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Archives for August 2007

It's Really This Easy To Add A Link To Your Comment

How often have you seen this in the comment box?


I see it in my comment box and on other blogs enough that it’s in my consciousness. Here, I often just quickly edit the comment to add a live link because it’s quick and easy.

But it’s also quick and easy to show you how to create your own live link that you can use in the comment box on almost any blog. It’s easy to learn and only takes an extra moment to write. And what you get is a real, live link to wherever you’re referencing in your comment.

But one note before we go on. Just because you’re about to find out how to leave links in comments, please only due so when your comment truly warrants it. Don’t add your affiliate links in the comment box. And don’t pepper every comment with 3 self-promoting links back to your blog. Both of these are prime ways to turn off the blogger you’re leaving comments with. Likely, you’ll not end up in the comment box, but in the spam filter. You may even mean well, just remember that spam is in the eye of the blog owner.

That said, let’s get on to it.

All you need to know to create a live link in the comment box is a very small bit of HTML. So, are you ready? Here’s how you create a live text link with HTML:

<a href=””>link to Dawud’s blog</a>

And here’s what it will look like in the comment box:

link to Dawud’s blog

That’s all there is to it. Really. It’s that easy.

Just be sure of a few things and you’ll be fine:

  1. Be sure to open your your HTML tag correctly. Put <a href=”your-url“> just before the first letter of the word or phrase you want to make into a link. All the syntax as displayed is important – the placement of the < >, the = and the quotes around your-url.
  2. Be sure you’ve typed a (space) href correctly as show above. I’ve been writing HTML for more than 10 years and I often mistype href or don’t add the space between a & href.
  3. Your linked text. What will display, as you see above, is the text just after your > and before the </a>. What you place in that position is the text that will carry the link.
  4. Be sure to close your HTML tag correctly. Close your tag means after the last letter of the word or phrase you’re linking, be sure to add </a> exactly as it’s typed – the slash is important. If you don’t close the tag, all text after will be a link. Probably not something you want to do.

So just to review, the syntax for creating a link looks like this:

<a href=”your-full-url“>displayed text link</a>

That’s it. Now you should be able to add links to your comments whenever you like, easily, quickly and without trouble. Just be sure the syntax is correct before you submit your comment. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Also, one further note. Some blogware will not let you add HTML to your comments. So try it and if you get a message that HTML is not accepted, you’ll know. Trying it won’t hurt anything.

Have fun…

What To Do When People Aren't Paying Attention To Your Blog

one2one-sm.gifDon’t you want your blog to be noticed?

Sure, we each blog for different reasons. Some of us want to express our views or write about something we love. Others of us want make a buck or promote our business. And some just want to share their lives with others.

Regardless of why you’re blogging, it’s likely you’re doing so to get attention.

Now, I don’t mean that in a childish, acting out way. I mean that you want to be noticed; that you’re writing to gain an audience. And you want your audience to so something whether they’re just reading and commenting, clicking link ads or answering a survey. So you want attention – you want to be noticed.

But what do you when suddenly no one seems to be paying attention to your blog?

That’s the question that Liz Strauss asked me our latest one2one conversation.

As a blog and business consultant and coach, I get asked questions like this all the time. After all, the far majority of us blogging are doing so because we have something to share. But it’s hard to share when no one’s listening, right?

So what do you do when no one seems to be listening?

First of all, how do you know no one’s listening? Just about every blog that’s been around more than a couple of months sees some traffic – even it it’s a trickle. So people are listening. Okay, so they may not be listening, or even reading, but that trickle of traffic is finding you.

So you need to set criteria for evaluating whether people are paying attention or not. Doesn’t matter what you decide as the criteria, as long as you have some method to measure it. It could be traffic stats or referrals sources. It could be Technorati ranking or number of feed subscriptions. It could be how many comments you’re getting or how many ad click-throughs. Really, it doesn’t matter what your criteria are. Just be sure that it has meaning to you and it can be measured.

