Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Change Hair, Skin, Sky and Water Colors in Photoshop

Here's a recent photoshop project where I needed some references for hair and skin colors: the image on the right is the original, at left is the (heavily) photoshopped version.

The first step is being clear on why you want to change colors. Sometimes just getting white balance correct is all you are looking for. This tutorial is for those times you are trying to create a color that is difficult to get from the original (as in the above example), or create a new color completely.

You might simply be experimenting to find something that looks good. For those times (like the shirt in the sample above) you can simply adjust hue, saturation and lightness until it looks right. Another goal is to try to change something to a target color.  I wanted the hair and skin in the photo above to match typical sample colors.

To match to a color, the first step is get color swatch(es) of the color(s) you need. I've assembled a reference image containing hair, skin, sky and water colors you can use at the end of this post (below).

To change existing colors in Photoshop

Again, the simplest method is to select a color range using the Hue/Saturation tool and then adjust the hue slider and mask out any areas you don't want changed. But in areas with complex highlights or shadows (such as hair) this sometimes doesn't work as well as you might prefer.

So either because you want to match a specific color, or for more advanced control, try Jim DiVitale's method instead. First, create three different layers of the same color, and set them to these blending modes and opacities:
  1. Top layer: color/50% opacity; Middle layer: overlay/25% opacity; Bottom layer: multiply/10% opacity. Feel free to experiment with different opacity settings. For example, if you're lightening dark hair, change multiply to screen.
  2. Insert a Hue/Saturation layer as the top layer of the group to give you more subtle control over the look of the new color if you wish.
  3. Group all these layers and add a mask for the entire group.
To change colors, you simply paint on the group mask to reveal or hide color changes! You can also create a second group of a similar color if you want to have slight variations in the color you are applying, or blend both together in a master group mask to average two (or more) colors.

Color swatches of Hair, Skin, Sky and Water

Read more!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Twitter Retweets: Why do some people use "via" instead of "RT?" #HowTwitterWorks

Many folks on Twitter have explained this very well, so I have quoted their guidance here read more...

Read more!

Friday, October 30, 2009

How important are you to your Twitter followers?

Ever wonder how many people on Twitter would recommend you if given the chance? Now that Twitter lists are here I decided to find out.

I calculated "popularity" by dividing the number of lists an account was on by the number of followers it has. Those shown first have been placed on the most lists as a percentage of their total followers. (The two highlighted accounts are two of my Twitter accounts).

I tried to compare a variety of types of accounts, using the Twitalyzer 100 list and some well-known names in different industries as a source.


Danny Sullivan

What's YOUR Twitter ratio?

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Twitter is just stupid, pointless hype?

So many clueless people, so little time... Recently,  Patrick Kershaw wrote an article about the valuelessness of Twitter. An excerpt:

"Consider Twitter…I am unable to see the benefit on even a personal level. I am not a celebrity-watcher, nor do I care what others are doing every minute of their lives. So is any value added at all? I don't think so.…If you cannot see a benefit, don't follow the hype."
Too many journalists have been doing no research on how Twitter is actually used

While Patrick (not a journalist) also made some points about how he feels social networks can be used, many journalists don't even bother. They just direct withering criticism at people who use a communications medium to tell others what they are doing.

Never mind that Twitter can be used to communicate anything; the fact that a few people use it in ways they think they never would means it must be worthless for everyone. Never mind actually researching what you are writing about and finding out what people are actually doing; stick to simple stereotypes.

A journalist's time saver: A pre-written article about pointless fads like Twitter

So in the interest of saving everyone time, I have created a template to assist busy journalists not interested in doing their own research. Simply copy the article below and publish it as your own writing:
Dear readers,

I, an important journalist, want to tell you that Twitter is just stupid, pointless hype because I heard that someone once used it to write what they were having for breakfast. I promise I will never use Twitter.

These things are so easy to spot for someone as smart as me. In fact, yesterday, I saw someone in the grocery store talking about cereal on their mobile phone! Anything you would use to talk about cereal is just hype. No phones for me.

I really can pick 'em, can't I? Someone told me the other day my articles are now being published on the internet. Do you realize the internet is full of pages of funny cat pictures? Another pointless, flash-in-the-pan medium.

