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Not So Simple Now April 8, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Humor, Writing & Writers.

I’ve stopped reading what used to be one of my favorite blogs ~ Think Simple Now by Tina Su (a/k/a the Sam-E Good Mood Blogger).

Why did I stop reading Think Simple Now

Because . . . it’s not so simple now.

Instead of hanging out in Tina’s cozy living room to enjoy a chat about simplicity and happiness, Think Simple Now has become an overcrowded auditorium full of blinking lights competing for my attention. 

At the moment, there are more than 20 advertisements prominently displayed on Think Simple Now.  

How un-Zen. 

Especially on a site ostensibly designed to encourage clarity and creativity.

The products?   Well, it depends.  The ads change from day to day and even moment to moment.  But all are designed to get us to spend, spend, spend: 

* Financial products, like American Express.  
* Automobiles, like Jeep. 
* Air Fresheners, like Febreze . . . and Folgers. 
* Screen Printers, by Yudu. 
* Disney Parks.
* Food ads, like Pillsbury Toaster Strudels.
* A blinking ad for domains screaming . . . Buy Now!  Offer ends 4/30/11!    
* Twitter Ads. 
* Facebook Ads. 
* Google Ads.
* Book Ads. 

Wow!  Even listing them all is exhausting. 

And not at all simple. 

Yesterday, I mentioned that the place seemed “less friendly.” 

Tina asked me  to explain.  I did my best. 

It’s not just the ads. Tina and her once simple site have changed.  And not for the better ~ unless by “better” you mean more volume and traffic.  

As Tina said last night, she no longer gauges success by her interaction with readers.  Instead, she measures success by numbers through feeders:

It’s a common assumption to associate the number of comments to a blog’s traffic or reader interest. In my situation, it is not the case. Traffic have doubled since 6 months ago and it continues to grow.

I simply stopped focusing on the number of comments each post received and the total number of subscribers.

Now, I focus on writing useful things that come from the heart, and growing the site traffic in a sustainable and organic way.

But, wait, there’s more.

These days, instead of sharing a simple message with her readers, heart to heart, Tina has hired a rotating panel of bloggers to lecture about simplicity and happiness and time management skills. 

It’s just not the same as chatting with Tina about her thoughts on happiness.

Tina defended the choices she’s made to add ads and guest lecturers by saying, in effect, “It’s my site.”  

Fair enough.  Anyway, that’s not why I left. 

After several comments back and forth (i.e., exchange and interplay between writer and reader), Tina said:

I have been toying with the idea of removing comments all together, like other bloggers in the personal development field. 

Now, I am leaning towards yes.

Wow!  That’s unfriendly.

That makes reading a blog like attending a lecture where comments and questions are not only frowned upon and discouraged, they are prevented:

The audience, eyes raised to the dais, is gagged to ensure its silence.

Without the interplay of comments, a blog is like a book ~ a one way discussion.

A monologue, instead of a dialogue. 

Only it’s not as good as a book because it hasn’t been as carefully organized and edited. 

And the only illustrations are advertisements for unrelated products . . . like veggie burgers and toaster strudels.

Now that Think Simple Now is not so simple now . . . I have better things to do with my time. 

Must.  Go. Shopping.  

No rules.  Just write!

For a look at a blogger who has NOT sold her blog to the highest bidder by plastering her site with adverts for completely unrelated products:  Money or Why I Should Not Bother With My Blog (Sinister Echoes)

Another related post:  Upselling and Selling Out: Survival of a Non-Marketer in a Commercial World (JannaTWrites)


1. 1959duke - April 8, 2011

When I started fishing again after many years an old man gave me this advice. Keep it simple son. Some of these blogs have so much stuff going on I just ignore them.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Instead of feeling relaxed by her blog, I grew increasingly uneasy there. It was like trying to meditate or read a book while sitting in the middle of traffic and blinking neon signs in Times Square. Ack!

2. Alannah Murphy - April 8, 2011

Aw first of all thank you for thinking of my humble post. Let me tell you that it came about for a similar reason as yours, but your example boggles the mind totally. There is another blogger I used to follow (not on WordPress) and he too stopped the comment option. Amazing how impersonal things can become. The day my novel is published, I am not going to suddenly stop comments or plaster my blog with adverts selling you unrelated rubbish. Would I have an advert for my novel? Yes, of course, but that’s different, it’s MY novel.
Anyway, amazing and sad what “success” can do to someone…

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Thanks, your article is spot on!

There’s nothing wrong with making money from blogging . . . unless it DETRACTS from the message you are trying to impart. In Tina’s case, it has. Tina set out to find success through happiness, but now she’s back to measuring success by numbers.

