Category — Knowledge Center
Hope you all had a fantastic weekend. I’d tell you about mine but you’d either fall asleep or click away. The abridged version: writing, reading, and FLARING. You’ll not that flaring is in all caps. Here’s what happened:
ME: I really want to focus on my book this weekend. I have so much revising to do.
ME: I should be unpacking more, but this is the first weekend in a long time I’ve gotten to write a ton. I’ll just make myself work.
FEET, burning with the fury of a thousand fires: Now you can’t get out of bed if you wanted to.
It was lovely. Wish you were here.
So, today’s post has been a long time coming. Remember when you filled out that fun survey? Well after much tabulation I have the results.
First: I’m going to mention the length of blog posts here and this is one of those Do As I Say, Not As I Do cases. This post is going to be long because I want to share all of the results with you. To keep things exciting, I’ve included completely unrelated photos to the post.
(Can someone drum their fingers on the table? Thanks.)
And now—the Unofficial What Do You Love and Hate About Blogs Survey results.
How did you find this blog?
Most people found my blog in the comments of another blog. If you have a new blog or want to increase your readership past your mother, comment on blogs like yours. Fact is, no matter how wonderful you are (and you’re quite wonderful, by the way) no one will know you’re there until you say, “Um, excuse me!”*
The second most common way people found my blog was through the Health Living Blogs site (which as of this writing is down, but word on the street is that they’re working on that). If you have a blog that focuses on health and lifestyle, add yourself to the site. It’s a great way to get your name out and meet other bloggers.
Finally, the remaining people found me through a mix of Twitter and Google. I’m not sure which search terms led them to my site, but judging from my Google Analytics page it was something like “how to eat Barbie” or “why duz he not call me.”
My answer: I’ve found most of the blogs I read one of three ways. 1. In the comments of another blog. 2. In the comments of my blog. 3. From another blog’s blogroll. No, you don’t have control over whose blogroll you end up on (unless you’re a hacker) but you can get your name out there by commenting.
How many blogs do you read regularly?
Most of you read between five and 10 blogs on a regular basis. The second largest group of readers follows over 20 blogs. A lesser portion follows between one and five, and the fewest people follow between 10 and 20.
My answer: More than 20. And by more than 20 I mean closer to 50.
What types of blogs do you read?
No surprise here that most of my readers follow healthy living, fitness, food, and cooking blogs. But a lot of you mentioned unrelated topics. The bottom line: Your readers have other interests. If you do, don’t be afraid to mention them once in a while.
My answer: I mostly read healthy living blogs and writing blogs. Since those take up most of my time, I only read design blogs (which I love) sporadically.
What makes you keep reading a blog?
Here’s where things got tricky. (Note to self: Use yes or no questions on the next survey.) You all had different ideas of what makes a blog worth reading. Some of you said you liked when a blogger posted about the little, day-to-day things in her life. Others didn’t. Some like short posts. Others like long ones.
Still, there were a few things most of you agreed on. A blog should be well written and have some photos, humor, and variety. Many of you keep reading because the blogger comments on their blog. And a lot of you said you like instructional posts.
My answer: Good writing is a necessity—I don’t have time to wonder what a blogger is trying to say. I love humor in a blog, but it’s optional for me. I’m just as likely to read a humor-free blog if there’s a good variety to the posts. And I love how-to or instructional posts.
What makes you stop reading a blog?
So I was working on the last question, tallying the votes and such, when I thought, “Wow, this is the toughest question.” And then I started reading these votes, after which time I stuck my head in a vice. Which is to say, you guys are all over the place when it comes to what you dislike about blogs.
You know, the whole thing is so subjective. No blog is going to be THE MOST AMAZING THING IN THE WORLD to everyone. (Well, maybe one. LINK TO PW) Some of you hate long posts, others hate short. Some leave when there aren’t enough photos, others leave when there are too many. Blogs that talk too much about their day-to-day lives lose readers just as blogs that don’t mention their daily lives enough do. A good number of you said you stop reading if the blogger doesn’t respond to comments or if the blog doesn’t teach anything.
