Mar 022014

I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, I just wanted to share what little I’ve learned in case it might help others.

Accessibility. If you have all your limbs, if you can walk and run with ease, if you can see relatively well with or without glasses, if you can speak without assistance, if you can hear without major problems… probably don’t think about accessibility as often as you should. It’s easy to have those blinders on. Easier still if you do not know anyone deaf, blind, handicapped.  At my first conferences it was a little tough for me to remember to face certain people when I spoke to them, and I screwed up sometimes. Luckily they’re not afraid to speak up and remind me to look at them, and then repeat myself.

If you’re able-bodied and don’t know anyone who isn’t, it’s sadly too easy to forget about accessibility.  I try, I do, but I don’t  get it as well as I could. Yesterday I learned something new.  A reader, Amanda, sent me this awesome note:

Hi Lilly,
I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. I am blind, and I really appreciate the thoroughness of your reviews, as well as the absence of bullshit.  Also, I don’t know if you intentionally made your blog redesign accessible with a screenreader, but it is, and I was pleasantly surprised. Often, when people redesign their websites, accessibility is the last thing on their minds, and I find myself no longer able to read something I used to enjoy.  Definitely NOT the case with your redesign, and that’s just fantastic as far as I’m concerned.  Also, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you almost always put descriptions of pictures you post in the images’ alt text. It’s so helpful.

There wasn’t really much of a point to this email. I just wanted to let you know how helpful your blog is to someone who can’t see pictures and who has to depend on the overblown ad copy when shopping for toys. So… thank you. :)

Screen readers. I knew in theory that they exist, but I knew nothing about them. Scratch that, know nothing. I’ve never seen one in action. I don’t know the tech. All I know is that this magical thing can look at a website and read it out loud. Usually. The problem apparently is compatibility. While I don’t have all the info yet, Amanda said:

The problem is that there are several different screen readers, and not all of them support the same things. For example, I use a Mac and its built-in screen reader, VoiceOver. Until very recently, VO and the Mac browser, Safari, didn’t support the Disqus comment system, whereas JAWS (a Windows-based screen reader) always supported Disqus.

But how do we know if a blog theme or site design is screen reader compatible? You can go the long route and utilize some of the sites and tools I have listed at the end, but accessibility to screen readers is just not a feature that gets mentioned when you’re looking at the technical info on a theme. I hope that someone can educate us in the comments of this post. I’m thrilled that the WordPress theme “Suffusion” is so accessible1. It’s not the only aspect to work on, though. When Amanda was mentioning the “alt text”, it’s something you do manually one of two ways. The first is by clicking on the “Edit Image” button if you’ve already inserted the image into the WYSIWYG editor portion of WP. The second is manually typing it in. The following code is for an image.

Up top is the Tantus Black Widow Harness. Below is the Lelo Mona 2, the We-Vibe 4, the We-Vibe Touch 2 and Tango 2, Lelo Mia 2, and Jopen Ego e5

Here are screen shots of what I was talking about with the alt text, too:

A screen capture showing what a draft of a post looks like in WordPress, demonstrating how to access the attributes of an image   A screen capture showing what the attributes window looks like for a photo in the draft post process of WordPress.

Here are a few links that might help if you’re interested in making your blog more accessible to screen readers and beyond.

I hadn’t even seen Robin’s post until after I’d heard from Amanda and written most of this, so it’s great timing. Robin, a great blogger/educator/reviewer, is going to be presenting at CatalystCon in a few weeks and talking about accessibility.  She makes her points about access being not JUST for those needing a screen reader, but other sorts of disabilities. While I’m not hearing impaired enough / in the right way to be able to use a hearing aid (yet), I am hard of hearing to a degree. I come across SO many podcast and video posts that I cannot use because I can’t understand what they’re saying. A transcript would go a long way. So instead, I miss out on the information because I don’t even bother to try listening anymore. I may be able to understand half of it, which is more than others who have more hearing loss than me. It’s not an uncommon disability, yet it’s common for podcasters and vloggers to forget it.  I’m sure it’s not easy work, but could do an mturk for someone else to transcribe it and the results mean that more people can access your information. Win, no?


Accessibility is making sure that people aren’t left out. It requires effort on our parts, but why wouldn’t you if you know how? You’d want it done for you if you were in their shoes. Also? The fact that no bullshit = more accessible is a giant fucking WIN.


