Chilean Hat

Chile hat front view

Oatmeal Colored Chilean Hat

This Oatmeal colored Chilean hat from Country Gentleman is based off an originally Chilean hat that farmers would use when tending their fields. The hat’s brim towards the front keeps the sun out of your eyes while threshing your Quinoa. The curved back brim allows you to look up and make sure there are no nearby eagles that could take your lambs.

Hat Quality

Chilean flag

Chilean hats are typically made from a cotton/linen blend, but can sometimes be made of straw, wool, or polyester. Stitching is usually of the drop loop type, except on the brim, where a walking stitch is used. The sweat band must be made of durable alpaca wool due to anti-bacterial properties and moisture wicking abilities. These combine to offer a great hat that you can wear in the 30 degree heat, slaving over your precious Quinoa.

Quinoa

Quinoa is best served after boiling in water for 15 minutes. Some like to add chicken broth instead of water or adding in chocolate or serving a la mode. Experiment with Quinoa and its versatility!

Thanks to our lovely model, Sarah, and her suggestions for innovating Quinoa.

Optimize Your Blog for SEO

Yeah yeah, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and I already said “Optimize” in the title. . .you got me. But read on and you’ll understand why I chose such a seemingly poor title.

Just to start out: this blog does not really kick ass. I started this blog on February 8th of 2011 as an experiment and to share where I hadn’t found the right information online. I’ve used some out of the box thinking on blog traction, and I’ve seen enough sample results to help you with some strategies and tactics on getting content that sticks better.

Early on in the blog, I used a bit of social media to drive traffic to the blog, but since have relied mostly on using topics and content that appeals to people out there searching on Google and the like. Part of my very loose MO on this site is to save people time with content that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the web, and spamming my social media groups to read it didn’t seem to make much sense to me. It may make more sense for you depending on your goals. That all said, one of the cool things with building good content that people need and can find via search engines is that you get a cumulative effect on your work. Content that is interesting in a year will still get traffic and you don’t need a constant churn of wicked blog posts to keep traffic up. So long as you don’t write on topics that become outdated a week after you post them, you can build up some serious traffic to your site and keep lumping more and more traffic on top. If you keep a good amount of content coming out, you’ll see that growth in traffic even if you have absolutely no consistent readers or return visitors. That’s not to say that you don’t need them, but a constant churn of new people seeing your site will help in adding to a good community anyways.

 

The Spring and Summer were a bit flat, and that’s mostly due to a lack of writing on my part and writing the wrong things. Opinion pieces and topics that were too bleeding edge for general consumption just aren’t good topics to write on. I also expect this post to get almost no traffic, because it’s not solving any pain out there for anyone. There’s a double edged sword there: my blog now almost exclusively does single-serving problems, and as such, relies almost entirely on Google for traffic. No one comes back, because I answered their question or gave them enough info about a topic to get them going. Because of the experimental nature of this blog, and the fact that I’m way too lazy to build a community, I’m ok with that.

What Kicked Ass?

  • Writing stuff that people want and actively look for.
  • Doing a bit of keyword research on Google’s Keyword tool before writing a post to see if it was even something that had any demand. (and what kind of things people were interested in with regards to that topic)
  • Use those keywords on your post.
  • Using Microformats in posts. See that huge kick mid-way through December? That’s due to Microformats ninjitsu. Schema.org has a bajillion different microformats.
  • As much as it makes me want to barf: “Community engagement”. You want links to your site? Engage with the communities that care. Some people have had success with Twitter, others with Facebook, others (like myself) directly engaging with other bloggers via commenting. I haven’t done too much of this.
  • Adding alt text to images. Although I get more traffic from regular Google, I get a ton of impressions and a decent amount of visits from Google Images because I properly tag most images. Easy to do with WordPress or any other decent CMS.
  • Adding a YouTube Video. I didn’t do a proper before and after, but my AVX740 review that includes a very short YouTube video gets much more traffic than any other post I’ve done.

What didn’t kick ass?

  • Linking from a Youtube video back to my site. 1,027 Youtube views and only 11 came back to my site? That sucks. If you just want to push a brand, those impressions are still great.
  • Writing position or opinion pieces. With no community, no one gives a shit.

Monetization

I feel like most bloggers aren’t experimenting enough in monetizing their blogs. If you get a decent amount of traffic, there’s nothing wrong with getting a bit of coin back for your hard work. I experimented with several platforms on this site to see which had the most promise, although you should expect that your best method of monetization may differ from mine.