There were some points repeated by most of you. When a blog is hard to read (because of font choice or background color), if music automatically plays, and if it’s cluttered, readers leave. Other things that make you stop reading: irregular posting, seeing the same photos over and over again, when a blogger is too negative, if there’s no variety to the posts, and when readers sense you’re promoting products or services while blogging.
My answer: One of the top reasons I stop reading a blog is because it’s stale. I don’t mind reading about a blogger’s breakfast, but I’m not interested in seeing 33 days of the same oatmeal with different toppings. I’m not a fan of repetitiveness in posts. Three photos of the same meal? I can deal. Ten of them? Kinda boring.
Which of the following is most important to you as a blog reader?
Good writing won by a landslide, with regular posting coming in second. Instructional posts, being able to see the blogger, inspiration, short posts, mentions of the blogger’s personal life, and having lots of photos pulled up the rear.
My answer: Variety
How do you read your blogs?
This one kind of surprised me. I was sure Google Reader would kill the competition, but it turns out there was a tie. Of the majority of you, half read blogs in Google Reader and the other half have a much better memory than me and remember to visit each blog. Blogger’s reader came in third, followed by reading blogs off of a blogroll (yours or someone else’s) and referring to bookmarked pages.
My answer: Google Reader, which makes it so easy to get updates on your favorite blogs, star posts you love, and scroll through a bunch of posts at one time.
What would you like to see more of/less of on this blog?
So this one’s pretty much irrelevant when it comes to understanding your own blog readers, but I wanted to discuss the comments in better detail. (Also, this post is crazy long and I have it on good record that more than a few of you will leave me should I babble on any longer.)
So stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when I’ll tell you how I plan to apply your comments. For now I’ll just respond to one of you. Number 30, this is for you…
And you thought I was done? Almost. I wanted to address the final question:
Two trains leave two different cities, heading toward each other. The first is going fast but the second is going wicked fast. When do they crash into each other?
The top two answers were “Never. Just because they’re heading toward each other doesn’t mean they’re on the same track, genius” and “Was there a dining car on one? I’m hungry.” So anyone in high school who inevitably finds that question on an exam, there’s your answer.
Staying on topic—without any multiple choice, sorry—what are some of your favorite and least favorite things about the blogs you read?
*But don’t really say that.
April 4, 2011 47 Comments
First order of business!
After my How To Use Twitter and Not Annoy The Crap Out of Your Followers and Maybe Gain Some More in the Process post I wanted to say a couple more things:
1. The post wasn’t a warning to any of you. Like, “hey reader who visits my blog every day and makes me feel like I’m not taking to myself, you’re on probation. Next time you tweet (or don’t) I might unfollow.”
Not at all.
I’m mostly talking about A. people who, for lack of a better word, spam you and clog up your twitter stream, and B. people who talk at you instead of to you—or to anyone else for that matter.
There’s a good way to weed out people who will never ever talk to you (and I wish I knew this back when I was new to Twitter and following pretty much everyone). I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks at a person’s Twitter stream before following. If there aren’t a good number of @ replies I probably won’t follow. Unless…
- That person’s tweeting tips or advice I want to hear about. (Or if their life is just fascinating on its own—such as a celebrity or author.) I follow plenty of people I don’t even talk to because they’re cool and I’m not because I want to read their tips.
- That person’s tweeting links to silly things like this:
So there’s that.
Finally, for those of you who aren’t on Twitter and are rolling your eyes right now (hey, thanks for reading this far!) I give you:
All right friends, I’m off to work. Then it’s the first Friday in a long time where I don’t have something going on.
I plan to spend the entire weekend revising my book while The Man carts a huge pile of our stuff to his dad’s house. (Downsizing: not for the faint of heart.)
Kaley had a really great question on yesterday’s post (one that I’ve wondered about, too) so I though I’d let you guys discuss it in the comments: I always wonder when it’s okay to end the conversation. After all, someone has to have the last word (Tweet!), right?
April 1, 2011 19 Comments
I’m doing some spring cleaning on Twitter. I follow way too many people who tweet about marketing or getting more followers or whatever. I’m guessing I followed them back in my early days on Twitter, when I didn’t realize how annoying seeing the same tweet all day long could be.
