DazzlinDonna on Community – an Interview

In mid January I asked readers to tell me what they want to see more of in this blog. I offered to interview whoever’s idea made me “the happiest and most interested.” Donna Fontenot of DazzlinDonna commented that she’d like to see me expound on my tag line, “Using the Internet to Build Community.”

Bingo and bravo. Community is the topic, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather interview about community.

Elizabeth: Donna, do you remember the first time you made a connection between that thing called “computer” and the concept of community? Describe it for us?

Donna: The first time that I can remember (which may be different than the first time) was in 1989, I think, when I first logged on to the Internet via Prodigy. Actually, I’m not sure you could even call it the Internet, since Prodigy was a closed garden, but the details don’t matter. What matters is that I could communicate in all sorts of ways with people I didn’t know and my world suddenly became large.

Elizabeth: What is the most fun you’ve ever had online with other people?

Donna: I’m a programming geek at heart, so “fun” might not be the same for me as it is for others. But I think the most fun I’ve had online was at the beginning of two different periods of my career. The first was when I first began programming in ColdFusion, and was actively involved in ColdFusion forums and user groups. We would program all through the night, and the interaction was intense but fun. The second was when I first began diving into SEO, and again, I became actively involved in search-related forums and projects. Arguing, discussing, testing, and debating the various possible search tactics and algorithm changes was tons of fun. Both involved “new learning” and “shared knowledge”, which would have been almost impossible without online communities.

Elizabeth: So, why is community such a big deal, anyway?

Donna: Elizabeth, I’ve been watching several sites (both mine and others) take on a life of their own simply because of “community”. Let me give you a really quick and easy example. One site I track uses the old “sign up and pay a monthly fee” monetization method. This site does absolutely zero advertising or marketing of any kind. A few people have found it via some really long-tail searches, but the vast majority of the site’s growth is simply because one person liked it and told another, and that person liked it and told a couple of others, etc. People actually pay a fair amount of money each and every month simply because the community has recommended it. And the best part is…the growth is occuring exponentially. Before, it was a few people telling a few people, and now it’s a LOT of people each telling a few people. What was once a tiny community is now a really BIG one. I couldn’t have created a better growth model than that of building a community.

Elizabeth: What are some differences between search traffic and community traffic?

Donna: If I could only choose one, I’d choose search traffic, simply because it tends to be more targeted. Someone was actively looking for what my site has to offer, so the chances of converting that person are fairly high (assuming the search engine didn’t mislead the user by presenting faulty search results).

Community traffic may or may not be so targeted, depending upon what type of community traffic it is. A person stumbling into my site (via StumbleUpon, for example) is more likely to be just randomly surfing for fun, and may not stick around for long. On the other hand, a user who was guided to my site by members of another community (we’re talking word of mouth recommendations here) could be extremely targeted and extremely convertable. The good thing is that we don’t have to choose just one. The broader the reach, the greater the chance of growth and success.

One thing to keep in mind. Despite the fact that social visitors (Digg traffic, etc.) are generally here one second, gone the next, those visitors do matter. A large segment of people are exposed to your site. You can’t be expected to connect with all of them, but it is your job to “hook” as many as you can. Be compelling. Be interesting. Be informative. Give them some reason to notice you. If you can manage that, you’ll find that enough of that traffic will return, or bookmark you, or tell someone else about you, or link to you. They may seem like driveby visitors, and in a sense they are, but if you’ve done your job well, they will eventually have an impact on your growth.

Elizabeth: Are there magic ingredients that make the difference between blogs that have comments enabled and blogs that feel like a community?

Donna: I think the magic lies with the blog author(s) and the relationship between the author(s) and the readers. An arrogant, self-serving blogger may find it a little more difficult to nurture a community, although he or she may end up with a lot of comments. It’s kind of like the difference between attending a mandatory office meeting, and hanging out at a friend’s house to watch a football game. Both may involve a lot of communication, but which one feels more like a community?