Once you have your criteria, you’ll want to begin measuring it. If you’re focused on comments it should be easy because your blogware (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc) will show you comment stats. If it’s traffic, you’ll want to look at your server stats either through your hosting company or a service like Google Analytics. Technorati, feed subscriptions, and click-through ads will all have ways of measuring your what’s happening.

Why measure? Because it gives you a more objective sense of what’s happening on your blog. Sometimes what you sense is happening just isn’t accurate. For instance, if you’re blogging for the conversation you’re probably interested in the number of comments your posts get. So if the number of comments goes down, it tells you that something in your writing isn’t helping your readers create conversation. In this case, you’d go back, look at the posts that have few comments and compare it posts that got more comments. What’s commonly different between them? It could be content, style or wording. Find what’s missing and write your next few posts with those elements in place – and measure what happens.

If your traffic’s dropped, look back at your stats and see why. One place to start is with your referrers. Are you getting the same amount of traffic through your referrers? If not, find out why. Compare the headlines from your most popular posts and those that are less popular – see a difference? Also, think back to those higher traffic times and consider what you were doing then that you’re not doing now. Maybe you used to comment more on other blogs and you’re not now. That’s easy to remedy.

In general, you can almost always measure what’s going on with your blog. After you’ve set the criteria that’s important to you, it gives you a place to spend your time. That way you don’t have to be bogged down with the many aspects of your blog – you can focus on the one to two most important parts.

Probably the biggest thing is to remember that blogging is for your readers. So if you can’t figure out why it seems people aren’t paying attention to your blog, ask your readers. As in a post and elicit comments. Maybe even email a number of readers and create a dialogue with them. They know why they read your blog better than you ever will. And if they like you, most will be more than happy to help. So ask.

The key to all this is to see what works for you and your readers and what doesn’t – or at least what works less well. Blogging is a bit of trial and error – even if you know what you’re doing. Even Darren Rowse is still experimenting with Problogger. So be willing to explore things, try things and see how they work.

Which is what leads me to my next question for Liz…

What have you thought would work on your blog that bombed with your readers? And what did you learn from it?

You know, I’m not just asking Liz, but you too. Let’s see if the comment box can carry two conversations – one about what to do when people aren’t paying attention to your blog AND the other around what have you tried that’s bombed with your readers.

Are You An Expert If You Can't Share What You Know?

expert.jpgYou know what you know, right? You know something that other’s don’t. Or at least your perspective on a topic is unique.

But does any of that matter of you can’t communicate it?

From my post yesterday, How Not Knowing Something Makes You More Of An Expert, an interesting conversation emerged. I really enjoyed hearing your perspectives on whether an expert had to know everything or not.

What most of us agreed upon is that the term expert can apply to anyone who has a unique and valuable perspective on a topic. In other words, you don’t have to be at the top of the ladder to be considered an expert. Rather, you can be seen as an expert simply by knowing more than your audience.

The second, and I think more important, point that was made had to do with how you get the title of ‘expert’ in the first place. We almost unanimously agreed that it’s unfair to designate yourself as an expert in anything. That designation is reserved for other people to ‘judge you’ by.

The conversation on this topics was (still is – as it keeps going) great. But one comment stood out for me. It was from Michael Sass, who, unfortunately, didn’t leave a URL for us to follow. Check this out

Interesting topic that can trigger self-worth and self esteem issues. Here's my take…Clients work with us not because of what we know, but because of our ability to bridge the gap between what we know and what our clients know.We are experts and students of our given fields. We have gathered a great deal of information and experience, but remain open to learning. A master is an expert and a student at the same time. Standing on a mountain of information and experience, they remain open to the unknown, and are not fooled into believing they're finished learning.

When I read this, so many ideas popped off in my mind that I wasn’t sure exactly how to respond. Yet, I managed this:

Yes! Yes! Yes! Now you're sounding a bit more like Confucius than Seth (Godin).

What you describe is very close to what I think as well. Personally, I run a business that's about knowing, learning and synthesizing a number of components – marketing, business development, strategic planning, copy writing, website development, usability, graphic design, social media – to help people grow their businesses through the internet. So not only do I need to know what I know, I also need to keep up with areas that are quickly and constantly changing. And because I coach and consult with my clients, if I can't effectively communicate what I know, then what I know is virtually useless.

