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5 Tools to Keep Your Email Safe from Spam

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If you’re a blogger, you probably want people to be able to contact you.

However, despite the rise in Twitter and other social networks, good old-fashioned email is still the most universal means of contact on the Web. The problem is that posting your email address online can result in spammers getting adding you to their databases and turning your inbox into a junk-filled cesspool.

So how do you share your email address on the Web without opening the door to every robot and Nigerian prince that wants to email you? Here are five very simple ways to help keep your inbox clear of spam while ensuring that your readers can still get in touch with you.

Scr.im

Scr.im is new service that works a bit like TinyURL or other URL shortening services, but for email addresses.

Simply type in your email address, create a custom link and then give that link on your site, Twitter account or anywhere else that you want people to have your email.

Scr.im works by creating a special CAPTCHA page that a user must click through in order to gain access to your email link. However, rather than having to type the CAPTCHA by hand, which can be tedious and difficult, Scri.im requires users to just click the letter combination from a list of selections, greatly speeding up the process.

Though it is likely spam bots could break Scr.im’s CAPTCHA system, the motivation to do so for just one email address is fairly low. If you want to view a sample of one of Scr.im’s pages, you can get my email address.

It is unclear if visually impaired users will be able to access email addresses hidden by Scr.im.

Contact Forms

Rather than having your email address on your site directly, it may be wise to encourage readers to fill out a contact form to send you a message. This hides your email address from the public and still makes it very easy for readers to get in touch with you.

If you run a self-hosted WordPress blog, there are several plugins that you can install to do this. They range from the robust and complex, such as CFORMS II, to the basic and elegant, such as the SimpleModal Contact Form.

Though Spam bots are capable of filling out email forms, and many do, if you set up your form so that you use nonstandard variables or use some other spam protection, a junk mailer isn’t likely to be motivated to reverse engineer your form just to reach one more email address out of millions.

Image Obfuscation

Since spam bots can only read clear text, you can easily hide your email address into an image to make it harder for the spammers to get to. The caveat is that you can not use a regular mailto link in order to make the image clickable as that defeats the purpose.

There are also email obfuscators that can counteract that mailto problem by converting your email address into garbled text that a simple spam bot can not understand.

Please note that the visually impaired will not be able to access an email address hidden inside an image.

10 Minute Mail

Though spam bots that crawl the Web are a huge problem, another common source of spam is all of the services and sites we register for every, punching in our email address every time. Even if we’re careful to not give our email to anyone unscrupulous, accidents happen and privacy policies do change. Emails, once given out, have a way of leaking.

A service called 10 Minute Mail fixes that by giving you an email address that lasts only 10 minutes. That gives you enough time to get the address, register for the service, receive the confirmation email and click the link/reply before the email address disappears for good.

Should your email address leak, there is no danger as the account doesn’t exist anymore. The problem is that, if you need a password reminder or to receive updates from a service, you have to either change your email address, if you can, or register for a new account.

10 Minute Mail is great for sites you plan on only visiting once or twice but are scared that your address might be in shaky hands.

Use Gmail

Sometimes the best solution to dealing with spam is to let it come and then filter it out. The problem is that it can be very tricky to do, especially if you’re using your own email server or your ISPs account.

To take the burden off, using a third-party service is often a good idea. Though there is a lot of debate about which service does the best filtering, Gmail works best for most as users can use their existing email addresses (even have Google host them with Google Apps) and there is even a hack to turn Gmail into a remote backup/spam filter for an existing email account.

Personally, I receive hundreds of spam messages per day but only have one or two get into my inbox using Google Apps, overall a pretty good record.

Bottom Line

Though a lot of the conversation on the Web has shifted to comment and blog spam, this is largely due to advances in email spam filtering. The truth is that email spam is more prevalent than ever and 2008 was, as predicted, the largest spam year on record.

The fact that we see so little spam in our inboxes is a true marvel of technology to say the least and shows the hard work of those that toil behind the scenes to battle spam, either by developing applications to block spam or working for companies like Google to keep their users relative junk-free.

But even with this technology, spam can be a tremendous headache and it is worth taking a few moments to protect your email address and ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Failure to do so could mean that you spend more time filtering spam than answering email or, worse yet, that your email could become almost worthless.

Your email is part of your identity, it is worthwhile to keep it safe.

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Do You Need to Make a Huge Blogging Shift?

