Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where is the Care in Conventional Health Care? by Guest Blogger Dr. Christina Grant

My entire orientation to health and wellbeing is from a holistic perspective so it astounds me to see the majority of our population allowing themselves to be “treated” by a system run by insurance companies and pharmaceutical giants. These industry giants dictate scientific study and treatments geared toward the ultimate goal of selling us something, not healing us.

Our system of medicine is excellent in emergencies and immediate life-saving procedures. If there is an emergency, I want conventionally-trained doctors on my case. However, beyond emergencies, there is nothing done to heal the whole person or address the root cause of an ailment. We are separated into little parts, our humanity cast aside. The incredible power and influence of the mind, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions to make us sick, and help us heal, is ignored.

When we arrive at a hospital or doctor’s office we are most often viewed as a file folder, an insurance card, and someone who needs to be dealt with as fast as possible because there are just too many other important things to do, like get on to the next patient (i.e. bring in more money), make sure to avoid being sued for malpractice, and bill insurance.

My mother is in her 70’s now. She said when she went in for a physical exam the doctor seemed puzzled that she wasn’t on any prescription drugs - not that she would be, since she is in great health, exercises daily, and eats well. I wonder why a doctor would be surprised that a 70-something person is not on a drug. Is this because almost everyone over a certain age has multiple bottles of prescription pills sitting in their cabinets?

I would like to see more holistic-oriented doctors coming out of medical school. The training for doctors is heavy on left-brain proof and scientific method, very light on heart, intuition, and what it means to be in service to others: the human side of healing. To be more holistic would require a different orientation from doctors: less devotion to needing everything proven by linear, limited science before it can be acknowledged, and more of an open mind to the mysteries and complexities of how a human being can heal; less of a need to get rich while fostering a desire to serve and be a healer.

Our training in this society is to trust science and refute intuition and inner knowing. I understand this, being trained in the system myself. It is valuable to have facts and figures we can see and know. It was drummed into me that you don’t say a word about anything unless there have been studies to back it up. But I’ve learned in practice with real, live human beings the deeper value of keeping the heart open and engaged, the mind flexible to human mysteries – to keep active within the thought, “Although I am well-trained and understand the value of science, I don’t have all the answers and am willing to entertain the improbable.”

What we now call “alternative” medicine is traditional medicine, used far longer than the very recent advent of a multi-billion dollar industry with profits on the mind. (Note that Americans seem less healthy now than ever before.) Only lately has it begun to make its way into conventional medicine. Reiki, acupuncture, massage, prayer, and energy healing are inching their way in - thankfully so - to help patients get something deeper that can touch the core of who they are, where true healing exists.

In my community there are multitudes of holistic healing resources including medical doctors that are aware of holistic practices and utilize these resources with their patients. My own conventional medical doctor is holistic in his approach. His office is quiet, comfortable, and warm. Not overwhelmed by frenzy, nor the standard tacky medical office furniture, or white, stark walls and artificial light, the environment itself puts people at ease. I appreciate that he is very conscious of the fact that a real, live, human being has sat down in the chair next to him. He sits, leans back, relaxes, looks at the patient as if he has all the time in the world to listen. And that he does, with his heart. He is gentle, wise, and not the least bit arrogant, rushed, or too busy. He never gives the impression that he is on a higher plane. Consequently, he is revered in the community – a beloved figure.

One of the ways we can foster more doctors like this is to balance the male-dominated medical system (left-brain, linear) with the ancient, traditional healing arts of the feminine (right-brain, intuitive). And that is another subject for another day, because there is much to say about it. But keep it in mind. The only reason we’ve lost our connection to extremely powerful, nurturing, effective, and deeply healing practices is because we pushed the feminine underground. She’s on her way back, not to dominate, but to integrate. Meanwhile, seek out holistic, heart-centered practices to complement your healing the next time you have the need to see your doctor. You just might find the whole medical system works better for you when you have options and various healers devoted to your well-being.

Dr. Christina Grant is a holistic healer and spiritual counselor who helps people attain well-being, greater insight, and inner peace in their lives. Her writing is published nationwide. To send a message, schedule an appointment, or sign up for her e-newsletter, go to

Monday, June 21, 2010

10 Things Your Blog Doesn’t Need by Jill Smokler

Adding things to your newly created blog is pretty cool, right? But be careful, there are things that you’d better leave out. Below you’ll find 10 of them.

1. Auto-Music: Nobody, and I mean, nobody wants to hear it. I vow never to subject you to my love of Barry Gibbs and Barbara Streisand duets and implore you to extend the same courtesy to me. Please.

2. Animated Gifs: Sure, they were cool in the late 90s. Now? Not so impressive. Let’s leave them over at My Space where they belong.

