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February 2011

Why Advanced Attendees Can Benefit From Basic BlogWorld Sessions


Scott Stratten's Epic Opening Keynote at BlogWorld 2010 in Las Vegas

At BlogWorld, I’m considered kind of a buzzkill. You see, I make it my mission to help stock our conference with such great content that it keeps attendees from hallway networking. Now, that isn’t to say I have something against this type of networking. In fact, at other conferences you’ll probably catch me chatting up others in the corridors as well. But as Conference Director, I like to see more butts in the seats. When you’re the person tasked with creating the educational experience, the best compliment you can receive is to have empty-ish hallways during the sessions.

“I already know this stuff”

So at BlogWorld ’10, I asked attendees why they were standing out in the hallways instead of listening to the speakers. I mostly asked this question to famous bloggers or the folks with several years of experience. Many told me the only sessions they attend are those where their friends are speaking or if the keynote looks interesting. They also told me that they feel that the sessions are too basic. Too few “advanced” sessions was a common criticism on the surveys we sent to all of our attendees as well.

Thus, a new mission was born. The BlogWorld team and track leaders are now tasked with ensuring at least one advanced session per track.  However, that’s not what this post was about. This post is about why you should attend sessions that may be beneath your realm of expertise as well…and it’s all Becky McCray’s fault. On Twitter yesterday, Becky brought my attention to a comment on her blog by Carl Natale that said:

Pay attention to the questions that people ask – especially in the sessions.

These questions are insights into what your market needs. This is why I often attend sessions that cover subjects I’m very familiar with. I want to know what other people don’t know.

That information helps me choose what to write about and what services to offer. It’s market research.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

Basic Sessions Have Something to Offer Everyone

Here are some points to consider:

  • The people who are attending the basic sessions are there to learn. They’re possible blog topics, customers and clients. If you’re not in the room you won’t know who they are or why they’re there. If they’re asking questions, you have the ability to pinpoint their needs and follow up with them later.
  • By watching attendees you can learn of the topics that interest them the most. For example, watch the folks who have the gadgets out. At what times are they paying the most attention? When are they more focused on the gadgetry? Gauge the interest to figure out blog topics and educational needs.
  • Questions provide fodder for discussion later. Perhaps you’d like to network with someone but you’re shy or not sure how to approach that person. If he or she is asking questions after a presentation, you have a good starting point.
  • Perhaps the speaker didn’t touch on a very important point during his or her talk. This can be your opportunity to share your expertise. When it’s time to open the floor to the public, offer the audience another point of view. (Without being a know it all tool, please.) Now you’ve shared your expertise with others and you’re on their radar.
  • You may learn something new anyway. If the speaker truly knows his stuff, you’ll end up walking away with a new tip or point of view. Do you really know every tool, app and technique out there?

Even though a session may seem a little too basic, or you feel it covers a topic you already know, there are still benefits. You can walk away with new topics to write about or a new client. You might even have ideas for a presentation of your own.

What are some of the reasons you can think of to attend basic and intermediate sessions, when you’re an advanced attendee?

Srinivas Rao Talks About Podcasting for Bloggers


Srini Rao and I didn’t cross paths at BlogWorld 2010, but after the event, we found ourselves connecting on Twitter, since we had mutual friends. Along with Sid Savara, Srini runs BlogcastFM, which is a great site for new and experienced bloggers alike, since he posts podcast interviews with awesome people who are willing to share their blogging secrets to success. Srini was nice enough to let me pick his brain a little about podcasting, so if you’re thinking about adding a podcast to your blog, check out what he had to say:

Allison: How did you get started as a blogger?

Srini: Like most great things in life it was a fortunate accident. However, the story goes quite far back. In 2000 when I graduated from a college a friend of mine created a newsletter where people would send in contributions about what they were doing during the summer. I had a column called “summer of Srini” that actually became quite popular among my small group of friends. So that was really the start of it long before blogging even existed. In April 2009, I graduated from business schoool and couldn’t find a job. So I joined Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind program in the hopes that starting a blog would help me find a job and give me a project to keep from going nuts while I was unemployed.

What made you move from writing a blog to running a podcast about blogging? How did that evolve into a membership site?

