doesn’t look like you’ll know if brands choose to ignore or deny you. You’ll simply not be accepted.

I’ve yet to have any sponsored share, but the name needs no explaining. I’ve also not had any Youtube campaigns so I’m not sure whether they are content creation or promotion.

Sverve always seems to have at least one Pinterest sweepstakes going at once. You can enter yourself, and you can also sign up as a promoter. If you get others to join, you’ll make a commission. Commissions are usually under $1, but that can add up quickly. You’ll see your current earnings on your account, and you can cash out once you reach $5 across all your campaigns.

sverve pinterest sweepstakes

sverve pinterest sweepstakes

I’ve also received emails with special links for paying campaigns like this one. However, it doesn’t show up on my dashboard so I’m not quite sure how it works.

With rank, endorsements, campaigns and tips, Sverve seems like a great way to get to know other bloggers, make money and get  exposure to your website.

Mar 20

Are Spammers Smarter Than You?

No, this isn’t about whether spammers will find a way around your plugins and fill your site with spam. Although, that is a real problem that all of us bloggers deal with. Actually, this is about how “smart” spam comments have become as o late.

I think that some of the spam comments I’ve received lately are surprisingly intelligent. Of course, this make sense. It’s easier to miss spam comments when they look legitimate like these. In fact, I wouldn’t mind answering some of these questions in spam comments.

Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for inexperienced blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

Write whatever you want, even if you’ve seen someone else talk about it or even if people are afraid to talk about it. Don’t be afraid to make people angry. Someone will always disagree with you. And keep a notebook on you at all times to write down those thoughts that you can piece together to make great blog posts. I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been that I didn’t jot down a great idea. Even if you don’t write about it right now, keep it as a draft until late. You’ll be glad that you did.

Hi this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

No, you don’t have to know HTML to start a blog, but it’ll make things a hell of a lot easier when you know how to insert your own images and links, float things and display things semantically in tables and lists.

Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on Any recommendations?

Hackers are shitty. Fortunately, I’ve only been hacked twice. Once was on my writing website because I was using an old plugin. Always, always, always update your plugins and WordPress install. (The other was a hack on the server I was on and not my own site). Since then, I’ve installed Bulletproof Security to create HTAccess files to protect my blog and hard work.

I have heard good things about Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into it? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve never even heard of Blog Engine, but I know how to use a search engine! The Internet suggests that it’s much easier to do this the other way around. However, this tutorial shows that it’s possible.

I have a new filming and editing businesses in which I run.. Its not a big popular job so I want to advertise it by creating a web site. How do I start a website thats not too expensive and its easy to use?.

Try using WordPress to power your business. Sign up, create your blog and pick a magazine or photoblog theme to showcase your work. Keep up with a blog that you update frequently and use Jetpack to push those updates to Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Facebook and other social network profiles.

Honestly, I’d love to answer questions like me from real readers so let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Mar 13

In Which Cole Is a Snob

My last post elicited strong feelings from other people and not just myself. In fact, Jenn posted it on her Facebook Timeline and people came from all over to reply. I was really hoping for something that gave me pause to change my mind. And it did. Sort of. I did. Kind of.

One thing that I didn’t mean to imply was that you should never ask for help. This is how you learn to do anything. Asking for help has even become easier with Google because you won’t even need to ask people when there are so many resources available to you. Of course, some people learn better from other people, and I would never discourage you from asking for help from another person if you’re that person.

Another thing that was highlighted in this discussion is that I am just more of a technophile or a geek or what-have-you than many people are. But I don’t frequently realize this. I don’t even think of myself like that much of the time. So when I wind up answering questions that people have about WordPress or HTML or PHP, I sometimes feel like I am not qualified. I’m not a professional or an expert. My friend Ben suggests that perhaps that there are different levels of expertise, and perhaps this is true.

But the fact that I don’t feel qualified means that I am not charging people for my knowledge or skills, and maybe I should. I’m not saying that I would, but a mutual friend talked about how she works with companies who want to expand their Web presense. They don’t have the time or skills necessary to DIY, and so they hie people like this friend who makes a living by providing her skills. One thing that I even thought about as I wrote my original post is how I don’t think people like her shouldn’t have a job. She provides a skill that is valuable to some people and they have the money for it.

