Power up your blog: Lessons Learned Over 11 Years of Blogging #Blogworld

blogworld

First up, Tom Webster: Edison Research:

Funny – he read some of his spam for us. I think he does this in a podcast format sometimes.

Next up: Founders of Blogworld. They are changing the name of Blogworld & New Media Expo to … New Media Expo (NMX). Makes sense.

Next up: Chris Brogan

Anyone had the feeling that you just wrote your best post ever, and it goes nowhere … but a throwaway post gets huge? He’s had that (I have too).

“I’m too busy to blog right now” – shut up already. Everyone’s too busy. How do you find time? Don’t get distracted by emails, social media, etc. Write in time bits – 20 minutes or so at a time.

Make a framework for how you blog. For example – find a pic, write something personal first, then write 2-3 paragraphs about the topic, then ask for something at the end. Chris usually writes using this frame.

Practice. Like musicians. Work on having passion in your work.f you have really great technical skills but don’t have passion, you won’t go far.

“I don’t know how to find any topics” – take lots of photos. Then turn it into a post. This gets you out of one type of thinking and into another.

Put emotions into your post. People connect with that.

Making money on your blog – Google Adsense won’t get you too far. Amazon Affiliates won’t get you there either. In fact, most of the ways you find money will be indirectly. Affiliate programs might be useful.

Don’t ever write “sorry, I haven’t written on this blog in awhile.” Just write. Try to get it to once a week.

If you have a huge sidebar with links to Twitter, Youtube, etc – you are sending people away from your content and your home base site.

Don’t worry about being consistent. Especially if you’re just having fun.

If you think of your blog as a business, look at magazines, and figure out what magazine you are.

There are a lot of knobs to fiddle with – don’t pay too much attention to those. He gets lots of questions like “should I use disqus or livefire for comments?” His answer – who cares?

Pride does not replace hard work. He gets lots of praise and lots of criticism. Both are a trap. Believe the praise, and you become a jerk. Don’t believe the haters either. Nothing replaces the hard work. It took Chris 8 years to get his first 100 readers.

Always reply. Don’t suck up to the big guy – talk to the little guys.

The hard work isn’t writing a blog … it’s connecting with people and talking to them with their stuff. Remember their names.

Be yourself, and be brave.

12 Imperative Must-Dos for the Serious Blogger #Blogworld

blogworldPresenter: Jay Baer, @jaybaer

Jay works with other companies to take their blog from good to great. Cool.

He briefly shared his business model or funnel – social – blog – speaking – clients.

Jay’s 12 Imperative Must-Do’s for the Serious Blogger (this was good stuff!):

1. be patient.

  • Give it some time. Don’t get frustrated. Took him 3 years before he made any money for the blog

2. Be specific.

  • What is your blog about? Be someone’s favorite blog. Who are you writing for? Figure that out.
  • They actually make personas for their blog, then write for them. Cool.
  • Sharpen your focus. write 50 headlines of posts you want to create. Identify questions you’ve answered and the topical scatter pattern. Who needs those answers? That’s your audience.
  • Audiences aren’t static. They have changed their focus quite a few times since inception in order to match up better with their goals and their audience. Redesigned for that audience too.
  • Key question: Answer this – “Because of this blog, <specific audience or persona> will <specific benefit>.”

3. Be consistent.

  • You are in the magazine business as a blogger.
  • You are a publisher. Don’t just post when you are inspired or when “you have something to say.” You always have something to say.
  • More = more. The more you post, the more success you will have. If you write more, more people will visit your blog.
  • Share the burden.

4. Embrace variety.

  • If you think it’s not very good, it’s not. If yoga re bored by it, others will be too.
  • Break it up with podcasts, videos, interviews, reformat a presentation. Do at least one non-standard post a week.
  • Again … it’s a magazine. If Sports Illustrated had all the same stuff all the time, it would get boring fast.
  • Best posts of the week… weekly cartoon… uses exam software to do a side/side Skype call, then dumps that to youtube.
  • Awards – do them.
  • Fun thing – Tom reads his spam. Tom does a dramatic reading of one of his spam emails! How fun.

5. Be a YOUtility.

  • How can you actually help people?
  • Helping is the new selling. Give away knowledge snacks to sell information meals.
  • quote to remember – giving someone a list of ingredients doesn’t make them a chef.

6. Find an anchor.

  • a blog post that you can go back to again and again.
  • More of those weekly post thingies. Like a best posts or the week, six interesting links every week, etc.

