1 Year Blog Anniversary

blog anniversary
Can I blog with this view?

I thought I would share a special occasion with all of my readers, my 1 Year Blog Anniversary.  That’s right, I’ve been writing on AdamYamada.com for 1 year and started this blog 365 days ago.

My first post for this website went up on February 9th, 2013 and was a book review on The Power of Habit, a book by Charles Duhigg who is a New York Times reporter.  It was a interesting book about the way habits are part of human behavior and how “keystone habits” shape our lives.  Since I enjoyed The Power of Habit I wanted to write a review about it, but on my own blog.  Since I hadn’t written a post on here and I realized there really is no benefit to writing a review on Amazon (Except that helps Amazon sell more books) the post went up here.

I think the book review came out well for a first post but I feel can still improve my writing.  Can’t all writers?  I read a lot of other books over the past year but I couldn’t find time to write about them.

Even so for my 1 Year Blog Anniversary I feel pretty good about where this blog has gone.  My most popular post was a how-to fix a computer issue “Error Unknown Filesystem Grub Rescue.”  If your computer doesn’t work I guess you really want to know how to fix it.  My web hosting Site5 Review, and my Namecheap Review.  4 Reasons I switched from Feedly to the Old Reader was another popular post on this blog from the past year.

In retrospect I’ve not only had some successful posts but had attended a few conferences.  For instance I won a ticket to Affiliate Summit in Philadelphia and while it wasn’t my favorite conference or event I’ve attended, it was a good experience to see what people are doing in web, internet, and affiliate marketing these days.  (Some really shady shit in case you didn’t know.)  I also went to BarkWorld and BlogPaws but that was for the Singing Dogs.

While I learned a lot in the conferences I’ve also learned a lot about WordPress, the software this website runs on.  I’ve upgraded from WordPress 3.6, WordPress 3.7, and WordPress 3.8.  I’ve also did a detailed report on the 2013 State of the Word which Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, gives each year in San Francisco.  Since WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system and blog platform I’ll likely write more about WordPress.  Some other categories I might drop though.

Seems like a really long time, but blogging for 1 year is not that long.  I’m happy to have made it to this blog anniversary hopefully I will make it the 2 year mark.  Along with this post I’ve had 123 posts for the year, which is short of my original goal of 1 post per day.  I’ll try to work on that in the next year and improve on my blogging goals.  At least all 123 of the blog posts I wrote were search engine optimized, which wasn’t an easy task.

If you have any suggestions for ways I can improve this website and my writing for my 1 Year Blog Anniversary I’d love to hear it.  Also feel free to tell me how awesome this blog is.

Trelby, the Best Final Draft Alternative

trelby

Recently I was talking with someone about Final Draft, the ubiquitous program used by countless screenwriters everywhere.  This person did not really have any complaints with how Final Draft worked just that the $250 per licensee  cost was high especially for a poor and struggling screenwriter.  (That’s 95% of screenwriters but everyone still buys the software.)  They were curios if I knew of a good Final Draft alternative.  Unfortunately I didn’t but after doing a bit of Googling I found Trelby, a great free and open source screenwriting program and what seems to be the best Final Draft alternative I’ve seen out there.

Trelby has some great features such as;

  • Import from other script program formats like Final Draft, Celtx, Adobe Story, Fade In Pro, and Fountain.
  • Export from to PDF, formatted text, HTML, RTF, Final Draft XML, and Fountain.
  • PDF: There is a highly configurable PDF generator which supports embedding font that you want. You can also generate PDFs with custom watermarks which allows tracking number of file shares.
  • Name Database that contains over 200,000 names in multiple languages for coming up with character names.
  • Screenplay editor: Enforces correct script format and pagination, auto-completion, and spell checking.
  • View: Multiple views, including draft view, What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) mode, and a fullscreen so you don’t need to worry about distractions while writing your script.
  • Reporting: Scene, location, character, dialogue reports.
  • Script Revisions: You have the ability to compare scripts revisions so you know what has changed.
  • It’s Free: Licensed under the GPL, Trelby welcomes developers and screenwriters to contribute in making it more useful.

