Janette Toral sharing her tourist experience in Australia.

Monday 29 December 2008

Adelaide Startup Club Meetup on January 16

This coming January 16, I will be attending the Adelaide Startup Club meet-up. Special thanks to Geoffrey Kwitko's invitation. He also asked me to do like a short pitch about the Blogging from Home book and other endeavors.

This got me thinking as I'm currently working on two projects to be offered globally. This includes:
  • Virtual assistants network (Australia, Philippines)
  • Blog marketing network (US, UK, Australia)
  • Blog advertising network (Philippines)
If the demo will be ready by then, I look forward in being able to give a glimpse of it during the said event.

If time permits, I will discuss SEO and Busby SEO Test as well.

Link Exhange Network - Invitation

I just started this program in my website readers social network. This was also inspired with my experience in the Busby SEO Test competition and have received inquiries if I can help out other bloggers too in spreading links about their blog or website. As my number of contacts in Australia is increasing as well, I thought of extending it here. Happy New Year!
"When you have a new site, one important requirement is to get it ranked on search engines. There are many steps involve to get that done but one of them is through getting your website / blog name or keyword / keyphrase and url link placed in others that are real, rather than spam. Normally, you will also need to pay a sum for that.

However, for those of you who don't have that much resource to spare and have your own blog or website inventory on hand, you are invited to join our small link exchange network.

To participate, here is the process:
  1. Fill-up the form and indicate the following:
    - anchor text: (this is the title or keyword/phrase of your site)
    - URL: (website or blog address)

  2. Number of placements: (number of blogs or websites where you want the link to be placed)

  3. Your blogs and websites: (web address where you can place links in return for others. They must be updated in the last 30 days.)
    - Putting the exchanged links at the sidebar (sitewide) will also get you the same exposure.
    - Putting them in a specific page will also merit you the same exposure.
    - In the end, what you give is what you get.
Upon receipt, here's what will happen:
  1. I will send you an email with the links for posting at your site.

  2. Upon confirmation of placement, you will receive an e-mail stating where your ads were placed.

  3. If you need 6 placements but only have 3 websites/blogs, we will send you an equivalent number of placement in order for the 6 to be carried out.
At the moment, I will have discretion on where the ads shall be placed until a formal structure is set-up.

  1. Note that all link exchange agreements are good for no more than 90 days only. We will send you a replacement link prior to the end of the 90 days to sustain your current placements. It is possible that your placement will also be transferred to other sites thereafter or when the blog/website participant backs out from the program or becomes unqualified to participate (e.g. cancellation, removal, blacklist).

  2. Those who will remove the link prior to the end date agreement shall be removed and blacklisted.
Thank you."

Saturday 27 December 2008

Address Plaques & Whitehall Mailboxes

We just got word that we won't be moving anytime soon as the house we live in today doesn't have a buyer yet. However, what we have now is a flexible leasing contract instead of fix date term. It is funny though that our mailboxes are full lately as we still get letters meant for previous renters at our place.

I wonder how soon do we need to have a plan in handling our mailbox posts so that this can be manageable. Ideas are needed as the volume of mails I've been getting as I get more active in the blogosphere is increasing.

On the weird side, one of the most serious parent in the community has told me that we should have one of those popular address plaques plastered in our door. Maybe in our new house, I'll consider. I am not sure whether that is cool or not but it got me thinking that we might as well one of those whitehall mailboxes while at it.

Watching Adelaide Lightning

Last November 28, I got the chance to visit the Dome (Crittendale) to watch the Adelaide Lightning game versus Canberra. It was my first time to visit the place and watch a female basketball game. The players were very impressive and hope to get the chance watching them again soon before this Busby SEO Test competition ends.

Friday 26 December 2008

O'Donnel Griffin Social Club Christmas Party

Last December 6, Jhermie and I got the chance to attend the O'Donnel Griffin Social Club Christmas Party where we saw a Greyhound race track first hand. It was an interesting evening as the venue, Chaser Function Centre at Angle Park, had various social clubs (of various companies) celebrating their Christmas party.

There was an entertainer / performer also strutting Rod Stewart and Elvis Presley songs.

We didn't stay long enough though and glad that we returned home soon so I can work on Busby SEO Test.

Monday 22 December 2008

Buying a Beach Cruiser Bicycle

It is now summer time in Australia and most folks frequent the beach for relaxation. In our case, Henley Beach is only 15 minutes away.

