Photography Replaces Writing

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This was my Twitter post today. What do you think? Will written content lose it’s place to photography? I think it already has.

Most people want to get news and information in seconds. The image with a story, is the story. Writers post images to illustrate the story, or a point in the story, or just to add something visual. Photographers, capture the story in an image. Of course, the image can’t give all the information. However, people see the image and decide they know the entire story.

They might read photo’s caption, if there is one. They might read at the headline, once or twice. Headlines are easy to find in the content, easy to read too.

Headlines and subtitles can give some detail but they weren’t written to tell the whole story. These days the snippets of written content might be all anyone reads to form their opinion and decide what the writer/ journalist was communicating.

The Internet is changing how we read, how we gather information and how we evaluate what we find. Details get missed. Assumptions are made and stuck with religiously. Kind of like the Emperor’s Clothes. If everyone says so it must be true. We don’t have time to gather facts and come up with our own opinion. It’s easier to take up the popular opinion and defend it as truth because if it’s wrong… we might look stupid.

So much is changing. Writers need to become photographers or image makers if they want their content skimmed/ read at all.

Flower Frogs?

Some things just make you wonder how they came up with that name. Frogs used to pose flower arrangements… did someone use an actual frog at one time? Before someone else thought to create one from wire, glass or something other than the body of an actual frog? I know, it’s icky. But someone (other than myself) has to think of these things. Source: Vintage Treasure: Flower Frogs | Inherited Values

Note: This image comes from the original post at Flea Market Gardening (Thanks to my Mom for sending the link).

Selling Ad Space with WordPress Plugins

The goal was to find a WordPress plugin which would let me sell ad space on my site, paid ads through PayPal.

Although I did not find one plugin which accomplishes everything… I do have some reviews for you.

The Easy Ad Plugins

Two very simple plugins which worked were WP125 and WPX Affiliate Manager. Both of these were simple to set up and you could have ads in your sidebar within an hour. (Your own ads or those of friends are good to start with). Both of these use ads which are 125 x 125 images and a link to the site. WP125 gives you more features and choices such as setting ads to display randomly or in order. Neither of these has anything to do with PayPal. But, almost none of the plugins I have reviewed here included getting payments.

Note: I used WP125 several months on one site. So of all these, it is the most well tested and the one I would rate my second favourite. One thing I especially like about WP125 is that I can upload images directly rather than typing in a link to the file I manually uploaded into the Media Library, or elsewhere.

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The Other Three

I tested all these next three but did not keep them around long. Simple Ads Manager loaded with an error message so I deactivated it without any testing. MyAdManager says it works with PayPal, but I didn’t get that far in the testing of it. Meks Easy Ads Widget was interesting but the settings are all in the widget, not in the admin. So, I didn’t see how I could keep track of the ads and how they were doing on my site.

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The One I Kept…

datafeedr ads pluginThe plugin I have switched to from WP125 is Datafeedr (Ads by Datafeedr.com).

First, it is not a plugin you need to sign up for their service to use. That is one of the things I don’t like to do. I’d rather keep as much as I can at my own site and avoid relying on another site to still be there.

Another good thing about Datafeedr are the support videos. Need some help figuring out the set up? There are several video tutorials to help you get started and go from there.

Datafeeder lets you choose text ads or image ads. You can choose sizes, add code, pretty much anything – because you add the code and the image into WordPress just like making a blog post. Simple. Don’t forget to add the link along with the image when you upload it to the Media Library. Text ads can be bolded, linked, etc.

When you add new ads you can sort them into groups. This makes it much easier to find your images again to update or delete them when the ad expires. You can set ads to expire at a specific date or limit them to a number of impressions before they expire. Or, set no limits at all, just a start date if you don’t want the ad to expire.

Choose to place your ads in the sidebar or footer widgets but you can also place them in your posts or pages too. Just add the automatically generated shortcode to widgets or posts. Choose which ads and how many you want to be included.

The only thing missing for me is the ability to accept payments for the ad space. But, I will look into that next. For now I’m the only one with ads on my sites. My next project in running ads will be to set up ads for other sites (free ads for friends). After that I can tackle the finer points of seeking paying ads.