Notice I didn't say teach. I said communicate. Teachers often just spew out information (think of your TA's in college) without much concern whether they're doing so in the most effective way for people to learn. Communication, on the other hand, is about being understood. And the coaching is about helping people apply their new understandings.

Does all this make me an expert? I don't care, really or personally. All I care about is helping my clients ‘get it and use it.'

Again, I’m running through tons of thoughts right now. But the one that sticks out the most is about communicating. Are you really an expert if you can’t communicate – clearly share – what you know?

I wonder. I know plenty of people who have a lot to offer. I know far less who can really share what they know in a way that benefits others. So, I ask you, can we consider someone with knowledge an expert if they’re unable to communicate their knowledge in a way that helps others?

Small Business Advice: Admit Your Lack of Knowledge

confucius.jpgDoes being an expert mean you have to know more than everyone else?

Not according to Confucius. He once advised, When you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it-this is knowledge.” In other words, we should not only know what we know, but also what we don’t know. Hence, it’s in knowing what we don’t know that we find our expertise.

Yeah, I know, the dictionary defines an expert as a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge or skill in a particular area. Certainly, that’s an expert and I’m not going to argue with the dictionary.

But is there one, supreme expert for any topic you can think of? I can’t. Is there someone who knows more about cucumbers than any other human being? And if there were would it not mean that our cucumber expert would know every single detail and every fact that all other human being know? To say they’re the supreme expert, I would say so.

But is that really possible? I’m not so sure.

So what am I getting too here? The point I want to make is that there are no true experts in anything. At least not objectively. The only expert on a topic is the one you know. And that expert may not be the most knowledgeable person on the topic.

But to you, they are. And that’s the important point. If you have some knowledge in an area, it’s easy to deduce that while you don’t have as much knowledge as some, you do have more knowledge than others. And to those ‘others’ that makes you an expert.

Confucius also said, “Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.” And neither will knowledge. There will always be someone who knows something more or different than you know. But what you don’t know isn’t what’s important. It’s what you know that is.

I like how Seth Godin phrases it in The Dip. You want to be known as the Best in the World. “Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know. And world as in: their world, the world they have access to.”

So to be an expert you don’t have to be at the top of the ladder. Nor do you even have to be in the middle. What you need to do is clearly carve your niche. Find the one problem you can help people solve better than anyone else for a specific group of people. Then go about solving the problem for them. That’s how you become an expert.

Remember, being an expert “is subjective. I (the consumer) get to decide, not you. World is selfish. It’s my definition, not yours. It’s the world I define, based on my convenience or my preferences.”

As Seth continues, “Be the best in my world and you have me, at a premium, right now.”

So know what you know AND what you don’t know. And make that your expert niche. And remember what our friend Confucius said, Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.

What do you think? Are there things you think you need to know that your really don’t to be the best in the world?

Are You Having A Conversation With Your Niche Audience?

You’d think the latest question Liz asked me would be simple to answer. And on the surface it is. Yet, I’ve needed an extra day to think about where to take this one2one conversation next.

When you go around the Internet, what mistake do you see most often?

one2one-sm.gifThat’s her question. Think about it for a second. Do you see what I mean? I could answer this from so many different levels and perspectives that I’ve actually been stuck on how I wanted to answer it.

Since Liz is asking me for one mistake, I’m going to need your help. So let’s have a discussion in the comment box. I’ll start it off…

Having been a web designer for so many years, you’d think the mistake I’d see most often would have something to with visual design, site architecture, or layout. Sure, there’s plenty of poorly designed sites out there. And we all know plenty of blogs that are poorly organized and cluttered.

But the mistake I see most often isn’t in the way a site looks. The mistake I see most often is how a site owner uses their site to communicate with their audience.

I’m bias, that’s certain. And my bias leans heavily in the direction of conversation and relationship. Yet, I know from experience, that it’s conversations that lead to relationships that lead to business. People want to do business with people – not with businesses. In other words, they want conversation and relationships.

