Should Bloggers Join ClickASnap?

What is ClickASnap?

ClickASnap is a photo sharing site that allows free hosting for your photos and the opportunity to share them. Those on the free plan may upload up to seven photos a day without charge. There are also plans that allow you to upload unlimited photos and even sell your work as digital or print products which you do not have to ship. I am currently on the seller plan, though I don’t yet have anything for sale. I simply wanted to upload more than seven photos a day to get off to a quick start. You can see all the plans here.

Poster: Sunset on Ventura Beach in December PosterPoster: Sunset on Ventura Beach in December Poster

Why I Joined ClickASnap

I love photography, though I’m still definitely an amateur. It’s my hobby, and my favorite form of exercise is a photo walk. Sometimes that gets me into a predicament, as it did on my way home from a photo walk one night.

I often take several hundred photos a week to use as as inspiration or illustration for  blog posts.  I have used some to make products for my Zazzle stores. This post is mostly illustrated with Zazzle products from my two stores. Only one of these photos has been uploaded to ClickASnap, but all of them have been popular and sold on Zazzle. Don’t feel you have to be a pro to join either ClickASnap or Zazzle.

Poster of Paso Robles Wine CountryPoster of Paso Robles Wine Country

Most photos, though, sit in my files until I want to use them as illustrations for online writing.  I’d like to be able to share them more widely.

When I learned I could make a bit of extra cash by sharing them with others on ClickASnap, I decided to try it. I have been active for almost a month now and as of today, at the rate of .0014 a view of five seconds or more, I’ve made $1.79. I realize I won’t get rich anytime soon on this, but it’s more than I’m making as interest on my bank savings. Currently I have uploaded 225 photos, and most have only been on the site for about two weeks.

If I wanted to, I could sell my  work there, but at this time I don’t feel ready to do that. I can do better concentrating on my Zazzle stores. One other thing to consider if you are American is that ClickASnap is a British site and pays in pounds. The exchange rate does not currently favor the American dollar.

Friendship Card, Peach Canyon Winery Cats CardFriendship Card, Peach Canyon Winery Cats Card

What Are the Non-Cash Benefits?

For me, the most important benefit is a free education from those photographers with more experience than I have. There are many professional photographers displaying and selling work on the site. Many have made helpful video tutorials posted on YouTube that teach me not only more about photography, but also about how to make the most of ClickASnap. One of these is Mike Browne. See Mike’s Channel for some great information.

Another benefit is getting timely feedback from other ClickASnap members. Members who view your photos can comment on them or ask questions. Some of these comments are helpful critiques, especially if you ask for such feedback in your photo description.

When members view your photos they can also “like” them. You can sort your uploaded photos in order of those most viewed and most liked. I’m going to use this feedback in deciding which photos may do well in my badly neglected Zazzle stores. I can also use the feedback to select the photos to post on my blogs.

I don’t sell on ClickASnap yet because I haven’t uploaded my photos at the highest resolution possible. I still need to learn more about my camera settings, as well, if I’m going to get better photos. But If you have high resolution photos you want to sell there, Mike Brown explains how to set your products up on ClickASnap.

 

People to Follow On ClickASnap

To get the most out of ClickASnap, it pays to follow the right people. In my  opinion, those are the people who take time to comment on the photos of others, share the work of others, and post quality photos themselves. It helps if they have a lot of followers. That makes it more likely members you don’t know will see your comments on their posts and decide to follow you.

Of course, I love it when people follow me. I  post mostly about nature, trees, slices of everyday life, and California scenes. See my most popular photos on the site.

Here are some of the people I like to follow.  If you click their names, the links will take you to a page with their most popular photos. All of them are active members as I write this. They describe their photos so you know a bit of the story behind them. Stop by and look at some of their photos. See if maybe you might want to add your own photos to the site.

Joe Lightheart is one of my favorites. He lives in Hawaii and posts some magnificent sky and water photos. You don’t want to miss seeing his work. He comments often.

CarolDM posts wonderful nature photos. Her special interests are sunsets, flowers, butterflies, and birds. You don’t want to miss her photos if you love nature.  She also comments a lot.

Elenka Smilenova was born in Bulgaria and now lives in Spain, so she has pictures from parts of the world I’ve never seen. She uses the handle “lacho0159” on ClickASnap. Her nature photos are superb, but she doesn’t limit herself to that subject.  She also likes vintage vehicles.

Atiephotography is a hobby photographer living in North-Holland who posts to a variety of subjects. The descriptions aren’t as long as some of the others on this list, but at least you know what you are seeing. The photos are wonderful.

There are many others I follow, and many of them are pros, but you need to explore the site for yourself. I haven’t enough room here to mention everyone I follow. I also left off some pros who post spectacular photos with almost no descriptions, and titles with little information. I found them by clicking “Explore” at the top of the page and then choosing “Recently Uploaded” from the dropdown menu. Only active members have uploaded recently. Then I click to the photos I like best to see the profile. Often they are by people I already follow, but sometimes I discover new people to follow this way.

Why Photo Bloggers  Should Join ClickASnap

 

Morro Rock, Fishing Boats and the Embarcadero Canvas PrintMorro Rock, Fishing Boats and the Embarcadero Canvas Print

  1. By looking at a lot of excellent photos posted by others, you will learn to improve your own.
  2. By viewing a profile’s photos sorted with most popular first, you will get a feel for what styles and subjects are most popular site-wide.
  3. By analyzing the  photos others post, you can see their strengths and weaknesses and apply that knowledge to your own work.
  4. You can get feedback on your photos from others. People don’t earn anything by liking and commenting, so they tend to be honest.
  5. You can publish the link to your blog and social media pages on your profile and get more traffic.
  6. You can earn a bit of extra income to help pay blogging expenses.
  7. You can relax by interacting with other photographers and taking a break from writing by switching from verbal to visual experiences.

How To Increase Your ClickASnap Earnings

I’m still in the process of learning this. If you are on the free plan, you can only upload seven photos a day. If you make the most of that you will have 49 new photos each week. Believe me, it takes time to correctly title, describe, and tag your photos to bring you search traffic. Mike Browne explains the best way to do his in his video on describing and tagging.

If you upload seven photos a day you will have almost 200 posted in a month.  Many of those on the paid plans who are pros have less photos than that posted. The key is to post your best photos and describe and tag them well. I found when I was on the free plan it was all I could do to get those seven photos a day posted and tagged. At the end of this month I will probably go back on the free plan. It’s nice we can switch back and forth. Of course, if you have products listed for sale, you’d need to stay on a paid plan

Getting More Views

As all bloggers know, networking and building relationships is important for bringing in traffic. It works the same way on ClickASnap. When I joined, I discovered a few of my blogging buddies I’d met on other sites were also here. So I followed them.

