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August 2010

Facebook is Not Your Blog

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Last week, one of the most-clicked stories from SmartBrief on Social Media was an article from Advertising Age: What Happens When Facebook Trumps Your Brand Site? It’s a legitimate concern for businesses. With millions of people using Facebook and that number growing every day, brands like Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret, and Oreo are getting more Facebook traffic than they are getting traffic to their home websites. According to reports, there are nearly 40 fan pages with at least a million Facebook fans, or “likes” as they’re calling ‘em these days, whatever. The point is that Facebook might not be around forever, but right now, they are securing controlling the social networking market.

And Facebook fan pages aren’t even search engine optimized.

What does this mean for you? Well, as a blogger, if you aren’t on Facebook, you’re likely missing out on connecting with a huge number of fans. At the same time, I see Advertising Age’s articles as a bit of an eye-opening warning. There is such a thing as too much Facebook success. Or rather, there is such a thing as not using Facebook success correctly.

The problem lies with not using Facebook as a way to encourage people to visit your website. That’s all fine if you’re like Coke and your main goal is to sell more soda. Whether someone visits your website or your Facebook page, they’re interacting with your company, and you’re going to sell more soda. But as bloggers, most of use aren’t selling products at retail locations. We sell products on our blogs or, at the very least, we make advertising money from our blogs.

You can’t make money that way on Facebook.

The disconnect comes when fans of your blog don’t actually need to visit it, because you repost everything on Facebook. I’m not talking about links – I’m talking about full content, contest information, updates and site news, etc. Why should they visit your actual blog if everything there (minus the ads/products) is on Facebook too?

I guess, the point I’m trying to make is this: Facebook is not your blog. Heck, you don’t even own your Facebook page if you want to get technical. If Facebook were to implode tomorrow and you were to lose access to all those “likes,” how many people would even remember your blog? Yes, Facebook is a great tool for bloggers, but we need to think of this site as an outpost to our websites, and the point behind every update should be to drive more traffic back to our blogs.

Here’s the full list of last week’s top 10 Stories from SmartBrief on Social Media:

  1. The strange death of branded websites
  2. 5 tips for telling stories with social media
  3. 5 ways to start and sustain social conversations
  4. So you want to be a social-media marketer?
  5. 5 Twitter tools you can’t live without
  6. Social-media faceoff: The ninjas vs. the gurus
  7. Does your social-media campaign pass the FRY test?
  8. College-based social app is touted as “the next Facebook”
  9. 5 of the best brand-focused Foursquare campaigns
  10. 5 ways to give your customers the stage

Top Gadgets & Tools For Blogging While Traveling

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As long as you can avoid the dreaded writer’s block, blogging while you’re at home – with a reliable internet connection and maybe even a second monitor – is the easy part. It’s blogging while traveling that can be a challenge.

I’m not even talking about the difficulties of finding time to blog while you’re on the road, either – I covered that topic in a BlogWorld Expo blog post in June. In this case, I’m talking about finding the best tools and gadgets to help make your blogging life easier while you travel.

Best Gadgets and Tools for Blogging While Traveling

What traveler doesn’t like travel gear? Sure, not every traveler is giddy at the thought of bringing the latest tech toys on a trip, but if your blog isn’t taking the same vacation you are then you might want to embrace just enough technology to keep your readers entertained while you’re traveling.

Bringing a desktop computer on a plane clearly isn’t an option, and sometimes even bringing your average laptop doesn’t make sense. My own everyday laptop isn’t huge by normal standards, but the 15″ screen makes it not exactly teeny, either. What’s more, if your whole life is stored on your laptop and something happened to it while you were traveling, you’d have more than a stagnant blog to worry about.

