Fixing My Blogging Mistakes: No More WordPress.com Hosting!

Photo Credit: Jorge Quinteros
Photo Credit: Jorge Quinteros

I’m prepping to move to BlueHost!

When I first started this blog damn near a year ago (though I only really got into my groove in August 2014), I was a straight up noob/newb/n00b. So much so that I opted for WordPress hosting.

Will someone please think of the children?

It was a hasty move, no doubt. One that killed me the moment I realized installing WordPress plug-ins wasn’t an option. They denied me all Dikembe Mutombo-style.

Did I just show my age there? I totally showed my age there.

Sure, I found it silly that WordPress hosting didn’t allow for the installation of WordPress plug-ins, but I don’t have the time to poo poo my past decisions. “Live and learn” is what a bunch of smarter people who lived before me said. So yeah, I’m going to use that as my mantra here.

Commence learning.

With the move and possible/probable redesign of the blog coming, I want to take the opportunity to also figure out the focus of this blog. Since I started this the focus of my blog has been pretty much like my attention span: unfocused. I wrote about earning money independently, meditation, social issues, religion, veganism, and Ninja Turtles. I’ve posted spoken word pieces, book excerpts, photography, recipes, music, and a ton of podcasts.

ADD is great!

So I have an ambitious plan, one that I’m sure I’ll fail implementing. At least in the beginning. All I can do is keep trying to improve and see where I am another year from now. So here’s my crazy idea: I’m going to have a couple super-focused blogs that will be updated less frequently, but consistently nonetheless. Those posts will be reposted here along with original posts that focus mostly on positive living, creative writing, and my life experiences.

In short, I’m creating a blog network.

I’m fully aware that all signs say I’m going to face plant like a mofo trying to do this, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. Aim high, try hard, and I’ll at least land somewhere between failure and success.

Peace out, party people.

Spoken Word Piece: Timeless

Photo Credit: Gustavo Medde
Photo Credit: Gustavo Medde

Everyone and their mom is trying to tell me what love is
Claiming I wouldn’t know; this relationship is too young or something
My mother says it takes years of happy moments and frustrated tears
Fighting, compromising, and a dash of luck to make it here
Oh, the hubris of youth, how could I know after little more than 12 months?
Is that what you think? Sorry mother, your theories have led you astray
What if I were to say I knew before the first day
I knew before we spoke. I knew before I knew her name
She was nothing more than a feeling, said my spirit, not my brain
When I heard her voice I was positive this wasn’t simply a fluke
Somehow I knew. Probably because love is unmistakable
The jaded claim it’s a fable while mother dearest
Raises an eyebrow at the thought of it appearing
But what do I know? I’m just infatuated, right?
Smitten, sitting in the midst of a honeymoon phase. That’s got to be it!
If you say so.
You’re free to your opinion, but this doesn’t change the fact that I know
Do you have to find gravity? No?
It’s just there. You may take it for granted, but even without science you know
I know love. It was always there. I didn’t have to work to create it
This is why I can’t engage in a rousing round of debating
Gravity existed before science, but now science backs it up
This love existed before us, I don’t need to back this up
I don’t need validation because I know love the way I know gravity
The way I know I exist and my mother is my family
If you need proof of love’s existence, I get it, people think seeing is believing
Except the very things we see are the things that can mislead us
So which is it? The proof or the feeling?
It’s a matter of perspective that defines the roof from the ceiling
Effort doesn’t change what was and will remain
This love always existed, except now I know its name

Previously: I Want a Puppy

Blogging When (Almost) No One Gives a S*** about What You Have to Say

photo

I’m a blogger. I kind of feel like that’s the writer version of an attractive woman saying she’s a model. I’ve seen models at church runway shows. On YouTube, of course, because I might just spontaneously combust should I dare step into the lord’s house. Sex before marriage is still a sin, right?

Anywho, I started blogging back in May of last year, but I slacked immensely when it came to effort. I would basically post something once every two weeks, which means I was more of a guy who had a blog as opposed to an actual blogger.

I don’t know what changed, but sometime in August, I went full gusto and began blogging (and in some cases, over-blogging) consistently. I had a schedule. I started podcasting. I had recurring posts. I had… a limited audience.

Well, what in the H, E, double hockey sticks is that about? Don’t get me wrong; I largely do this because I love it. Writing is a passion of mine and I don’t think that’ll ever change. But I can’t lie, it’s a bit disheartening to put a ton of effort into something that only a small number of people enjoy. I’m only peaking at 100 visits per day, for Pete’s sake.

One.

Hundred.

And that ain’t everyday, folks.