As we see folks riding Cruiser Bikes or Beach Bikes, we can't help but consider investing in one.

In the U.S., there is an online bike store, Makai Bikes, that sells beach cruiser bicycles. I noticed that the price range is no more than 200 dollars.

Other products being promoted are bicycle accessories such as bells, horns, and stickers that are worth no more than 10 US dollars.

What I like about the site includes:
  • Product photos
    The site has more than one that allows the user to see products in greater detail and perspective.

  • Comparison of products
    Each product category has multiple products. You can tick the products you are interested in for comparison purposes based on price, availability, and other product features.

  • Customer review
    You can also read product reviews made by customers. Hopefully this can give further insight on products being considered by prospects. I think it would further help if those who gave testimonials were photograph near or while riding the bicycle.

  • The site also provide Free Shipping Bicycles to majority of U.S. states.

  • Friendly refund policy
    Customers may also return new, unopened items within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. They can also return any used items not satisfied with within 30 days of delivery for a full refund or an exchange. All returns must first be authorized so that they can give detailed instructions on where to send your item(s).
Other areas worth improving includes:
  • Sell locks or security
    This is meant to protect bike owners from theft. Another option also is to sell insurace for bicycles.

  • Newsletter promo
    The site has a promotion encouraging people to join and be included in the raffle for getting a bike for free. I think this is an interesting promo and needs to be further disseminated. Mechanics on how to win one must be also be visible in the site to attract attention.

Trevor Jones, Jacob's Creek, & Chateau Barrosa

This is the last part of our October 18 visit. I consider a trip to Barossa Valley to be composed of three parts. The flowers, dam, and finally the wine. For this part, we checked out three spots, Chateau Barrosa, Trevor Jones, and Jacob's Creek to taste and buy wine as souvenir.

The three outlets has a good selection set. It is best to be ready when visiting in order to take advantage of good offers.

Now back to Busby SEO Test.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Barossa Reservoir Dam & Whispering Wall at Barossa Valley

This is to continue my story sharing about Barossa Valley that I visited last October 18. In this post, I'll give you glimpse of the Barossa Reservoir or Dam. It was once the highest in Australia (36 meters high). It was also considered as one of the most innovative dams in the world because of its curve and radical innovation.

Another interesting aspect of the dam is that is also known as "Whispering Wall" where a voice of one person can be heard from one end to the other (140 meters).

More info about the dam can be read at Wikipedia.

P.S. I will post one more about Barossa Valley after my Busby SEO Test updates.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Mailboxes & New Home

We are still not sure if we will be starting our search for a new home soon as we await on who will end up buying the property we live in today. However, I already expressed to my partner that we need one or two mailboxes.

One of the mail boxes can be small for the usual letters and a big one for all the brochures, newsletters, and newspaper we get in the mail.

I am particularly concern with our mailbox as I receive parcels coming from book publishers to review their book and possibly feature them in one of my blogs. At times when no one is at home, the courier ends up leaving a note about it. However, if we have a bigger one, I'm sure this won't be an issue anymore. There are also sites where you can start canvassing for the mail box that will suit your home and have an idea about its price.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Filipino Christmas Party in Australia

Last December 6, we attended a Filipino Christmas party. This is where we pitched in an amount so we can take part in the occasion. In the past, I've always been quiet and reserved during events such as these. However, this time, I decided to let my guard down and enjoyed. Gladly, got more than what I ask for.

Also, the star for that day is no other than my youngest son, Jonathan, where he got the chance to show off his magic tricks. Janin is a natural magnet for kids. They just love her. Jasmin brought her reading and drawing gear.

Of course, a Filipino Christmas Party, especially in another country, won't be a considered as one without great Filipino recipes such as kare-kare, kilawin, fish inihaw, pinoy spagetti, lechon, rice, leche flan, among others.

I got the chance to enjoy the wine served at check out Rene's cool camera and Joseph's iPhone. I was also teasing Armstrong, the guy in the just above photo set, that I'll help him find a girlfriend through blogging. This was also the time when Marilyn, Leila, Jhermie, and I agreed to have a blogging tutorial session the week after.

I attended a few more parties after this one and admittedly it seems this year is one of the best Christmas I ever had with the family.

Now back to my Busby SEO Test entry.

Saturday 13 December 2008

Blogging Tutorial & Nuffnang Christmas Treat

Earlier today (Saturday afternoon), I spent time with Marilyn, Leila, and Jhermie on how to further configure their blog and shared ideas about planning their post so that it can also increase traffic in the process.

