24.8.07

Going Down Under: How You Can Get Cheap Hotel Rates


Clockwise: Logan City Motor Inn Brisbane;
Rydges Hotel North Sydney;
Oakford Gordon Towers Melbourne

If you happened to plan an itinerary to Australia that covers the major cities, you need to plan ahead especially if you're looking for budget rates at hotels in Brisbane, hotels in Sydney, and hotels in Melbourne.

Smart travellers who would like to make sense of their travel budget can always check out travel and tourism websites for the right information before they fly off to their destinations.

Cheaperthanhotels.com.au is one such site that have the information if you're looking for cheap accomodation in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. I helped a friend from overseas who was making a business cum holiday trip to Down Under recently by checking out the information on this site. It was a breeze gathering the information.

They offer advance discount contract rates, so you save money and secure your hotel reservations. Well, this friend should be able to spend some quality time viewing the Great Barrier Reef while in Brisbane, check out the famous Opera House in Sydney and discover eclectic boutiques in Mebourne if he's the adventurous type.

Of related interest:
Destination Australia

22.8.07

Lowdown On My 'Monkey Business'


If you have been noticing some funny goings-on over at my MyBlogLog's home page for CommonSense With Markk, please keep your cool.

I've been asked why some of my postings kept on repeating themselves under the
Lastest Content column for RSS feed.

For example, you can see that my latest post "Rumblings About Guest Blogging" is showing up three times, and the posting before it, "It's The Year of Blog Re-Design!," is giving you double vision!


Okay, let's cut down to the chase. Here's the lowdown.


Firstly, let us understand that I'm not spamming my ownself or anyone for that matter. I'm sure you have seen worst in the MyBlogLog message column.


The heart of the matter is this: I've been making or rather re-configuring my blog's RSS feed and re-jigging a number of other things that relate to this site. I've moved from Blog.spot to my own domain name.


I must admit I'm not a technical genius like some of you clever bloggers. So I'm not sure whether I've done right or wrong in my tweaking. I pray everything will turn out hunky dory though.


I've also gone nutty with my tweaking at my secondary blog
The NextPost. Talk about itchy fingers and all that!

Why all this sudden monkey business? Preparing for Blogging Armageddon?


Don't panic! The reason: I'm preparing my blogs before the Google PageRank hurricane hits. It's good that there's still no sign of it yet. But better make hay while the sun shines!


And just a little hint: I've been busy trying to set up a couple of blogs over at everybody's favorite haunt - WordPress. Talk about some bloggers leaning solely on WordPress and others banking their hopes on Bloggers.


I'm all for both - 50% here, 50% there. And never the twine shall meet.
But that's another blogging tale to tell next time around.


P.S. To those who are linking here, please change the URL to http://commonsensewithmarkk.com. Thanks.

18.8.07

Rumblings About Guest Blogging

It's getting a bit tiresome and boring when you start to see more and more blogs lending themselves to guest bloggers.

It began somewhat as an ingenious, evil idea to keep a blog chugging along with new posts every other day so as not to lose traffic while the webmaster takes a "blogging break."


Everybody thought that was real cool and like a flock of sheep started to arrange for guest bloggers to post on their sites.


The usual banal statement about planning to go on a short holiday or something to that effect will be posted to invite those interested to "apply for the job."


Since it was seen as a trendy thing to do and with a linkbait thrown in for good measure, there was no shortage of applicants.


If you're a high-ranking blog, more applicants will throw themselves at your doorsteps for a chance to write a post. But if you're not so high on the hit parade, don't ever try to think about it, because I have seen a few guess-blogging invites that just went a-begging with hardly any taker.


How would you feel when nobody is interested to be your guess blogger? Pull down the shutters and hide somewhere?


Now you see, it's not for everyone. Only the big fish will do for some of these guest blogging wannabes.

Let me post a couple of questions:
  • Are you a sucker for guest blogging because you need exposure?

  • Are you that desperate to get more backlinks?
Guest blogging has become more than a joke. That's how the lady samurai Kumiko at CashQuests sees it now. According to her, more than 10 of the blogs she had visited have gone into "guest-blogging mode" and you can rightly guess that the blog owners are having their siesta.

Kumiko, not one to be shy about calling a spade a spade, describes the senario as such:


BlockquoteWhen you go to a blog and find that the latest post is guest-written it's like buying a ticket to a Christina Aguilera concert and then when you arrive finding that Christina has the day off and Paris Hilton is singing in her place. If you've heard Paris Hilton sing - you know you'll be wanting your money back!"

I've seen this trend myself at one of my favourite blogs - the famous JohnCow blog - where we used to party and moo until the milk ran dry.