The Simple in Think Simple Now seems to have gotten lost. Instead of advocating the qualitative message of Less is More, Tina is blogging by the numbers and gauging her success in quantitative traffic terms.

Maybe what it boils down to is that I don’t feel that she has anything of real value to impart to me any more.

3. Debra - April 8, 2011

You know I had (for one day)….a google ad running. One day only!

I went through hoops to’pick’ what google ads could paste on my blog….and still….well not things I would want to be associated with showed up. 😦

So I have a BN at the bottom and when there are book reviews …Amazon or BN are linked to the book , but very discreetly all the same.

TBLC is not a profit blog…it is just a place for me to share and thereby have growth.

Yet everyone has their own ideas of what growth is:)

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Discrete ads are no problem . . . especially if they are to books.

But seeing ads for financial services and automobiles on a Think Simple Now blog seems the antithesis of simple. 😀

Debra - April 8, 2011

yes agreed. ‘get out of debt fast!’ and ‘title pawns’ were what google ads came up for my blog….UGH!

Sad about Simple not being Simple.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

There are not many ads that I would want on SLTW. Maybe Zen and the Art of Living or Buddhism Today or Just Breathe. 😀

4. oldancestor - April 8, 2011

Blocking comments! That’s the best part of a the whole thing… getting to interact with people you’d never meet otherwise.

Ah well, you’re always welcome to hang out at the Anvil. I don’t dispense advice on living a better life, just laughs.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

I agree. I’ve enjoyed Think Simple Now less and less over time because of the lack of true interaction and exchange. Turning off the comment feature is like telling visitors, SHUT UP & LISTEN TO ME. 😎

I love hanging out at the Anvil. It’s a friendly place . . . like Cheers! Where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.

5. Rosa - April 8, 2011

I am amazed at the reaction you got from that other blogger! And the fact that she quickly deleted the interaction and will disable comments. I agree, the ‘dialogue’ and getting feedback about your posts is one of the most rewarding parts of blogging for me! It lets you know that people are really connecting with you!!
Now I’m off to check out Sinister Echoes…

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

The irony of it all . . . she left the corporate world and a large salary to “find happiness” from writing. Now, instead of earning money from her writing, she’s earning ad revenue from pasting adverts around her site that actually detract from the clarity of her message. It’s distracting.

Too funny. 😀

6. Tina Su - April 8, 2011

Hi Nancy and Everyone,

For the record: No one deleted your comment. The entire thread is there. You may have, however, accessed the site in the middle of our migration. We are moving web hosting at the moment (specifically until 9am this morning PST)

Nancy, I was about to email you personally with a thank you for pointing something out. Because I learned something new through the exchange. And to say that I’m sorry I got defensive.

Hopefully in the future (that’s the plan), is to find alternative ways to create income and to remove the ads complete. For the mean while, I hope you and others can understand that I need to feed my family.

I am going through to see how the ads can be cleaned up (I don’t however decide who advertises. I can only block them when I see inappropriate ones).

Anyways, I’m not expecting to change anyone’s mind. Just wanted to add my 2 cent.


nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Thanks, Tina. I just went back and saw that both the post and comment thread were there. I revised my post to add a link. I must have visited during the migration this morning.

I certainly understand the need to feed your family. So I’ve put up with the ads even though they seemed more intrusive with each visit.

Yesterday, when I noticed the lack of comments on an interesting post, I decided to say something about the site seeming less friendly.

Even then, I planned to keep reading . . . at least the articles authored by you. I changed my mind when you said that you planned to turn off the comment thread.

Without the opportunity to interact, I’d rather read a book.

7. Maggie - April 8, 2011

But… I thought the whole point of blogging was to read others’ comments and have a conversation, so to speak. Removing the comment option seems to defeat the purpose.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Turning off the comment thread eliminates one of the main reason that I enjoy blogging ~ the give and take.

There are plenty of books addressing happiness and simplicity to read . . . and they don’t have adverts competing with the essays.

8. Piglet in Portugal - April 8, 2011

It sounds like Tina’s focus has changed and she is not willing to listen to her readers, fair enough time will tell. As for turning off comments…perhaps she just wants a megaphone
😦 for her ideas and is not interested in what others think. Surely blogging is writing an article, receiving feedback and encouraging general banter and discussion.

Sometimes we do lose our way…a lady in Chile for example made a suggestion about my Friday recipe posts. She suggested I focus more on translating and sharing Portuguese cuisine, as I lived in Portugal. It made me stop and think…while my buddies leave comments my silent audience are those who find me in the search engines on Portugal related issues. My focus is a fine balance of fun and providing information. I suppose it comes down to understanding your audience.
OK I’m beginning to get into the realms of reflective waffle here as I’ve been out to lunch and consumed copious amounts of wine!