We did agree that she mostly works with small businesses, but I was talking about people who define themselves as professional bloggers. This segues into another thought. To me, being a blogger is wearing many masks:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Photographer (sort of)
  • Publisher
  • Delivery Boy
  • Maintenance man

It makes little sense to me that someone whose livelihood depends upon the uptime and function of their blog wouldn’t take the time to learn about these things that seem to come so easily to me (see above).

But in 2014, many people equate blogging with only writer and perhaps one or two of those other ideas. This is partly because blogging has become so accessible. Google and WordPress have made it possible. This is how things work. Once upon a time, cars and TVs weren’t accessible. Now, most people see them as staples. Blogging will go in the same way, and I don’t truly wish for it to remain stagnant.

This also means that the blogosphere is in excess. There are so many words, you guys. So.Many.Words. I cannot read them all, I do not want to read them all, and I am so sick of “professional” bloggers who can’t write worth a damn. No, I don’t want to stop people from speaking if they feel like they absolutely have to get the words out, but I also feel as though much of the words out there aren’t out there because people really want to connect.

Unfortunately, the blogosphere is saturated with people who are there solely for the quick buck that they can make in it right now. Because I like to review and have a review blog, I wind up lumped in with them, but this is not an entirely comfortable fit. Seeing people I dislike doing things that make no sense to me obviously gets a rise out of me.

So if you really want to blog, whether or not you make money from it, the Internet is the place to be. You can do it and you can even make money if you don’t know how to use punctuation. And you can ignore anything that I have to say about it because everyone knows that I am a snob.

And I can continue to do it myself and get an immense sense of satisfaction for us. The Internet is big enough that we don’t have to ever cross paths, even though we probably will.

Mar 05

I Have Strong Feelings About Blogging

Actually, they’re very strong feelings. And they’re somewhat elitist. I can sum them up like this. You shouldn’t own a blog if..
Now go blog about this

  • You cannot install your own blog (and it only takes 5 minutes!)
  • You cannot upgrade your blog
  • You don’t know how to edit HTML or CSS
  • You cannot work with PHP
  • You don’t understand what a MySQL database is

Maybe I’m showing how dated I am here, but I come from a time when you couldn’t have a blog if you didn’t do it yourself. There weren’t people who would help you — for free or otherwise — and there were far fewer plugins. When you wanted to do something, you had to learn how to do it.

And it was amazing. 

Honestly. I learned all the skills I have more. I made friends. I certainly cemented myself as a geek. I love that I have these skills in my repertoire.

It just shocks me that people can run blogs — successful blogs at that! — and not have any of these skills. When their site goes down, when a plugin messes something up, when they want to change something, they need to ask for help. More often than not, they pay for it. This is simply inconceivable to me. You’re wasting your money with something that you can — and should — do yourself!

And I realize that it makes me look like an asshole. I get it. I do. It’s like saying that you shouldn’t own a car if you can’t build an engine. Or that you shouldn’t own a computer that you can’t maintain? But people do. It is the new normal. (Perhaps people used to think this when cars and computers were new?) And who am I to say that these people shouldn’t spend money if they have it to spend? Some people have to option to be less frugal, and I am envious!

However, I am not alone. The Shareaholic blog provides some basics about HTML usage along with this quote:

No matter how many pageviews you have, having an understanding of HTML is key to having a successful blog.

A commenter there also made a great point: you need to know HTML if you want to optimize your website for search engines, too. This is because you need to use keywords in your image names, anchor text, titles and headings, just to name a few locations. You won’t be able to do this if you don’t have at least a basic understanding of HTML.

But I firmly believe that bloggers need to know more than just HTML. This enables you to retain complete control of your website — and of your wallet. Perhaps the problem is that the people who do understand this don’t realize how well we understand it. Maybe the tutorials we write about CSS  or using the WordPress database are too confusing. But everything is confusing at first, and maybe you need a different source when it comes to learning.

Nevertheless, the world is changing. People are driving their cars without any knowledge of how to fix them. In fact, people who fix their own often do so out of necessity rather than because society expects it, and no one loses pride over it. For me, it’s still a matter of pride to do things with my own hands, er, fingers.