  • Google Adsense. Seems like blog welfare: just enough to get you by, not enough to make it really worthwhile. Unless you write for weird keywords that run in the $10+ category or get bajillions of visitors each month, it’ll be hard to turn a living with these.
  • Amazon Affiliate: This seemed to have the best promise for reviews type websites because you get a cut of any sales you drive for Amazon. I made a token amount of money from Amazon.
  • YouTube Partners: was not accepted 😦
  • Direct relationships with manufacturers and other end users: still the best match of relevancy and value, but don’t sell your sweat and labor for pennies on the dollar. Set up a minimum spend and stick to it. I wouldn’t accept a banner ad for anything less than $1000, because it’s just too big of a pain in the butt to do for anything less. You should have a minimum too. Track clicks out to these guys with Google Analytics Events (using Google Analyticator on WordPress) so you know whether you’re really bringing value for your advertisers. If you are, charge them appropriately.

There you have it. Now SEO your blogs and make some money!

Canadian Political Parties Suck

Yeah, you heard me.  You all suck, and I’m surprised our system actually works at all.  Part of the problem that we have is similar to the US: without a clear majority in power, tough changes cannot be made.  Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats can make the sweeping cuts necessary to balance their budget without tipping the scales and losing out in the political game.  Result?  The US is now having their credit rating reduced because they can’t make grown up decisions on budget cuts.  If we were facing as big a crisis right now, we’d be totally screwed.

Conservatives, you should be my clear choice.  You’re more responsible with money and more pragmatic in your decision making.  But this Bush-style political posturing, proroguing, information request denying BS has to stop.  Tone it down a notch and keep crucifying your own people when they screw up bad.

Liberals, you got cocky.  You should be the choice of all centrist Canadians, but you rested on your laurels for too long, and you’re now outdated.  The hills you’re picking to die on right now are ridiculous.  Rhetoric for buying F35’s from the consortium that you signed us up for with Chretien?  Then pretending that the Conservatives are being fiscally irresponsible for buying F35’s on a sole supplier contract, neglecting the fact that it was part of the arrangement that you signed us up to from the get-go?

NDP, if you weren’t so flippant with promises to spend ALL our money, I think you’d be pretty cool.  You let your reps vote based on their constituencies wishes and you have fresher, better leadership.  Keep stealing seats from the Liberals, you deserve them more.  Yet, I dread the day you take power and put the economy in the crapper spending money on “save the puppies” funds.

Bloc Quebecois, you are an aberration in the system, hurting chances of anyone getting a real majority.  If every other province had their own self-serving party at the federal level, this country would be reduced to a bickering, whining mess.  Separate or quit fucking up the system for the rest of us.

Green Party, you’d probably get more done as a lobbyist group influencing policy instead of an actual political party.  The environmental challenges that we face are real, but the solution of having a political party focused on them is not.

 

As an aside, the attack ads, blog posts, open letters, etc that are going around now are just terrible.  Not in the morality of attacking people in a personal way; more the “none of this stands up to any scrutiny/context” way.  5 minutes of basic research refutes about 90% of what is being mentioned in any of the attack ads from either sides.

Why Gas needs to be More Expensive

With recent rises in the price of gas, people are banding together to attempt to drive prices back down. Facebook groups, twitter, and the (now) old standby: email. “Let’s get together and not buy gas for one day! Hit em where it hurts!” Not only will this not work, I’d rather we had higher priced gas.

And no, I’m not a paid oil company shill, though I do live in Alberta and benefit immensely when oil prices shoot through the roof. My drive for high priced dino blood is because I think it changes us and the world around us. With cheap gas, we build sprawled out mega cities and then complain when we can’t build reasonable road infrastructure to get us to work in less than half an hour.  Cheap gas also out-competes clean alternatives for transportation and denies the advanced funding necessary to get them competitive. With expensive gas and sprawled out population, we’d spend more on the training, technology, and management systems necessary to make working from home a much more viable option for more people. This piece will be essential for Canadians and other people in cold climates until we’re able to overcome the huge barriers associated with driving electric when it’s -30 outside.  Or, with enough time, we could just wait for the better temperatures to come to us 😉

Changing the price of fuel changes the game. Things we should be doing anyways like buying local, changing to energy efficient bulbs, driving smaller vehicles, and being frugal in energy suddenly become economically wise decisions, instead of feel good frivolities. Without that economic driver, there aren’t the right incentives for everyone. High priced gas fixes these problems from the ground level, with no government intervention required to get people to do the right thing.  Cheers to $2/liter gas!