Elizabeth: Can subscription-based monetization methods succeed without a sense of community?

Donna: Yes, certainly they can, especially if one has enough money to market the site properly. But you may end up with a lot of churn, in which you are constantly having to spend money to attract new members, so that you can replace the ones who’ve canceled and left. That makes it harder to grow, as the new members are only replacing old members, and not adding more to the community.

But, I come from a background of having to succeed with less than $20 available, so creativity has to be involved. The best way to convince someone to part with their hard earned cash is to have someone they trust tell them to do so. If the community does the marketing for you, you can get by without a big budget. And if the community is recommending the site, then the community is probably happy with it. And happy community members stick around for a longer time, which reduces the amount of new members needed just to deal with churn.

Elizabeth: How difficult is it to build a community? Are there any obvious community killers?

Donna: I’ll be honest. It can be tough. There are lots of pitfalls along the way. There are always naysayers and trolls that live for the chance to cause dissension within a community. The best way to handle these problems is to have help. As the community starts to build, find a few loyal members who have the natural ability to lead and the temperament to smooth things over. Encourage them to help build the community and the job will become much easier. In a forum, these would be your moderators. In social networks, these might be the most popular users.

Elizabeth: Can Web 2.0 style communities help old, established 1.0 causes?

Donna: Funny you should mention that, Elizabeth. As you know, I’ve recently organized a charity event that does just that. In fact, this not only brings together the members of one community, but adds some real weight to the project by connecting several communities together – all meeting for a common goal – that of helping a worthy charity. It starts off with a bigger footprint because project members already have readerships of their own and enjoy communicating with the public. In fact, you may have noticed this big, big, (I’m talking HUGE) event has already begun. (Forgive the puns, but I can’t help myself).

Of course, I’m referring to the SEOsFightFat project, in which 11 SEOs got together to lose weight, and raise money for a worthy charity. Each of the SEOs has their own network of friends, co-workers, clients, and associates. Each of these networks is a community, and by bringing all of these communities together, we hope to reach a larger audience. Of course, we are hoping that many people in that audience will support us in our effort, both by cheering us on, and by pledging donations for the winning charity. With luck, we can connect communities with communities to not only help us lose weight, but bring in some BIG, FAT donations for a good cause. That’s what communities are all about…joining together to share common interests or to work towards a common goal. Sometimes that goal is to raise money for a charity, sometimes that goal is to create a successful web site. Whatever the goal is, community can help bring it about.

Breaking the Mold Without Breaking Myself

Creativity is a bit like a butterfly net. A butterfly net can be a tool, an unused artifact, a source of silly visual jokes and metaphors – determining its significance requires perspective. Most of us don’t have a butterfly net on hand at any given moment, and a net doesn’t do much on its own.

Someone needs to pick it up and be ready to act, and then there are always more questions:

  • Where are the butterflies?
  • Am I going after the right butterflies?
  • Should butterflies be caught, mounted in a collection, bred in captivity… or in this case are they better admired in the wild?
  • How many is enough?
  • What is this other thing that landed in my net?
  • Is running around waving a net really the best use of my time?

Weekend Off? Wax On

This is post 23, published on day 31 of my goal of 101 posts in 101 days. I’ve been writing every day and posting almost every day. Along with publishing 23 new finished posts, I’ve saved about 12 new drafts and made about three more “draft” pages that are lists of ideas and links I like, and my “ideas” notebook is beginning to fill up.

At about post #10 I noticed that writing was getting easier, though writing something finished every day was harder. I decided to try posting twice in one day once in a while, still working on drafts when I wasn’t going to post that day. That may not be the best path for me: the need for a day off got stronger, and finishing things got harder.

Part of the problem was feeling like I’d let go of discipline by not posting every day, though sometimes, hey, the fruit is on the tree but not ripe for picking, if you know what I mean. I decided to experiment with purposefully taking time off from posting and writing, to see what would happen between my ears. Would I get better results from “I will take this weekend off,” or from “I will do all I can and take a day to myself if I need it?” Not posting for a day, no matter how purposeful, didn’t feel much different from slacking off because of burnout. Something was missing.