The issue I’ve heard with Final Draft is that sometimes it crashes and is bit complex to use.  (At least from what I’ve heard as I don’t own it.)  Trelby is pretty easy to use and I have not issues using it.  Trelby works fine on Windows 7, downloads flawlessly, installs easily, and is quite stable software.  In addition Trelby works nicely on Linux Mint which is a plus but I’m not sure how many screenwriters are interested in writing scripts on Linux.

Is there a version for Macs?  Unfortunately if you look on the Download page there is a Mac download image but it says “Needs work” and it seems they need someone to help out with porting a version to Mac OS X.  Neither of the developer use a Mac according to the FAQ page.  So for those that love Apple, which most screenwriters do, you are out of luck.  If you have coding skills you are welcome to help port the Trelby Mac version though.

trelby download

 

What’s interesting about Trelby is the development history of the program.

Trelby was originally known as Blyte, and was written by Osku in 2003-2006 and sold as a commercial program by a company he founded. However, the sales of the program were not enough to justify spending most of his free time working on it, so in 2006 he open sourced it.

The program faded into complete obscurity for five years, until in late 2011, Anil Gulecha found it and started contributing improvements. This resurrected Osku’s interest in the program, and he started working on it again as well.

They decided to change the name of the program to Trelby, create a brand new website for it (the one you’re on now), bring the code up to date which it needed after five years of neglect, and try to create a development community around it.

The intersection of software developers and screenwriters is tiny, and is probably the reason for the lack of quality open source screenwriters. If you’re a part of that tiny group, why not join in?

While the development history of Trelby is interesting I am not exactly sure how Anil Gulecha and Osku Salerma funds it’s development and pay for web hosting as there is no donation button on the website.  There definitely should be though.

There are other Final Draft alternatives out there but most of them you have to pay for after a free trial.  I am fine with paying for software but as I’m not seriously looking for the best Final Draft alternative among all the screenwriter program options I wasn’t going to purchase software.  If you think there is a better free and open source or paid screenwriting program out there, let me know.  RawScripts seems to be a good cloud based free option but I haven’t tried it.

If you want to try Trelby visit the website to download it and the Getting started page to learn how to use it.  You can visit the Google forum to ask questions about it.

If you use Trelby or got value out of this post since you were looking for a Final Draft alternative, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to know.  Do you use any other free and open source screenwriting software? Feel free to leave a suggestion and I’ll try it out.

Pat Flynn’s Breakthrough Blogging Review: BIG Waste of Money

UPDATE: I consider the Breakthrough Blogging materials a waste of money.  DO NOT pay to part of the community if Pat Flynn opens it up again.

For those that follow my blog you might remember the Podcast Answer Man Review I did for the Only72 course a couple months ago.   Since that was only 1 part of the 6 courses you got when you bought the Only72 course package I thought I’d post another review of a different course.

This time I will be reviewing the private Breakthrough Blogging community which is run by Pat Flynn.  He’s well known in the internet marketing space and included a membership to this community in the Only72 package.  So let’s see what’s good, what’s bad, and what is ugly.

Breakthrough Blogging Review

The Breakthrough Blogging site is divided up into a few different sections.  There is a forum, a Library with video and audio content, and you can also send questions via Ask Pat.

Breakthrough Blogging Library

breakthrough blogging reviewThe Library is essentially a section with videos of Pat Flynn talking about different topics related to blogging and running a website on WordPress.  What I like about the setup is that the are videos, downloadable MP3 files, and PDF transcripts.  If you’d rather listen to the audio instead of watching a video or read the transcript it’s nice that is provided.  Not ever tutorial has a PDF though.

