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February 2012

Is New Media Making Communication Too Casual?


Earlier today, I saw a tweet from one of my friends to his wife. It simply said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart!” Part of me smiled and felt those warm fuzzies. The other part of me…well…cringed.

Now, since this duo lives together, I can only assume that he said Valentine’s Day to her in person as well, but what if this isn’t the case? Let’s say I don’t love with my significant other – is a Valentine’s Day tweet “enough”? Is a text better? Is an email better? Is a voice mail better? If they all say the same thing – Happy Valentine’s Day – why is one way of communication better than the other?

Helllo, Hello

Let’s switch gears for a moment (I swear we’ll circle back around to the Valentine’s Day tweet at the end), and talk about the last few emails you’ve sent and received. The new media world has created this weird ability to “get to know” someone without ever interacting with them, the same way we’d “get to know” a movie star or other type of celebrity. So, when emailing someone for the first time, it’s always a little awkward.

I get emails all the time that start off with “Hi Allison…” – and not from people I know. From people I’ve never met who have a question or comment. It’s a little awkward when someone is pitching me. Part of me thinks, What the heck? You people don’t know me. What ever happened to Ms. Boyer?

And yet, when I do get emails that call me Ms. Boyer, they feel way to stuffy and part of me things, What the heck? You people couldn’t even do enough research to find out my first name is Allison?

I’m a hard girl to please.

Things are even worse when I have to send an email to someone I don’t know personally, especially when I’ve been reading their blog for years. Do I go with Mr./Mrs./Ms.? Do I use a first name? Should I go with the first-last combo? Oh god, should I even be emailing this person at all?

And there there’s the situation to consider. What if I’m applying for a job? What if I’m a lot older than the other person? What if I’m a lot younger than the other person? What if I know they read my blog or we follow one another on Twitter, but we’ve never actually spoken?

And what if I’m calling instead? Do I ask for the person by first name?

Please tell me that I’m not alone in having a slight panic attack over communicating with people I haven’t met yet.

100 years ago when sending a letter to someone – heck, even 20 years ago – we would have never thought twice about this. No one sent letters to people they didn’t know without using the proper, formal salutation.

I Feel Like I Already Know You!

The reason the email salutation thing is even an issue at all is before new media makes it really easy to get to know everything about a person’s life without ever actually speaking to one another. People make an astonishing amount of information about themselves public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone at a conference or event for the first time and they say, “I feel like I already know you!” And I’m not immune to it – I feel like there are people online that I know pretty intimately, yet they probably don’t even know I exist.

It’s a little creepy, right? It’s also a little sad. We’re substituting actually forming relationship with just reading about a person’s life.

On the other hand, it’s also kind of cool. We’re able to meet people we otherwise would have never gotten to meet without social media and blogs. Some of my best friends are people I’ve met online. That’s pretty awesome.

The problem comes when you forget that people show only the best version of themselves online. I talked a little about this earlier together when I talked about online dating. When you meet someone in person and really get to know them (not just read their blog), the result isn’t always what you were expecting.

New Communication isn’t Bad Communication

It’s human nature to be scare of things that are new. But new media is also very exciting. We have all these new, fast ways of connecting with people that we didn’t have before. A tweet (or Facebook wall message or whatever) doesn’t have to be better or worse than any other form of communication. It’s all about the how and why.

Are you using Facebook to break up with someone because it’s too upsetting to do it in person? Fail. Are you using Facebook to invite someone to your party because it’s the best way to contact lots of people at once and allow them to RSVP? Win.

New media becomes a communication problem when we’re using it to avoid other forms of communication, but these tools can be awesome too.

Too Casual?

So the real question here, the one I asked in the title of this post, is this: is new media making us too casual with one another? And my personal answer to this question is both yes and no.

Yes, because it makes it easy to forget that someone real is behind that avatar. It makes us lazily tweet Happy Valentine’s Day when we should connect with that person in real life, broadcast “Happy Holidays” messages when we should write individual cards (or at least individual emails), and endorse people we “know” without taking the time to learn more about what they’re really like behind the persona they present online.

No, because new media allows us to connect in entirely new ways with more people than would ever be possible without online resources. We can send messages faster, make declarations of love public, and allow lots of people to get to know us via our blogs and profiles.

What do you think? Are new media tools making too casual with communication?

