On Writing

woman writing with quill pen

So I am all the way to day 5 of my 30 day challenge. And already it is getting hard to post everyday. It is not that I have any trouble at all coming up with topics. I’ve got enough things I’d like to talk about for the rest of this month and well into next! I think my challenge is, I’d like to talk about it, not write about it.

I don’t really think I am much of a writer. So why would I write on a blog (or two or three) and even volunteer for a challenge to write every day for 30 days? Because I want to become a good blog writer. Like many things, blog writing is a learn by doing type of activity. I expect that if at the end of this 30 day challenge I’ll be a much better writer than I am now!

Sometimes it helps some to read other blogs. When I find writing that I like, I try to analyze it and figure out what makes the writing good. There is one problem with that. Often, If I really like someone’s writing a little voice inside of me says “You’ll never write that well, you might as well just give it up now”. I quiet that voice by reading blog posts about writing blog posts!

But then I’m off into the World Wide Wasteland, reading this blog and that blog. It is so much easier for me to read than to write. (You don’t know it but I just spent the last twenty minutes away reading about writing!) Plus the advice is either contradictory (write short posts, write long posts, post every day, don’t post more than three times a week) or painfully obvious. (Write something your readers will want to read)

What helped you learn how to write? Let me know your best blogging tips here.

Thanks,

Katalina Mau Signature

PR -0- AND PROUD OF IT!

PR Checker

It is that time again. The forums and blogs are all abuzz. Google is updating pagerank, and bloggers and webmasters everywhere are rejoicing… or groaning. I guess I should be in the second category. The pagerank of this blog has not changed, it was PR0 before and it is PR0 now. But my other blog, My CFO on the Go was a PR1 and now is a PR0. What changed? My page views went from 200 to over 4,000 per month. Backlinks from 3 to almost 1000. Alexa rank has gone from a 3 month average of 850,000 to 213,000. Yesterday’s Alexa was 82,000. So except for Google PageRank, every statistic for MyCFOontheGo shows dramatic improvement. Still the drop in PageRank isn’t really a surprise for me. You see, I made a few changes last month, and I knew that Big Daddy Google wouldn’t approve.

I began accepting paid posts, (which is fully disclosed) and I removed all the nofollow tags and made my blogs do-follow blogs. I am very happy with the changes. I am earning a little money, and the people that comment on my blog get a link back to their blog. It seems only fair.

But this does put me in a bit of a predicament. The advertisers who pay for posts are looking for high PR blogs. Page Rank is easy for them to check, and it is supposed to give an idea of how popular a web page is. If I had gotten my expected PR3 (according to the Iwebtool.com PR predictor) I would have plenty of advertisers wanting me to post for them. With a PR0, not so many. It becomes a catch 22. High pagerank causes more advertisers… which lowers page rank… which lowers advertisers… which raises pagerank. Do see the problem?

I have given it some thought and there are a few things I could do. I could remove all the paid posts, make all the links on my site no-follow, and then I could grovel back to Google and ask them to reconsider if I promise never to do it again. But I didn’t create my blogs for Google. They are for me, for my readers, and for my advertisers. I don’t want Google telling me what I can or cannot do on my blog. Plus, from my own experience, PageRank is not that great an indicator of readership. (See the chart later in the post) My other choice is to keep doing things the way I do now. Accept paid posts, while making sure they provide value to my readers as well as to my advertisers. Keep my links do-follow links, so when someone is takes the time to make a thoughtful comment on my blog I can be nice enough to give them a link.

I have decided to run a little experiment, just to see how important pagerank really is. I have four active blogs right now. Two that I am very active with, and two that really could use a little more attention. Here is a table showing the stats on those four sites right now.

Sorry, not sure what is going on here. Please scroll down for the table.







Site PageRank 3 Month Alexa 1 Week Alexa 30 Day Page Views BackLinks
MyCFOontheGo.com 0 212,919 112,533 4048 981
KatalinaMau.com 0 680,441 314,639 1496 561
NinjaSuccess.com 2 851,145 568,953 1079 662
GetRichGeek.com 3 1,500,785 435,730 880 34

As you can see, the sites with the highest pagerank, actually have the lowest page views, and the lowest number of backlinks.

Which is why I believe that maybe Google PageRank isn’t the best indicator of how much traffic (quality or otherwise) a website gets.

Which leads into my experiment. From now, until the next pagerank update I am going to keep KatalinaMau.com and MyCFOontheGo.com the way they are. The way I want them to be. But for NinjaSuccess.com and GetRichGeek.com I am going to comply with Googles requirements. No paid posts and nofollow links. It will be interesting to see what happens and I’ll report back to you after the next PR update.

Do you have a blog or a website and you think your PR isn’t what it should be? I am planning on putting together a directory of quality sites with traffic, and low or no pagerank. If that sounds like your site, leave a comment with your stats. If it all checks out I’ll add you to the directory as time permits.

