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August 2012

5 Ways To Handle Blogger Backlash

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Photo Credit: Colin Adamson

You’re a blogger, perhaps you do it for your company or perhaps you do it for yourself.  Unlike most writing, blogging as a type of prose affords those of us with the opportunity to have an opinion.  Depending on the specific outlet, often the opinion is backed by nothing more than your feelings or experiences which guide the content.

Nonetheless you write to inspire; sometimes action, other times reflection.  When done well, a blog post can provide its audience a new perspective, a new idea, or a drive to action that will make them long ingratiated to you for the value you added to their world.

While there is no shortage of me too bloggers in every subject, one of the things that often makes certain bloggers stand out is their willingness to take a side, and not necessarily the popular position.  Well guess what…when you take the risks of having a position, an opinion, or decide to profess expertise at or above your pay grade you run the risk of serious backlash.  This most specifically will come in the form of negative commentary which can often spawn a plethora of negativity especially when the right ringleader comes in and swings the old axe.

Well, when you lie there in the face of the proverbial axe you, as the creator, need to make a decision as to how you respond to the negativity.  Do you stand up and fight, or do you take the avoidance route?  Or, do you take some other avenue?  (I hear some companies just make up fake aliases to write positive commentary in light of treacherous PR or incredibly stupid commentary.) There are many ways to skin this cat, however one wrong move and you could be this girl.

So here are 5 ways to handle blogger backlash. My suggestion, choose wisely!

1.  The Aggressor – Jump all over them and shout from the rooftops why they are wrong.  Of course you must do this with eloquence in a Shakesparian gaffe to make sure that the commenter knows that you mean business and that you aren’t going to take this $#IT from anyone.

2.  Humble Pie – Every so often someone comes along and shows you something you don’t know.  If you are wrong, and you know you are wrong then eat your humble pie.  Show gratitude, appreciation, and empathy for your misguided views and make it hard for the negativity to continue.  It is only the worst of the worst type of people that will keep kicking you when you are already down.

3.  Back That View Up – Sometimes for the sake of not riddling your readers with tons of citings and other credentials you throw out some vitals without backup.  I, for instance, often find that readers like shorter posts and less facts because the facts are easy to find.  They come for the unique perspective we bring as a blogger.  However when your expert status is put into question sometimes you have to back that view up with some of the facts.  If you have the credentials and the details to derail the backlash, now is the time to bust it out.

4. Agree to Disagree – Views won’t always line up and when you put yourself out there you are opening both sides to plead their case.  The more tenuous the subject, the more extreme the backlash may be.  In some cases you are best off to respond with appreciation for their feedback and the desire to agree to disagree.  With many of these opposing views there is not going to be movement toward middle ground so a professional appreciative response like this keeps you as the professional.

5. Ignor(amous) – Perhaps you write controversy all of the time.  Then I offer two thoughts.  One, you probably don’t need this advice, and two, you probably have grown some pretty thick skin by this point.  Now you just ignore it because you really don’t care what people think or at the very least you have become an expert in faking that belief.

When you bring the heat by blogging against the grain, you have to expect the reward and the punishment that will go with it.  You will get the eyeballs that you want and the shares that can take your content viral, but you can’t always count on it being for the right reason.

Having said that, the world (sometimes) appreciates a different view.  Other times not so much, at least not the ones that stop to comment.  Perhaps nobody knows this better than I do.  I’ve been called a moron, an idiot, a buffoon, and even some names that are too politically incorrect to include here (E-mail me for details).

However that hasn’t changed a thing for me.  When I write, I bring it every time and sometimes the subjects I tackle come back to tackle me.  But it doesn’t keep me down for long because with every comment there is an opportunity to respond intelligently and keep the content alive.   But the key is in choosing the “Intelligent” response.

So keep writing and keep bringing YOUR viewpoint.  The world doesn’t pay attention to “me too,” they pay attention to “why you” and that is why we write in the first place.

27 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Tumblr

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Tumblr

I feel like those of us who use WordPress and Blogger sometimes treat Tumblr like the red-headed stepchild of blogging platforms. It’s true that there are definitely a lot less…shall we say professional…bloggers using Tumblr, but there are also some really cool Tumblr blogs as well as people who very successfully supplement their main WordPress/Blogger blog with a Tumblr blog.

So today’s Brilliant Blogger is all about Tumblr. How are bloggers using Tumblr? What are some best practices and tips for this platform? Why Tumblr over WordPress and Blogger? All this – and more – can be found in this week’s list below!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

10 Useful Tumblr Tips That New Users Need to Know by Bakari Chavanu

Never mind that this post is over a year old. If you’re new to Tumblr, it’s the perfect place to start. The author of this post, Bakari Chavanu, writes,

I’m absolutely hooked on Tumblr. I found my way back there recently, and in two days I managed to post 45 blogs – some reblogs, some quotes, a few long form essays, and lots of image posts. I don’t know what the appeal to Tumblr is over other similar blogging sites such as Posterous or WordPress, but I’ve caught the Tumblr bug and I have learned some things that might not be so obvious to those who are new to the fastest growing  microblogging site.