3. Tiny Type: If I have to strain my eyes to read your post, I’m just not going to. No matter how good your blog is.

4. Comment Verification: Install a spam preventing plug-in. It will take care of the spam and save people the effort of typing out nonsense words, or even worse, solve math problems just to leave a comment. Even if you’re on Blogger and have to delete a spam comment or two every now and then, it’s a small sacrifice and courteous to your readers. And it will keep them coming back and commenting again.

5. Spelling & Grammar Errors: Proofread. And then proofread again. Preview your post before you publish it. Even have someone else glance at it. Of course, we all make mistakes, but do your best to publish a post free of obvious errors.

6. Badges of prizes and awards you won: Sure, they’re flattering when you start blogging, but if you’ve been around a while your sidebars will start looking like Boy Scout vests. Dedicate a separate page for them and clean up those sidebars. You’ll look no less popular, and the sidebar police will thank you.

7. Regurgitated Content: If you said something that bears repeating, link back to that original post. Your readers will know if you keep spitting out the same old content and Google frowns upon duplicate posts. It’s bad idea all around.

8. Flashy Backgrounds: Your blog is not the Vegas strip. Black backgrounds with flashing lights and neon colors are not only hideous and hard to read, but they also take away what people are really at your blog to see: Great content.

9. Lies: It may be tempting to make things up to gain more traffic, but don’t. You will be found out, and you will look like an idiot.

10. Plagiarism: The only worse thing than blatantly making stuff up? Stealing other people’s stuff. It’s pretty much the biggest no-no there is in blog-land. If you want to quote someone, go for it and link back to them. Otherwise, you’re history.

Jill Smokler blogs about parenting; the good, the bad and the scary at Scary Mommy. She can be found at on Twitter as @scarymommy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

6 Ways to be Kind to Your Readers from Bamboo Forest

Kindness can go a long way, regardless of what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to build a popular blog, well, you might wanna be kind to your readers, as this will improve the chances of them coming back and becoming part of your community. Below you’ll find 6 tips for this purpose.

1. Kill or shorten introductions. They are often unnecessary and can make your post longer but not better. Every time you find yourself writing an intro, ask yourself if it’s necessary for the reader to understand what you’re trying to say. If it’s not, then just cut to the chase.

2. Champion quality over quantity. Sometimes the obsession for a certain amount of posts begins to infiltrate our consciousness. People are reading our posts for what they have to say, not because you just wrote another one. So if you’re only capable of writing one good post a week, then stick with that. Your readers will respect you for it. This concept is especially important to observe when you consider the competition. Your posts have to compete with other A-listers in your niche. How’s a mediocre post going to do that?

3. Commit to having every post be entertaining. For example, I had a long blogging hiatus. While I could have written a post explaining to my audience that it’s going to be a while before I write another post, I concluded that would be the most boring post in the world.

That said, when you just have to get that informational post out there–make it as entertaining as humanly possible regardless of the boring nature of the subject. Humor can work well here.

4. Write clearly. The sign of a great writer is when their readers can start from the beginning of the page and get to the bottom without having to read any sentence twice. Do you have that kind of clarity and simplicity in your writing?

5. Keep your posts as short as possible. Blogging is not about us the authors–it’s aboutthem, the readers. So if you have a post that “requires” 1000 words, see if you can be extremely concise and get it down to 700. Or to put it another way,

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”~Hans Hofmann

6. Step up your game. This isn’t the most conventional way to be kind to your readers, but blogging is highly competitive. Show your readers on a regular basis that your writing is getting more concise, more compelling as well as more entertaining. The best way to do this is to read more, write more and think more. Every few months your writing should not only get better, but it should also become more creative. You should be evolving all the time.

“You can raise the bar or you can wait for others to raise it, but it’s getting raised regardless” says Seth Godin.

What will you do this week to show more kindness to your readers?

About the Author: Bamboo Forest created Tick Tock Timer, an online timer that helps make bloggers ridiculously productive. He also writes for Pun Intended, a blog that’s hilarious and enlightened.

Monday, June 7, 2010

10 Ways to Convert Your Blog Visitors Into Dedicated Readers by Oleg Mokhov

Do you want your blog to grow, increase your readership and subscriber numbers, have your content constantly spread, and make more money? Then you need to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers.

Visitors are those that stop by your blog, skim through an article or two, and then leave – never to return. Boo. They’re of no use.

But dedicated readers regularly read your blog, spread your articles, leave high-quality comments, and buy your products. Yay! More of these, please.

Your mission is to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers.

What good is 1,000 visitors a day if most of them don’t return? Traffic figures alone might make you feel good, but it doesn’t get you any desired results.

It’s all about quality over quantity. 100 dedicated readers beats out 1,000 passer-by visitors.

Here are 10 ways to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers:

1. Be Yourself

This is slap-in-the-forehead common sense. But some bloggers try to be someone they’re not just because that type of personality is successful.

