Useful Tools & Resources For Bloggers

No doubt you want to know what it takes to be a successful blogger if you are planning on launching your own blog. Keep in mind that a blog is something that requires patience and care and regular updating in order to succeed. You want to always be adding fresh and unique content to your blog so that you can stay ahead of your competition.

In this article, I will provide some recommended useful blogging tools & resources you can use to stay ahead of your competition.

The first item on the list of recommended blogging tools & resources is WordPress which is actually the simplest blogging software to use to build your blog. You can download this software at WordPress’s website. Just as a side note, the search engines love blogs and they also love WordPress blogs so this is another reason you will do well to make this your blogging software of choice.

Another useful tool you may want to use is a keyword research tool known as Wordtracker. At the time of writing this they have a 7 Day Free trial and you can find this resource at Wordtracker’s website. You want to have a main keyword that your blog is targeting and Wordtracker is an excellent tool to use for your research on keywords. There are also many free keyword research tools so you may want to do a search for this if you are on a tight budget.

When you get your WordPress blog setup, one of the most useful things with WordPress is the amount of plugins that are available. Plugins add functionality to your blog. For example, there are plugins that will update Twitter every time you submit a post. There are others that allow you to put Social Bookmarking tools after your posts so that your readers can bookmark your posts which help you to get backlinks to your blog which drives further traffic to your blog.

Since you will want to stay abreast of what your competitors are doing another recommended blogging tool you can make use of is Google’s blog search. Using this tool you can find all of your competitors and check out their traffic generation methods. You can also see what marketing methods they are using to attract and retain their readers.

You should do a Google search and look up blog directories as there are many that you should submit your blog to. One of the most important is Technorati so, at the very least make sure you submit your blog to Technorati and ping them with every post you make.

I hope you take these recommendations and make use of them to build yourself a successful blog.

Christine Imamshah is a full-time internet marketer. Visit my blog at http://www.christineimamshah.com and be sure to leave a comment or two. For new and excellent Traffic training head on over to http://www.explosionalmarketing.com

Unlimited Bandwidth Does Not Exist Right?

Many web hosting providers offer “unlimited bandwidth”. So what does this really mean? After all, it certainly sounds good!

What is Bandwidth? It is the amount of traffic (data) transmitted to and from your website. So the more visitors you have looking over your website, logging into your website and buying items from your website, etc., the more bandwidth you are going to use and the more money you a re-likely to pay if you overpass your limits.

Now let’s right to the bad news: unfortunately, “unlimited bandwidth” doesn’t really exist. It’s strictly a marketing trick, a buzz word, an attention grabbing sound byte to get you to sign up with that particular hosting provider.

The best thing you can do is avoid hosting providers that advertise unlimited bandwidth. If you really think you can get unlimited bandwidth, read their Terms of Service agreement very carefully. You’ll see the true soon or late.

The hosting providers that offer unlimited bandwidth are betting on the fact that your site won’t use very much bandwidth – so it won’t be a problem for them and, even more importantly, it won’t be a problem for you because they don’t want to be the ones to have to tell you (1) that they tricked you in the first place (your website is now using too much bandwidth) and (2) you have to pay more because of that or (3) you need to upgrade to a more expensive hosting plan.

Several honest web hosting providers does not engage in such marketing ploys. but still offer a wide variety of Linux web hosting plans so that you can choose the bandwidth and disk space that best meets your needs. If your website business grows, upgrading to the next higher bandwidth plan is easy to do and prices can be very affordable also.

A Medical Blog As a Resource

What is a medical blog?

A medical blog is a web log that discusses various medical topics and provides great resources for all physicians.

What should a medical blog consist of?