UPDATE: I wanted to add in some choice quotes from those who were able to attend Robin’s session on accessibility at Catalyst, as they apply to blogs/sites.

  1. For the record, my previous theme was, too, but Amanda’s point was that she encounters changes in design too often that negatively impact her ability to read it. My last theme was Glow from
Jul 102013

Once you’ve developed a bit of a “presence” online, with good traffic and other blog-qualifier numbers, you’re bound to get contacted by a company asking if you’ll post their text link (some will outright ask you your rate, a few will try to pawn it off as a “link exchange” which is a topic for a later date). This can all be a bit difficult to navigate until you ask the more veteran bloggers. Here’s some starting info for you:

Updated July 2013I’ve recently done more researching and while the rates and ideas are pulled from the more mainstream sectors of blogging, it’s the only thing we have to go on. I’ve made this into a post because of the influx of bloggers who need more information, it was currently residing as a largely overlooked page.

Updated May 2013: This was written and has been around for a long while over at e[lust], however I decided to move it all here. Sidebar advertising is not as prevalent as it once was for bloggers, especially sex bloggers, because of recent changes made by Google on calculating pagerank. In Nov 2012 I actually had my own Pagerank stripped to 0 because Google felt that I was selling my Pagerank via sponsor text links in the sidebar. I had to add “rel=nofollow” to them all in order to get my rank back. Something that more and more companies want now is a sponsored *post*. To me, sponsored post is just simply my own post but with a sentence and link and maybe even small graphic at the foot of the post saying “This post was sponsored by XYC company who is great at BLAH and you should blahblah there”. To a company, their idea of a sponsored post is basically the entire post is an advertisement for them, including a few links. I won’t do that. I also won’t accept “guest posts” from anybody but a fellow blogger. 


The first question you likely have is the first question I had: How much should I charge? And that, my friends, is not an easy answer. Because it not only is based on your page rank and overall stats, but what others similar to you are charging. And I know that some people are, IMO, underselling themselves. Added July 2013:

Basing Your Rate on your Pagerank

Companies will likely only approach you for advertising if you have a google page rank of 3 or higher. By having a text link on your sidebar it helps increase their own site’s page rank. (

So the first thing that your rate depends upon is your pagerank. And to be honest, what else it depends upon – I’m not 100% sure. It could be traffic overall, it could be your Alexa rank. Ever since I started taking on advertisers I’ve been a PR4. I don’t know how I got there, nor do I fully know how to get higher. I’ve read a few tips and tricks but none have helped. After talking to another blogger whose site was considerably better than mine I took a stab at what I thought was a fair price, $30 a month, and that has turned out to be a good price for a PR4 site to charge. Many will prefer to pay for 3, 6 or even 12 months in advance and will ask for a discount. Just because they are taking away the hassle (for you both) of paying monthly doesn’t mean you should take a drastic cut. My personal opinion is to never give a discount greater than 20% of your quoted price. (As of 2012 I dropped to a PR3 and stayed there. Again, not sure why and I can’t raise it.)

IMO for banners, you should charge more. Banners command more of a presence in your sidebar and are used for garnering traffic moreso than raising a pagerank. For a 125×125 square banner, I’d recommend adding on $10-15 per month per banner. For a larger banner, add on $20-25 per month per banner as your starting price.

WARNING: By basing it on your pagerank, though, it means you’re “selling page rank”. That’s what I got in trouble for with Google. To do things on the up and up, every place I read says to add the rel=nofollow attribute to the text link. Inform your advertisers of this, because you don’t want to do anything illegal and lose your search engine ranking. If they’re buying a link just to get pagerank, then they won’t be happy and may not advertise with you. If they’re legit, they will continue.

Basing Your Rate on Daily Visitors

One site that I was reading recommended that you base it off of your traffic, your daily traffic. If you have a stats tracker installed (which, you absolutely should) you can tell how many visitors you get per day and how many page views you get per day. Base it off of visitors. Take your average (most stats trackers will give you your daily average in a summary section) and divide it by 10. This number should represent the most you could charge per month for something in a very visible “above the fold” spot, a banner. For a banner not “above the fold” (when viewing your site on a regular computer monitor/laptop, it’s whatever space is visible without having to scroll at all), deduct 10-15% if it’s still a big banner. For a banner that is small, deduct 20%. For a text link in the sidebar, deduct as much as 40-50% depending on location. If you’re allowing them to sponsor a post, something you’ve already written that will get a decent number of views (probably not a review, since it will have affiliate links, I’d include two text links and quote the full amount based on the formula — see this example of a weekly round-up post over at The Bloggess for what I mean by a sponsored post. I’d also say that if you’ve managed to get a consistent high, daily traffic but can’t get pageranked above PR2, also consider deducting 10-20%.  