A couple of weeks ago I forced myself not to post over the weekend, and it was a surprising experience.

During that two days I had a sudden flood of creative ideas and even some practical ones. I felt like I’d experienced something wonderful about balancing pushing myself with leaving open space, and I was eager to get back to work. Then, that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were exhausting, like pulling my own teeth while under the influence of not enough anesthetic. I was more tired than before giving it a rest.


  • Change of pace is good for creativity.
  • Getting self-discipline going after a break is hard.
  • Balancing the two is challenging!

Discipline Is Good For Learning and Building

Achieving something when creativity comes to call requires that skills and tools are in place ahead of time. Skills and the use of tools requires practice, practice and more practice – like exercise. Every exercise that requires effort builds something.

Working out is like making art

Drawing every day improves coordination. Hand-eye coordination, small muscle coordination, and the big stuff of muscle memory are all grown in the brain and the body, through practice and desire. Instinct may be inborn, but the ability to do something with it or even to notice opportunities is not automatic and doesn’t happen over night.

Art students are sometimes advised to put their heart into every drawing, but not to expect to be making precious objects. Draw every day for the experience of drawing, and expect the first hundred to be throw aways. After the first hundred, drawing is a little more likely to occasionally result in art. Experimenting with CSS can feel much the same way. ;-)

Regular practice is essential. Without daily practice the coordination starts to go, and then the would-be artist is left with hope and vision, or hope for a vision, or maybe just insecurity and desire: one of the side effects of practicing through clumsiness is a quiet bravery.

Bravery comes in handy. The creative process can be ruthless and klutzy, like a kid running around with a butterfly net.

The Plan

The goal is still 101 posts in 101 days. If I need to go to six posts a week to stay human, that’s OK, but the existing goal is still 101 posts in 101 days. At the end of the road will be a sense of identity (brand) for this space.

The plan is to post daily except for weekends. Though it’s Sunday evening here, you’re hearing from me today because I felt like it. Weekends are mine.

Insert evil laughter?

Who let that blogger out without a net?

Seriously, though, here’s a forecast for the week to come:

  • Three more tutorials
  • An interview with the delightful Dazzlin D – we’re going to talk about community. Yum.
  • Between two and four other I-don’t-know-whats, to include a drawing of some sort.

Is this hasta la vista, or how can I hasta la forest for the vista of the trees, from my viewpoint of this rectangular screen where we meet? Either way, trees are cool and I’m up for a good walk.

Self and Search

A few years ago someone who I respect very much suggested that only the egotistical would consider putting yet another page online about something that someone had already done well. I argued that there is a lot of room in the world for more of anything good. Otherwise, the last gothic romance would have been Wuthering Heights and any art after Guernica would be expensive wallpaper. Excellence would not be much of a goal – one good achievement and it’s all over for anyone who ever wanted to do something like it.

Nothing I said could sway him, and we proceeded to argue.

I was ready for a debate. I had a list of search results that I thought would be easy picking. Those were the just-pre glory days of SEO and frames were all over the place. Many, many sites often weren’t even using metas or Hx tags. I felt strongly that we could establish my friend as a leader in his niche, if we built quality content targeted towards the top three slots in about ten searches.

My friend was new to the web, but knew the organizations behind the authority sites. He felt that those organizations should be the ones to develop the content I’d suggested, full stop. He couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea that the authority sites I wanted to compete with could and should be competed with.

Lately I’ve been wondering if he was more right than I knew at the time. Part of his objection, back in the day, was that tooting his own horn in an effort to out-SEO established national leaders would be laughably self-involved. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of sites that exist primarily for horn-tooting, zillions of abandoned look-at-me blogs, and transitive shells generated to contain scraped feeds encrusted with adsense. Insanity.

Insanity and, in the good ones, self-expression.