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Sometimes, you get bogged down with your blogging routine. Routines feel comfortable, right?

But blogging is a feeling game like life is a feeling game. All flows based on your emotions. If you feel really good – first – then you take good feeling blogging actions and over time, with patience and trust, see good feeling blogging results.

Unfortunately, most humans give almost zero thought to their emotions before diving in to a blogging routine. Bloggers believe you need to do something or follow a set routine to succeed, to drive traffic, and to make money. Day after day, year after year, most bloggers follow a routine without giving zero thought to how they are feeling, if they enjoy blogging, if they have fun following the routine, and if they feel detached, patient and trusting in the process.

This is the only reason why as of about 7 years ago, 80% of bloggers never made more than $100 during their blogging careers. If 8 out of 10 humans can not make $100 through blogging over 1, 2, 5 or 10 years, 8 out of 10 bloggers clearly give zero thought to their feelings BEFORE blogging. Feel bad, and you see no money. But those 2 out of 10 bloggers who feel really good make lots of money over the long haul.

Shift

Maybe it is time to make a shift, guys.

2-3 months ago I made one shift. 1 month ago I made an even bigger shift; quite huge, for me. But what I did differently made almost zero difference. How I chose to feel marked the big shift, then, I moved into different blogging actions.

For example, I faced some deep fears, felt the fears, and instantly, after feeling pretty crappy for a short time, I felt better and better. Choosing to face fear, clear it, and feel better, helped me see things clearly. I tired of my blogging schedule, my social sharing groups, blog commenting and heavy cross promotion. In truth, I hated it. I did have some fun with each for a while but the passion long left me. Since how you feel before and while you blog means everything, my mindset-feeling shift told me I’d have so much fun guest posting. So as of about 3-4 weeks ago – maybe less – all I do is guest posting because I have fun guest posting and guest posting comes easily to me.

Making the shift involved facing deep fears of failure, loss and struggle. I had to feel the fear of letting go lifeless activities for me – at the time – to clear out the fear, and properly release these strategies, and to move forward so I could feel good, then, decide what blogging actions would feel fun and easy and enjoyable to me.

All shifts happen emotionally first, by your choice. After feeling some muck and then feeling better, you clearly and intuitively feel through the next fun-feeling, enjoyable step.

What About You?

Do you need to make any shifts with your blogging campaign? Or do you need to make one big, sweeping, all-encompassing shift?

Getting caught up in blogging routines feels comfortable, familiar and safe, sometimes. But do you feel good before you begin the routine? Do you feel good working the routine? Do you feel detached, relaxed, trusting and like you are cared for, and prospering, while following your blogging routine?

Be honest to make a necessary shift. If you love following your routine, cool. Proceed. But most humans are taught – me included – to follow some routine (no matter how you feel) to get something, specifically money, so you can avoid failure, struggle, poverty, going hungry, illness, and embarrassment. This is exactly why most humans work jobs. Follow a routine to get money even if you feel really bad or terrible following the work-routine; aka, even if you hate your job and it feels lifeless, or soul-less.

May be time for a big shift guys.

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Why Comedians Teach You a Powerful Blogging Lesson

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Last night I saw a funny comedian perform in Atlantic City.

Chris Delia charmed the audience with his silly, somewhat absurd, level of humor.

He also explained how comedians need thick skin to become successful. Humor is a very personal, subjective topic. Some people find some comedians hysterical but never laugh at other comedians. As you imagine, bombing feels terrible to most comedians. At least until they develop a thick skin.

I once read how Kevin Hart often waited until 1 AM to work an open mic. Sometimes he waited until 1 AM and the place closed down so he never got the chance to do his set. Imagine how thick-skinned you need to be to not let that bother you? Is it any wonder why he is now worth $150 million? He became immune to criticism, failure and rejection. As a matter of fact, after developing a thick skin, he likely did not see criticism, failure or rejection.

All those evenings of 1 AM sets in front of 1-2 lifeless people or all those nights of being told to go home at 1 AM after waiting for hours to do his act purged the fear of criticism, failure and rejection from his being. Void of these fears, he rose up to being one of the most famous, wealthy and powerful comedians on earth.

Bloggers Need Thick Skin

I once promoted a course to the tune of 8000 page views before I sold one copy. Did I quit promoting the course? No. I developed a thick skin during the process. I did not see 8000 rejections. I only saw meeting and helping more human beings through my blog. Even during moments when I felt like giving up I trusted in myself and believed in the blogging process. Quitting and failure were no options for me. But in the same vein, I needed to be thick skinned to see through criticism, rejection and failure.

