Blog Stalkers – Personal Safety for Bloggers

‘Stalker’ is such a harsh word and one not to be used lightly but in December of last year I realized that I had one.

I’ve hinted at this once or twice in this blog and in my email newsletter and some ProBlogger readers did see a few of the comments that he left on this blog (he was the one that called himself ‘blogkiller’ – but I’ve avoided talking about it up until now for reasons of security and not wanting to agitate the situation further.

It’s been almost two months now since the situation was resolved and I believe it is now safe to talk about it without inflaming things (but hope you’ll forgive me for not going into too many specifics).

What I will say is that the situation arose when someone who lives in my city read a number of posts written on another blog about me. Before he read them I was unknown to him but the posts attacked me, made allegations about me which were untrue and it was written (in my opinion) without fact checking in quite an aggressive tone. Who wrote it and which post it is is irrelevant (in fact I’ve made peace with the blogger and resolved it) – the fact is the person who read it was in a place in their life where they were under extreme pressure and mentally unstable.

The posts were enough to trigger some extreme thought processes and obsessions in this person that led to a chain of escalating events that went from what I initially considered to be a harmless comment troll, to a cyber-nuisance, to a concerning threat maker, to what unfortunately became a situation where there was a physical attack made upon my property.

This process was very unsettling and in the end shook me up quite a bit.

As I’ve written above the situation is now resolved. I do not feel under threat – but in the process I’ve learned a lot and have a somewhat different view of blogging.

I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons.

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How to Make Your Millions through Blogging???

I just saw a blog post on a blog (I’m not going to link to it because it’s a pretty spammy site that pushes splog software and was filled with lots of affiliate ads) that made me laugh (and feel a little depressed all at once).

The topic of the post was about how to make massive income through AdSense and Affiliate programs through creating ‘niche content sites’. Here were their steps:

1. Set up a Blog – they recommended a variety of free blogging platforms (including – which if you dig even a little you find don’t allow you to use Adsense, YPN, Chitika or most other ad systems on

2. Add your Google Adsense Code – (with affiliate button)

3. Find a related affiliate products (they recommend ClickBank – of course with an affiliate link)

4. Promote your blog (using pinging software – more affiliate links)

Easy isn’t it!

But what’s the missing step in this process to creating massively successful niche content sites?

How about Content?

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Using a Blog Editorial Calendar to Plan Content

Excel Editorial Calendar
If you’re the type of blogger who needs (or likes) a bit of structure and planning in your blogging activities you might like to check out the Editorial Calendar that Andy has put together to help you map a rhythm for your blog.

I will say that this sort of strategy is not for everyone but I do know of a number of bloggers who swear by using this type of tool to keep their blog’s frequently updated with a variety of interesting posts.

Andy was inspired to come up with this calendar by his recent interview with Yvonne from Lipsticking. He describes her suggestion as follows:

“In that call, she suggests bloggers use an editorial calendar to keep their blogging on track throughout the week: pick a topic to cover for each day of the week and stick to it. That way, there’s no friction in figuring out what to post for a given day. You can choose certain topics for each day of the week, a certain category to post in, a certain type of post format (interivew, top 10 list, etc). The important part is that you are removing another brick of potential writer’s block.”

While I don’t find a rigid schedule helpful on any of my blogs I’ve recommended it for a number of bloggers who have suffered from bloggers block. It’s especially good for new bloggers who are not yet in the rhythm of posting regularly and who need a little motivation and inspiration each day to get things going.

The other side benefit that Yvonne spoke about in her recent interview with Andy was that she found that some of her readers loved her weekly cycle and would come to the blog each day knowing what they’d find and enjoying the regular features.

Once again – it’s not for everyone but worth playing with if you struggle with a more random approach.

What to Do when Your Blog is Attacked


‘Blogging would be great if it wasn’t for the people.’

This is the comment of one blogger that I spoke with recently after they’d had a particularly hard week of blogging. He had come under quite intense criticism from a number of other bloggers in his niche who had attacked him after he’d rather unwisely picked a fight with one of them. Some of the attack he received was fair enough (he deserved it in part) but other parts got personal and spiteful and left a sour taste in the mouth of all concerned. To say there was a ‘blog fight’ would be an understatement.

There comes a time in most blogger’s experience when blogging just sucks. When you communicate in a public forum you are automatically put under scrutiny – when you communicate online there seems to be an added pressure as there is an anonymity on the web that seems to cause some people to loose all sense of reasonableness, curtsey and inhibitions (a dangerous combination).

So what should you do when it all gets too much and blogging begins to suck because of the actions of others? Here are a few thoughts that come from my own experience of sucky blogging days over the past few years.