Time to Retire an Act of God

act-of-god1Where do acts of God belong in the current world? Why does insurance still use an act of God as an excuse to cover claims? Insurance, often referred to as God-forsaken, Godless and so on. Yet, they expect us to believe they have faith in God (when it comes to financial matters).

Should insurance still be allowed to use this antique phrase? Can they prove anything is an act of God? Do they all go to Christian churches every Sunday? Do they all have WWJD bumper stickers? I doubt they are all living such pious lives.

It seems time to retire “an act of God”. They can at least come up with a better excuse for not covering their policy holders.

Source of definition (and image): US Adult Literacy: Idiom of the Week:

Meaning: when something happens (usually an accident) and no human is responsible; often an act of nature.

A Better Display of Categories

I often get ideas from seeing things on other sites. This time I had two great ideas from How to Write it Better.

First, this idea for showcasing my categories. Instead of the standard flat intdex… why not promote them to the reader this way? On this site it’s posted as an image file and not linking to the categories. But, it could be done with HTML and links. Not difficult and yet very smart. I’m adding it to my to-do list!

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The other thing I like is the post for her email list. Fairly standard really but reading it sparked an idea for me. I content curate offsite, for Scoop.it mainly. But, I don’t really do much with that feed beyond adding a widget in my footer. Instead I could promote it as a source for fresh, daily information. I don’t want to get into newsletters and email lists again. Email seems to be a dead horse. However… why not push my curated feeds this way? I keep them active (if not daily, at least a few times a week). howtowritebetter2

Source: HowToWriteBetter.net | how to write better | Everything you need for great results, whatever you write

So today I found two great ideas from one blog I happened to read a post from today. Pretty nice.

Content Curation with Scoop.it

This was originally posted to HubPages in 2012. Moved it from there because it wasn’t being read.

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Content curation is all about finding great links and resources to share with others interested in your topic/ niche. The great thing is creating a resource which give credit and promotion to great sites and knowing you are getting them the readers they want. Directed traffic. Also, for your own benefit, you build yourself as an authority on the topic you curate the content for.

There is limited customization you can use to decorate or fix up your topic on Scoop.it. If you use a paid account, of course, you have more options.

Scoop.it does let you export your topic as a widget which works well in your blog’s sidebar if you want to promote it and get traffic to your Scoop.it topic.

See my topic – Creative Writing Inspiration on Scoop.it as an example.

Update: Since I originally wrote this, Scoop.it has begun offering their content curators the ability to send newsletters out for each of their topics on the network. There is a new mobile app too. Take a look.

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How to Use Scoop.it

There are a few elements to creating the post (once you have found the link you want to add):

The image which is posted with the link.

You don’t want to post an image which is not relevant to the post. Don’t post whatever image comes up first and leave it like that. You won’t build yourself up as an authority by being sloppy or careless.

When you use Scoop.it you are able to add an image of your own choosing. So anything you cut and paste or even create yourself can be used. If I am not happy with the images to choose from I will use screen capture and take a quick capture of the site’s logo, part of the header, something to identify the link.

Also, whatever image you use is going to be a big factor in whether the link gets noticed and then clicked. Keep that in mind. The image is making a first impression.

Next up, the title of the link you are posting.

Don’t ignore the title. Scoop.it gives you a title taken from the HTML code on the site you’re linking to. But, not all titles are just fine right out of the box this way. Adjust them. You might even go all out and rewrite them to something your readers will be more likely to want to read.

Then comes the description.

I admit I get lazy at this point, probably more often than I should. If my title and the image are working I think that is enough. Most of the time. People are mainly going to notice the image and then the title to see what the image is actually about. So, a description is extra.

However, a description can be a nice extra. I will use “” and quote something from the post I’m linking to. Or, I might write a quick blurb about why I’m linking to that post. Something about my first impression or an idea I got from it.

Don’t forget to add tags/ keywords.