-discussions of various medical topics

-a forum for all physicians at any stage of training to contribute or ask questions

-help pre-med students decide if medicine is right for them

-choosing the right medical school and getting into it

-resources that help students cope with medical school

-help medical students choose the right residency

-education to help residents cope with the tough residency years

-planning for the job after residency and the skills needed

As I went on my long journey to become a physician, I did not feel that I had the proper guidance. It seemed every time I needed an answer, I had to search deep and wide to find it. Not many were honest about their experiences in medical school, residency, and as an attending. There was so much uncertainty. What do I study? How long should I study? What books are the best? How do you balance medicine and life? These and a ton of other questions were always on my mind. I had to actively go and seek out the answers and a lot of times there was no direction, no clear answer. That’s why I wish I had a medical blog that guided me through my medical education. I feel that everyone that goes through medicine needs some direction. A medical blog is a great solution to this problem.

Hope you all the best! Ronny Abraham, MD

Home Business – Perfection is Not Required

Perfection is not required in your home based business. Action however is. As a new home business owner if you wait until all your marketing efforts are perfect you will never get started. This is a huge mistake made by many new business opportunity seekers.

Marketing is of course a key component to building your online business but having to look like the big internet guru’s is not required. The less professional you look the more real you feel and the more likely you are to get the attention of real people.

Here are some of the common items beginners feel need to be perfect and a few ideas to combat this perfection to get started:

Ads can’t be placed until they say just the right thing. When you’re first getting started you really don’t know what the right thing is to say. You have to test this over time. Once you find the right combination of words and method, enhance it. Just keep trying

Videos need to be perfect. I remember the first video I created. I wrote everything down memorized it, went to a nearby park to shoot it and hours later came back with nothing. Every time I made a mistake I started over. I was so worried about how I would be perceived by others that it was stifling my creativity. I never smiled, I got tong-tied with my words; it was a disaster. The next day I was watching my grandkids so I got them to shoot the video while I talked to them. They eventually got bored with the multiple takes; they simply could not understand why it had to be just right. I have since learnt that it’s OK to make a mistake and people still respect you for it. A bigger lesson is if you don’t like to be in front of the camera that’s OK too, do other things like Camtasia training videos or PowerPoint presentation. They work well too…

The perfect Website. This is an ever changing project. You will always be tweaking this, you need to accept that. You’ll be surfing the net and come across something you like and what to change yours. That’s why it’s important to use a tool that you can manage. If you’re not good with html then learn to use something like Squidoo, Blogger or WordPress to create your site, these are platforms which are easy for anyone to edit and create very nice looking websites.

Ah, the autoresponder campaign! New home business owners really anguish over this. They worry about what to say, how long should it be, should a sell or not, if so how often? Am I going to make people angry and have them unsubscribe? This too is a work in progress. At most you should always have a thank you email. There is not industry standard, but you will see most often written 2 personal or training emails, 1 sale, and then repeat as often as you want. If they unsubscribe say good-bye they weren’t likely to be buyers anyway.

What to say! Many people never get started because they worry about what to say to people. Will they sound silly, or maybe someone will ask a question they don’t have the answer to. Be yourself and be excited. If you don’t know the answer, be honest and offer to find out. But don’t let this stop you from getting started. — Cindy Floyd

What is a WAN Service and How Can it Help?

A WAN, or Wide Area Network is a computer network that covers a large area, such as those whose communications need cross metropolitan, regional or national boundaries. A WAN is used to connect local area networks, or LANs and other networks together; the linking of these computers allows users and computers in one area to communicate with users and computers in another location.

Most WANs are designed for a single organisation and are privately used. Those that are built by ISP, Internet Service Providers, provide connections from various organisation LANs, or local area networks, to connect to the Internet, in this way, communications can be delivered over national boundaries.

These types of communications include;

  • Instant messages
  • Emails
  • Real time auctions
  • Online ordering placing

This in turn can reduce costs for companies by eliminating the need for travel and expensive long distance phone calls.

The benefits of using a WAN are that you can connect computers that are located over a vast area together. A network that can exchange data between sights is efficient and effective. The WAN enables computers to communicate with each other, some at different times and others at the same time. Not only can data be shared, but video as well, WANs are used for video conferencing and web casting. When communication is being shared between computers, each operator can access the same information at the same time.

When using a WAN, major corporations can reduce the branch office in house costs by enabling a centralised data centre to handle backup and storage resources. The use of a WAN also improves employee productivity by increasing and accelerating work applications as well as reducing replication across the WAN.