Add glorious, self-published chaos, toss a stone into many search results, and you’ll hit someone with an ebook. Next year I may be one of them. The world is changing and I’m looking forward to blogging about it from my ringside seat. The inmates are running the asylum, and we’re not going to stop writing anytime soon.

And my friend? Ironically he, too, has a blog. :)

A Little Forecast

Background bits:

  1. Even when there are very few actual visitors, blog posts that contain very specific terms get found via a search or two. It’s nice to be needed, and found. Search is cool.
  2. Some of the posts that were the most fun to write got the most attention from friends, especially when I kicked back and philosophized. I like this, too.

I see a parallel to the post where I asked readers to tell me what they want. My request got two responses right out of the gate, one from Dazzlin Donna requesting posts about using the Internet to build community, and one from Miriam Ellis who would like to see a tutorial about the WP ecommerce plugin. The community thing is my tagline, and I’d talked at one point about trying out the WP ecommerce plugin.

Does good tutorial plus active community equal content that rocks? I’ve got to say, in my ever so humble opinon, the answer is a definite maybe.

Come back soon and see what Donna has to say. I’ll be interviewing her about community in an up and coming blog post.

More Tutorials – Good and Good For You

I like tutorials. Making a readable record of what I am exploring helps me be remember what I did. The CSS float: left I will remember. I will have to look up the exact name of WordPress template tags that can make a blogroll, and I may or may not remember the parameters that go with them.

Not having to look up the parameter is not the biggest reason for writing out a tutorial for myself. If I write something out, I learn it better and wider ideas percolate. Things I may not need at the moment go into the idea hopper for later. For instance, when I made the blogroll footer tutorial I learned that I can use a parameter to order blogroll links according to how recently they were updated. At some point, if I want to add a short list of recent reads list to my sidebar, I can pull that list from favorite blogs and prioritize it by freshness. Nifty, huh?

Search is sharing is fun. Use a set of super targeted terms and get found by people who are searching for those terms. Will they “convert” and pave me a path to probloggerhood? Not the point, even if I decide to head in that direction. Money follows mission, not the other way around. Right now I’m at sharing, and sharing the process is a way of giving back to (you guessed it) the community.

Resistance is Fertile

I am a locus of blogville. My life as it has been is over. From this time forward I will serve the very verve of Stumble and ping.

Search is irrelevant. Social bookmarking is seductive. Resistance is fertile. I wish to improve myself. I will blog to live and live to blog. I will stalk the A-listers and add their organic and technique-oh-so-logicalness to my feed reader. My culture will evolve to make me a better blogger.

I am blogger. I will stay awake and write one more paragraph and read one more feed. Who needs sleep anyway? Caffeine creates voltage. Voltage equals current times resistance. Resistance is fertile. Resistance equals voltage divided by the urge to assimilate current events. I will lower my shields and surrender to googling. Google and count, count and google. Google and… thunk…


Blogrolling My Footer

A couple posts ago I wrote about at-a-glance features that help me get a quick sense of what’s going on with a blog. For the next few posts I’m going to chip away at adding some of those features to my own blog. My first target will be some sidebar links devoted to comments and commentators. In order to shoehorn them in, more widgety sidebar space will be required. I’ll either need a second sidebar or a smaller blogroll.

I don’t want a smaller blogroll. I think that having a generous-sized blogroll acts as a resource base for readers and gives insight into my values by showing sites that I admire. If anything, I want room for a bigger blogroll, without losing any more sidebar real estate.

One solution is to move the blogroll into the footer.

Bigger Footers Are On The Rise

  • BBC UK Beta has an extended footer area that contains a site-map style directory.
  • NetSquared, an entity that helps nonprofits utilize the Internet’s community-building power, also uses an extended footer area. NetSquared uses the footer to repeat the header’s horizontal top level navigation links, with the addition of sub links. There is no blogroll.
  • BloggingExperiment.com also forgoes a blogroll. Blogging Experiment reserves most of the sidebar for ads, using an extended footer for “Recent Comments,” “Most Commented,” and “Top Commentators.”