Scoop.it has the option to add keywords to each link. I leave it up to you to decide how valid this is compare to the extra time and effort it takes to forever be typing in the same words. This is one thing which doesn’t work for me at Scoop.it. I wish they would let the content curators set their keywords and have them posted automatically. Then, it would just be a matter of changing them if necessary, for individual links.

We already use a niche/ topic/ category to add the links/ posts we are linking to. So the topic is set and keywords could be set along with it. This would save some extra steps which seem pretty unnecessary to me.

With Scoop.it you can click where you want to share the link as you post it.

Pick your poison… Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Before you actually click on Publish, make sure you have set the category your link is being curated to on Scoop.it.

But, if you do send a link to the wrong place you can go back and edit it. Rescoop the link to the right category and then delete the one which was sent to the wrong one. No disaster to fix a little mistake but getting it right the first time will save you from opening another window on your web browser. I’m always using the bookmarklet in my toolbar when I curate content for Scoop.it, so I don’t have to go to the Scoop.it site to add content, I can just keep cruising along and find more.

Bloated Self Importance on Video

Each time I see someone with a video post I think of all the people who can’t or won’t be watching it.

Video posts are for people with money to burn. In the US the Internet is cheaper. In places like Canada, Europe and the rest of the world, the story is different. I pay almost $100 per month for the Internet, that’s before adding in the cost of my landline phone. I used to have cable TV but paying $180 a month for all three services was too much. Plus, the prices were going up another $5 for Internet and TV the next month.

A very big part of the cost for the Internet is bandwidth. How much you use, not in time but in load. How bloated are the files you are loading onto your computer from the Internet? Have you thought about it?

Uploading is about the files you put from your computer onto the Internet.

Downloading are the files you bring from the Internet onto your computer. Downloading used to be about software you get from the Internet, mostly. Now it is about looking at websites, software, advertising and everything else you view while you are online.

Did you know you pay to watch ads online?

Each ad you see is costing you bandwidth.

A plain text ad costs you almost nothing, not enough that you could even notice it. An ad with an image costs a bit more, especially if the image moves or lights up or does anything other than just be an ordinary image. A larger image costs more, of course. But, ads at this point cost so little bandwidth you would not notice them unless you visit a lot of sites with a lot of ads all the time.

When you get up the food chain to ads which use scripts and then video… you’re paying enough to notice the bandwidth each month.

I use add-ons to turn some of the bandwidth sucking advertising off. It is not 100% but it helps. It helps keep my Internet bill from being even higher each month.

I have to pay for bandwidth each month. I used to have the light Internet account, paying about $50 each month. That was enough to pay. Over 12 months I’d be paying $600, plus tax (which is also higher in most of Canada than the US). What could you do with an extra $600 in your pocket each year?

Anyway, to help make the Internet affordable again I had the cable TV turned off and I began doing what I can to shut down all video posts and ads. Using the web browser add-on will only go so far. The other thing I have done is to not watch video posts.

Seems a simple thing to just choose to not watch video. But, it’s not.

Video posts come up all the time.

When I want to find a tutorial for using a WordPress theme or plugin… it’s in a video post. Annoying when this happens, especially when I have paid for the theme or plugin and now have to pay to use it (or at least to understand how to use it).

Network sites I write for want video added to the posts I write. This means going to YouTube to find second hand content which I have to watch in order to make sure it is relevant and will add some information or resources to my own original post for the site. This annoys me because I have just written original content and now I have to link to someone else, giving them my bandwidth, my time and space in the post I worked on. Aggravating all the way around and this is where most of my extra expense comes from each month on my Internet bill.

Even with protection from browser add-ons I still get caught with video advertisements. There are still more of them out there which have found a way to get around the blocks I have set up.

I think people who post videos (without giving a text alternative) are arrogant or just thoughtless.

It is thoughtless and careless to assume everyone else around the world is just like you. It is arrogant to post videos just to make yourself seem important.

The one time I think a video post is a good and sensible thing is for a tutorial – where it will help people to see what is being done and how it is done. Any other video posts are just people showing the world how important they are. It should be more important to make sure you are communicating with your audience, in a way which suits them best, rather than catering to your own self importance.