A few bloggers I’ve spoken to had done this and I’ve been asked (rarely) for what they call a permanent link. What they mean is….they pay you once, and only once, for a link on your site until your site dies. I advise to never do this. Neither you nor the advertiser knows how long you intend to keep your site, for one. Two, these types of offers are generally given to test your mettle and see if you’re a newbie to paid advertising. If you don’t know any better and don’t have a resource, you might think this offer is grand and snatch it up. I can guarantee you that there is nothing they will offer you that will make it a fair deal in the end, for you. Sure it makes life easier on you, you don’t have to remind them. But by doing this you are A: throwing off the bell curve for the rest of the bloggers and B: You are losing revenue!!


Many will try to get you to allow them to write a post for you. Please avoid this if you want to keep the respect of your peers and readers. It will be a shit article peppered with their links. They’ll also sometimes allow you to write an article. This is slightly less irritating for your readers, but if it’s a post that you would normally write anyways, at least make it informative and useful to your readers. They will again want links throughout the post, so please give a small warning *before* the post that it is sponsored and the links will lead to the sponsor.


Always, always have them prepay. I’ve known a couple bloggers who put the link up on their site and then the company didn’t pay. The companies are all going to use Paypal. If you don’t have a Paypal account, get one. I’ve had one for a long ass time and never once had a problem. I know that some people who have little experience buying/selling/doing monetary business online are a little fearful of it. Some bloggers will say that Paypal is very anti-sex and will shut you down and take your money – just use a bland-sounding email address. Most of the companies that pay you do, too. I’ve been doing this for 5 years and have never had Paypal give me a problem.


Stick to your guns. They’ll ask you to go lower half the time. Don’t go drastically low just to get their business. I’ve sacrificed advertisers before, even though money is money. Once you give them an ultra-low and unrealistic price, they’re going to use that against other bloggers. They’ll say to me: “well I’ve got a link with this other PR5 blogger and they charged me less than you!” To which I say “You got a really good deal then, because it’s worth more than that. I’m worth more than that.”. They accepted my price in the end. The thing is, the sex blogging genre is likely the most undervalued. We get shafted by traditional ad companies, so companies assume we’ll just accept any old offer. And because *some* bloggers will, because they’d rather have $10 a month than $0 a month, it drives down the overall value of the “neighborhood”.


Sometimes, there’s not a rate high enough to make you want to deal with certain people. If you’ve given them your metrics, your rates, if you’ve explained in detail what you will and won’t do and they still ask you questions over and over as if they weren’t already told? If they argue a lot with the pricing? Just listen to your gut. You’ll know pretty early on when someone is going to be a pain in the ass to deal with. I’ve turned companies down just because the person I was dealing with gave me a big headache and that was halfway through the negotiation process!!! I recently had someone who claimed to have read my Media & Advertising kit and wanted to set something up right away. They sent over the banner but wanted it for two weeks. If they’d read, they would have known I start my rates per month. Then they try to get me to do an interview or post to further their campaign. No, sorry. Well, they posed, what if I write the post for you? I had to point to the numerous places on my site where I say, in no uncertain terms, that I do not take guest posts or content. I write the stuff here. I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when they paid and it was a fraction of my rate.  My advice is to nail down early on how long they want the ad for. If it’s anything less than 6 months you shouldn’t tolerate anything other than a simple, easy transaction.


Set up a Google Calendar reminder; keep the info on a spreadsheet; have your husband make you a program (oh wait, that’s me) – whatever it takes to remind you to contact them about a week or so before their contract is up to remind them to renew. Check your PR before contacting them, in case it went up. If it went up, so do your prices. If you don’t hear from them in the expected timeframe (1-2 weeks for longer contracts, 1 week max for monthly renewals), remove their link from your site. Tell them you’ve done this and will put it back up once they renew their contract. You can’t have unpaid links up – it only helps them and not you.


