3 reasons why you shouldn’t blog if you’ve got nothing to say

Well sports fans, it is late at night and I need to get a post out to indicate that I haven’t slipped into a coma. The sandman is calling and with each granule of sand my eyes get heavier but I press on regardless for my beloved Blog Prefect audience.

3 reasons why you shouldn’t blog if you’ve got nothing to say

3 reasons why you shouldn't blog if you've got nothing to say

Image Source: Pixabay by Lizzyliz

Reason 1 – Because empty vessels make the loudest noise

“If you haven’t got anything good to say, don’t say anything at all!” – My mum

Sage words indeed from my mother dear. Have you ever come across a blog where someone puts an article out just for article’s sake. Its no crime to go quiet and many of the bigger bloggers do have pregnant pauses from time to time. In order to curate excellent works, sometimes you need a little reading time or just plain downtime. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The audience you are trying to encourage, don’t like it when you flounder on flowery topics, which they know in their heart of hearts they could have read in more detail somewhere else.

Reason 2 – Do the best job tomorrow rather than “good enough” today

There’s always tomorrow.

You might come back more refreshed after letting your brain get some vital REM sleep. I’ve talked in great depth in a previous article about how you can prepare yourself better with some downtime. I have also proved that longer articles outperform shorter ones in the long run.

Fighting the Brain Strain when Blogging

Reason 3 – Passion

You can lose your passion if you over expose yourself. Whilst blogging can be performed for many reasons, at the forefront, you should enjoy the process. Feeling like you have a gun pointed to your head won’t always help you in providing the best work you can muster. Life is a balance of many things.

Overexposure in Blogging

 

Bonus reasons

For ranking purposes Google likes its bloggers and website creators to produce some juicy text of a set length. You start hitting pay dirt after 300 words although on rare occasions you can do more with less. If you start writing too often you start running out of ideas and when that happens your articles become thinner on the ground. Those who post more frequently but have less manpower have to economise on post length if they aren’t a full time blogger.

Reflection is an important part of learning and often we learn best when we’ve had time to turn the coals on our mini project for a bit. Don’t let guilt cloud your judgement. So you missed the window, so what. If it wasn’t worth doing, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. You shouldn’t rush for small returns. It is the bigger returns you really crave and you should use appropriate resources to generate appropriate returns.

Okay, so its midnight plus 54. Night night. zzzzzzzz!!!

 

How to win at the slow game avoiding charlatans

We have to be careful in our decision-making process, not to get caught up by the confidence web that a cunning charlatan can spin but first, we have to know what a charlatan is. I’m going to use a number of odd terms within this article, many are born from times since past. Fraud and deception are nothing new and intelligent people can be conned just as easily as dim people. It all depends on your greed.

How to win at the slow game avoiding charlatans

Quackery

 

Firstly, what is a “Charlatan”

The Wikipedia entry is quite an interesting one:

Charlatan description

Charlatan once again is a much sexier word than Mountebank or Swindler because it is French. Way to go Frenchies!

So we are now introduced to three words:

  • Charlatan
  • Swindler
  • Mountebank

All meaning the same thing which is basically “crooked”.

Then we ask the next question, what is Quackery?

Back to Wikipedia once again:

Quackery Dutch

Smoke and a pancake anyone?

 

So this game is nothing new. We have modern day quackery happening right now.

Viagra, Cialis, Raspberry Keytones, Herba Life and so on…

You’ve seen the annoyingly pretentious people trying to sell these products and whilst they all work to a degree, people make a big noise about them like they are some life changing cure-all. Nothing is that good!!! Mostly they are making the noise because the competition is so great they are getting drowned out by the sheer weight of others trying to sell the exact same thing.

 

If you are not familiar with “quackery”, how about something else?

Charlatans of the modern age, the internet age, fall back to some more interesting schemes and tactics. One such prime example of a grand scheme is about a century old and goes by many names but is best depicted simply as one.

 

The Pyramid

Pyramid schemes

All pyramid schemes work the same way but have variations on how they are structured so as not to appear as pyramids. Essentially the idea behind a pyramid is simple, you wanna be the guy or gal at the top and when the scheme collapses all the mugs at the bottom will lose their investment.

What you are hoping on, as someone joining the scheme (late to the party), is that the foundations below you start building up and that those you recruit, recruit more under them to continue the flow. Pyramid schemes always reach a saturation point where they start drawing attention by the government(s) and they often collapse rapidly as a result.