Rule No. 1 of Twitter: Engage in conversation.
Too many tweets from those people who use Twitter to promote their motivational speaking or marketing classes or The Best Product In The World And OMG You Need This? You end up looking like this:
When a person doesn’t @reply me too many times (unless it’s someone with a huge following), I unfollow. The point of Twitter isn’t to just to get links to news and other cool things. It’s a conversation. And I figure I wouldn’t keep talking to someone at a cocktail party who’s not willing to chat. Besides, there’s no shortage of people to follow.
I respond to every @notsuperhuman,* though I can’t promise it’s immediate—especially since I’m off Twitter over the weekend. But, frankly, I think it’s rude to brush someone off.
And one more thing. Remember what it was like to have a new Twitter account? You barely had any followers and they were hard to get. Somehow there’s this idea that few followers = not worth it. Whoever said that couldn’t be more wrong.
I make it a point to follow these newer tweeple. I remember how, at only 12 or 20 followers, I got excited every time a new person followed me. Besides, the newer folks are often more likely to chat.
I didn’t intend to do a post about Twitter, but now that I did, how about a list? I like lists. You like lists. So here we go…
Engage in conversation.
You want people to listen to you? Then talk to them.
How’d you like it if I bombarded you with links for my site/seminar/book/etc. all day long? You wouldn’t. It’s called spam.
Form relationships by replying to people who tweet you.
Would you ignore someone at a party who tried to talk to you?
Always write a bio. Always.
There’s no excuse for no bio. If I don’t know about you, how am I supposed to gauge whether you’ll tweet about things that interest me?
Provide a photo. Always.
I never, ever follow eggs and birds. There may be some great people out there who didn’t get around to uploading a photo, but I don’t care. Most eggs and birds I’ve come across are spammers.
Support new tweeters.
Follow people with few followers IF they seem interesting.
And that’s my rant. Or suggestion. Whatever.
If you’re on Twitter, leave your username in the comments!
*OK, not every one. I block spammers without replying.
March 31, 2011 49 Comments
photo from we heart it
First, Happy Birthday to my sister, Jill!
Second, it’s been over a month since I’ve eaten sugar.
Guys, this is a big deal. I’m a former sugar addict. I’m the girl who would go out to eat, skip dinner, and get a giant slice of chocolate cake for dessert. I’d choose a restaurant based on its dessert menu. I used to eat dessert after lunch and dinner. My favorite breakfast foods were loaded with sugar.
On days when I didn’t eat dessert after lunch, I’d get a headache. I know, that’s, like, step one in recognizing you have a problem but I had blinders on. All I saw were visions of apple turnovers and cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies and funfetti cake and…
You get the idea.
When I quit the white stuff with hopes of helping my fire feet, I thought I was going to die. I was pretty sure my incessant cravings and the head-splitting pain I felt were my body’s way of telling me I would literally perish without a candy bar.
It didn’t help that I gave up all sugar. Not just dessert. Why, yes, I do hate myself. Why do you ask?
So, yeah, it was hard. That first week was killer. But after that? It got much easier. When I caved and ate dessert, it was way too sweet to even come close to finishing. In the past, I would have inhaled an entire plate before The Man had a chance to take a bite.
photo from we heart it
And now I’m going to blow your mind:
Right now, I have no desire for sweets. Fruit is about as sweet as I can handle.
No, I did not self-lobotomize. I just stopped craving it. The Man eats some chocolate or ice cream after dinner and I no longer want to club him and devour his dessert. It doesn’t even entice me.
I now crave savory dishes all the time. It does sort of feel like I’m living someone else’s life. (Maybe my mom’s because she’s always craved salty foods instead of sweet. I used to think she was a bit off her rocker. I get it now, though.)
The bottom line: If you want to give up sugar or just eat less, you can. You’ll hate yourself in the beginning, but if you stick it out your tastes will change. I promise, it’s possible.
Alright, how much sugar do you eat daily?
February 22, 2011 52 Comments
photo from we heart it
Raise your hand if you’re hung over. Hm, just as I thought.