His tips are the beginner’s guide that Tumblr so desperately needs for new users. If you’re used to using WordPress or Blogger, using Tumblr isn’t going to come naturally. But once you do start using it – especially after checking out Bakari’s tips – you’ll find that it really does become second-nature in a hurry.

If you love his post, don’t forget to follow Bakari on Twitter at @bakarichavanu.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 5 Tumblr Tips for Microblogging Success by Megan O’Neill (@maoneill)
  2. 6 Tips for Tumblr Beginners by Anna Attkisson (@akattkisson)
  3. 10 Tips for Awesome Tumblr Theme Design by Joshua Johnson (@designshack)
  4. 11 Tumblr Tips for Power Users by Christin Erickson (@christerickson)
  5. 60 Brands Using Tumblr by Jason Keath (@jasonkeath)
  6. A Complete Guide To Tumblr by Cameron Chapman (@cameron_chapman)
  7. Build Your List on Tumblr by Rebekah Henson
  8. Change your URL Tumblr by Tumblr Academy
  9. How To Choose a Good Tumblr Name by Tumblring (@tumblring)
  10. How to Gain Followers on Tumblr and Blogger by Isabelle Wuilloud
  11. How to Make Money on Tumblr by Sara Hottman
  12. How to Make Money with Tumblr by Tumble Guy
  13. How to Start Using Tumblr by Erica Schrag (@ericanschrag)
  14. Impressive Tumblr Customizations by Jad Limcaco (@designinformer)
  15. Love Tumblr Themes? 3 Questions To Ask Before Installing One by Darnell Clayton (@Darnell)
  16. PiercingMetal & Social Networking: Tumblr by Ken Pierce (@piercingmetal)
  17. The 10 Benefits of Using Tumblr For Your Business by Social Media Magic (@smmagic)
  18. The 10 Most Amazing Free Tumblr Themes by Simon Slangen (@simonslangen)
  19. Three Tumblr Tricks by Henry Cooke (@henrycooke)
  20. Tips for Using Tumblr for Small Business Brand Marketing by Yo Noguchi
  21. Tumblr Guide 101: Tips And Tricks For Building Your Site, Posting And More by Thomas Houston (@thomashouston)
  22. Tumblr Tips for Writers by Jason Boog (@jasonboog)
  23. Tumblr Tips From Tumblr’s Founder by The New York Times
  24. Tumblr vs. WordPress vs. Blogger: Fight! by Damian Roskill (@Droskill)
  25. WordPress vs Tumblr by Jerson Calanuga
  26. WordPress vs Tumblr – Choosing the Right Blogging Platform for Your Clients by Robert Bowen (@rob_e_bowen)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about Tumblr? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Podcasting Gear

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Composing Your Video Shot: The Rule of Thirds

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The artistic composition of your shots can instantly make a video look professional – or, unfortunately, like you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ve already gone over some composition tips for shooting emotional video in the past, but today, I wanted to highlight a really important design concept that all beginners can use: the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds can be used for any kind of shot, but I personally find it most helpful for interviews and (in photography) portraits. Basically, if there’s a person in the video, this technique is going to help you set up your camera to get the most professional-looking shot.

Here’s a quick video that explains the rule of thirds. It’s super simple, so even if you’re just starting out, don’t be intimidated to try it out!

Want more great video education? Check out the web TV and video track at NMX!

Why Good Writers Aren’t Always Good Bloggers

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If you’re a good writer, you can dominate the blogging world, right? Wrong. Good writers are often surprised to find they stink at blogging. With so much hype over the “Content is King” idea, it’s not surprising to find that many writers simply can’t understand why they are not rocking the blogosphere with their posts.

Do you need to be a good writer to be a good blogger? That’s debatable. But one thing is for sure: good writing skills are not all you need to be a good blogger.

Working in the Kitchen

The best comparison I can think of is a restaurant. If you’re a wiz in the kitchen with delicious recipes and impeccable skills, you can be an awesome chef. The chef of a restaurant is like a writer. You’re the core, the heart of the business.

But running a successful restaurant takes so much more. You have to do administrative work like hiring and balancing the books. You have to design the restaurant, choosing everything from seating to paint color. You have to market your restaurant and make business decisions, like menu prices. You have to be amazing at “front of the house” tasks, like greeting customers and dealing with complaints.

The chef is important, but the restaurant owner is the boss, and for good reason – he or she is the person responsible for the restaurant’s success or failure, and that person needs to know more than how to cook a chicken.

The same is true for a blog. You need more than just writing skills because your responsibilities stretch much farther.

Yes, a chef can be a good restaurant owner – just like a writer can be a good blogger. You just have to realize that the food is only part of the equation.

