Archive for the 'Techy Stuff' Category

Nifty Free Site Tools (I would pay for these!!)

Monday, August 28th, 2006

I came across a couple of really valuable tools this last weekend.
If you are a Firefox user, you may notice that now I have a pretty little icon in the address bar (it appears in Bloglines even in IE). I created the icon in Photoshop, then went to HTML-Kit, uploaded the image, and it automatically generated a correctly formatted icon - and even offered an animated alternative! Fun!

Even better (and I’m sure won’t be free forever!) is HitTail.

First of all, for a quick overview of the Longtail concept, watch HitTail’s quick demo.

Next, add a tiny piece of code to your site template or blog template. Then watch and wait as HitTail tracks the search engine traffic that comes your way, analyzes the keywords, and actually makes recommendations for topics to enable you to own the traffic from highly targeted search phrases.

Lastly, I heard about HitTail from the gals over at BuildABetterBlog who wrote a nice shout out for eMoms yesterday. I tried to leave a comment of thanks, but kept getting distracted by their great posts and resources. I had to come back numerous times to finally express my gratitude!

Jolting the Traffic of eMom Bloggers Everywhere!

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Have you heard yet about the eMoms BlogJolt?

eMoms at Home is running a big link-building project to help mom bloggers - and bloggers who write about topics of interest to moms (yes, that does include a lot of GUY bloggers too!!).

The BlogJolt process is simple.

One Blog. One Week. Lots ‘o Traffic.

We pick one blog each week, and everyone in the group writes about and links to the target blog. We raise their Technorati Rank, give ‘em some Google Page Rank action, and give them a traffic jolt they won’t soon forget.

So. What do you have to do to get in on this link love action?

Just join. Isn’t that easy? And to top it off, the group communicates regularly about blogging $$ opportunities, tech tips, and business advice. Check out the FAQs if you need more info.

Spread the word! We want to spread LOTS of links and LOTS of traffic.

Windows Live Writer and Newbie Blogging Questions

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Well, I’m posting this entry from my newly downloaded version of Windows Live Writer - which I must say at first blush, is a bit on the impressive side. I had to download and install the .NET Framework before I could install Live Writer, which made me incredibly nervous. [I installed a Windows Update once that had a conflict with the Compaq computer I had bought - and it basically ruined the entire system.] But this was fairly harmless - didn’t even need to restart my computer, and I am now up and running.

Using this nifty little tool is the perfect excuse to answer some questions my friend Steve sent my way recently. He’s rather new to blogging, and asked some really common questions in regards to getting his blog set up.

First of all, Steve wanted to know what cheap or free blogging platforms are out there to use. The stipulation is that they are available to use on his own domain name (this is because he listened to my advice to blog on his own site rather than on a hosted solution. Good job, Steve!! :) ).

Free blogging options that you use on your own site are really only Movable Type and WordPress. There are certainly others, but these two are the most robust, most widely supported, and have the most extensive online help. Technically, Movable Type should only be free for personal use. Commercial use requires a license fee (on the honor system). I have little experience with it, because I use WordPress, and LOVE it.

In regards to hosting, I use GoDaddy , who I also LOVE. I also buy all of my domain names from them, which I say because Steve was wondering that too. But to use GoDaddy also requires that you be willing to set up WordPress yourself. [ Update :: GoDaddy now has WP preinstalled too! ] It’s really not that hard, but not for the technologically faint-of-heart. You need to create a SQL Database, upload some files to your server, and then configure the blog (which is done simply in your web browser).

For those who aren’t so technologically savvy, Yahoo! Web Hosting and BlueHost offer WordPress setup via just a few clicks. I have not been entirely thrilled with Yahoo (and am considering switching back to GoDaddy), and I don’t have any experience with BlueHost, though have heard good things generally about them.

Now I had mentioned to Steve that even though I am a raving fan of WordPress, it isn’t exactly the right platform for a content-heavy site, especially if you need different layouts for different pages, or some more advanced functionality. It sounds as though he is also considering adding some eCommerce components to his site. If that’s the case, then WordPress isn’t his solution. Joomla is. I consider switching to it every now and then - and would have for sure had eSelfHelp not gotten hijacked by eMoms at Home. Joomla is also a free open-source CMS (Content Management System), and all of my research tells me it’s got THE most functionality for the price ($0). Actually, more functionality than even some paid resources, for that matter.

Steve also asks about posting to a blog. He wants an easy tool he knows well, like Word or Photoshop. Technically, you can’t post to a blog from either of these programs. And whenever I copy and paste out of Word into my WordPress entries, all havoc wreaks loose in my blog stylesheets. I then have to go and copy the text into NotePad, then back into WordPress to strip the text of the bulky formatting tags that Word automatically adds to document.