Some computing alternatives that help you blog while traveling are:

  • Netbooks – These tiny laptops aren’t the most powerful machines, but they’re incredibly travel-friendly. Even the best netbooks for traveling aren’t going to be powerful enough for you to do much in the way of photo or video editing, but if you can save that for when you get home then a netbook might be a good choice for you. They’ll stow easily in backpacks and even in many not-huge purses, and if you get one with a solid state hard drive you don’t even have to worry so much about being gentle with it. Blogging while bumping along in a chicken bus? No problem!
  • iPad – For many, the iPad is becoming the travel blogging weapon of choice over the old netbook. It’s definitely a versatile gadget, being more about media consumption than it is about media production, and is far prettier to look at than even the shiniest of netbooks. The main drawback for anyone who’s using an iPad for content production is its lack of an external keyboard (not everyone is skilled at or comfortable with typing on the screen). If your typing needs are minimal and you just want to be able to post the occasional photo or make sure previously scheduled blog posts go up as planned (plus be able to watch movies on long flights) then the iPad may be a more fun travel option than a netbook – and you can always buy a portable iPad keyboard, too. Be sure to get a durable iPad case for your toy, however, since there’s no close-able cover to protect the screen.
  • Smart Phone – Maybe you have no plans to do any blogging while you’re traveling because you’ve cleverly scheduled blog posts or have guest posts going while you’re on the road, but you’d like to be able to moderate comments, make sure posts publish when they should, and perhaps check email. You prefer books to movies on plane rides anyway, and you’re not interested in carrying a laptop-sized anything on your trip. Alrighty, then! A smart phone may be the only gadget you need. The iPhone is the most popular choice these days for traveling bloggers, but it’s not the only choice. There are Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Flickr apps, for instance, on the BlackBerry and Android platforms, too. Whatever phone you have, just make absolutely sure you’re not going to a destination that will have you racking up enormous roaming and data charges (or that, if you are, you take appropriate measures on your phone to avoid them). Conversely, if you know you’ll need to get online with your smart phone while traveling, make sure you’ll be able to do that from wherever you’ll be.
  • Internet Cafes – Remember when you first started seeing internet cafes popping up when you traveled? Okay, you might be too young to remember a time before internet cafes, but for those of us who are a bit (ahem) older, the existence of an internet cafe sometimes served as the technological drink of water us wandering techno-philes longed for. Those of you who still relish the idea of traveling essentially without tech gear will be happy to know that there are still plenty of internet cafes to be found everywhere from Bali to Barcelona to Bamako. You can never be sure what kind of machinery you’ll encounter – not to mention how many will be on the fritz – and it may take you ages to type even a simple email on a foreign keyboard, but if your computing needs are minimal that may be more of an amusement than an annoyance.

It’s not all about the hardware, of course. So what are some other tools that can help you keep blogging while you’re traveling?

  • Google Docs – Even if you’re bringing your own netbook on your trip, storing an increasing amount of data on it will just slow it down over time. Saving documents out in the web-o-sphere means you can access them from anywhere and you aren’t taking up space on your computer.
  • iPhone Apps – As mentioned above, the iPhone is the most popular choice among traveling bloggers these days, and that’s due in part to the array of travel iPhone apps available. Your iPhone can now be your travel guide, your GPS device, your entertainment, and your blogging tool – in addition to being your phone. It’s not as easy to type on an iPhone as it is to type on an iPad or a computer keyboard, but that hasn’t stopped some people from relying entirely on an iPhone as a computing device when they travel.
  • Automatic Backups – This should go without saying, but too many people still don’t back up their data even when they’re at home… So obviously it needs to be repeated. Get thyself a backup system, people! At home, I have an external hard drive sitting on my desk, but I still use both that and a web-based backup method (I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of girl when it comes to my data). When I’m traveling, however, the web-based backup is all I have. And don’t think that just because you’re carrying only an iPhone or solely using internet cafes that you don’t need to worry about backups – make sure your blog is set to back itself up regardless of where you are.
  • Travel Insurance – Carrying any amount of expensive tech travel gear is enough to make anyone nervous. Nevermind having your blog go without a new post for a few days, the consequences of having your netbook or iPad lost or stolen aren’t fun to contemplate. If you’re bringing gear that you care about on your travels, be sure to get travel insurance before you leave home. Some trip protection insurance will cover up to $2500 of “personal effects” if something happens to them on your trip, so be sure to look for that when you’re getting insurance quotes. This obviously won’t keep your gear from getting swiped, but if the unthinkable does happen at least you’ll have some recourse to get a new gadget. (And since you backed up all your data, you haven’t lost anything. Right?)