Since I couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl, I opted to work during the game. I did stop to watch the commercials occasionally and it made me wish advertisers aimed for high standards of funniness during the entire year. Otherwise, stop complaining about the fact that everyone on Tivo fast forwards through them.
Anyhow, today I wanted to direct your attention to the New York Times’ Well blog. Tara Parker-Pope interviewed author Laura Hillenbrand, who has chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some of her story sounded like mine: The inability to go out of the house because she’s so sick. But it’s even worse. Some days she couldn’t even roll over or sit up in bed.
As Hillenbrand mentions in the interview, the disease’s name suggests a mild disease. And, really, before I read about her I thought that people with it were just tired. But it’s a completely debilitating disease.
As someone who also suffers from a debilitating chronic illness, it was nice to read how she handles her life. But even if you aren’t sick, it’s a great read, interesting and sad at once.
Read the article here.
How much do you know about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?
February 7, 2011 20 Comments
This is what happens when your parents come to visit but you can’t walk:
Sit, sit, sit, sit
Sit, sit, sit, sit
After the first meal—a big Greek salad—I felt satisfied. After the second—butternut squash ravioli with hazelnuts in a buttery sauce, a bib salad with almonds, apples, and manchego, and some appetizers I won’t even mention because you’ll start crying glutton—I felt full. After yesterday’s lunch? My stomach is crying for mercy.
Here’s how much eating we did: The Man is craving a salad. I know.
I had wild ideas of doing something with my parents, but it was 90 degrees out, which means it would have taken 0.007 seconds for my feet to burst into flames. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to this EM.
In other news, I must have slept like a pretzel last since my neck’s kinked up like an old garden hose. Last week, I could barely look left what with the pinch in my shoulder. Now this. I’m thinking new pillows and a massage. Yes, definitely a massage.
Oh, and speaking of massages, researchers who studied people got massages (to be a part of that study…) found that the relief goes beyond muscle relaxing. Go here for more info, but the bottom line: Massages lower stress hormones and raise contentment chemically. Pretty cool.
So, basically, massages are wonderful.
And all of that means I need a spa appointment. Someone tell The Man.
Realistically, I’ll be doing that whole one-armed self-massage at my desk today. What do you do to ease kinked muscles?
September 27, 2010 18 Comments
photo by robayre
Aw, thanks for your well-wishes yesterday. My head’s still somewhere near the summit of Mt. Everest while my body sinks deep in the ocean (at least that’s how it feels to me) but I think whatever cold or sickness I have is fading. A good, good thing because I’m not about to spend my weekend feeling all flighty.
Two things today:
1. My 90-year-old massage therapist says you should try this:
The other day I mentioned how working at a desk all day contorts my muscles into some horrible knots, and you all pretty much agreed that desk work will be the downfall of all humanity. (That is what you agreed to, right?) Anyhow, I thought I’d pass on another tip I learned from a massage therapist I had once.
(Actually, I learned it from a ninetysomething year-old massage therapist who was a teensy little thing that didn’t even reach my shoulders. And yet somehow this frail woman dug in deep and hard and got all my knots out. Go figure.)
After she told me my back was in pathetic shape (yeah, seriously) and that I needed to stop doing so much sitting in front of the computer (yeah right) she suggested I get a back cushion. The idea is to lay on the cushion after a long day and let the pose work your spine into alignment.
The cushion I use (here’s what it looks like) places your head, neck, and back in perfect alignment and it helps aches and pains. Plus, it gives you a good idea of what good posture feels like, thus making it easier to stand up straight when you’re not, you know, splayed out on the floor.
2. Your Media Savvy Tip of the Day: Put your e-mail address on your blog.
Here’s the thing: Sometimes reporters who need to interview real humans stumble across THE MOST PERFECT SUBJECT EVER! and, naturally, do a Google search of their name. And then they might find a blog, which is great because they can study up on the person before an interview. But sometimes there is no contact info on the blog. None.
Do you know what a reporter does then? I mean, after crying and wishing this MOST PERFECT SUBJECT EVER! would have just put a derned e-mail address on her site? That reporter cuts her losses and moves on to someone else.