This brings me full circle to the start of my post, Windows Live Writer. You can download this nifty little tool for free (it’s in Beta). And it’s about as close as you can get to posting to your blog from Word. You get full WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editing, and some added cool tools such as map insertion, better control over text formatting, and… KICK BUTT! I just discovered it has SPELL CHECK!! I know EVERYONE will be grateful for THAT!! :)It does lack my auto-smileys, though… my bad - they are there after publishing as long as you have them set up on your blog already!

Oh, and Steve, you also asked about creating newsletters. Don’t do it in Word. There are way too many CAN-SPAM requirements that you need to be in compliance with, and it would take you forever to research it all. Just head over to Constant Contact . It’s free until you get your mailing list established, and they have an online interface that makes it easy as pie to create your newsletters CAN-SPAM compliant. I highly recommend them.

Ah - I did just notice one thing I don’t like about Windows Live Writer - no Technorati Tags. Use them lavishly in your blog to ensure you get lots of great targeted traffic - and for now, they will have to be added back in the WordPress interface. Beta2, anyone?!

I [Heart] FeedBurner :: Grab My Feed!

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

It’s been drama week for the hungry consumers of the eMoms Feed this week!

First a feed plugin brought my whole blog to it’s knees.

Then another plugin broke my feeds that weren’t directed to FeedBurner

Then I requested permission to edit my htaccess file from my hosting provider to fix my feeds. They told me no. :’(

So I finally found a solution. I got rid of the rest of my feeds.

I hope I don’t lose you in the process. If you click on that cute little orange square in my sidebar, you’ll get the right feed. Promise.

Can I just say again how much I love FeedBurner? They were SO helpful while my feed pitched temper tantrums. I can’t even tell you how many emails I swapped with their tech team to get it straightened out. But I believe my feeds are now behaving like good little children.

I Heart FeedBurner. :)

I Think I’ve got Feeding Issues

Monday, August 7th, 2006

No, I’ve not suddenly put on a lot of weight. I installed a plugin on Friday that was supposed to forward all of my feeds to my FeedBurner Feed. But I just heard back from the FB tech support guys (who are really GREAT, I might add), and I tested it. 3 of my four feeds are broken :( .

Until I can get things fixed, you can update your feed by using the following URL:

Or you can wait patiently for me to figure this darn feed thang out!

My apollogies for the interruption!

Database Scare and Tracking Feeds

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Today I added a WordPress plugin to enable me to direct all of my feeds to FeedBurner, because I like them so darn much. WordPress was generating 3 feeds, but FeedBurner was only tracking one of them. I was getting a lot more hits on the other feeds - so the good news is that I have a lot more subscribers than I thought. Woo Hoo!

The bad news was that this particular plugin completely crashed my blog for an hour. Turns out it attempted to make an edit to my htaccess file on the server, and Yahoo Hosting wasn’t too happy ’bout that. The person I spoke to at Yahoo actually told me I would have to restore my database or reinstall WP. (I HADN’T BACKED UP MY DATABASE IN THE LAST 3 WEEKS!!!).

I thought my blog was gone, sunk, kaput. I panicked. Big Time.

But thankfully Sarah Lewis came to the rescue and did the most obvious of things - deleted the plugin from my site via FTP. And all was well.

*I’m breathing again*

Big hugs to you Sarah!!! :o )

PS. I found a better plugin, by the way. FD Feedburner Plugin

I am so Damn Proud of Myself (Read: I just requested an inbound link from a stranger!)

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Wow. THANK God for my Mastermind Group. Let me give you the quick history before I launch into my accomplishment for the week.

In my Mastermind Group, we meet weekly to discuss our goals and progress, keep each other on track and offer coaching when appropriate. We come in with weekly commitments, and if they aren’t accomplished by the next week, severe leverage is induced. I pick my own leverage - something so painful that I will HAVE to ensure my list is complete!! My leverage is that I would have to grow out my usually well-hidden moustache. For 2 weeks. Trust me, my work gets DONE.

So last week I said I would request 10 inbound links. Then I put it off. I avoided it until the AFTERNOON of my evening meeting. And then I knew I HAD to do it. I’m a social butterfly in person. I even just blindly invited 50 women bloggers to the BlogJolt group. Yet to contact people to request a link was different. I was asking rather than offering. And I was scared.

But I was even more scared to get hairy. I knew I had to put up or shut up. Plus, I had to ask myself: How can I offer leadership to my readers and blog about this stuff if I am too scared to do it myself? So I bit the bullet and started writing.

I was surprised, but in retrospect, I’m not. Avoiding it was the hardest part. When I had no choice but to sit down and write the damn emails, I found I could do it.

I even found a way to ask without sounding like a greedy pig.

And I even found a way to offer some value back.