What I have in mind is a little different. Even when I add advertisements and more “static” content I’ll be keeping the blogroll.

Moving my blogroll to a larger footer area won’t just open up some sidebar elbow room. It will also give some separation between on- and off-site links, something that may be a kindness to users like myself who are wary of mixed on- and off-site links.

On the other hand, a footer blogroll may not be recognized as a blogroll, because blogrolls are traditionally expected to be vertical and appear in the sidebar. Also, when I see a lot of links in a footer I expect spam. I’ll need to make sure that my footer-blogroll is clearly labeled and neatly structured – unlike spam.

Moving a Blogroll From Sidebar to Footer

A trip to the WordPress Codex taught me that there are two non-depreciated template tags that will make a list of blogroll links, get_bookmarks and wp_list_bookmarks.

The template tag get_bookmarks has lots of yummy features that allow the user to retrieve the bookmark information directly. I went with wp_list_bookmarks, because it seemed more convenient to leave categories and whatever up to the various possibilities available at Dashboard > Blogroll. If I want to later, I can change the way my blogroll links are sorted by adding configuration to wp_list_bookmarks.

Using wp_list_bookmarks is as simple as it gets. Pick a place to put it, in my case within footer.php, just above existing footer links. The output will be list items. Surround the list items with ul tags for an unordered list, and assign an ID to the ul for styling the whole kit and kaboodle. I named my ID “blogroll.”

<ul id="blogroll"><?php wp_list_bookmarks(); ?></ul>

This is the output:

<ul id="blogroll">
<li id="linkcat-2" class="linkcat">

<li><a href="http://www.url.com/">Link</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.url.com/">Link</a></li>

<li><a href="http://www.url.com/">LInk</a></li>

Styling a Footer Blogroll

In my current theme, applying clear: both to previously existing footer content was the best way to keep my new blogroll container ID from squeezing to one side. Your mileage may vary, depending on how your theme is laid out and your css defined.

I gave the container ul, #blogroll, a width that allows for a little space to the left and right. Floating #blogroll to the left allows however many columns of list items will fit inside to line up next to each other.

#blogroll {
          width: 760px;
          float: left;
          text-align: left;}


Assigning width:100% to #blogroll ul spreads the inner ul to the full width of the outer #blogroll container. Using margin:auto for both left and right margins assures that the left and right margins of #blogroll ul will be the same and meet the outside edges of the 100% width, without needing to apply a specific pixel value.

#blogroll ul {
          width: 100%;
          padding: 0;
          margin: 5px auto; }


Now that we’ve laid out our containers, applying list-style-type: none to #blogroll li will get rid of the bullet before each list item. Next, give a consistent width to all list items under #blogroll ul li, set them to display: inline and float them to the left.

#blogroll li {

          list-style-type: none;
#blogroll ul li {
          width: 25%;
          display: inline;
          float: left; }


Fine Tuning

I didn’t include most padding and margins above because everyone’s theme and preference will be a little different. I’ll add that using a little margin and padding between the bottom of the blogroll and the top of the footer links will create a natural space for a divider line. I used a two pixel border that is the same color as the border between my sidebar and text content.

Coordinate the look of a footer blogroll with that of sidebar links is a nice touch for headers and links

#blogroll h2 {
          color : #ce0000;
          font-size : 1.6em;
          font-family: Times New Roman, Sans-Serif;
          font-weight: bold;}

#blogroll ul li a {
          color: #507AA5;
          text-decoration: none;}

#blogroll ul li a:hover {
          color: #507AA5;
          text-decoration: underline;}


End result: a pretty new blogroll and lots of wide open side bar. Next up I’ll get widgety in my new side bar space.

Blogging Is The Devil, Or Not

Yesterday I spent a couple hours getting to know StumbleUpon better. I had entirely too much fun sorting and clicking and searching. I added some interests to my profile, including blogging, of course.