“You’re Gonna Have to Deal with Stress”

There’s this Dennis Leary song called “Life’s Gonna Suck.” It’s always cracked me up – it’s about how when you’re an adult, life gets stressful and hard. One of the lines is, “You’re gonna have to deal with stress, deal with stress, deal with stress. You’re gonna be a giant mess.”

Luckily, I don’t think life’s quite as bleak as an adult as the song makes it out to be! But the “you’re gonna have to deal with stress” part is definitely true. Many people become bloggers or otherwise work online because they think it’s an easy way to make money. Not true. Starting your own blog is the same as starting a business; you simply have less overhead. It’s stressful, though, and if you’re not prepared to deal with this stress, no amount of good writing will make your blog successful.

For me, managing the stress is about remembering what I love about blogging and focusing my attention on these tasks. I love the writing. Does that mean I can simply ignore all of the technical, marketing, and other tasks that go along with blogging? Absolutely not. But what it does mean is that I can start every day on the right foot by doing some writing, and make sure that all the tasks I do are supporting my writing, so I can afford to write more.

You can also work toward a goal of hiring a virtual assistant (VA) to work on tasks you don’t like so you can concentrate more on being a writer. Ultimately, if you’re a good writer you can be a successful blogger. Just be honest with yourself about the work you’ll need to do beyond writing to be a good blogger.

The Secret to Why People Listen: 6 Tips for Podcasters

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image of ear

Photo Credit: Dave Kennard

Why do people listen to your podcast?

Take a moment and really think about your answer. What is the true reason a person listens to any podcast or radio show or audio of any kind?

Does she listen to your show because you have the best content?

Is he coming to your show because you have the most attractive voice?

Is it because she is your mom?

What is that magic spell that brings listeners to your show?

The primary reason people listen to any audio is for companionship. People don’t want to be alone. They desire to have someone there beside them.

Companionship is your primary role. All else is secondary.

Your great content, fantastic voice and beloved relationship may keep them coming back for more. However, the primary reason they listen at all is companionship.

There are six secrets to providing a high level of companionship to your listener. If you add a little of each ingredient to your show, you will be well on your way to developing meaningful relationships with your audience.

1. Speak to me, not us.

When you are talking, speak to one person. You are not addressing a crowd. You are talking to an individual.

Audio is a very personal medium. People listen by themselves, even in a group. The imagination of each individual is unique to that person. The listener will envision the details of your story in a very unique way.

When you speak like an announcer does, over the public address system in a supermarket informing a mass of shoppers about sales, you will not make an impression. Just like you ignore the public address system in the supermarket, your listeners will ignore you.

If I write in “group speak” with words like everyone, all of you, and you guys, my writing sounds like I am addressing a group of people.

“You guys should come see me this weekend.” When you read that sentence, you are probably wonder who I am addressing. You are the only one reading this in your head. It sounds out of place.

When you are speaking, it sounds just as out of place. Your listener will wonder to whom you are speaking. They are listening alone. Talk to them as such.

2. Talk to me, not at me.

Have a personal conversation with your listener. When you announce in a third person style, you will sound disconnected. The show will sound like a lecture.

You will sound like an announcer talking at me when you use sentences like, “Podcasters should use a conversational style when addressing their audience.” You talk to me when you say, “You should use a conversational style.”

Be personable and real. That is how companionship is formed. Talk to me, not at me.

3. Make the listener the star.

Shine the spotlight on your listener whenever you can. Make them feel like they are the star of the show. Shower them with praise every chance you get.

If a listener sends in a great question, point it out. When your listener makes a great point, let the spotlight shine. Compliment them for adding content that improves your show. Above all, thank them for participating.

If a listener makes a mistake, be careful how you address it. You can turn it into something great. Your response might be, “That is a great point. Many people also believe that. However, it is a myth that started with an incorrect article many years ago. I’m glad you brought that up.” This makes the listener feel like they are adding something to the show, even when their information was incorrect.

When you make your listener the star, the glow comes back to you. The audience will think you are a great person by helping your listener. Other people will be more likely to interact with the show if they feel you will also make them a star.

People like people who are nice and share the credit.

4. Don’t waste my time

When you say you are going to discuss a topic, focus on that topic. Tangents, sidetracks and other non-essential elements to the story waste the time of your listener. Have respect for their time.

If a listener has taken time to listen to your show, treat that time as gold. Deliver on your promise. When you tell your listener that you plan to discuss proper care of an eggplant, deliver. If you begin telling me how rabbits got in your yard last weekend, you are failing. Your listener came for a discussion on eggplants.

Make sure each piece of content is moving the show forward. Don’t waste their time. Keep your listener engaged. Companionship involves respect.

5. Put me in the moment.

Telling stories is an art. When you make your listener feel like they are right there as the story happens, you are creating magic. Find a way to put them in the moment.

Start in the world of your listener.