It seems like there are a lot of stupid things that will be going away soon. My friend told me people sometimes get offensive messages from people they don't know by email. Clearly only morons use email.

Here's one that made me laugh: I saw someone in the park holding a stupid picture up to their face. Another moronic trend. Attached to the back were hundreds of pages with letters printed on them—all about that dumb picture! Books are unbelievably stupid.

And I can't believe you've overlooked the dumbest fad of all: Why haven't more people noticed—as I have—that other people are always saying stupid things? People are pointless.

That's why I live in a cave.

Communicating is just stupid, pointless hype.
The article beginning "Dear readers" is offered free of copyright under an Uncreative Morons license.

Read more!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What are the most essential Twitter apps ever created?

OneForty looks like the best site yet to provide a categorized list of Twitter Apps.

While OneForty requires an invitation to join and so is not available to everyone yet, I wanted to provide what I think is one of it's most valuable features to the general user: a "best of" list of apps organized by category they call "essentials."

What do you think? Are these the  most essential Twitter apps out there? Here's their list as of late September, 2009:

Tweetie for Mac
Seesmic Desktop
Mr. Tweet
Post Like A Pirate
Media Sharing
Link Tools
Follow Cost
Post Like A Pirate
Oh My Science

Read more!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Twitter messages work when you use @

First, imagine a fictional family where everyone follows each other on Twitter: @Mom, @Dad, @Brother and @Sister.
1. The basics
Rule #1: A person must follow you before you can DM them. If @Mom and @Dad (fictional example names) want to write completely privately so no one will see what they write but each other, they have to DM each other.
Rule #2: Anytime you put an @someone anywhere in a tweet, it will be sent to that @someone, regardless of whether they follow you or not.

Read more …

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Make a Photoshop Web Design Template That is Designer and Developer Friendly

There is a great article explaining how to create the layers for a photoshop web design template but they didn't include a sample PSD file to start from.

Here is a Web Design Wireframe Template created in Photoshop CS2 to help you get around the procrastination of creating one for yourself :). Its is based on the layers covered in the article.

Read more!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Big list of free photoshop alternatives

Here's a big list of  free photoshop alternatives. Many are online and you can start instantly—no download, no installation. Why should you check out more than one of these if you find one you like? Many have cool and useful features that others don't have, so it's worth doing a little research.

Photoshop Express Online flauntR Dumpr
Sumopaint Pic Resize Lunapic
Picnik Pixenate Aviary
Splashup FotoFlexer CinePaint
Artweaver Phixr Pixen
GIMP Kizoa Krita
Paint.NET Pixlr Pixen
Seashore Picmagick PhotoFiltre
Photoscape Pictureful PaintStar
Inkscape picture2life Pixia
PhotoPlus SE Snipshot Active Pixels
Phoenix Flauntr ChocoFlop
FaceFilter Photo Pos Lite
Snipshot Webpictool

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Redneck rules for Twitter

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Google's reranking of Twitter: Best explanation ever

Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in the movie "The Princess Bride" gives the best explanation ever given of how Google re-ranks sites when it decides a new algorithm is needed after deciding a new way of looking at things is needed:

So Google re-ranks sites when it is using a new algorithm to try and figure out what matters and what doesn't by going back and forth between it's changing views of different sites until it settles on the truth.


Google has rolled out some dramatically new algorithms to better rank Twitter user pages because Twitter is too new for Google to properly understand how it fits in on the web. This causes Twitter user pages to go up and down in their Google Toolbar rank for some time. One of our Twitter sites' ranking has gone 2;4;6;4;6;2 (and isn't done yet, based on the rankings of similar pages) and one of the Twitter founders' pages has gone as low as 0 in the bouncing.

When Google uses a new or newer algorithm to rank sites (which they do all the time) ranks have to go up and down for awhile. In a broad sense, everything on the web links to everything else, so as you re-rank the first sites in a chain, it affects the next sites in the chain, and so forth. The interesting part is when the rankings of the chain come back to affect the first site, and that site's rank can suddenly change dramatically.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Consumers no longer loyal to brands: Everyone is a researcher now.

