The Best of Intentions

spelling, or lack of itWe’re working on a new food website project and in order to create a searchable index of ingredients, my husband the programmer must parse recipes which will be included in the search.  You would be amazed at how many spelling errors there are in recipes on blogs.

I know there will be some who honestly don’t know any better but I believe the vast majority either have no clue that it’s important or are lazy.  Either way, routinely bad spelling or grammar will reduce a website’s reach.  With so many good blogs out there, why would you read a blog you have to struggle to understand?

My favourite from today is 3 bacon rashes.  or 2 tabelspons week tea.  or all purpoise flower.  Spelling like this makes creating a good search extremely difficult.  Yes, we crack up at some of the funny ones.  I thought I’d write a blog post on my food blog about it so that food bloggers would realise that even after a new post has been created, there are people still going to the older posts.  They’re found on Google or Yahoo! or other search engines, links from blogs or from social media.

If we want people to take us seriously, we need to be able to follow the recipe without scratching our heads.

Anyway…  I ended up really pissing off a woman I like who’s a non-native English speaker.  For some reason she felt that I was attacking people who try to write an English blog when it’s not their native language.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The truth is, it’s the English speakers who are too lazy to proofread their blogs.

Honestly, if someone reads their recipe and doesn’t catch glaring errors, I can’t take their blog seriously.  That said, we ALL make typos and we all miss things.  If you miss something 3 times proofreading, you’re never going to find it.

I felt really bad that I hurt my friend’s feelings and I regret making the post even though I got a huge amount of comments on the post from people who feel the same way I do. I’m not an unkind person and would not have posted my views if I thought it would cause discomfort.  I have apologised and hopefully our virtual friendship can continue.  If not, it’s my loss.

Have you ever written something that someone thought you were picking on them about?

We’re all responsible for the words we write.  We aren’t responsible for how someone else’s perspective views them.

In Canberra for #HumanBrochure 2012

It’s been a long day. We didn’t get to bed until nearly 1 and had to be up at 5 to finish packing and drive to Brisbane for our flight to Canberra. We had a few hours to wander on our own and we found a lovely cafe in Manuka near our hotel and had a lovely lunch.


The festivities began at 6pm when we all loaded on 5 buses and headed to the War Memorial for a welcome from Ian Hill, the mastermind behind this world-first project as well as a welcome from the staff at the War memorial.

Australian War Memorial

We headed in to the museum and if you haven’t been to Canberra or if you’ve been to Canberra and missed this place, go back. It’s a world class museum that honors the sacrifices of those who’ve gone before to ensure our freedom to live as we choose. After a glass of wine, first on offer for canapes were fresh prawn rolls and they were really fresh and filled with prawns and herbs.

There were several presentations, a lot of “oh that’s YOUR blog, I love it!” and more and more and more food. The chicken satay sticks were perfectly cooked. You know how you can get them and the chicken is tough and hard to eat? No matter how good the sauce is, if the chicken is tough, it’s crap. This was really well done. I didn’t have any but the lamb chops were wonderful. Everyone was raving but by the time they came out, I was full. I did have a memory of them because someone dribbled sauce down the back of John’s jacket.

I had a lovely conversation with Annabel Candy who was visiting from the Sunshine Coast with her children. @rhubarbwhine, Shirley from was on the bus from the airport with us and it was so great to put a name to a face. She’s even more lovely in person if you can believe it.

I even met a fellow food blogger from Sydney who had the most amazing shoes! Have a gander at the personality you’d need to wear these. 🙂

I'm So Hungree

People Are Funny

zombie foodBecause of my blog at, my husband wrote a WordPress recipe plugin so that my blog could be nicely formatted and yet still give Mr. Google all the back-end bits and pieces that they require in order to give my recipes a photo and a rating and hopefully come up as relevant for the recipe name.

We’ve offered the plugin to other food blogs to use and we were going through the list of recipes that people have created using EasyRecipe.  It was more like a quick scan because there are nearly 90,000 of them and they’re coming in at the rate of 1 every minute or so.

We decided to reward people who were kind enough to tick the box on the plugin saying they wanted their recipe photos to be included in our promotions so they get a link back to their blogs.  We’re not pinching their recipes, only the main photo they’ve selected and linking it back to their site.

All recipes that get entered using our plugin must fill in the cuisine tag because Google requires it as a part of their recipe view inclusion.  Now you’d think that most people who write a food blog would understand what the word cuisine means but I’ve got to tell  you that you’d be wrong if you thought that too.  I’ve been going through a list of cuisines that don’t fit what WE thought the normal cuisines would be.  You know, French, Canadian, Australian, Swedish, etc., etc.