Let’s say you have a story about taxes. Your listener is already losing interest. Your audience will be gone when you start the tale as many do with, “Government is considering another tax increase next year.”

You can begin at the point of the listener by simply reworking the introduction. “It sounds like you might have fewer dollars in your pocket after the first of the year.” This introduction piques my interest and gets me to pay attention. The story is now about me.

When you take time to make the story about me, you show me that you believe my thoughts, feelings, opinions and time are important.  Showing compassion is a crucial step toward companionship.

6. Care.

This is pretty simple.

When you care about your audience, they will care about you. It is the law of reciprocity. When I give you something, you feel compelled to give me something in return.

Be genuinely interested in your audience. Help them get what they want. Help them solve their problems.

Caring is a primary element of companionship. Whenever possible, show your listener you care.

 

Companionship is the primary reason people listener to audio. They don’t want to be alone. People desire friendship. It is a natural, human instinct. Help them experience it.

Follow these six steps and become a companion. Before you know it, your companionship will become friendship. That friendship will build trust. Soon, you will have long-time listeners, customers and fans. Your mom would be proud.

NMX Welcomes Megan Enloe as Podcasting Community Manager

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NMX Welcomes Megan Enloe as Podcasting , Community Manager

The NMX community team is growing by leaps and bounds. In addition to adding Jessica Spiegel as Community Manager for our travel blogger conference, TBEX, we’re also pleased to announce the addition of Megan Enloe as our new Podcasting Community Manager.

We’ve been throwing around the idea of having different community managers for the specific niches, especially in podcasting and video, because we feel we haven’t done enough to reach the individual communities. There’s no one better to handle this task than Megan who is a passionate podcasting fan and supporter. In fact, Megan’s Twitter handle is @podcastjunky, so she proudly owns that title.

In addition to being a fan of podcasting, Megan runs the Podcasting Community on Facebook (where she invites all podcasters and podcasting fans to join the community) and works as a social media consultant.

Megan will be holding podcasting related discussions on the NMX Facebook page, and on a soon to be created Twitter account. She’ll also be reaching out to individual podcasting communities to see how we can best serve them and join our communities together. In addition to social engagement, Megan will assist our Podacasting Track Leader, Cliff Ravenscraft in finding speakers for the podcasting track at NMX.

We’re very pleased to add Megan to our growing team.

17 Free WordPress Plugins for Blog Monetization

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monetization plugins for bloggers

One of the reasons I like WordPress as a blogging platform is the vast library of plugins to add functionality to your blog. No matter what your niche, there are tons of awesome plugin options, many of which we’ve already talked about here on the NMX blog, along with other awesome tools for your blog.

Today, I wanted to highlight plugins that play a specific role – helping you monetize your blog. If you’re looking for ways to make money with your blog, these WordPress plugins can help. (Disclosure: Some of the below-mentioned companies/people have exhibited at our events in the past or have other relationships with NMX, but they aren’t listed here because of that connection. They’re listed here because I honestly thing they are good tools to consider as you’re monetizing your blog!)

These plugins are listed in alphabetical order not in order of importance, and not every plugin is right for every blog, so use a discerning eye to determine which are right for you.

1. Ad Injection

If you want to include ads within your post, not just on your sidebar, this is a great plugin to consider using. Ad Injection works with Google AdSense, Amazon, ClickBank, and lots of other ad networks. Ads can be injected into your content at the beginning, end, or random spots throughout, and you have tons of control over who sees these ads, as you can limit ads by post length, post age, and more. You can even split test with this plugin to see which ads are preforming best.

The biggest reason I recommend Ad Injection over some of the other ad plugins out there is the amount of control you have with this tool. It’s pretty easy to scare readers away if your blog is too ad-heavy, so with Ad Injection, you have the control you need to make sure your content isn’t getting overwhelmed. The ability to target specific readers based on parameters such as how they were referred to your site is an added bonus.

2. AdRotate

As the name implies, AdRotate is a simply plugin that allows you to have rotating ads on your blog. I find this plugin a little less intuitive to use than others, so make sure you set aside some time to read the documentation and learn how to use it. Once you do, however, there are a lot of cool options. You choose the ad sizes and add them to group or blocks, and you can see the click through rates and other stats in the dashboard.

This plugin also warns you when ads are about to expire, allows you to export ad statistics, automatically disables ads after your designated time/number of clicks/etc., and more. So, once you set it up, this is a very easy automated system for ad management on your blog.

3. Affiliate Link Cloaking

The Affiliate Link Cloaking plugin allows you to use a “pretty” URL that redirects with your affiliate URL, giving you the capability to make money without a link that includes your affiliate ID. This ensures that the user does not remove the ID (yes, some people do that for some reason), and it also makes your links look nicer (some networks have really long, ugly-looking links).

A word of caution: NEVER use this of other link cloaking plugins to “trick” a reader into clicking the link. Always follow FTC guidelines and disclose any link that is an affiliate link.

4. Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer

I recommend some other Amazon plugins (see below) that you can use to add links, images, widgets, and more to your site, but definitely install Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer as well if you are an Amazon affiliate. What this plugin does is add your affiliate code to any Amazon link on your site, so if you forget to use an affiliate link, you won’t miss out on the sale.

Even better though – this plugin automatically detects where a visitor lives and directs them to their country’s Amazon site. So, if not all of your traffic is from one country, this ensures that you’re sending people to the same product on their localized Amazon site. You can pretty much install this one, update the options to include your affiliate IDs, and forget about it.

5. Cleeng Content Monetization

People are willing to pay for good content, and Cleeng Content Monetization gives you an easy way to create a pay wall, like you’ll find on membership sites, but without requiring membership. Anyone who wants to see more content simply clicks to pay a very small amount, but you can still keep the majority of your content open to the public in order to take advantage of advertising revenue. You can also work with a traditional membership subscription model or give out daily passes. There are a lot of options.

Here’s a great video that explains how Cleeng works:

6. CrankyAds

The CrankyAds plugin from Yaro Starak allows you to add text, banner, and video ads to your blog pretty easily. A lot of other plugins do the same thing, but there are a few functions that set CrankyAds apart:

  • The plugin automatically creates an advertising page for your blog with all of your ad options.
  • The process is streamlined, so while you don’t have quite as many options as you do with some other plugins, you have a much simpler method of monetizing your site with ads.
  • You don’t have to do any of the manual uploading yourself – your sponsors do the work.

Although this plugin is free, when someone buys an ad, they do so through the CrankyAds marketplace, and they of course take a cut of the money. Some bloggers have also noted that they don’t like the auto-populating advertising page. CrankyAds is relatively new, however, so I think we can expect to see some improvements over the next several months. It’s definitely worth checking out and keeping your eye on, even if you’re not sold on it right now.

7. MSMC Redirect After Comment

Like some of the other plugins on this list, the MSMC Redirect After Comment plugin doesn’t have to be used as a monetization tool, but it certainly can be. With this plugin, whenever someone leaves a comment, they’ll be redirected to a page you specify, rather than just back to whatever post they were reading. So, you could have them redirect to a sales page, an online store, or even a list of “products I recommend” with affiliate links. There are a lot of possibilities with this plugin, and at the very least, it allows you to keep your readers on your site longer in many cases. The longer someone stays on your blog, the more likely they are to buy a product, sign up for your email list, or tell their friends about you.

8. Outbrain

Outbrain is a “related links” widget that can be used across many platforms (including WordPress). You can use this plugin to do internal linking, which typically decreases your bounce rate, but it’s also a monetization tool – if you want it to be. Some content creators pay Outbrain to distribute their posts on other blogs. If you write something related and agree to have outside posts linked as part of your Outbrain widget, you’ll be paid for the traffic you send to that sponsored content. With Outbrain, you have full control over the sponsored content you allow linked on your site, and you can also indicate other sources you’d like to include in the “related links” section when relevant, so it’s a great way to support your favorite bloggers.

9. PostPost

If you want to monetize your feed, PostPost is a great plugin option. With this plugin, you can add content before or after your posts/pages. Simply add the code snippet or text via the options and it will start appearing. PostPost supports JavaScript-based code, which means you can use it with Google AdSense and other ad networks, or you could also display affiliate ads, text/banner ads sold directly to sponsors, or even your own products.

10. PostRelease

When you sign up for PostRelease, you open your blog up to a brand new automated revenue stream – sponsored posts. With this plugin, you’ll join a network of publishers, and companies interested in content marketing will automatically be matched with your site. So, for example, a car company might write a post called “How to Buy Tires For Your New Car” and be matched with your automotive blog. The post will appear on your blog exactly like any of your own posts, and will be marked clearly as “sponsored.”

From your dashboard, you can approve or deny sponsored posts, as well as track stats. If a sponsored post is not performing well, PostRelease will delete it so your site isn’t continually cluttered with posts your readers don’t like. One feature that I really like is that sponsored posts will always show up second in your feed. So, your own content won’t be overshadowed on your homepage if a PostRelease posts is published after it. Your content always takes center stage.

Check out this video to learn more about PostRelease:

11. SEO Smart Links

The primary function of SEO Smart Links is to allow you to easily link internally on your own site, but you can also use this plugin for affiliate advertising. Basically, you input a list of keywords, along with the URL you want to link to whenever the keyword is used.

If you do choose to use this plugin for external affiliate linking, make sure you don’t overdo it. You don’t want to have links on every two words in your post! Also make sure you have a disclosure notice on your blog so you’re complying with FTC rules requiring you to tell your readers that you use affiliate links.

There is a premium version of this plugin available, but you can start off with the free version.

12. Sharexy

As a blogger, you probably already realize how important social sharing buttons are on your site. Sharexy is one of the button options out there, but unlike other social sharing plugins, this plugin also allows you to earn a little extra money on the side. One of the options you have with Sharexy is to also display a small advertisement, and you’ll earn money for every click.