Summary: The way in which consumers are  researching and buying products have changed dramatically. Research right up to the point of purchase is now much more common than brand loyalty.

New McKinsey research shows that extensive researching when considering purchase is now a much more common consumer behavior (full article).

It even extends to the moment of making a purchase decision: They are now commonly made only after reaching the point of purchase (store or website). Previous brand purchase makes that brand considered, but not selected. Brand loyalty has gone away for many purchase types.

I personally call this the "Google" or "Sherlock Holmes" effect: because there is easily accessible relvant information, and friends and media encourage checking this information ("Google it!") people are much more likely to behave like researchers than they did a generation ago.

Read more!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mass suspension of Twitter accounts underway: what to do if you are affected

Update 8: Official statement from Twitter’s status tumblelog:

Earlier today, we accidentally suspended a number of accounts.
We regret the human error that led to these mistaken suspensions and we are working to restore the affected accounts—we expect this to be completed in the next several hours.

One additional note: some the accounts suspended were using the third-party site Tweetlater. However, Tweetlater is not to blame for these suspensions nor is it in violation of our Terms.

Update 7: Many accounts are now reporting that Twitter has UNSUSPENDED their account.

Update 6: Official response from Twitter to @TweetLater on their suspended account:  “Spamcloud hit. We’re working on restoring accounts.” (This was reported by Jesse Stay.)

Update 5: Some (few) Twitter users have reported their accounts were unsuspended after about 10 minutes.

Update 4: Some have reported that creating a support ticket with Twitter on this issue results in the ticket being deleted right away. Probably best to wait.

Update 3: Some feel Twitter may have created an unintended consequence in fighting off this attack.

Update 2: Here are some links to places that may also post updates on the situation as they learn more:
  1. @Twitter_Tips 
  2. Jesse Stay
  3. Mashable 
Update 1: Check the date on any tweets from official Twitter accounts such as @Spam. Some people are retweeting old messages about old issues that are NOT relevant any more.

Original post:

You have two choices. First, you can wait to see if you are unsuspended soon (many think this is a Twitter error of some kind). This is what I recommend. Many commentators are pointing out accounts that seem EXTREMELY unlikely to merit suspension have been suspended.

Three places you can check for updates from Twitter on this issue are the known issues page, the Twitter Status page, and the Twitter blog.

Or you can put in a support request. Here's how to do that:

  1. To put in a support request, click here and make the appropriate choices. Note that this link has been removed from it's old location on the Twitter support site so don't tell people to go to the help site and click the support request link—it's not there anymore (this may change).
  2. Experiment with searches like this to see what the latest news it.
  3. Don't create lots of "What happened?" or "Help me/my friend" tweets. It just clogs up the channel we are all checking for news of what is happening, and doesn't affect Twitter's response at all.
Note: Some people are creating tickets at GetSatisfaction.com You might also want to wait on that, as a huge influx of tickets will be unlikely to get a response. 

Read more!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fixing the screenplay for the movie Knowing, with Nicolas Cage

Writing movie scripts has been a hobby of mine for decades. I'm going to share an improvement to the movie "Knowing" with Nicolas Cage. See if you agree or disagree with me after you've seen it, because I'm going to give everything away here.

In other words...spoiler alert!

The change I'll describe would have made those who liked the movie appreciate it even more, and make it palatable and enjoyable to those who hated the ending but liked or tolerated it up until that point.


We see flashbacks to the dreams (established earlier in the movie, see below) of John's wife/Caleb's mother, of an old Native American man and woman in front of an outdoor fire at night teaching the creation of the world from fire before the world's original father sent his child into the new world. These Native Americans are obviously part of a successful village. The old man is wearing a silver turtle charm around his neck.

After the end of the movie as it was shown, this change: the children arrive at the new world and Caleb flashes back to the open locket his father John gave him, and we see him close it before he gets on the ship. It's the same as the Turtle the old man in his mother's dreams wore around his neck. Then we flash back to the father closing it from the gift box; The turtle again.