1. Thicken Your Skin – For starters, and even before you start a blog, you need to prepare yourself for the day that ‘one of those days’ comes along in your blogging. As I say, it will happen if you blog for long enough so you might as well start preparing yourself for it sooner than later. In fact while some people don’t like criticism and sometimes it’s not much fun to see the weaknesses in your work pointed out – it’s actually one of the strengths of blogging and a certain level of critique should be expected and will help to make you a better blogger. Having said this you might like to also prepare for how you might deal with it before it happens rather than reacting in the heat of the moment in a way that might do more damage than good.

2. Establish Boundaries – This is another thing you should do before a conflict to help preempt them. I’ve talked about setting boundaries on many occasions on this blog in terms of deciding what you will and won’t blog about – but another type of boundary to consider is the type of things that you’ll allow in the interactive areas of your blog. For instance, what level of language will you allow? Will you delete comments that engage in flaming? What tolerance will you have for trolls? What will you do if someone leaves a comment that could be defamatory towards someone else? What types of comments will and won’t you respond to? Once again, thinking about these things before a conflict is helpful once it actually happens. While I know that some people have problems with editing the comments of others on their blog, I do not. If someone leaves a comment that I think goes beyond what I’m comfortable with take approapriate action. While this has happened to me on only a handful of occassions in three years – it does occassionally happen (usually when I feel someone’s comments are defamatory, racist and/or very offensive).

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Most Blog Readers Don’t Care they are Reading a Blog

One of the problems of immersing yourself in any one sub-group of people is that it’s very easy to lose the bigger picture.

This happens in many areas of life but is true for bloggers and more specifically for those who are active in the ‘Pro Blogging’ part of the overall blogging community.

One of the traps that it’s easy to fall into as a blogger is to think that your readers care that they are reading a blog.

While there is definitely a growing percentage of the wider population that know what a blog is and that would intentionally seek them out to read – the vast majority of web users either are blissfully unaware of blogs or if they do know about them couldn’t give two hoots about them.

In my experience what web users DO care about is getting relevant and quality information quickly.

Whether they find it on a forum, a static web page or on a blog doesn’t concern them.

What worries me as I surf through many blogs each day is that there seem to be quite a few bloggers (and some blog networks) who in my mind are a little obsessed with reminding their readers that they are on a blog. While there is nothing wrong with educating readers about blogging occasionally I suspect in most cases readers don’t really care and that constantly reminding them of the fact that they are on a blog is something that can actually work against you.

This was illustrated to me a few months ago when after being Slashdotted I read the comments thread on the post that had linked to me there and was very amused by the fact that quite a few readers were paying out blogs but were completely unaware that their beloved Slashdot was in fact a blog itself. When some pointed this out to them there was a shock among some who said that they’d never considered Slashdot to be a blog because it had never promoted itself as such.

Instead of promoting itself as a blog as such, Slashdot works hard at presenting itself as a space where nerds get news about ‘stuff that matters’.

I listened to an interesting podcast this morning with Jeremy Wright and Tyme White where they picked up on this theme for a few minutes towards the end of their conversation. In it they talked a little about how many blogs and blog networks seem to be writing for other bloggers but are perhaps missing the bigger market of ‘non-bloggers’ who are not as technologically minded or web savvy but who just want information about the stuff they love.

I think their observation is correct. While I’m not suggesting bloggers need to dumb down their blogging I think the mind-shift of moving from writing for other bloggers to writing for ‘normal people’ (I can see bloggers everywhere scrolling down to the comments section after that phrase) is one worth making for most bloggers.

This means getting out of our own little Pro Blogging Ghetto and learning to communicate with others in ways that are accessible and smart – otherwise we limit the potential for our success.

From Corporate America to Professional Blogging – Becoming a Hired Blogger

Last week Jackie Willey (from Discover Walking and Amore Travel) left a comment on one of my posts as follows:

‘I own and market two blogs. As a result of my writing for these two blogs I was hired to write for two other blogs. In one case I bartered for services and in the other I was paid. There are opportunities out there once you can demonstrate your writing abilities.’

While this blog is about the broad topic of making money from blogs I’m aware that I tend to gravitate towards advertising and affiliate programs as this is how I make the majority of my own money blogging. I know that this is only one approach and that many others, like Jackie, are professional bloggers in other ways.

As a result I emailed Jackie and asked if she’d be interested in writing a post to share her experiences of becoming a hired blogger. Jackie went above and beyond my request for a short post on the topic and has put together the following guide on the topic which shares some of her own experiences of becoming a hired blogger.