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of the gadgets and tools to keep your blog chugging while you travel. I haven’t even talked about camera gear, for one thing, or the various bags designed to more elegantly tote your gadgets around. So I’m going to conclude with a question – what is your favorite piece of equipment to blog when traveling? What devices make it possible for you to keep up with your blogging duties even while you’re out and about? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

Jessica Spiegel is a staff writer at BootsnAll (your resource for all things budget travel) and spends most of her energy on BootsnAll’s Italy Travel Guide, WhyGo Italy. She’ll answer all kinds of Italy travel questions, including how to find cheap flights to Italy, which Italy tours might be worth your time and money, and critical stuff like how to get from the Rome airport into Rome. When it comes to gear, Jessica is more of a netbook girl than an iPad girl, and she won’t go anywhere without a camera (although she’s afraid of water enough that a regular ole DSLR is preferable to even the coolest waterproof digital cameras).

Photo Credit: scriptingnews

The Secret About Secret Posts

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Shhh…I have a secret. Come closer so I can tell you. Closer. Closer.

Well, to be honest, this is text not spoken word, so it isn’t like you actually have to come closer. Unless you have bad eyesight. That’s right, I have a big secret, and I’m going to share it on my blog. And it’s going to drive traffic. And it’s going to create a stir. It might even go viral.

We’ve all seen them – posts that share secrets. They’re usually titled “X Number of Secrets About…” or “The Secret to…” or something similar. You aren’t alone if you click on links to these titles. In fact, you probably have clicked on the title to this post to read it because of the title. Why?

Because secrets are juicy. More than that, I think it’s because we don’t want to feel like we’re left out. If everyone else knows some kind of awesome secret, we don’t want to be the sucker who has no idea what’s going on.

So we click…and nine times out of ten, we’re disappointed. Why? Because secret posts aren’t really “secrets.” They’re just tips. Often, they’re not even new tips – they’re rehashed tips we’ve seen before, collections of tips that the blogger him/herself has already posted, or tips that aren’t really tips at all, but rather common sense. We’ve fallen into their click-trap because everyone once in a great while, someone actually does post some kind of secret, or at least a really good tip that we’ve never considered.

I’m not saying that you should stop posting “secret” posts – but please, for the love of blog, when you make the promise that you’re going to post a secret, deliver. If you don’t make good on your promise, I’m going to wrinkle my nose and click the back button. Next time, I probably won’t believe you, and like the boy who cried wolf, when you really do have a great idea that you want to share, people won’t be as likely to click through.

So how do you do a real “secret” post?

  1. Identify a problem in your niche.
  2. Brainstorm solutions.
  3. Test your solutions to find out what works and what does not.
  4. Share your findings.

The key here is to come up with something original that hasn’t been done before. It’s only a secret if it’s something that only you know. Come up with something new and share it on your blog. people are hungry for secrets. Secrets really can drive traffic, and if you share something amazing with people that they haven’t heard anywhere else, they will be back to read more.

This post breaks my own rules, so to speak – I hope most of you already realize that most “secret” posts aren’t actually secrets. I just wanted to make a point. Why did you click on this post title? Are you disappointed that it doesn’t actually contain some kind of secret?

Becoming a Destination in the Growing Travelsphere

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Travelblogging didn’t start yesterday. Expats and wanderers have been chronicling their travels online for at least a decade – Lonely Planet and BootsNAll have provided online spaces for travel stories and advice for longer. What is new is the rise of travelbloggers as a recognizable entity and community.