Blogging Tally 666

How could this be? Blogging: 666.

I heard a lonely meow-yowl, looked over my shoulder and saw that my cat had tipped over my desk-side wastepaper basket, spreading bits of paper everywhere. He’d obviously been at it a while. I’d been clueless, absorbed by the Internet for how long I do not know.

We locked eyes, I meow-yowled back at him and he did a joyful little prance, an invitation to partake in what I’ve come to call the caffeinated kitty cat tango. Sometimes when we play we face each other down, pretending to be very fierce, before another little ritual known as “peek-a-boo chase.” Cat owners know what I mean – great fun indeed.

This time, I didn’t tango or peek-a-boo. I did “one more thing” online, and when I was finally finished he wasn’t in the mood any more. Sad.

I thought of a nation of people like me, wanting to be at-home parents while working like that with our toddlers or teenagers in the house. I thought of how for hours on end of our kids’ childhood they see the backs of our heads as we sat at our computers, doing “one more thing.” Very sad.

Though I love what I am doing, has this work made me less of a person in my off-line life? I have no answer.

Passionate Workaholics?

The passionate worker is busy blogging on vacation… because posting that thought and seeing the feedback it generates is actually more fun than sitting on the beach for another hour. The passionate worker tweaks a site design after dinner because, hey, it’s a lot more fun than watching TV.

Seth Godin’s Blog – Workaholics

TV? What happened to interactive multi-player board games, or creative activities that involved teaching each other skills? Or sewing, carpentry, gardening, making pancakes, hobbies, going camping, pitching in around the house or even just going for a walk together after dinner? And, this pot can’t call the kettle black without admitting that I don’t miss non-computer activities as much as I used to. There’s something wrong with that.


Workaholics have little time for activities outside of work. They lose touch with the joys of their non-work lives. Workaholics lack balance. Workaholics are obsessed, not passionate.

Passionate workers revel – in work and not-work.

Passionate workers should check to see if they recognize themselves in some of these lists and quizzes. I flunked, but it’s not the end of the world. I *do* love what I’m doing, after all.

PS: Blogging Is Not The Devil

This morning I checked in on StumbleUpon again and found that the “Blogging” tag tally is no longer 666.

Blogging Tally 665

Blogging: not quite 666. Now somebody else gets to see the 666 and ruminate about what makes their world go tilt. As for me, I have a couple half finished articles to work on, and then the machine gets turned off. So there.

Caffeinated kitty cat tango here I come.

Blog Love, at a Glance

I often look at up to 100 blogs a day, many of which I have never seen before. That’s a lot of skimming. I don’t read all that I see. What makes the difference between reading and not reading, subscribing and not subscribing? It depends. Here are some of the at-a-glance things that make a difference to me personally.

Basics at a glance

  • Nothing is broken at a glance, especially images. Text that overlaps because of a lack of cross browser compatibility a kiss of death for web dev or design oriented sites.
  • Formatting makes content more digestible. No mammoth bricks of text without line breaks, no walls of all caps or squishy tapestries of all italics.
  • Spelling says the writers respect the readers. Perfection is nice, but not essential. Lots of really bad spelling is not excusable.
  • Navigation pays attention to my convenience. The site provides easily spotted labels for things I might want. It’s organized and not too cluttered to see.
  • The site is secure enough to self promote, but does it with some grace. They give me content before ads. If there is a big block of AdSense at the top of the content text my first suspicion is that I’ve landed on a scraped site. Another bad sign is ads that are formatted to look like they could be navigation links – instant lack of trust.
  • I trust them. Trust is a holy grail. Required reading – Stanford University’s Web Credibility Project.

How long have they been around?

Show me a dated archive. A yard of months and years in the sidebar feels like a waste of precious space. On my own blog, I’d rather have another slot for a blogroll link than a link to yet another month, because a blogroll supports a feeling of community and provides more insight for readers.

Site maps are a handy way to quickly see how long a blog has been around, and how often it has been updated. XML site maps are nice for spiders. I’d like one for me, too, please.