Just be yourself. Not only is it easy when you don’t have to force an unnatural persona, but you’ll have a 100% genuine and desirable voice.

On my blog Lifebeat, I’m completely myself. And it’s so easy not having to worry about projecting a certain image. I just write how I talk. Very relaxed and informal. I keep it simple and to-the-point. I inject jokes and music references. I constantly share personal examples. And since I’m a huge anime fan, all my articles have anime images rather than Flickr or iStock Photo ones.

Are you funny? Be funny. Serious? Be serious. Angry? Be angry.

Just be yourself.

2. Put the Reader Experience First

What makes you return to a restaurant? Chances are it’s not just the food but the experience.

Great articles alone aren’t enough. You also need a great reader experience. If you want visitors to convert into dedicated readers, you need a website people want to regularly return to.

That means don’t do anything on your blog that’ll compromise the reader experience. Translation: don’t annoy your visitors.

Common offenders: too many popups, ads, social bookmarking buttons, and subscribe links.

Just look at some of the most successful blogs: Daily Blog Tips, Problogger, Copyblogger and so on. No popups, and very light ads, social bookmarking buttons, and subscribe links.

I designed Lifebeat to put the reader experience first. Very clean, very simple, and the content is at the forefront. There’s no popups, no ads, no anything that would detract from enjoying reading one of my articles.

If someone really wants to subscribe or share your article on Twitter, they’ll do it. Don’t annoy and turn them away, losing what could’ve become a dedicated reader.

3. Focus on Benefits to the Reader, Not Your Features

If you want dedicated readers, your blog should focus on what the benefit is to the visitor. Not just your thoughts and ideas but value to a visitor.

Answer the “so what” question for new visitors: what’s in it for them? Why should they care?

Instead of putting the spotlight on what features my blog has, I focus on the benefit to visitors: helping you maximize your life. Ideas and strategies to help you do more of what you love and are passionate about. Not only do I state it in the About page and anywhere else, but that’s the focus I have for each article I write: how can I help and provide value to you, the reader.
Visitors care what you can do for them (benefits), not what thoughts and ideas you have (features). Focus on benefits, not features.

4. Write for Humans, Not Search Engines

Who reads your blog? People. So write for them.

Some bloggers make the mistake of writing articles solely based on highly-searched keywords. That results in nothing-new, unremarkable traffic bait. They might get search engine traffic, but very few visitors will be converted into readers.

The best search engine optimization is amazing content. Not website tweaks. Not a WordPress plugin. Not meta whozawhutsit. But amazing content.

If people like your articles, they’ll share it on social media, blogs, email, and even word of mouth. You’ll get higher-quality links, too, since it’s interested people linking to you. And, as Daniel here or Darren of Problogger and Brian of Copyblogger will tell you, high-quality backlinks are the ultimate SEO.

Now, optimizing for search engines can help with search traffic. And if you find a keyword phrase that happens to fit what you were going to write about anyway, go ahead and use it.

I don’t consider searched keywords when writing an article. Only once I have an idea down, I’d use the Google keywords tool to see if there’s a wording for the topic that people use most often. If not, I don’t worry about it at all. I never once let keywords dictate what I’ll write.

But put your message first – don’t compromise it. Make search engine considerations a distant second to writing what you have to say.

Write for people first, optimize for search engine traffic later.

5. Be Consistent

Choose a posting schedule and stick to it no matter what. Build a cache of articles or schedule your posts if needed.

I clearly state that I post a new article on Lifebeat every Monday and Thursday. I’ve stuck to that schedule ever since I started and haven’t missed a day yet.

Consistent readers need consistent updates to return to. Provide it for them.

They’ll know when to expect a new article, just like how people regularly check in to their favorite webcomics and news sites on certain days.

6. Make It Easy for Visitors to Subscribe

The more you have to work to get something, the less likely you’ll take the time to get it. Right? Don’t even try to deny it. That’s why iTunes is killing it in music sales: it couldn’t be easier to find and download a tune.

Be like iTunes on your blog. Make it clear and simple for visitors to be able to subscribe via email and RSS feed. Remove as many doors for your visitors as possible.

A visitor who subscribes is much more likely to convert into a dedicated reader. This is because your visitors can read your latest articles from the convenience of their email inbox or RSS feed reader. Your stuff is sent to them, so even after they forget about your blog they’ll still get your new articles, increasing the chance of them reading regularly (and maybe even sharing or buying your stuff).

Putting an RSS and mail icon in a sidebar isn’t enough. Make the subscribe option on your blog as non-cryptic and easy as possible.

Only a small percentage of your visitors will actually know what what an RSS or mail icon mean. Spell it out for the rest of your visitors, including why they should subscribe (it saves them time and energy because new content is delivered directly to them).

