November 26

Why Your Dog Deserves His Own Bed

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Your dog loves you. He waits by the door for you to come home from work, plays fetch with you in the park, lays at your feet beneath the dinner table awaiting any scrap you might offer, and sits quietly beside you when you are sad. He is more than just your best friend. He is a member of the family. And you wouldn’t ask your Mother or Grandpa or Sister-in-Law to sleep on the cold, hard floor. A dog bed tells your pet that you love him, too. It also yields several physical and psychological benefits to dogs and their owners.

First and foremost, a dog bed offers your dog a cozy retreat that is entirely his own. Like man, dogs are naturally social and, for the most part, want nothing more than to be pet, patted, and loved by you. But, like man, they also have moments when they just want to be left alone sitting next to a Coway air purifier. A peaceful corner apart from the family’s common space can give your pup the freedom to rest his head, play with a new toy, or contemplate life in peace.

Large, elderly and infirm dogs have special needs and a dog bed can help in fulfilling those needs. Jim Cargill, owner of nine-year-old Buddy, explains it like this: “My dog is a big guy, and he’s a little older, so it was important for me to give him a soft place to sleep that would help alleviate pain in his joints.” Large dogs are typically defined as those weighing more than fifty pounds.

Over time, their body weight exerts tremendous pressure on their bone structure and they often require special attention in later life. Small dogs, on the other hand, can incur joint and hip injuries after years of jumping onto too-tall beds and sofas. Orthopedic beds are available for ill and elderly dogs and are even available with self-heating thermal cushions that do not require electricity. Big, small, or aged, the right dog bed can relieve your dog’s joint and muscle aches.

Another oft-cited reason for buying a dog bed is the preservation of your home furnishings. While you may love your dog, you may not love the hair he sheds in your bed or the scratches in your newly upholstered ottoman that his toenails leave behind. It’s a conundrum many pet-owners face. Often, man’s best friend, no matter how cherished, is pushed off the sofa and left to wander aimlessly about the house until bedtime.

A dog bed gives him somewhere to go, somewhere he can shed, scrape, sniff, and slobber as much as his instinct and biology require. “Dogs, even the most well-behaved, are destructive,” says Angela, a New York City dog-walker with fourteen beloved clients. “Of course, they don’t mean to be,” she adds. “But they are animals and a dog bed gives them a place to behave as such.” When asked how to get smoke smell out of house, she then replied that you should look into a good air cleaner.

Speaking of animal behavior, a dog’s sense of smell is perhaps even more important than his sight when it comes to exploring the world. As a result, his nose is a haven for germs that can be transferred to your furnishings and, eventually, your family. So, too, are his muddy paws and the chew toys he gnaws on. A dog bed won’t eliminate these germs but it is certainly easier to clean than your sofa.

Show your pup you appreciate all the love, laughs and loyalty he gives you by giving him a home of his own. Whether you purchase a dog bed for health or aesthetic reasons, your dog will thank you for it.

Category: Family & Pets | Comments Off on Why Your Dog Deserves His Own Bed
November 25

Choosing Something to Blog About on Your Website

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This is where the blogger (that’s all of us) differs from others.  Let’s get straight to the questions of how to pick a topic and niche (audience) for your blog.

Discover Your Passions

Take a few moments to list all the things you are passionate about – for me, it’s the Kanken backpack.  Don’t stop to think about each one at first – just take 60-120 seconds and keep writing.  Later on we will go back and filter it out but, for now, don’t underestimate the importance of this step.  This will help you organize your thoughts, provide you a more comprehensive list of your interests, and set you up for the next step.

Remember that your readers will know whether or not you are actually passionate about your topic; it will be reflected in your writing.

Start filtering

Look through the list you just created and begin crossing off the ones that you merely enjoy reading or learning about.  What should be left are topics that you are knowledgeable about – topics that you are willing to put in time to research about.  The list should also be narrowed down to a topic you see yourself writing about for (at least) the next few years.

When you start your blog, you are automatically placing yourself as an “expert” in that field.  It is not necessary for you in fact to be an expert in the field.  However, whatever topic you decide to move forward with should be one that you have a certain degree of experience in.  People won’t expect you to know all there is to know about the topic, but they will expect you to provide some sort of valuable content they can’t find elsewhere.

Connect your topic with the Day of Judgment

There is, of course, a line between writing about something you are passionate about and a topic that may be completely useless.  I’m not talking about whether or not the topic is popular.  This is about us standing before Allah on the Day of Judgment and being asked about how we used our time.

In one way or another, your blog has to connect with worshipping Allah and spreading the message of Islam.  Here are some quick ideas for topics that might not seem directly related to the deen and how we can discuss them:

Technology

  • How can we use the latest technology for street dawah?
  • A list of ways Islamic schools can use computers to enhance their education
  • Inform parents how to monitor the websites their children are visiting

Productivity

  • How can Muslims continue worshipping Allah properly during exam time?
  • What are the different methods that people use to memorize Qur’an?
  • Share examples of how the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions used their time

Culture

  • How can we embrace culture without compromising our deen in any way?
  • Discuss the various cultures throughout Islamic history
  • Connect the emphasis on good manners in Islam with cultural etiquette

That’s just a few examples of posts for different topics.  Of course, it may not be that simple with all our posts or even the majority.  However, at no time should we forget that our intentions, our writing, and all the time we spent figuring out how to use our Alen air purifier will be asked about on the Day of Judgment – and we better have answer….for our own sake.