The problem with the pyramid, as you can obviously imagine is that if you are at the thick end of the wedge, you’ll have much greater trouble recruiting more people to join who aren’t already in the scheme.

You are looking for the right kind of idiot.

It is the Charlatan at the top who made it all. They are the guy or gal who made the serious money. It is often best not to get into this kind of scheme in the first place.

 

A classic Charlatan who started the Pyramid

Charles Ponzi

Convicted for 82 counts of mail fraud by the Federal government.

The Pyramid is often associated with the name Ponzi. Mostly because Carlo Ponzi was one of the most successful swindlers of his time. He had an amazing skill at being able to coerce others into action and at many stages through his subsequent trials he was able to steer his way out of trouble. If you’ve recently seen the film “Wolf of Wall Street” you’ll know this story all too well.

His scheme started with a differential between Italian and American stamps. He had accrued so much from the scheme and drawn so many into investing that it had snowballed. He was first convicted by the U.S Federal government for mail fraud, then again by Massachusetts. He started his scheming again when he left the clink down in Florida and was suitably deported back to Italy.

 

The last part I wanted to talk about was the term “Shill”

With these sorts of schemes often you need some convincing evidence to swing you over the line.

Shill (whilst not entirely confirmed) could originate from the term Shillaber. A Shillaber was a member of the circus who acted as a plant to liven up proceedings.

A Shill is also known as:

  • Plant
  • Stooge

A Shill works entirely for the crooked tip of the operation and will purchase or in some way alter the outcome to the operation’s favour.

A good example is if you’ve ever been to a slightly hooky market stall in London (but there are many examples elsewhere). The salesman makes a very exciting pitch (the Quacksalver mentioned above) then the Shill shows goodwill by being the first to buy the item.

“Thank you madame. Thank you sir!”

This individual could elicit a sense of urgency.

Applied to modern terminology, think of how social signs could be manipulated to do the same. Think how you could pay someone to ignite your sales by being the first to have a go. In so doing, you are paying for a Shill. Shilling and the Shillaber are not illegal per sé but what they are applied to is. So if your product turns out to be dodgy and you’ve used a Shill, watch out.

If you pay deep attention to the call of the Shill, you can often look through their magnolia exterior into a darkened web of deceit. Of course I am being entirely dramatic in that last sentence. It is that 100 +1s you might have purchased, it might be that rather fake testimonial someone agreed to put their face to or that slightly misleading review of that book on Amazon. I can’t argue that maybe if things are slow you should artificially get a name on the board but should you?

 

Conclusion

Be vigilant. Get rich slowly. Give it three coats of looking at.

 

Ebay: The obvious way to make money online

Before entering into this article grand scale, I’d like to point out that most of my observations are taken from my personal experience. I live in the UK which works slightly differently to the US but there are many principles that are the same.

Ebay: The obvious way to make money online

Ebay: The obvious way to make money online

Tips:

  • Know the value of what you are selling
  • Take a good picture
  • Make the description as in depth as possible

 

If selling second hand:

Research similar items by watching auctions:

If your item is common, you can gauge based on what you’ve included with your item such as additional power cables, cases and so on.

 

Clauses you should use to protect yourself:

“Sold as seen” and “Used” are two important terms you should write in your advert. This prevents unnecessary comeback.

 

Why in particular it is important to write “Used”:

My colleague sold a fully stocked tool chest 2nd hand on Ebay but didn’t indicate that the tool chest was used. He therefore lost the claim and was forced to pay the buyer an undisclosed fee and await a return of the heavy item incurring a second fee of postage and packing. On top of that he received a negative rating (which can really dent buyer confidence).

You should indicate all damage.

If the item has some particularly fierce scuffs or cracks that aren’t visible in the photo or that are prominent and reduce the value of the item, note them. This is because often a buyer will think about whether they are likely to sell this item on, or need it as part of a project and so will be able to determine its full value.

I have sold many mobile phones (because 2nd hand phones sell really well) and it is worth noting all scratches, dinks, cracks and scrapes. I was able to pick up a brand new Ipod touch (in 2008) with a substantial discount because it had a noticeable crack on the screen. I still use this to this day.

