Always Get Better

Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

How to Blog for a Living

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The title is misleading. Although I know a small number of people are making enough money from their blogs to generate a living income, the truth is the majority of people who try to blog for profit will fail to produce substantial revenue. That doesn’t mean the blog won’t be a critical part of their money-making strategy, it just means that a bigger strategy is needed; one in which blogging is just part of the equation.

Direct Income
It is possible to make direct income from your blog, of course. The two most common models of this are ad-supported (Google Adsense is common, but higher-quality and paying ad partners are available to larger blogs), and pay-for-use where your reader pays to access premium content you produce.

The problem with direct income schemes is they take enormous amounts of traffic to work. The average user will not pay or click on ads so in order to get your 1/1000 conversion to pay off you need to have tens of thousands of visitors to your blog. That would have to be a really interesting blog.

Affiliate Income
A more common way for bloggers to make money is by hawking other people’s wares on their site for commission. Depending on the affiliate, the income from this can blow ad-supported revenue out of the water.

Marketing for Other Income
Other writers choose to use their blog as a medium to advertise some other product they have created, or as a vehicle for increasing their professional profile. In these cases the blog may or may not additionally use another model to generate income, but the focus is not on making money.

Command and Control Social Media

Friday, April 8th, 2011

From a branding perspective, social media is about joining the conversation rather than trying to constantly send out broadcasts. Any idea worth discussing is already being talked about – if you ignore social media you aren’t just failing to get your message out into the wild; you are, in fact, allowing your voice to be absent from the existing discussion. There is a seismic shift occurring in the way brands and their respective owners are thinking about engaging their target audience. It isn’t good enough to just get the message out anymore – more attention is being placed into measuring the effectiveness of that message.

This isn’t a new idea; in fact, people have been talking about brands for as long as brands have existed. It’s well known that behind every customer who speaks up about their disappointment or service problem are ten others who simply switched to a different supplier. Figuring out what people are saying “on the street” and reacting to improve based on customer expectations isn’t a new concept; Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere are only tools that make this much easier – they did not invent the conversation. So what’s the big deal?

The difference we are seeing today is the easy access to information that was not present before. Employees at all levels of the organization have access to the same outside data, the same instant feedback to everything being done. Ofttimes the worker at the lowest level has more sense of customer feelings than does the decision-making upper management – this has always been true, of course, so why the sudden magnification?

I believe we are seeing a generational change in business and mindset that is putting people ahead of function. Call it Generation X (over-workers to a fault) passing the torch over to Generation Y (family-focused individuals). In the next several years we are going to see a greater focus toward grassroots-based marketing efforts and a continuation of the trend toward niche-based services alongside the dismantling of mainstream distribution channels.

How to control this? Don’t. Service the customer and listen to their feedback. The same ingredients that have always made businesses successful are still in place: the difference is it is now easier than ever to hear the feedback faster.

How to Hire a Social Media Expert

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

I am seeing an alarming trend on my beloved Facebook. Several of my friends (ok, I haven’t really kept tabs on them for years) have become “social media experts”. You can tell who is pushing at this stuff because they start tweeting dozens of times per hour, washing out all relevant contact from your home feed. They start using @reply and #hashtags and linking to other “social media experts” blog postings about the importance of Social Media and oh-goodness-your-company-doesn’t-understand-this-like-I-do-but-I-guarantee-results-for-you!

Honestly, this kind of behaviour has become textbook newbie behaviour.

The Buzz Bin has put together a list of ways to vet would-be social media experts.

I swear if I ever see ‘social media guru’ on someone’s resume, I will not hire them.

279 Days to Overnight Success

Monday, November 16th, 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

Chris Guillebeau offers his e-book 279 Days to Overnight Success for free on his blog. This is a great piece of writing that debunks the popular myths about “making it” blogging.

  1. Don’t rely on Google/Adsense as a “get-rich-quick” vehicle – they aren’t
  2. You don’t need millions of visitors and command of Digg to do well
  3. You will have to work hard
  4. Overnight success means ‘months or years’, not ‘days’

See for yourself – download it today.

When You Focus on Getting Better

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

It seems like correcting Seth Godin is a favourite pastime enjoyed by folks online. Sorry to break from the group, but I happen to think he is a deep well of relevant information.

This week he brought up the idea of upsides versus downsides – how much effort do businesses put into minimizing their downside versus the time they put into offering the best user experience?

One of the primary examples from the post is that of a hospital spending a huge amount of time doing paperwork to prevent litigation and prevent people from getting worse when their primary goal (and reason for existing) should be improving the lives of the patients coming through their doors.

The hospital example was interesting and timely because in “real life” the Jewish General Hospital recently came out and said it has been able to improve patient care (upside) by reducing errors (downside) through its new(ish) full disclosure policy. This ties in nicely with Seth’s article because it proves that it is possible for even large organizations to let go of the status quo and achieve new levels of excellence.

In the case of the Jewish General Hospital, it seems paradoxical but by admitting and dealing with errors, the hospital is actually less likely to be sued and face costly litigation. In essence, they have found a way to improve patient care, cut costs, and foster an open corporate culture. Way to go!

How to Move a WordPress Database

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

One of the most common requirements for web developers is the ability to switch code from development servers to live production environments. This can be tricky if you’re working with WordPress; moving the files is dead simple, but since WordPress uses canonical URLs you have to be careful if you are trying to transfer any of your database content.