So if you like the idea of ever being featured in a newspaper or magazine article, a book, or television or radio story, the reporters must have a way to contact you. Here’s where I look first: On the homepage, the About Me page, or under a Contact Me tab.
I came across this today when I found someone who was perfect for an article I’m writing. I spent way too long searching her site for anything—e-mail address, phone number, twitter handle, address to which I might send a carrier pigeon. Nothing.
But if you’re happy never having the possibility of the media not contacting you, that’s fine, too.
Finally, today is the last day to enter my beauty giveaway. The details are all here, but the Cliff Notes version is this: 12 never-been-used beauty products, one winner, three ways to enter today.
Have a great weekend!
August 20, 2010 24 Comments
photo by natashalatrasha
You guys are spot-on when it comes to unlikeable actors and actresses. I’m not responding to comments on yesterday’s post because doing that would mess up the count and all, and I’d hate to run a contest where I’m the one who royally screws up the entries. So I’m keeping mum. But I will say Matthew “No Shirt” McCaunahey and Jessica “I’m Too Sexy” Biel are at the top of my Hate List. (Which The Man hates, by the way, because Jessica Biel happens to be in man movies like Stealth and Blade and A Team. I refuse to see a movie with her—yup, I dislike her that much—so The Man’s forced to find another movie buddy to catch those totallyawesomeamazing movies.)
Continuing this ramble (I swear, I so didn’t intent for my bashing to go on this long) I agree with Jessica and Ameena, who threw Will Ferrell under the Craptastic Actor bus. I assumed I was the only one who didn’t find him funny. But, thank goodness, I’m in good company. I can’t force myself to sit through another movie where he pretends to be an idiot, gets naked, and yells incoherently. The end.
Not really. Just the end of my rant.
So the other day I was talking to my mother about acupuncture because her brain is nearly exploding and there isn’t enough Excedrin in the world to treat it. In other words: She gets constant headaches and the drugs just don’t cut it anymore. I’m in the process of convincing her to try acupuncture since there’s good research that says it works like a charm. (Well, really the research says something more like “acupuncture leads to persisting, clinically relevant benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine.” But c’mon, you know my summary is just as good.)
Anyhow, our conversation got me thinking about acupuncture in general. Here’s something I bet you don’t know about me: I tried acupuncture on my knees a couple years ago.
I was in the midst of having a midlife crisis of sorts—my knees were kaput and The Man was carrying me around the house like a mule. Not cool. So I scheduled an appointment with an acupuncturist who was a former NIH doctor and begged her to heal my knees. ASAP, if possible.
I had two sessions and I’ll tell you what:
- It doesn’t hurt. I’m not sure why I thought those hair-fine needles would somehow make me flinch with pain, but they didn’t. (And now that I get a 4-inch needle full of blood platelets jammed into my knee for PRP I laugh at Old Tracey and her stupidity.)
- It’s relaxing. My acupuncturist’s office was part doctor’s lair, part spa. Minus the cucumber-flavored water, deep tissue massage, and $200 bill. There was a bed and dark room with soft music, and after the doctor was done jabbing me with needles she let me snooze for a half hour.
I’ll be honest: It didn’t work for me. I know, this is a shocking ending to what you must have assumed would be a glowing review. (I’m tricksy like that.) I so wanted it to work. I gave it two tries. But the fact is, the needles made my Baker’s cysts on the back of my legs ache. And I already had plenty of pain thank you very much. So I stopped going.
The thing is, I still think acupuncture has its place, if not on my legs. I still think it can work, and I think it’s a smarter move than, say, chugging a bottle of Excedrin daily. So I’ll let you know when my mom goes—and whether she’s cured of her daily mind-exploding headaches.
And also: My Totally Awesome Beauty Package Contest is still going on, so head here and enter if you want to will 11 different beauty products. Weee!
Have you ever gotten acupuncture? Would you?
August 3, 2010 28 Comments
photo by express monorail
If only! Most air definitely smells more like feet than flowers.
Glad you all found yesterday’s post entertaining. I’m sure I’ll be getting plenty of new readers now that I’ve scattered those search terms all over. More creepiness will be going on here. Um, great.