Jokes aside, John Cow's blog has attained a kind of aura about it that makes it so popular with tons of bloggers. I read JohnCow.com because I like his maverick style and I had written a few posts on my own blogs about the goings-on on his site.


But lately there have been too many of these "guest blogger experiment" posts which just took away the real essence of the original cow blog. Suddenly the "heart and soul" of the site seems to have taken a wrong turning.


Whatever the guest bloggers write on Mr Cow's blog, it's not the same as the original writer. Hopefully everything will return back to normal, and we can have a real hoot again!


Let me disclose that I was invited to guest blog at JohnCow.com when the blog was starting a herd stampede. At that time I'd thought to myself "Why not" but I never got round to it. Because each time I wrote a new post I couldn't bring myself to post it over there. I got to have it on my own blog, not for a few backlinks or any kind of exposure over there.


However, I understand some other bloggers will disagree and still maintain that guest blogging can be a winning situation for those involved. They are mostly bloggers who look upon blogging as a kind of profession and making money is their bottom line.


Here's a sensible viewpoint from John over at Finding The Money who feels that having guest bloggers is a double-edged sword. With so many blogs out there, he believes that finding good ones is not that easy.


John has some good reasons why having a guest blogger may not be a good idea: (1) Failure to meet readers' expectations; (2) Guest post may not be good enough; (3) Good blogger, but wrong blogger.


Just as Kumiko has come to realize that guest blogging is not what it's cracked up to be, Matt over at The Article Writer also frowns on it when he posted about how a guest blogger can be more harmful than helpful to your blog.


According to Matt, he's not in favour of guest blogging for one simple reason:

BlockquoteI have branded The Article Writer and I use my blog as one way of pitching my work to prospective clients. I must maintain a consistent voice throughout the blog as this site is one way I showcase my writings."

Matt also suggested that if you choose to use the services of a guest blogger, it might be wise to add in a disclaimer stating that the views of the guest blogger aren't necessarily your own. Good point.


If only we do not lend ourselves as slaves to the link-and-traffic syndrome, then we don't need to worry about posting everyday. As John at Finding The Money puts it, you can let the post frequency slides while you're away. What's so bad about that? Losing traffic?


Yaro Starak over at Entrepreneur's Journey had written about "Pillar" articles
that can help to sustain your traffic while you take a break. You can also read it here.


High-ranking blogger Steve Pavlina
doesn't write that often but when he has a post it's got quality written all over it. And that post has staying power, and traffic keeps coming while Mr Pavlina is taking a nap.


The bottom line:
Stay true to your own blog, maintain quality and you'll get quality and loyal readers.

Think Before You Blog


12.8.07

It's The Year Of Blog Re-Design!

Holy cow! If this is not the Year of the Big Blog Revamp then I don't know beyond my nose what is.

In every nook and corner of the Blogosphere, it looks like there's a new awakening...a sort of renaissance in blog design.


Bloggers are getting a bit of the itch to get rid of old default templates and whatnot. Now we are seeing blogs getting a new lease of life with their new looks. Well, you can say some are sexy, some cute, some cool, some hot, and some are...well, loud and over the top!


It doesn't matter which blog platform you're running on, bloggers are getting more sophisticated and more adept at making design changes with the help of new WordPress and Blogger themes that are now available.


Could this be the dawn of understanding that good blog design is not a far-fetched idea? Design is an important aspect of your blog other than the content. If you have a well-designed site that has form and function, nobody can shake a mouse at you and say "boo!"


When you start seeing some of Blogosphere's top guns joining the revamp party, don't be surprised to see the next wave of followers go gaga over blog re-design. Here are some recent makeovers that I have come across:


Problogger













One of the latest face-lifts concerns the famous Problogger site of Australian blogger Darren Rowse. Here's a screenshot of the site. Overall, I think it's a good effort.


The Thinking Blog














The next high profile blog to have undergone a revamp is The Thinking Blog that is authored by Ilker Yordas. People used to praise the old design with oohs and aahs. Now with a total overhaul, you should read the comments section. Obviously, there are more oohs and aahs.


Goodness Graciousness












The inspirational blog of Jennifer Jones has got a fresh look with a striking header that nicely conveys the theme of her site.


SmartWealthyRich














Jonathan
over at SmartWealthyRich has done another makeover - his second within a short period. According to him, he wasn't satisfied with the previous makeover, so it's back to the drawing board for him. This is how his blog looks now.

8.8.07

Amazing CTR Data On Sponsored Content

How often have we read on some blogs where the writers discuss sponsored posts as something that you should not touch with a 10-ft pole. With their noses in the air, they brush off such contents on your blog and arbitrarily assume that nobody read them or click on sponsored posts.

Understandably, what they are saying is that they are "pure bloggers" and cannot afford to lose credibility by indulging in this sponsored post circus.