Then we have the final reveal: We see the old Native American man in Caleb's mother's dream open his turtle locket and show the photo inside of himself as a child with his mother and father: the old native american man is the son in the movie, generations in the future, successful on the new world that the aliens took him to.

The mother's dreams were of the success of her son, and the new reality established by the end of the movie is linked to the day-to-day reality that most of the movie was set against by the foreshadowings of love, family, and spirituality.

Rather than just one reveal and surprise, we have three: The children start anew on a new world after the old world ends; the father in the dreams of the mother is her son in the future; both mothers had the power to see future, one of a horrific future, the other of a loving future, and both turned out to see the same future.

Character of the Deceased Mother:

The wife/mother who passes away before the beginning of the movie always saw good things happening and believed that she could see the future symbolically. Though not Native American, she was fascinated with Native American mythology about the creation of the world. The locket in the movie is one she left to her husband John (Nic Cage) that we see open but never closed. He discovers it midway through the movie.

She was always making tenuous connections between feelings and symbols from dreams and things that turned out well. Her husband John humored her but didn't really believe the connections she made between things meant she saw the future.

Character of the Religious Grandfather/Father:

He dealt with his daughter-in-law's portentous dreaming abilities by pointing that some saw good and some saw evil, but that we all saw something that was true in some sense. Cage's character went along reluctantly but lovingly until the change in his attitude her death.

John, the Father (Nic Cage's Character):

His viewpoint once the movie opens is summarized when he says to his class "People like to make connections between things and say 'This is how is was supposed to turn out.' Some people see good things (his deceased wife), some people see bad things (the woman who writes the numerical predictions the movie revolves around) but it's all really just random."

Hence the father abandons the faith of his wife and his father when he doesn't feel anything when his wife dies, and we have a parallel between the mothers who see other realities and the effect it has on their children.

What was wrong and why. Why these changes are what it should have been all along: 

Movie-goers who had a favorable predisposition to the themes of the ending enjoyed the movie much more than those who didn't. In a sense, their interests foreshadowed it. The problem was that moviegoers who weren't favorably predisposed were in the majority, and their reaction to the ending (as a I saw one reviewer say) was "What the F was that?!" Not favorable.

In order to create surprise for the ending, it was disconnected from the rest of the movie. Instead of feeling the intended awe, it felt more like a slap in the face to some. Rather than feel like a penultimate reality humankind has moved to, it felt like the projectionist had accidentally shown us the end of a different movie.

Surprises in a movie should generally not be genre surprises; a light action-comedy should not turn into a serious drama-romance, for example. Surprises should make us feel good, smart or connected in some way. Revelations, not slaps. Awe, amazement or excitement, not "What the hell?!" Surprises can make us see there was foreshadowing that we didn't understand until the surprise revealed the new reality.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

What's the best way to give retweet attribution on Twitter?

A good Twitter blogger that we've sent (deserved) traffic to had me baffled for a bit this morning. We put out a tweet that sent them 550+ clicks but they felt the tweet was improper. I'm interested to know what people think, and how I could avoid this in the future.

You know how just by the fact of tweeting back and forth things can rapidly get confusing? That's how this conversation started to go (reproduced later in this blog post with name removed: my responses are in a couple shades of green). But first, here's a cartoon summary of how wrong things can go:

So it looked like were headed down this road and although I was still confused when he said he didn't want to talk about it anymore, I was happy it hadn't turned into something like the above. It started something like this:

"[Your] tweet isn't from @UserName it's my blog"

Well, duh, I thought. It was a retweet attribution.  I started to explain that to him kindly (me: "you probably knew that") but then I admitted I couldn't imagine he didn't already understand retweet attribution and could he enlighten me as to what he was asking about?

Next it seemed like he was saying the problem wasn't that it was his blog post, it was that he tweeted about it ("give credit to the real tweeter") and he should get the retweet attribution. Of course, I had never even seen his tweet. I get most of the link for @Twitter_Tips from feeds.

I couldn't imagine that he wanted me to both tweet his stuff and then search his tweets to see if he tweeted about it to give him retweet credit for talking about his own blog, so I asked for further clarification. Then he said he didn't want to talk about it anymore and asked me not to talk about it either.