As they are all interested on how their blogs can become revenue sources and possible programs they can join, I introduced them to Nuffnang Australia. This is a blog advertising network that allows bloggers to earn from their blogs through the advertisement that gets served.

Bloggers, big or small, are being invited to join the community and be part of its growing network. With that I asked Marilyn, Leila, and Jhermie to join Nuffnang and take part in its Christmas promotion.

What I like about Nuffnang is the spirit of friendliness behind the organization. They proactively reach out to prospective advertisers and bloggers in the community. Events and activities are also being planned to further build interest and affinity to the organization.

The best post will get a Dell™ Inspiron™ Mini 9 also. This mini laptop, comes in black or white color, has the following features:
  • Processor: Intel® Atom™ N270
  • Operating system: Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition
  • Memory: 1GB Dual-channel DDR-2 SDRAM Memory
  • Hard drive: 16GB* SSD Hard Drive
  • Monitor: 8.9" WSVGA LED Display with TrueLife™
  • Graphic card: Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphic card
  • Wireless network card: Dell Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
  • It has also a 1 year standard warranty
In my various workshop and tutorial sessions, people get amazed on how simple my laptop is while they have these more expensive branded gadgets. I get to show that today's technology allows you to do more even with simple devices. Over time as well, I feel that my MSI laptop has become heavier and would certainly want a lighter one. I also would like to be able to point to a laptop and say, "I got this funky Dell™ Inspiron™ Mini 9 from blogging about Nuffnang".

Monday 1 December 2008

Adelaide Bloggers Christmas Get-Together

This is my 3rd time to attend the Adelaide Blogger's Meet-up. Although there is not always enough time to chat with each other, I feel that we are getting more comfortable and look forward in doing interesting stuff in the months to come.

If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time that we actually have a sponsor for the meet-up, Kirrihill Wines, who brought a nice selection of wines. I was able to try the two variants and they were just beautiful. If I didn't had to take a bus home, would have surely tried more. Also found out that this particular wine biggest market overseas is in Norway.

Nevertheless, I asked Matt McCulloch about the possibility, if they are interested, of having bloggers come over to their winery, have a tour, discuss and blog about the experience. He seems to be ok with the idea so we'll see how will that go.

I brought a few copies of my Blogging from Home book during the said affair. It is my first time to reach out and promote my book in Australia. It will be interesting to know their thoughts in the weeks to come about it.

Great thanks to Shai and Jim for organizing this beautiful get-together. I missed interacting with Jen at the affair. I should do better next time.

Special thanks also to Geoffrey Kwitko for this beautiful video he made celebrating the folks he met in the past two months.

Will update this post as I get to see more blog post about what happened at the affair. For the meantime, will work on my Busby SEO Test. Cheers!

Saturday 29 November 2008

Sexy Gift Ideas for the Women We Love

Having 4 siblings, all women, you can say that I grew up mostly seeing things from that perspective. During holiday season, we prioritize taking care of giving gifts to relatives, business contacts, godchildren, nieces, nephews, before each other. I guess because we take care of each other all year long and even without Christmas around, we give and support one another in every possibility we can.

However, once one of you goes abroad, gift-giving takes a different context. If I'm a gift-giver and can afford it, I would like gifts to be a bit sexy and cool for my siblings.

Topping the list are:
  • Perfume
    Yes, perfume is still an outstanding gift to give and receive. With so many fragrances out there, one can get a specific brand or a set where multiple fragrances are included.
  • iPod
    If you can afford it, an ipod will be a great item to give these days. With almost each one of us have our own favorite songs, putting them in an iPod and listening to them when you like it, is just sexy especially if shared with a loved one.
  • Other sexy gift ideas
    • Laptop
      I think giving a powerful gadget like an Asus EEE will be most appreciated as that gadget is so compact and can even fit a nice lady's bag.
    • Aromatherapy kit
      The whole lot to make it really special.
    • Mobile phone
      The Blackberry or something like that should be a knock-out gift as well.
    • Jewelry
      A nice necklace, pendant, earring, bracelet, ring, brooch, among others can do well too.
    • Clothing
      A nice blouse or scarf gets appreciated especially if the item is well chosen and fashionable.
    • Book
      A feel good and easy-to-read book. I prefer the not too serious ones but still useful to read right away.
    • Movie or music collection
      A collection or series makes a nice gift.
    • Bag
      A nice bag can also be a good one to give
I'm sure there'll be more sexy gifts that you can think of that we can give to the women we love in our lives. Feel free to post your suggestions.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Flowers at Barossa Valley

Last October 18, the family got the chance to check out Barossa Valley. There's not much to see at the place as is. However, if you have a camera with you, no matter what kind, there are a lot of interesting things there that you can take a picture of. Flowers is one my favorite subject matter. There are a lot of them there and even got excited upon seeing David Austin roses (my dream garden would be filled with them).