This was yet another fortunate accident. One of the lessons in the Blog Mastermind program was to interview people. So I started a weekly series called interviews with up and coming bloggers. Roughly 13 weeks into the series one the guys I interviewed, Sid Savara actually pitched me on the idea of taking the podcast and putting it on a separate site where all we did was interview people. As far as the membership site goes, we pack our interviews with TONS of information, almost too much. We wanted to provide people with another way to digest the information, that made it easier to take action, especially when they might not always have time to listen to a 45 minute interview. People had been asking us for transcripts of the interviews, but that would more or less be the same thing our podcasts have just on paper, and we wanted to cut all the fluff. The membership site is still evolving and we’ve been doing a weekly u-stream chat and live webinar for the BlogcastFM community.

How do you find guests for your podcast?

In the beginning it was basically leveraging the relationships we had. Fortunately Sid Savara (my blogcastfm partner) was more established than I was and he had relationships with some well known bloggers. But that wasn’t the only way we found people. We looked the blogs we read. I look for two things in a guest: an interesting story and something they can teach our audience. For example, I interviewed Shannon and Kristin, from All of us Revolution. They were only a month old when I interviewed them, but I liked their story and I thought they could teach our audience something. Today, we actually are in an interesting position in that we actually get contacted at least a few times a week by people who are interested in being guests or have been long time listeners. But I am always on the look out for interesting guests. I also will occasionally put out a tweet asking for recommendations from people. I love it when a long time listener has become successful enough to become a guest and I’d like to think we played a role in that process.

What kind of prep work do you do before your interviews? Do you think it’s easier or harder to prepare for your podcast because it’s in interview format rather than talk show format?

This is an interesting one because it will probably shock some people. I’ve done this so many times at this point I can almost do it in my sleep. There are times when I have about 5 minutes to look at a person’s story and that’s it. That being said, I do take a look at the guests blog, try to find out what their most noteworthy accomplishments are, and read a few of their posts. I think the interview format actually makes it easier because I know what I need to ask in almost every interview and even though I have a structure it’s really loose and allows for things to flow.

Do you have any advice for bloggers who feel too shy to podcast?

This is a tough one. I wish I could say that they should just start. But there are some people who won’t naturally be good at things like this and I don’t recommend forcing square pegs into round holes. On the flip side of that, if it’s just nerves, then it’s about just taking the plunge. There’s no way you’re going to be perfect the first 50 times you do it. After 130 interviews, I’m always looking for ways to to improve. Sometimes I’m blown away by what I can get out of a guest and others I’m amazed that it doesn’t go as I’d like it to. One thing that helps is finding somebody to record it with.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see (or hear) other podcasters making?

As I mentioned above, listening is key. Another thing I would say is finding a subject matter that works. If you’re starting a podcast just for the sake of having a podcast and you’re not saying anything useful, that doesn’t help you or your audience. One thing that drives me nuts is when people treat interviews like interrogations. I tend to be fairly critical of interviews as you can imagine. If your goal is just to get through a list of questions, it just kills the flow of conversation. In order to make your podcast useful and entertaining the key is to let the conversation flow.

Is podcasting something all bloggers should be doing? How should bloggers decide whether or not to podcast?

I don’t think it’s something all blogggers should be doing. You really need to understand your audience and whether or not a podcast is right for them. Yes a podcast can do wonders for your personal brand, but if you’re awful at it, it’s going to actually hurt your brand. As far as deciding whether or not they should podcast, I think they need to figure out if they’ve got enough material to keep an audience’s attention for at least 30 minutes a week. Having material is really key.

For bloggers who are starting a new podcast, what’s the single best piece of advice you can give them?

I’d say to have fun with it. Podcasting is a blast for me because I get to talk to so many interesting people. It’s probably one of the greatest relationship building tools in my personal arsenal. I’ve made some amazing friends, found people to collaborate with and learned an absolutely insane amount of blogging knowledge because of having a podcast. People shouldn’t sweat the results of their podcast as much as they should on providing value to their audience. Once you start focusing on the creation of value really amazing things will start to happen.

Thanks for your great advice, Srini! Readers, make sure to check him out at The Skool of Life and BlogcastFM

BlogWorld & New Media Expo Is Moving To Los Angeles


We have been hinting at big news for weeks now and we are glad to finally be able to share it with you. BlogWorld & New Media Expo West will be held in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Convention Center this November 3 – 5 2011.