Canonical URLs force your site to use the same base path ( rather than But if you are working in a development environment – e.g. the development site’s address isn’t the same as your web site, but is rather something like – you need to be able to make the switch to WordPress without bringing your site down.

Since I end up having to look for this information so often, here are the steps I use to accomplish this amazing feat:

Download The Database

From the shell prompt of your server, dump WordPress’ MySQL database into a backup file:

mysqldump –-add-drop-table -uusername -ppassword databasename > mysqlbackup.DATE.sql

Move it over to the new server and run this command to overwrite your target:

mysql -udb##### -p db#####_dbname < mysqlbackup.DATE.sql

Update the Database Paths

Log into your MySQL database and issue this update command to ensure WordPress redirects to the new server:

UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, ‘’, ‘’) WHERE option_name = ‘home’ OR option_name = ‘siteurl’;

Next update the post URLs:

UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = replace(guid, ‘’,’’);

Finally, update your posts’ content to fix any internal links:

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, ‘’, ‘’);

That’s all! Repeat these steps when moving from production to development and vise-versa.

As I said I typically search for this information whenever I need to move WordPress sites. I find the SQL queries at:

Looking Out My Back Door 2008

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Good-bye 2008, you have been good to me. Over the course of the past 12 months I have learned a great deal about who I am and what I can accomplish, leaving me in fine form to hit the ground running in 2009.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my little piece of cyberspace and commenting on some of what I wrote. The discussions were always respectful and informative; there are a lot of smart people riding the intertubes.

I’d like to take a moment now to stop and reflect on the last 12 months before starting the New Year.

I started this blog early in January, and skipped all formalities by jumping into a discussion about difficulties I had been experiencing with Google. I still think that was a good choice – I want to avoid making a big deal about this blog (except for occasional posts like this one, obviously) and starting off with the solution to a problem I had been facing was the perfect way to start splashing in the blogosphere. For the remainder of the month I discussed solutions in ASP.NET and the joys of working from home, both subjects which I had a great deal of experience with being simultaneously a full-time student and a full-time programmer.

My studies shifted to bizarre Java tricks and database connection tips in February, yielding one of my more popular articles about correctly using the memory management capabilities in C# to properly control database connections in ASP.NET. I am particularly proud of that article because it represented a step forward for me in the way I am able to communicate my ideas, not to mention it solved some of the more frustrating programming problems I had been having at the time.

In March my writing took a bit of an ironic tone, starting with my discovery of Google’s “bad page” warning. My writing suffered as I was unfortunately busy with everything from moving into a new home, to end-of-year college projects, to a massive assignment at work, and launching a second blog. As a result Always Get Better stagnated slightly, however the traffic continued to grow.

April saw a return to writing about useful tech tips and obscure programming knowledge. I also wrote the blog’s most popular article to date about methods for closing forms in C#; it still generates confusion and misunderstanding so I may revisit the concept in a more detailed article in the New Year. SQL tricks and platform differences were a big deal as well and will continue to be moving forward since I absolutely love SQL.

I realized that perfection was not a destination but rather a road to be followed halfway through the year and as a consequence started to take myself less seriously. My biggest time waster in May was in finding solutions to simple ASP.NET problems so I made more effort to publish those as I went along.

June was another bad month for blog posts. I only ended up posting a single token snippet referencing parse optimization in SQL on the final day of the month. Lame.

July was an incredibly busy month at work but I managed to post while I went through the pain of switching to Vista

The stress of July led me to reminisce about the time I once wasted playing MUDs. August was a month of ASP.NET issues, Internet Explorer oddities, and a positive change in my thinking about the future of this blog.

In September I had a paradigm shift in my perception of Flash as a programming platform with the discovery of Flex Builder 3. I have learned so much about this tool since those early days and am eager to share some of the knowledge I gained in a series of upcoming posts.

The lights went out on Always Get Better in October. This was a dark month for a number of reasons but I can’t make any excuses for not posting at all. One thing I did realize during this month was the need to back off some of my other projects and focus more energy on my writing online. By this time next year I hope to be earning enough from my blogs that I can afford to spend a greater portion of my time working with them.

November was a month of Flex, Adobe woes, a change in providers, Drupal databases, Drupal layout, and Drupal administration. I launched a second blog – this time politically-related – with help from my brother which has taken off at an alarming rate.

This month was the real eye-opener for me. With so many feeds and connections opened up to me, I feel as though I am watching the recession unfold in slow motion; but I don’t necessarily feel any more informed. Blogs often feel like the same news regurgitated and wrapped in commentary which is a great way to form opinions on issues but not necessarily a great way to understand the complexities of those issues. In my own work, I hope to teach as much as to give opinion – I leave the real journalism to the journalists and pillars of media like the New York Times. Although they claim to have a leaky boat I think they will weather these rocky waters just fine and be prouder for it.

2009 and Beyond
I am endlessly optimistic about the new year and experiences it will bring. I will do my best to make this blog better and will continue the network-building activities I have started this year. My greatest failure in 2008 was not promoting this site very much – in the New Year I will get the word out. Hopefully the items I write will be of use to someone out there. With any luck they might even pop a note in the comments to let me know I was able to do a decent job.

Thank you for sticking with me through this year, and I look forward to an interesting New Year!