I’ve read a ton about how to create a successful blog and, truthfully, some of those tactics work. I know because I used them. However, I prefer writing about the things that I like to write about.

Duh.

So now I’m in a bit of a kerfuffle. How do I get people to pay attention to my posts about achieving world and inner peace as much as my posts about achieving financial freedom and food photography?

Huh? Were you waiting for me to answer my own question? I have no clue how to do it; I’ve only been blogging since August! Jeez, you people have such high expectations.

I believe in doing things smartly in order to grow, but I’m going to keep writing what I want to write. Sure, I want to build an audience, but it’s going to be on my terms. I was already doing this, but it’s time to loosen the shackles a little bit and toy with ideas I never executed due to self-imposed boundaries.

No more, I say, no more!

Whew, now that I have that out of my system, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Dre.

Spoken Word Piece: I Want a Puppy

Sir Francis Pugsly

I want a puppy
Don’t judge me, pretending to be above me
All I want is a puppy, but I don’t have any money
Okay, wait, maybe I could just ask for a puppy
Somebody please, can you do a brother a favor
I swear you’d be my personal savior
If you just give me puppy
Please
With gumdrops on top; not a shot? You puppy hoarding bumbaclot
Pardon my patois, I didn’t mean to offend, my friend
Just lend me some advice on how I can attain a puppy
All I want is a puppy
Okay, fine, I’ll get a job, just stop calling me bum or slob or whatever
Let’s see what monster.com has to offer for worse or better
Cover letters, résumés, sweating bullets thank god for three piece suits at interviews
Can you spy my sarcasm?
Can I have a puppy, goddamn it?
Well, finally I’m hired, only 50 years until I retire
But in the meantime, can you guess what I’m doing with this first paycheck?
Correct!
I’m getting a goddamn puppy
Haters gonna hate, but nobody better judge me
Because truth be told, I secretly hope that he’s cuddly
I made the mistake of stating this publicly
And I was called a faggot, all because I want a puppy
Salesmen hungry for commission spot me on my mission
They say, “Hey, buddy. You got puppy insurance?”
Dog house? Versace dog blouse? No?
Step right up, if you plan to own a puppy, you’ll certainly need this stuff
Don’t have the money now? Turn that frown upside down
Better yet, forget the frown, jot your information down
Get 20% off as long as you apply for this credit card
Your puppy dog needs the finest
You want him to be happy, don’t you? Then don’t fight it
And ignore those silly terms, this ain’t for reading, it’s for signing
Well, alright I suppose, if you really say so
Maybe you’re right, I’ll sign, crossed T’s dotted I’s; How could I say no?
It’s all for my puppy
But the days are getting ugly, trust me
Even with this puppy I dubbed Sir Francis Pugsly
Because it seems all my money goes to debt
And all the money that I don’t have goes to stuff
I appear to be stuck; such is life?
No, such is the pursuit of having, stressed from work getting blasted
On Henny and Jack, double fisting with two glasses
All because I wanted a mother fucking puppy
That’s it. That’s all. But look at what this system wants from me
Why did I want this puppy in the first place?
It was simply a thought one day; I feel it was a Sunday
I was thinking it’d be awesome to someday have a puppy
Now I have a puppy and money, such a joy to be me
I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’d gladly give this puppy back
And all this other stuff for a chance to be free

Previously: Losing You

Essay: We’re All Just Dumb Monkeys

metal monkey statue NY

Human beings are stupid.

Shock and awe, amirite?

Let’s take a few steps back. The other day, I was watching the season premiere of Brain Games (an awesome show you should definitely check out). One thing that stood out to me was an experiment that was conducted on two monkeys. The first monkey was given a task: a researcher hands the monkey a rock, the monkey hands it back, and gets a piece of a cucumber as a reward. There’s another monkey in the cage next to him who’s given the same task, but instead is given a grape as a reward. Everything was good in the hood until that first monkey noticed something was afoot.

Oh you’re just going to give him grapes while I’m just given these wack ass cucumbers?

Well, that first monkey was none to pleased. While he was fine with them initially, he soon began refusing the cucumbers for doing the task. And I mean refused. Homeboy threw it back at the researcher, banged the rock against cage, and even tried reaching for the grapes through the cage.

Anger? Violence? Attempted theft? All just because something is unfair? If you’re good at connecting the dots, you can easily see how this is reflected in our society today.

Here’s another fun fact: We trust those that are genetically closest to us faster than those who are not. This is tied to survival for primates (other creatures too, but let’s stay on topic) and is tribalism at its very essence. This is why family members are (usually) seen as those closest to a person, especially the nuclear family. It’s likely the reason why if someone loses trust in a family member at an early age for whatever reason, they have a very difficult time trusting others overall. Most importantly, though potentially least valid because this is just my opinion, I think this is the basis for discrimination and mistrust at any level. Not the cultural kind we experience today, mind you. I’m talking about the mere existence of them.