The use of private WANs have significant benefits also; the network is safe, secure and as it states, private. This type of network can reduce support and maintenance costs. There is an increased speed of the data that can be transmitted between sites because no other users are on the network. There is the ability to quickly access data that might be stored at different locations. This is also a great way for a company to provide training to their employees without the expense of airline tickets, hotels and providing meals for them.

As you can see, the benefits of having a WAN are vast. Whether you are using a private network to utilise quickness and efficiency between your satellite offices, or whether you are using a public WAN such as the Internet to purchase an item, communication between geographic areas is an important role in our society. Many people have used the Internet to gain knowledge by attending on-line college classes, or just have some fun playing an on-line interactive game; all of these activities were accessed using a WAN. The use of WANs offers opportunities never before possible for businesses as well as the everyday consumer.

Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who writes for a number of UK businesses. For Business Internet Services and WAN Services, he recommends Iconnyx.

Open Source For Non-Profits

For the first seven years of my life I never had a baseball bat. In fact, nobody in the neighborhood had one. Simple reason was, we couldn’t afford one. Not about to let the kids in Jollyville, the rival neighborhood, get ahead, we put our heads together and came up with a solution. We broke off a few branches from a dead ocotillo cactus, placed a few large leafs over them and wrapped them together tightly together with fishing wire and, and voila, a functional bat. Not a Louisville slugger, but it got the job done. Over the course of one summer that was the bat that most of us learned how to hit with. Our ingenuity became the envy of the neighborhood. When I told my father about it, he smiled at said “well, the price was right.” In those tough economic times, the only price that was right was free. Sound familiar?

Over the next few years many small to mid-size non-profits and art centered project(s) will be facing severe financial cuts that, if not managed right, could lead to loss of revenue, exposure and messaging. Looking for ways to trim budgets while keeping the quality of organizations mission will be on the minds of most Executive Directors and boards. The natural tendency would be to scale back, downsize and “hunker” down. While this strategy may work for some aspects of business, I believe now is the time for smarter, more focused messaging, in particular, a new approach to an organization’s visual communication strategy. There has never been a better time to differentiate one’s organization or project from the crowd. New media technologies mean that you can spend less and do more if you are willing to consider a new approach.

The question is, however, how to do that in this chaotic economic environment. Having worked with non-profit and arts organizations for the last eight years I can testify that there is very rarely a shortage of ideas, but instead a shortage of resources available and allocated to make those ideas a reality. The question then becomes, are there alternative ways to achieve our visual communication goals without breaking the bank? While a conflux of unique circumstances has conspired to break our economy, another “perfect storm” has hit the digital creation marketplace, with much different results.

Let’s back up for a moment and take a look at some of the core ingredients that go into implementing an organizations visual communications strategy (note: at this point I am assuming the organization (or project) has already created an overall communications strategy). The focal point of most communications strategies is the web, as it serves as the main “hub” of your strategy, with all the other elements being the “spokes”, and they work together in concert to provide a cohesive and coordinated presentation to your targeted audience. Those elements would include your visual messaging (photography, graphic design), Multimedia presentations (podcasts, video, powerpoint) and print (brochures, annual reports). While there are many other elements that are often included, I think you’ll find them all sub-elements of the list above.

The budgetary requirement to implement a comprehensive plan with the elements outlined above is out of reach for most small non-profits or arts organizations. The catch 22 is, if you don’t implement your strategic plan what good is it to have one, and if you implement your plan but it breaks the bank, how can you justify it. My solution for smaller organizations is to embrace Open Source.

What is Open Source? Wikipedia defines it as “a development methodology, which offers practical accessibility to a product’s source (goods and knowledge). Some consider open source as one of various possible design approaches, while others consider it a critical strategic element of their operations.” In addition, Open Source also includes “OSS”, or Open Source Software, which is “defined as computer software for which the human-readable source code is made available under a copyright license (or arrangement such as the public domain) that meets the Open Source Definition. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open source software is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user generated content.” For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to focus on OSS, but framed under the overall banner of the “development methodology”, as I think this can be appropriated by organizations as well.

