Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
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.

Jun 19

3 Website Promotional Tools That Aren’t Doing You Any Good

I don’t know how to explain this any better but Linkys aren’t going to help your Google PageRank. They use Javascripts that the search engines can’t read as links. That’s okay, you’re saying, maybe you just want to spread the word about your new giveaway on a linky, but that’s also highly imperfect. Linkys really only reach the target of that one blog, unless they’re part of a hop or similar giveaway and appear on several sites.

Linkys are also a lot of work for bloggers to enter them. With so many scripts, it takes far longer to add a listing to a single linky than it does for me to add my new giveaways to legitimate giveaway websites, which advertise them to hundreds or thousands of users, opposed to the much less impressive stats of any single Web page. I have nothing against website owners who use linkys. They seem to foster a sort of community, which is a great thing. They’re just not going to be as effective as you imagine.

And as a reader? Linkys overwhelm me. Giveaway listings without images are difficult to pick apart. Linkys with hundreds of entries are just as much work to read as they are to enter. Plus, the same Javascript that negates any link juice means analytics tools also can’t read them, so you’re never able to prove that linkys work. I can only conclude that links are a waste of time.
What do I recommend instead? Consider these sites to list giveaways:

I am loathe to add this social network to the site but, well, here it is. Pinterest only works for very specific niches and, generally, only because those niches use photos. If you’re posting recipes without photos, it won’t do you a damned good. The same can be said for a lot of my posts, because I favor text over images. I have nothing against images per se, but the strength in Pinterest is not your words. In fact, your best bet is to post that photo of your latest casserole with the recipe right on the site. Why? Most people don’t even know you can click images to get recipes, tutorials or read more. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I see at least one user asking “Where’s the recipe?” or something similar every time I sign on to Pinterest.
Paying for Keywords in Content
I probably shouldn’t even mention this here, because some of my income is from sites like Blogsvertise that affiliate exactly this practice. However, it’s just not going to cut it anymore. As a reader, I quickly learned to identify and avoid those posts. It takes a lot of creativity to work some of those keywords into your posts as a blogger. Believe me, I’ve tried. Search engines are now removnig all the benefits of having one thousand blogs linking to your furniture shop with keywords. Google looks at this as spammy, and won’t let your website rise to the top of search engine results pages if you do it.

In fact, I’ve been contacted by advertisers who have previously paid for this type of keyword on Reviews by Cole and wanted me to remove the link, because Google had cracked down on this behavior, and the website majorly dropped in the search engine rankings. There is good news, however. Google knows that people will naturally link to your website with the URL or the page name, so those are safe anchor texts to use, if you do pay for sponsored content.

Oct 26

The Internet Has Stalled

I remembered 5-10 years ago when I was apart of countless forums where web design was all the rage. To me, to everyone, it seemed like the future was limitless and that we could do anything we wanted. Back then, being able to successfully call an image or make a link was cause for excitement. And I was hooked. So I took a bite of the possibilities and hopped on the blog train before they weren’t considered anything different than journals. I had affiliates, I made fanlistings and cliques and joined webrings and, for the most part, still maintain much of that. I made my own forums on Delphi. I dived in head first.

Then I took some time to weed out what it was I really wanted to do. I stepped away from cartoon dolls and trying to have my own forums. I slowly weened the list of projects to the ones I cared about the most and, of course, this site was always at the top of that list. I spent hours working on content which was all the rage. I looked up HTML help and tricks and CSS guides and Javascripts and shortcuts and includes and colour charts. I commented and linked and associated with very similar people with very similar sites. At that time, Web2.0 was far in the distance, everything was graphic intensive (and, usually, beautiful) and everyone and their dog had a site. We were all still learning and making mistakes together.

Then, something happened. Maybe people grew up. Maybe we just got to a point where we could comfortably do what we wanted without learning much more or anything more. I know I’ve been there for a while. I could make new themes, add new content and continue doing things the way I’ve been doing them without learning anything new. It feels kind of stagnant. Back then, I learned basic HTML, I learned tables, then frames, then divs then increased my understanding of CSS and it seemed like progression was obvious and logical but now I don’t know where I’d go even if I wanted to. I suppose PHP is the future and I’d gleaned some information here and there, especially using WordPress, but it doesn’t thrill me the way learning something new used to.

There’s not really anyone else whose thrilled either. I definitely think we all fed off the excitement of the group and it encouraged us to do more, go bigger. It’s harder to keep up the frenzy when you’re alone in it. But there’s this general trend of folks getting on with their lives and the internet just doesn’t play as big a part of that anymore. There’s school and work and families and stuff I have somehow managed to avoid and now I’m a remnant of something that will probably never come back and I miss it.

Of course, there’s people left who are still trudging on but now that the internet has made the transition to 2.0, I find myself alienated by the new trends. There is no inspiration for me anywhere; I do not want to do what people are doing and, even if I did, what they’re doing doesn’t feel remarkable the way everything used to feel. I guess I’m just not a big fan of function over form.

Man, I write all these posts where I am nostalgic for the past, especially when it comes to the internet. I’m not that old; how does that even work?

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