Here's how the actual conversation went:

Confusion, for sure. I'll blog about it and you can comment to help clear it up if you feel it makes sense to.
And one more point to cleared here, lets act like gentlemen lets not discuss about it :) good day!
Our tweet sent you over 500 human clicks, but I won't do it again w/o saying @yourUserName
as I told you its not your mistake.. take it easy...btw i always credit you when i tweet/rt your links.. good day
You're very kind—it does appear to be my mistake of some kind. I'm not upset (no need to suggest I "take it easy") just trying to understand
As you can see, more along the lines of the cartoon than what I would have hoped for.

Along the way he also posted a link to his followers about "Reposting others' content without attribution" being stealing.  His public post (which I won't reproduce since that would make it too easy to identify him) helped clarify where he was coming from: He wanted me to not only tweet his blog post, he wanted to see his @username in the tweet about it too.

As unreasonable as that sounded at first, I quickly figured out his concern, I think: Since I was using "via @username" at the end instead of "RT @username" at the beginning, he thought it would not be clear who wrote the blog post. He thought I was saying someone else (who doesn't actually have a dedicated blog) was the real author. Aha!

Putting the attribution at the end instead of the beginning can get people confused:
  • They might overlook the attribution entirely;
  • They might think the attibution is crediting the creator of what is being linked to rather than just being a retweet attribution.
ProBlogger's TwitTip Twitter blog had an article on using "via" instead of "RT" that I shared with this guy but he was obviously so concerned that someone else was being given credit for his work (even though we sent him 500+ visitors to see for themselves) that it got me thinking.

I do a lot of tweeting with the "via-style" retweet  attribution from our account @DivineLove, because quotes are often retweeted on their merits, unlike links which are too often just pimped back and forth to get blog traffic. For quality articles about Twitter I look to feeds rather than reading people's tweets (mostly).

So why not just start tweets with "RT @…"?

I don't like starting with RT because it obscures the topic of the tweet, and lots of people have chimed in that they don't like this either. People have in fact given a number of reasons for ignoring tweets that start with "RT @…" and so I've tended to favor the "via @…" at the end. Since from @Twitter_Tips I don't seek out tweets to find links, it isn't much of a problem.

What do you think?
Is retweet attribution in the form "via @userName" at the end of the tweet too confusing, and should it be avoided?

Postscript: Why don't I read more of people's tweets? 

Because most top people tweet their own stuff and other stuff as a "favor" to their friends. Quality has too little to do with it, as long as it meets a minimum standard. At least, that's what I think I've had trouble finding better-quality links by reading through what other people tweet/retweet and rely on popular link feeds such as ReTweetist instead.

Don't get me wrong, I've tweeted some stuff without reading it carefully that has turned out to be bad, but it's not bad because I tweeted it as a favor to someone who would then offer to do the same for me.
Since I have so far hardly ever blogged about Twitter, I don't have many articles anyone could tweet anyway!

Also, I'm happy that so far, despite having over 92,000 followers and sending thousands of DMs back and forth to people, I don't know of anyone that has "gone away mad" after communicating with us on @Twitter_Tips. I'm happy to share links with and talk to people from any part of the political (or emotional!) spectrum. 

We've made mistakes and owned up to them, and where we could, fixed them. I appreciate feedback of all kinds and have made numerous changes to how and what we post on @Twitter_Tips based on comments to us from our followers.

Read more!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Secret of Self-control, willpower and discipline?

The New Yorker Magazine had a great article on what research has uncovered about delayed gratification and what an essential life skill it is. 

It seems learning simple and easy self-control skills can have a huge effect on how one's life develops, but few people learn those skills. So I've highlighted some some excerpts, but I suggest reading the whole article.

"...after just a few sessions, students show significant improvements in the ability to deal with hot emotional states...even the most mundane routines...are really sly exercises in cognitive training: we’re teaching ourselves how to think so that we can outsmart our desires."

"...the ability to delay gratification [is] a far better predictor of academic performance than I.Q."

"Once you realize that will power is just a matter of learning how to control your attention and thoughts, you can really begin to increase it."