As I viewed and commented on their photos I checked the profiles of those commenting on their photos to see if they were still active. If they posted photos I found interesting, I liked and commented on their photos and followed them.  Many followed me back.

For the relationships to do the most good, you need to keep viewing the new photos your friends post. Remember to spend at least five seconds on each of them you find interesting so your friend will get a paid view. Like or comment on some so that your friend will know you viewed them. Be sure to respond to any comments you get.

Most of your views will probably come from the site itself, but if you do a good job on your tagging and descriptions, you may also bring in traffic from Google.  When someone visits one of your photos, you want to keep them there for at least five seconds.

How to Encourage People to Linger Over Your Photo

Rocky Cambria, California, Coastline at Sunset PostcardRocky Cambria, California, Coastline at Sunset Postcard

To be counted as a paid view, someone needs to spend five seconds looking at your photo. That’s one reason I try to describe it well. Some parts of your photo may not be obvious. Explain to your viewer what he might not notice at first glance so he can look for it. Give some background information.  When the title and description are identical and say something like “Sunset 2,” it doesn’t take much time to read.

I’m surprised many people don’t even post the country where they took a photo. The site is world wide. I don’t expect someone living in the UK to have heard of my small town, let alone someone in Slovenia.

Some photographers include information about how and why they  took a photo  or processed it afterwards. This helps others learn. It also keeps them on the photo’s page longer. Don’t leave your viewer wondering what they are seeing or where it is. If you know the name of the tree or flower or city or landmark, mention it. That also gives Google more to work with.

Simi Valley as seen from Reagan Library PostcardSimi Valley as seen from Reagan Library Postcard

Why Not Share Your Own Photos On ClickASnap?

Whether your goal is to earn a bit of money by sharing photos, to improve your photography, or just to relax and enjoy the networking, you should join ClickASnap. The site has improved a lot over the last year, and many  issues people complained about in comments on  the videos have been resolved.  The site is free as long as you don’t mind the limitations and you don’t want to sell on the site. You can always upgrade or downgrade if you decide you should be on a different plan.

If you are already a member of ClickASnap,  please leave your profile link in the comments so I can visit your profile. Please do the same if you join after reading this so that I can see your photos. When you leave your link, please also share your most frequent or favorite photo subjects. Links to sites other than ClickASnap will not get through moderation.

Should Bloggers Join ClickASnap? Some reasons why I think so.

If you found this post helpful,  please share it. The photo above is perfect for Pinterest.

 

 

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me

What Is Virily?

After Niume closed, many of my friends joined Virily and convinced me to join. Facebook sharing groups were suddenly flooded with Virily posts. Everyone seemed to be talking about or posting to Virily. I finally decided to join and discovered I’d already joined four months before and forgotten about it. I guess after my accident in June I didn’t have time to really get active. Or maybe the site didn’t appeal to me any more then than it does now.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
Share Content at Virily and Earn Virils. Click image to join

Virily is a social site that gives you “Virils”for different kinds of participation. The Viril points you earn will convert to dollar amounts when they reach the level needed for a payout — $10 for PayPal, and $100 if you prefer a bank transfer.

Members of Virily post original stories, lists, photos, quizzes, and other content they want to share.  Other members view that content, comment on it, and share it to social media. They can also interact by voting content up and down.  Non-members may view content, but they can’t comment on it or post anything themselves.  You can join Virily and join the conversation here. 

Because they can earn Virils for almost everything they do on the site, members tend to interact with the content of others a lot. Both those who make the posts and those who interact with them earn Virils. Comments need to be at least 20 characters long to prevent the repetitious “Nice post” type comments that were prevalent before this rule was instituted.  I think they should make it 30 characters. I still see people trying to game the system.

 

What I Like about Virily

Most active members do try to play fair.

Many Virily members are also members of more established sites and/or have blogs of their own. They post interesting content and make intelligent comments on the posts of others. They have their reputations to maintain and are trying to make more contacts with a wider audience.

Others enjoy keeping up with old friends who moved to Virily after Niume closed.  I’m finding people at Virily I first met on Tsu or Bubblews, as well. I’m  also meeting many new people.

I find Virily relaxing when I have time for it. The problem is that I have too many of my own sites to post to, as well as more established third party sites such as HubPages.  I can only visit Virily when it doesn’t mean neglecting those sites.  But I do find some good conversations to get into on Virily. Yesterday one of them was on this post: Are Panhandlers Swindling Us?   I got really involved in commenting on that one.

 

There Is Lots of Interaction and Motivation to be Active

Members do get Virils for sharing content and commenting on what others post. They get even more Virils for posting content and recruiting new members. Who wouldn’t want to earn more Virils to reach a payout faster?

If Virils aren’t motivating enough, members see badges appearing on their profiles when they have performed a required amount of actions the site rewards. These include recruiting new members, referring visitors to the site, posting content, commenting on the posts of others, viewing the content of others, and logging onto the site regularly.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
Screen shot of the part of my Virily profile that shows the few badges I’ve earned so far.

 

Some Things I Don’t Like as Much about Virily

Documentation is Sketchy

Writing at Virily is experimental until you understand what each kind of post actually does.  The instructions for the different kinds of acceptable posts are sparse. The Frequently Asked Questions don’t include most of mine.

Here’s an example. Among the post options are three different kinds of lists where it’s stated underneath that you can vote the items up or down. There is also a gallery, for which the only description is “a collection of images.” This is what I submitted as a gallery: Autumn Roses.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
An October Rose, © B. Radisavljevic

The form I had to use was confusing. First they ask for an  intro photo. There was a place under that for me to write a general introduction to my photo gallery. So far so good. Then they repeated my intro photo as the first photo in the gallery. I wrote something about that specific photo under it. As I added each photo I presented each rose with specific personality characteristics, each photo with a transition to the next in a logical order. Then I submitted it.

Ooops! When I looked at my gallery the photos were out of the order I’d put them in and the story line no longer made sense. So I chatted up the person responding to the chat button for help. She said I should have submitted my photo essay as a story, since people could vote the gallery photos up and down, thus taking them out of the order I had put them in. So, why was there no explanation of that before I posted? I can’t go back and edit because of another thing I don’t like.

You Have to Wait for Approval Before Publication

Once you submit a post for publication, you wait for someone to approve it. I really hate that, especially since most of the documentation that exists on the site isn’t in perfect standard English and I wonder who is deciding if my post is good enough to publish. So far I’ve had no problem. I think they are more concerned that you follow rules about documentation and acceptable content.

If You Want to Edit Something Already Published, You Can’t

If a typo gets by me and gets published, I can’t edit it without contacting support and getting support to do it for me. I’m pretty independent, so that bugs me. I know they do it to protect themselves against people adding things against the rules after the post has been approved. I don’t blame them, but I hate being treated as untrustworthy.

This also is an issue if you need to update something in a post that is now obsolete or can be supplemented with new information.