They demand disclosure from bloggers who are into these online writing opportunities. They frown on the buzz created by these posties on products and services. They even hinted at boycotting blogs that do such posts.


In their own language, these posts are worthless and won't do any good to your blog. To a certain extent, that's quite true. And it applies to bloggers who can't write without stumbling upon their grammar and spelling. They leave a black mark on their own blogs and generally project the wrong impression of paid posts.


But this will soon be taken care of as more sponsors are demanding better quality posts and posties are expected to brush up on their language. And, of course, there are many bloggers who have written top-notch quality posts as well.


Now here's the big surprise that will sound like sweet music, especially to advertisers. A study recently concluded by PayPerPost has revealed that sponsored posts deliver a 10.545%
average ctr (click through rate).

What does that mean? In plain language, the amazing data tells us that sponsored content is being read and driving traffic to your site. It's a revelation.


The study indicates that people are clicking on sponsored posts, and "they click through at a higher rate than any other media." Some posties have clicked on their own posts and bought items themselves. It shows they are also potential customers.


The study collected data from more than 40k bloggers and 8k advertisers - and that says a lot about the naysayers who are just ranting in the wind.




6.8.07

John Cow: The Herd's Back Home Again

So John Cow.com going missing was just a big hoot after all. Cow bells are ringing and the herd is coming home again. Great...and it's not even April 1. Most of us really fell for it. Thought it was the end.

After this lark, I guess it's a good time to take a break and chill out. Settle down on the poach, pick up that old trusty acoustic guitar and sing yourself silly with this little cow ditty. If you're not sure how to start, listen to the video clip of "Ramblin' Man" and you'll get the idea how to do it.




Below are my own two cowsense worth of lyrics that's a parody of the Hank Williams classic.

Ramblin' Cow

I can't stop my moo-ing
And I'm doing just fine
When I hear an old freight train
Rollin' down the line

Ain't got no moo-ooney
But you gotta understand
I need a little moo love
A ramblin' cow, I am

I love all you bloggies
If you wanna follow me
I can never settle down
The open road a-callin' me

Some folks say I'm funny
With lots of cow sense
They know me as John Cow
A ramblin' cow, I am


Of related interests
The John Cow Saga: Is This The End?
Mad Cow Disease - A John Cow Sequel
There's A Lot of Cow Sense At John Cow


4.8.07

John Cow Saga: A Helping Hand From John Chow

Update to The John Cow Saga: Is This The End?

The John Cow site has gone offline. Instead you'll arrive at John Chow's site when you click on the links in my previous post which originally took you to johncow.com.

The Dot.Com Mogul has revealed the other side of evil - that is goodness to come to the aid of Mr Cow. If anyone has any funny idea about Mr Chow, this response from him to help a stranded cow will lay to rest such notions.

It'll be interesting to see how the situation unfold in the coming days. Hopefully something will work out in a positive way in the end.

The John Cow Saga: Is This The End?

Dark clouds are casting their shadows over the John B. Cow farm. It seems poor Mr Cow will have to stop moo-ing and there'll be no more free delivery of milk to faithful subscribers.

The sad news came in the form of a post that aptly described "The End" for the blog farm.


What's the beef about this latest development at Cow County that's got all the cows sitting on the edge?


Cow supporters and sympathizers will be sad to learn that the funny and sometimes affectionately mad Mr Cow has decided to halt operation at this farm site. Some feel the whole affair sucks and others are wondering whether this is another cow joke or cow linkbait.


For the rest of us with not much cow sense, we are just scratching our heads wondering what the heck is going on.


According to John B. Cow, it's a legal issue that's spotlighting some copyright infringement involving the cow site. It may also concern some articles submitted by guests.


"The End" is like a sign of ill omen. Is there gonna be a showdown at high noon with guns blazing or the Not-So-Okay Corral will be dismantled and all the cows scattered to seek other pastures beyond the horizon?


In a literal sense, when you're starring at the end of a gun barrel you can't argue much. So when a big-time cattle baron, according to some speculation, is serving notice on you to cease and desist, I guess you have to oblige kindly. It's not advisable to say moo to that. The amount of mooney earned selling milk may not be enough to pay for the legal battle.


But still, we do not know the real reason yet and who is really behind this eviction move. Speculations are aplenty. But who knows?


Maybe, the truth and nothing but the truth will eventually reveal the real issue behind this hoofy saga.


If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that for every moo you make, you have to watch your butt. Some matadors, who have survived a surprise attack from behind, will say "Ole!" to that.




Of related interests:
Mad cow disease - A John Cow sequel

There's a lot of cowsense at JohnCow.com

Time to feed the cows with link love




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