For those interested in the long version of why we decided to move to Los Angeles and leave Las Vegas you can read more at the bottom of this post. In short we love Mandalay Bay and Las Vegas. We never thought we would leave but the folks at MB just did not have the space we needed to hold the show there this year so we had to look at other options.

We had two cities on our short list; San Diego and Los Angeles. Being born and raised in Americas Finest City, San Diego was my first choice. We saw the two cities having different distinct advantages. San Diego is the city everyone wants to visit, the downtown area is amazing, the convention center is right on the bay and the weather is always perfect. Another positive for San Diego was that it was close to LA.

LA on the other hand is the center of the Music, TV, and Film industries in North America, has a population of more than 10 million people and the largest population of bloggers, podcasters and other new media content creators in the country. It was the obvious logical choice from a business perspective. We have always attracted new media savvy individuals from traditional music, film and tv but by being in Los Angeles (and New York) we are going to see that participation increase significantly. That means more opportunities for content creators.

The drawback to Los Angeles was quite honestly the downtown LA area. At least that was our perception. Boy were we wrong!

We were blown away by our first site visit to Los Angeles. I have attended numerous events at the LA Convention Center including NAMM, E3 and the LA Auto Show. Honestly I always thought the convention center was great but there was nothing to do once you left the building. That has changed drastically! Downtown Los Angeles is being revitalized. The multi-billion dollar L.A. Live entertainment complex is directly adjacent to the convention center. Several of the downtown hotels have just undergone multi million dollar renovations in order to compete with the new J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels (they are beautiful btw). There are tons of new restaurants, shopping, parks and just cool city stuff that you (at least I) had never imagined of when I thought of Los Angeles. Oh and don’t forget the food trucks.

To sum it up we think all of you are going to find more business opportunities than ever and those of you unfamiliar with Los Angeles are in for a real pleasant surprise.

We would love to hear what you think of the news and welcome any suggestions you might have about how we can make this our best event yet.

Now if you want to know more about what led to this huge decision, read on.

It really started due to logistics. The space at Mandalay Bay was absolutely perfect. The conference sessions and exhibit space were conveniently located side by side, the space was the perfect size and Mandalay Bay is an amazing property. We knew we would need more space in 2011 and that meant we had to move to a different area inside Mandalay Bay. At first our friends at MB told us they didn’t have any space for us but they worked hard to try and accommodate us. They were able to offer us some space eventually but the conference rooms were far removed from the exhibit area. We tried to come up with a creative solution that would make this work for our attendees and exhibitors but simply couldn’t figure out a way to make it work.  Of course we looked at other venues in Las Vegas first but we still couldn’t find a workable combination of dates and space. So that made us ask ourselves, if we can’t hold the event here, where would the next BlogWorld be?

Why not San Francisco?

We have discussed San Francisco several times and we love the city but in the end we think San Francisco has the perception of being a technology city and if we were to ever move there, we would have to fight the perception that we were a technology conference and we are not. BlogWorld’s primary focus is content.

Does Anonymous Blogging Make Sense?


Last week on Twitter, one of the awesome bloggers I follow, Annabel Candy, asked an interesting question:

@GetintheHotSpot: Why do some bloggers want to be anonymous?

I felt strongly enough about the subject to answer, but as usual, I find it hard to say everything I have to say in just 140 characters, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it!

The Ugly Side of Anonymous

I did want to mention, before I start, that I think there is an ugly side to anonymous blogging. I’ve seen people use a persona or remain anonymous in order to trick the reader or attack someone with no consequences, and that is never a good thing. In fact, I’m working on a follow-up post about the ethics behind using a persona online, but that’s a debate for another day. In this post, I just want to talk about being anonymous from a pure business standpoint, as well as from a personal needs standpoint.

What Would Possess Someone to Blog Anonymously?