@nerdseyeview and @kag2u blogging from an Iowa campground.

In 2008 I co-hosted Travelblogging for Beginners at SxSW with Sheila Scarborough – it’s the first time I’d seen travelblogging on a conference agenda. The following year saw the launch of TBEX, the Travelblog Exchange, which attracted an audience of 300 travelbloggers in 2010. This year is also the second year of a travelblogging track at Blog World Expo. We are popping up on panels at PR conferences, in Best Of lists, and on daytime TV . We are even scoring book deals. We have arrived.

For a few years, I had a freelance gig for BlogHer. I’d read the travelblogs twice a week. Sometimes I searched for topic specific information – for example, after the flooding in Peru, I wanted to see what travelers were saying about the Machu Picchu region. Other times, I’d click through new blogs looking for inspiration. After four years of this twice weekly browse-fest, I can catalog a post or an entire blog in a few clicks.

Here is the gap year adventurer. Next, a mom dealing with the tribulations of small children and the TSA. Now , another round the world couple living out of their backpacks. Yawn. Yes, I have become jaded and a hard critic in the classic sense of that word. And under that jaded sensibility is a challenge for travelbloggers. As we grow and become easier to pigeon hole, how are we going to stand out? I think there’s a way. And while this is targeted towards travelbloggers, most of this translates to bloggers of any stripe.

Be transparent: I’ve followed with great interest travelbloggers who exposed exactly how much money they were saving prior to their adventures or exactly how much things cost. I stumbled across a blog that had an attached spreadsheet capturing every single dime spent per country with an average for each category and country. I’ve also followed bloggers who report not only how much they earn, but exactly how they earn it and on which domains. This kind of honestly in finance is not only inspirational but provides a much needed reality check to those planning their travels and those with aspirations to make money travelblogging.

Transparency doesn’t just apply to finances, though. Use it for press trips, anything that’s sponsored, giveaways, reviews: disclosure isn’t just a legal consideration, it builds trust.

Share your expertise: Be it a specific destination or a style of travel, targeting your expertise to your audience – parents traveling with children of a certain age, or Honduras or Hawaii or Hanoi — digging deep into your topic ties you to both the curious and the enthusiastic. And you’re helping! You’re offering up useful, concrete, actionable information about traveling with a wheelchair or finding the best gelato. Those you help are your advocates; they’ll help you stand out in return for sharing your knowledge.

Have a presence: Ah, it’s so lovely to dream of the day when all I’ll do is write posts for my own blog. Ideally, this is accompanied by lucrative speaking gigs (backed with a luscious per diem and all expenses paid.). Never mind all that. Showing up elsewhere is good for your reach. This might be a blogging gig for a network site, but it can be many other things – engaging on Twitter and Facebook, hosting meetups , thoughtfully placed guest posts, or sharing your platform with good causes. No meetups near you? Start something, even if it’s just coffee with a travelblogger across town.

Tell it like it is: Lose your luggage in the airport and your lunch over the rail on the boat? Fall in love with the surf shack boys even though your adoring husband is right behind you on the sand? Fear for your life on that taxi ride to Monteverde? Bring all that emotion with you to your blog – travel or otherwise. There are servers chock full of sanitized for your protection travel “content”, there’s no need for more of it. Bring your sincerity and wonder, your fear and aggravation, this is your story. Make it live for others and they will love you for it.

Pam Mandel is a freelance writer and the blogger behind Nerd’s Eye View . She’s a cofounder the travel social gathering, SCOOT (Seattle Consortium of Online Travel) and Passports with Purpose, the annual travelbloggers fundraiser.

Photo Credit: Photo by road trip buddy @pwcarey

Love your Blog? I suggest not…

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Earlier this evening Alli wrote a thought-provoking posting here entitled Overheard on #Blogchat: Love Your Blog! but the more I think about it, the more I think that’s not such good advice after all.