Here are a few “cuisines” that made me scratch my head:

  • doggy treats
  • Balls (I don’t want to know)
  • 2-cups
  • All of the above and below (I have NO clue)
  • Peanut butter and jelly (I’d put this one under American)
  • Injection
  • Crispy Bits and Burnt Ends (I need to meet this person)
  • Make-up (edible?)
  • Problem solver
  • Zombie  (this dish is probably best served cold)

So far I’ve classified most of the cuisines and will have to consolidate them now from names like “Dolce di Carnevale” to Italian and “Hoofdgerect” — I’m guessing Dutch but I’ll have to look it up and so on.  THEN I have to work on meal type.  It makes me roll my eyes to see what meal types people come up with for what I would classify as breakfast, lunch, dinner, picnic,  snack, beverage or dessert.  Here are a few meal types:

  • allergy-friendly (probably better suited for a tag)
  • dipping sauce (condiment?)
  • Buns (Come on over for buns around 7?)
  • homegrown
  • Maine (I’m sure they meant Main. I’m from Maine and John wanted to know if Maine was a national cuisine.  No.)
  • Rice
  • Sweet Tooth (While I have the sweetest tooth in town, I suspect this is dessert)

I can’t wait to share with you what we’re doing with all these photos.  It looks very cool indeed and I’m very proud of my long suffering husband/programmer who will code anything I ask.  Even if he thinks it’s dumb.  Not this one – we both like it and we hope you will too.


It’s Been a Good Month

not good enoughI can’t think of too many times in my life that I’ve been able to say that. While I know I’m clever and can get a lot done without huge effort, I tend to talk down to myself through that little voice in my head.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on that with a therapist who’s trying to help me change the dialog from “you can’t,” “you shouldn’t,” to “you can” and “you should.” It’s working! I don’t want to give too much away but I was chosen to go to Canberra by the ACT Tourism folks as a part of their Human Brochure program. 30,000 people submitted their details and I was one who was chosen. It all happens this weekend so fingers crossed that it goes well.

Last month I submitted my details to attend the Australian food blogging conference in Adelaide early next month. They only chose 70 people out of those who applied and I’m going to that too. They had so many people apply that they found a way to squeeze 10 more in. I’m really looking forward to catching up with food writers I’ve gotten to know over the past year that I’ve been blogging at

I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is, no matter how long you’ve been carrying baggage around in your head, it’s never too late to get rid of it. You’ve seen my photo and I’m no Spring chicken. Hell, I don’t think I’m even Autumn. Doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I finally said, “enough is enough,” and found someone to help me work through it all.

The best thing that happened is something I can’t really talk about but I’ll be included in an international panel of people who’ll all be talking about food. The exposure I’ll get to sponsors and opportunities to speak will be pretty cool. 6 months ago I would never have entertained doing something like this. I wouldn’t have felt good enough. The truth is, I AM good enough.

I only started this blog a few weeks ago and I’m already under a million on, the service that ranks sites on the net (google is #1). I’m not bragging (well not much) but I’m quite okay at this blogging routine.

Although I’m pretty busy, there is always time to help someone so if you ever want a chat, let me know. If you’re on the Sunshine Coast, coffee would be great. I love going out for coffee.

Do You Cringe at Making Cold Calls?

I confess that I’m if not the worst, I’m 2nd to the top of the list of the worst when it comes to making cold calls.  I would rather clean toilets in a bad service station than make a cold call – see what I mean?

A few weeks ago, my friend Madonna Robinson invited me for coffee and we’ve become good friends.  During one of our conversations she told me that what she’d really like is a new website to promote her ability to teach people how to make cold calls without fear.  My eyes opened really wide and I said, “Seriously, is it possible?  I’ve always been so uncomfortable calling someone I don’t know to sell them something they think they don’t need.”

She looked at me with the most confident face I’ve ever seen and said, “I’m 100% convinced I can teach anyone to cold call without fear.”

So I said, “Fine, if you are that convinced, I’ll help you build your site.”

Col Calling Without FearI’m not a commercial web designer and I’m not a commercial marketing expert but I’ve been working online since 1995 and in all that time I’ve learned a thing or three.  I’ve made a lot of money through web businesses and to get there I had to make every mistake in the book and learn from it.

Back in 1995 there were no rules, etiquette, spam, licensed photography or any guidelines whatsoever.  Those of us in the beginning had to forge our way through by trial and error.

My husband has been a programmer all his life so it was easier for us than some.  He says I’m not to be trusted with technology because I’m not afraid to touch break anything. So sometimes I do break things.  It seems I have an “it’s broken” voice when I yell, “Joooohhhhnnnn!”  I must have because when I say that I get, “What did you break this time, dear?”