Sunday 16 November 2008

Kangaroo Coffee Company

One of the coffee spots I was able to visit last month that had a special Aussie twist is the Kangaroo Coffee Company. However, this can't be found anywhere in Australia. It is a coffee shop in Davao City, Philippines. (I was there for the DigitalFilipino.com Club and Bloggers Davao Networking event last October 21.)

It has what a typical coffee shop has to offer. However, one item that you will usually find that is uniquely Davao is the Durian-infused ones that I make sure that I'll be able to enjoy. Another interesting item in the menu that I hope to try in my next visit is its (Asian Palm Civet) Civet Coffee variant - Kape Balos.

I am pretty much amazed how a local coffee shop was able to establish a look and feel that is at par with some of the big brand coffee shops out there. What caught my attention in-store as well are the boomerangs. There was also a Kangaroo stuff toy holding a boomerang. I joked my friends that its role is to throw a boomerang in case a customer acts quirky at the counter. LOL!

What is not known to many is that Davao City has one of the strongest policy against smoking in the Philippines. In addition to not smoking inside buildings or establishments, one can't smoke outside if they are in an "enclosed area" like an entertainment village or there is a tent that covers you.

According to my friends in Davao, the name idea for Kangaroo Coffee Company stems from the owners' curiosity on coming up with a name that can be competitive to a Filipino-owned coffee shop - Figaro. Then came Kangaroo. (some may get the similarity while others may utter duh? LOL!)

Nevertheless, I look forward in visiting Davao City in 2009 and get my chance to taste its Durian Mocha Heaven and Kape Balos.

Moving to a new home

(I will definitely miss this backyard where I usually find snails crossing)

When my partner moved to Australia last year, he became a full-fledged online shopper. Some of the furniture we have at home were purchased through eBay, garage sale, rentals, and the like. That worked well for us because he is a frugal shopper eager to get the best deal he can find.

On the other hand, when my brother-in-law moved in the country to work, his shopping style was quite different and availed a lot of stuff through stores like Radio Rental. I guess he was partly in a hurry and wants everything settled within a month.

On the 1st quarter of 2009, we will be moving to a new place as the owner of the house we are living in now shall be selling their property soon. It is also a good opportunity to check out new home furnishings and decor for that purpose especially bedroom related stuff. I'm actually a bedroom person and usually get hit by ideas while resting. My standard on how beds should be has increased through the years and my partner tends to get agitated when I insist for the more expensive stuff. Comfort has its price as what they say. The most memorable spots kept in my travel memories are those with the best beds, mattress, and pillows. LOL!

So more eBay for us and actual at-the-store shopping this next two months.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

I'm not immigrating to Australia

The challenge about maintaining an Australia-themed blog is that it created an impression to some of my peers in the Philippines that I have migrated to Australia. Here are some facts to correct this misconception.
  1. My partner is an overseas Filipino worker in South Australia that started in early 2007 and will last up to the end of 2010.
  2. Half of my time is spent in the Philippines. I visit Australia to be with family although most of my Internet time is spent on concerns in the Philippines. I haven't really explored opportunities although in my earlier research, I noticed that the location I'm in (Findon / Adelaide / South Australia) is not exactly a hotspot or hub for it.
Admittedly, my partner explored getting a permanent residence status but it got declined. Having a non-immigrating special child in the Philippines is the reason behind it. Being rejected is a major setback in a sense that my kids studying in Australia right now won't be able to enjoy schooling opportunities. They will have to study with an international student status as two of them starts their university or TAFE studies next year.

I'll be back in Australia later this month to spend the Christmas season there while working on my scheduled return to Manila this January or February.

So I hope that clarifies - I'm not immigrating to Australia.

Friday 17 October 2008

Australia A-List Bloglebrity (as of October 2008)

With 500 or more blogs linking to these sites in the past 6 months, the Australia A-List Bloglebrity are:
With 100-499 blogs linking to these sites in the past 6 months, the Australia B-List Bloglebrity are:
If your blog is in the A or B -list, please post a comment and will add it here.