7. Have a call to action.

  • it’s about behavior, not page views. You are not selling ads. So have a call to action. Make it clean and clear.
  • Key question. After visiting this blog, I want readers to do this. The second best thing is this. At a minimum, they should do this.
  • So figure out what behaviors you are trying to get.

8. Cultivate community. 

  • I Love This Place! Community drives repeat visits and sharing behaviors. Chris Brogan – “the difference between an audience and a community is the direction the chairs are facing.”
  • WFACT – Welcome, Facilitate, Answer, Connect, Thank – cool idea from Valeria Maltoni
  • Vulnerability drives community.
  • If you lose the human element of your blog, you will lose readers.
  • self-validate. Your community isn’t your validation. You are. Blog comments are not a business model – nor even a particularly sound metric. Comments don’t necessarily drive behavior. Those people probably already did the Call to Action…

9. Be Findable.

  • Your most important reader is Google. Always optimize.
  • Every page is the home page. Only 14% actually landed on his actual home page. So don’t put Twitter icons only on the home page. Sign-up page …. etc.
  • Inbound Writer – it helps with optimization. Costs a bit. There’s a WordPress plugin!!!
  • Key question: what search term will people use to find this post in Google realistically?

10. Keep Score.

  • Only some metrics really matter.
  • What is your real goal? Comments, traffic, ReTweets – not real goals. They are links in a chain that possibly get you towards your real goal.
  • Measure behavior, not aggregation. Numbers that are ratios and percentages are usually measuring behavior. Numbers that count up aren’t as useful.
  • Set up goals, funnels, and event tracking in Google Analytics. to measure behaviors that drive sustainability and financial meaning.
  • What he measures:
    • visits to the newsletters page and conversions
    • visits tot he podcast page
    • visits to the speaking page
    • % visits to the consulting page
    • Then he looks at conversions by source – where are they coming from (twitter, blog posts, etc – and what posts or search terms)

11. Embrace Extensibility.

  • Your blog is a trampoline. Or home base. So also live on slideshare, linked in, scribed, comments on other blogs, youtube, interest, instagram, etc.
  • Quote to remember – think small. You need to be a digital dandelion. People can find you in many places.

12. Be sharable.

  • be social, don’t do social.
  • shine the light on others, and the light will shine back on you. If you want to be shared, be a great sharer.
  • Share down, not just up. Find the new peeps and bring them up. Find new voices. Better strategy.
  • Write great headlines. It really matters. Lists work. Unexpected words. Incorporate keywords.

So You Want to Make Money? Syndication, Monetization and Affiliate Programs for your Blog #beabloggers

bea bloggersA bunch of panelists in this session, all moderated by Scott Fox of clickmillionaires.com. Lots of ideas on how to monetize a blog in this session. Here are some highlights:

Ron Hogan, founder of beatrice.com

He gave the “Big picture”

won’t make a lot doing a bloom blog. You can make “beer money” – small amounts of money.

Thinks that most categories are already covered, and people gravitate towards established blogs

Rita Arens – senior editor of blogher.com

charge for reading time – at blogger book club, they pay for reviews. There are over 250,000 books published each year, and all those authors are looking for attention.

Have to use disclosures – say if someone sent you the book.

Thea James – co-founder of The Book Smugglers

sweat the small stuff: they use the blogads network for ads. Mostly book ads that are tailored to their content.

also use affiliate programs like Amazon Affiliates.

Sarah Pitre – founder of Forever Young Adult

build community through social media to drive visitors and page views.

started a store – tshirts, stickers – made them a decent amount of money.

Also found a company that sponsors them. They get server space and help them build a community.

Amazon Affiliates – people feel comfortable with Amazon, and have probably used them – so it’s an accepted link. An independent bookstore like Powell’s isn’t as well known, so people might not feel as comfortable clicking that link.

Other thoughts (don’t remember who said what here):

They don’t use Google Adsense for the most part

claim that you don’t have control over content

claim that you don’t have design control

me – none of those were correct … but whatever :-)

another panelist corrected that (thanks!)

No one’s making money through syndication (no one on stage, anyway).

If you blog for someone else (i.e., Huffington Post) – you are building an audience for someone else. If you quite and start blogging somewhere else, you won’t necessarily ba able to take that audience with you.

Attracting traffic:

Stumbleupon – can work well. Try to stand out.