Back to Madonna.  I asked her what sort of website she’d like and she pointed out a website that I thought looked awful. It was a design I would call “first generation” as in that’s what sites looked like in 1995.

I convinced her to go with a Thesis theme for WordPress because it’s what I use and I know it quite well and then she chose the color scheme, the column arrangement, the widgets at the bottom and then she went off to get her domain.

I helped with the setup and the header and John programmed the join my list and get my book free thingo to work automatically with MailChimp and the rest was all done by Madonna herself.  She even set up the PayPal linkage herself.  I knew she coud do it.

If you’re like me and have considered cleaning the servo’s toilets rather than make a cold call to boost your business, go over to Call Reluctance Queen and sign up to get her book for free.  I’m sure you’ll agree she has a terrific writing style.  I can’t wait for the full book to be written and to read the testimonials I know are going to come.


My Daily Blogging Routine

weekly plannerOr lack thereof.  I have two blogs and an online business that needs lots of support as well as a daily blog post so scheduling my time is really important to me.  I decided yesterday that I needed to do a bit of a google on what other full time bloggers try to get done every day.

I knew I shouldn’t have looked at schedules by men but those were what came  up first in my search.  One guy’s schedule went like this:

5:45  Take dog for walk
6:10   Shower
6:30  Meditate
7:00  Breakfast
7:15   Answer important emails or delegate
7:45   Read books, RSS or favorite bloggers via email
8:45  Coffee break
9:00  Log in to social media and share, retweet and connect with others
9:30  Check yesterday’s stats, site rankings, SEO positions
9:45  Plan the day
10:00 Research the day’s post and search stock photos or get the camera
10:30  Write post
noon  Go out to lunch
1:30  Finish blog post
2:00  Promote blog post
3:00  Answer emails
4:00  Log in to social media and share, retweet and connect with others
5:00  Power nap
6:00  Take dog for walk
6:30  Watch news
7:00  Dinner
7:20  Check income for the day
7:30  Watch television
10:00 Check email and blog comments
10:30  sleep

Now I don’t know about you but I’d LOVE to have a schedule like this, wouldn’t you?  Note there’s not one minute toward cleaning up after himself, no laundry, no vacuuming, no toilets being cleaned, no food shopping, no getting the car serviced, no mowing the lawn, no floors mopped – I could go on but it would make me cry.

Canal living means all the windows waterside must be washed every week or so, and more so with dog kisses at knee height.  And seriously, how can two people create a mountain of laundry every week and they go nowhere?

I’m a food blogger which means there’s a lot of cooking preceded by food shopping going on.  Then there’s the photographs.  A food blog lives and dies by its photos.  I don’t care how spectacular the recipe is, if the photos are shit, you’re wasting your time.  I don’t like to waste anything so I spend a lot of time on the food and the photos.

I didn’t see any time in this guy’s schedule for commenting.  I find leaving comments means a lot to my blog so I answer them on my blog and then I visit the person who left the comment and return the favour.  I can get up to 50 comments on a blog so that’s a lot of time reading other blogs and commenting back.

Perhaps I should sleep less but if I do, I get less done because I spend much of the day yawning.  Maybe I need household help to get all the chores done.  I’ll need to start earning money from my blog for that to happen.  🙂

Anyone got great tips for time management for bloggers?

  1.  7am get up, visit the loo and head to my office (no I don’t dress yet)
  2.  Do site work on business website that actually earns money and bores me to tears
  3.  Answer email
  4.  Put a load of wash on
  5.  Tidy up the living room (still not dressed) & the kitchen
  6. Shower, do my hair and makeup, get dressed. Yes, it’s 21 minutes whether I hurry or not.
  7. Water my pots of herbs.
  8. Log in to Facebook and Twitter and check private messages
  9.  Hang laundry and empty dishwasher
  10. Finish social media
  11. Do site work on business site
  12. Write daily business site blog
  13. Check blog comments and blogs I follow
  14. Make, eat lunch and clean up
  15. quick vacuum downstairs or scrub a toilet
  16. toss the ball to the dog… usually in the pool.  him not me
  17. Do site work on business site
  18. prep recipe ingredients
  19. start cooking
  20. photograph
  21. optimise photos
  22. write post
  23. fold laundry and clean up the mess in the kitchen
  24. check emails and social media (thankfully I have two monitors)
  25. Do site work on business site
  26. Walk the dog
  27. Cook dinner
  28. Eat dinner while watching the news
  29. Do site work on business site
  30. Check social media
  31. Visit blogs I follow which have updated since the morning
  32. Check blog comments and respond
  33. Check emails
  34. Take dog out to make sure he piddles before bedtime
  35. Tidy up, give bedtime treats to the dog and the cats
  36. Shower and brush teeth or just brush teeth
  37. Fall into bed and watch the Daily Show and Colbert
  38. Remember that I should have meditated first thing in the morning
  39. Remember that I forgot to do 50 things that should have been done
  40. Finally fall asleep.