I’m sure Annabel received a number of answers to the initial question she posed, because I can think of a number of reasons why someone might want to stay anonymous or use a persona of some sort. There include:

  • If the topic is risque or controversial in some way, it could cause you to lose a job or lose followers at a different blog.
  • Journaling can be good for the soul, but you don’t always want people you know in real life to know your innermost thoughts.
  • An anonymous online diary can help you get feedback when you have a problem while protecting the identities of others involved who may not want their personal drama spewed all over the web.
  • Blogging anonymously can help you separate a new blog from another unrelated blog you write or used to write, so readers don’t get confused.
  • If you’ve made mistakes in the past in some way, blogging anonymously helps you have a fresh start among your peers.
  • It can be a confidence boost to not have to put your name to something you write, which is perfect for shy bloggers.
  • Blogging anonymously can provide a sense of mystery, something that could work for some niches.
  • If you blog anonymously, you have more control over identity protection, which is important for some people.
  • Bloggers who are well known celebrities (both Hollywood style and e-celebrities in their field) can avoid Internet trolls who are only there to be a pain, not to read the content.
  • If you have a number of blogs set up for affiliate sales purposes alone, it could be better to write posts anonymously rather than confuse people who search your name and see that you have tons of sites promoting everything from video games to diapers.

I’m sure you might be able to come up with some more reasons. Suffice to say, there are some really good reasons to consider blogging anonymously. But does it make sense?

True Anonymous Blogger versus A Persona

When I say “anonymous,” there are actually two different kinds of bloggers that I believe fall into this category. First, you have the truly anonymous folks, people who upload posts as “admin” or under a generic name like “Bob” with no author profile whatsoever. But there’s also another type of anonymous – the blogger who uses a persona. Writing under a pen name, this kind of blogger is anonymous in the respect that they don’t make their true identity public, but they do have a personality on their site, and that personality can be branded just like your real name/image can be branded.

The problem is “admin” is that you can’t really connect with readers. When you don’t have a personality, it’s hard to build your traffic. Sure, you can rely on search engine traffic, but for most bloggers, that’s not going to work (the exception is a blog set up purely for affiliate purposes, where you don’t really care about repeat traffic). As soon as you start injecting some personality into your blog, you begin creating a persona. So in my mind, it makes sense to at least give yourself a name and bio. Essentially, run your blog as though you were using your own name,

But Does It Work?

The proof is always in the puddin’. If you want to run an anonymous blog just for the sake of having somewhere to write, go for it. But can you actually make money this way?

Yes. Yes, you can.

A little-known fact about me is that I actually have a blog where I write anonymously. I use a pen name (rather than blogging under “admin”), and have been writing there since 2007. And it does fairly well. I started the blog without any plans to monetize (I’ve actually turned down ads), but even with little to no effort, the blog makes about $200 per month, plus I get about $1000 in review products for the blog every year. Is that going to pay my rent? Nope. But that’s with no effort. Recently, I decided that it was time to really consider making money for this blog, so I put a plan into motion to turn this anonymous blog into a business. Will it be able to pay my rent then? Time will tell, but I think so.

And here’s the kicker – this past month, a publishing house approached me, asking me to submit something for them to consider. Fully knowing that my name isn’t actually what I say it is on the site (I’m very upfront about the fact that it’s a persona), they’re interested in publishing a book written by me. (/proud bragging)

Will my true identity be revealed someday? Maybe. A few people do know my site and pen name, and someone who really knew what they were doing might be able to figure it out, since I’m not the most technologically-savvy person. I think that’s something you have to be at peace with if you want to have an anonymous blog. If you’re afraid that you’ll be “found out,” you probably shouldn’t be blogging anonymously. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

The point is, I honestly believe that an anonymous blog can make just as much money as any other blog out there if you have a good idea. Anonymous blogging isn’t for everyone, but this isn’t something you should discount on the basis that some people don’t think it will work. If you think it might be a good idea for your niche, try it. Only you can determine whether or not it is the right thing for your blog.

You’re Branding Yourself As An Expert – Get Used To It


… by Britt Reints

I’m not certain whether or not there is any such thing as a “social media expert”, but I do know that branding yourself as an expert is an important step towards success within your niche. People listen to experts, subscribe to their blogs, join in their conversations, share their material, purchase their products and invite them to speak at industry events. Unfortunately, many niche bloggers fail to position themselves properly because they struggle with seeing themselves as an expert on anything.

Perhaps you think it’s rude or arrogant to act like an expert. Maybe you don’t feel you are qualified for the title because you don’t know everything. Or maybe you’re afraid of how others will react to you if you dare to put yourself out there as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Whatever your reason for resisting the expert label, it’s time to get over it.

Step One – Realize You Are An Expert

You’re blogging in your niche because you feel like you have something worth saying, something that hasn’t already been said that you think needs to be heard. Chances are, that’s because you’re an expert. An expert doesn’t have to know everything, you only have to have a special skill or knowledge in some particular field. Isn’t that why you chose your niche in the first place?