Let me explain before y’all get your knickers in a twist…

I find a lot of personal blogs to be boring. There, I’ve said it.

I know that to the writer, it’s a great experience, cathartic, therapeutic, and perhaps even the first time you’ve been able to speak your mind regardless of the consequences. That’s great, and I’m happy for you.

But as a reader, well, uhm, unless I know you and understand the travails and challenges of your life, it’s just not particularly interesting. D’ya know what I mean?

It’s like Twitter. There are great tweets but there are sooooo many that are tedious, narcissistic trivia. That’s why I’ve learned to ignore most of my twitter stream. Your fabulous burger might be interesting to you, but to me? I haven’t even been to your city, why would I care?

Alright, I’m being a bit cranky here. I own it. But I’d like to suggest that instead of falling in love with your blog and sinking into an inability to tear your gaze away from that beautiful person in the mirror, why not think about how you can love your reader instead?

That’s my alternative suggestion for a core philosophy: write to your reader, ask your reader questions, reference your reader and you might just be surprised that while you can address most of the same topics, the level of engagement goes up dramatically.

Then again, why not check out my most personal blog – The Attachment Parenting  Blog – and see what you think. Boring because it’s too self-indulgent, or an interesting read as I try to balance what’s interesting to read with what I want to write about?

Overheard on #Blogchat: Controversy and Blogging

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

Something that is always on my mind when I blog is whether or not I’m being too antagonizing. So, this tweet caught my mind:

propickup I think too many people hide from controversy when blogging

I think propickup is right – and why is this the case? Are we worried about offending people or losing readers? Is it too much effort to defend a controversial post when the comments start rolling in? Are you worried that advertisers will desert?

Maybe a little all of the above. Bloggers shy away from controversy at times because we just don’t want to stir the pot.

But isn’t that part of the reason why we’re blogging in the first place? Earlier tonight, I talked about another #blogchat tweet talking about how a blog is your own creating, and you get to make the rules. So, it follows that you should be able to voice your opinion.

While that’s certainly true, we also blog because we want people to read what we write, either as entertainment or to help them learn something. If you don’t want people to read what you write, why put your work online? It’s just as easy to type your thoughts into word processing programs. So, with that in mind, I think it’s important to always think about how you approach controversy. Some tips (this is a bit of a brain-dump right now, so add to them with comments!0:

  • Don’t rant for the sake of ranting. If you have something important to say, really passionate ideas, that’s one thing. If you’re trying to drive traffic by saying things that are shocking, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
  • Research! Before you go off on a subject, make sure you full understand it. Read about the topic from multiple sources and even spend some times talking about it with  friends or other bloggers so you can formulate and educated post.
  • Avoid defensive comments. If you write something controversial, you’re probably going to get comments calling you stupid. Some of these comments may even make good points. Before you reply in a really defensive, angry way, take some time to ensure you’re adding value with your comment, not just defending yourself.
  • Address weaknesses in your argument. This is debate 101! If there weren’t weaknesses, there wouldn’t be controversy. Talk about good points that the “other side” has in your post.
  • Don’t single out readers or other bloggers (in most cases). If you’re going to attack something, attack an idea, not a person.
  • Edit, edit, edit! When you’re passionate about a topic, as is often the case with controversy, it is easy to write 7,000 words about the topic. You don’ t have to limit yourself to a few hundred words, but create something that people will actually read, not something that’s so long it turns off readers. If you truly have 7,000 worth of points to make, split it up into multiple posts.

We don’t have to be afraid of controversy. Often, controversial topics are the best, and even people who don’t agree with you will come back again to read more of your work. Be thought-provoking and don’t be too afraid of making people mad.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Love Your Blog!