Getting an Australian Business Number and using the Business Portal

After receiving my first Blogging from Home book order, I decided to get an Australian Business Number (ABN). I find the process very interesting and a bit intimidating. Some of the things I realized are:
  • Unlike the Taxpayer File Number (TFN) that takes a week or two before you receive it by mail, the ABN is given online immediately.

  • An e-mail will also be sent to confirm the details and give initial information about installing the Common-use signing interface and your digital certificate. The access code is included in the e-mail. However, you will also need the PIN and password which will be sent to you by mail.

  • Within a week, you will receive two letters, one containing your business registration details while the other is your PIN/password and online services set-up CD.

  • Transactions are usually done in the business portal and its usability can be intimidating at first. It is best to try out the web tutorial first instead of contacting them.

  • Record keeping is an important activity for any small business entrepreneur and you can be penalized for not doing it. They have a site that informs you on how to go through it. The resource page is comprehensive and it is best to set aside time to familiarize yourself.

  • If you are not using any particular software at the moment for record keeping, the ATO site also provides a free electronic record keeping tool. In order not to miss any due dates, you can also use the small business tax calendar that is customized based on the information you provide on business activities.
Note that you don't have to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident to get an ABN (like in my case - a temporary resident - as my partner has a work contract here in Australia up to 2010). Remember also that income from employment is totally separate. So should I end up working for a company here in the future, I will have to use my TFN for tax deduction purposes.

Getting to know Ratified Australia - Top 100 Blogs

I decided to update this article to give Aussie blogger newbies an idea about Ratified Australia and reflect updates as well.

We only accept blogs to be Ratified
Please note that we only link to the blog home page. If your blog is a sub-page of a website, we will only link to your blog section.

Ranking based on points system
Ratified base its rankings on a point system. The more points, the higher the rank.

Here is the complete formula

(Technorati Authority x .55) + (Pagerank x 125) + (Feedburner x 3.75) + 20000000/Alexa Rank

From Technorati, we gather the number of blogs linking to your site and multiply it by .55. As Technorati can be manipulated, by multiplying it by .55, it is given less importance but still has a fair amount of weight.

Google Pagerank is also factored in. Pagerank can range from 0 to 10. In the formula, it is multiplied by 100, giving it quite a bearing. The higher the Pagerank, the higher chances for a blog to rank higher overall.

Feedburner subscribers per blog are counted. The number of feed subscribers is essential in gauging the success of a blog. We multiply it by 3.75 in the formula. Blog owners must at least activate their feeds' Awareness API in Feedburner for us to effectively pick up their subscriber numbers. In hindsight, we saw that those who enable their Awareness API get much higher ranks than those who don't. For Blogger.com and Blogspot.com users, here's a guide in transitioning your RSS feeds to Feedburner seamlessly. (or you can watch this video I prepared last year)

Ratified creator, Andrew Dela Serna, recently added Alexa in the equation as the entity announced its new scheme where rank is no longer dependent on users of the Alexa toolbar.

New blogs can be "ratified"

The main basis for "ratification" is the Technorati blog links. Once a blog gets at least one link, they are immediately ratified even if the blog doesn't have Pagerank or feed subscribers.

The Ratified program records all the number of blog links and subscribers from data that are readily available through API's.

When the ranks are updated, the buttons pick up the new ranks automatically.

Next year, 2009, we will be releasing a semi-annual Top 100 report that gives an update on blogs that have achieved growth on a six-months period. We are currently testing this on the main site and look forward doing it on the Australia side next year.

Monday 6 October 2008

A fly-in guest

Earlier this afternoon, my kids found this bird peeking at our back door. They went out and find the bird willing to interact and be pet. Then they start feeding it. Whenever the door is opened, it even wants to go inside the house.

So we tried using an old nest we found in our back yard. We were surprised that it liked corn flakes. I'm not sure if this walk-in pet will just be with us for a day or more. But it was a memorable experience.

Monday 22 September 2008

Sell books to Australia libraries, ABN for self-publishers, and Public Lending Rights

When I got back after my Manila book launch, my first order of business was to donate a copy of Blogging from Home to the Charles Sturt library. I guess the library made my stay in South Australia enjoyable even if I'm home most of the time. It allowed me to learn new things, improve on my skills, and get inspiration for my blogging activities.

What I was also hoping that may came out of it is getting a potential customer in the process. Last week, I received my first purchase order for the book and came from a library supplier - James Bennett Pty Ltd.