Positioning yourself as an authority means acknowledging that you pay more attention to a specific topic than the average person. As a result of that interest and the time you’ve invested, you know more about that specific topic than the average reader.

People with a casual interest in a subject read niche blogs. People with a special skill or knowledge in a subject decide to write niche blogs.

If you really can’t convince yourself that you have some level of expertise about your subject matter, it may be time to choose a new subject matter – or start doing your homework.

Step 2 – Accept That Some People Will Be Annoyed, But Most Won’t

The sad truth is that there are some people in this world who absolutely love to see others fail. The more spectacular the failure, the more enjoyment these people get from it. It’s sad and it’s pathetic, but it has nothing to do with you. Those people will always be rooting for someone to fail at something, no matter how you branded yourself. The only way to avoid these people completely is to make yourself invisible in the world, and that is no way to live.

The good news is, these people are rare.

Most people have their hands full making the most of their own lives. Most people aren’t that much different than you. They to listen to people who can add value to their busy lives, people who can help them in some way. They are attracted to people who exude confidence and seem to know what they’re talking about. They don’t expect anyone to know everything or be perfect all the time. They appreciate humanity, honesty, and good intentions.

Step 3 – Show, Don’t Tell

Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you are an expert and no one is going to hate you for it, the final step is to act like an expert. Doing this with humility will attract rather than repel an audience.

The key is to act like an expert in your niche rather than talk about what an expert you are.

  • Give specific examples of your work instead of listing labels and titles on your about page and in your bios.
  • Associate with people outside of your niche, answering questions about your subject when they come up organically.
  • Participate in discussions within your niche, making an effort to learn from and share what others have to say.
  • Practice what you teach – be a living example of your message.
  • Show your weaknesses when necessary – imperfection can add depth and credibility.

As with most endeavors, the key to niche blogging success is to learn to get out of our own way. That means getting over your fear of branding yourself as an expert so that your audience can begin to take you seriously.

Britt Reints is a professional blogger specializing in SEO content that doesn’t suck to read and travel blogging. On her personal blog, she writes about happiness and personal development. She is also the expert of world domination known as @missbritt on Twitter.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Blogging is Hard (@griner)


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 (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This Week’s Theme: Blogs versus Facebook Pages for Businesses

I love the fact that this week’s #blogchat wasn’t purely for established bloggers – it was for small business owners as well. The topic, in my opinion, lent itself well to some awesome debate, since you could make a case for blogging or for using just Facebook – or for the need to do both as a small business. This week, @griner (David Griner) was the co-host, so I wanted to highlight something interesting her said:

griner: Bloggers need a reality check: What they do is hard. And doing it in corp. bureaucracy is far harder.

Most of the people participating in #blogchat are bloggers, so a lot of the advice being thrown out there was stuff about how you need both Facebook and a blog to succeed, how you can leverage one to increase the popularity of another, and so forth. But let’s not forget that the vast majority of pages on Facebook aren’t for blogs are all. They’re for brands.

And, at least in my opinion, not every brand needs a blog. What David says makes a lot of sense – blogging is super hard. It takes a lot of time, and for a business, that time might be better spent on another promotional tool. I love blogging. I really do. But your business might not need one.

Here’s the thing – if you own a small business, what would your goals be with a blog? There are some corporate blogs that are awesome. They give updates on the company, they teach their consumers something relating to the niche, or they otherwise give the business a unique way to interact. There are some really bad corporate blogs, too. They are updating infrequently because there is little to announce, they serve mainly as a promotional tool without giving away any value, and they are otherwise uninteresting. Sometimes, blogs can hurt your brand.

Facebook, on the other hand, gives you a way to make quick announcements and interact with your fanbase without having to commit to writing blog posts regularly and do all the promotional work that comes along with building blog traffic. For example, let’s say you run a small photography studio. Sure, you could start a blog that gives photography tips or makes camera recommendations, but is that kind of thing really going to bring you more business? Probably not, especially since you have a local customer pool. On the other hand, if you have a Facebook page, you could use that page to post pictures, announce upcoming specials, highlight special services you might have, and more. As fans like your stuff and interact with you on Facebook, their friends will see that activity and could decide to check you out, and there’s a higher chance that these new people coming to your page will be local. That could very easily spiral outward to bring in new business.

