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November 2009

Is There a Place in the Space for the Personal Blog?

Author:

Laptop3

I’ve been thinking about personal blogs a lot lately. Sometimes I just want to write what’s on my mind, but it’s too off-topic for my freelance writing or food blogs. I tried to have a personal blog, but to be honest, no one cared.  For me, most of the enjoyment of the blogging is to share with others, that doesn’t happen when no one comes a-calling. My blogs that have a specific focus, do very well. Blogs that are just me talking about stuff…not so much.

I wonder…is there a place for the personal blog?

Can a personal blog be a success?

I tried personal blogging in the past and no one read it but my family. They laughed at all the funny spots and reminisced with me when I discussed hand-me-downs or living on powdered milk, but besides one of my siblings and a friend or two, no one was interested. Unless you’re truly funny or can get your rant on at regular intervals, it’s tough building up a community.

  • People who read blogs are confused when a blog doesn’t have a purpose. I’m finding that while personal blogs had a place several years ago, now they’re a much harder sell. Blog readers want a focus. They want a topic. They don’t want to read about my cat or the second grade recital. At least not on the same blog, it would be a better sell if I had a parenting or cat blog.
  • People want to read blogs that teach them something. They don’t want to learn about my lunch with the girls or Thanksgiving traffic on the BQE – unless I’m teaching them how to avoid Thanksgiving traffic on the BQE. Heck, I’d pay for that information.
  • Personal blogs are harder to monetize. Sure, we can put up ads, but no one is buying or clicking. Advertisers don’t want to buy space on a blog lacking focus or traffic.  It’s hard to keep something going every day when you’re not getting paid for it.
  • Personal blogs don’t rank as well on the search engines. They don’t have a niche or keywords, they’re just random musings. Google doesn’t care about random musings, it cares about keywords, even if those keywords make absolutely no sense.

Personal blogs are fun, but they’re not a way to make a living, at least that hasn’t been my experience. Lately, all the personal blogs I come across are infrequently updated with hardly any comments. If you blog for the love of this, that’s probably not a big deal for you, but if you want something more it’s probably not worth it to keep going.

I’m interesting in hearing from those of you who maintain personal, non niche-oriented blogs. Do you have a successful personal blog, one without a distinct focus? If so, I’d love to learn more about it and how you made it a success.

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

Blog Sponsorship: A Cautionary Tale

Author:

When you take on an advertising sponsor for your blog, do you consider your community first, or do you just take any advertiser who offers money?

I’ve always been careful about who I accept for advertising at my blog network. Since I own a community for freelance writers, I ensure advertisers always have the best intersts of the community in mind. I’ve even weeded out spammy Adsense ads so only relevant ads show up in my blog posts. It’s safe to say I turn away three to five advertisers each week because they’re a scam, a term paper mill or treat writers poorly.

When I decided to partner with a site that hired freelance writers it was after much research and thought.  Many spammy places for writers want to advertise on my network and I’m very careful about my choices.  I decided on this particular sponsor after interviewing writers, and reading as much as I could about them and their business model. I felt, and still feel, they’re a good company. After meeting with them in Los Angeles at the end of the summer, I was even more positive I did the right thing.

That’s why the reaction of some people in the freelance writing community surprised me. They weren’t digging it. Some even posted nasty (untrue) things about me on their blogs. Others just jumped to conclusions without asking me any questions about why I decided to endorse this company. While the majority of my community continues to trust my judgement, a few people were very vocal in their disagreement and in calling me a sell out.

I took a hit for this company, but I still feel as if I made the right decision and I’m still going to continue our partnership. Most of my community is still with me, and I’m grateful – but there’s a lesson to be learned:

  • You may think your community doesn’t care about the ads you place on your blog, but they do.
  • You may lose a lot of traffic and the trust of your community.
  • People will accuse you of selling out or whoring yourself for ad revenue.

I’ll always look out for my community. There will always be people who disagree with what I say or what I do, and that’s OK. I’m happy with my choices. However, there are steps YOU can take to avoid negativity:

  • Research advertisers to make sure they have a place within your community.
  • Be truthful and transparent with your community.
  • Always have their backs and they’ll always have yours.
  • Don’t let a sponsor get in the way of what is truly important.

Am I regretting my decision? Not at all. However, I don’t make a decision anymore without thinking of how my community will respond.

How do you find advertisers for your blogs? Does it matter what your community thinks?

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

Blogs from a Non-Blogger's Point of View

Author:

laptop 1

Last month, I participated in what I consider my most important speaking engagement ever. My seven year old son’s class invited me to speak with them about writing in honor the National Day on Writing. It was indeed an honor. We spoke about the writing process, the types of writing, the types of writing careers and ways to enjoy creative writing outside of school projects. My favorite part of the discussion was when I opened the floor up for questions. Second graders ask the best questions.

Like:

  • “Do you complain about Mr. Ng on your blog?”
  • “Who tells you to sit up straight and hold your pencil the right way?”
  • “Do you do blogs before you do real writing?”
  • “Who draws the pictures when you write?”