Note: When I wrote what’s above I hadn’t watched the help videos yet because I don’t learn  well that way. I did it today, and I guess there is an explanation in the video about galleries and voting up and down. I prefer help files  I can read. 

Help Is Often Very Slow.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
Sometimes there is a long wait for answers from Chat

The first time I talked to chat the agent was very responsive and it was almost instant. Tonight I was writing a post I wanted to submit tonight. I decided to switch my own intro photo for one from Pixabay I thought was more appropriate. Unlike all the other photos I can embed, there is nowhere I can see to put the link to my source on the intro photo. It doesn’t have the same icons for source and alternate text as all the photos you can embed.

This left me wondering if it’s against the rules to use any but an original photo as an intro photo. Or maybe you don’t have to source that one. If it’s against the rules, I would need to find something of my own somewhere. Otherwise they might not accept what I’ve spent an hour working on.

I waited about four hours for the chat person to answer my question. While I was waiting the only response I got was to tell me that it may be a few minutes and to ask if I’d like to play a game while I wait. I declined. I worked on writing this, instead. In all fairness, there is a time difference. It appears I live on the wrong side of the world to get immediate chat assistance. The agent appeared about 1 am Pacific time, and then she was very responsive and quickly answered my questions. The intro image doesn’t have to have the source documented, in case you wanted to know.

Maybe I’m so dumb I need more instructions than others, but I don’t really think that’s the problem. The problem is that I’m constantly wondering how to do something properly. The FAQ rarely address my issues. As far as I know, this doesn’t bother other Virily writers.

 

Why I Hesitate to Get Really Active on Virily

  • It’s addictive: I’m competitive and find myself wanting to get on the Leaderboard or get a higher rank than Newbie. Oh, I just discovered I’ve graduated to Skyrocket, whatever that means. There is no explanation I can find of what causes one’s rank to go up. If I click on Rank on the menu I see only the highest fifty members and their positions and points. I don’t have enough points to get there yet. It’s easy to get caught up in trying. It would be fun if I were convinced it was a worthwhile investment of time.
  • I don’t expect Virily to last very long in Internet time: With its Viril reward system rewarding so many actions besides actual writing, I don’t see how it will make enough money to last longer than Bubblews, Niume, Tsu, Squidoo, Blogjob, Persona Paper and other social blogging sites that are now history or have stopped paying contributors.
  • I might still enjoy Virily, but I don’t have a lot of free time to invest in third-party sites.  I’ll be lucky if I get a first payout before Virly closes down, but I may be wrong. I consider Virily more recreation than income-producing.

If you think you might enjoy sharing posts on Virily or commenting on those of your friends, please click this link or the image below to join Virily. 

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site

 

How to Make Backup Copies of Your Posts on Closing Sites

Niume Is Gone

It disappeared on October 2, 2017. I’m glad I made  copies of my work the instant I suspected it was on the way out. My sign it was fading was when they stopped paying. I started checking my backups immediately and they were in place by the time the site closed.

I usually make a backup copy of any important post when I publish it. I used to do this only with a text document. Recently I also started making copies as complete web pages as explained below. I like being able to see which photos and videos I used and where I put them.

How to Make Backup Copies of Your Posts on Closing Sites
How to Make Backup Copies of Your Posts on Closing Sites

 

Here’s How I Copied My Data

This will work for any site. Go to the post you want to copy and copy as complete webpage in your browser. I use Chrome, and this is how I do it.

  1. Click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of your browser bar.
  2. Mouse over “More Tools.”
  3. Select “Save page as.”
  4. A “Save” screen will appear.
  5. Choose a name for your file and a folder to put it in.
  6. Make sure the “Save as” type says “Webpage, Complete” as in the image below.
  7. Here’s the image I snipped an image of that screen.
How to Make Backup Copies of Your Posts on Closing Sites
How to Save as Complete Webpage

I have a folder for blog backups and a subfolder for each blog or writing site. I normally make text files as I write posts now and save them — just in case. You can see I saved this under niume backups, and I gave this a file name. (In this case, I saved this edit page as the file name, since I wasn’t going to save it, just snip the process.) Although I usually have the text file files for my posts saved, I also like to save them as they looked online so I can remember which images I used where.

What Next?

Now you have to decide what to do with all your beautiful work. I will be trying to move it into my own blogs or websites. If you don’t have your own blog yet, I’d recommend hosting one yourself that no one can take out from under you. I use SiteGround for hosting my most important WordPress.org sites. Here’s why.

Web Hosting

 

I no longer use free blogging sites because they are harder to monetize and because the owners can change the rules or even disappear. Self-hosted WordPress sites offer features free sites don’t. They also give you complete control over your site. Of course, it’s up to you to follow Google or other advertiser guidelines if you want to monetize with ads. And you will also need to follow any rules your affiliated sites or networks set for their affiliates.

You may also want to check out these posts: Four Things You Need to Do When a Writing Site Closes and Should You Start a Blog?

If you have questions on what to do next, feel free to leave it in the comments. Or you may want to share what you plan to do with those niume posts. Godspeed on the next step of your blogging journey.

To stay in touch with your blogging buddies from every site, you may want to join myLot. It’s free and still pays a bit for participating in its discussions. Meet me there and connect.

How to Make Backup Copies of Your Posts on Closing Sites

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3 Reasons I Won’t Follow You On Twitter

Why I Do Follow People on Twitter

I’m always looking for new people to follow on Twitter, but I’m fussy.  I want to follow people with some interests in common from whom I might learn something new.  And I want to follow people who might actually want to interact — not just post and run.

3 Reasons I Won't Follow You On Twitter
I want to follow people who might actually want to interact

Since I wasn’t sure how to find the right people to follow, I finally broke down and bought a book to teach me more than I knew.  I reviewed Tweep-e-licious in a  post on Review This! If you are also looking for help on Twitter, you, too, might want to get Tweep_e_licious. I got many new tips from reading this book. More of the right people are following back now, and we are actually talking to each other.

3 Reasons I Won't Follow You On Twitter
3 Reasons I Won’t Follow Someone On Twitter

3 Reasons Why I Won’t Follow Someone on Twitter

1 – The Twitter profile doesn’t provide enough information to make a good following decision 

Let’s say you have followed me. Have you made it easy for me to look at your profile and follow you back? Not if you decide to protect your tweets when you set up your profile. Not if you use “True Twit” so that I have to take time to verify before I can follow you. If you do these things, it’s like telling people you really don’t want them to follow you or follow you back.

If it appears someone is stalking you or behaving in ways you don’t like, you can block them or report them. As for finding out if people are real, check their profiles. I never follow someone I don’t know until I’ve done that.

How I Tell if a Tweep is Real and Active

 

3 Reasons I Won't Follow You On Twitter
Be careful not to follow fake Tweeps

Real tweeps are serious about Twitter and post an avatar. They don’t leave the default egg avatar since most serious tweeps don’t follow eggs.