From Corporate America to Professional Blogging

My career has been a magnet for corporate layoffs from mergers, consolidations and business closings. You would think that being an executive with Fortune 500 companies such as Citibank, Prudential and Digital Equipment would be a safe haven.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. In key corporate finance and project management positions, my only saving grace is that I am usually one of the last employees out the door.

The good news, I can state from vast experience that the overwhelming majority of displaced co-workers found better jobs. In fact, many of my friends have taken the opportunity to find their dream jobs.

This last corporate layoff, I decided it was time to design my own dream job. After researching web-based businesses, blogs appeared to be an opportunity I could not resist. ProBlogger has been an enormous help getting me started. Reading the articles and comments became part of my “how to” guide.

My first step was to create one website to feed my traveling passion and another website to encourage people to walk. Both are subjects I enjoy writing about and having two subjects added diversity to my income stream.

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Lessons from my Tomato Patch on Pruning ‘Sucker’ Blogs

Warning, Tangent Ahead – One of the best tips I’ve had in my new found hobby of growing vegetables is when it comes to growing Tomatoes (we currently have more than V and I can eat – so the tip is working).

The idea behind the tip is simple.

Tomato bushes grow fast in the right conditions and while they might start as a small seedling, left unchecked they will sprout out into all directions with new stems and can quickly become quite out of control and tangled. The result is that you end up with a very healthy looking bush – but because it is so large a lot of the energy that ideally should be being directed into growing fruit is wasted on growing leaves and stems and as a result your crop suffers.

The tip therefor is to look for ‘suckers’ and to prune them.

A sucker is a little shoot that grows out between two stems that can grow out into yet another stem (see picture below). In pruning them you keep the number of branches down and the bush doesn’t get out of control. Suckers also suck the energy away from your bush’s ability to grow fruit.

When I first heard this advice from my green thumbed friend it seems a little strange – surely one would want a big bush – wouldn’t that produce more fruit than a smaller one?

I decided to do a bit of an experiment. I let one bush go crazy and didn’t prune the suckers while I too the advice and removed them on my other bushes.

The results speak for themselves….

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There’s Gold in Your Archives

John from the Movie Blog just shot me an email with an experience he’s just had which illustrates one of the principles I tend to go on about here at ProBlogger (for example here, and):

Hey Darren,

Just a little piece of information that supports one of the things you talk about a lot here on your site… OLD POST STILL WORKING FOR YOU.

2 spikes in traffic that happend in the last week were both based on old post.

I put up a post a LONG time ago about the Colin Ferrell sex video scandle… when it came up again in the news this week, my old post brought in thousands of visitors.

Then last night… The Golden Globe awards were given out. My post for “Golden Globe Award Results”, which I put up for the 2005 awards show (a year ago) is coming up at #1 on Google and driving huge traffic today.

So there you go… just another illustration about how you’re right about the value of old posts still working for you.

John’s discovered first hand the power of Making Money with the Archives of your Blog. I’ve written numerous times on the topic – another ‘how to’ type post that might be helpful for people wanting to explore this is Increasing the Longevity of your Posts.

Sub-Niche Blogging – Lesson’s from a Baker Named Tom

Tom Otoole

Warning: Tangent Ahead

A few months ago ‘V’ and I took a some time off to go on a weekend road trip to a country town in the North East of our state called Beechworth.

One of the interesting things about the lead up to the trip was the well over half the people we told where we were heading immediately would tell us about the Beechworth Bakery (in fact it was probably closer to 80-90% of people).

I wasn’t surprised by this as I’d come across the bakery a number of times over the past couple of decades. Firstly as a child visiting Beechworth but then in more recent years as someone interested in business and coming across the name of the owner of the bakery (Tom O’Toole) many times as an entrepreneur who does a lot of public speaking and who has written a number of popular books on the topic of how he’s built his business. Tom has a reputation of being a pretty zany kind of guy who has built a multi-million dollar business.

When we got to Beechworth the Bakery was even bigger than I remember it as a child – business has been good for Tom. The Bakery now occupies two levels and is a dominant feature of the main street of what is a reasonably small country town with a big focus on Tourism for it’s Gold Mining History.

We enjoyed a number of good lunches and coffees at the bakery over the weekend (as well as some other very fine restaurants which the town has) but I didn’t think much more about Tom and his bakery until this past weekend when we were traveling through two other rural towns/cities in another part of the state (Echuca and Bendigo) and came across two more ‘Beechworth Bakeries’.

It seems that Tom has gotten into the Franchise business and that there are now 7 ‘Beechworth Bakeries’ across the country.

As I sat having lunch in one of them last Friday I began to ponder what Tom had done.

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