Call your sponsors section whatever you want, don’t listen to them. They want their links to appear as if you put them there because you love the store…..not that you were paid to do so. I put my sponsor links lower in the sidebar. Places I like and support go up higher. Unless of course the sponsors are ALSO places you love and support anyways.


I’ve been asked in the past by bloggers about companies trying to get a link by telling the blogger that they’ll be put into an affiliate program in exchange and will receive 10/15/20% of sales on a commission basis. Unless you are reviewing toys for a sex toy retailer on a regular basis and you have high site traffic (at least 10K visitors a month), the chances of you making money off of an affiliate sale are slim. It means that someone has to click that little text link in your sidebar and then buy toys from that company. Very unlikely to happen. Again, this is a tactic used to separate those new to the text advertising game and take advantage. One example: I was recently contacted by a company who makes hetero long-distance sex toys that work via the computer and are way overpriced. They didn’t outright offer ones to me to review, they just wanted me to join their affiliate program. They tried to “sweeten the deal” by giving my readers 5% off. 5% off a $190 toy ($380 if you buy both male & female version – why would you buy just one?). I know my readers, at least I’d like to think I do, and I really doubt that even 1% would purchase these items. So instead though, people will click because they don’t know what the item is, and the site will get traffic. Meanwhile, I’d likely never make a sale, especially without ever reviewing the items and giving it a glowing review. Added July 2013


I’ve known this all along, but have also known that there is nothing I can do about it. When someone sends you money via Paypal, they will be given your legal name. There does not seem to be a way to circumvent this at all in Paypal. While nearly ever advertiser you will deal with will naturally understand the sensitive matter of your name, bear in mind that accidents can happen. It is a very small chance but it exists. I’m not telling you this to scare you off but merely to prepare you. I didn’t think about this until an accidental case of mistaken identity lead me to receive the real name of another blogger via a potential advertiser. I’m not going to do anything with the information and I don’t know how the other blogger feels; but what if situations were reversed and what if the person who received my personal information was not a friend and not someone nice? I could then have to deal with the worry of them outing me if they wanted to. While there are not a lot of unsavory characters in our community they still exist occasionally. I would recommend that you put in a clause in your email correspondence with potential advertisers that says something along the lines of “Your payment to me denotes acceptance of my terms, which includes that any and all personally identifying information you will receive about me shall remain in confidence.” or whatever. I’m not sure on the wording of this and how legally binding it is; this is something I’ll research further and would appreciate input on.  Added Jan 2012

Please ask questions or give your own tips! Thanks!


May 132012

The bane of a bloggers existence some days is the evolution of the Scraper. The Scraper is someone who has set up a website solely to garner advertisers. They have numerous sites like this and they obviously don’t have time to write their own content, so they “scrape” illegally from others. It’s only scraping, though, if they are stealing your entire post1. Many times these scrapers have automated the process and will scrape directly from your RSS feed. I’ve added on anti-scraping plugins to WordPress which put in things such as unique keys (so that I can search for that key and find who else is using it) and copyright / anti-scrap notices in the post – they alert the reader that if they’re reading the post anywhere other than, it has been illegally scraped and please contact me.

Even worse, however, is when a fellow community blogger or sex toy manufacturer/retailer uses your content in entirety without permission. Some are just completely uneducated as to the rights and wrongs of blogging, but really….we all started out in the same clueless space and most of us have gotten where we are just fine without violating copyright, stealing content or plagiarizing, ever.

What is Copyright?

According to Wikipedia, copyright ‘is “the right to copy”, but also gives the copyright holder the right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the work to other forms, who may perform the work, who may financially benefit from it, and other related rights.’

A few years ago when I was dealing with a site that took harassing me to a new level, which included posting my photos without my permission, claimed that all was well and fair in the copyright world simply because they had attributed the photos to me. Nope, sorry, that is not the only condition that must be met. Especially not since I have this copyright notice at the end of every post and at the bottom of my main page: “All text and images on this site require permission before they can be used anywhere. To obtain permission click here to contact me”. Notice how I’ve stated that all text and images on this site require permission before they can be used anywhere? Yeah. That’s kinda the whole key.



eh. fine line.