It’s a leap, but not an unwarranted one.

Did you know that hunger increases the likelihood of a “fight” reaction during fight or flight responses?

Did you know stress hinders short term memory

Did you know people mirror the behaviors of others for reasons like wanting to be accepted or general kinship?

Did you know our brains constantly creates false leaders for all type of activities so it can be a follower? Even simple ones like walking at a certain speed or standing in a line.

I think most human beings don’t have a fundamental understanding of themselves and why they are the way they are. This hits us at a personal level, as well as society at large. I’m purposely emphasizing the word “understanding.” You can know all the facts you want, but understanding is another story entirely.

Do you understand why we have religion?

Do you understand  why we separate ourselves into races?

Do you understand why human beings have conflict?

Of course there are individual reasons as to why these things happen, but that’s not what I’m asking. Do you understand why these things exist? Do you understand why your brain and body act the way they do? Have you connected the dots? No? Well, congratulations; you’re officially a dumb monkey.

A dumb monkey with potential, at least.

Don’t feel bad; I’m a dumb monkey too. Ooh ooh, aah aah, and all that good stuff.

The only thing that changed with me is I can openly admit I don’t know anything. However, I’m understanding more about life each day. I look at humanity and I’m starting to grasp how we got to this point and why we have the problems we have. We’re too busy being dumb monkeys who think they know more than they actually do. I mean, sure, we invented a slew of cool things like the internet, space shuttles, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…

Except that 2014 movie. Much like 9/11, we’ll never forget.

*cough*

Awkward.

…but we can’t seem to move beyond our biological makeup. Realistically, humans have never actually figured out peace no matter how many wars we have. We can’t stop being violent. We still hate. We still discriminate. Not all of us, mind you, and certainly not all to the same degree. But it’s out there.

On the flip side, we have absolutely beautiful things that are bred from the same DNA that willed racism into the world. We have love, happiness, creativity, and more. These are all awesome things, but much like our more unseemly qualities, these are also not constants and everyone experiences these to different degrees. This is all part of being human.  What makes us dumb monkeys is that most of us don’t realize we don’t have to be dumb monkeys.

Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Willis?

The real thing that makes humans special is we have a choice to either follow our DNA or follow that thing in us that makes us more than dumb monkeys – a soul, a conscience, or whatever inadequate word you want to use for the thing that regulates our animalistic urges. People aren’t wantonly discriminating against people who aren’t genetically closest to them. There isn’t true survival of the fittest anymore. We aren’t all getting riled up just because “the man” feeds us cucumbers instead of grapes. However – and this is just my opinion – these things still exist in our DNA. But because our circumstances are different now than they were when we first evolved into homo sapiens, they manifest themselves differently.

Grapes become money.

Genetic proximity becomes racism and nationalism.

Ooh ooh, aah aah?

We apply the modern world to archaic hardware (our DNA) and this is what happens: humans self-throttle their advancement and we play the game of being dumb monkeys. Our software (our minds) have all the potential in the world, but our hardware (DNA) sucks. Imagine running Windows 8 on a computer from 1999. If that was even possible, you’d have to at least turn the display settings down and limit the number of concurrently running programs. It’d be a straight up nightmare.

Imagine all the low definition porn everyone would be watching!

Unlike computers, however, we can operate past beyond hardware. We don’t have to be slaves to our DNA, but I feel it’s not innate in all of use. Some, maybe many of us require a level of understanding to realize all discrimination is the same. Poverty is not a necessity. Freedom is not a privilege. Everyone in this world is just as (un)important as you. You don’t have to be a dumb monkey. You can choose to embrace parts of your humanity, not all of it.

I believe humanity will reach that potential one day. There are a good number of people that already have; the problem is the glut of folk who are straggling behind. Well, it’s not really a problem, right? Maybe we wouldn’t be human anymore if none of us clung to our DNA. Maybe we’d be something entirely different. I mean, can you even imagine a world without conflict? Can you imagine a world without hate? What would love be? What would peace be? Would those words exist?

Perhaps that’s the sacrifice of being human. Maybe negativity is the trade-off for all the positivity we experience. Maybe, the people who show the worst of humanity also involuntarily shine a light on the best of humanity. Maybe there will always be this battle of our physical (dumb monkey) and, for lack of a better word, non-physical (human) selves. Maybe all of our conflicts are a product of an evolution that is no longer taking place at a purely physical level. Maybe we’re done evolving as individuals and we’re now evolving as a collective. Maybe, just maybe, there’s nothing wrong with humanity and we’re all just doing what we’re meant to do, consequences be damned.