Blogging Today: What do you need to know and what’s next #BEABloggers

bea bloggersQ&A discussion session

Relationship between publishers and bloggers:

  • feels that publishers know what blogs are and what book bloggers do
  • what kinds of arrangements can publishers help with for book bloggers

Ethics of the relationship

  • expectation – getting a book for free

Does book blogging actually influence book sales?

  • they write about things they love – so their review or share is seen as authentic
  • a way to show the book is gathering interest before it’s publishers (advanced copies)
  • Goodreads guy – thinks yes, they do
  • it’s the beginnings of a grassroots campaign
  • bloggers tend to drive word-of-mouth, which drives traditional media to mention it, which then drives book sales

Do you use social media?

  • Facebook. One person thinks it reaches more people but is less effective
  • Twitter is the key for another person – it drives a lot of traffic, as does Stumbleupon

How to engage community?

  • write for a reader who doesn’t always read book blogs
  • i.e., if there’s a blog with a ton of polls and contests and etc and then an occasional post on-topic, the blog looks like it’s for someone involved in the community

Facebook – very image-focused. Don’t just do a post – add an image to it (more people will click)

How to engage a community that you already have?

  • only post when you feel inspired
  • another person has a rhythm to her blog (certain types of posts on certain days)

How did you develop your own voice on a blog?

  • one panelist was an earlier blogger
  • Just be yourself – you WILL have your own voice

How are ebooks changing what you do?

  • people don’t really care – a book’s a book. It depends…
  • harder for one blog blogger to review an ebook – harder to flip back and forth, etc.
  • much more convenient for travel
  • not the same experience

Anonymity and ebook reading:

  • you can download something and read it, and no one knows what you’re reading

Blogging code of conduct?

  • has more problems on Facebook Page rather than her blog
  • has problems with plagiarism … some bloggers really don’t understand plagiarism, citations, and fair use (me talking)

Making a living from blogging?

  • the blog goes along with the career – one helps the other
  • gets a lot of contacts from the blog

Do blogs have a lifespan?

  • depends.

Our Communicating Customers

Big ad on our website for the new library catalogMy library’s in the process of switching ILS systems – we just moved from SirsiDynix Horizon to a Polaris system (to all you non library types out there, I’m talking about our Library Catalog).

We just went live with the new system on May 23, and as you can imagine, it’s taking a couple of days to bring everything up, and get all the parts and pieces working like they should. It’s a huge, complex software/hardware switch, and it’s been a very smooth move, all things considered (mainly because we have awesome, great staff – they rock!).

We have two primary ways that customers can talk to us about the new catalog (well, discounting actually visiting the library and talking to us, and using the phone): an email form and through social media.

We set up an email feedback form that you can see in the catalog, and our customers are using it. So far, we’ve had maybe 20 or so customers communicate their love of the new catalog, their dislike of the “new thing,” or a specific problem with their account. Useful stuff.

Social media has been quite interesting!

First, I wrote a blog post about the catalog, complete with a short video. This post has received about 35 comments so far. Customers asking questions, and me responding to them.

Via Twitter, we have received some nice praise and good comments, including:

  • “Awesome! I’ve been hoping for this a very long time!”
  • “Can’t wait!”
  • “Good luck with the migration1 Bet the new catalog will be awesome!”
  • “We’re excited about the new catalogue! Not surprised that there are some hiccups.”

Facebook has been interesting, because some conversations were started by our customers.

This morning, one of our customers posted this: “Has anyone gotten into the new catalog?” And two people had a conversation about the catalog, about some of the third party things connected to the catalog (like our DVD Dispenser), and what was working/not working.

Since I’m one of the admins of our Facebook Page, I saw those conversations, and was able to answer their questions.

We also instigated some conversations. Yesterday, we posted this: “Today’s upgrade day & most upgrades to the catalog have been made. A few kinks are still being worked out, but you can now explore catalog.tscpl.org – and tell a friend! (Same goes for Facebook. We know you can use your influence to get us a few “likes,” right?;)”

… and that got us 25 Likes :-). And a couple more questions, too – which I answered via Facebook.

Why mention this? I find it fascinating to see conversations about library catalogs taking place via social media. 10-12 years ago – last time I helped with an ILS switch – I don’t remember seeing much customer feedback (though I’m sure someone got an earful). We didn’t se up email feedback forms, and social media pretty much didn’t exist yet. This time around, customers are helping each other, asking questions and tagging us … and I’m able to see them. And help. And hear.

Amazing.