Interesting post

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Good comments, PiP. Sounds like you had a fine time with wine for lunch.

My goal in blogging is to enjoy the journey. That makes most of my decisions relatively easy. As soon as the focus shifts from doing what we love . . . to making money, decisions are less clear cut. There are trade-offs and conflicting values to evaluate.

In finding the right balance, we can write the blog that we would LOVE to read. Those who are not intended to be in our audience will drift away and the right readers will appear.

Piglet in Portugal - April 9, 2011

Yes, blogging is certainly an interesting journey and you discover some amazing and not so amazing people along the route 🙂

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Good luck deciding which direction to go with your Friday recipes.

9. SuziCate - April 8, 2011

I’m not familiar with this blog. I tend to stay away from ones with ads and give a ways. I’ve had several sites start up with them and their voice has been lost in the process and I stopped reading them. There is only one that does give a ways and ads that I read…she is funny and personable and doesn’t get lost in all the glit.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

I feel the same. I’d rather support bloggers who are sharing experiences for fun, rather than those who get too focused on the business end of blogging.

I enjoyed Tina’s articles, but she doesn’t write many any more. And none of the other writers in the TSN stables resonate with me to the same extent. Ah, well, that’s life. Always in flux.

10. barb19 - April 8, 2011

What is the point of a blog without the comments? It’s the whole point of a great blog, and helps build relationships.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

I agree 100%, Barb. It’s a shame, really. TSN used to be such a great place to visit with “like minded” people who wanted to increase happiness in their lives. Now, not so much.

11. Lisa - April 8, 2011

Hmmm, so personal development does not require personal interaction with actual human beings, only with numbers and financial concerns. Makes sense to me . . . NOT! That is clearly one self-help guru that I don’t think I need to learn from. I’ll stick with you and your words of wisdom.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Thanks, Lisa! I feel the same way about most blogs once they reach a certain critical mass ~ “success” changes them, and not for the better. For some reason, I didn’t think that TSN would go down that road. Live and learn.

12. Julie - April 8, 2011

Without the opportunity to interact, I’d rather read a book.

This is why I love reading your blog!

It’s funny you bring this up now because I just stopped subscribing to a couple of “simple living” and “green” blogs for the very same reason. It is ironic that so many of these sites seem to focus on consumption and purchasing – the very things the actual movements are intending to reduce. You can go ahead a buy a green product instead of a non-green one. Assuming it’s a necessity, that’s a good thing. But going out and buying a bunch of unnecessary stuff that just happens to be recycled is oxymoronic.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Thanks, Julie! You are so right about the oxymoronic message that some blogs are sending.

I subscribed to Real Simple (magazine) for a short time . . . until I realized that it was little more than a series of paid advertisements with a bit of filler and fluff to persuade people that it was a “real” magazine.

I would expect ads on a blog called Consumeristic Lifestlyes of the Not-So-Rich and Not-So-Famous, but not in blogs and magazines focused on Green Living or Simplicity.

13. adeeyoyo - April 8, 2011

I agree that comments are a very important part of blogging, if not the most important part. Sometimes they are equally as interesting and entertaining as the posts themselves.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Exactly. When visitors share their stories, blogs are more FUN to visit every day. 😀

14. linda - April 8, 2011

Reminds me of what my husband just said. He turned over to the channel that shows the house and senate expecting there to be huge debates going on considering the serious of things happening right now. He said there was no one there. They would call roll and have to wait for people. And when someone did get up to speak there was no one there to listen. So there was no debating back and forth. No discussion, nothing. I would think in this case that disscussion would be rather important.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

Good point, Linda. Maybe we need to take attendance and FIRE any senator or congressman who isn’t in chambers when they should be. 😀

15. linda - April 8, 2011

Yes I just told my husband to fire off a letter complaining about their wherabouts during this matter of such great urgency! We looked and you were not there! But they still want to get paid and very well I might add. If anyone gets paid it should be the military.

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

We should cancel their paychecks, perks, healthcare benefits, and retirement packages. They are useless.

16. jannatwrites - April 8, 2011

Ha! “Must go shopping”…the ads must have worked 🙂

I agree with your views on simplicity and the importance of interaction in a blog. I’ve been struggling with a blog I used to read more often, but now I feel like the message is more self-important, “me, me, me.” A recent post nudged me over the edge, and put this blog at the bottom of my visit list. (Yeah, I know that’s really going to upset this person ;))

That’s the thing about ‘success’ (as defined in each person’s mind) – once it’s reached, it can change a person, unless the person is mindful of who he/she wants to be and remains vigilant to let let it go to his/her head.

