The story of a blog, from birth to...?

Friday, December 15, 2006

More blogging guidance

Thanks to my friend Bureka Boy for his suggestion to look at Blog Bloke for more blogging hints. (Bureka Boy's blog looks much nicer, to be honest...) Anything to keep this one going; I'm still looking for that magic formula for hundreds, thousands of dollars a month in passive income. I'll keep buying an occasional Powerball ticket as well.

Don't get me wrong, though, I'm also working my behind off on The Antidote. Passive income? What's that? Oh, maybe that's the problem - I'm working TOO hard, and I should be more passive.

By the way, the first thing I read at Blog Bloke was a list of the top 15 ways to waste time on the Internet (other than blogging, apparently). I'm only familiar with two of them, YouTube and craiglist. Gotta get busy...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is it just me, or...

is gmail down for the whole world?

How did I let myself get so dependent on it?


Saturday, November 18, 2006

oh well...

Here I am, sunk in NaNoWriMo hell (to be honest, today went a little better), and now I find about NaBloPoMo.

(What's she talking about, anyway? you ask.)

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 crappy first draft of a novel in, yes, 30 days (I've got the crappy part down, for sure). No prizes, no competition; if you finish, you win... well, you win a sense of accomplishment, and then you have a draft to edit.

NaBloPoMo, which I just read about on someone else's blog, is National Blog Posting Month, the goal of which is to post to your blog every day in November. The difference (other than being, I imagine, less of a masochistic pursuit) is that this contest has prizes, which go to randomly drawn winners.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Over the top blog advertising strategy

I clicked on just now and heard a highly annoying buzzing sound; I figured there was a problem with the code somewhere. But no joke - there really was a bug: an ad with a buzzing mosquito, which you were supposed to slap (i.e., click on the ad) in order to win a free laptop (yeah, right - once you've given away all your family secrets and financial information). Sure enough, there was no way to make the thing shut up without actually clicking on the ad (or migrating away from the page).

Sigh. No one ever clicks on my ads...

Why jobless is better

It's an outrage, I know; I haven't posted here in almost a month. Technorati doesn't seem to be recognizing my posts in the new beta Blogger anyway, so maybe no one will see this, but I have something to share here.

It's a recent post by Steve Pavlina, who convinced me a few months ago that I could make money from blogging. I did almost all the things he told me to do and, well, the last time I checked I'd made $9.84 from Google AdSense. So maybe he's a complete snake-oil salesman after all. Still, the aforelinked post is a pretty compelling rationalization for not having a job, which I can appreciate right about now.

Why jobless is better

It's an outrage, I know; I haven't posted here in almost a month. Technorati doesn't seem to be recognizing my posts in the new beta Blogger anyway, so maybe no one will see this, but I have something to share here.

It's a recent post by Steve Pavlina, who convinced me a few months ago that I could make money from blogging. I did almost all the things he told me to do and, well, the last time I checked I'd made $9.84 from Google AdSense. So maybe he's a complete snake-oil salesman after all. Still, the aforelinked post is a pretty compelling rationalization for not having a job, which I can appreciate right about now.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

more on lifehacking is another lifehack site (read: personal productivity), and I think I like it better than Clearly they're direct competitors; has a lot of cute webby stuff and some highly annoying glib health recommendations, one of I mentioned in my health blog today. As a web effort overall, I like what they're doing at, as well as the fact that the principles are women, but has more in-depth, better written (if a little raunchy and guy-oriented) articles, and this GTD ("Getting Things Done") stuff looks like... well, the stuff.

I have to say, after reading all this stuff about productivity, I can see why there are suddenly so many life-coaches about. You don't actually have to DO this stuff yourself, but it should be really easy to take people's money by TEACHING it! You just need to get your act together enough to put up a website. The market has got to be huge - capitalism makes us all feel inadequate about what we accomplish. I'm not saying there aren't good life-coaches out there, but the temptation of making a living by teaching other people how to make a living seems almost irresistible.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

must-read site

A 43T friend has recommended the blog Lifehacker to me twice now, and I have to say, it's just an all-around great resource for keeping up with new and cool web stuff. Here are a few posts relevant to blogging: a comparison of blogging software and how to start a blog.