OSS can include everything from web design applications to complete Content Management systems. The software is free to use and modify, although there are often some fine print in terms of credit and distribution. Most of these programs are widely available on the internet and have a fair amount of documentation. The capabilities rival those from the commercial sector, and are often updated faster than their commercial counterpart because of the sheer size of the development pool and, because its users are its developers, there is an imbedded need for fast, real-time solutions.

The learning curve of these systems is fairly straightforward. Google and other information resources have made access to user-generated documentation and trouble shooting of most OSS software easy and accessible, which is one aspect that should reassure organizations considering going Open Source. One of its early shortcomings was the lack of customer support (and is one area where the commercial products still rule). But, in this age of shrinking financial resources, many organizations will have to rely on human-power to push agendas forward, so the thought of spending a few hours troubleshooting versus paying two-thousand a year for Customer Service Support doesn’t sound so daunting.

Some of the early challenges organizations that went Open Source encountered have diminished with its wide appeal. When OSS first arrived on the scene, many of the programs were inaccessible to those that were not coders or programmers. Additionally, the functionality operated about two years behind commercial products, making them somewhat irrelevant for those trying to do innovative and cutting edge work.

In today’s OSS environment, functionality is running about six months behind commercial software, and that gap is confined to only the most complex processes and functions. For the 90% of organizations there is relatively no difference between OSS and commercial software functionality.
Let’s examine one of the main leaders of Open Source software, and look at the practical implications for implementing your digital communications strategy.

WordPress

WordPress is the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on hundreds of thousands of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day. It started from a single piece of code and, thanks to the tens of thousands of developers who have contributed to it, has now grown into a (small) Content Management System that is more than capable for handling all of a small to mid-level organizations online needs.

Basically, WordPress works as a template system. Okay, I can hear the groans already. Like you, I have a severe dislike of templates as they are generally boring, uncreative and lack the type of innovation that I like my projects to encompass. WordPress’ template system is much different, however. I like to think of it as a “skeleton system”, providing the end user with a working prototype of their site within, say, 20 minutes, and allowing them to expand and build upon that skeleton to suite their own needs. Those with a PHP background can build their own templates from scratch, but I have found that there are more than enough base templates to allow for unlimited customization and creativity without having to build one from scratch.

The experience of setting up and using WordPress is about as straight forward and easy as a web platform can get. First, purchase your domain and set up your hosting plan. I use Bluehost, and I have been very happy with their service. They also provide something called Fantasico, which is a great script that will install OSS programs on your server with the touch of a button. Using Fantasico, is similar to setting up an email account, will allow you to have a fully functional version of WordPress installed and running on your site, all within about 15 minutes.

WordPress’ core functionality includes creating “pages”, which are static pages that you don’t expect to change much, like the usual “about” pages on websites. Also, and this is where WordPress really shines, allowing for dynamic blog posts, which you can display in infinite ways to your audience. Just about every other web function you can think of is handled by something called “plugins”. At last count, there are 3,124 plugins available at WordPress’ home page, and many more scattered throughout the web. On the Good Fight’s website, I am using 22 plugin’s from 22 different authors. They enable such functionality as dynamic contact forms, event calendars, social bookmarking for my readers, and on and on. Plugins are so amazing that I often find myself perusing the WordPress Codex for new and interesting plugins, whether for the Good Fight or for my personal blog. It’s a great way to keep fresh your audience’s experience at your site as well as improving functionality.

What really makes WordPress stand out is the fact that it’s “server side”, meaning the core files and application reside on your server, as opposed to a host computer. By contrast, when a designer or developer creates a site in Dreamweaver, they are working locally (on their computer) and uploading/publishing those HTML files onto your server. While this may work well for the individual, it can play havoc with an organization that does not have a Dreamweaver or web developer in house. Furthermore, the maintenance of a site is ongoing, and many times in smaller organizations this falls to the hands of an office manager. Without the knowledge of coding, or how a particular developer created a site, s/he is basically unable to properly maintain and update a website. Commercial programs like Contribute do an adequate job of proving some of these tools, but in my experience they are far too limiting in their functionality to be truly useful. Try re-editing a blog post and changing the color of the link text in Contribute and you’ll see why.