I’m glad your space has stayed “visitable” and you make commenters feel comfortable. Thanks 🙂

P.S. Thanks for the ping back to my recent post. I appreciate it 🙂

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

You’re welcome and thanks!

Sometimes we LOSE when we WIN (by getting too “successful” for our own good) and sometimes we WIN when we LOSE (by staying true to our central purpose for blogging).

Of course, maybe some of these bloggers are staying true to what they set out to do ~ maybe the initial message of happiness and simplicity (or whatever) was nothing more than a HOOK or a GIMMICK to draw in readers.

In that case, advertising is perfect as it will dupe even more readers into looking “out there” for happiness, instead of looking within (where happiness resides).

17. Cindy - April 8, 2011

What’s a toaster strudel?

nrhatch - April 8, 2011

It’s a small pastry filled with fruit to pop into a toaster to heat up. Often it comes with a small packet of icing to squeeze over the toasted pastry.


18. libraryscene - April 9, 2011

yikes ~ this has been quite the scuttle…anyhoo, I actually read a blog that doesn’t allow comments..so frustrating, but I read it because the writer is fabulous stream of conscious writer/prof from Naropa. Great thread as always..

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Thanks, LS.

A few times, I’ve read blogs that closed comments on a specific thread because they weren’t going to be around or didn’t want input on an isolated article. That makes sense.

And some blogs moderate all comments to make sure they pass muster. Still OK.

But turning off all comments entirely turns me off . . . unless I have a compelling reason to keep reading ~ like unique content available only from that blogger.

19. Tilly Bud - April 9, 2011

No comments? What’s the point of blogging, then?

nrhatch - April 9, 2011


If you already have ALL THE ANSWERS and don’t want to exchange ideas, go write a book.

20. Baxter Bunny - April 9, 2011

I agree with you about pages being over-run with ads. It’s very annoying, especially when you can’t tell the difference between the ad and the content. I believe there’s a way to place ads that isn’t so obnoxious. Also when you remove the comment field, it is no longer a blog, so I guess she’s going for an information web-site, which is fine, but I do believe you should inform your loyal readers of the change and then they can make a choice.
Interesting thread here. Thanks.

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Tina is entitled to make any changes she wants to TSN ~ it’s her baby. But the changes made me enjoy reading her blog less ~ she may be swapping ads for readers.

I started reading posts in e-mail format instead of visiting the blog . . . just to avoid the ads. That’s probably why she gets so few comments these days ~ people are reading articles via e-mail or RSS rather than visiting the site.

Maybe that’s why she wants to turn off comments . . . because she’s not getting many anyway.

21. Barbara Gunn - April 9, 2011

When something causes you stress you always have the option of closing the door!

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Just so, BG. That’s why I decided to say “Bye.” We can’t stop others from changing, but we need not follow their lead.

22. Linda Wood - April 9, 2011

Also an option is to walk away quietly.

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Excellent point. Walk softly . . . but carry a big stick. 😀

Linda Wood - April 9, 2011

I sometimes forget this, but I’ve just been rereading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” He always points me back in the right direction. By the way, another great book I’ve been rereading which is perfect for spring cleaning inspiration is Karen Kingston’s “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.” Have you read it, Nancy? It’s really wonderful at making that connection between physical clutter and mental, emotional, and spiritual clutter. Don’t mean to change the topic of this thread, but I highly recommend them both! Actually both books do point to simplicity, so maybe I’m not that far off topic! Thanks Nancy!

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Thanks, Linda. I have not read either of those books, but I’ve read books that tend to substantiate the connection between physical clutter and mental baggage.

Here’s one by Peter Walsh:

The title of that Eckhart Tolle book is very appealing. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

23. Linda Wood - April 9, 2011

If you do, I would love to hear what you think about it. Thanks for the recommendation; I think I have some catching up to do on your blogs!

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Have FUN looking around. This post might help you navigate:


24. Tokeloshe - April 11, 2011

Great post!

nrhatch - April 11, 2011

Thanks, Toke!

25. eof737 - April 12, 2011

I was curious to read how this will all pan out… A tough decision all around. I wonder about the issues you raise and what the challenges can be for bloggers moving to monetize their blog.
It cannot be easy for Tina either and time will shed more light on her decision.
I’ve been on college visits with my twins hence my absence…
Finally catching up on comments!

nrhatch - April 12, 2011

It all depends on why you’re blogging.

If you’re blogging to make money, certain decisions may make sense. If you’re blogging to share what you’ve learned in an interactive environment, other decisions make sense.

Hope you enjoyed your college visits.

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