The posts mostly have links to other people's sites. In other words, it's something like this blog would be were it ever to grow up, and then some. Another cool thing is that the editor and one of the two associate editors are women. I see that editor Gina Trapani is a freelance writer and web programmer. I think she's my new hero, and I hope she's well compensated for!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How trackbacks work

Every day, you should learn something new. That's what I tell myself when I find that I've blown three hours surfing, checking my blog stats, reading 43Things, etc.; I can rationalize it all by finding something really cool, especially if it's worth sharing with others.

Like trackbacks.

I keep seeing these trackback links in the comments area of people's blogs, and wondering what they're for. Simply put, these links allow someone you've linked to in your blog to know that you've linked to them. Looking at Technorati's links is another way to do this, and I can't tell you how that works. I'm assuming it helps lift your page rankings in Google and other standard search engines as well as Technorati. Anyway, here is a very clear, explicit description of how trackbacks work, and how to add them.

I'm assuming I'm going to get really quick at doing this, so it doesn't add yet another 20 minutes a day to my webplay/work.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A couple of new directions

I came across (and adopted) a goal at called "Get more people to read my Blog." There were well over 600 people with this goal, which surprised me; not sure why, but it did. Apparently people are blogging, and thinking about this question, but they don't appear to be working too hard at it. Comments left there are mostly along the lines of "Gee, only 2 hits a day. This sucks." But a couple of people have posted serious questions about how to promote readership, and others have offered some novel ideas. I proposed starting a team to promote some real discussion and mutual support, but to do that, I actually have to invite people to join the team - not hard, I just need to do it.

One idea proposed that was completely new to me was to play blogshares. It's a fantasy blog-stock market game. You list your blog(s), each of which comes with a few thousand shares, start off with $500 (fake, and you don't actually need your own blog to play), and trade in blog shares. I'm no day trader, but this seems like a simplified, interesting way to learn about how the stock market works (well, that may be pushing it) and to expose your blog. At any rate, it's yet another way to kill time on the internet, because you can never have too many of those. Ahem.

On a different topic, I want to confess that it's really hard for me to remember to include Technorati tags in my new posts. I can't tell you how many times I've had to go back and edit them in after publishing a post. I made a little text file that I keep on my desktop with the code, and I am trying to keep it in plain sight to help me remember. When I grow up to be a real geek, I'll have this code committed to memory.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

blog as boutique

Remember the other day when I was all worried about having non-Google ads on my blog? Well, this morning I found a link to this blog in the NY Times home and garden section, and I'm not worried anymore. She's been around since 2004.

Pretty cute stuff, too.

Now I just need to think about who might want to advertise with me, on any of my three blogs.

Food for thought! (No pun intended, I swear, but for those of you didn't catch that, you can check out my new recipe blog.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

another take on making money with your blog

Here's a link to Andy Wibbels' website about blog-based businesses. He's selling a bunch of products. There are some impressive claims here, e.g., making over $10,000 a month with your blog.

I've made $6.14 so far. My impression from watching my stats is that people by and large do not click on ads.

I'm sure I could use a little help, but jeez.

On the other hand, I do have some ideas for content I could actually sell.

Any thoughts? Anyone tried this?

Thursday, September 28, 2006


This carnival stuff works. Or maybe my expectations were just really low. I've had 103 unique visitors today at The Antidote, most of them linking from yesterday's carnival site (and 15 or so from a thread on a health forum site called Webmagic, which hosts discussions on everything from lymphoma to collecting old Coke machines.

Now I'm about to do something for which I hammer on the pharmaceutical industry all the time, but what the heck: Even if the absolute number of hits seems unimpressive, 103 (with only half of the day elapsed) represents a relative increase of 900% over the average of 9.5 hits per day for the previous 6 days.

Whew! Heady times, let me tell ya.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

it's a carnival!

I submitted three posts this week to a blog carnival; turns out that's simply a blog post, in which a volunteer blogger summarizes and gives links to a bunch of other people's posts that have been submitted to him/her. Pretty easy to do. This one was called Skeptics' Circle Carnival #44. There is at least one more on my radar screen, a medical blog circle. I think hosting such an animal would provide a fair amount of exposure in and of itself, but sounds like it takes a fair amount of work and organization.