Serious tweeps fill out their profiles. Savvy ones make good use of all their 160 allowed characters. This helps other tweeps know what kind of tweets they can expect to see if they follow you.  I look for a real geographic location, as well — not something vague like The Universe.

Serious tweeps have feeds that seem related to the interests in their profiles.  If the profile indicates the tweep is a social media guru who likes dogs and music, for example, you would expect so see tweets on using social media, some dog photos, and maybe some favorite music videos or articles about bands.  You would not expect to see a feed full of unrelated shocking or weird photos from exotic places and very little information about social media.

That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be some variety, but it becomes obvious when you’ve looked at enough profiles to recognize those that don’t post anything original. Instead, their feeds are full of retweets and bizarre photos to get attention. Serious tweeps fill their feeds with links to valuable or fun resources and photos that are related to their stated interests. Sometimes their tweets are original observations or questions to encourage interaction.

Active tweeps tweet. They don’t leave a week or a month between tweets. They appear daily most of the time. The tops of their profiles will show they’ve  tweeted at least 300 times for each year they’ve been on Twitter.

My largest account at Twitter, @barbsbooks, shows I’ve tweeted on the average around 5 times a day. I probably tweeted less when I first started, and now I try to tweet at least ten times a  day not counting interactions. Someone who has never tweeted but has lots of followers or is following lots of people is probably a fake, along with many of his followers.

2 – There’s too much obvious automation

Many Twitter gurus encourage tweeps to automate their interactions with a program called Crowdfire. When people use the free version, it advertises its presence with every tweet. It loves to report on follows and unfollows, as do some other automated programs. It can leave you with a feed like this one. This is just part of the feed. It went on like this throughout several scrolls. In fact, there was nothing else I could see.

3 Reasons I Won't Follow You On Twitter
Boring Automated Twitter feed

Is that what you want to see every time a person tweets? Boring! Just a string of commercials.

Another thing Crowdfire will do is see who you interact with and send automated @______ shout out tweets to those who have interacted with you the most. Of course, the free version lets everyone who gets the tweet know that you didn’t personally send that message. When I see these automated tweets I often wonder if the person posting them ever really personally interacts with followers.

3 – I see no interaction with other tweeps

A person’s Twitter profile will give you a good idea if that person does more on Twitter than post and leave. Right above the feed on the profile is a header next to Tweets: Tweets and Replies. Click it and you will see any replies that person made to other Tweeps.

Also, check the tweets themselves to see if there are any you would be tempted to reply to. Any questions to answer? Any topic you have an opinion about? Can you find anything on their profile you want to share or retweet? If so, do it. If there is something to reply to, reply with your comment. See if the Tweep responds within a few days.

How to Make Others Want to Follow you on Twitter

You can start by showing you are an active serious tweep. Make a profile that explains what you’re about and then tweet accordingly.  I have three accounts, each with a different avatar and profile description. Each is meant to attract a different target audience.  See them below.

Examples of Twitter Profiles I Am Using
My Twitter Profiles

Before I tweet, I check my own profile to see if that tweet fits my stated interests for that account or the audience that follows me. Example: Although on @barbsbooks I mostly tweet about books, blogging, and education, I know I also have some artists and travel bloggers following that profile. For this reason, I sometimes tweet or retweet something relevant to them, usually something related to nature, which is a stated interest.

I no longer join promotion groups on Facebook that require everyone to retweet what everyone else in the group posts. That would require me to send tweets that have little to do with what my audience expects from me. Those tweets would dilute my brand.

Are You Doing Any of the Three Things Above That Might Keep People from Following You?

If you are, all those things are easy to correct.  Spiff up your profile in a few minutes. Tweet more often and tweet more of what your followers expect from you. Keep your profile visible to all and stop using “True Twit” to make it harder for people to follow you. Start doing more live interacting, or even scheduled interacting, without depending so much on free automated programs that leave their footprints.

3 Reasons I Won't Follow You On Twitter

If you make a few or all of these changes, you should see more people start to follow you.  If you tweet content that interests them, the followers you already have will probably stay with you. If you make these changes,  I would see no reason not to follow you on Twitter.

Do you need more help? Try one of these highly reviewed books. Yes, I checked the authors’ Twitter profiles before recommending these. I eliminated two books because I had more followers than their authors. I’ve also read Tweep-e-licious and found it a valuable resource.

Twitter for Writers: The Author's Guide to Tweeting Success (Writer's Craft Book 8)Twitter for Writers: The Author’s Guide to Tweeting Success (Writer’s Craft Book 8)Tweep-E-Licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business EthicallyTweep-E-Licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically>

Do you have any Twitter tips you’d like to share?

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A Shocking Surprise at WordPress.com

A Shocking Surprise: The New “Improved” Editor at WordPress.com

When I recently returned to the free version of WordPress after a long absence, I was shocked to see how much the editor had changed. I had started a business blog several years ago before I could self-host WordPress. I discovered that for some reason I was getting new subscribers, so I returned to write a new post for them.  The new “improved” editor was very frustrating.

It’s apparently designed for those trying to blog from mobile devices, but it’s agony for those of us on desktops. What’s worse is that you can’t easily find a way to write new posts in the old Classic Editor. The new dashboard associated with the new editor is also confusing — especially if you also have self-hosted blogs tied into JetPack.

The New  Dashboard at the Free Version WordPress

First, let’s see how your posts look in the new editor’s dashboard. As you can see in the image below, instead of the compact list you find in your dashboard on self-hosted blogs, you see previews, including images, of your posts. You need to do a lot of scrolling to find the one you want.

A Shocking Surprise at WordPress.com
Blog post list on new WordPress.com Dashboard

It’s harder to see your previously created tags so that you can put them on the new post. Instead of seeing a cloud of tags, you see a list you have to scroll and click on one at a time. What a pain! Previous tags may appear if you start writing a tag that starts with the same letters.

The New “Improved” Editor on the Free WordPress Version

The image below shows how the new “improved”editor itself looks.

A Shocking Surprise at WordPress.com
Screenshot of New ‘Improved” Editor

As you can see, this offers no view of the handy interfaces for Zemanta, categories, tags, and the Save, Preview, and Publish buttons in the upper right corner where you are used to finding them on the right sidebar.  They are on the upper left, except you only see the Save button if the post was not saved automatically.

The reason you don’t see those handy things is because most of them aren’t options in the free version of WordPress.com. The free version also limits you to 3GB of storage for your images.

Also, unless you turn it off, you have no choice in picking your related posts — even if you can see your Zemanta interface. If you check the box to show related posts, you will see a row of them. On my new post, the same linked image was repeated several times to fill the available space, since links were all picked by computer. If you want to show related posts you pick yourself, you will have to upgrade or get a self-hosted site. My related links looked so bad I turned them off.