Library suppliers expect bookstore discount although you are allowed to include shipping cost in your billing. Authors and publishers whose work are in public libraries and educational institution libraries can be further compensated through the government's Public Lending Rights program.

So for now, I would like to assume that getting your book in libraries can happen by either donating or deal with suppliers like them.

In addition, found out that self-publishers who don't have an Australia Business Number (ABN) are subject to 48.5% tax. This is on top of the discounts that you are already giving to bookstore outlets, distributors, suppliers, and wholesalers. Although the government tends to make you think seriously before getting an ABN, if you really feel that you'll have frequent orders later on, publish more books, or do more ventures on top of it, perhaps it will all be worth it. This rather than rush to get one at the last minute.

Monday 15 September 2008

Sell books in Australia

Selling books online in Australia can be quite a challenge and I am learning a lot in the process. This includes adjusting my book price since the difference with the US and Australian dollar has returned to what it used to be. This means that from AU$10, I will have to adjust my book price shortly to AU$15-17.

I have checked out several online bookstore site and inquire about how to sell my book, this is what I discovered to date based on information posted and those who replied so far:
  • Seekbooks
    This site is one of the biggest book fulfillment provider today supplying several online bookstore websites. They have the discretion of increasing your book retail price if your discount rate is less than 40%.

    They are the fastest to act as well and find my Blogging from Home book listed in a few hours.
  • Boomerang Books
    To sell in this site, book must also be listed at Nielsen BookData and you will need to have an account with their book fulfillment provider, SeekMedia. While waiting, you can also join their publisher support program and get more publicity.

    Once my SeekMedia account was created and book listed, my Blogging from Home book is now available in the site.

  • Fishpond
    Book must be listed at Nielsen BookData which will take up to 2 weeks for listing after submission. Once listed, 2 weeks later, the book shall be viewable at Fishpond. If you don't have a distributor, join their sell yours program.

  • Australia Online Bookshop
    They help Aussie authors and publishers have a page in their site as soon as you send one copy of your book. Allow them to purchase copies, inclusive of shipping, at no more than 65% of your book price.

  • Gleebooks Bookshops
    You can send a copy of your book for their listing consideration. Allow them to purchase copies, inclusive of shipping, at no more than 60% of your book price.

  • Dymocks
    Dymocks has 72 stores nationwide. The decision to sell a book is at the franchise owner level. Authors and self-publishers who would like to sell their books through this chain must be willing to give a minimum of 45% margin on retail price. Freight cost shouldered by you to each branch and invoicing the same. Inventory on account (30 days). The chain also wants to see an outline of the publicity that has been generated for your book.

    If you are qualified and able to do the above, you can send a sample copy of your book for consideration. Otherwise, another way to do this is work with distributors like Gary Allen and Tower Books. Both players are also concerned on the publicity that you have planned for your book.
Will be updating this post as I get more response. Should you know any self-publisher-friendly online bookstore site and programs in Australia, feel free to post a comment here.

Sunday 31 August 2008

IELTS as Permanent Resident Requirement in Australia

When applying for permanent resident status under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 119/857) or Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 121/856), depending where you are based, one of the requirements you'll encounter is to pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

However, if the medium of instruction in the conduct of your college education was English, you can also request a certification from your school to attest to it. If accepted, this may possibly waive the IELTS requirement.

An IELTS exam rates your speaking, reading, writing, and listening in English capability. If you are taking the exam, here are some personal tips that I'd like to share:

  • Take time to review.
    I think it is practical to join an IELTS review especially the "listening" part to get used to the British and Aussie tone of voice.

  • Take notes during the exam
    Especially the last listening task as taking notes, keywords, will help you not get confused in figuring out the answers.
  • Practice "writing" again
    If you have not been writing too much and using the computer most of the time, your hand may ache from doing the essay part. I experienced that on the 2nd task. If I'll get to do it again, I would have done the 2nd task first.

  • Grammar review
    No harm in doing it especially since the writing task needs to get done in a short span of time.
  • If you haven't been reading much, it is important to get yourself to do it.

  • During the exam, read the questions first before the reading task.

  • While reading, underline the important points so you can refer to them when answering the questions.
  • Get yourself interviewed. Talk about:
    • Yourself and what you do.
    • Family members.
    • The things you like.
    • Your point of view on issues affecting our lives

  • Elaborate your answers
    Be able to fully explain what you meant is important.