Many buyers look to buy items to cannibalize or sell on as piece parts, especially with electronics which leads me neatly onto:

 

Selling Broken

You can sell non-functional items. Just make sure you are detailed in what isn’t working. Often there are ladies and gents looking for certain parts of the item to cannibalize but they’ll only bother if that particular element is included and can be reused. Be prepared to answer a few questions from the buyers because they may be after something specific.

 

Buy it now versus Auction

If you have a definitive value you want the item to sell for and know that if you sell it at that price, you will in turn receive a profit, sell buy it now. It is a good way to move your product quickly. You’ll need to have met the minimum criteria to be allowed to use the Buy it now function in your sale.

The straight auction allows a bidding war to occur, should the item be popular. Be prepared for the opening bids to be low. The disadvantage with auctions are that by their very nature they take longer to conclude but you could stand to make more than a buy it now auction if the item you are selling is unique or rare.

You can use a Buy it now in conjunction with a best offer to encourage a sale in a respectable area of money. This can be a good tactic in high value items over £100 ($160) because a potential buyer might need an incentive and making an offer gives the buyer a perceived sense of bargaining power.

 

Setting a reserve

If you need to hit a certain amount of acceptable profit to make selling the item worth your while sending, set a reserve. For items of low value it is better not to set a reserve but I would recommend this for higher value items.

 

Ebay terms of service and closing the auction early

You may get pressed to end the auction early by an eager buyer. You should not do this as it breaks with the terms of service. Once an auction is committed you are honour bound to conclude unless there is a major problem with the item you are selling.

Be aware that anybody trying to purchase outside the auction could be fraudulent. This individual could be selling a similar item and tries to close you out to put some warmth on their auction. There are a number of games afoot so be wary.

 

What do I mean by major problem?

Some items such as stuffed birds and big cats (panthers, tigers etc.), new ivory and other animal based goods are prohibited for sale due to them promoting the trade in illegal poaching. There are other prohibited items that you should not put on sale including firearms, offensive weapons and stolen goods.

On some occasions If a buyer points out that you can’t sell a certain item because it won’t work (like a video game without the activation key) then you need to either check with Ebay staff or make the executive decision and pull the auction.

 

Postage sting

Watch out for the postage sting. In the UK specifically there are certain ways you can get caught out by Royal Mail or couriers and can get yourself into hot water with the buyers.

It is important to get the total right, it is okay to overpay but it is not good to underpay. Your buyer will have to take a trip to the post office depot to recover the item with a penalty charge which is best avoided. I made this mistake on two items and one of the buyers viewed this very dimly.

There are a number of third party couriers you can go with but you are likely to get some complaint from some buyers if they are the types of courier who are decidedly useless at delivering during sensible times or put items in useless places. Larger items are often cheaper to sell with the buyer coming to pick them up in person.

Make sure your items are well wrapped, especially if fragile. You may also want to indicate if an item is to be carried a certain way up or handled with care. Stickers can be bought to make this job quicker.

Retaining old boxes, jiffy bags, newspaper and bubble wrap is a way of keeping costs down. I find shoe boxes to be the most effective.

If you can’t get a box that fits, use brown paper to wrap the object or alternatively if you are concerned about the item getting wet, use a plastic mailing bag (especially useful for awkward shapes).

 

Any more tips to share, you know where to stick them!

 

The Disqus Commenting Embargo has been lifted

I have been vocal in the past about being an anti Disqus individual and in my humblest step down I have to admit that it isn’t that bad. I’ve signed up to the comment system (but haven’t full scale rolled it out on my site (and am unlikely too)) but I have it now to make comment on other people’s grand works.

But there is another reason I’ve signed up to Disqus (evil grin)….

The Disqus Commenting Embargo has been lifted

DISQUS - 10th August 2014

 

Backlinks

 

As many of you are aware (or should be aware) backlinks provide excellent traffic and as long as they are above board (not on dodgy sites or sites with black flags) you’ll be okay. Disqus, unlike the WordPress comments, allows images to be put in the comments (which can be cool) and comes with a better system of managing your Avatar than Gravatar. Basically, your mugshot. I notice that trillions of people can’t be bothered with a basic mugshot but you’d be surprised what you are missing out on by not putting a face to the name. Gravatar makes you jump through a number of hoops to get your image square but Disqus is more streamlined on that front so it gets a bonus point from me.