In WordPress, you can have unlimited numbers of users accessing the “guts” of the program, and you can assign levels of access to various users to “restrict” them from places on the site that are either private or risky for someone to be monkeying around in. For example, let’s say you want your administrative assistant to approve user comments made on your company’s blog post, and also update the sites “bio” page with a new staff member, and finally run a backup of the database should the server crash. In WordPress the process is simple: s/he logs in, hits a manger tab, opens up the page, pastes in the new bio, and hits publish; next s/he hits the “comments” tab and hits “approve” or “disapprove” to moderate the comments, and finally, to backup the database s/he simply hits “manage” and then “backup”, and WordPress starts an automated process. By contrast, should the same type of scenario play out with a traditional HTML site designed in Dreamweaver, it would be a much more complex and tedious process, and one fraught with more serious consequences should there be an error along the way.

Another element to the above situation is that these types of changes (and the thousands of other commands possible) can be implemented anywhere in the world where there is web access. You could, for example, have your communications director uploading a corporate report from home while one of your field executives posts a blog while at an airport. As I mentioned before, you can have as many users as you want, and each of those users can be given a “role”. It’s the ultimate way to manage your web site in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Oh yeah, and it’s free.

From a design standpoint, many people feel “boxed” in by the template system. I know many developers who think their creativity is “stifled” by working within the framework of a Content Management System. While it does take some with CSS and PHP knowledge to properly customize a template, there are some great out of the box templates that costs less than a dinner for four at Outback steak house. And because of the extensive documentation at WordPress, and the easy to navigate interface, a design savvy person can learn the basics of template customization within a few weeks.

For extensive layout customization, however, I would recommend hiring a WordPress designer to tweak your template to your liking. Again, you have to weigh the time involved in learning PHP and CSS versus hiring. Up until now everything I’ve covered has been a minimal time investment. Comprehensive tweaking should be contracted. You’ll still be saving money in the long run, as the core functionality WordPress brings, along with its stability and usability, is virtually free. Compare that with a web developer creating something from the ground up, and I think you’ll see the costs savings.

WordPress is just one of the thousands of Open Source applications available to organizations and artists on the web. I choose to cover it over other simply because it has the capacity to serve as an organization’s visual communications “hub”, allowing for easy management and maintenance, and can create a framework for companywide involvement. Other OSS programs that I would recommend investigating:

Audacity – sound editing and effects
Blender 3D – 3D modeling and animation
Filezilla – ftp client
Ganttproject – scheduling, resource management, calendaring
Gimp – image manipulation
OpenOffice.org – office suite
VLC Media Player – media player + VLC Portable
Sitesucker – web site copier

In short, my solution for smaller organizations is to embrace Open Source (and contract with a consultant for some limited help with design and strategy). You can cut out thousands of dollars that have historically been spent on programming, technical support, intense re-design, and maintenance. CFO’s and ED’s should rest assured that, through embracing Open Source they should be able to stay competitive with the latest communications tools with minimal investment and risk. Open Source is not without its problems, but as my father would say, “the price is right.”
— Pablo Toledo

Managed Hosting Can Help You?

At present occupied and the competitiveness of the industry, the time for companies is not just an option. In the past, when a company of the CPU no, it meant a big problem. The time it takes to either replace or rebuild the CPU that had the potential to completely paralyze the company. In today’s market, there is no time to rebuild or replace and that many companies do not even have the option. However, further progress with companies once afraid of reconstruction and replacement of no longer have any reason to worry. With the new Managed Hosting worry about the CPU failure no longer has to be a nightmare.

Managed Hosting is a safe and reliable backup of the information about your CPU in the event of an accident or a system failure. The Good managed hosting system is not only extremely reliable, but is much cheaper than many forms of back-up place at present. With the Good system can work at ease knowing that in the event of a failure, the CPU Managed Hosting server backup 100% of your CPU and can provide very fast recovery time for the corruption!