Moving on, today is going to be a two-part post, so let’s just get going shall we?
Part One: A Useless Piece of Information About Me That I’ll Tell You Even Though You Probably Don’t Care
I’m part bloodhound. Hm, that didn’t come out right. It’s not like I’m some weird dog-human mix (though I hear people like dog people as evidenced by exhibit A). It’s just that I’ve realized my keen sense of smell isn’t normal.
Well, really, The Man helped me realize that when he gently said, “You’re a freak. I’ve never met someone who smells as well as you.” (Only he used the word good instead of well, but I’m such a nice wife that I corrected his grammar.)
There’s the fact that I can sniff faint scents long before most people notice the room even has a smell. And then there’s the annoying part of my superpower: Even the faintest gross smell makes me want to barf.
So, like, when we’re making dinner and I catch the smell of egg or when the sink takes on that slightly metallic smell, I start to gag. Sure, I love eggs, but smelling them cook makes me seriously consider veganism.
But you see, it’s not just those foods that normal people think stink. It’s random scents that I can’t put my finger on. I’ll start with the scent that may make you think I’m insane. Sometimes my water glass smells even though I haven’t even sipped it. (Of course I dump it and get a new glass, which makes The Man insane and may have elicited the “You’re a freak” speech in the first place.)
Other instances go more like this:
ME: What stinks?
THE MAN: I don’t smell anything.
ME: It’s like a dirty mop. Or diner counters that have been wiped clean but mysteriously smell like rot.
THE MAN: I don’t smell anything.
ME: Or it’s like stinky feet lingering in an elevator.
FAMILY MEMBER NO. 1: You’re nuts.
ME, sniffing around: I think it’s over here. Nope. Hmm.
THE MAN: I smell nothing.
ME: How can you not smell it? It’s so gross! It’s like cardboard boxes in a small room in the heat.
FAMILY MEMBER NO. 2: You’re nuts.
THE MAN: I do smell something! Is that French fries?
ME: No! It’s not French fries! It’s disgustingness in gas form!
THE MAN: You’re nuts.
Anyhow, useless but important to my life nonetheless.
Part Two: A Useful Study That I’ll Share With You To Make Up For The Useless Piece of Information About Me.
I’ll start by telling you I don’t eat gluten-free foods. But I know many of you do so it’s my civic duty to pass some info on to you: Those gluten-free foods might not be totally free of gluten. I mean, there’s a chance they could have a teeeeensy bit of gluten in them, which is either no big deal if you just eat gluten free to spend extra money or a huge deal if you’re intolerant. The FDA doesn’t regulate this kind of thing.
Fact is, some researchers looked at 22 gluten-free products and found that seven of them wouldn’t pass the FDA’s test to determine gluten-free-ness. (Shut up, it’s a word.) Here’s the whole story.
Consider yourself informed.
I love it when my readers leave smarter than when they arrived here.
I have two—count ’em, two—questions for you today.
First, what superpower do you legitimately have? (No, “I can fly!” doesn’t count unless you really can fly in which case—can I book you for a trip to Massachusetts? These airplanes are getting kinda expensive what with the baggage check fees and all. E-mail me.)
Second, do you buy gluten free? If you do, are you worried about it possibly being gluten-full?
July 22, 2010 29 Comments
OK, as promised yesterday, the abridged version of how I met The Man. Wei-Wei asked if I had ever told the story. And, in fact I haven’t. But it’s a good story, and since we’re two days from our fourth anniversary, this is a good time to tell it.
I was working at a restaurant, trying to make up all of the money I spent while studying abroad in New Zealand. There was this really cute bartender who never spoke to me and barely gave me the time of day. Of course, I wanted to date him.
So I kept dropping blatantly obvious hints that I was head-over-heels for him. For instance, I would smile at him when I got to work. Sometimes I’d joke around. I’d say flirty things like, “How was your weekend?” Once in a while I’d touch his arm while I snaked around his side to grab a new bottle of ketchup. One time I invited him to hang out with a bunch of us after work. The Man wasn’t super perceptive and claims he had no idea I liked him. [Read more →]
June 22, 2010 17 Comments