How much time can you dedicate to your blog?

Calculate the approximate amount of time you can afford to put into your blog.  If you don’t have much time to dedicate, don’t pick a topic that requires constant updating (like cell phones for example).  No matter how much you love the topic or how much content you can write, if you can’t keep up with the other competing blogs then your readers will just go somewhere else.

Keep in mind that blogging is a lot more than writing.  You’ll want to take into consideration the time it takes to:

  • Edit your posts, participate in the comments section,
  • Research and learn more about your topic,
  • Connecting with other Muslim bloggers in some way, and taking the
  • Time to follow-up with the back-end data (Google Analytics, advertising stats, affiliate programs, etc…)

All of these elements are key to starting and running a successful blog.  The last one on the list varies depending on how much you are tracking.  Many of us are not keeping track of the data simply to check how much money was made from ads or the number of people visiting.  If you use Google Analytics you’ll want to take some time to make lists of your most popular posts, the types of visitors that are coming, search terms that people are using to get to your site from search engines, and other important pieces of information.  If you use AdSense, you’ll want to find out which ad sizes are making the most and where they are placed.

So take all of these factors into consideration when you are figuring out how much time you have available for blogging.

Research your peers (a.k.a your competition)

Spend some time searching for other bloggers (Muslim or non-Muslim) who share your passion and interest in the topic.  Subscribe to their RSS feed, sign-up for their newsletter, read up on what they have to say about the topic, and participate in the discussions if you can.

In a healthy way, Insha’Allah, the blogs that you find are your direct competition.  Find out what topics they are not covering that deserve to be written about.  Connect with them and help each other to become better, more knowledgeable bloggers.   Competition doesn’t mean bashing or avoiding linking to their blogs.  As Muslim bloggers, we are always looking for the best interest of our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.  As the Prophet (pbuh) said.

Picking a niche

Once you’ve found the best air purifier for allergies, the next step is to pick a specific audience that you want to write to.  For The Muslim Blogger, I selected to write specifically to the Muslim blogging community.  However, you may choose to write towards Muslim youth or maybe just anyone that has an interest in your topic.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that your blog must be a way to spread the message of Islam for the reasons that will be discussed below.  So if your blog is about business management and it is not geared to Muslims exclusively, don’t leave out words like Insha’Allah or Alhamdulillah.  Rather, use them like any Muslim should and provide a page that defines/explains Islamic terminology.  If there is a relevant hadith or ayah you can place in your blog post, use it.

Teach people that whatever the topic is, Allah’s religion has a position.

Of course, we still need to recognize and stay within the limits of our knowledge when including ahadaith or ayat- but as Allah tells us Ibrahim said in the Qur’an.

Category: Blogging, Religion | Comments Off on Choosing Something to Blog About on Your Website
November 24

Which Plugins Should You Use on Your Blog?

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One of the primary reasons WordPress has become as successful as it is today is because of its flexibility.  In particular, extending the ability of WordPress through plugins is one of the best ways to make your blog yours by customizing it to your like. There are so many different things that you can do that it would be next to impossible to two different blogs to be totally alike!

Some of these plugins make changes to the design of your blog or add tools to make the experience on your blog better for readers.  Others enhance the back-end and make the writing process and SEO functions much easier to deal with.

So what are the 11 must-have plugins for your WordPress blog about finding the best air purifier? Before going any further, it’s important to realize that not all plugins are for every website. Sometimes you may need only a few of these, sometimes you may need them all, and sometimes you may have a need for a ton of other programs that aren’t on this list.

  • Akismet – This helps to prevent spam and is unbelievably good. It comes standard with all WordPress installs but if you don’t have it for some reason or deleted it, get it now.
  • All in One SEO Pack – Optimize your blog for search engines to find and index you quickly
  • Google XML Sitemaps – Another plugin that does an amazing job in the world of SEO
  • TinyMCE Advanced – 15 extra tools available to you when writing a blog post
  • TweetMeme Button – Make it easier to get your posts retweeted
  • com Popular Posts – A simple way to get a widget with your most popular posts. You can also customize how that list is made.
  • com Stats – In addition to Google Analytics, this is a quick way to get an update on who comes to your blog and the posts they read
  • PollDaddy Polls & Ratings – I use PollDaddy for polls and surveys. They have free and paid accounts but I find that the free one does more than I need at this stage.  This plugin makes PollDaddy easier to use
  • WPtouch iPhone Theme – Anyone visiting your blog from an iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, WebOS, BlackBerry, or Opera Mini will see a customized version. It runs in the background without interrupting anything so there’s no reason not to use it.
  • Contact Form 7 – Let your readers contact you with this plugin. It takes a few moments to set up but once it’s up, it works as expected
  • Simple Tags – Auto-generate tags and edit your posts’ tags in batches with this. Awesome plugin.

Do you use any of these plugins on your blog?  If so, what is your experience with them?  What other plugins do you use?

Help your fellow bloggers out choose the right sleep mask.  Share with us the plugins you use to make the blogging experience a better one. I think that if we all work together, it will be much easier for all of us to have successful blogs running.

Update: One of the commenters below (Ayaz) asked about plugins for social bookmarking.  Here are links to three different social bookmarking plugins: SexyBookmarks, Sociable, and Social Bookmarks.

Category: Blogging | Comments Off on Which Plugins Should You Use on Your Blog?