How often is it updated?

Give me a way to see at a glance how many posts are recent, and if the site has come back from previous breaks from blogging. Something important once a month is better than frequently posted dribs and drabs.

Can I tell what they think?

Annotations of what others have written will not keep me on a site, no matter how smart or well connected the writer was to pick up on the topic.

What topics are covered?

Show a category list. I may or may not use it for browsing. A blog category list that I can browse as a new reader gives me a chance to be tempted by topics beyond the last few posts that are visible on the front page. A category-based archive is more helpful to me in frequently updated blogs where front page material cycles through quickly. If this is SES recap week and I have other interests, give me a way to see what else the blog is about, and what the writers care about.

Should a category list show how many blog posts there are in each category? I used to think that tucking those numbers after this, that and the other looked cluttery. After browsing a few hundred blogs I’ve changed my mind, in the case of category tallies. Numbers show a pulse at a glance.

Am I reading a current post?

The date should be readily available on each post. Don’t make me hunt for the “permalink” in order to find out that a post about last year’s search rank shifts is not about what’s going on with me this week.

Is there a committed readership?

Readers count. Lately, I find myself attracted to recent comments widgets. A most commented widget would give an idea of what posts have been hot with readers. Showing top commenters could be a way to encourage readers to compete for the top of the heap, though quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality.

Things I Thought Would Matter, But Don’t

  • Looking official can be a disadvantage if “looking” like the real deal makes it look like every other site that’s trying to do the same thing. Bloggers should consider using a custom theme.
  • Displaying credentials is nice, but not essential. If the people behind a site have mad skills but can’t write, I’m not going to read them. Sites with a first rate pedigree and third rate bloggers are better off not trying to fake it.
  • Avoiding personal content on a business site may be a mistake, within reason. I *want* to see enough to make it personal, especially in a blog. As a customer, I’d want to know the site’s bloggers have a clue about what is important to my audience. Go ahead and get personal. Just don’t whine, tell me about your bunions, or alienate me with political or religious rants that indicate that you as an individual would not respect me and my different views — unless you’ve got a site about politics, religion and bunions, in which case, farewell and I wish you luck. Stick to what helps me understand what is connected to your message.

Making Your Own Luck

Do you ever feel helpless? As if problems are too big or too unfixable, and there is not enough time or love to go around? Try out this survival skill: make your own satisfaction.

How do I create my own satisfaction? Let me count the ways.

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

Today I reported a scraper to Technorati. The slimeball I reported was pasting a copy of a response to my Tips for Nonprofits Meme on to the last half of copy after copy of other scraped posts. Every instance triggered a trackback that happened to include the text “If you link, Elizabeth will contact you about including your tip in a compilation of tips.” Oh, the irony. As of now there have been perhaps two dozen trackbacks at the rate of three or four a day.

After reporting that scraper I felt like the energizer bunny. I can’t stop the rain, but I can help Technorati keep their hip boots clean as they wade through sorting what I’m sure is a flood of doubtful sites gaming their system for reputation points. If Technorati follows through I’ll get another little boost in the batteries. If they don’t, I still have the initial boost. I did not make the report in an effort to put the scraper out of business: I made an effort for good, and let that good be enough.

Note to self: look into owning a pair of pink bunny slippers to wear while getting in the mood for energizer bunny action. Pink, because I would also like to glory in being-femlike-ness. So there.

Glory In It

Bunny slippers bring me to another nice self care tactic: bite-sized basking. Again, the idea is not to end spam in our time, become a measurably evolved human being, wear yon bunny slippers to the top of the heap in my niche or even to have a nice day. The point is to set myself up to notice a goodness. Sometimes checking my stats does this very nicely, but only if I am not stressing about meeting a goal. Some flexibility of purpose is necessary. For this reason, the Monty Pythonesque Big Teeth bunny slippers would not be as appropriate. Too aggressive. Accept the sunshine, as-is.