Most website owners, most business owners and a lot of marketing coaches simply don’t get this. They focus on slick or carefully crafted marketing copy that’s meant to evoke an emotional response to create action. I’m not saying that’s bad – not at all. I just think that there’s more.

So what I often see are business owners trying to fit themselves into a method of copy writing that’s not so much about building relationship and which I feel is unnatural. Pick a handful of business websites and read the copy. Tell me if you feel like the business owners want a relationship with you or do they just want your business?

I advise all my clients – even those working with copy writing and marketing gurus – to consider their websites as the beginning of a dialogue with a person in their target audience. Don’t just meet them where they are, engage them in conversation. Write as though you’re sitting with them over coffee, listening closely to the problems they face. And respond with an open, conversational tone.

This is easier to do on a blog because of the chance for conversation in the comment box. The blog has the advantage as well in that you continue to engage in that conversation with your audience each time your write a post. But you can do this on a static website as well. As you write, just picture yourself having a conversation about where they are.

Remember, people want to do business with people. So don’t be afraid to show who you are as a person. You can be a marketing professional and still be person. Anyway, you know from your own business interactions that connection, personality and temperament play an enormous role in successful business relationships. So why not build your personality into your marketing materials. Let people know who you are right out front. Let them see you as a person. Then invite them to sit at your table with their cup of coffee. Who knows what can happen next.

So I think not actively engaging people in a conversation that can build a relationship is the most common mistake I see in websites.

There are many others – certainly – even around content. So I turn my site over to you to share what mistakes you often see was you’re perusing the web.

And I have to be sure to continue our one2one conversation by asking Liz

What’s helped you go from just being a writer on a blog to becoming a conversational dynamo?

I can’t wait to see Liz’s answers. She is truly a master at writing conversational copy, if you ask me. But until she answers, let’s talk…

When Getting Lots Of Visitors To Your Website Isn't Good

Last week was an interesting one.

It all began on Tuesday with a post I wrote called, How Does Your Brain See Color. The post wasn’t so much about how we actually see color as it was about how we make associations instead of seeing what’s really in front of us.

As I usually do, I submitted the site to a number of social sharing sites like and StumbleUpon. I also submitted it to Netscape. Well, my little post got hot on Netscape – reaching the front page in a matter of minutes. It kept climbing steadily all the way to the #2 position – where it stayed for about 6 hours – getting about 10,000 hits per hour – and stretching the capacity of my server.


Then it hit #1 on Netscape and flood gates opened. Soon I was getting 20,000 hits per hour and climbing…until…my server account was overloaded and my site crashed.

Even with my site down, my post remained #1 on Netscape for the next 15 hours. My hit rate also stayed above 20,000 that whole time – even with the site down.

Obviously, I wasn’t happy that my hosting wasn’t able to carry the load. Okay, wasn’t happy is a understatement. It actually consumed me on Wednesday – where much of the day I was in the #1 position.

By late Wednesday night, more than 24 hours after I submitted my post to Netscape, I was off the front page. But the hit load didn’t drop off too much. Even being off the front page, I was still drawing 14,000 hits per hour – too much, still for my site to come back up.

My site finally went back up sometime on Thursday. And I had spent two days working with my host, tracking the status of my account. Really, I was exhausted from the whole experience.

And, yet, I’m glad I went through it. Now, I’m working on making adjustments to my hosting account so that I can carry a huge traffic load like that. I’m also re-evaluating each of the WordPress plugins I use, which are pulling system resources with each request to my server (the fewer requests, the better). And so I should soon be ready for Netscape’s homepage again.

So if you were curious, that’s what happened to my blog and I last week. That’s why my site was down. And that’s why I couldn’t communicate about it with you. And, I wasted so much time with my host while my server was down, that I got a bit behind on my client work – which left me with no time to write at the end of last week.

To everyone who emailed or phoned me about my server being down – thank you. I’m truly moved by your caring. Here’s hoping that we don’t go through this again.

So, when have you experienced lots of traffic not being a good thing?