Love in the Time of Social Media


I have a confession to make: I’m an online dater.

There. I said it. For some reason, dating online still has a stigma about it. For some reason, it’s still perceived as a weird or creepy way to meet other people but going out to a club and  grinding with strangers while sipping $12 beers is perfectly okay.

But I digress.

The real reason I wanted to talk about this topic today is not so I can defend online dating, but rather so I can talk about how social media, blogs, video content, podcasts, and other online media are creating this brave new world of dating. And while it isn’t always pretty, it is definitely interesting.

What better topic to open for discussion on Valentine’s Day?

We talk a lot about “controlling the message” about ourselves online in a professional way…but the online world is becoming increasingly personal as well.

Online Dating: Be the Person You Want to Be

At BlogWorld 2010, one of the pieces of advice that stuck with me was from Copyblogger’s Brian Clark who said in response to a question about authenticity (and I’m paraphrasing), “Be the best you possible.” Online, we have the ability to mold our brand, to show the pieces of us that make sense for our audience and hide the “nasty bits” as Lisa Barone called them at BlogWorld LA 2011. It doesn’t make you a less authentic blogger or a dishonest blogger to pick and choose the pieces of yourself you feel comfortable revealing.

But I wonder, sometimes, if this mentality is spilling over into the online dating world…and not in a good way.

When you first meet someone, it takes a while to get to know one another. I’m not going to divulge all of my secrets on a first date, share my embarrassing stories until forced to do so by a trip to introduce you to the parents, or blurt out my bad habits in hopes that my honesty will make you swoon. No, I’m going to present the best possible version of Allison.

Online, though, it’s much easier to hide the bad things about yourself, and even someone with the best BS radar in the world can be fooled with a well written profile and a ten-year-old picture showing a full head of hair and wearing pants that haven’t fit in years. We’re crafting stories about ourselves that aren’t telling the whole truth, and it makes it much harder to have successful face-to-face first dates. I should know. I’ve never once had a bad time on a date with someone I met for the first time in a public setting. I’ve had some hilariously bad dates with people I’ve met online, simply because they put too much spin on the profile they presented.

Are our everyday online existences teaching us to be more guarded with the information we share in a potential romantic or even friendship situation? Maybe. It’s hard to say, “Here I am, World! Take me or leave me!” when it is so easy and even second nature to hide the things about ourselves that we don’t like.

The Online Mirror

Yet, the ability to hid aspects of ourselves online can also help us reflect upon ourselves in profound ways. Online dating has changed the way I think about the content I publish. When I’m blogging, tweeting, etc. I have less of a filter because if you don’t like my content, it doesn’t really feel like a personal rejection. It’s just business. But when someone doesn’t like my online dating profile? Well, that’s a harder hit. Deep down, we all want to be liked.

So it’s been an interesting experiment for me, creating online dating profiles. Without thinking about it, there are things I naturally hid about myself in order to present what I thought was the best possible me to potential dates. It created a clearer mirror about the qualities I have that I need to work on in all aspects of my online life. Why should I subject my readers to *insert quality here* when I’m not willing to talk about those qualities on an online dating profile?

A good example: I’m not afraid to curse on my blog or even my social media accounts. However, on a popular dating website (OKCupid), I was filling out some of their survey questions and it asked “How often do you curse?” Although “like a sailor” was probably the most honest answer, there was no way that was the type of impression I wanted to give off to people visiting my profile! While I still do curse when I feel like a strong word is needed, I realized that having an unnecessary potty mouth was not the type of person I wanted to be online. So I’m working to break myself of this habit.

The New Stalker

I think the most curious and interesting part of online dating, however, is that it has created a whole new class of stalkers. At one time, creepy stalkers sat outside your house in a car, watching your every move. Today, stalkers sit on Google, watching your every move. And it’s not only creeps who participate. I’ve definitely googled someone before a first date. It’s not about being creepy. It’s about being curious and having a wealth of information at my fingertips, if only I have the courage to take a peek.

What happens when you google your name? What about when you google any screen names you use? You might not like the information that pops up about you, especially if you not only date online, but also work online like I do. Someone interesting in a date with you is going to make a mental snapshot in his/her mind based on the content you’re putting out there (or things other people are saying about you). Do you control this message?

Friend Me!