But then again, what do I know? I’m just a dumb monkey.

Previously: The Day I Admitted My Feelings for God

New Blogger Mistakes: 10 Ways to Combat Analytics Ignorance

Photo Credit: EOI Escuela de Organización Industrial
Photo Credit: EOI Escuela de Organización Industrial

How much do you really know about analytics? Are you like me where you think knowing how many views/visitors/referrals you have makes any sort of difference to your growth? Well, the old me thought that way. The new me now realizes these are just numbers and hold little to no weight on their own. After a little self-learnin’ these are some quick and dirty analytics tips to give some new bloggers an idea of how to grow their site. Hell, this is useful in general when it comes to websites.

 

  1. Your number of visitors doesn’t tell you much about how people use your site. All it tells you is how many devices hit your blog. I personally don’t find the number useful unless you’re experiencing some real growth. Not by itself anyway.
  2. Your conversion rate is what you really care about. This is the number of people who perform an action that either makes you money or has some positive effect that leads to growth. A person who reads your blog is one thing. The person who reads and signs up for your mailing list is the real gold mine. What page did he hit before he signed up? Who/what referred her? What trends do I see that lead to successful conversions. These are powerful numbers to know.
  3.  Your goals give your numbers meaning. How do you want people to visit your site? What do you want them to do? What are you trying to achieve? If you don’t aim to answer questions like these, you’ll just look at your numbers simply as “higher equals better.” Good luck making improvements with such a generic idea of growth. Trust me, I’ve made this mistake. No more!
  4. All visitors are not created equal! Man oh man, I was an idiot for not connecting this together earlier, but people interact differently on a website for a host of reasons. For example, if I found your blog because of a web search, chances are I’m just going to view the article if it’s relevant or back out pretty quickly if it doesn’t If I came across it on BlogLovin, maybe I’ll browse a bit more. Each user type might be more prone to some actions versus others. You’ll never know if you treat all visitors the same. The groups of users based on actions or tendencies are known as segments. Defining and tracking segments are CRUCIAL.
  5. Google Analytics is a great place to start, but it doesn’t end there. Clicky, for example lets you view the actions of an individual user on your blog. I might put together a list of services sometime, but here’s a link to a pretty good top 10 list (searchenginejournal.com).
  6. All actions, like visitors, are not created equal! What matters more to you, signing up for a newsletter or sharing a post via social media? Clicking an ad or visiting a link for a product you’re selling? You want to focus on stats that lead to your most valuable actions!
  7. Okay, let’s be honest here: you should be assigning value to everything. Why? Because this is analytics and everything matters. Remember, you want valuable conversions. This means everything that led to that valuable action must have a value. Search terms, types of posts, pages, referrals, and more are all up for grabs.
  8. Your stats should indicate future investments such as targeted marketing campaigns or site modifications.These investments should, of course, enhance strengths and minimize weaknesses. They should always contribute to creating more opportunities for valuable actions.
  9. Analytics also require testing. If you aren’t experimenting, you won’t know what works. See what ignites some valuable conversions and repeat to see if you can pinpoint a trend to exploit.
  10. Make your data as complex as possible. By this, I mean track as many factors and combination of factors as you can. A language can’t tell you much if you only have a few words. Analytics will reveal the language of your blog and what makes it tick. The more data you have, the more it can tell you.

Do you see how powerful this is? It may not be the most fun aspect of blogging (it certainly isn’t for me), but it’s vital for growth. Of course, not all bloggers have growth in mind. If you’re doing this for the art of writing, more power to you. I personally want to make this my living so this is definitely important to my future. I hope I helped some of you on your path.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Not Hosting WordPress Yourself

New Blogger Mistakes: Not Hosting WordPress Yourself

When I first started my blog, I wanted it online as quickly as possible, not taking future growth into consideration. So I signed up for a blog on wordpress.com and forked over $99 just so I could use my own domain.

This is what is classically known as a noob move.

Hosting your blog on wordpress.com is a surefire way to not have your blog grow. Not in the way you’re envisioning anyway. You can’t take advantage of plugins and things like Google Analytics and ad referrals become more nigh impossible.

So my next investment is going to be a hosting plan with a different company and install WordPress myself. I almost jumped at BlueHost, but I read enough negative comments for me to do more research. Anyway, I know this sounds like such an obvious thing, but I bet many people only consider this after they’ve started.

Don’t be me. Host WordPress yourself.