And people love free stuff, so don’t forget to mention that visitors can subscribe for free. Magazine subscriptions still have some thinking that subscribing to anything means paying.
I have a simple design on Lifebeat, so the subscribe buttons are in plain sight and clearly marked. I also explain in a short sentence what it means to subscribe and why a visitor should do it… and of course I mention that it’s free.

7. Be Remarkable

Be unique. Be great. Amplify yourself.

Don’t try to be the best in some field where you could never dominate. Instead, do what Seth Godin says: create your own category and dominate it. Analyze and figure out your unique traits, then crank them up to a 10.

People aren’t going to be interested in yet another productivity, personal finance, time management, self improvement, or whatever blog that says nothing new. Use #3 (Be Yourself) and amplify your unique traits.

I’m a writer, electronic musician, and adventurer who’s following his unconventional passion in life via non-conforming means. I never followed societal rules and found my own way. I also have child-like curiosity, not limiting myself to how I “should” act – an eternal kid in an adult’s world. I combine all of those traits and more into what I hope is an always-improving remarkable voice that can offer something interesting, something fresh, something game-changing and disruptive.

Would you return to a blog that bores you or doesn’t excite you? Of course not. So be interesting to read, and visitors will start converting into dedicated readers.
8. Talk With Your Visitors

It really is that simple: talk with your visitors. Reply to their comments and emails, send thank-you notes if they leave a comment or subscribe, or whatever else.

Use what works best for you (and doesn’t compromise your personal style – remember, be yourself). Email, comments, Twitter, whatever. But use at least one method of communication, so that visitors can form a relationship with you and feel like they’re reading from someone they know (or know that they can contact, at least).

I’ve never been comfortable on social networks and instant messenger, but blog comments and email have been natural for me. So I focus on posting and responding to comments and sending and replying to emails as my forms of communication with my visitors and readers. I also try to regularly send out thank-you emails.

People regularly return to something that they’ve formed a relationship or connection with. Think about it: you care way more about what your friends are doing than strangers.

9. Be Unconventional

Say something new that gets people thinking, motivated, and/or take action.

If you piss them off, that’s great too – there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and controversy gets visitors interested (just ask Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, or Steve Pavlina).

I’m constantly pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and become even less self-conscious by writing about unconventional topics (or at least an unconventional perspective on something). Heck, even I would get bored of my own writing if I played it safe.

If your article is no different from the latest blurbs that day, your visitors will treat it at such: a quick skim-through and then move on.

Get visitors thinking and talking and you increase the chance of them coming back for more (and maybe even bringing some friends along).

10. Have Fun

A blog isn’t a cubicle job, so just have fun.

People want to enjoy what they consume. If you have fun writing an article, chances are people will have fun reading it. And people tend to return and consume more of what’s fun and enjoyable.

I have so much fun writing and making music on Lifebeat it should be illegal. Like, I’ll be writing an article or creating a new tune or mix, and an alarm will sound. Woo woo woo! It’s the fun alarm: someone’s having way too much fun.

Have fun, and your blog will be fun – and visitors will start converting into dedicated readers.

Maximize Your Blog Visitors

Maximize your blog visitors by converting them into dedicated readers using these 10 ways.
Your blog to grow, your readership and subscriber numbers will increase, your content will be constantly spread, and you’ll make more money from more products sold. Now who doesn’t want all that?

Have these 10 ways helped you convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers? What other ways have worked for you?

Oleg Mokhov is a writer, musician, and adventurer who explores unconventional life-maximizing ideas and makes energizing electronic dance music at Lifebeat. You can read more about maximizing your own life in his Life Maximization Guide.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Will Craig

One of the biggest challenges of being self-employed is actually being alone in your business. You are alone with your thoughts for the majority of time and, sometimes, to your own detriment.

You can change your life by changing your thoughts. Here's what we mean: Everything in this world once started with a single thought. Look around you right now. Everything in the room-including this computer screen-was once just a thought in someone's head.

Our Thoughts Create

Endowed with this gift, we are able to mold our own lives and create our destiny. Our lives today are the direct result of our past and present thoughts, feelings, words, emotions, and desires. Any time we don't like something in our lives, we can acknowledge that our past thoughts might have had something to do with this.

Once we understand that we have created everything in our life, good and bad, we realize that we also have the power to change anything in our life by merely changing our thoughts.

Thought Is Energy

When we think a thought, it is projected into the universe at a certain rate of vibration. (Hang in there, this gets a little esoteric). Thoughts are also magnetic and attract energy of the same vibration. This is the universal 'Law of Attraction'. Chose your thoughts well. 'Like attracts like.'

In 1937, Napoleon Hill stated in his famous book, Think and Grow Rich, that 'thoughts are things' and that 'whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he will achieve.' You are an achiever. Think well and you will grow rich.