Engaging In Simpler Designs

A new year is closely approaching and it forces me to reflect on whats important to my design decisions.

snow-wpI’ve spent some time the past few weeks playing around with the new TwentyTwelve WordPress theme.  So far I’m absolutely in love with it’s simplicity and I have to ask, is a love of simplicity in design a sign of getting older?  No longer am I concerned with magazine style wordpress themes, billowing graphics, or cutting edge design, instead provide me with a blank slate and let the content design the site.

Don’t get me wrong, elegant designs still have an impact in my day to day developing process.  Elegant Themes(affiliate link) is of course my choice for custom WordPress themes, which provide my commercial selling websites with the modern look that visitors crave.  However, I just don’t feel these themes work with my content driven websites, I’m not selling anything.  I would prefer the focus be less on the theme and more on what I have to say, not that it’s particularly important.

Continue reading “Engaging In Simpler Designs”

Setting Up New Theme

Well, I feel as though I’m far behind in the social networking scene.  My blog is officially the fat kid in dodge ball, nobody wants him on their team…or facebook, or twitter, or myspace.  Are people still using myspace?  At any rate, it’s time that Nails Blog V2.0 goes through a change, starting with it’s theme, which I went ahead and activated tonight.

Throughout the weekend I will be updating thumbnail images, making pretty, and making functional.  Right now my Twitter and RSS feeds are setup, but it will probably be tomorrow night before I get the Facebook account rolling, although I will most likely just delete the MySpace link.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the increase in postings?  I promised a few weeks ago that efforts would be made to update the world on my progress through affiliate marketing.  Also updates on what products I’m using, not using, and have folded since I’ve spent money.  Thankfully the latter are few and far between and we all should have seen the name BANS coming at us.  Hello!?

At any rate, yes I’m aware some functionality of the site is down.  All the structure is here, reading articles is fine, so don’t get your nuts twisted and things will be better than normal soon.

Is Chitika Select Right For Your Site?

More impressions. More Revenue.

Hard to pass up a tag line like that, but maybe Chitika Select ads aren’t right for your site.  There have been many discussions surrounding the costs and benefits of utilizing the new Chitika Select addition to Premium ads, which bring up great points, regarding missed opportunities and not just revenue.  Feel free to follow the discussion on the official Chitika Blog’s Chitika Select post.

Darren, from Pro Blogger, made some very important points regarding return visitors.  The temptation of using Chitika Premium ads came from being able to place blocks of advertising to only be shown to search engine visitors, without disturbing normal readership.

Also, the addition of Chitika Select is setup as an Opt-Out instead of an Opt-In, which means if you weren’t paying attention these ads are being served whether you want them to or not.  Luckily, it’s a simple fix and is quickly being made public that the change needs to be made if you don’t want advertisements always being shown to your visitors.  Keep in mind, these ads will most likely be a lot less targeted, since arrival from a search engine is not required to trigger the impression.

I left the Chitika Ads Select run on my automotive website and after a little bit of tweaking on location I managed to increase my revenue by 50%.  My impressions were up a full 30%!  I’ve yet to see the result after Chitika’s dreaded audited report, but for now it looks like I’ll be leaving Select ads running.  I’d also recommend to almost anyone to leave  them running as well, just understand what you are doing. 😉

Chitika Placement Failure

I’ve spent some time discussing the virtues of using Chitika ads next to Google Adsense, but my latest experiment has left me looking for lost revenue.  In this experiment I placed Chitika Ads in my highest click-through location, where I used to keep Adsense ads, directly below my post title.  The result was surprising to say the least.

My impressions dropped by almost half and my clicks fell even further.  I can honestly offer up no reasonable explanation as to why Chitika would fail so miserably in prime realestate.  Keep in mind that I removed Adsense completely from the equation, which would lend Chitika to receiving even more clicks.  What happened?

The lack of impressions I can’t explain, considering statistics for my site remained virtually unchanged, in regards to search visitors.  But perhaps, looking at the CTR, the reason is because Chitika Premium Ads look like ads.  Cheesy I know, but Adsense does a phenomenal job at blending in with content and looking natural.  I think that my visitors liked the natural look rather than the picture next to an ad trick.

It will take more testing to know for sure, but lets just say for now I’ve moved Chitika back down to the bottom of the page.  Time will tell if Chitika will ever warrant the #1 paying spot on my automotive website.

Happy New Year From Nails!

Happy New Year everyone!  The end of 2009 was absolutely wicked crazy and had me busy working out offline duties, rather than monetizing my websites and updating my friends to what I’ve been up to.  So, see below for a recap of what the last half of December 2009 had me doing.

  • Preparing for family vacation to Disney World with my 2 year old.
  • Lots of Christmas decorating and preparation.
  • 9-5 Job
  • Admittedly playing too much WoW.
  • Netflix, the new streaming option has me hooked on actually getting to watch LOST.