It’s 12:34 am as I’m writing this (will post tomorrow) and it’s time to take the dog out and fall into bed.  I need a better schedule.  Notice there is no time in there for fun or sex.  I read this over and thought, “imagine if I had kids?”   I have NO idea how you young mums get it all done.


Blogging, Grammar and Pet Peeves

blogging, grammar and pet peevesBlogging is all about communication — I get that.  If you write something and I understand it, that’s communication.  At what point should grammar and composition enter in the scale of importance?

I’m no English teacher.  I went to university to become a teacher and once I finished I realized how much I hated being a teacher.  Teaching would be great except there are all those kids!  I make my own mistakes and I do regret every silly typo and grammatical error, honestly.  I can live with the occasional oops, we all make them.  It’s the blogs that make the same silly mistakes over and over again.

Things that make my eyes roll when I read blogs:

  • Never capitalizing the letter i when speaking in the first person.  “When i think of what we did on saturday nite I laugh.”
    Makes me want to get the ruler and slap ’em on the fingers. Capitalize the letter I and the letter S in Saturday please.
  • Apostrophes.  “There were several mum’s and dad’s at the park.”
    Seriously, people, an apostrophe is all about possession and if those mums and dads don’t own the park, leave the apostrophe off.
  • Bad spelling.  “I rembember being at the park and mediatating for 20 minutes.”
    Yes, I understand she remembered being at the park and when she was there she was meditating but I had to change thoughts from what she wanted me to understand to “why didn’t she spell check, it’s a great article but could be so much better.”
  • Comments.  “I really love your comments, please leave one.”
    Then they make you jump through hoops to do it.  First you have to join Disqus or some other thing or you have to be logged in to WordPress or Google.  If you make me work for it, you’ll have to do without my comment.
  • PopUps. “Enter your name and email address to join my list and get this book so I can capture your email address.”
    This is popped up right in the middle of the front page. How do I know if I like you yet and then you make me hunt for the secret x to close the window. I choose to leave.  Just ask me nicely to join, don’t scream at me. Maybe we can be friends.
  • Enter the CAPTCHA
    I don’t mind if I can read it but if I put it in once and I get it wrong, I’ll try again.  If you use one of those super tricky ones, I give up.  Nobody’s blog is worth that much of my time. If you use Akismet, do you really get that much spam anyway?
  • No social share buttons.
    After putting a post up saying that nobody ever “pins” your photos or shares them on Facebook or Twitter.  It’s because you make it like work.  Add the freakin buttons.
  • Load time.
    The faster your blog loads, the faster I can read it and the faster I can leave a comment.  Check your cache plugins – they’re usually the culprit.
  • No sign up by email.
    I like your blog but I can’t be bothered with RSS.  I check my mail, click to open your blog, read, comment and go away.  It works for me and I’m not alone.
  • Stupid tagline.
    “Just Another WordPress Site” is never going to make you a cent, folks.  It’s on the WordPress settings page under General and it’s a great spot for keywords.

I could go on but I know you’re bored.  What peeves you about blogs?

Why Building a Blog Community is Important

does anyone know your blog existsAre you a secret blogger?  Do you have a blog that nobody knows about and few visit regularly?  If the answer is yes, I suspect that there’s not enough “you” in there for people to want to become friends with you.  Your blog might read like an instruction manual with nothing to really engage a reader.  Anyone can get a textbook but people read blogs to engage with a real person.

If that’s you, step into the real world of blogging.  Real blogging is about attracting new friends who like what you have to say.  How do you make friends through your blog?  You start by being a friend.  Find blogs YOU enjoy and follow them through email or RSS feed.  Leave comments on that blog.  Leave comments on the ultra popular blogs because if what you have to say is clever, other people will find you and follow you home.  Check out the other commenters on the blogs you like and follow THEM home and before you know it, you’ve got a web of like-minded people who are becoming friends.

It’s not rocket science but it does take some effort.  Commenting takes time.  Your comments will be there for a long time and if you write something stupid, yep, it will last forever and it will have your name plastered all over it.  Popular bloggers like good comments.  “Nice Post,” “you rock,” and “I liked this” are probably better than no comments at all but imagine if you contributed to the conversation with a well thought out comment.  I’d much rather have one of those than 4 of the “nice blog” comments.  I always remember the bloggers who show their personality and add to the conversation.