Criticism

How do you deal with criticism on your blog? I would like to say I am a perfect adult and always take criticism well. But my first reaction often is “HOW DARE YOU FIND ANY FLAWS IN MY BABY! DON’T YOU KNOW, LIKE ALL BABIES, IT IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!”

Once I get over my temper tantrum I then try and take a more objective look at the critique, and appreciate the time and consideration that went into it.

This has been a week of critiques. First, I found out, quite by accident, that KatalinaMau.com was reviewed by Bloggeries. Bloggeries is my favorite blogging forum, and you will often find me hanging out there, usually when I should be doing something else! I am thrilled that they choose to review my blog, but I am surprised that they did not find my blog to be perfect. (Please see first paragraph) You can read the review here. While they did have some very nice things to say, there were more than a few things that they felt could “use improvement”. One of which was the overall look of my blog. Ouch! I worked hard to make it look like that! I felt much better when a few days later a commenter said she really liked the look of my blog.

And then there is the issue of posting. I know I have been bad about keeping up with the posts. There are just so many other things to do! But not only did Bloggeries mention that I should be more regular in my posting, Reward Rebel took the time to send me a PM saying pretty much the same thing. To both of you I want to say a really big Thank You! Sometimes we all need a friendly little kick in the behind to get moving.

So the whole purpose of this post is to let you know that I have listened to the critiques, and found them valid. Over the next few weeks I will be working on the overall look and feel of KatalinaMau.com. Let me know what you think of the changes. I will be trying out different themes, seeing what I can do with them.

The other thing I am going to do is take the Alan Lest’s 30 Day Blogging Challange.

I am going to do my best to make a blog post every day, for 30 days in a row. I just hope I can make most of  the posts something someone would actually want to read! I know that by doing anything for 30 days you can make it a habit. I have heard from other people that once you get started it becomes much easier, and you become a better blogger. And that is what it really comes down to. While my inner child fumes that anyone could find anything I create less than perfect, the adult in me knows that these types of critiques will make me a better blogger.

Thanks again everyone!

Paying Off Your Mortgage

One of my lifetime goals, was to pay off my mortgage and live in my home debt free. I set that goal 20 years ago, and I achieved it 3 years ago. Paying off my mortgage, and all my debts, has been one of the best things I have ever done. Having no debt payments allows me to live quite comfortably on a small income, while being able to save for retirement.

Paying off a mortgage early isn’t easy. It takes discipline and the ability to look to the long term. But while surfing the net today I found an interesting tip that would be easy for most people to implement, and could take a few years off of your mortgage. It only works if you have an adjustable mortgage. With an adjustable mortgage your monthly payment is going to vary along with your interest rate. When your interest rate is higher you have a higher payment, and when your loan adjusts down, so does your payment. In an article titled “Borrowers can pay off mortgage early by keeping payments up”, the site, Money Magic suggests that when interest rates go down, and your mortgage payment goes down, you should continue paying the higher payment. By continuing to pay the higher payment (which you’ve already managed to squeeze into your budget!) even a relatively small interest rate drop can take years off your mortgage!

Along with news and tips relating to your mortgage, Money Magic offers a First Time Buyer Mortgage .  The sooner you have your mortgage, the sooner you can pay it off!

Life Insurance

Today I am going to talk a little about life insurance. Not the most exciting topic, but one that is very important. Life insurance is an important financial tool that benefits those you leave behind when you die.

Reasons to Buy Life Insurance

To Provide an Income For Your Dependents

This is probably the most common reason for buying life insurance, to take care of those who depend on you for their financial income. This could be your children, your spouse, or even your parents.

To Cover Final Expenses

Maybe you don’t have anyone depending on you financially, but funerals can be expensive, and you don’t want to create a financial burden for your loved ones.

To Pay Federal and State Death Taxes

It is a sad but true fact, Uncle Sam taxes you when you die. Buying life insurance can provide cash to pay estate taxes, so your heirs do not need to sell other assets (like the family home) to pay taxes.

Types of Life Insurance

There are two main types of life insurance, Whole Life and Term Life. The most common type of life insurance is level term insurance. With this type of insurance you pay a monthly or annual premium, and as long as you pay your premium you are covered for a set benefit amount. Quit paying your premium, and you are no longer insured.
Whole life insurance is usually more expensive, but has an investment feature built in. As you continue to pay your premiums, your policy begins to have a cash value, which you can borrow against if need be. Hold your policy long enough, and the earnings from the investment portion will begin to cover the premium amount.

Which Is Best?

Everyones needs are different, and you need to do some research to find the most cost-effective policy that best suits your needs. One way to Save Money on Insurance is to go through an online broker such as AdvantageTermLife.com. There you can get a quote on different types of life insurance and find a policy that meets your needs and your budget.

Remember, life insurance is a good way to protect your family financially when you can’t be there. Find out which type of insurance is best for you and shop around. The life insurance market is highly competitive, there are some good deals to be found.