Archives for November 2008

Amazon Does Customer Vote for Holidays Again

Despite some growing pains and troubles last year, it seems that Amazon has decided to do the customer vote program again this year along with some pretty nice Black Friday specials.

The concept behind Customer Vote is pretty cool actually.  They put up three items and show you what the price will be for the special and how many of them will be available.  You then vote for which one of the specials you would most like to take advantage of.  On the designated day (there are 6 rounds) for each round, all the members who voted for the winning special get thrown into a random drawing and some of them (up to the amount of items) get an email that allows them to take advantage of the special.

Even if your special doesn’t win, you might still get a chance at the item at a slightly less spectacular special, so it does make some sense to vote for what you really want rather than the current winner.  The first round ends on the 27th of November 2008 and the last round ends on the 3rd of December so you’ve got a few days to get your votes in.

They’ve also got some pretty decent black friday specials that are worth checking out, but the big draw will be the Customer Vote specials.

The Blogging Process

Ede asked me to write a post about my blogging process.  I was more than happy to take this guest post challenge.  One of the biggest helps I have had was to bring prior experience into my blogging process.  I was editor in chief of my college newspaper for a year.  One of the biggest mistakes I made was not using what I learned during that time in my blogging.  I recently wrote a post on better blogging, it too might be of help here.

I have set up for myself an editorial process that I try to hold to as much as is reasonably possible.  (As a part time blogger sometimes schedules slip, but I do what I can.)  I actually found an article not too long ago that lays this process out fairly well.

Inception: Brainstorming, Start a draft, Related articles.

Sometimes it works to find a post, throw up a quick blurb, and hit post.  That will get you some content, however to make your site worth coming back to, quality will mean more than quantity.  The first part is coming up with an article idea.  I prefer a couple of methods.  First, I use Google Reader and Friendfeed to mark articles I find interesting or that are on a topic I feel I can contribute to.  Second, I am a bit old fashion in this, but I use a whiteboard as a scratch pad.  I lay out the article to give it some form and scratch out additional notes.  In WordPress, I also start a draft right away.  Even if I never write the article, I have something started that I can work on later.  I have gotten many more posts doing this.

Laying out this article

Laying out this article

Research: Blogging History, Other Bloggers, Links to Supporting Evidence

Research and supporting evidence help give both additional emphasis and credibility to posts.  Also, if you have written on the topic before, link to your older posts.  Not only does it give your audience a chance to be interested in your site past one article, it builds age and therefore credibility.  Also, link to other bloggers who have written on the topic.  (Especially if you got the idea for the post from them.)  Not only is it just plain nice to do, but it builds potential for other bloggers to link to you.  That gives you more visibility and traffic.

Posting: Stumble, Twitter, Trackbacks, Ad Placement

Once you finish, review, and post your article, there is plenty more you can do.  StumbleUpon is a great tool to help people discover your posts and then site.  After every post, I Stumble it as well.  I then also Twitter my posts, in case followers there would also like to view my posts.  A lot of links will automatically trackback to the original post, which gives a link back to your site.  The last part of this is – ad placement.  Don’t be afraid to place an ad in an article, especially if it ads to it.  An example would be a book review, add in an image of the book linking to amazon using an affiliate link.  Gives the person a look at the book artwork, and may make you a commission.  (Doesn’t happen often, but it is possible.)


The beauty in blogging is that it is extremely flexible.  Perhaps a free form process works best for you.  I find a little more structure and pre-planning go a long way in my own blogging.  Try different methods and see what works best for you.

Case of the Missing Pizza Crust Mix

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!  Court is in session.

Hear here a woeful tale of a Pizza Crust mix lost to us all and an adorable puppy grown into a vicious pizza crust and baking powder destroyer.

In court today, the defendant, Lightning.  The people allege that, on November 24th 2008 the defendant, Lightning, did willfully and maliciously remove said Pizza Crust Mix  and Baking Powder can from the pantry.  Defendant is also charged with the removal of a can of chicken with the intention of consumption.  What does the defendant have to say for himself?

Bark!  Bark!  Ruff!  *Wagging tail* *bounce* *bounce*

Peoples evidence:
One Chebe pizza crust mix; Opened/Mangled

One can of Baking Powder; Opened/Mangled
One can of Chicken; Unopened but removed

People's Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Peoples Exhibit B

Exhibit B

The people rest their case.

Sentencing to commence immediately.

Sentence: To be carried out immediately; Firm reprimand and immediate expulsion to the back yard for undetermined amount of time not to exceed 30 minutes.  Parole with supervision for remaining lunch hour with unsupervised parole for remainder of work day.

Another day filled with justice!

Better Blogging According to Jake

My friend Jake has been getting back on the horse with his blogging.  He’s made some changes to his workflow (which I might have him convinced to share with us here) and has done a really good job of becoming a regular poster.

Jake wrote an article entitled Better Blogging today and I thought that it was worth sharing.  Here’s a few snippets.

There are a number of sites that can help people blog better and make more of their blogs.  One of the best ways to improving my own blogs has been watching other bloggers and learning from their suggestions.  ProBlogger and CopyBlogger are must reads if you are trying to develop your blog.  Also, if there is a particular niche you decide to blog about, make sure to subscribe and follow what they are writing about.  Not only will you occasionally get ideas  on what to write about, but you will be able to interact with those existing communities.

Excellent advice.  There’s a nice subscribe button just at the top of the right sidebar here.  😉

Last tip on blogging I have for this post is – keep trying.  If you are trying to develop a blog and something isn’t working for you, try something else.  Just keep trying.  Ask other bloggers for advice.  It might not work for you, but it very well might give you an idea of what will.

Exactly.  This site in particular has gone through several evolutions (and is always ripe for another) and so is a perfect example of why you should keep trying. might not be a success on the order of some of the big guys, but it makes me money and gives me an outlet for my writings.  That is enough to keep me trying for a while longer.

One thing that I would add, that while not necessarily missing from Jake’s post isn’t made obvious, is to be passionate about your blogging.  Not every blog or website you do has to be on a topic that you’re passionate about, but I think you’ll find that the ones that are do much better in the long run than those that are on topics that you aren’t passionate about.

Another that I would add is to not be afraid to make money with your blog or because of your blog.  There’s nothing spammy or shameful about making money from what you do.  Some of the best bloggers around are making money from or because of their blogs.

There’s plenty more to Jake’s post, so you should go and read the rest.