My Product Review Blog Works!

Today someone searched Google with the question: “Do food mills peel and seed tomatoes”

This individual was directed by Google to BlogsNewsReviews directly to a review of the Oxo Food Mill.  Then the miracle occurred: the person clicked through to Amazon to look more closely at the food mill.  This is exactly how everything is supposed to work.  Since this blog is an affiliate of Amazon, had the visitor ordered a food mill, and perhaps they have, Amazon sends BlogsNewsReviews a small piece of the sale.

Another person typed “best swiss army knife”

and was directed to an article that addresses just that topic.  This has happened a few times now since the article asks just that question, has search “tags” about the various Swiss Army Knife tools, and specifically questions the value of getting the corkscrew when you can get a Phillips head screwdriver instead.

Organic Traffic

These visitors directed by search engines based on their own searches matching article contents are called “organic” traffic.  Organic traffic has not been referred here by another website or an ad (ad?  who has money for ads!).  The value of organic traffic is that it is a true connection between a person searching and a blog that has that information.  This is particularly exciting in the case of the food mill question — whether a food mill removes peels and seeds — since the article answers the question.  Whether the person buys a food mill or not, he or she got the right answer.  That’s organic and that’s exciting!

Is Technology Getting In the Way of Your Writing?

when writing tools break words stop flowing

You Can Write

But are the WordPress plugins’ “tools” and “features” and “settings” and “tags” becoming a  distraction?  Today the WordPress “admin bar” stopped showing up at the top of my blog site.  Ordinarily I can log in, write something, preview it as it appears on the site, click on the dashboard, go back in and edit.  Now I can’t do that and have no idea why.

WordPress Plugins are great.

But they don’t always get along.  And the ways they change the writing interface can become a real pain.  The HTML tab on my Add New Post interface mysteriously greyed out and stopped working awhile back.  I don’t know why.  I can still insert HTML by clicking “edit your profile” and clicking “disable the visual editor when writing.” It’s a pain.

And this latest glitch has my blog not recognizing me as an admin, so my own clicks register in Google Analytics.  Hmmm, another exciting computing problem to troubleshoot.  In the meantime, I’m not using tools, I’m repairing them.

Which plugin is causing the problem or what setting? Was there an automatic update that changed things?  Questions demanding turning things off and back on.  Fiddling.  Wasting time.

The goal of writing is to organize words to fashion a transparent window on ideas

When your reader notices the writing, he or she is not immersed in content.  The window is dirty, or it creates a distracting distortion or lensing effect, or in the worst case, your reader’s window has become opaque.

Writing tools need to be similarly unobtrusive.  If I’m looking at the little submarine window in WordPress and constantly wondering about font size or headers (which drive SEO, don’t forget about SEO).  Or thinking about anything other than communicating with my reader, the tool has become a filter or even an obstacle.

When writing tools are not easy and fun, and especially when they aren’t predictable, they discourage writing.  Is my blog going to stop working entirely?  When tools generate problems, they turn a writer into a tinker.   So today I realized that the technology that is supposed to let me share my work had generated so many idiosyncrasies that I am no longer writing.  I’m peering into a tiny box, wondering what will go wrong next, and worrying which conflicted setting is going to hijack my concentration.

Today I feel like doing a Thoreau

I want to, simplify, simplify, thoreau WordPress away, and abandon this do-it-yourself technological Rubik’s Cube.  Maybe I will buy a professional theme that comes with all the caching, and compression, and internal links, and everything else the plugins do.  I want to stop thinking about buttons and switches and think about words instead.

Postscript — Appears to have been a setting, discovered at the expense of about an hour.

Post post script:  Found a great plug-in that solved multiple problems created by other plug-ins.

WordPress Tips #5 – 7

Continuing the blogsnewsreviews.com ridiculously simple WordPress advice

WordPress Tip #5

When you are writing Posts (or Pages) pay attention to the two tabs in the upper right corner of the workspace, namely, “Visual” and “HTML.”  What you can do to your text is quite different depending on which one is clicked.  Don’t be afraid to examine code.  It’s not rocket science, although it takes some getting used to.  For the Page version of this article, I started breaking up the Tips using a little piece of code: <!–nextpage–>  You just paste it in while the HTML tab is on, and it makes a new page.

WordPress Tip #6

As powerful as WordPress is, not all instructions and explanation are as clear as others.  Some “help” files seem to start out easy enough, and the tone is always friendly, but I get confused, especially by articles that embed references to very elementary articles while explaining something rather complicated.  An article I found quite helpful is Administration Panels. When you find instructions that are making sense, save them and re-read them. I got enough guidance from my web hosting company to get my WordPress site up and running.  BlueHost supports one-click installation of WordPress.  I have been so impressed with their kind and patient customer support (by people based in Utah) that I decided to become an affiliate. If you have gained some confidence that even an amateur can eventually figure out WordPress, I hope you will click through here if you decide to host a site.  It’s a pretty cheap hobby and some people say you can eventually make some money.

WordPress Tip #7 Find inspiration.

When I decided to start a blog, I found a couple of tremendously helpful sites, offering solid guidance on how to “monetize” you site.  One of these is Problogger, who offers solid information and does not blow sunshine up your skirt about getting rich quick on the Internet.

Shows, rather than tells, how quality content can make a difference.  Very inspirational.