  • Be natural
    Talk to the interviewer like being interviewed for a job. Put your best foot forward and show your "pleasing personality".
Take the online sample review. Don't be surprised if some of them will really show up in the exam. ;-)

P.S. I took the exam last August 2008 in Manila. Result was released last September 2008 and got a total band score of 8.0. The highest band I got is 9.0 in speaking.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Brian Gorrell and Emerging Aussie Blogs 2008

Aussie blogger Brian Gorrell made it in the list of 2008 Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs writing project final results last August 11.

I wrote to a good number of Aussie bloggers to join the writing project and am happy that some of them took the challenge. However, in the process, I realized that very few established bloggers are really able to take time and check out the new blogs that caught their attention. Time is a big factor in all of these.

As I also maintain Ratified Australia, I decided to publish this list of Emerging Aussie Blogs 2008 that are currently in the Top 100. Some of them were cited and pushed for by writing project participants. These are blogs created anytime from July 2007 to the present.
It will be interesting to see how these blogs shall evolve. I will note that next year when I post another update.

Monday 18 August 2008

Get a free copy: Blogging from Home

I'll be back in Findon next week with my first Australia-published book, Blogging from Home. This book was first released in Manila, Philippines last week.

To kick-off its introduction and release to the market, I'm giving a copy of the book to ten (10) Australia-based bloggers who'll make a blog post about it.

Just post a comment here with a link to your blog post.

My initial budget is only 10 copies but can adjust depending on the response. Cut-off date is on August 25, 2008. The selected blog posts will be posted on August 26, 2008.

Some notes I'd like to share:
Many thanks and I look forward to be blogging from home again next week.

Sunday 13 July 2008

Australia Blog Advertising Network

I created a blog advertising network in the Philippines back in January 2007. I've reached the point where I have to expand, get more bloggers, and advertisers. This time, in my 2nd home, Australia.

There are three ways to earn:
  1. A fee shall be paid by including an ad link in one's blog post or website article. Depending on the blog or website popularity, fees can vary from US$1 to US$10. The said blog post or website article where the link is added to should not have less than 200 words.

  2. An ad link can also be posted and seen site-wide. Fees can vary from US$5 to US$85. The ad link should be immediately seen upon loading of the page.

  3. Websites can also be reviewed, not necessarily a positive one. Fees vary from US$5 to US$125.


  1. The link should remain for a period of at least one year in the said blog post or website article.

  2. The ad should be the only one linked in a blog post or website article.

  3. Your blog or website should be active, having at least 2 post or article a week, and regularly promoted.

  4. Billings are received every month and payouts are released within 5 to 7 days thereafter through Paypal.

  5. The more active your blog or website is, the more assignments you'll receive. Your rate increases as well in due time.

  6. These ad assignments can be about our websites, our clients, SME club members, and corporate club members.
I'll be setting up a website for this in a few weeks and hope to start placing ads from those who will join from Australia this September.

Saturday 21 June 2008

Adelaide Bloggers Meetup June Edition

I attended the Adelaide Bloggers meet-up event last night with so much enthusiasm. Since the first one last April, I believe we got the chance to know each other more through various social media tools.

Vino Ristorante (Unley Road) was a cozy place and enjoyed a nice plate of pasta cozze (black mussels). No one was able to come along with me and thanks to the Adelaide Metro hot line, I received information on buses that I must take to get there from Findon.

The nice thing about the group being small is that we can easily get cozy to each other. It felt like a family as touch base with what everyone has been up to based on their blog post, facebook posted items and updates, twits, plurks, among others.

The folks who attended last night includes:
We agree to meet again after 2 to 3 months. If you want to be kept posted and get to know this small community, join the group in Facebook.

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Australia has low record in Wave 3 report

This according to the Universal McCann Report Wave 3 report (March 2008) that tracks social media growth. The following are the snapshots it gave in so far as blogging, social networking, and social media growth in Australia is concern:
  • There are 5.1 million active Internet users

  • 62% or 3.2 million read blogs
    • 55% in 2007 (June)
    • 21% in 2006 (September)

  • 24.6% or 1.3 million subscribed to an RSS feed.

  • 29% or 1.38 million have started their own blogs
    • 17.9% in 2007 (June)
    • 18.3% in 2006 (September)

  • 50.2% or 2.6 million created a profile on a new social network.

  • 47.4% or 2.4 million uploaded photos in a photo sharing website.

  • 28.2% or 1.5 million have uploaded videos on a video sharing website.