I personally have never used Sharexy on any of my blogs, but have stumbled across this plugin more than once, and some people seem to really like it. So, it’s definitely an option I’m considering and one you should take a look at as well.

13. WordPress Amazon Associate (plus some other Amazon plugins)

This is an awesome plugin for anyone who’s an affiliate with Amazon. Yes, you can just log in on Amazon.com and get all the links you need that way, but with WordPress Amazon Associate, you don’t even have to leave your dashboard. The shortcodes you can use with this plugin save you time, and adding pictures and lists of products is easy to do in a professional way with WPAA.

For me, having WPAA right in WordPress also serves as a reminder to me as I’m writing posts to think about what products I could recommend to my readers that are related to the post topic. You, of course, don’t need to add affiliate links to every post you write, but recommending products that are helpful to readers is definitely a revenue stream you can explore.

Amazon Link is another Amazon affiliate plugin that you can consider. I do not have personal experience using this plugin, but it looks like it has many of the same functions. I’ve also read good things about AmazonSimpleAdmin, which is another Amazon plugin for affiliates that provides some of the same functions as WPAA and Amazon Link.

14. WP125

For those of you needing a simple ad management solution, WP125 is an easy-to-use option. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles you’ll find with other ad plugins, but sometimes, simple is better. With this plugin, you can easily add and manage 125×125 banners on your blog, either in manual or random order. This plugin also tracks how many times each ad was clicked, so it’s a great option for all-in-one affiliate ad management as well, not just for ads you sell to sponsors. In addition, you can have the plugin notify you via email when an ad expires, which is great for manually following up with people.

I personally do not use WP125, but I know people who do and like it due to its simplicity. If you’re just getting started and don’t have tons of banner ads to manage yet, check it out.

15. WP Auctions

Ever wish you could offer items up for bid online without using eBay? With WP Auctions, you can. This is a great option if you already have decent traffic and are selling some items closely related to your niche. You’re not going to have nearly the amount of viewers as you would on eBay, but for some people, this could work.

WP Auctions integrates with PayPal for easy payment when the auction is over. Along with selling items, keep in mind that you can also get creative with this plugin by auctioning off ad space, holding auctions for charity, etc.

16. WP e-Commerce

If you sell your own products, like ebooks or e-courses, WP e-Commerce is a great shopping cart solution. This plugin integrates with PayPal, Google Checkout, and more – and you can even accept checks via mail with this cart system.

Designers, rejoice! This plugin gives you complete HTML & CSS control, so you can customize your shopping cart experience. Don’t worry, though: if you aren’t technically inclined or don’t have an eye for design, the out-of-the-box version looks nice too.

Some other WP e-Commerce perks?

  • The ability to offer discounts, coupons, sales, free shipping on physical products, etc.
  • URLs that are search engine friendly
  • Integration with many common plugins and platforms
  • The ability to decide if you want one-click checkout or a multi-step process
  • Sales notification via email

I could keep going – you really have to check out this powerhouse plugin yourself to see all the cool options, most of which are available with the free version. For those of you out there with heavy commerce needs, there are also some paid upgrades available here.

17. WP-Insert

WP-Insert is similar to Ad Injection in that it allows you to include advertising not just on your sidebar, but within your content as well. With this plugin, you have a lot of options for control, such as blocking ads from showing on certain pages/posts, ad style customization, add the option to inset your ads into your RSS feed.

This plugin has a unique feature – the ability to add a ready-made Terms and Conditions page and a ready-made Policy page to your blog (if you want them). This isn’t an option every blogger needs, but as you grow, these are definitely pages you should definitely consider including on your blog. The written T&C/Policy pages can be edited easy to fit your needs, but it’s nice to have a starting point.

WP-Insert is really more than just an ad management tool. For some of you, the various functions will be welcomed, while others might find it a bit clunky because there are too many options. Check it out to see how/if it can fit into your needs.

Your turn: What WordPress plugins do you find helpful for monetization?

Will Social Media Users Determine Who Wins the White House?

Author:

The United States presidential election is heating up, and both incumbent Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are turning to the Internet to garner support for their campaigns. But are they using social media correctly?

And will it matter?

Check out this video from Voice of America:

In the last presidential election, Obama had a huge presence online, and his following has grown since then. Romney has a smaller following when you compare his Twitter followers and Facebook page likes to Obama’s, but that is in part due to the fact that he didn’t spend the last several years as president.

This isn’t just about tweeting and sending out Facebook status updates, though. Both campaigns are attempting to get a little more personal with their social media followers. For example, the Democratic National Convention hosted a tweetup for Obama supporters and the Republican National Convention confirmed that they have several staff members dedicated to reaching out to online voters, according to France 24.

That in-person touch is what will really make the difference, not Facebook likes.

