Blogging about blogging

I’ve always read a lot of blogs but only recently have I checked into blogs about blogging.  Wow!  There’s a whole other world out there, a whole community, that blogs about blogging and all the things associated with blogging like how to get more traffic, how to make money, how to create a good blog, etc.  There are also some celebrities.  People everyone in the "blogging about blogging" world know – like everyone in the open source world knows who Linus Torvalds is or everyone into football knows who Howie Long is.  One of the celebrities in the blogging world is John Chow from JohnChow.com

In order to see how links can drive traffic, I’m taking John Chow up on his offer to link back to my blog if I write a review about his blog.  So this review is honest but it’s driven by the motivation to get a link.  (So you are duly warned!)

Here are some of my observations about JohnChow.com:

  • Great content about how to write a good blog.  John Chow follows his own advice and writes great original content.  (Although giving advice on blogging doesn’t seem to be his primary or only focus.)
  • Integrity.  He offered to link back to every blog that reviewed his blog and it looks like a lot of people took him up on the offer and he’s honoring his word!
  • Communication.  He’s very good about writing blog posts and about promoting his top commentators but maybe not so good with email.  I originally wrote this review on 2/20/07 and submitted it via email.  I never heard back – not even a thank you or I’ll get to it later.  I’m assuming on 2/25/07 that the reason I haven’t been listed on his blog yet is because I didn’t include a link back to the rules page but some type of feedback that it had been received would have been great.  Feedback on why I wasn’t going to be listed would have been terrific.  If you’re going to have an email form promoted on your website, you should answer it. 
  • Navigation.  I like the navigation tabs at the top of the blog and I liked that the subscribe buttons were at the top.
  • Memorable logos and banners. 
  • Lots of good pictures, especially of food! (And pictures of food are hard – I’ve been trying on My Man’s Man.)
  • Lots of community building tools like listing the top commentators and using MyBlogLog to show recent readers.
  • I like how he mixes content about blogging (what most people probably read the blog for) and personal stories about restaurants he’s eating at and places he’s been to.  I think that adds "voice."

It feels a bit weird to review someone who is supposed to be the expert.  Maybe I should ask John to review my blog!

[Edited on 2/25/07.]

Getting wealthy might not be good for your kids

Pursuing wealth may not be good for your kids says Pyschology Today:

the pursuit of status and material wealth by high-earning families
(say, $120,000 and above) tends to leave skid marks on the kids, but in
ways you might not have expected. Affluent suburban high schoolers not
only smoke more, drink more and use more hard drugs than typical high
schoolers do—they do so more than a comparison group of inner-city
kids. In addition, they have much higher rates of anxiety and, in
general, higher rates of depression.

Although once again, one of the strongest predictors of success was family dinners together!

Great Online Tshirt Business

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I found a great online Tshirt business.  You upload any picture you want and then you can offer that image on Tshirts, buttons, mugs, etc …  Cafepress tells you how much it costs them and you mark up your Tshirts with your design however much you want.  When people order your Tshirts, Cafepress makes them to order, sells them to the person that ordered it and pays you the markup.  Pretty cool way to get custom Tshirts made … or to make some extra money.

There are some great designs already up.  Some of the most popular themes are:

  • anti-Bush
  • army wife
  • autism

It only takes minutes to get setup.  Have fun!

Photo by redune.

How to create an awesome bibliography in seconds

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Do you remember bibliographies?  That list of all the books you read or quoted while you were writing a paper?  And they all have to be in a special format with all sorts of rules?  (How do you handle multiple authors and does the year go before or after the publisher?)

Well, now there’s a website that creates a bibliography for you: OttoBib.  You type in the ISBN numbers and it spits out a nicely formatted bibliography! 

Now if it would only handle web pages in your bibliography …

Photo by Olivander (Great Old One).

10 home business ideas that work

For those of you willing to work and still looking for a home business idea, here are ten stories to inspire you.  They all have an online presence and they include:

  1. Making charms for charm bracelets ($2.5 milllion/year)
  2. Putting beads on tank-tops ($1 million/year)
  3. Referral business for home contractors ($100,000/year)
  4. Domain naming service ($25/domain name)
  5. Baby announcement cards
  6. Crocheted underwear (and other stuff)
  7. Editing legal transcripts
  8. Selling balsam from the trees on your land
  9. Selling mannequins
  10. Making cuff links ($500,000/year and still has another job)

There’s links and descriptions of all the sites in the original post.  And then there’s making money by selling ads on your blog:
.

So what business are you going to start?

The secret to making money from home

I was working from home last week (sitting on the sofa working on my laptop) when the cleaning people showed up.  When they asked where Caleb was I said "at daycare, I’m working."  To which they replied "is that what you are doing!"

I see a lot of websites with lots of traffic all talking about how to make money working from home, blogging or from an internet business.  Do all those readers realize that to work from home you have to work?  Or are they secretly hoping that they’ll make money doing nothing?  The main benefit to working from home is not commuting.  (Yeah!)  And some people think working in your pj’s is a benefit.  But in general, you are working – not playing with the baby, doing laundry or watching tv.  (You can do that stuff but you aren’t working when you are doing it.)  I think all those people interested in working from home are really looking for a job that isn’t any work.

What do you think?  Are you interested in working from home?  If so, why?

Make sure your baby is swallowing

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If you are having trouble breastfeeding (or bottle feeding), make sure your baby is swallowing.  This was pointed out to me again and again but it didn’t really hit home until 2 am this morning.  I held the bottle for 20 minutes and his cheeks were moving and he was really working at it but after 20 minutes, there was still the same amount of fluid in the bottle! He hadn’t been swallowing!  (In this case because there was too much of a vacuum in the bottle.)