What I found interesting is how most of the questions stemmed around blogging.  What was even more interesting was how many parents were interested in blogging and had no idea it could be a sole source of income for so  many of us.

I learned some interesting things that day:

  • The majority of people who aren’t into the whole blogging/social media subculture feel that all blogs are hobby blogs.
  • Many people don’t think they read blogs, but they do.
  • Many people outside of the blogging community don’t know the difference between a blog and a website.
  • Many non bloggers have no idea of what actually goes into blogging – beyond typing in some words and hitting send.
  • Many people who aren’t into social media don’t quite get Twitter and can’t tell the difference between Twitter and Facebook.
  • Many of the people who read blogs or who have heard of blogs, have no idea people do this for a living.
  • Many people think it’s all kind of silly.

Having this chat with both kids and adults enabled me to see I take a lot of things for granted. We all participate in this whole big community, but there’s a great big world out there just waiting to be converted.

I’m up for the challenge…are you?

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

Blogs from a Non-Blogger’s Point of View

Author:

laptop 1

Last month, I participated in what I consider my most important speaking engagement ever. My seven year old son’s class invited me to speak with them about writing in honor the National Day on Writing. It was indeed an honor. We spoke about the writing process, the types of writing, the types of writing careers and ways to enjoy creative writing outside of school projects. My favorite part of the discussion was when I opened the floor up for questions. Second graders ask the best questions.

Like:

  • “Do you complain about Mr. Ng on your blog?”
  • “Who tells you to sit up straight and hold your pencil the right way?”
  • “Do you do blogs before you do real writing?”
  • “Who draws the pictures when you write?”

What I found interesting is how most of the questions stemmed around blogging.  What was even more interesting was how many parents were interested in blogging and had no idea it could be a sole source of income for so  many of us.

I learned some interesting things that day:

  • The majority of people who aren’t into the whole blogging/social media subculture feel that all blogs are hobby blogs.
  • Many people don’t think they read blogs, but they do.
  • Many people outside of the blogging community don’t know the difference between a blog and a website.
  • Many non bloggers have no idea of what actually goes into blogging – beyond typing in some words and hitting send.
  • Many people who aren’t into social media don’t quite get Twitter and can’t tell the difference between Twitter and Facebook.
  • Many of the people who read blogs or who have heard of blogs, have no idea people do this for a living.
  • Many people think it’s all kind of silly.

Having this chat with both kids and adults enabled me to see I take a lot of things for granted. We all participate in this whole big community, but there’s a great big world out there just waiting to be converted.

I’m up for the challenge…are you?

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

Are Keynotes and Twitter A Bad Match?

Author:

I have been reading about a situation at Web 2.0 Expo that has me as an organizer of speakers a bit befuddled.  Danah Boyd’s presentation took a turn for the worst and it turned out to be a bad experience for her and for the attendees. For the long story short version you can see a recap of what I am talking about over at Maggie Fox’s blog.  She talks about the wisdom of crowds and how people can be rude and completely out of character.  I have seen this happen in other areas and the idea that people act differently online than they do in real life is another post for another time.  What I am interested in from the mechanical side of things is whether the Twitter stream itself is a bad idea for presentations.

This year at BlogWorld & New Media Expo we had some of our own keynotes with the Twitter stream behind the speaker.  You can see some snippets on YouTube of Leo Laporte by Mediafly.


As you can see the Twitter stream was active and going on during the session.  Leo did a great job with his discussion, but what would have happened had he been attacked during the presentation by people that did not like what he had to say or how he said it?  Leo has been doing this a while and would probably take the heckling with a grain of salt, but that does not seem to be the case at all times with other speakers.  I watched as another speaker was lambasted during his presentation at an event just before BlogWorld Expo.

I suppose the important question is, should a Twitter stream be an active part of the presentation?

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The Power of Twitter: How the Blogosphere Came Through for Liz Strauss

Author:

Liz Strauss

Last week, I learned that my friend and someone who I look up to as a mentor and bloggy role model, Liz Strauss, was in the hospital. “That can’t be fun.” I thought. So I contacted a mutual friend, Lucretia Pruitt, to see if I could get an address and room number to send flowers to Liz. Lurcretia and another very dear friend, Jenn Fowler, were literally boarding a boat for the Social Fresh cruise and they sent me a note – more than flowers Liz needed monetary assistance. Her insurance claim was denied and her bill was in the tens of thousands of dollars – and it could reach six digits before the final tally.

Mind you, Liz wasn’t in the hospital for something frivolous. She was dealing with pneumonia and kidney stones. Now I can get all political and tell you my real thoughts regarding this situation, but this is about Liz, not healthcare reform.

Like me, Lucretia and Jenn wanted to do something for Liz but they were about to get on a boat with limited Internet access. What they really wanted to do was have some sort of ChipInathon where we could rally the blogosphere. We might not be able to pay off Liz’s entire balance, but perhaps we could raise $500 to take a bite out of it. That was our goal, $500.