There’s an article on Sexis about bloggers and copyright – not necessarily our own copyright but talking about how we steal things. Namely, photos. Some are more guilty than others of course but the fact is, copyright violation in terms of using a photo in your post is pretty rampant. Not just sex bloggers, but any blogger. So while attribution doesn’t equal permission when you’re talking about using someone’s entire post, attribution can equal permission when you’re dealing with photos. It will simply depend on what the copyright holder allows. But if you found the image on Google because hundreds of others have used it without attribution, what can be done? The best we can do is protect ourselves with watermark copyrights on our own photos, and when we use a photo that we know actually belongs to a fellow blogger, retail store or manufacturer…..attribute it. Ask for permission if it is a blogger.

Microblogging vs Blogging

Now, here’s the rub: With the over-saturation of social media sites where you “share” stuff with your followers, you “reblog” on Tumblr, you “retweet” on Twitter…you have a blurry line of kosher sharing when it comes to blogging. When you reblog and retweet on Tumblr and Twitter respectively, you are copying what someone said and providing attribution. The line is blurred even further with Twitter, where “copyright” doesn’t really seem to exist. I mean, how can you possibly lay copyright to a Tweet? On Tumblr it’s a little different I suppose, but many people treat Tumblr as blogging. So if I posted a photo on Tumblr and nowhere else, I still retain my copyright. That photo is my intellectual property and if you post it on your own Tumblr without an attribution link, then you’ve effectively stolen content.

The fine line lays in the type of sharing. Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, even Facebook are all considered forms of “microblogging“; places where the “reblog” is common practice and accepted. Standard Blogging is vast and varied; we’re accustomed to WordPress-based sites, Blogger, LiveJournal, etc but there are many other places as well. Somehow, the concept of “reblogging” seems to have bled over (incorrectly) to regular blogging with the prevalence of microblogging.

Product Reviewing and Ethics

In the past I went toe-to-toe with Lelo when I noticed that suddenly they went from quoting excerpts of reviews to pilfering entire (but slightly modified to remove retailers links and in some cases, had no links to the review itself) review posts. They’d never told anyone reviewing products (given to the reviewer by Lelo) that this would be done; they never asked for permission; and in fact they did this on reviews where the product came from retailers! After raising a fuss like I am wont to do, they apologized and removed it all and now only have excerpts (with links).

I’ve noticed that niche sex toy maker Duncan Charles has been lifting entire reviews2, as well, and what’s worse is that they have ignored emails. Back when I posted about Lelo, Shanna Katz commented that it had happened to her a lot over the years as well.  I was offered the chance to do reviews for Nexus and at the time I viewed their site, I noticed that they had full text of reviews with no hyperlink. They had a text-only site address, though. But I wasn’t cool with having my entire review posted so I turned them down.

Ethical Blogging Practices

~Reblogging is NOT copying someone else’s entire blog post without their permission, throwing up an attribution link and calling it well and good. I see this as copyright violation and content theft. Also, just Bad Blogging Manners.  You can quote something from my post, with an attribution and link, and that is a horse of a different color. You can share a photo I’ve posted here via Tumblr, with an attribution and link, and that’s just fine.

~Posting someone’s photo without an attribution is content theft and copyright violation. I don’t care if the click-through link goes to their blog, the attribution line  (and link) is absolutely necessary.

~Creative Commons licenses on someone’s blog does not mean you get to skirt copyright basics or do away with attribution. Creative Commons exists to allow someone the flexibility of letting people know that sharing and even revamping is fine (with attribution) but it doesn’t dissolve copyright.

~And please…don’t EVER think you’re doing someone a favor by putting their content on your site. It’s insulting, it’s copyright violation, and it will earn you a very bad reputation.



  1. I’ve oddly run across scrapers who are more like news feed, where they take an excerpt – presumably for search engine content?- but not the whole post. This is usually done after they’ve been caught for full post content scraping.
  2. Of course since all the reviews lifted seem to obviously be reviews originally published on EdenFantasys, the only people that DC has to listen to is EF
Feb 012012

A number of the 100-some original members are long gone and in their place are newer bloggers who don’t know about the thing that was once the Sex Blogger Co-Op on For a refresher or those who don’t know what it’s all about, read these few posts: Blogger Education? talks a bit about the demise andProjects Abound introduces the Co-Op and talks about what it was.

When the Co-Op moved it was because Ning announced it would no longer host their long-time free networks. They were also closing down “adult” communities without warning and that spooked a few people, despite the fact that our group was private, invite-only and not pornographic. The move to a more text-based forum set-up hosted on the e[lust] site spelled disaster as nobody wanted to to go there anymore. It wasn’t easy or pretty. Without any participation from other members, I closed it down.