You might remember one of my complaints about the Podcast Answer Man course was that it was only a video course.  A bit odd since Cliff Ravenscraft calls himself the “Podcast Answer Man.”  I like how Breakthrough Blogging makes the content available in different ways since some people prefer reading vs listening or vice versa.  If you want to download the audio files and put them on an MP3 player, you can do that.

With each tutorial you can click and leave a comment if you want.  Some people seem to be quite active commentators in this section.  Most of the topics are questions or issues that were submitted by readers of the Breakthrough Blogging community.

Pat Flynn offers some solid advice in his Library but some of the advice in my opinion feels a bit surface level.  What do I mean by that?  Well it’s not bad advice but it isn’t anything which I feel like is really killer.  Hope that makes sense.

Breakthrough Blogging Forum

 breakthrough blogging forumWhoever the developer was for the Breakthrough Blogging forum (and website) kudos to them.  The forum is one of the cleanest phpBB forums I have ever seen.  He must have had to do a fair amount of work to get it to look that nice and to integrate with WordPress.

I also respected he elected to use forum software instead of BuddyPress and bbPress.  Even though both of those are built by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, if there is even a moderate amount of forum users posting in bbPress it will crash.  (The typically response you get from a WordPress developer is, “Hire a PHP developer to fix it.”)

Honestly the biggest reason you would revisit Breakthrough Blogging is the forum.  It’s a nice community of people who want to build full-time online incomes.  The Breakthrough Blogging forum has a “Challenges” section where Pat Flynn lays down different challenges for site owners.  For instance, in November he wanted people to call a member of their audience to understand more about them.  The forum also has a Resources, General Discussion, Introductions, and other sections as well.

To be honest the forum could be more useful, but it is not that active.  If you notice in the picture a lot of threads are  dormant.  I asked a question on there the other day and it didn’t get a response.  The nice thing about a private forum is that not everyone sees it, but that can be a double-edge sword.

UPDATE 4-1-14: Checked the forum yesterday.  Seems to be even more barren and inactive now.  Also I don’t see Pat Flynn posting at all or the community manager he hired for Breakthrough Blogging there.  A public forum that is inactive is sad but a private forum that is not getting updated is even sadder. 

Another issue with the forum is that it lacks functionality, like the ability to search threads.  For those that like to private message other users there is no way to do that and you can’t change or customize your profiles if you want.  Your stick with the original settings which is really annoying.  I assume this might have to do with the way the developer integrated WordPress with phpBB.

It seemed like the idea behind Breakthrough Blogging was to mainly to build out this forum.  If that was the case it would have been a better idea to go with MyBB, which I prefer, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Still the forum aspect of the site was good idea, it’s just not that active.  Remember despite what social media “gurus” might tell you about forums they are still quite useful in many circumstances.  When I asked whether forums were better than social media, it was rhetorical question.

Ask Pat

ask pat flynnThe “Ask Pat” section is pretty simple.  You can submit a question that you want Pat Flynn to talk about or answer.  The community will vote up a question if they think it is relevant and something they are curios to hear about too.  If you click the “See Questions We’ve Answered” you will see questions that were answered by Pat Flynn and his team.

News

There is also a news section with updates regarding the Breakthrough Blogging community.  Again pretty basic and not much to say other than check it if you want to see what is going on in the community.

Breakthrough Blogging Pros

Breakthrough Blogging is a nice private community of people who all have a goal to build a successful website or several online businesses.  Some of the resources you might find helpful depending on where you are in your internet career.

One thing I like about Breakthrough Blogging is that there is no recurring cost to be part of the community.  With most private forums and membership communities there is usually a monthly or yearly fee to stay a member.  You only pay once, $200, for the Only72 set of courses and it seems you are a member for life.  Unless I am missing something, which I don’t believe I am.

A nice giveaway Pat Flynn provides when are part of Breakthrough Blogging is his book “Let Go” in a downloadable PDF.  I haven’t had a chance to read it though so I couldn’t really say whether this is a positive add-on.