I told Jenn and Lucretia to leave it to me – and then I wondered if I could really pull it off. After all, I don’t have “Geek Mommy’s” reach.

I never told Liz this, but reading her blog everyday inspired me to change my thinking regarding the way I blogged at my own blog. At the first BlogWorld she told me that building a community is not about being an expert but about “coming down off my podium” and sharing with others. This is the advice I live by every day and I credit for my success as a freelance writer and owner of a blog network and community. I know others have been touched by Liz and her generous spirit and kind nature. I was sure we could surpass our goal of $500 and maybe reach $1000 by the end of the day, if I could only reach enough people.

I put Jenn and Lucretia’s plan into action with the Get Well Liz Fund.

I put up a blog post discussing Liz’s situation without invading her privacy. I registered with ChipIn and put the widget on the blog post. Then I hit Twitter.

I wondered if 5800 followers would be enough to spread the word on a Thursday morning. Yeah, that may look like a bunch of people, but would they come through?  Why would people listen to me? Instead of Tweeting a couple of times and leaving it at that, I decided to call a few friends into action. I have absolutely never DM’d anyone to ask for a retweet, but I felt this to be a worthy cause. I contacted Chris Brogan, Brian Clark, Mike Stelzner, Jim Turner, Jason Falls, Patrick O’Keefe and others and they all came through. Terry Starbucker even came up with a hash tag – #getwellliz. Soon the pros were sending in their donations and helping to spread the word. Jim Kukral, Brian Solis, Chris Garrett, Mari Smith, Denise Wakeman, Glenda Watson Hyatt and so many other friends Tweeted and opened their hearts and their wallets. As of this morning, 131 bloggers came through – but I know we can do better.

We reached our $500 goal in one hour and by the time I went to bed, we were at $3,000. The next morning when I woke up, I sent $3200 to Liz – and another $450 by the time I went to bed. This morning, we’re at $4,000! It’s a big, awesome get well card.

This is why I dig blogging so much. This is why I heart Twitter. I got into social media because I dig the vibe – so many people who want to help. I often think I don’t have enough clout to make a difference, which is my mistake. It goes beyond “me” and thinking about what “I” can do. It’s about us. It’s about the power of the blogosphere. Together, we can achieve anything. Together we can make a difference.

Click here to donate to the Get Well Liz Fund.

Sports Bloggers Continue To Hit It Out

Author:

Blogs With Balls 2.0 Intro from HHR on Vimeo.

The guys at Blogs With Balls continue to amaze me with their “mad skills” and the obvous fun they are having when talking about their event. They have been an asset to BlogWorld & New media Expo, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for us next.  We are going to be discussing their involvement again next year with our show and they will undoubtedly hit it out of the park again!

I interviewed Chris Lucas and Don Povia from Blogs With Balls and HHR Media on the radio show last week and you can go and check out the archive.  Follow along as we discuss more of the sports blogging track and what is expected next year!

Using Social Media To Explain Social Media and Other Concepts

Author:

One of the sites I like to go to often and one that will no doubt get a large amount of traffic over the next few months is Common Craft.  I especially love the way the use video to explain difficult or complex issues.  They did a great job on explaining social media.

They have recently released a new video on the complex term of cloud computing. This video is another great example of explaining things to people like your grandmother, or me for that matter, issues related to what would normally only be understood by those in the field or the cool smart kids.

The Get Well Liz Strauss Fund

Author:

Friend of the blogosphere, and my idol and inspiration, Liz Strauss, has been under the weather lately and was just released from a hospital in Chicago. While we all want to send positive vibes and good wishes to Liz so she makes a speedy recover, we’re also asking Liz’s friends to do just a little more than that. You see, the claim for her hospital stay was rejected. The amount of debt Liz is facing is more than most bloggers earn in several years. We can help defray the cost to someone who has always been there for us.

Healthcare reform hasn’t happened. An uninsured hospital stay for a blogger is a nightmare none of us wants to face-but our friend Liz didn’t have a choice. In lieu of flowers we hope you will chip in to defray the cost of her hospital stay. If everyone donated the price of a Latte we could set her back on the track to financial health as well a physical health.

Thanks for thinking of Liz.

Deb Ng, Lucretia Pruitt, Jenn Fowler

For some reason I can’t get the widget to show up on the BlogWorld blog. Please visit FWJ to make donations to the Get Well Liz fund.

Happy Veteran's Day! Talking To The Army

Author:

To all of our veteran’s and servicemen and women across the country and abroad, please accept our heartfelt and sincere thanks for your service and sacrifice for your country and our freedoms.  I know I speak for all of the people here at BlogWorld & New Media Expo when I say we very much appreciate all that you do.

We will be talking with Major Mary Constantino, the project manager for Army Strong Stories which is a soldier blogging community hosted by the U.S. Army Accessions Command, at BlogWorld Expo Radio on Friday at 12:00 PST. Join us as we talk with Major Constantino and milblogging.  

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