  • 77% or 4 million watch video clips online.
    • 57.5% in 2007 (June)
    • 25.2% in 2006 (September)

  • 40.2% or 2.1 million have downloaded a podcast
    • 21.7% in 2007 (June)
    • 14.4% in 2006 (September)
I've done a similar chart for the Philippines and the result surprised me. Right from the start, I always thought Australia will have much higher figures. I can't help but wonder if there's a digital divide, lack of interest to encourage new players, or the restrictions being imposed on Internet use has somehow affected the adoption of social media.

This I say knowing also that there are prominent social networking and blogging professionals / experts in Australia who get to speak in various conferences, here and abroad, promoting its use, adoption, and growth. Suddenly, it just all seems to be hype. Oh well..

Why is it low? Maybe I'll realize the answer soon enough.

Sunday 4 May 2008

Challenges in Creating and Maintaining a Top 100 List

Maintaining a top 100 list imposes the burden of keeping it up-to-date that includes:
  • Blogs to be tallied.
  • Criteria for ranking.
As of today, I maintain Ratified Australia, Top 100 Blogs by Blog Juice, Australia A-List Bloglebrity, and Aussie Blogs in Entrecard.

What's in it for me?
Being new in Australia (moved in August 2007) and a natural marketer, I realized that creating such lists will help me understand the current state of the Aussie blogosphere. It is also an easy way to introduce myself to the community, especially to those who appreciates such an effort. No financial reward has been gained yet from these efforts although my plate is already full serving club members mostly from the Philippines.

The challenge
With so many blogs out there, I face these concerns:
  • Lagging behind in finding new players and those who post comments for inclusion helps a lot.

  • Replying to questions about the ranking parameters. Anyone who gets to be listed or not in a top 100 list has the right to voice concerns.
    • Especially if more and more decision makers are relying on the list.
    • I realize that those who count on their blog or website to properly position themselves, perception (that lists tends to generate) matters a lot.

  • Finding new metrics. I'm excited of coming up with another ranking list especially when I spot a tool that will be perfect for that purpose. I'll be adding a new list when I get back soon to provide another perspective in analyzing the Aussie Webosphere. (Yes, the upcoming list will be bigger and will have one for non-blog sites)
That's all for now. When you have time, I hope you can join the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs 2008 writing project.

Thursday 1 May 2008

Practical online marketing via Facebook

A blogger I recently met in the Adelaide bloggers meet-up asked me a question through Facebook chat. This is on how to market bead jewelry products online. She regularly post her items via Etsy but was hoping for higher volume.

I am also into bead jewelry as a hobby although that didn't click much then back in Manila as it is easier to sell items directly face-to-face which my sister and I end up doing through our friends.

But for Australia, the story may be different especially for those of us who are not in the main city areas. I think if I will make my own bead jewelry today, I will create a website still (whether own or via Etsy) and I will market it through Facebook by creating a page and target the more than 1 million Aussie users via an ad campaign.


Last week, the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs in 2008 writing project was just launched. One major dilemma that I had last year was the lack of international participation. I'm asking for your help and support by joining the writing project.


On another note, I just arrived in Manila last April 25. The 4th Philippine Blogging Summit or iBlog4 went very well. Campaigns are now in full steam for the upcoming Social Networking and eBusiness Conference on May 20 and 21.

My brother-in-law arrived in Adelaide two weeks ago to start his work contract. My sister will be joining him by next week. I'm excited as it is different to have a family member close by that can be contacted and share some time together. At least Christmas will be different this year.

Will be back soon in time for the June 2008 Adelaide Bloggers Meetup.

Friday 18 April 2008

Hello Adelaide Bloggers Meet-up Participants

More than 20 bloggers dropped by the Adelaide Bloggers Meet-up, organized by Shai Coggins. This is my first time to attend a bloggers meet-up in Australia.

Some of the bloggers I got to meet are:There were a few whom I was unable to approach and note their names and blogs. Hope you can take time to reply and will add you here.

There were a few opportunities that I'm trying to validate if they are feasible to do in Adelaide. I must say that I had a much clearer idea after the eyeball and my attendance was well worth it.

I think the big number of participants unable some of us to get to know fellow bloggers better. However, making this connection will be a great step towards the process and look forward to the June meet-up. (I won't be able to make the May one as I'll be out of the country at that time.) Should you like to get to know me more, check out my info. Cheers!

P.S. More photos posted at Facebook.