And I even opened some doors to some really exciting partnerships in the process!!

As business owners, going outside of our comfort zone is an absolute requirement to success. Even as bloggers. Even as moms, for that matter. If we are always inside of our comfort zone, we are not growing.

Ironically, my friend Brett sent me a great quote this morning that really perfectly explains why this is so important for us as humans::

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.


Problems with Technorati Lately?

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Ever since Technorati rolled out their very pretty redesign, they stopped responding to my pings. Every day I went there, and every day it got worse…

“Updated 1 days ago”
“Updated 2 days ago”
“Updated 3 days ago”
“Updated 4 days ago”… I start pinging them manually…
“Updated 5 days ago”… I comb their Support FAQ’s, thinking perhaps maybe, just maybe, they have ADDED a “Q” to explain why they aren’t indexing my prolific posts for the week.
“Updated 6 days ago”… I’m tempted to write Tech Support
“Updated 7 days ago”… I start pinging them incessantly ………
“Updated 8 days ago”… I cave in and actually fill out the form and send it to Tech Support

I should have done it so much sooner. They got back to me right away - within a couple of hours. They fixed the problem on their end easily and immediately (gotta love them for that!).

Meanwhile I lost out on a week’s worth of traffic from my top referrer. Silly me. I have been learning to speak up a lot more lately (more on this to come). But for now, my lesson learned :: ask for help early and often.

Antonella Pavese, You’ve Been BlogTipped!

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

FINALLY onto my BlogTipping project for the day…

My first shout out goes to Antonella Pavese, who’s blog is one of the first I ever read. I remember considering starting a blog, and I believe I was doing some research on what other women are blogging on. It was well before I launched my own efforts - yet I was so impressed. She writes about her passion - which is a great mixture of technology, psychology, women, and just her own voice.

  1. The reason this is relevant to moms is this: Antonella has taken the time to know herself well enough to understand her strengths, find her inner wisdom, and has taken the leap to publish the whole kit and kaboodle together in a delightfully fascinating blog.
  2. Antonella writes about the user experience, which is something that I believe moms naturally pay attention to without realizing it, or even being aware of it. If you are a true eMom (and I mean a mom who wants to start an internet based / tech business) this is a subject that needs true planning and conscious attention - making a site or blog easy to understand, navigate and read will make or break your business. Period.
  3. I adore her most recent post on owning our own power and strengths. This is something I have been working on consciously recently. (Very) generally speaking, women seem to back away from their own power and light. I can go on and on about my ruminations as to why this is - but suffice it to say that when I made the decision to really embrace and LIVE the powerful woman I am, amazing things started happening in my life.

My tip? From our great little email chat yesterday, Antonella made a quick deduction that her blog isn’t really relevant to moms - perhaps she was kindly trying to decline my invitation to join the BlogJolt group. ;) But if not, I would suggest simply that she think of herself as relevant to all women (and men) - because anything spoken from her true self is relevant, period.

By taking this identity on, she can continue to lead by example as she ‘owns’ her own great blogging success.

CowTipping…er, BLOGtipping (and Home Distractions…)

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Jumping on the social bandwagon once again, I am going cowtipping…. I mean BLOGtipping today. Bad joke, yes, but I can’t get the cowtipping phrase out of my mind this morning… must. drink. coffee.

What is BlogTipping, you ask? Well, I’ve had some fun reading a few entries this morning, it’s kind of a bit of link love and ‘tipping your hat’ to a blog you enjoy (as well as offering a tip as well - as in advice). Here’s a good one at CopyBlogger and at Business BlogWire. The simple format is to pass out three compliments, one piece of feedback (I prefer to call it an ‘invitation to grow’!), link to the blog (duh), and finally, be sure to tag your post with “blogtipping”.

Actually, I believe I must get to that drinking coffee part before I finish this post, because I am going to have some FUN with this! BRB…

Ah, the joys of working at home - skip this sidebar if you don’t care about what it’s like having your office in the midst of children, a messy house, and a massive startup plan for a new business…

I went to make coffee - only to find the sink full of dishes and I was unable to make enough room to wash a mug. So I stopped working and did a load of dishes.

Then the kids woke up, wanting breakfast [the nerve… ;) ]

Then my husband calls - reminding me it’s trash day - and I’m frantically lugging bag after bag to the curb because we have forgotten to put out trash for about 3 weeks. [yeugh!]

Then more emails come in, along with an opportunity to get more exposure for the BlogJolt group - so I HAVE to follow up on that immediately…

Good thing I am ADD otherwise this life would drive me bonkers!

On to Blog Tipping… but I have now decided that this post is so darn long in and of itself, I had better keep my content in my BlogTipping post concise to not irritate the rest of the blogosphere with my rants about my little work at home corner of the world… :)