Not only the housing offer managed backup for your CPU, but also offers much more. It is foreseeable that with the data transfer systems, 24 hours a day dedicated firewalls, which monitor and manage your CPU and other storage systems. It offers load balancing, which is beneficial to companies large and small, it enables all systems to share the same burden, rather than a machine is overloaded.

Managed Hosting with ensuring 100% uptime, some companies promise that you will have 100% of its network availability or you will receive 10% of their monthly fee back for half a day and even up to 100% the monthly fee! They can also provide a setting the hardware, meaning that if your hardware is not fixed within the hour, you get a 5% of their monthly fee back! Along with instant retrieval system, which means that if your system is not being worked on ten minutes and is not fixed in time, you get 10% of their monthly fee back! Apparently, most important, they can offer our support throughout the year.

Now think about it. The server crashes and has no Good Managed Hosting. You do not have the support to the floor, the hardware is not backup of your network is unavailable, your system can not be recovered and has customers waiting in his office for information on their promises. Can we really afford to lose customers, or will be so comprehensive as to wait three weeks to obtain these documents. I do not want to know! Good Managed Hosting is the top of the line back-up system for its top of the line of the company.

New WordPress 2.7 Dashboard


As we know WordPress 2.7 will be released on November 10. Currently WordPress has revealed some interesting stuffs about the upcoming version

As you may know, we’ve been working behind the scenes on the design and development of version 2.7 of the WordPress software that powers your blog. The administration interface you’re used to will be changing as a result of your feedback and the results of the usability testing we conducted over the summer. Version 2.7 is due to release officially on November 10, but in the meantime, we’re posting sneak previews of the look and functionality to come. So far we’ve covered the new navigation system and the new Dashboard.

Here is a brief list of features that you can expect at version 2.7:

  1. Menus
  2. Contextual Access Tabs
  3. Module Layout
  4. Right Now
  5. Stats
  6. Quick Press
  7. Recent Drafts
  8. Feeds
  9. Incoming Links
  10. Hooks
  11. Recent Comments
  12. Bye-Bye Inbox

A Kid Friendly Home Computer Business

Using your home computer, make it your business to capitalize on the fact that parents LOVE pictures of their kids; and everything they write, or say, or do.

Your business can print photos on nearly anything with the help of your home computer.

I’m the mom of three children; a 17 year old boy, whose been in every sport that uses a ball since he was four years old, and six and seven year old girls who are junior divas. If you are a parent you know it is true; if you aren’t a parent, trust me when I say that I have spent literally thousands of dollars on photos of my children. Oh,if I had only known that I could be the one benefiting financially from that motherly need to see her children on T-shirts, tote bags, buttons and nearly anything else you can find.

You will need special software and a high quality printer for this endeavor, but if you already have the children, or you know where to find several of them, chances are you have all of the contacts you need for a healthy home business. Your computer does most of the work for you.

Your business can make personalized books with the help of your home computer.

There are several programs for this endeavor. Some require a hefty start up fee but offer a high quality hard backed book. If this is the business you choose I offer an alternative idea with less of a financial investment required. Create a generic children’s story that will work in most situations, and take orders to personalize it. Using your color printer, create a small paper backed book, or even one with a spiral binding if you choose. If you’re really creative; offer, for a fee of course, to use digital photos of the child instead of generic illustrations to further personalize it.

Parents just love this stuff, at least this one did. Three times.

Your home business can offer personalized certificates made on your computer.

Okay, most people have their own home computer and can print their own personalized certificates if they have the software. However, if the parent has more than two children, isn’t crafty or works full time, the probability is that they might use your services because it is a more efficient use of their time. Your goal is to make them realize how much they need it.

If you have children of your own you have the perfect marketing tools. Display little Johnny’s face on everything you might want to produce for the other parents. Give the soccer coach on of the personalized certificate of appreciation that you offer. Have your darling little Mary take her own personalized book for “show and tell, then be ready for the orders to come in, because they will.

Your business can make use of the home computer to create and send the marketing materials, the samples, the finished product and the billing and that is an effective use of your time.
— Andora Henson