I still think there is a need for it, for a private place for just the bloggers to go where we can say “Hey, did you get an email from CompanyX? Is this shit for real?” or stuff like that. For those who were not a part of it, some things we discussed were:

  • Tutorials on how to do certain things on your blog, like design elements, a clickable header, embedding video
  • Discussions on affiliate programs
  • Opinions on the latest company/group to hit us up for reviews/exposure
  • Discussion on advertisers, like what they were proposing, who was telling them to go to hell, etc
  • Blogging prompts

There were debates, arguments, but overall a lot of help being offered and confused questions answered. I’d like to think that it was just as helpful to newer bloggers as it was the veterans. While I don’t expect every sex-type blogger to join I would hope that both veteran and new bloggers would join in, and be active. How active? Whatever you manage….to a point. Since there would be a member cap (150 people) I would have to occasionally weed out those who hadn’t participated in any way for X number of months. It’s not free, of course. The cheap plan (similar to the ToySwap Network, if you’re a member there) allows for forums (including the ability to subscribe to threads or boards to get email updates on new posts) and 150 members. Things that we once had that we would no longer have: The ability for anybody but me to invite people in to the network; chat room; ability to customize the layout. We would lose the few topics that were started or continued once the network moved off of Ning but I don’t think that it’s really a big deal. All the old discussions remain as do your memberships if you were once part of it.

For those who were once a part of it: Would you re-join? It would still be private and invite-only as I feel that it’s the only way we can truly speak our minds on some things. For those who are newer, would you join?

And no, it’s not free. As I said there would be a small price ($3 for me) but the next plan up is a whopping $25 a month and although it will give us many of the features we enjoyed with the free Ning, like chat rooms and customization and no member cap I don’t think that I could get enough people to chip in to come up with a steady $25 a month. I would not require that every blogger contribute something monetarily in order to join but I would greatly appreciate it. I would only ask for a couple dollars per person able to contribute, as it will only cost me $36 a year. And since it’s a month-to-month payment plan if for some reason the whole thing takes off like it never did before and there is a need and willingness to warrant the $25 a month plan, we can upgrade. I don’t see that happening but it’s a door I’m not closing.

If I don’t get much feedback here or much positive feedback then I will allow Ning to delete the network and the contents. I have until February 10th to decide.

Jul 292011

A lot of my fellow bloggers are having their content scraped and posted on scandal shack dot com – They’re flat-out stealing; they put your words (or photos!) onto their ugly ass ad-laden website without any links to the blogger who wrote it or anything. The only way that you can tell is when someone uses a WordPress plugin that adds copyright protection words/links to their RSS feed (like AAG does).

It’s being done by scraping the content from your RSS feed – they’re pulling from a lot of sites so it’s not being done by hand (quite obviously, or this lovely post by AAG wouldn’t be showing up as a post on, hehe). I’m posting this warning for you to go check out the site and make sure your content isn’t being scraped. Mina tangled with them directly to no avail, so there’s info in her post on how to report the copyright violations directly to the site’s host. Hopefully with enough complaints the site will go away altogether.

But that only fixes that exact site. And who knows, the guy might do it again. In fact, it’s not the first or last time we’ll ever see our content illegally scraped. I personally use a plugin for WordPress called “No More Frames” which does something to prevent the scripts the scraper is using from pulling your content. My content is, so far, not on the site. It is either because this plugin does actually work OR my feed isn’t worth scraping :)

I guess we’ll find out soon enough, if this post shows up on his site.

This is a lot worse than what a certain vibrator company once did with copyright violation and sex toy reviews, because at least they acted professionally and took things down from their site. This guy is just using it as content filler to fill up the gaps (albeit small) between the garish ads.


ETA: The host of the site is on Twitter, perhaps we can employ that method after aggrieved parties have formally sent in their copyright violation email? it’s @Hostgator.

ETA2: I asked, “How many reports of copyright violation does it take for you guys to shut down his site altogether?” @HGSupport, who had been responding to the @Hostgator complaints from bloggers, was asking for support ticket numbers. I personally don’t have one, but others have reported it. Their response to “how many”? –  “Just one, which has not been received at this point. Again, if we can get the ticket it will be handled as quickly as possible.” Which makes no sense, because Mina said in her post that HG removed the posts that she reported as scraped. So they DID have one report. Sadie also sent a complaint on Friday. Are they just blowing smoke, or are they slow?