And there are tricks you can use that work terrifically well. For example:

"...Mischel has found a shortcut. When he and his colleagues taught children a simple set of mental tricks—such as pretending that the candy is only a picture, surrounded by an imaginary frame—he dramatically improved their self-control. The kids who hadn’t been able to wait sixty seconds could now wait fifteen minutes. 'All I’ve done is given them some tips from their mental user manual,' Mischel says. 'Once you realize that will power is just a matter of learning how to control your attention and thoughts, you can really begin to increase it.' "

"...he previously showed that children did much better on the marshmallow task (waiting before eating a marshmallow) after being taught a few simple 'mental transformations,' such as pretending the marshmallow was a cloud..."

"Interestingly, the scientists found that high delayers were significantly better at [being] less likely to think that a word they’d been asked to forget was something they should remember."

Read more!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Principles of Ethical Influence, by Dr. Robert Cialdini

I'm always trying to promote the principles of ethical influence (by Dr. Robert Cialdini) to people, and I've recently discovered he makes them available in pocket guide form on his website, along with all his terrific books and other materials.

Click the image for more information:

The principles are:
  1. Reciprocation — You, then me, then you, then me…
  2. Scarcity — The rule of the rare.
  3. Authority — Showing knowing.
  4. Consistency — The starting point.
  5. Liking — Making friends to influence people.
  6. Consensus — People proof, people power.

The ethical use of influence means:
  • Being honest;
  • Maintaining integrity;
  • Being a detective, not a smuggler or bungler.
From Gerard Kroese's review of an article (reprint available for download) by Cialdini:
Cialdini believes that five decades of research by behavioral scientists shows that persuasion is governed by six fundamental principles that can be taught, learned, and applied. Each principle is named, linked to an application and discussed:

(1) The principle of Liking: People like those who like them, whereby two compelling factors reliably increase liking: similarity and praise.

(2) The principle of Reciprocity: People repay in kind, whereby the application is "give what you want to receive."

(3) The principle of Social Proof: People follow the lead of similar others. "Stated simply, influence is often best exerted horizontally rather than vertically."

(4) The principle of Consistency: People align with their commitments. The author's research "has demonstrated that most people, one they take a stand or go on record in favor of a position, prefer to stick to it."

(5) The principle of Authority: People defer to experts. "The task for managers who want to establish their claims to expertise is somewhat more difficult. ... A little sublety is called for."

(6) The principle of Scarcity: People want more of what they can have less of. "Study after study shows that items and opportunities are seen to be more valuable as they become less available. That's a tremendously useful piece of information for managers."

These 6 principles of persuasion are not new and have been known within the psychology field for around 10-20 years. However, in the form provided by Cialdini they are easy to grasp and understand.

Read more!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ways to make money on the web

So you want to make money on the internet, huh? Below are some of the most common ways. 

Why do I bother sharing a list like this? Because a key reason most people fail is they fail to consider their options before starting.

My highlights are not strictly accurate, because there are good approaches to each of these things. I'm going to elaborate on this over time and link to information as I go:

The best combination of profit and simplicity for web newbies.
The things people tend to try most frequently.
The best profit for people who are willing to work steadily without quitting

A. Sell information:
  1. Create information and sell it;
  2. Sell someone else's information as if it were your own;
  3. Promote someone else selling information.
B. Create content, and then place around what you write:
  1. Ads that pay when someone acts on them (clicks an ad, for example);
  2. Ads that pay based on how many people see them;
  3. Information for sale that you receive a commission on;
  4. Products for sale that you receive a commission on;
  5. Links to other sites where you earn money.
C. Help people with existing businesses:
  1. Sell their services;
  2. Sell their products;
  3. Set up or enhance a web presence.

D. Sell products:
  1. Drop-ship (you sell something that someone else ships for you);
  2. Buy products and ship them yourself;
  3. Via multi-level marketing.
Start a product or service business of your own and use the web to promote

B2 is essentially a strategy to get a lot of traffic to a focused niche. It's a little misleading, because basically you can't even get these kinds of ads unless you get a lot of traffic to your content. So B2 represents a strategy to get a lot of traffic and the longer you work it, the better it works. Realize that once you have a lot of traffic, you can do other things with it as well.