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Every Sunday night, bloggers can participate in #blogchat, a weekly Twitter discussion about the weekly topic. It was started by @MackCollier and, in my opinion, is a good example of what a Twitter chat should be. I thought it would be fun to comment here on some of the tweets made during #blogchat every week, since not everyone has time to  participate. And since I often have something to say that doesn’t fit into 140 characters.

Tonight’s topic? It’s an open mic night, so lots of subjects are being discussed.

Right off the bat, one caught my eye:

@2ndchancemoon: I blog because its mine all mine and I can move it in any direction at any time. Love that!

It’s something that we as bloggers forget sometimes – one of the reasons we blog is to be our own bosses. In the shuffle of trying to make money, find readers, and create content, it’s easy to get frustrated. But if we weren’t doing this because we wanted a slice of the internet to call our own, we’d be blogging for other people and letting them worry about the stresses of money, traffic, and content.

There’s nothing wrong with blogging for other people. I mean, it’s what I’m doing right now. The point here is that sometimes you need to step back from the daily grind and remember why you got into this in the first place – because you love it!

Something that’s also important to remember. On your blog, you get to make the rules. Story time!

A few months ago, a good friend of my got an email from a reader giving her some criticism on her blog. My friend didn’t take it well (what can I say, she doesn’t have a thick skin, poor girl). Immediately, she began redesigning her blog to put the readers’ suggestions into effect. Overall, a lot of these suggestions made her blog stronger.

Some…well, they just didn’t work.

And really, they weren’t bad ideas, they just weren’t good suggests for her. Even if a suggested change from a reader, whether it is constructive criticism or someone just being mean/rude, might add value to your blog, sometimes you have to stop asking yourself whether it’s good for your readers and ask if it is good for you. Don’t lose control of your blog!

Also keep in mind that if something isn’t working on your blog, you can change it. You aren’t obligated to write a certain number of posts per week. You aren’t obligated to post a specific feature, even if it has been tradition on your blog. You aren’t obligated to stick to self-imposed rules. Repeat after me: This is my blog. I get to make the rules!

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Why Facebook May Not Be King Forever

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Whether you’re a business with a blog or a blog that’s a business, if you don’t have a Facebook presence, you’re missing out on a major way to connect with readers. Right now, Facebook is king when it comes to social networking sites. Heck, even my mom knows what Facebook is, and she’s not what I’d call web-savvy. And by “not web-savvy,” I mean that she still has dial-up Internet and really only pays for that because she likes to send chain emails to my sister and I and print coupons. I say this in love, because my mom is awesome at just about anything non-tech-related. The point is, even people who don’t use their computers often know what Facebook is.

But don’t buy stock just yet.

I was reading an interesting article on Mashable about a Facebook alternative called Diaspora, which will be officially launching in just a few weeks. My initial thought was to roll my eyes. Yeah right, like people are going to leave Facebook and suddenly swarm behind a new social networking site. If nothing, this will just create more work for me, since I’ll have yet another profile that I’ll have to maintain to ensure I’m reaching potential readers who choose Diaspora over Facebook.

The story simmered in my mind all day, though, and you know what? Facebook is great, but it’s not the nature of the Internet for things to last forever. This is a living, breathing, growing, changing world, and even though I know Facebook has rabid fans and they definitely wear the crown right now, they aren’t indestructible…or at least, they are uncrownable.*

In short, Facebook may not be king forever – and here’s why:

  1. There are problems with Facebook that can’t just be patched. It isn’t like a group of students just decided to start a new site to make money. Those types of social networks are a dime a dozen. This is something that addresses a core Facebook problem – that it isn’t open source, which isn’t going to change.
  2. We’ve seen social networking Titanics sink before. Anyone out there remember MySpace? It’s easy to dismiss that site these days, unless you’re a musicain – most professional bloggers I know don’t even have profiles there – but at one time, it was the place to be, hands down. Today’s MySpace is drastically different and definitely not the leading social networking site, so there’s no reason that can’t happen to Facebook, too.
  3. The face of social networking is changing. Studies show that the average age of Facebook members is increasing every year. Last I saw, it was in the low 30s. As more adults join Facebook, whether it is to promote their businesses and blogs or connect with friends in a more traditional sense, values are changing. The average college student may just want a wall, some game apps, and the ability to poke friends, but more mature users value more function and control. If Facebook can’t deliver, they’ll absolutely shift to a new site.
  4. Facebook has some black marks on their record. When it comes to privacy, this isn’t exactly the most trustworthy company in the world. Even though I think Facebook has done a good job at addressing concerns, their privacy problems and policy criticisms have tarnished their name. New users, especially older users with little social networking experience, may choose a site they perceive to be “safer.”
  5. There’s money in this industry. The Diaspora project alone has proven that social media is an area where investors are hungry to throw around money. They hoped to raise 10,000 to work on the project this summer and they ended up making ten times that amount without really trying. If people are willing to fund good ideas, we’re going to see some interesting Facebook alternatives come to the market over the next few years.
  6. Facebook isn’t exactly intuitive. Sure, anyone can make a basic profile, but if you want to move beyond adding your contact information or favorite bands, you’re going to get frustrated. It can be done, but they don’t make it easy.

I love Facebook. I’m on that site every day, both promoting my blog and connecting with friends. Will the site be around forever? I doubt it, no matter how popular it is right now. Will it be difficult to replace as number one? Absolutely! It will be interesting to see where things stand ten years from now.

*Yes, I made up the word uncrownable because it was late when I wrote this post and I couldn’t think of a proper word that was comparable. It has a nice ring though, uncrowable.

How to Blog with a “Roommate”

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Me and my roommate - both literally and at Binge Gamer.

Having a roommate is tough. On July 1, I moved in with my best friend, and even though we have similar hobbies, share a need for privacy, and fully respect one another and our space needs, we still get frustrated with one another at times. It’s bound to happen, no matter how much you like your roommate. Even spouses fight sometimes.

A blog is kind of like a home for many people. It’s a safe space where you can say what’s on your mind, connect with other people, and feel comfortable. So, moving in with a blogging “roommate” is tough. That is, it’s hard to be part of a blog with multiple authors.

Sometimes, having a blog with multiple authors just makes sense. Maybe you want to build a business, but your knowledge is limited in certain areas of your niche. Maybe in your niche, multiple perspectives on a topic don’t just add value, but are nearly necessary. Maybe your niche is so news-centric that one person can’t possible cover it all. Maybe you have great ideas but aren’t the best writer. Multiple bloggers on a single blog can make a lot of sense for some people.

The problem is that when you have multiple bloggers, you have multiple viewpoints, and these view points don’t always line up. Arguments happen. Feelings get hurt. I’ve seen blogs destroyed because partners can’t agree.And I understand that, because a blog isn’t just personal, but also a source of income. It’s hard to get on board with a decision if you don’t agree and think it will compromise your message or cause you to lose money.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I blog with multiple people here at this blog, and I also blog with multiple writers at Binge Gamer. In both places, it’s working out pretty well, and I think that’s the case because of policies we have in place. If you’re going to blog with a roommate, here are some tips to help you make it work:

  • Set clear job duties. Who’s in charge of what on the blog? Who has final say on blog issues? How will the work be split between people if there are multiple owners? Give yourself job titles and clear tasks, so there’s never a question as to who handles what.
  • Discuss profit. You might not be making money right now, but when you do, who gets a cut? Will you split it, and if so, will you do so evenly? Will one person own the blog and pay everyone else? Who gets to make decisions about how money is spent on the site for things like hosting, themes, etc.? Money is important, so discuss it early.
  • Compromise. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to compromise. Yes, standing up for your point of view is honorable, but like I’ve said here in the past, compromise makes the world go ’round. If you’re a stubborn person, blogging with others may not be a good choice.
  • Hold one another accountable. If you both say that you’re going to write x number of posts or bring in a certain number of advertisers or otherwise do a certain amount of work, make sure you’re holding one another accountable. If you let things slide one week, it’s easy to continue to let them slide until one equal partner is putting in a lot more work that the other.
  • Sign a contract with one another. There’s a saying that you should never do business with friends. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but what I think you should take away from that quote is that you should never treat a business like a friendship. As soon as you decide to work together, sign a contract that covers what you’ve determined, especially in terms of amount of work and money.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work to blog together. If you can’t make it work, go your separate ways amicably. It isn’t worth ruining a friendship, especially because you could network with one another in the future. Just because it doesn’t work to blog together doesn’t mean that you can never work together or associate with one another in any way.

Analyzing Your Market’s Wallet

Author:

I know a lot of people who have a lot of really good ideas. They start blogs. They write great posts. They engage readers on social networking sites.

And they fail.

At least, in terms of making a living as a full-time blogger, they fail, because they never actually make any money from their work. They might have thousands of followers on Twitter and dozens of comments on every blog post, but the best ideas in the world can’t save you from failing is you forget one key step: analyzing your market’s wallet.

When I first started freelance writing, I took a job with a fairly well-known blogging network at the time, which I won’t name here. They had great ideas for blogs – relevant topics that were in popular niches. They hired some great writers and built up a nice little community. The problem? They never actually thought about how they were going to convert pageviews into sales. Sure, they made a little money getting people to click on Google ads, but Adwords alone isn’t going to drive any blog to success.

It comes down to asking yourself two questions:

  1. Who is my average reader?
  2. How does my average reader spend his/her money?

Let’s use some fake blogs I’ve devised as examples. Say I write a cooking blog, where I post recipes and reviews of kitchen products. Here’s how I would answer those questions:

  1. My average reader is female, between the ages of 25 and 50, and likely married with kids or thinking about having kids.
  2. My average reader has to be careful with her money. She spends it first on bills and then on things that will improve her family’s life.

Of course, this blog probably has male readers, retired readers, single readers, etc. We’re going for an overall average here. Now let’s look at a complete different blog. Say I run a site that posts movie reviews and red carpet news. Here’s how I would answer those same questions:

  1. My average reader is likely between the ages of 15 and 35, enjoys celebrity gossip and pop culture, and is single or newly married.
  2. My average reader spends money on entertainment, but is often short on cash. He or she probably has some credit card debt, but will splurge to have fun with friends.

Again, not every reader will fit those descriptions, but we’re going for average here.

The common blogger, whether writing at the cooking blog or the movie blog, tries to make money the same way – posting banner ads. It just doesn’t make sense. Yes, you’ll make some money that way if you build traffic, but you have completely different readers with completely different needs and spending habits. Why would you ever try to make money from those people in the same way? It doesn’t make sense.

Instead, take some time to more closely analyze your market’s wallet.

  • When they make emotional purchases, what do they buy?
  • Do they shop online or at brick-and-mortar businesses?
  • How much spending cash to they have after paying monthly bills?
  • Why problems do they have in life that they would be paying to solve?

That last one is a biggie, because it’s how you can make sales. Going back to my examples, at the cooking blog, one of the problems readers have is not having more time with their families. Would they be willing to pay for a cookbook that taught them how to get kids involved in the kitchen? It’s likely.

You don’t even have to create products at this point if you’re not able to do so yet. Sign up as an affiliate and start selling products on commission. Once you’ve brainstormed the items that your market is purchasing, it’s easy to offer those products and see an immediate jump in profit on your blog.

Analyzing your market’s wallet is easier in some niches that others, but it’s an important step no matter what your blog is about. Unless make a few bucks with Adwords every month is you idea of a decent income, you have to treat your blog more like a business. The best blog idea in the world will only be a hobby if you don’t sell something to your readers.

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