Jul 082011

I write this post with full knowledge that I’m going to offend or at least bruise egos of many bloggers. Our blogs are our homes and how we decorate them says a lot about both us individually and the nature of our blog.

I get it. I DO. My first two blog themes were very dark and sexy and gothy and  I cringe, CRINGE, when I look back at screencaps from those days. Why? Well let’s ignore first that my original banner on my blogspot blog was fucking hideous, and admit that I did the whole all-dark-all-the-time and had white text on a dark background. With the blog design that came before this current, bright (in comparison) color scheme was yet another dark and gothic fantasy world – but I’m still proud of that design. I and CoyPink‘s hubby, Alec, worked quite hard at that and I’m still proud of that header with its clickable words. At least I’d wizened up though and made a compromise – dark on the side, white for the posts. Perhaps some things in my sidebar were still a little hard to read for some, but it was a big improvement over the first real design.

What I hate and why I hate it:

1. You can convey a sexy sex blog without all being in the black/gray/very dark jewel-tones color scheme all the time everywhere. A little goes a long way.

2. For the love of pete please realize that for many people white/light text on a black/dark background is VERY hard to read1. As is a very bright colored text on a very dark background (red and blue are the worst). I’ve actually had to stop reading a blog because the color choices hurt my eyes so much.

3. Fun fonts are fun. But fun fonts should be used sparingly because they can sometimes be hard to read. Especially when they’re white text on dark background. They should be limited to the blog name in the header and at most the blog post titles or sidebar heading titles. Something that is bigger than your standard 12pt font – a crazy font will be easier to read when it’s larger.

4. Not knowing and respecting the width of your theme’s sidebars and body sections. Learn how to trim down the size of YouTube embedded videos. Keep your photos in posts to half (3/4 at most) of the width of your post body section. And please pay attention to all that crap in your sidebar. You probably CAN change the size of the items, you just don’t know how or don’t think it’s a big deal. It is. At best it just looks like crap, at worst it covers up text in the post body section.

For some of you reading along I might have just inadvertently told you that your blog, your very own blog, hurts my eyes and makes me cringe. I’m not saying this to offend you personally but to offer the wisdom of someone who’s been around the blogging block a bit. Having a blog that is pleasing to the eye and easy to read visually will not only increase your readership but keep them on your blog to explore. I’ve seen some blogs recently that I’d truly like to explore more but I can’t – I absolutely can’t deal with the color and/or design. Don’t take just my word for it, I’ve not designed nearly as many websites as AAG has. I’ve added her comments in below.

My suggestions for making changes:

1. You don’t need to know much about code to make color changes in your existing theme (the only people who can’t do this are the free WordPress bloggers who aren’t able to get into the CSS stylesheet, I do believe that the newer Blogspot dashboard allows you access to the code, be it html or CSS). If you utilize the Firefox browser and then use this add-on called Firebug, you can bring up your blog, turn on Firebug and see the code. You can then go through it and start “turning off” lines of code to figure out what that line of code affects. This won’t actually change your code – just what you see. (I hear that the latest version of FireFox and FireBug make it so that if you’re self-hosted your changes in FireBug CAN be permanent but that’s not my point here). So scroll through it and try to find the sections that are usually labeled “post”. Using this helpful website, pick a new hexadecimal color and replace it (black is #000000 (zero’s, not O’s), white is #ffffff, occasionally coders will abbreviate those two to just #000 or #fff). This way you can change what the post portion of your blog looks like without having to ditch the theme that you like. You can keep the dark background on the sides and top and bottom just have the posts portion be readable.

2. Use your header and graphical design of the blog theme to express your individuality and sexuality, within reason. Also make that header clickable so that it can easily take a reader back to your home page.

AAG sez: a) Reign in the individuality just a wee bit – the header can be sexy but probably shouldn’t be, for example, a close-up lifesize image of your asshole. (yes, this was a true story)

3. Changing to a hand-writing or script-y font just to be different can lead to your blog being even harder to read visually. Sure, it’s different. It’s “you”, even. But it makes me run away very quickly.

AAG sez: a) bear in mind that not all operating systems will display various fonts (used in the body, not in images of course). Check them here.
b) keep in mind that a font that’s awesome today may be passe tomorrow. ask for feedback2
c) Pick a contrasting color for links that does something different yet recognizable upon hover. Check to make sure it doesn’t do something weird after the link is visited. Check this on various browsers as some display visited links differently.