Read more!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Apologies for not having more time for family, friends and clients lately!

I've gotten very busy these last few months. Apologies to those of you I haven't been spent as much time with as you would like! I feel a little silly putting down so much detail, but I'm getting a lot of disbelief that I don't have more time, so...

You would have to be away from home working 20 hours a day if you only worked weekdays from an office to get the same amount of work done as I do, assuming:

  • 40 minutes of round-trip drive time to and from work, eating breakfast in the car
  • Two meetings/week
  • Getting ready each morning (I'm at the computer within 30 seconds most mornings)
  • Standard breaks
  • 30 minutes for dinner
As it is, I pretty consistently get about 12.5 hours of work done every day, seven days a week regardless of holidays. Again, that doesn't mean I work a "12 1/2 hour day." More like a 14-hour day the way most folks mean it. I almost always keep working while talking on the phone, and each week I use a variety of methods to automate what I do more and more. I'm working from home, and my wife Sarah takes care of all errands and meals so I can keep working.

Frustratingly, most of the people I have outsourced to haven't worked out, from coders to virtual assistants. 

Nevertheless, some family and friends still figure I must take breaks or spend time on miscellaneous stuff; basically that I have more free time than I realize. Actually, no, I don't. Here are the non-work things I do each week, using time-tracking software to indicate about how much time these take me each week:
  • I don't own a TV, but once a week I do watch one show over the internet or go out to see a movie (1.5 hours).
  • A little more than every other week Sarah and I go out for something else, sometimes just me going on errands with her, or to visit family (2 hours).
  • I browse the internet for miscellaneous stuff or general news headlines about 20 minutes a day, much, much, much less than I used to (2.5 hours).
  • I do a small number of miscellaneous things a month—like this blog post (1.75 hours). 
  • I exercise about 20 minutes/day away from the computer (2.5 hours) and some at the computer. I eat one meal a day away from the computer with Sarah so we can talk more (4.5 hours). 
  • Sarah and I also talk a very little bit during the day about non-work things (2.5 hours).
  • I do tech support for family and clients a few times a week. (1.25 hours).
  • Appointments outside home  (2).
  • Contemplation breaks (3 hours).
  • I sleep about 8 hours, but spend an additional few minutes falling asleep and another 45 minutes reading or talking in bed most evenings (63 hours).
I have someone screen all my calls and emails and a lot of my internet messages so I don't get interrupted much, and each week I organize or automate a little more for Sarah or a virtual assistant to do for me.

Since I run a 24-hour news service 7 days a week, it's hard to outsource things to people who aren't responsive on a hourly basis, which few can be. But I'm just reaching the point where automation will allow me to hire more folks to do some of my work. This means I can put more attention onto some longer-term projects.

Read more!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Share your blog posts everywhere

By combining some simple and handy services, you can post short notifications of your blog posts on 1, 2 or over a dozen sites like FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more.

Wouldn't it be great every time you wrote a blog post to have it a link posted to it with a summary on all the sites you've joined? It's easy! It works like this:

Blog post > Connecting services > Post + link appears on your chosen sites.

Now, you could go to most of the sites you want the link to appear on and register your blog there. But Twitter and some others, for example, don't offer the feature of posting summaries of your blog posts for you.

Simple services to make it easy for you

Here are my favorite services for making this simple: TwitterFeed and Ping.fm. TwitterFeed will "read" and summarize your blog posts, then pass it to Ping to be sent to all the sites you want the summary of your blog posts to appear on.

So you'll need to create an account at TwitterFeed and Ping.fm, if you haven't already. Warning: TwitterFeed requires you to use an OpenID. Read this about OpenID, and then figure out if you already have an OpenID by reading this.