There are some other benefits to Disqus in that you always know when your comment got approved, when it got responded to and whether it has been upvoted or not (Reddit fans will know about this scheme). WordPress and other systems of comment aren’t quite as involved and I always think it is nice to know when your comment got featured.

 

The evil grin comes in the shape and form of Smart Passive Income

Something I didn’t report on as a post (but wish I had) was a day where I had commented on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income and someone had been to my blog and viewed 75 posts. Yes, 75 posts. I called that day the “Pune effect” because the individual originated from Pune in India. If I have any bizarre spikes in future, they will be put down to the same phenomenon, the mysterious Pune effect.

AplacecalledPune

Pune-tang

For my statistics and for my readership a day like that is awesome, during that time it accounted for 33% of that month’s views. It is interesting where one person has been motivated enough to go through that many posts. Now, this individual could have been topic/content poaching, and I’ve been guilty of that myself but it all counts. It means that what I’ve been doing has been worthy to poach so that gives me recognition that my work is good.

As a blogger you need that boost because you aren’t just writing this for yourself, what you produce is meant to be for others.

I want to re-engage with Pat’s content and he has provided Disqus as the method. I think everybody who is a blogger, can get some warmth, by posting a comment or two on Pat’s site.

 

Returning to my misgivings of Disqus

Part of my misgivings of the system was that it added another password wall to commenting, I found that somewhat annoying, and boycotted it completely. It is the reason why I won’t add the system to my site. I reached a tipping point where I had to swallow my pride and my rigid rebellion against the system and cave in. And boy, I wish I’d done so sooner.

I still stand in my principal that it won’t get added to my comment zone but I will now contribute if I see it on other people’s sites.

 

What’s my beef about password walls?

I don’t want to make my audience jump through hoops to get a message to me. It takes courage sometimes to write a comment and some people pour in some time in order to convey their thoughts. Often those thoughts spur me into other directions and point out areas I’ve missed or were poorly implemented. All that information is useful and welcome.

 

Resistance in general

I have a bit of a history to resistance of certain useful systems. I resisted Twitter entirely until last year when I got going with blogging. I wished I had got into that sooner because there were so many lessons I needed to have learnt.

I had a pop at SEOClerks and then back tracked and actually used a service from the place. Egg on my face.

Often this resistance comes through fear of the unknown. We are anxious about how it is going to turn out so refuse to try on that basis. This is an example of an irrational fear, one that causes paralysis.

This resistance can come from other people and their clouded experiences. Often we might try to seek some view from others that this system is okay and often people are more vocal about negatives than positives so we are clouded by how they’ve been badly affected in situations that may no longer be valid.

A personal example is outlined below:

I receive satellite television from Sky where I currently live. I love it, plain and simple. Yeah Murdoch and all that jazz, yeah monopoly, yeah captive audience. But the service was brilliant when the installer came around. I have broadband through the same provider. I receive brilliant service and am unlimited in the true definition of unlimited (of course there is a fair usage policy in there but you’d have to seriously caning it to use that much). I was initially skeptical of Sky, why? My parents had tried to get this installed before and it had been so much trouble that they had to abandon the purchase and go with “FreeSat” instead (a free satellite service that basically required my parents to buy a dish, buy some coax cable, buy a decoder box and borrow a satellite signal tuner from a geeky friend at work who’d done the very same). The reason behind the Sky fiasco was a matter of distance from the ground. Because my parents have quite a tall roof it was above the short ladder height that the engineers were prepared to install at, health and safety apparently.

You can see how one bad experience can taint your decision-making process when that problem was not a problem when you came to do it.

 

Word from the Headboy

Try things out, especially if they are free. You can always cancel or disassociate yourself with the system if it really isn’t working out. Do be careful how much you commit to something, if it digs deep into your system and is “invasive” think twice.

For the areas that are of most value to you, treat them with care. In my view, comments are golden, so make sure you preserve the quality in what you decide to play with. WordPress self-hosted comments are forever, Disqus could fold (like companies can do) and your comments disappear with them.

Try to see beyond the nay saying and see if the system is a best fit for you. We don’t always know how to do everything straight off the bat, we have to bed in a little, sink our heels into it. Nobody expects you to be a first try hero, the creators of such systems try to make them as easy to use as possible but you still might not be a great fit with what the system is trying to do.