Of course, if you want to start a photography blog because you have interesting ideas you want to share with the world or want to run an online business through your blog, go for it! I’m not trying to suggest that small businesses shouldn’t have blogs. It can definitely work in some cases.

Just don’t feel forced into it. Sometimes, social media is really the best route to help promote your products or services.

BlogWorld East: FAQ’s (So far)


The feedback we’re receiving regarding our BlogWorld East announcement is 99.9% favorable. However, we’re hearing a few concerns, and they’re all valid. I thought it might be a good idea to address some of the questions and concerns via a blog post as the inbox is getting a bit full. If you have more questions feel free to ask in the comments or we’ll do another post. Here are some of the FAQ’s so far:

Why a BlogWorld East?

There are several reasons for this, but the most important reason is that there are so many people on the East Coast who just can’t attend our yearly “West” event. It’s either cost prohibitive or the travel is an issue. Many hopeful attendees have expressed how great it would be to have a large social media conference in the East and we’re finally able to bring this to them.

The East Coast will bring in a whole new community of attendees, exhibitors and speakers. We’re offering a chance to network with new media professionals from a whole other corner of the country, which means a slew of new opportunities.

Why the co-location with Book Expo?

If you don’t mind, I’d like to quote our fearless leader, Rick Calvert:

Two year’s ago at BlogWorld Leo Laporte said during his talk “We are not new media anymore. Now we are just THE MEDIA”. While we all believe that to be true, many in the traditional media are not convinced yet. Since our inception we have had a couple of Big Hairy Audacious Goals. One of them is to foster and accelerate the convergence of traditional and new media.  We can’t think of a single better opportunity to help us accomplish that goal. New York City is the center of the traditional media universe. For four days Book Expo America is the center of the traditional publishing universe.  By locating BlogWorld and Book Expo side by side we are bringing the best and brightest from both communities together for the first time anywhere.

Will we be able to attend both BlogWorld and Book Expo?

Yes, Book Expo attendees will be able to visit BlogWorld’s tradeshow, but the conference pass is separate. BlogWorld pass holders will receive complimentary access to Book Expo. As always, there will be a variety of packages available.

I worry that by creating two separate conferences, we’re splitting the networking opportunities.

We think BlogWorld East will create new and entirely different opportunities. While there are sure to be attendees who will choose to pick East over West (or vice versa), we created BlogWorld East for East Coasters who normally wouldn’t be able to attend our annual fall BlogWorld event. So we’re not splitting the awesome, we’re adding to it and giving those who wouldn’t have been able to otherwise make it a chance to attend.

This is bad news for exhibitors because they can’t come to both events and you’re going to be losing money.

Again, we don’t see it that way. We understand budgets and know that most can’t attend two events, but we think we’re creating new opportunities. Eastern companies might not have had it in their budgets to fly a team West to exhibit at BlogWorld. Now, businesses in New York and vicinity don’t have to deal with airfare, hotel, and per diems. We don’t see BlogWorlds East and West as split events, but rather two entirely different and mutually beneficial events.

Is there a difference between “East” and “West?”

In addition to there being more Eastern based attendees and exhibitors, we hope to have a stronger focus on media, journalism and publishing. That isn’t to say we won’t cover topics such as monetization, content creation, and nichier blog topics, but as New York is the media capital of the world, we do hope to appeal to this community. We will still have the Social Media Business Summit and the same quality educational content you’re used to attending at BlogWorld.

How do I speak at BlogWorld?

We’ll have the speaker proposal form up in another week or so, which is more organized for us – and you. However, if you can’t wait or have any questions – for BlogWorld East only – you can submit your proposal to me via email at deb@blogworldexpo.com. I don’t have an official cut off date at the moment, but will make the announcement when we have a full schedule of speakers.

Can I specify that only want to speak at East or West?

Absolutely. In fact, as NJ resident, I would love to see the East Coast well represented in New York City. So if you are a speaker based in the area and have some good ideas, we really want to hear from you. (But you’re welcome to speak no matter where you’re based!)

Can I speak at both?

Sure, why not?

When can we register?

Soon, we’re getting our registration organized and will have a variety of registration packages for you to choose from very soon.

Can you recommend a hotel?

We will also have hotel information up very soon.

There are only a few months before BlogWorld East. Why did you take your time in making this announcement.