IN closing, let me share a somewhat embarrassing story about myself when on an Atlantic City trip about a year ago. We were there for one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties, so I’m not ashamed to say I had more than a few drinks. Someone I met at the last bar we visited had bought me a few drinks. As we were leaving he tried to get my number, but I wasn’t really interested in giving it to him (not my style). Still, he had been very nice to me, and I always feel bad rejecting people, so my response to his insistence as I walked out the door was, “Are you on  Facebook? Friend me!”

Nevermind that he was probably too drunk to even remember my first name (and I certainly hadn’t given him my last night or even told him where I was from). For some reason, my rum-filled mind went directly to social media. I remember thinking that if he really wanted to get to know me, not just call me later in the hopes that I’d come to his hotel room, he’d friend me on Facebook. Needless to say, my friends cracked up at me telling him to friend me on Facebook rather than giving him my number.

The point to my story, and to this entire post really, is that we’re all content creators, and not just in a professional way, and more and more, people are going to look at the “profile” you’ve created for yourself online. Whether you run an online business or not, your presence on social media and other online properties is going to seep into your personal life. What information is out there about you? Would you want to date yourself?

How to Lose a Reader in Ten Seconds


I’ll admit it. I can be a completely girl-girl sometimes. I like dressing up and doing my hair. I like a good shopping trip, especially if shoes or purses are involved. And yes, I like the occasional chick flick. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is one of my favorites.

In the movie, the main character writes for a women’s magazine decides to write an article about everything women do wrong when trying to snag a boyfriend. Of course, hilarity ensues when she puts her theories to the test and tries to drive a new guy away (who has unbeknownst to her recently made a bet that he can make a relationship work).

Sometimes, I feel like we’re all like the women in the movie – we’re actively trying to drive readers away. Forget ten days…if you’re not careful, you will lose readers in ten seconds.

Goodbye, readers...

We’ve been talking a lot about bounce rate here at BlogWorld recently, including compiling a list of links about bounce rate. One of the points several bloggers have made is that bounce rate is more significant if readers are only staying on the site for a few seconds (as opposed to remaining on your site for several minutes, taking the time to read a post). So what are you doing wrong? Well, I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but here are a few things that will make me leave a blog in under ten seconds:

  • Being smacked across the face with a pop-up

The great pop-up debate will likely rage on for decades to come. I’m currently not using them on my site, but I do understand why some people do. Whether you use pop-ups or not isn’t the point though – it’s about how you use them, if you make that choice.

If you smack me with a pop-up two seconds after arriving on your site, I’m probably going to click the back button pretty quickly. It definitely makes me trust your content less, since it seems like you’re just trying to sell me something, so even if I do get through the pop-up, I might click the back button pretty quickly unless your content is amazing. If you’re going to use pop-ups give me some time to like your blog first. Time your pop-ups well!

  • Content that doesn’t match the promise

Your regular readers aren’t going anywhere. They already love you. But to convince new readers to stay, you have to have great content. This goes beyond simply writing valuable content. You have to right valuable content that people want.

If I’m new to your blog, I’ve probably arrived there one of two ways – through a link or through a search engine. I click a link when the title looks interesting, and I visit via a search engine when your content looks like it might match with what I want to know. If I get to your blog and the content doesn’t meet my expectations, I’m going to leave. So:

  1. Make sure your content delivers on what your headline promises. Link bait is fine, but the content has to actually be good if you want people to stay on your site. (More on that here.)
  2. Look at the search terms people are using to find your blog. Are your posts actually covering the most popular terms or are some of your posts accidentally optimized for random keywords? (A good example: I once wrote a post called The Blog Sneetches, and sometimes people arrive at that post using the search term “sneetches” – which is probably not what they want!)

When I’m looking for specific information and I don’t get it, I’m going to leave pretty quickly.

  • You regurgitate content I’ve already read.

It’s important to write posts that are helpful for beginners in your niche, but if you’re basically rewriting what’s already been said, an reader with experience in your niche is going to leave pretty quickly. Personally, I think the best way to solve this problem is make sure you have some posts specifically for newbies (and named as such, like the beginner’s guide to bloggers basics I wrote) and some posts that answer specific questions (again, clearly titled), but then also write posts that are filled with original opinions, thoughts on news stories in your industry, personal experiences, and other things that your readers can’t find at any other site. The more original you are, the better.