Breakthrough Blogging Cons

Like I said above it would be nice if the forum was more active as there would be a reason to revisit the site.  Currently there really is no reason for me log onto Breakthrough Blogging.  It does not seem like Pat Flynn and the people behind it care that much about keeping the forum threads current.

Kind of ironic since it is his community and he wrote a whole blog post about getting a forum started and keeping people active on the Smart Passive Income blog.  I can you from personal experience from running my own forum that I try to not let any post or thread go unanswered for more than 24 hours, 48 hours maximum.  I want people to feel like their questions or thoughts are being heard even if it is only by 1 person.  If let things a thread site dormant it is unlikely that person will come back again to post.

Probably what they should do is pay moderators and people that are really knowledgeable to post in the forum.  This suggestion might make some people cringe but it is not a uncommon way to get a forum started.  Besides Pat Flynn is already paying someone to handle the community anyway and he makes plenty of money via affiliate marketing.

Some of the advice is a bit iffy in my opinion in the forum.  I’m impressed by the work some of the people do with certain niche topics in blogging. but the reality is that not every topic is going to be profitable or provide full-time income no matter what you do.  Nobody wants to say this to someone publicly though.

Also I don’t know who started this myth of “passive income” but it honestly does not exist.  Sure, the internet is great for earning income a lot faster than you could otherwise and you can make money while you sleep, but don’t be fooled.  Most people that make a full-time living online actually work long hours but they like what they do.

I guess you won’t agree with all the advice given anywhere, but this will be true of any other online community you join.

Breakthrough Blogging Review Conclusion

I guess the real question in this Breakthrough Blogging review comes down this, Would I pay to be part of the community separately from the Only72 pacakge?  Mmm… No, probably not.

If you love Pat Flynn and and shit bricks anytime he puts up a new post or podcast on his Smart Passive Income blog then probably no matter what I say about Breakthrough Blogging you will want to join anyway.

Most internet marketers would probably sell an organ to have as many raving fans as this guy.  He makes roughly $40,000+ a month with his affiliate links, so I seriously doubt he cares what my Breakthrough Blogging review says.

Still, I hope this Breakthrough Blogging review has helped people out there that were considering joining the community.  If you are part of the community please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts about it.  If you have any additional questions about feel free to contact me privately via email as well.

Writing Great Blog Posts Consistently is Nearly Impossible

great blog postsLately I’ve been trying to come up with ways to write great blog posts consistently for all my websites.  Everyone wants to write the best articles that their audience will really engage with.  I sort of had the sad realization that writing engaging posts consistently is something that lots of bloggers and content marketers struggle with.  Honestly, you can’t always predict what people will like or hate until you’ve written it and it’s gone up.  It sucks.

I’ve experienced this sad truth firsthand many times.  One of the most frustrating blog posts I’ve written was “Most Expensive and Cheapest Gas Prices around the World.”  I spent a lot of time researching and playing with numbers to make sure this was an accurate piece.   (That’s saying a lot for someone who compared math teachers to nazis.)  Not only that but I choose the keywords and title for this article carefully.  It was well researched, SEO optimized, and had all the right ingredients to come out to be a masterpiece the internet would love.  Except… it failed miserably.

How does a blogger know when great blog posts have failed?  Usually it’s when you’ve put a ton of effort into an article and nobody comments on it, nobody shares it on social media networks, and basically nobody likes it since Google Analytics is not showing anyone landing on it.  This is exactly what happened with my gas prices article.  Even though I did a lot of research and put a lot of time into writing it, people for some were not attracted to it.

To this day I still don’t really understand why.  Usually in author’s mind the post they wrote was “Epic” or “Awesome” or choose another word to insert here.  This is basically what I thought but I was wrong.  Hard to admit but it’s true.

Let me tell you something, it doesn’t matter how much money you have to analyze data.  It’s damn near impossible  to predict what articles Google will rank you for, people will share, connect with and comment on.  Talk to professional bloggers and they will tell you the same thing.  “I spent hours writing what I thought was a great post, but nobody commented on it.  Then I just posted a picture with a few words and everyone commented on it.” was something I heard at Affiliate Summit recently.  Several other successful bloggers complained about the same thing.