So if your baby is having trouble eating, make sure they are swallowing, not just sucking.

Photo by pfly.

Book review: Success Mastery Academy

I just finished listening to Brian Tracy’s Success Mastery Academy. (Which I got from Audible.)  While I didn’t agree with everything he said, he had a lot of very good points.  Here are the main ones that stuck with me.  (I listened to it in the car so I couldn’t take notes and I can’t flip back through it.)  Some may seem obvious to you, others may be an "ah-hah," and some you may not agree with at all.

  1. You have to work hard to succeed.  And once you’ve done that, everyone will say "how lucky you are!"  So once you’ve worked 80 hour weeks for 10 years, become CEO of your own company, own a nice home and take nice vacations, people will say "you’re so lucky!" So that was really two points:
    • You have to work hard to succeed.
    • People are unlikely to notice how hard you’ve worked.  Most people just want to "get lucky."
  2. You have to be happy to make others happy.  None of this "I’m sacrificing so my family, friends, etc. can be happy."  You can’t make them happy if you aren’t happy yourself.
  3. Write your goals down.  Not just your career goals, but all your goals for the year.  Start now.  Write down all your goals for 2007.  Think big but be somewhat realistic.  Put them in present tense.  "I got a 5% raise this year," "I run 3 miles a day," "I weigh 125 pounds," … whatever you want.  The more detailed the better.  Even if you don’t do anything with them, writing them down will help.  (If you make them unbelievable like "I won the lottery," "I lost 200 pounds," … they are much less likely to happen than if they are realistic.)
  4. Lists are good.  Lots of lists are even better.
  5. Listen.  Listen to people.  Listen to people more than you talk.  Ask lots of questions.
  6. Treat money like it’s important and you like it.  Dad actually taught me this one.  Don’t play with your money.  Keep it in a safe place.  Value it.  It will "attract" more and you’ll lose less.  Dad even got upset when I got checks with pictures on them.  Checks are money and money is serious. (And the day before I heard this on the tape I was telling our six year old that he needed to keep his money in his wallet in a safe place in his room and not play with it.  I’m not sure I want Frank to learn this one – I make a significant amount of money from wadded up bills in the laundry!)

The book was geared towards people in sales but it had a lot to do with life in general.  If you are in the mood for a self-improvement book, I highly recommend it.

The Secret of How to Talk to Your Kids

New York Magazine’s How Not to Talk to Your Kids is scary!  According to the author (and many studies) when we tell kids they are smart, they are more likely to care about looking smart and will only pick tasks they are sure to succeed in.  If we tell them they did really well because they worked really hard, they are more likely to keep trying hard.

“When we praise children for their intelligence,” Dweck wrote in her
study summary, “we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look
smart, don’t risk making mistakes.”

In one study teachers said that students who were taught that they could work at being smart improved their study habits and grades.  Those that had been told they did well because they were smart, didn’t improve.

Children are also dismissing compliments because they are getting too many insincere ones, "a teacher who praises a child may be unwittingly sending the message
that the student reached the limit of his innate ability, while a
teacher who criticizes a pupil conveys the message that he can improve
his performance even further
."

Another point they made is a random reward is better than a reward everytime.  I remember this from college psychology and dog training.  A treat once in a while for a good "sit" is better than a treat for each sit.  If it’s for each sit, the dog expects a reward everytime, does it just for the reward and may not do it if they don’t want a treat.  If you only treat sometimes, they’ll do it everytime because they want to make sure they get the treat when it shows up! 

My takeaways were:

  • Make sure your praise is specific.  "That catch was great" instead of "you played great."
  • Praise effort as well as just ability.

20 Ways to be Happy

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The New York Magazine has a list of 20 ways to be happy.   Here are some excerpts:

Decide where to go to college by picking two decent schools and flipping a coin.  […] Those who seize the first option that meets
their standards (which don’t have to be low, just defined) are happier
than those who insist on finding the perfect solution.

So Dad’s way of shopping was best – he always made us buy the first item that fit.  (So the strategy was to say that nothing fit until you found the one you liked.)

Don’t go to law school.
Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed than members of other
professions, and it’s not just because their jobs are more stressful.
For most people, job stress has little effect on happiness unless it is
accompanied by a lack of control (lawyers, of course, have clients to
listen to) or involves taking something away from somebody else (a
common feature of the legal system).

I know lots of people with law degrees that aren’t lawyers, probably because being a lawyer doesn’t make people happy.  People don’t like lawyers either, which probably adds to the unhappiness.

If someone tells you he’s still pining for his ex, ask the ex out.

If somebody else liked him, you are likely to too.

If you can’t decide what TV to buy, walk across the hall and ask your neighbor if he likes his.
[…] Turns out, people are happier following
advice.

This is how I bought my new phone and I really like it.  Usually I research all the options forever, don’t really like any one of them and then pick one.  This time I asked the t-mobile rep what he would buy if "small" was the most important criteria.  And I like it.

But don’t work overtime . . .
[…] lottery winners and Forbes 100 members are no more likely to be satisfied than anyone else.

Just make sure you live next to people that make less than you do.  Even if you only make $30K a year, you’ll be happier than if you made $100K and lived next to people that made $150K.

They also said married people are happier and kids don’t make you any happier than you were.  I disagree with the kids one because I think families and communities make people happy.

Photo by 油姬.