Believe us when we tell you we wanted to get this news out months ago. There were legalities to iron out and that is what took the most time. We will be much better prepared and will break the news well in advance next year.

Any more questions?

Feel free to post in the comments or bring the to our Facebook page, or the BlogWorld (Rick Calvert) or BlogWorldExpo (Deb Ng)  Twitter accounts.

Please remember that your feedback is vital to our success. No question is “silly” and even constructive criticism is welcome.  Now, stay tuned to all our channels for another major, surprising bit of new on Tuesday.

– Deb Ng
Conference Director
BlogWorld & New Media Expo

Klout 101: What the Heck Is It and Why Should I Care?


This coming week, our Brilliant Bloggers series here at BlogWorld Expo will focus on Klout. I’m not a Klout expert – and that’s actually a huge understatement. Until starting research for Brilliant Bloggers, I didn’t even really know what Klout was. I checked my score occasionally and though, “Oh, that’s nice…” but I didn’t understand what it really was, and I certainly didn’t know what I should care.

For those of you who are in the same boat, let’s go over some Klout 101 information – and stop back on Thursday for advice and advanced tips on how to use Klout to be a better blogger or social media professional!

Klout was founded by Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran and launched in 2009. The service measures how influential you are in social media by looking at certain Twitter metrics. In late 2010, they also introduced Facebook metrics to give a more comprehensive look at a person’s social media influence.

What’s so great about Klout is that it isn’t a clinical look at follower numbers and how often you Tweet. The metrics really study how you interact with others – and how they interact with you in return. They look at over 35 different statistics to give you a score of between 1 and 100 in three categories: True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.

  • True Reach: the size of your audience – not just raw numbers, but how many active people are listening to what you say
  • Amplification Probability: how likely your audience is to care enough about your tweets/updates to reply, retweet, like, etc.
  • Network Score: the Klout scores of the people in your network

All of this is combined to create an overall Klout score. Some of the specific things Klout measures include:

  • How often your follows are reciprocated
  • How many degrees of separation you are able to put between yourself and your content (i.e., is it retweeted by friends of friends of friends?)
  • How often people mention  you
  • The diversity of the people in your network
  • How often you tweet
  • How influential are the people who mention you
  • What lists you are on

Like I said, there are over 35 metrics analyzed, so this is just a sampling of how Klout compiles information to give you a score.

Why should you care?

Klout can actually give you a good look at what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong when it comes to social media. They actually give you a pretty great report along with your score, so you can understand where you fall short. I don’t think you should go to extreme measures to change how you interact with people, but it can give you some things to think about. For example, maybe looking at your Klout score might make you realize that you’re following a lot of dead accounts and should purge or it might make you realize that you’re being a bit snobby and only interacting with a small circle of people.

Klout is just one tool to help you learn to be better when it comes to social media. Make sure to stop back on Thursday for some awesome advice about the topic from bloggers around the world.

In Defense of Stat Tracking


I have a confession: I check my stats every day. In fact, sometimes, I check my state multiple times a day. I track my ebook sales, my traffic, my mailing list subscribers, my RSS subscribers, and my affiliate sales. I track how many people come to my site via search engines and how many subscribers click on links in my emails. I track which subscription methods work better. I track whether I get more clicks when I tweet something in the morning versus at night. I love stats and I track them almost to obsessive lengths sometimes.

Yet, so many bloggers advocate focusing on content and forgetting about stats, which I can understand, at least to some extent. I know bloggers who say that they rarely look at stats, checking their numbers a few times a month, if that. I can’t even imagine. But it can be problematic if you spend all your time tracking stats and less time writing great content. As a new blogger, it’s also easy to get discouraged if your stats are pathetic at first, even if the logical side of you knows that everyone starts at zero. So it makes sense that some people advocate ignoring stats.

Today, though, I’d like to make the case for stats tracking. I think that someone needs to defend the practice – and I’d like to explain, at least from my perspective, why it’s worthwhile.

And what I’m going to say might surprise you, because this has nothing to do with all of the practical reasons you should track your stats.

A few weeks ago, David Risley wrote a post called “What The Blog Statistics You Track Say About You…” I thought that he made a lot of really good points in this post – if you’re blogging for bucks, there are certain stats that make sense to track while others don’t matter.

Or do they?