This is really not an uncommon discussion to have with bloggers across the spectrum and different niches.  Sometimes it’s just hard to know even if you’ve put in the time, research, and effort.  Those great blog posts that everyone loves seem harder to come by then a white truffle sometimes.

This is why I encourage blog coaching clients I work with to focus on Quantity over Quality in the beginning.  Sure, it’s hard to know what other people will think is a great blog post but if you don’t have enough posts up to see what people are landing on, it is even harder to know what you should be writing about.  The more content you have the easier it will be to know and figure it out.   Still, you will be pulling your hair out like other bloggers because it can drive you mad.

Maybe you can read my gas prices article and tell me why it sucks and nobody liked it?  Have you experienced the struggle to find those elusive epic and great blog posts?  I’d love to hear your frustrations and blog bombs too.

When Starting a Blog Focus on Quantity over Quality

quantity over qualityIf you are someone new to the world of blogging then I recommend that you focus your efforts on Quantity over Quality.  Notice I did not say “quality” first I said “quantity.”  When starting a blog I encourage clients I work with to put their efforts toward writing a lot of posts instead making them awesome.

I know this is not what most people are used to hearing and most other bloggers and writers will preach the opposite, Quality over Quantity.  That’s not necessarily the best thought process when you are starting a blog.  The reason?  You will get too concerned with writing great blog posts, when in reality it’s not going to happen if you are new and not used to doing it.

Looking back at my first blog posts, I cringe.  I was not that great of a writer but with effort, time, and lots of practice my writing has improved a lot.  Now I am a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) and the International Motor Press Association (IMPA).

I want you to embrace the fact that your first blog posts are going to well… kind of suck.  That is just the reality of learning to blog.  Once you can accept that in your head you will be ready to focus on getting articles up, a lot.  If you learn to do this consistently and develop what I like to call a ‘Blogging Rhythm’ then writing killer blog posts will come naturally.  Quantity over Quality is going to help you make this happen.  Also you will get faster at writing which is an important skill to master.

For a second I want you to think back to your language classes in school.  Remember when the teacher would ask you to say a sentence.  You would try and then she would say, “No you are not using the correct noun.”  You would try again and get something else wrong.  The best way to learn a language is not how it was taught in textbooks or the classroom.  The best way is total language immersion.  This is where you either move to the country or the teacher doesn’t speak a word of English to you.  This forces a student to think harder and work on speaking a lot of say French.  Total immersion language programs focus on the quantity of language instead of the quality in which you speak.  Eventually, hopefully, you will speaking of French will improve over time.

In addition if you don’t have many blog posts up to see what people are landing on, it’s kind of hard to know what you should be tailoring your writing on.  If you are working on quanity over quality, and not quality over quantity, of your posts you will have a better idea of what is working and not working for your blog.  I am prepared for the nasty emails and comments for saying this, but it’s true.  Besides, I can tell you from experience running different sites that cover a range of topics.

I see a lot of clients say they struggle to come up with articles that will ‘engage’ their audience.  Well I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but if your blog is brand new you don’t have a readership base.  You you have few posts up there isn’t much reason for someone to find your blog, stay on it, and follow you.  It’s a hard truth but that is the reality.

I just want people to understand I am not saying to throw-up a lot of bad blog posts at the beginning.  I just want you to realize that your first blog posts are not going to be perfect and I see too many clients I work with struggle.  They spend hours refining a single blog post almost to the point they don’t want to read it or write anymore.  That’s just not a good way to start your online career.

If you are not comfortable with my suggestion to put up articles as often as you can I understand.  Coming up with content daily or several times a day is quite difficult.  If it was easy though everyone would be blogging.