3. Using a lot of banners & buttons and graphical wonders in your sidebar(s)? Consolidate, and change their size so that they’re all the same (or at least so that they fit into your sidebar’s size allotment and don’t spill out into posts or the outer edge). Easy size change tip: When you post the html code into the text box, erase the “height” marker and change the “width” number on them all3. Caution: only go down in numbers, never go up – it’ll look pixelated and cheap.

4. Don’t use lots of colors and/or font styles in one post. It looks high-school-ish (to me), is distracting, doesn’t flow, and doesn’t always translate very well into feeds (why not? see #5). I even run into the problem with my blog that a certain paragraph-styling looks one way on my blog but completely different in the feed.

5. If you insist on having a colored background for the posts section for all that is blog-holy please take caution in forcefully changing the font color of your writing. If the font color is hard-coded into the CSS stylesheet then it will still appear as black text on white background in your feed. However when you go and force the change in your post editor box it will show up in the feed as the color you changed it to – and guess what? Unless it’s a dark color, it’s going to be damn near impossible to read it for those who use feedreaders to keep up with your blog. You think I hate light text on dark background? Bright & light text on white background is even worse!

6. Don’t use a font that is too small. I’ve been to a couple of blogs where the font size is small even for my 21″ widescreen monitor – ok, it was also white on black, so that added to it. But find the Goldilocks Font4 for your theme – again this is a change that can be made utilizing Firebug and changing the CSS stylesheet – not too big, not too small, not too hot and not too cold.

I could have screencapped or linked to examples of some of the things I’ve mentioned above in a “don’t do this” sort of way but that’s not the angle I’m going after here – I’m not doing this to be mean or pick on a person. This is just about good intentions turned into bad designs. And just because you have violated my personal font/color mantra doesn’t necessarily mean that your blog design is terrible. It might be really awesome in every other way….just hard to read. If your answer to this is a shrug and “hey subscribe to the RSS feed, it’s plain black text on white background, just like you like it” then you’re missing the point. Don’t you want your readers to interact with you and each other? Don’t you want someone to pour through your archives and become a fan or friend? That won’t happen if they get to your site and their eyes bleed.

Comments are wide open. You can tell me to go to hell and why. You can tell me that you agree with me and give some other helpful suggestions or “Don’t”s. You can say “hey I think I might fit a bunch of these Do-not-do things, can you look at my site and give me your honest feedback?” and I will be happy to do so tactfully. I’d suggest a feedback site that at one point helped me really tweak this current layout and design thanks to honest & anonymous feedback on the design, but I got yanked for being “porn” as did another blogger; you can certainly try your hand and see how long it takes you to get flagged (given how easy they’ve made it to flag for adult content, don’t expect to last long): Feedback Roulette. You look at other people’s sites and tell them what you honestly think, good and bad, and then others do the same for you. Or….just ask me here.

 Go for it.


Color Scheme Designer – This tool allows you to input your primary preferred color and get many options. Various hues of the color, complimentary color, and a whole coordinating color scheme. For best use, enter in the Hex value of your primary color on your blog (next to the RGB work lower right of the wheel).

Colorzilla – An add-in to Firefox that allows you to find the Hex color (or RGB values) of any color on any web page.

Firebug – The most important add-on for Firefox to help you tweak your CSS stylesheet (if you need any help figuring out how to use it, please feel free to email me)

How to make your Header/banner clickable – This tutorial is geared towards WP users (self-hosted). For Blogger users I believe you can set that attribute in the Design Dashboard.

  1. Please note that I did not say everybody. And I’m sure someone will comment and say that one group of people or they personally prefer what I am saying is hard to read. That’s fine, go ahead. But when the majority of websites are primarily light-colored, that is when it becomes really hard on the eyes – switching from the contrast of the two.
  2. She’s on Twitter, if I were you I’d show it to her first. Just never Papyrus or Comic Sans.
  3. Why erase the height and only change the width? By doing it that way you are allowing the html to automatically proportionally re-size the height to match up to the new width. Otherwise you need to figure out on your own what is height-weight proportional and no I’m not talking about swinger club and adult dating site body requirements ;)
  4. And no I don’t mean the actual font named Goldilocks, sheesh!