When I started my blog at WordPress.com, it appeared I had a lot of freedom — as long as I didn’t try to monetize it. I could only link to non-affiliated pages. Unlike a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can’t place ads in your sidebar or anywhere else. If you upgrade to a paid version, they will take the ads they profit from off. To remove the ads and be able to profit from your own ads, you will pay WordPress.com $8.95 a month. It costs $2.95 a month just to remove the ads.

Upgrades offer you more space and added features, but for a price.  By the time you pay the price for a premium plan, you might as well self-host and get a lot more features and control. This is especially true if you use the link below. Then you can place ads on your site and use affiliate links to help pay your hosting expenses.

Self-Host with SiteGround

 

A Shocking Surprise at WordPress.com

I have been hosting several sites on SiteGround for over a year now. Their support people got me through a tough migration with no problems. They are reasonably priced and your web site is kept safely backed up.  My sites hosted at SiteGround load more quickly than my sites hosted at GoDaddy.   SiteGround also offers the best WordPress support and security.

Here are three reasons I chose SiteGround

Are You Starting Your First Blog?

A Shocking Surprise at WordPress.com

If you want to monetize your blog, you should seriously consider investing in a course taught by experienced affiliate marketers who have proved they have made a good blogging income . I believe the best blogging course value for those interested in affiliate marketing is Pajama Affiliates. Click the photo above to check out their courses.  Usually at least one of them is one sale.  You may want to read these posts before you start your blog.

A Shocking Surprise at WordPress.com

 

 

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Niume! Should You Dabble or Plunge In? Update

What is Niume?

Niume is a relative newcomer to the social blogging world. Co-founders Francesco  Facca and Daniel Gennaouli pitch it as a social network based on interests. They say its purpose is to bring people who share common interests together. Site owners want to provide a level playing field for people who want to share their content. They commit to sharing revenue with the users for the content they provide. Users will earn $1 for every thousand views their posts generate.

Update, May 28, 2017: Niume has announced that they will stop paying.

Niumi Has Many Spheres of Interest to Match Your Writing Interests
Click the image to join Niumi.

Niume currently has twenty spheres of interest. You need to sign up for at least three of them when you join. Each sphere has its own leaderboard to encourage people to be active in their spheres. Users also receive “hype” as readers view their posts and give them a thumbs up or favorite them. This adds to a user’s status. This status is earned separately in each sphere. Higher status leads to more visibility in a sphere. Commenting on the content of others also helps raise one’s status.

The Nitty Gritty of Niume

There is much to like about Niume. It is easy to find readers for your content. The guidelines don’t require more than five lines of text at this time. Most of the content I’ve seen so far is of higher quality than on many other similar sites. Competition within spheres for status motivate one to be active and participate.

There are also some things I think need improvement. The editor doesn’t work as it should, especially with regard to embedded links. Those getting started may find it hard to learn how to be successful on the site. Support is scattered between videos, a FAQ page, and a number of blog posts. It almost takes a treasure hunt and an email to find the answer to your particular question.

Will Niume Help You Reach Your Goals?

Will Niume Help You Reach Your Writing Goals
Click the image to join Niumi.

If your goal is to earn money, Niume can no longer help you there. They will no longer be paying.  See details in this official post at Niume. 

Niume may also help you find a wider audience for your content and help you promote your work on other sites. Affiliate links are against the guidelines, but you can link to your website or store as long as your links don’t appear to be clickbait and your post doesn’t come across as spam.

It is interesting that one of the reviews I read of Niume was in a post written in April,   2015.  I can’t find the post again to link to it, but it reviewed six other  revenue- sharing social sites in addition to Niumi. Two of them were Bubblews and Tsu, both of which are now gone.  I believe Niume has something in common with them — the ability to distract one from creating on one’s own domains.

It Takes Time to Make Niume Pay Off

I remember when we first discovered Bubblews. Many of us who were fairly successful on Squidoo and HubPages began to neglect those sites because they could not pay as much as Bubblews. We wrote and interacted on Bubblews as much as possible until it finally stopped paying us. Then we tried to pick up the pieces of our writing lives. By that time Squidoo was gone, too, and we needed to decide where to go next.

Many of us decided it was time to forget about writing new material on sites we didn’t own. Even when sites that showed promise, such as Blogbourne  wooed us, it was fairly easy to join, make a post or two, and come and go as we had time. It was easy to do the same on MyLot.

As on the Bubblews site, interaction is the key to gaining visibility. You need to raise your status to become more visible. You need to follow and find followers, write quality content, and read, give hype, and comment on the posts of others. You also need to promote your content. It takes time to gain the status you want, daily, and as time goes on.

Niume Can Tempt Bloggers to Neglect their Own Sites

Time you spend on Niume is fun. It’s competitive. It’s social. If you have your own blog, Niume may keep you from posting as often as you should. The amount of time we have is finite. Time spent on Niume will necessarily replace time spent somewhere else. Will you neglect another social media site like Facebook? Will you neglect one or more blogs? Will you give up another of the new third party content sites?

Today I was on Reddit and had to delete a post that I had moved from BlogJob to one of my own sites. I’m constantly having to delete pins and links from social media that lead to dead sites or sites I no longer use. I have to wonder if I will later have to remove links I made to newer third party sites like Niume. Time we invest into sites we own is an investment of  time that should continue to collect dividends in ad income and affiliate sales. What we post on third party sites, no matter how promising, can disappear at any time.

What Will You Do about Niume?

If you don’t want to own your own blogging sites, you might want to put your time and best effort into Niume.  It might mean less time to spend on other sites, but at least you will enjoy yourself. Just don’t count on Niume generating any income for you now.

Niume! Should You Dabble or Plunge In? Will Niume Help You Reach Your Writing Goals?

On the other hand, if you have your own blogging sites to maintain, Niume, may keep you away from them. It’s probably more important to concentrate on your self-hosted sites.  Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t make an occasional visit to post and interact on Niume.  Everyone needs a change of pace.

3 Reasons Why I Chose SiteGround

I Know My Sites Are in Good Hands With SiteGround Web Hosting

 

I decided to use SiteGround when a Set Up WordPress Site in One Day class I was taking recommended it. I was planning to start a new WordPress blog, and I wanted to follow the directions the teacher was giving us. That new blog is A California Life. I was so delighted with the customer support from SiteGround that I decided to move my oldest and most important site away  from Hostgator to SiteGround. I still have a few sites at GoDaddy, but after the complaints I just read about them, I just may start moving those, too.

3 Reasons Why I Chose SiteGround
Click Image to See Current Pricing.

 

I’m very happy with SiteGround. I’ve never had any downtime during this few months I’ve been with them. I’m getting good value for my money. My sites are  fast and safe, and customer and technical support have been superb.