One thing I might add about commenting is don’t waste anyone’s time by linking to your own article in your comment unless it is spot on relevant and will add to the conversation.  Otherwise it looks like spam.  If you don’t get insulted, you’ll certainly be less than welcome.

Ways to find more blogging friends

making new blog friendsAnother good way to find new blog friends is to look at the blogrolls of the blogs you really enjoy.  Who do they like?  Who do they think is a mover and a shaker in the niche you’re in?  Follow them home and see if their blog fits with your point of view and if so, leave a comment.

Join Facebook groups in your niche.  There are many groups on nearly every subject.  Join the group and participate.  “Like” other blog fan pages, comment on Facebook then comment on their blogs.  You’ll end up with return likes and a budding friendship. Google+ works too but not as well as Facebook in my experience.

Once you’ve found a blog and commented, then what?

Ramp it up a bit.  Write to the blog owner at his or her contact address or form.  Say how much you liked a particular post.  This works equally well for commenters too.  If the commenter has a blog, their name will link to their blog.  EVERYONE enjoys being flattered, especially when it’s sincere.  Don’t send tons of mail but when you have something of importance to say, let them know.  Popular bloggers still collect their own mail and brush their own teeth.  The only difference is how busy they are and how much more money they’re earning.

It feels good to have friends in your niche or industry and every friend will increase your knowledge and experience and before long you’ll all be on the same level wondering who met whom first.

Just as in the dating market, there are HEAPS of fish in the sea so if you follow a blog for a week and it bores you, don’t keep going back.  You want to follow blogs you can’t wait to read.  I’ve got one blog I follow that I check her blog before going to bed in case her new post is up before I get the email.  That’s the sort of blogs I think you should find for yourself.  It’s good to be choosey — you only want the follow the best.  Each post you read from a good blogger, the better your blog will become.  It might not happen overnight but you can’t read quality without picking some of the tips up subconsciously.


Tips for Better Blogging

Blogging TipsI’ve been writing on the Internet for a long time.  John and I started our first online business in 1995 just a year after we’d met so we’ve been doing this a long time.  We frequently get asked for tips on getting noticed, achieving authority, building a community and even how to come across as an expert.

I would never call  myself an expert but I do have experience and I suppose some confidence that’s come as a result of that experience.

The most important tip I could give anyone is “Be Yourself”

I see SO many blog posts with articles that look like they copied directly from a fifth grade school book.  Nothing is more boring to read.  Put some personality in there, folks, otherwise why would we bother to read your stuff.  I’m often given guest posts for my food blog from PR companies, SEO marketers and others and I read them and cringe.

When I read a post I want to *feel* something.  Make me happy, make me hungry, make me sad, make me angry – just make me SOMETHING.

Make your posts easy to read.

It can be tough to read a lot of text, paragraph after paragraph on a screen.  Research has proven that faced with a complete page of text, 90% of people will move on.  It’s tough to read and nobody wants to follow along with their finger.

What’s worse is a paragraph of text that goes for more than a couple of sentences.  We’ve all seen them and groaned and thought, “it’s difficult to follow, forget it.”  It’s okay to break up a long paragraph even if your high school grammar teacher would cringe.  It’s much better to be read than to be correct.

Use photos in your posts.

Tease me with good photos.  We love eye candy and the use of photos in your post also helps to break up the text and make your posts look easy to read. If you have a food blog, take a class in photography or food styling.  If you have a blog about cars, take the best photos you can.  DON’T pinch photos off the net and assume that it’s okay to use them. It’s NEVER okay to use someone else’s photos.  Why would they take photos for you?  They don’t.  The only time I can see that it would be okay is a meme on Facebook or Twitter where the creator really wants the photo to get around virally.

Update your blog often.

A blog that gets updated in a timely manner quickly builds a community.  I really want to blog every day and once I can do this full time, that’s my goal.  Until then I will update at least twice a week.  Anyone can update twice a week and your readers will appreciate your effort.

500 words should be your goal.

It’s wonderful if you can write a blog post of 2500 words but honestly, few people will read that much on a blog.  When people surf the net they hit the big waves and move on to the next one. The first 500 words of your post will get read and the rest will tumble to the floor like scrabble words.

Have I ever broken this rule?  Yes, several times so there are always exceptions.  I’ve done food writer interviews filled with the story, photographs and recipes that went far too long.  I couldn’t find a good stopping point and there was no way to break it up into several posts so I went with it with no problems.  The photos make a difference.