In 2008, I was an Obama supporter (I am currently undecided for the upcoming election). I followed him on social media, but I wasn’t a strong fan and I certainly never considered giving money to the campaign until I attended a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, near where I was living at the time. Seeing him speak in person and getting to shake his hand were what really convinced me to vote for him.

Yes, he blew John McCain (the Republican nominee in 2008) out of the water with his online presence, but he only won because he was able to connect with those followers in an emotionally-charged way.

Social media is great, but neither candidate has the time to send individual replies to followers. These accounts are run by staff members. If you look at either candidates’ streams, you’ll see little interaction. They’re just methods for broadcasting, like political ads on television. It’s not a two-way conversation.

That’s not to say social media has no impact on political elections, but it’s important to realize the power of personal communication. In my opinion, that’s why Obama won in 2008. It wasn’t that he had more fans online; it was that he got out there and spoke to those fans about issues they really cared about. Social media is just a tool for finding people who could potentially vote for you, not a method for convincing them to cast their ballot in your favor. In 2008, the candidate who was best able to connect with the people outside of social media was the candidate who won.

Ultimately, I think that’s who will win in this upcoming election as well – whoever can better connect with people about their needs, not whoever gets more retweets.

Do you think social media matters in the presidential race?

4 Ways to Write Engaging Updates on Facebook

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engage your Facebook fans “How can I get more people to engage with my fan page?” It’s the first thing people ask me when they find out I wrote Facebook All-In-One For Dummies. But that question about engagement is a pretty big one and has many facets. It would take a few posts (or, you know, a book) to tackle every aspect. I can give you some advice to get you started, though.

Every platform has its own best practices. Twitter is great for sharing concise information and links. Your blog is great for sharing more in-depth philosophies and discussions. On Facebook, people move quickly. They constantly scan their News Feed or lists and only interact with the most attractive or easily accessible content. The updates you post to Facebook can make or break your community because without good updates, you get lost in the feed. The key is to share the right information to establish yourself as the authority in your niche. Your goal is to be the go-to Facebook Page for information related to your niche. To do that, you need to

  • solve a problem
  • educate your audience, or
  • entertain your audience.

That means your updates are going to be a mixture of things. I’m going to discuss four ways to increase your status update engagement:

  • Use strong calls to action (and provide the means to follow through)
  • Post photos and video
  • Ask questions
  • Extend an invitation

Give a Call to Action and Provide a Way to Follow Through

People skim Facebook and it’s likely they’ll skip interacting with your updates unless you tell them what you want from them. If you want fans to click a link, Like your update, or buy something, tell them. And then be sure they can follow through. For example, if you talk about your new product or sale, then ask your fans to buy something, be sure you link to the website page where they can do that. Or, if you want your fans to sign up for your newsletter, install an app on your Facebook Fan Page (so your fans can sign up right from Facebook), then link to that tab.

TIP: Each of your custom app tabs has its own URL. Using the newsletter example, if you have a newsletter sign up app on your Facebook fan page, it may be overlooked since few people visit your actual page after they’ve Liked it. To remind people to sign up for your newsletter, write a status update asking fans to sign up for your newsletter because you share important information or unveil products there first, then link to the newsletter sign up tab. That kind of status update does three things. It tells your fans

  • what to do (sign up for the newsletter)
  • why they should do it (you’re giving them privileged information), and
  • how to do it (click a link to the newsletter sign up app on your Facebook fan page)

Post More Photos and Video

Facebook is incredibly visual. Anything that is eye-catching (e.g. photos or video) trumps text because it’s easily digestible. Keep in mind, too, that when people are visiting Facebook, they don’t want to leave — they want everything right there at their fingertips. Clicking on a text link may take them away from Facebook, but clicking on a photo or video doesn’t interrupt the overall flow of browsing information.

TIP: Facebook updates with photo or video are 5 times more engaging than link updates, but what do you see in your News Feed? Text. That’s because typing is the easiest way to update. Instead of typing your next update, take a little time and create more engaging content that resonates with your core audience by sharing a photo or asking a question via video.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is the go-to solution for encouraging engagement. Ask anyone how you can garner more engagement on Facebook and they’ll tell you to ask more questions. The problem is that you can’t ask just any kind of question. Some questions work better than others and how you ask a question is important. Remember that Facebook isn’t the place for philosophical discussion. It moves fast and people are ready to move in and out. Instead of asking questions that include “why” or “how do you feel about” ask questions that fans can answer quickly — yes/no, either/or, or use the Facebook Question feature to create a quick poll. As people respond, be sure you’re part of the discussion. As the discussion gets going, you can ask more in-depth questions within the comments. If you want your fans to engage with you, you have to be present and visible.

TIP: For text updates like questions, shorter is better. Keep updates to about 80 characters. Buddy Press did a study that showed shorter Facebook updates perform 66% better than longer updates.

Extend an Invitation

As a community manager you have to see your fans as more than a Like or a number; you have to view them as your community and take a real interest in what they’re doing. When you do, you’ll see your engagement increase.