I'm certainly seeing a whole lot of medical, health care, skeptical science, and related blogs out there, at least in the cross-sectional view. I also found a network of medical blogs but I'm going to hold off on joining that for the time being - it seemed a little corporate/marketing oriented, to be honest. And not a particularly good-looking site either (beauty above all else, you know).

The same group, though, is hosting a medical blogging summit this December, right here in Washington - I could even walk there! Heck, they should let me in at a big discount (it's $195) because I'm giving them free publicity. I don't know, though - talks on blogging in a hotel setting? I'm enjoying this and all, but that just sounds like a setup for a good nap to me... if they have good cookies and and I can give away a few business cards and pick up a free flash drive or two, maybe it's worth a shot, but right now I'm mostly just fascinated that such a conference exists.

(For all my faithful, tireless readers of both blogs, sorry for redundancy today between posts here and at the Antidote, but there was an overlap between content and process that seemed to want to be in two places at once.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

learning about Web stuff

On a walk this morning I walked into a news shop that a wide range of magazines and newspapers from all over the world. They had a rack with about 20 computer magazines, mostly about gear, and a couple about general design. I was hoping to find one focused on Internet knowledge, web design, etc., but nope. As I walked on I fantasized for a few minutes about filling that niche, wishing I knew more about magazine publishing, but imagining all the ad revenue pouring in and supporting lots of deserving employees I'd recruited during my web travels. There was also the niggling concern about links - would it be a pain for users to retype weblinks from the printed page? A computer-savvy buddy, when I floated this idea, echoed that concern. Oh, well. Anyway, one thing at a time, girl, you need to take it easy and focus.

But I did find the following website which seems to serve a similar purpose, and I'm looking forward to digging into it: Web Developer's Journal. It appears to have articles for novices as well as more experienced geeks. If readers have other sources to recommend, bring 'em on.

Friday, September 08, 2006

still feeling obscure

and Technorati won't pick up my last two posts, even after repeated pinging from within Technorati. This is partly a test to see whether Blogger is actually notifying them automatically.

By the way, it's hard to edit html using Firefox because the search function won't look for anything longer than two characters. Is there a complaint department?

I'd also like to know how righteous web dude Guy Kawasaki checks links to his blog using NetNewsWire or Endo. Guy, are you listening? Help a blogger out! His article "Evangelizing Your Blog," by the way, was great, and I'm going to start reading him every day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sifry's Blogosphere

Wow. I'm sure I'll pull myself together and find a few words as I always do, but for now, Wow is a good place to start.

According to a blog post by David Sifry, founder of Technorati, the blogosphere is doubling every 6 months. There are 50 million blogs on Technorati; English just passed Japanese as the most common language. (My inkling would be that the Japanese blogosphere is leveling off, and English is just getting started, but that's just epidemiologic handwaving - I have no evidence for it.)

I'm a brand new blogger, just rolled off the turnip truck, and into what? I mean, I'm dutifully going through all the steps of promoting my blog, and I think I'm writing some damned good stuff, but 50 million blogs? How can I compete with that? Am I doomed to spending all my time, as I've done the last couple of days, learning how to jump through geeky hoops that are ultimately ineffectual?

I sent a copy of a recent post to my boss today, and he seemed quite pleased; he said my blog was a "breakthrough." (Oh, duh, I guess that was a cute little joke, since the post I sent him was about breakthroughs; see Sept. 2 post.) Yes, he was in fact pleased, joke notwithstanding. There are others doing vaguely similar stuff to mine; Ben Goldacre at badscience got 2 million hits in August (he does write a column for the Guardian). So the hits are out there after all; the blogosphere is not growing in a vacuum. How do I get me some of that? This blog has had 62 unique hits; the other one has 66.

Obviously, it's time to go to bed. I set my statcounter to blow up my computer if I checked it more than 80 times a day, and I think I'm pushing it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

look at me!

I signed up for Technorati, but no one told me that unless I tagged the individual posts with descriptive categories, people searching for content wouldn't find them. Fortunately Improbulus, another Blogger blogger, had a great article on how to do this. So I went back and added tags to all my Antidote posts. I'm hoping that today's entry, based on a Washington Post article, will be referenced on the Post website in the little box they have (from Technorati) on people who are blogging about that article.