First, let me address some of the excellent advice David gives readers in his post. It makes sense that you’d track stats directly related to your income. It’s responsible, as a business owner, to know what’s working and what is not. As you create goals, you can more easily take actionable steps, and that can translate into dollars in your pocket. Who doesn’t love that?

But sometimes, I think we take a too cynical approach to stats. Cynical is perhaps too harsh of a word. Practical. We take a too practical approach to stats.

Or, at least, we only take a practical approach to stats.

Think about why you got into blogging in the first place, though. Blogging is about soul as much as it is about business. Talk to any a-list blogger out there and they’ll tell you that the reason they do what they do is because they love blogging. The money is just a side benefit. Most bloggers blogged long before they ever made a cent, and most bloggers would keep blogging, at least as time allows, if it wasn’t possible to make money online. If you are blogging only for the money, you’re doing it wrong…because frankly, there are about seven thousand easier jobs you could do and feel equally “meh” about to make money. It’s not like this is an easy career path. Blogging is a job, but it is a job we love.

It’s easy to lose site of that sometimes.

So today, my defense of stat tracking is this: track your stats so you can remember why you do this.

Even the impractical stats, the ones that David mentions as being unimportant to your business, are important to your soul as a blogger. If you get 500 retweets on your post, that might not translate to a single ebook sale…but woah. That means you wrote something that affected FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE enough that they felt the need to go share it. That’s pretty damn cool. Your RSS subscriptions might not mean anything in terms of sales, but if you have 10,000 subscribers, that’s TEN THOUSAND people who are so interested in what you have to say that they don’t want to miss a single word. That’s pretty damn cool too.

It’s especially important as a new blogger. Your numbers might be smaller, but where were you yesterday? Yesterday, your spouse may have patiently listened to you rant about something important to you, but today, fifty people visited your site and read the post you made about the topic. Those are fifty lives you have potentially changed. Blogging is such a unique avenue to affect people from around the world. Money is nice, but to me, that is much better.

So go ahead and check your stats today without guilt, even if it doesn’t cause you to change a single thing about how you run your blog. Celebrate the fact that you’re reaching more and more people every day and enjoy finding your place in the world with your blog. Even if your blog is your primary source of income, it doesn’t have to be all business all the time.

Book Review & Giveaway: Tell to Win


In Tell to Win, executive and entrepreneur Peter Guber shows how to move beyond slides, facts, and figures to create purposeful stories that can motivate, win over, shape, engage, and sell. But don’t just take Peter’s word for it! He provides a diverse number of “Voices” and their experiences as concrete examples and methodologies you can employ. These Voices include:

  • YouTube CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley
  • Film director Steven Spielberg
  • Editor in chief of Wired Chris Anderson
  • Demand Media CEO & co-founder Richard Rosenblatt
  • Former President BIll Clinton
  • Founder of Warner Bros. Jack Warner
  • News Journalist Anderson Cooper
  • And dozens more …

Audience: Large Businesses, Small Businesses, Individuals – Anyone interested in telling and selling their story.
Tone: Conversational with stories and humor throughout. Case in point, Chapter 1 Title: “It’s the Story, Stupid
Takeaways: Each chapter ends with aHHa bullet points and takeaways, so you can begin implementing these strategies today!

An excerpt from the book:

The hardest truth in the art of the tell is a simple human fact: You cannot control other people … All you can control is your preparation, setting, and telling. What your listener does in response will depend on a multitude of factors, which may have nothing to do with you. However, the more your audience feels as if they own your story, the more likely they are to act on it. So once you’ve told your story, you need to intentionally surrender control of it to them.

It may help, instead of thinking about a story as “yours” or “mine,” to consider it as “ours.”

As an author of fiction, a lot of Tell to Win resonated with me because authors are told over and over again to “Show, Don’t Tell” (SDT). Guber uses his Voices to display various stories and showcase real examples of how you can connect with your audience in a powerful, meaningful way. He even refers to using metaphors to illuminate your story – and choosing a hero to fit your goal – both being items I use in my writing.

I see this book as an important tool in a variety of aspect … giving voice to your blog, providing story ideas, helping to pitch your product or business, engaging an audience as a speaker, and more. Definitely pick one up when it comes out in March, or you can even win a copy here! Here are the rules:

  • Leave a comment below, saying what you’d hope to learn from the book, to receive one entry.
  • Tweet about the contest for a second entry.
  • Entries must be received by midnight PST February 25th to be considered.

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