Extending an invitation to my readers is my favorite way to encourage engagement. I ask people to share their links in the comments. My goals when I do this are to help drive traffic to my fans’ sites, introduce my fans to each other, and introduce them to new sites. It takes some time on my part because I really do go through everyone’s links and follow them or comment on a blog post, but the result is that I have a stronger bond with my readers. They feel like I’m available to them and interested in what they’re doing — and I am. I usually ask my readers to share their own links, but sometimes I ask them if they’ve read anything by someone else they can share. That opens a whole new window of opportunity.

TIP: Not sure what to invite your fans to share? You can ask your readers to share links to their:

  • Pinterest boards
  • G+ accounts
  • Twitter profiles
  • Blog
  • Facebook fan page
  • Most popular post of the month on their blog

At the beginning of the year I asked my fans what their goals or resolutions were for their blogs, then in July I revisited that topic and asked how they were coming along.

Regardless of how you update, my best advice to you is don’t set it and forget it. Don’t automate all of your posts. Take the time every day to interact with your fans and share things with them. Respond to their questions and comments; invite them to engage. Be a part of the community you’re creating.

Do you have advice about how to encourage engagement on your Facebook fan page? Please share with us in the comments.

How To Build an Online Community the Harley-Davidson Way

Author:

Photo Credit: Bruce Bailey

I love Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Except for the fact that they are too expensive and break-down too often. Other than that, they’re great.

Ok, snark aside, Harley-Davidson (from now on abbreviated as H-D), the brand, the company–the culture?–has accomplished something incredible.

While all other motorcycle manufacturers have taken a nose-dive with their profits, H-D remains incredibly successful. Why?

Because they know how to build a community around their motorcycles, and by the time you finish reading this post, you will know H-D’s secret sauce for building a community and a culture around their brand.

Let’s rev up our engines and pop a wheelie, shall we?

Get Out the Way

If you’re hoping to build a community around your blog, brand, product, service, etc., the best thing you can do is do what H-D has done. Get out the way.

In other words, create an environment for people to congregate in, and enable them to make connections with one another, and then just get out of the way.

All successful implementations of online community building, have that one simple thing in common. Create an environment for people to congregate together, and get out of the way.

This is why Facebook, Twitter, Triberr, and countless other online communities, are successful. They’ve created a way for the members of those platforms to connect with one another, and the less noticeable the technology is, the better. The less noticeable you are in the online-building equation, the better.

Facilitate connections amongst the members, and watch magical effects take place.

How Not To Do It

A notable author and a marketing powerhouse, Jim Kukral, recently asked me how to turn his Author Marketing Club site into a community.

At the moment, authors can submit their books for distribution to readers, and readers can sign up to get a list of free Kindle books delivered to them every day. A neat service, but NOT a community. Why?

Both authors and members are “walled off” from one another. They are visible to Jim, but they are NOT visible to one another.

This is how all email-based subscription services work. They are good for “pushing” information, but they are useless in helping you create a community and a culture around your blog/brand/product/service/etc.

Jim is limited by the fact that no blogging platform–not even WordPress–is build for engagement. It’s built for publishing.

The member-site plugin Jim is using is built for selling products, and capturing emails. Both are fine and useful functions for sure, but NOT conducive to community building.

How TO Do It

Facebook is a popular platform for building pseudo-communities.

I call them “pseudo-communities” because you don’t own the Facebook Group you’ve created, Facebook does. And you don’t own Facebook Likes people give you, Facebook does.

And if Facebook decides to shut you down, change their model, or go out of business, all your community-building efforts are essentially wasted and you have to start from scratch.

So, what’s the answer?

A few weeks ago, Triberr deployed something called Atomic Tribes (AT). It’s a feature that addresses the issues I’ve discussed above.

  • The members can “see” one another
  • Members can “congregate” around a Tribe Counsel wall (essentially a Facebook Wall function)
  • Members receive your new blog posts, RSS-to-Email style
  • Members share your new blog posts automatically to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends (soon LinkedIn will be added)
  • You can export member Emails (in development)

To experience what it means to be a member of an Atomic Tribe, I invite you to join mine for a while, take it for a spin, and if you like it, get one for yourself.

Do What Harley Does

Harley-Davidson motorcycles transcend the technology on which they’re built

  • To ride a Harley has deeper implications on who you are as a person than riding any other motorcycle.
  • To own a Harley is the first step in being admitted into an exclusive club.

And Harley-Davidson has accomplished this by creating opportunities for its customers to connect with one another. THAT is the one and only difference between H-D and other motorcycle manufacturers. And THAT is the only reason H-D is successful while others are struggling for market share.

Be like Harley. Facilitate connectivity and just get out the way.

 

Editor’s Note: To learn more about community from Dino, check out his session, “How to Build a Community of Fanatics” at NMX in Las Vegas this January. 

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