Information that you'll need:

  1. The feed address of your blog, to provide to TwitterFeed. If you have a WordPress blog, just add "/feed/" (without the quotes) after the ".com" in your blog address. If, for example, your blog is myblog.wordpress.com, your feed address is myblog.wordpress.com/feed/. For a blogger blog, you would usually just add "/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss" (without the quotes) after the .com in your blog address. Try it! If it doesn't work, read this about rss URLs for blogger blogs.
  2. Login information for TwitterFeed and Ping.fm.
  3. Login information for whatever sites you want your blog posts to be sent to.
What to do:
  1. Log into Ping.fm and choose the site you want the link and summary of your blog posts to appear on.
  2. Log into TwitterFeed and click the "Create a new feed" link, then choose Ping.fm to send your posts to. It should look something like this.
  3. Click the link "Ping.fm Application Key" it will take you to Ping.fm to get the key you need to finish filling out the form. Copy it and paste it into the TwitterFeed form
  4. Click "get available methods" and choose "blog" from the drop-down menu that appears
  5. Finish by clicking the "Create" button on the TwitterFeed page.
Now TwitterFeed will read your blog and give it to Ping to post on whatever sites you setup in Ping to receive your posts!

Read more!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Top dofollow social bookmarking sites by Page Rank and Alexa rank

All of this information is available in many places online. As always, abuse and spam will get you nowhere in SEO!

If you're doing nothing more than just posting things all over the place all you're doing is spamming. But if you are doing a lot of other things right and you want to experiment by increasing the number of search-engine recognized appropriate inbound links to your content without adding a lot to your workload, try some of the listings below.

If you'd like to learn more about link building in social media, do follow or not, read How Social Media can help improve Organic Search Rankings.

PR Alexa Site
9 9,508 SlashDot
8 293 Digg
8 554 Squidoo
8 1,746 Propeller
8 50,162 Mister-Wong
7 784 Mixx
7 22,374 Furl
6 10,362 JumpTags
6 63,724 FeedMeLinks
6 116,527 FeedMarker
6 119,921 Bibsonomy
6 119,991 Spurl
6 140,909 BackFlip
5 2,851 Lycos IQ
5 7,148 GiveALink
5 25,242 SpotBack
5 29,938 CoRank
5 42,285 Searchles
5 50,023 BlogMarks
5 69,059 MyVMarks
5 108,472 BookMarkTracker
5 126,563 LinkaGoGo
5 133,798 Connectedy
5 168,321 BuddyMarks
5 201,602 MyLinkVault
5 275,738 IGooi
4 30,895 ShoutWire
4 38,314 Oyax
4 43,871 BMAccess
4 49,048 BUMPzee
4 52,303 MyPip
4 55,952 Tagza
4 64,624 NetRocket
4 70,500 SyncOne
4 112,857 Ez4U
3 52,877 Yattle
3 65,232 PlugIM
3 85,696 Dizzed
2 63,894 Tedigo
2 64,427 Ka-Boom-It

Blogs that doFollow

I've always felt that if you're writing about something you care about, and participating helpfully in conversations on other blogs that care about the same thing, the natural growth of links back to your content is a good thing.

Spamming doesn't work here. Most of these blogs won't even let you in the door unless you can prove you have a real contribution to make. They moderate like crazy. Look for blogs you would read and contribute to regardless of follow policy.

Semi-automated bookmarking services online
These have been used/tested by Web Success Diva during their social bookmarking activities. I don't use these myself.
  • Post Toaster:  60 social bookmarking and social news sites.  It’s a little quirky when you first start using it, but does help speed up your social bookmarking once you get the hang of it.  It’s one of the few that semi-automates the most sites.
  • Socializer:  50 sites.  Functions much like Post Toaster.
  • OnlyWire:  30+ sites, but has a much more friendly user interface.  You can sign-up for all your accounts in one easy  place, and it’s one of the few that actually automates pretty much the entire process.  Great for those new to social bookmarking.
  • Social Marker: 40+ sites, with a friendly user interface.
Realize that links to your content that are ignored by people are also pretty much ignored by search engines. And that links that sprout up in large numbers suddenly from what are obviously automated services are often especially ignored.

Read more!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Won the technology (Shorty) award on Twitter, heading to NY for award ceremony

Recently won an award for creating short tech content on Twitter.com via our "channel" @Twitter_TipsThe Shorty Awards competition was covered by The New York Times, The BBC, AdAge, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, MediaBistro and many others.

Read more (This post is in the process of being moved toblog.TweetSmarter.com ... check back for an updated link—thanks!)

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