So, now that things have slowed up a bit I plan on getting back to work.  Expect laundry list of updates to The-Grayline.com automotive blog, some money making ideas here on NailsBlog.com, and some development on my non-linked ecommerce sites.  This cold weather makes my fingers cold and typing slow, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trolling around the forums. 😉

I’ve Been Busy

Ugh, 2 months since I’ve made a post and yet I feel like I have so much to talk about.  For the few of you that are interested in what I’ve been doing, I apologize for the absence.  I’m optimistic that I will be able to focus more on some products that I’ve been using, methods that have worked, and more importantly those that haven’t.

Furthermore, it’s been a real interesting Fall so far, right?  No more eBay with Pepper Jam, global recession, and online retailers knocking each other over trying to score some Cyber Monday deals.  So where does that put an online marketer just 1 month away from the big holiday?

I’m going to assume sales and commissions will only dwindle up to and dieing on Christmas Day.  However, like my intention to post more, I’m optimistic that sales will grow exponentially after the first of the year.  I think people will have more disposable income and use it wisely by purchasing on the web.  I hope to isolate a few target niche markets and have these take off through 2010.

Not everything is growth however, I’ve had to make the difficult decision to not renew a handful of domains.  They just weren’t justifying their own existence and more importantly I didn’t have the time or money to develop them properly.  These domains became a drain, I had to think about them, spend some time on them, but never really develop.  So, I cut them lose and am now currently focusing on a few core domains.  Hopefully this will spell success in 2010.

So, expect more frequent postings.  Merry Christmas!

Cannot Contact Akismet Servers

Was making up some content posts for a few of my blogs and was greeted by an Akismet error within my WordPress Dashboard.  Annoyingly this error was showing up at the top of every single Dashboard page, not just the plugin or home page.  I had assumed that it was just a problem on Akismet’s end and apparently I was right.

After getting the error for about 15 minutes I figured out that my server was unable to contact any of the 5 servers operated by the Akismet spam plugin.  Once I manually checked the servers, via a button at the bottom of the troubleshooting page, everything went back to normal and there were no more errors.

Simple annoyance, no issues, and spam still seems in check.

According to the Akismet website they have reportedly stopped over 11 billion spam comments.  Unsettling however is the figure that only 83% were actual spam.  No doubt Akismet is the best solution to fight spam, but consider that as of this posting Akismet has made over 913 million errors.  Internet wide, but still a good reminder to always check your spam moderation que, you might have some worthwhile comments.

Nucleus Was My First Blogging Platform

Nucleus CMS

How young was I, how blind was I to the untold treasures that Word Press held.  Little did I know at the time that Word Press would handle all of the issues I had using Nucleus, hardly any templates, little to no support base, and not he most intuitive administrator interface.  Keep in mind this was about 3 years ago and it was simply known as Nucleus, not the now further developed Nucleus CMS.

But really, how much further has Nucleus came along?  To me, it doesn’t appear that far, if you go by anything other than it’s home page pitch.  Probably the saddest part about this possible Word Press competitor is that it’s testimonials page is completely falling apart.  2 of the 3 sites I followed through their testimonials were either nonexistant or were no longer using Nucleus.  Further down the list, one testimonial even spelled Nucleus wrong…but there it was, for all to see.

The easiest CMS I have ever installed, on my quest to find the ultimate open source content system; Nucleas is topping the lot.

Such an unprofessional embarassment.  I’m sure the support and open community are great people, but it’s got a long way to go.  Perhaps they should start with their image and figure out how they can make Nucleus fill a niche not already owned by Word Press.  Until then, they are just a first time bloggers mistake.

Another Piwik Update

It seems like to me Piwik has been updating a lot more frequently, which admittedly only causes minor frustration.  The latest version is 0.2.34 and includes only one fix, but a pretty big one.  Apparently there was an error with the Piwik cache generating files that did not count all visitors.  That’s kind of important to a stat tracking script. 😉

Piwik Piwik 0.2.34April 14, 2009

– FIXED #648 Generating cache files fails resulting in no visits recorded for a few users, due to wrong order in includes in piwik.php

The new download is available on Piwik.org or if you are using at least version 0.2.31 you can upgrade automatically via your Piwik dashboard.  I’ve updated and upgraded my database using this method in the past, with no issues.

WordPress Post Publish, Please Return To Dashboard

Oh lord, lately I’ve been ramping up the frequency of blog posts on all of my blogs.  What’s annoyed me beyond belief is the fact that the Word Press dashboard refuses to take me back to the dashboard or give me a blank slate to immediately start on another post.  No, I have to set there and be notified that it was posted and asked if I want to view it.  Damn’t, just give me a blanks late to start over.

Yes, I’m being picky, and I’m fully aware that a blank slate for a fresh post is just one click away.  But damn’t, it’s annoying, I don’t want to have to do it and it’s something I miss of Word Press releases of days gone by.

Does anyone have a mod, plugin, anything that will automatically take me to the dashboard or better yet give me a clean slate to starta  new blog post?  The last thing I want to do after spending 20 seconds typing out a thought out post is to stare at it and maybe edit it.  My ignorance of poor grammar, shoddy typing errors, is what keeps me from blowing my brains out at night from a long day of content creation.