I think a lot of the other things that make me leave quickly are more personal preferences than anything else. For example, I don’t like to see posts written by “admin.” What about you – what will make you leave a site quickly?

30 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Bounce Rate


Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, 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: Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is that pesky statistic that tells you how many people click through to other pages on your blog after reading whatever page they landed on in the first place. Earlier this month, I wrote a bit about why bounce rate is important. Today, I wanted to take a moment to link to tons of other bloggers talking about the same topic, including many with tips on how to improve your bounce rate.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

How to Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate by Matt Quinn

If you’ve interested in keeping people on your site longer, this post by Matt at Inc.com is a great place to start. Matt gives quite a few tips in this post, from Caleb Whitmore, CEO of Analytics Pros, but the best part of this post is that each tip ends with a “dig deeper” link – another post on the site where you can find more about making the specific tip work for you, whether you’re changing your design or improving load times.

From the post:

A site’s bounce rate is easy to track with tools like Google Analytics. Such tools can show you the bounce rates on different pages of your website, how the user came to your site (organic search, paid search, banner ad, etc.), how the bounce rate has changed over time, and other data so you can really dig into where you might have a leak.

As a rule of thumb, a 50 percent bounce rate is average. If you surpass 60 percent, you should be concerned. If you’re in excess of 80 percent, you’ve got a major problem.

After checking out the entire post, you can find Matt on Twitter @mattquinn16, and he also is a contributor to Wall Street Journal’s corporate finance blog.

The Bounce Rate Myth by Rick Allen

Most bloggers I’ve linked to in this post agree that bounce rate is important, but I think that Rick makes from really good points in this post. When it comes to metrics, nothing is truly black and white, so it’s important to understand your bounce rate and why it might be high (or low). In this post, Rick talks about how you can examine your stats more closely to really understand what’s happening on your site. This is a must-read post – don’t just blindly start to make changes on your site because another blogger says it’s a good idea! Writes Rick,

Analysts typically use bounce rate as a measure of poor quality content — or as an expression of dissatisfaction with your site. But bounce rate has a lot more to say than simply “your website stinks.” In fact, it might even say something good!

As with all web metrics, we need context to provide meaningful insights. Maybe one bounce means a visitor left because she immediately found what she was looking for or bookmarked the page to view it later. Every web metric has more than one angle.

After checking out Rick’s entire post, you can find him on Twitter @epublishmedia.

Bounce Rate: Sexiest Web Metric Ever? by Avinash Kaushik

This post is great because it gives you a really in-depth explanation of how you can track and understand your bounce rate. More importantly, with each step you take to examine your bounce rate, Avinash gives you an “action” – basically, what you can do to make your bounce rate better after looking at your stats. You can examine your site’s numbers as much as you want, but until you actually take action, nothing will change! Writes Avinash,

Start by measuring the bounce rate for your entire website. Any decent web analytics tool will give you this as soon as you log into it. You’ll understand better why your conversion rate is so low, if you have made changes over the last x amount of time then watching a trend of bounce rate is a sure way to know if the changes you are making are for the better.

Now you are ready to dive deeper.

After reading Avinash’s entire post (and hopefully taking some of the steps he recommends to improve your bounce rate), you can find him on Twitter @avinash. He is also the author of Web Analytics: An Hour A Day and blogs at Occam’s Razor.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

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

Next Week’s Topic: Managing Forums

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – 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.

Smart Sidebar Strategies: How to Optimize Your Blog’s ‘Boardwalk’


If you have looked at lots of blogs, you have probably noticed something. Very few of them use the full page feature. There is a good reason for this. Your blog’s sidebar is prime real estate because it catches the attention of your reader immediately.

We all love those sidebars. As bloggers, they are calling to us to fill them with good stuff.

But since most people are distracted by too many shiny objects, we must be careful with our choices. Sure, we want people to subscribe to our blog or newsletter. And yes, it’s great when they click on an ad and the affiliate bucks roll in, but in realty, we also want them to read our posts, don’t we?

Here are five things to think through when making choices about your sidebar content:

1. Treat your sidebar as high-stakes real estate.

If your blog was a Monopoly game, the sidebar would be your Boardwalk. You would screen your tenants before you rented out the Boardwalk to them, wouldn’t you? Same thing with your sidebar tenants. Why would you choose to place a quote you love at the very top of your right sidebar, the spot your readers notice immediately—your prime real estate?