Few people are going to have a ton of success when they first start.  I didn’t and it’s taken me several years to be able to get to this point.  (I still have a long way to go.)  While I would link-up to some of my past bad blog posts I am not going to and hope that you just don’t visit or see them.  🙂

What do you think of my decree to focus on quantity over quality?  Is this just crazy or are you going to accept my challenge?

Paid Links, one of Blogging’s Dirty Secrets

paid links

A few weeks ago I was reading a few successful and highly trafficked blogs.  I was quickly looking through what I thought was a well written article when all of a sudden the article flow came to a halt and I noticed something interesting but not unusual… paid links in the article.

Was I surprised?  No, not really since paid links are one of the dirty little secrets in blogging and the SEO (search engine optimization) industry that nobody really likes to talk about.  However, I will since I am not afraid of touching on taboo internet marketing topics I will.

What are Paid Links?

Paid Links are pretty self-explanatory and sound exactly like what you think they are.  It’s when a site owner or blogger agrees to place a link on their website in exchange for cash.  The link is mostly always a DoFollow link which passes pagerank onto the other site.  Sometimes the SEO company gives you the article content and other times they’d rather a blogger work the link into an article so it makes sense.

The amount of money a company has to pay is usually determined by a site’s pagerank, age of the domain, authority of the site, amount of traffic, and the authority of the blogger.  I’ve seen some people charge as much as $1,500+ per year for a link.  Sounds like a lot but when you hear what some SEO agencies charge, some bloggers should be asking for more.

In case of of the big time blogger I was reading she probably charged a lot for the link since it was for freezing women’s eggs (embryos).  More importantly her demographic seems to be women 22-40 years old.  The medical company was aiming for wealthy women 20-30 years old probably.  (Although the article and blog is not entirely aimed at women.)  Most people know that health (and fitness) is a very profitable internet vertical.  If you are in fertility and cord blood and can manage to get paid for a link for it, that’s some serious money.

What does Google think of Paid Links?

Google frowns upon companies and people paying for links and it is against their Webmaster guidelines.  (It would be good to read them if you haven’t by the way.)  However, few people that engage in paid link schemes get caught.

Since Google is not on the side of bloggers making any real money honestly… fuck them.  They are many ways to monetize a blog but few that pay well enough so you can make a living.  Paid links are one of the best and most profitable solutions if you are someone with an authority blog.  (Of course creating an authority blog nowadays is no easy task.)

The blogger in question will probably never get caught and will not face any Google penalties.  I don’t like she was using paid links and misleading her readers, but quite honestly it’s not like I don’t understand why she was doing it and haven’t seen it before.

Keep in mind Google employs engineers that can’t read for shit.  Just look at search results for competitive topics like domain names, web hosting, medicine, etc.  Low quality spammy sites still rank 1st or 2nd in a lot of cases.

How Did You Know the article had Paid Links?

It wasn’t like the blogger explicitly said, “Hey these are paid links.” but I knew immediately since;

  1. The article lost it’s flow at that point.
  2. They were medical related sites for freezing women’s eggs.  Which in turn made me say, “WTF is this?”
  3. The keywords used were highly competitive.
  4. It was deep linked URL.

When you add it all up it was clear this blogger’s article on, “6 Things to do in your 20s to make your 30s good” had paid links placed in it.  At least that is my “expert” opinion.

Paid Links Conclusion

Next time you are reading one of the millions of blogs out on the internet I encourage my readers to be aware of paid links.  It’s good to be aware of how other bloggers monetization and content strategies.  This is why I try to read a wide variety of authors and bloggers.  You get an idea of how they target their content and who they is reading them, especially when you notice paid links.

On this blog I’ve had plenty of link requests but since it is a personal blog, I do not accept any of them.  I haven’t been offered money for this blog yet but if a person or company did, I wouldn’t accept it.

What do you think of paid links?  Is it ok for a blogger to use them to cover the costs and time they need to put into a blog?  Should they be upfront with readers?  Have you been offered money for a link on your site?