My SiteGround Sites Load Quickly

My sites have lots of images and all have sidebars.  My most important site built with WordPress has both pages and blog posts. Check out the speed at which Books to Remember loads for yourself. Since the home page is short, with few images,  I’m going to send you to a page full of images: Marvin Terban and His Books.

A California Life is a travel blog, so it also has lots of images. Solving the Problems of Aging is my most neglected blog of my SiteGround hosted Blogs, so I’ll send you to my one post there so far How Family Members Can Support Each Other. Go ahead and test them for loading speed.

I Know My WordPress Site is Safe on SiteGround

When SiteGround learns about new WordPress vulnerabilities,   it moves quickly to patch them at the server level. The SiteGround technical team quickly acted to protect customers from vulnerabilities in  ImageMagick , for example. They also quickly patched a serious vulnerability in WPTouch, a popular WordPress plugin. SiteGround was also the first host to apply isolation to sites in a shared hosting environment.

Web Hosting

I Left HostGator Because I No Longer Trusted Their Tech Support

After my satisfying experience starting my first WordPress blog at SiteGround, I decided to move my oldest site. I had started that site in 1996 as my bookselling site. It was long before WordPress existed, and I’d built it in FrontPage, which Microsoft stopped supporting years ago. The replacement for it frustrated me, and I wanted to concentrate on my business — not the software.

I finally decided to retire to affiliate selling instead of shipping out actual product to customers. I also made up my mind it was time to switch my site to WordPress. It was a 600+ page site. I had a copy of it in the software on my computer. I had good traffic at the time and I didn’t want to lose it, so I called the host, Hostgator.

We discussed the issues, and the support person assured me he would create a test site in  WordPress for me to work on  while the original site was still up. That gave me time to get some content on the new site before making the switch. He said when I was ready, I could call any tech person to make the switch from the test site to the real site. He didn’t mention any charge for this.

When I was ready to make the switch, I was informed it would cost $75 and take much longer than the first tech had told me it would. I was not a happy camper. It didn’t help that every time I called, I waited on hold for what seemed like forever. I no longer had confidence in HostGator.

Support crafted by SiteGround from SiteGround Web Hosting on Vimeo.

SiteGround Support Amazed Me

I called SiteGround. I had seen a promotional offer which included free site migration from HostGator. The customer service rep answered the phone almost instantly and walked me through the process of setting up the new hosting plan. She then took over the job of transferring my site from HostGator — for free.

I now host four sites on SiteGround, but one is not live yet. I know if I ever have a problem, I can make a toll-free call to tech support and someone will pick up the phone fast. I won’t have to pay for a call like I have to for GoDaddy, which currently still hosts my older sites. I won’t have to listen to GoDaddy’s annoying music until they pick up, either.

Isn’t it about Time You Tried SiteGround?

Say goodbye to toll calls and long holding times for tech support. Rest knowing  your website is secure. Celebrate fast page loading speeds when  people visit your site.

Here are the plans you can choose from.

3 Reasons Why I Chose SiteGround

If you only need one web site, I suggest you choose the StartUp Plan. I chose the GrowBig plan because it lets me host many sites on one account. See plan details here.  Which plan will you choose?

3 Reasons Why I Chose SiteGroundWhy not sign up now!

Should You Blog at TinyCent?

UPDATE, JULY 15, 2017

I can no longer reach TinyCent. To the best of my knowledge, it’s gone.  My prediction about its chances proved pretty accurate. Blogbourne is also on the way out. It will be gone when its hosting expires in October. Current members can move their work to another site. Here’s how to move your work to your own sites.

Literacy Base still has 3803 “active” members, but at least some of those haven’t checked in for over two years. I don’t see a bright future for it, but

If you want an almost sure thing, stick with reliable (so far) MyLot. It does pay people, including me.

The rest of this post is historical. Reading it may give you a better idea of why it’s best to stick to writing on sites you own.  Here’s the best way to start a blog of your own. 

Don’t Set Your Hopes Too High for TinyCent

Is blogging at TinyCent worth your time and effort? My experience with TinyCent so far has not been encouraging. I tried to sign up for the purpose of reviewing the site,  but I haven’t been able to complete registration after two weeks of trying. This post will explain why I don’t have high hopes for this site.

 

The Sign-up Process Seemed Off

I have never yet joined a writing site that asked for my phone number. TinyCent requires it at sign-up. They say it’s so they can contact you about payment information and payouts. Some members confirm getting these calls and having satisfying conversations with the owner. However other sites pay me through PayPal, and they never have asked for my phone number. Why does TinyCent need it? Do they suspect possible fraudulent activity from some of their members?

I presume the reason TinyCent asks for a birth date is to verify age. I never like to give that information to sites without a long track record, but it is required to sign up.

The last step in signing up is to wait for a verification email so they know the email address you gave them is correct. I never got that email. So I have never been able to log in to write anything. Even after emailing Naveen  from that address and getting a reply and replying back, I have not been able to verify my registration.

TinyCent Support and TOS Seem Nonexistent

After not getting my verification email, I clicked the “contact us” link on the bottom of the login form.  See form below. Black label at bottom was not part of screen shot. I added my comment to it. I cropped off site logos so as not to violate copyright.

Should You Blog at TinyCent?
TinyCent Login Screen, cropped

TinyCentTerms of Service

As I write this update on August 29, 2016, those signing up to register for the site still cannot see the Terms and Conditions or Privacy Policy This is important, since you can’t sign up until you agree to them. All I can  find as an unregistered person is the page with FAQ.

If you look closely at the screen shot above, you will see what appears to be a link to the T&C (Terms and Conditions). If you click it, it goes straight to the home page and there are no terms and conditions in sight. There is no privacy policy that I can find, either. I later discovered it hidden in the T&C.) I have copied below what I found in a copy that a registered member sent me.

5. INFORMATION DISCLOSURE TinyCent reserves the right at all times to disclose any information as necessary to satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request, including personally identifiable information, or to edit, refuse to allow or to remove any information or materials, in whole or in part, in TinyCent sole discretion. In the course of using the Site, you may be required to enter certain information, including without limitation personal information. You represent and warrant that you will provide TinyCent with full, true and correct Information, and to update such Information on the Site promptly as reasonably necessary and as required by the Site.

Where is TinyCent Support?

In the screen shot above you will also notice a “Contact Us” link. If you click it,  you will again land on the home page with no contact form in sight. It seems all links except the FAQ, site map, and Social Media links lead back to the home page. The site map link leads to a page of XML code. The social media pages don’t offer more than a better looking presentation of what’s on the site’s home page.

The fact remains that it is almost impossible to reach tech support if you aren’t a member. I have heard it’s just as hard if you are a member.  I was going to delay writing this review until I could register and write something on the site, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to complete that registration. Maybe they aren’t letting anyone register anymore, but I don’t know that.

I was finally able to contact the site owner through WHO IS information. You can see that WHO IS information here. 