It's all a big game of shameless self-promotion, and promotion of others, isn't it? And all this tagging stuff is pretty tedious, as well. How about an automatic tagging function in Blogger?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Birth, and learning how to crawl

My two blogs are now up and running! I suppose I could have started with just one, but I'm a little wired these days for some reason. There's something about having outlets for writing that makes me want to, well, write, but also to learn what I can about this new medium. Oh, and right after I published my first post I got an email from the aforementioned career mentor Penelope Trunk, who had some nice comments - very gratifying!

One of the first articles I came across last week was by Steve Pavlina, How to make money from your blog. Steve generously lays it on the line with a reality check - basically that not everyone CAN make money from blogging, only smart people; since I am arrogant enough to think I'm smart, I kept reading. One thing I'm wondering, though, Steve, if you're reading this; where do you get your estimate that only one in a hundred people can make money on their blogs? Is your denominator 100 blogs of any kind? I don't mean to quibble, but I'm an epidemiologist, and these are the kinds of questions we ask.

With the smarts qualification out of the way, Steve goes on to list all the kinds of information with which successful bloggers should be conversant, and even where to find it. I've written these down and will proceed to educate myself on each of them. One thing I've noticed is that, at least at my primitive level of web savvy, background information on web technologies, to the extent that it's publicly available, can be found on the web. Makes sense, doesn't it? Steve suggests Wikipedia.

I skipped ahead to Steve's section on drawing traffic to your blog, and I also liked Biz Stone's related article on Blogger; from those, I made a list of internal Blogger tweaks and other strategies, and done the following (for both blogs unless otherwise indicated):
  • Activated the NavBar, Post Pages, and Site Feed functions [Question: Can I add an RSS button to my blog? I have learned that you can just type rss.xml after the url, but that's probably not obvious to everyone.]
  • Added the blogs to Blogger's listings
  • Put my blog URL (for the professional blog) in my email signature
  • Activated AdSense (this blog only) (I will probably write more about this)
  • According to a friend's suggestion, I changed the health blog URL to include the word health.
Next steps:
  • Add professional blog URL to business cards the next time I print some
  • Add a blogroll
  • Submitting to blog search engines like Technorati and Popdex (note: Biz cited Daypop and Blogdex, and it appears both of those are dead)
  • Commenting on other people's blogs - have started doing this, but need to remember to include the blog URL when I do this... ahem
  • Think about whether staying on Blogger is ok for now or whether I should summon the gumption to get my own domain name or names for increased control.
By the way, have I mentioned that, for all intents and purposes, I am not a programmer, or a geek (at least not yet)? That's just by way of emphasizing that I'm sure to say a lot of naive or just plain boneheaded things here, which is kind of the point because I'm trying to learn. So while I'm thrilled to have comments, your kindness and patience are most appreciated.


Edit (added 9/6/06): I've just learned that leaving your URL in a comment on someone else's site to draw attention to your own site is a crass practice known as comment spamming. My apologies if I've done it to you; I simply hadn't thought it through, but I can see now how it can be abused and that it's not cool, and I won't do it again, promise!

Thursday, August 31, 2006


I don't remember the first time I heard about blogging. It was probably 3 or 4 years ago. Seemed like a fad at the time, though I found a few blogs I admired, notably The Julie/Julia Project, which documented one woman's adventures cooking her way through the writings of Julia Child; Julie's attitude was infectious, and far be it from me to turn down a healthy helping of gastroporn.

Fast forward to this summer, when I read an article about people who made all kinds of passive income on their websites. Having left my job to pursue the financial roller coaster of freelance activities, building a website, and making some bucks on it was pretty appealing. OK, I started to get greedy, dollar signs in my eyes and all that. But seriously, a portal or collection of information that didn't seem to be easily available elsewhere in one place seemed like an honorable contribution to make to the world - not one of those crap lists of mostly dead links designed to exploit Google AdSense, but a value-added, professional-looking creation that people would actually want to use.

Inspired by (younger) friends at 43things I read through a few lessons in html, and my 42-year-old brain rebelled quickly against my quixotic effort to take the web-design world by storm, from scratch. So I looked at a few template sites. Blech. Not to mention that they didn't really do what I wanted them to do.

Then Penelope Trunk, a prolific blogger and freelancer writing about career issues, convinced me that blogging was a great career move. (I'm humbly reminded by Penelope's post of the importance of pithiness. So I will stop here for now. G'night.)