I needed to be aware of opportunity amid the appearance of nobody reading my blog. Toss in being patient and persistent in helping folks during my most trying times and you have a pretty thick-skinned individual.

Do Not Care What People Think

Chris Delia shared how he could care less what people thought about him. He dressed down a few hecklers during the show.

Comedians succeed because they care less about what people think of their acts; being heckled, ignored or criticized had nothing to do with their belief in self and their belief in their comedic style.

As a blogger, give no thought to what people think of you. Guess what? You cannot control your reputation. No matter how long and hard you work in life to maintain a positive reputation, you can never physically control what people think of you. I am largely a nice guy 99.99% of the time yet some people genuinely hate me. I cannot control their demons. Plus I know we see the world as we see ourselves so if someone hates themselves I cannot do anything about that self-loathing.

Focus on yourself. Focus on what you think about yourself because this is the only thing that matters. Being comfortable in your own skin aligns you with loving, loyal followers who appreciate you for who you are. Let go everybody else. Critics form an energetic yoke if you care about their thoughts but dissolve into thin air when you could care less about what they think of you.

Bloggers become successful because these few folks who have thick skins shine brightly in a world of thin-skinned bloggers who fear criticism, judgment and rejection. The few who step it up do wonders because we all want a piece of free spirits who march to the beat of their own drum without caring what people think, say or do, in response or reaction to them simply being themselves.

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Do You Have an Exit Plan for Your Blog?

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This past week I ceased sharing posts in blogging tribes.

I finally got it; I joined tribes because I feared unless I shared other blogger content, nobody would read my content. I feared if nobody shared my content, nobody reads my content, and I needed to share other blogger content to effectively influence bloggers and people to share mine. Ouch.

As you can imagine, I put in many long, hard hours working a job, NEEDING to be online to succeed with my blog. Rewind. Working a job. Did you see this phrase? I worked a job. I needed to be online to succeed. Largely, at least. Does that sound like a business owner to you? Does that sound like leveraging? Sure I drive some passive traffic and profits to my blog but being honest, I largely worked a job and had a job for much of my 10 years online, and I did not have a pure business so I could step away from my blog and business for months, at a time. Or, forever.

Exit Plan

I have more of an exit plan now. I have a blogging business. I am writing my tail off to be in as many spots as possible without relying on sharing tribes and other groups that require me to be online, to social share posts, so other people can social share my posts, so I get traffic and profits. I began to think; what am I doing? I mean, if you love joining social sharing tribes, do it. Nice friendship builder. But you need to have some exit plan with your business and need to see how you can step away one day so it is about a 100% passive income machine – or, so you can sell it at a tidy profit – in order for you to be a free entrepreneur, versus a bound employee.

Think Leveraging

I am having so much fun writing blog posts and guest posts daily. Plus it is easy peasy. Every piece of content is forever, unless all these blogs vanish or get closed out by all these bloggers. Fat chance. Plus I can drive to Atlantic City today with my wife and enjoy a show this afternoon into evening and my business will still grow from a heavy passive element. Even though I am online writing this morning, all my blog posts and guest posts serve as a passive promotional army for the Blogging From Paradise blog and brand.

Imagine me trying to social share other blogger posts as I am driving down the Parkway? Not happening.

Networking Rocks

Network. Have fun making friends. Build a rock solid foundation for your blog. But eventually, evolve into someone who leverages your presence so you work a business, not a job. Any strategy 100% dependent on you being online, sharing blogger content so other bloggers share your content and boost your success, is a job, not a business, because you are tied to the online world and have no exit strategy, and a light passive element to your blogging business.

Gradually place less emphasis on networking online. Focus on purely passive elements, like writing more blog posts and guest posts, which last forever. Humans change, quit, fail, change tastes; you never want to be at the mercy of the fickle human beast. Unless all blogs close down, all of those blog posts and guest posts you wrote are pretty much forever.

Focusing a bit more on things – things helping people – helps you leverage your blog and business powerfully so you can make an exit plan and step away from your blogging business for 1, 2 or 3 months. I know bloggers who take vacations for months; everything keeps growing money-wise because they leverage, and are not dependent on people for cash flow, because their system creates the cash flow.

Trust in the process plays a big role too.

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