Naveen Srinivas, the founder of TinyCent, seemed happy to hear from me and implement my suggestions for making the Privacy Policy and T&C more visible to outsiders. That was over  38 hours ago. None of the issues with my registration have been resolved yet. I still can’t log in. I haven’t heard any more from Naveen.

In any case, I’m no longer interested in joining. I’ve seen enough  from the outside to convince me that joining would probably be a poor investment of my time and effort.

Will TinyCent Pay its Writers As Promised?

Will TinyCent Pay its Writers As Promised?
Pennies, Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Pixabay

Remember Bubblews? For a long time most of the writers got paid, and then some didn’t, and finally no one got paid anymore.  TinyCent has paid some people I know at least once. Others are still waiting for payments they have earned. Meanwhile, we can apply some of the lessons learned from the fall of Bubblews to other sites, such  TinyCent.

I just checked WebValueCheck.com for information on TinyCent, and it should help you see how much income the site may be making from ads. They estimate ad income at $4 daily as of today, August 27, 2016.  I also  checked their evaluation of my newest site,  A California Life. WebValueCheck estimates the income of my site from ads at a dollar a day. The truth is that site’s  income is closer to a dollar a month. So they may have also overestimated TinyCent’s income by quite a bit. I also checked SiteWorth, and its report may be of interest to you, since it contains a lot of data that may affect site income. It shows TinyCent earning less than WebValueCheck shows.

If TinyCent plans to pay people from ad income, I wouldn’t hold my breath  waiting for payment. It can only pay from money that is has or borrows. Of course, it may have other income sources we can’t know about.  The site will have to start making more income, though, to continue to pay the rates stated. Of course, the T&C state that TinyCent can reduce or eliminate compensation at any time — just as Bubblews did before it died and as BlogJob did in May, 2016.

Should You Blog at TinyCent?

My Advice Concerning TinyCent

If you have not signed up yet, don’t. I may be wrong, but why risk it when other new sites may be more worth taking a chance on? So far the site does not comply with the rule  that it must have a  visible Privacy Policy in a prominent place that visitors can see easily. This is something even most beginning bloggers know they have to have. Although Naveen seems eager to make the site compliant, so far it hasn’t happened.

If you are already writing on TinyCent, I wouldn’t invest too much more time into it. You will probably be disappointed, and I doubt if you will get paid too many times. I don’t expect the site to last very long. For the sake of Naveen and the active members, I hope I’m wrong. If I see evidence that my concerns have been addressed, I will update this post.

If anyone has a different opinion and some experience to back it up, I welcome your comments below. If you aren’t a registered member, do you think you want to become one? Why or why not?

Review: Will These Social Blogging Sites Survive?

A Selective History of Social Blogging Sites

The first social blogging site I joined was Bubblews. It lasted for almost three years. It was very popular and established writers from well-known sites like HubPages devoted less time to writing for them because they were making more on Bubblews. This left HubPages weaker, and many people, including me, found it hard to just jump back in at HubPages after Bubblews stopped paying.

Social blogging was easy, fun, and struck a chord for those of us who wanted to connect as people rather than just share information. Since the fall of Bubblews, people began looking for another social blogging site. Many went back to myLot, which had changed ownership and gone back to paying members. It is a simple forum, but its new format also makes it ideal for social blogging.  This got friends connected again, but social bloggers wanted something a bit different.

Many of those looking discovered BlogJob. BlogJob seemed to combine the best features of Bubblews and myLot. I have reviewed the state of BlogJob in Transition here.  Some people are still hanging on, but few are very active anymore. Once again the search is on for a new site. This week I’ve joined two new sites very similar to BlogJob.

Review: Two New Social Blogging Sites
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Pixabay.com

UPDATE, November 30, 2017

I was able to log into BlogBourne, but it’s obvious that it’s on its way out. It might as well be gone. I also checked into my account at Literacy Base.  I think it’s on its last legs, as well.  If you aren’t already a member of these sites, I recommend you not join them. If you are, it’s time to back up any work you have left on them and save it.

UPDATE, July 15, 2017

Blogbourne will be closing when its hosting expires in October, 2017. Literacy Base has improved since I first posted this review.  Keep that in mind when you read the rest of this post.

Literacy Base and BlogBourne — What They Have in Common

  • They are both a lot like BlogJob. They offer free hosting for social bloggers and they provide groups and forums for member interaction outside the blogs. Unlike BlogJob, though, one cannot have an independent WordPress Blog on either site such as BlogJob members have.
  • They are owned or administrated by people whose first language is not English. This means some of the site documentation has errors in standard English.
  • They both offer some form of compensation to those active on the sites
  • Both will pay members through PayPal. Literacy Base also  pays through Payoneer.
  • Both provide members with referral links to share their articles and to recruit new members.
  • Both sites are currently experiencing growing pains and may go offline from time to time as they work out bugs. BlogBourne officially launched August 1, 2016.

How Literacy Base and BlogBourne Differ: Payment

Review: Two New Social Blogging Sites
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Pixabay.com
  • BlogBourne splits site earnings with members, keeping 50% for site expenses and dividing the rest to to determine the value of a coin. This system is similar to the one Persona Paper was using. Literacy Base pays specific cash amounts for specific tasks like commenting or writing posts. The value of a BlogBourne coin fluctuates and is posted every month.
  • BlogBourne will be paying seven days after a person orders payment, but the payments won’t be issued the first time until two months after the site’s launch. BlogBourne payment amounts range from $5 to $100.  Literacy Base pays on  the tenth day of the month after a person has earned $10.
  • BlogBourne currently offers the same amount of coins for any post. Literacy Base at its own discretion pays more for higher quality interactions and longer posts.
  • Literacy Base currently has placed no limits on how much a member can earn in a day.  BlogBourne has a limit of three posts per day and varying limits for other activities one can earn for.

How Literacy Base and BlogBourne Differ: Editors and Posting

  • On Literacy Base your blog post has to be approved before it will post. That can take up to 24 hours. If more people become active, that might increase the approval time. Moderators also look over what you post on BlogBourne until a member is white-listed for immediate posting. Moderators let members know if changes need to be made and offer help before a post is approved for posting.
  • On Literacy Base your post must be at least 300 words long. On BlogBourne, it has to be 400 words.
  • Evidently on Literacy Base you can’t save drafts(even though it looks like you should be able to). It’s best to write your post in a word processor and paste it in before submitting. You can save your drafts in BlogBourne. You can edit and delete posts there, too, but if you delete a post you will lose any coins associated with it. I always advise writing in a word processor first anyway. It gives you a backup copy and protects you if the site goes offline while you are typing. A screen shot of the BlogBourne editor is below.
Review: Two New Social Blogging Sites
Screen Shot BlogBourne Editor

Notice that you can edit the HTML in the BlogBourne editor (see arrow) and that there are additional fields you can’t see below where the screen shot ends. Now compare with the Literacy Base Editor (below).