Think about your blog’s purpose. If monetizing your blog is a top priority, then ads and affiliate sale graphics need a highly visible spot. Or maybe your goal is to build that email list by asking people to sign up for your newsletter, in which case your signup box should be prominent. Because lots of content is competing for this small, coveted space, the solution might be to use a theme that allows you to customize your sidebars. That means that you don’t have to put the same sidebar content on every page. Putting on your marketing hat, you can figure out the best content for each page.

For instance, that Twitter and Facebook feed might work better on the sidebar of your about page. If you have a speaking page, links to purchase your books might be a good fit there. You can even get as specific as promoting a certain service or product on the sidebar of one particular blog post if you are writing on a related topic. It’s your choice.

2. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog—and offer both delivery options.

While the experts disagree on whether RSS is dying, your subscribers are still your gold mine readers.  They are the people who like your stuff so much that they want to be notified each time you publish a new post. Make it easy for them to sign up. Make sure you ask on every page of your blog.

And don’t leave anyone out. That orange RSS icon may be recognizable to your tech-capable readers but there are still people who don’t understand what that graphic is. They are the ones who will want to sign up for email delivery. So make that sidebar graphic large and impossible to ignore. Something like “Get email delivery of Bob’s blog” works well. I stay away from the word “subscribe” because some people think they will have to pay. And if you say “free,” some readers may wonder if that is just for a short time and then it will become a paid subscription.

3. Don’t confuse your readers with blog and newsletter signups too close to each other.

Keep in mind which one is more important in terms of reader signups. And, of course, if you offer both, you will want to differentiate them. (“Get content that goes beyond my blog articles. Sign up here for the BobWP newsletter.”)

Also, consider not placing them next to each other in the sidebar because that just confuses your readers. (“Which one does he want me to sign up for?) If you offer a newsletter, consider giving people the option of downloading a sample issue. Most people will not sign up for something they’ve never seen. With your blog, they usually want to read a few posts first. Same thing with your newsletter. A new visitor usually doesn’t show up, thinking, “Wow. This person is incredible. I must sign up for their newsletter, get on their list and get emails from them forever and ever.” They want to get to know and trust you first.

4. Make your social media connection buttons prominent.

When you invite people to join you on other social platforms, you are encouraging them to get to know you on a deeper level. Whether on your sidebar or elsewhere on your site, make your social media connections buttons easy to spot.

But whatever the case, sidebar or not,  make sure you are active in those platforms. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone ask me to put them on their site because “my friend Kate has them” or “I like those shiny buttons.” There is nothing more disappointing to your reader than wanting to connect with you on Twitter, and reading your last tweet, which was 9 weeks ago, and it said,  “I just burped.”

5. Clearly display your your blog’s search tools.

There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about the value of functions like search, categories and tags. Are they helpful to readers? Do blog searches give random and non-specific results? Are tag clouds passé? There are no definitive answers and bloggers need to figure out what works for them.

I can just tell you that there are some reader benefits. Categories (the big picture things you blog about) and tags (the more specific topics) help your readers get an immediate, visual sense of the subjects you discuss on your blog. In the case of tag clouds—that list of words and phrases on your sidebar—your reader knows not only what you talk about, but what you blog about most (because the bigger the word or phrase, the more frequently you have blogged about it).  And if they are interested in those posts, a click will take them there.

There are no hard and fast rules for selecting your sidebar content. It all depends on what your blog is about, what its goal is, and what you most want your readers to do when they visit.

So who is occupying the Boardwalk spot on your blog?

Are You Cheating on Your Blog?


Do you make time for your blog?

Twitter. Facebook. Google+. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Email. Sometimes it feels that by the time I’ve checked all my social networks, I don’t have any time left to actually visit my own blog. It’s only a matter of time before I’m caught with lipstick on my collar, so to speak. I love my blog, but sometimes I feel like I’m cheating on it.

There are only so many hours in a day, and most of us suffer from shiny ball syndrome. I should really write some new posts today. Ooo, look at all those new pins. Ooo, someone sent me a funny email. Ooo, I have new messages on Facebook. Ooo….

Our blog feels stale and boring with all the interesting things to do online. And we tell ourselves that our blog will always be there, waiting for us when we get home.

But we all know that isn’t the case, don’t we? If we don’t give our blogs enough attention, one day, we’ll come home to find that the house is empty and there’s a note on the kitchen table telling us it’s over.