So, if I’m going to be all go-with-the-flow about seeing the sunshine in my life, how do I get more of it?

Make Your Own Luck

Sometimes this is direct and purposeful, like when I asked directly for input in yesterday’s tell me what you want post. Sometimes cause and effect is less direct.

For instance, check out Ladies Who Launch on using social media to make your own luck.

…I was checking my Facebook, an action I try not to do every day, and after signing up for and playing a bit of The Oregon Trail, I checked one of the emails in my Inbox (my Facebook inbox…I call it Face-mail). It was from a guy I didn’t know. Suspect? Yes. Curious? Yes. Turns out he’s a reporter from the Wall Street Journal doing a story on the writers’ strike. I support the writers’ right to potentially lucrative money from online content. However, I was quite excited when Jon Stewart was coming back. I also want the crew to have work. So I watched. I was disappointed in the way Jon addressed the strike. I visited the Jon Stewart Daily Show Facebook Page, of which I’m a Facebook “Fan,” and declared my views on the Wall, and suggested we all “unfan” the Page until he either goes back off the air (because it does weaken the strike) or brings more awareness.

Thus, I got contacted by this journalist as one of many who may be in his piece on the strike, The Daily Show, Letterman and Leno. Afterwards, he asked about what I did, I quietly gave my web and blog sites which he took. So, set up your own luck, folks.

Katie Jones

Making just any comment on Jon Stewart’s Facebook Page wouldn’t have made a difference. Katie had to both share what she thinks and put some energy into thinking it. Thinking. That means she had an idea while being herself.

Care and feeding of luck: lather, rinse and repeat. When the journalist made contact, I’m guessing that Katie Jones was less likely to get stuck at “ummm, gee, that’s nice,” because she had years of experience stretching her creative and articulate self, as reflected by her web presence.

I don’t think anyone gets a place in the sun by being lucky, and I don’t think luck appears because of a place in the sun. There are tandem steps. Motive, means and opportunity, with a side of playfulness and generosity. Faith and practice, sometimes heavy on the faith. Willingness to put one foot in front of the other with eyes open, on a regular basis, like an exercise regime. Willingness to be changed by all of the above.

Speaking of an exercise regime, thus endeth the eleventh post of 100+1. I have passed the first 10 percent of my goal of 100 posts in 100 days and am about to bask in it by treating myself to a glass of wine before bed. Life is good.

Tell Me What You Want

Thanks in great part to a Stumble from Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People, I’m having a nice flush of visitors today. Yaaay! Yesterday there were two sets of live eyeballs here that weren’t yours truly. Today, so far, MyBlogLog says it looks like this:

MyBlogLog screen shot
AbleReach Blog
Readers: 220
Page views: 505

Offsite clicks: 4

About 50 of the page views could have been mine. I was messing with my theme and that always means a lot of refreshing. MyBlogLog seems pretty good about Readers vs Page Views, and once I left I left for good, so I’m trusting that only one or two of the Readers is me. If 218 readers are responsible for about 450 page views, that probably means that a lot of those 218 are new and looking at more than one page. Returning visitors are more likely to read what’s new on the blog’s home page and then bounce.

Does anyone want to share how many of their Stumble spike traffic is return or new visitors?

Before this, I’ve had one Stumble spike, and the visitors were about 90% new. Normally I’ve been running at about 60% new. I expect the new visitors number to go down when I’ve been around longer – this blog’s first post was almost two months ago.

Now that I’ve gone on a bit about searchy stuff, I have a request. Tell me what you would like to see here. Though it doesn’t have to be something I’ve already said I’m interested in, ya gotta read me first, though, because I’d like to be in character when I follow through on this – LOL.

My idea list is all over the map, and I’m open.

Send me an email or comment here.

Golly, there aught to be a prize for the reply that makes me the happiest and most interested. Hmmm… To keep the friendly exchange going, if I pick your idea and you’re interested, I’ll interview you here.

If nobody answers – ROFL – maybe I’ll have to interview myself.