Review: Two New Social Blogging Sites
Screen Shot of Literacy Base Editor

You can see that the BlogBourne editor has more options than that of Literacy Base and more closely resembles a WordPress interface. Neither editor has a drop-down menu for header text, but the BlogBourne editor allows you to change the font and text size.

Other Differences between Literacy Base and BlogBourne

  • You may use an affiliate link in a BlogBourne post, but not in a Literacy Base post. Notice I said a link.
  • Literacy Base only allows links to site sources that support the information in your post.
  • It is easier for people to find your work on BlogBourne and your profile looks nicer.
  • Literacy Base has a more cluttered design that distracts from reading the posts.
  • BlogBourne has a very motivating Leaderboard for those of us who are competitive. It lists members by number of coins they’ve earned with highest earners at the top.
  • Literacy Base has been around since some time in 2014. They opened their Facebook Page in November 2014. BlogBourne launched on August 1,  2016.
  • Literacy Base has made improvements in their site. Blogbourne will be closing in October, 2017.

Will These Sites Survive? Should I Join?

I’m afraid only time will tell that. I don’t mind pioneering a bit. I was one of the first on Bubblews and although I didn’t  expect it to last as long as it did, I made some good money there.  I’m glad I decided to risk it.

I do like social blogging, but I believe BlogJob won’t last much longer.  I haven’t left, but I am moving some posts to my own sites.  BlogBourne and Literacy Base are the most similar sites to BlogJob that I’ve joined.  I happen to prefer BlogBourne, but it has already announced it is closing.  You will need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

 

Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?
Read the Terms of Service

My Advice: Updated November 30, 2017

If you haven’t joined yet, I don’t advise you to. I don’t expect either site to last long enough to pay you.

I’ve been around the social blogging block a few times and gotten burned, just like many of you. My common sense tells me I should really invest the most time into my own blogs. If you do not yet have your own blog, now is the time to start one. Here’s how.

If you think this post will help someone else who is trying to decide, please share it. The image below is just right for Pinterest.

Review: Two New Social Blogging Sites: Literacy Base and BlogBourne

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Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?

Free Blog Hosting Can Be Yanked  Away Without Notice

Here’s how I learned the dangers of free blog hosting. A few years ago I almost had a WordPress.com blog deleted. At that time I did not know affiliate links were forbidden. I had never used them during my first two years  of posts, but I almost lost all my work by using that one link. Fortunately for me, they warned me and when I appealed and removed the link they gave me another chance.  Recently someone with more to lose than I had his free blog hosting yanked. His blog is gone. And that’s what inspired this post.

Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?
Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?

Blogger’s Free Blog Hosting Has Risks

 In my last post I warned  readers about the need to host their own sites. Now I’ve just read that artist Dennis Cooper’s 14-year-old Blogger blog was pulled by Google with no warning. I will admit I am not familiar with Cooper’s work and I have no idea what about his blog violated Google’s  terms of service. I do know, though, from my own WordPress.com experience, that we may sometimes miss some part of the TOS or misunderstand it. That failure might cause the destruction of all our posts.

It’s one thing for Google to penalize content it doesn’t like in search results. It’s quite another to remove your blog.

Self-Hosting

When you own your own site, you have a lot more control. It’s  true  that paid hosting sites also have their terms of service, but they generally only disallow illegal content or behavior that threatens the server or other sites that share it. I use SiteGround for hosting my newest sites, and their terms are pretty typical. They don’t host MLM sites, though.

Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?
Read the Terms of Service

Whichever host you choose, be sure to read the terms of  service before you  sign up. Make sure the  type of site you have in mind is compatible. Also read the details of your hosting plan to be familiar with its space and bandwidth limitations. You could be in trouble if you use too many resources. That happened to me on Hostgator once.

I once hosted my most important site, Books to Remember, there, but I no longer felt good about it after some problems with tech support. One person I talked to  made it sound like there would be no charge for a certain support task, and I should just call back when I was ready and any support person could help. I did that. After the task was complete they charged me $75 I had not counted on.

That’s one reason why SiteGround,  now hosts that site. Click link above or one of the sidebar banners to check it out. I heard from many others how reliable SiteGround hosting is and how helpful the tech support is. I have also found that to be true since I moved my site there .  I’ve always been happy with the results. My tech support call waiting time is also very short compared to that I spent when I was with Hostgator.

Before You Move to a New Host, Do This

Back up your blog. Back it up to your computer,  to the cloud, and to an external hard drive. If you do all three, you should be protected. (I am very happy with my Seagate Plus 4T External Hard Drive, pictured below. It has room to back up my entire computer and also my photos and important documents in additional files I can access without restoring.)

Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?
My Seagate External Drive in Action, © B. Radisavljevic

Even if you  lose your hosting suddenly, you will have your content. It’s easy to export your blogs on a regular basis as XML files. In Blogger, click settings on your dashboard and select other. It will have an option to back up your blog. Click it and you will have your backup XML file. Save it wherever you want it to be.

Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?
Screen Shot of Blogger Export

 

If you have a WordPress.com site, you choose settings again and at the top you choose export. Save to wherever you want to keep it. On a self-hosted WordPress site, choose tools on your dashboard. Then click export. I just exported one third-party hosted  Wordpress.org blog to a new site by just importing that file.

Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?
WordPress Export Screen

My exported arrived blog with everything, even the photos, comments, and theme, intact. I decided to change the dates on all the posts and upload them one at at time to start the new site. That gave me a chance to edit the posts and improve them with what I learned from The Pajama Affiliates Blogging courses.

Set Up Your New Self-Hosted WordPress Blog the Right Way from the Beginning

I had already set up several self-hosted WordPress blogs before I discovered the Pajama Affiliates Courses. When I signed up for my new blog on SiteGround, I wanted to get off to a good start. I decided to do it while watching the 20 Pajama Affiliate videos in the WordPress in a Day Course.

I went step by step, with my blog open in one tab and a video open in another. I couldn’t believe how much I hadn’t known when I set up my other sites. I still need to make changes in those first sites I built, but at least I now have one that was set up properly at the beginning. This one isn’t it.

Check Content and  Prices on All Pajama Affiliates Courses. They are often on Sale.

I highly recommend the WordPress in a Day Course if you are just starting a new self-hosted WordPress blog.  I now own most of these courses.

It’s Time to Leave Free Hosting Sites Behind

Does Your Free Blog Hosting Put Your Blog at Risk?

Back up your sites and move them to sites you own. The Pajama Affiliates can help you. If you have bought a course you will have access to the Facebook support group where you can ask questions and find answers to your blogging problems.

You simply should not risk all the work you’ve put into your blog by keeping it on a site you don’t control. Buying hosting and a domain name is a small price to pay to maintain your independence. Check out SiteGround. They often give you your domain name free for the first year if you sign up for a new site. They did that for me.

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I write what I am; I am what I write