Now really, a blog can’t just get up and leave like a scorned lover, but if you’re “cheating” on your blog by spending more time on social media outposts, email, etc., any success you find will be short-lived and packing a suitcase before you know it. Blogs need to be nurtured, or readers won’t remember you.

A see a lot of bloggers saying, “I only write when I have something to say.” That’s great. You don’t have to have a blogging schedule to have a great blog. But if your blog isn’t in the forefront of your mind, you haven’t given importance to it and you’re not going to suddenly think of ideas. If you haven’t had anything valuable to say on  your blog for two or three weeks, why are you maintaining your blog at all? Put your blog first and you’ll probably find that the ideas start flowing.

More importantly, all the social media outposts that you love don’t actually belong to you. What would you do if Facebook suddenly disappeared? You don’t have control over whether or not your content stays live on those sites, and you certainly don’t benefit from advertising on other monetization efforts on these networks. You blog needs to be your home base and the place most important to you online. It’s cool to connect with readers elsewhere, but you want to always encourage them to interact with you most on your blog itself.

They won’t if you aren’t there. Be aware of the difference between not having time and not making time. Don’t lie to yourself. If you had time today to play Words With Friends, you had time to check your blog.

If you’re guilty of being a dirty cheater, the good news is that you can rebuild your relationship with your blog. Here are a few things you can do to recommit:

  • Right now, do all that maintenance work you’ve been avoiding. Update to the new WordPress. Clean up your sidebar. Add that new plugins you’ve been hearing so much about. Redo your header. All those little tasks that have been piling up in the corner aren’t going to do themselves. If you’re really short on time – hire someone to do them for you.
  • Write a post at least twice a week. I can appreciate the “only blog when I have something to say” mindset, but if you don’t have something to say about your niche at least twice a week, why are you even blogging about that topic in the first place? It’s about putting your blog to the front of your mind. When you do that, rather than just wait for ideas to strike like lightening, you’ll be amazed at just how much you actually do want to write about.
  • Start your day on your blog. Before you check your email, social networks, etc., check your blog comments and stats, get some writing done, and promote a link or two. Again, it’s about putting your blog in the forefront of your mind.

And don’t be afraid to let it go if your blog really isn’t that important to you. You aren’t a quitter and you certainly aren’t a failure by admitting that you just aren’t that into your blog anymore. Move on to projects you do care about instead.

#BWENY 2012 Registration Opens Now

BlogWorld NY 2011 Keynote Hall

Opening registration is always exciting. It means the journey to the show is just beginning. Where we get to learn from new speakers, find amazing new tools and technology that can help us all create, distribute and monetize our content, and maybe most importantly we get to reconnect with our old friends as well as meet lots of new ones. We are all part of a hard-working community, helping one another grow in a challenging economy, and when we get together, simply great things happen.

Today we are particularly excited because all of those things are well underway. You can see the first round of speakers for BlogWorld New York announced on the home page here. But we have a few new important change this year. First of all you will see our lowest prices ever for content creators. If you register by February 22nd it is only $147 for bloggers, podcasters and Web TV producers. Here comes the cheesy infomercial part BUT Wait There’s More!

WE ADDED AN EXTRA DAY FOR THE BLOGGER / PODCASTER PASS!.. That’s right, 3 full days of conference content, networking and learning from the smartest content creators in the world for $147. That is half off our lowest price ever and over $300 less than our full price 2-Day pass last year.

Why did we lower the price for content creators? Because those of you who have been to  BlogWorld & New Media Expo before know this event is a dream come true for me. I was a blogger who wanted to meet my friends, peers and heroes in the blogosphere. I wanted to learn how to podcast, create and embed YouTube videos and last but certainly not least I wanted to learn how to make money with my content that I put so much passion and time into. (Little did I know the pros called that “monetization”, and as many of you know, we now have a popular Monetization track in the conference.) When I realized no event existed that covered all of these things, we created BlogWorld.

BlogWorld NY 2011 Keynote Hall

BlogWorld NY Keynote Hall

You can ask anyone who has been to the show before, read all the blog posts and tweets, watch the videos. The kind things our community says about their experiences at BlogWorld are truly humbling.  This event was built for you, and we want to share this experience with more content creators than ever. So we removed one of the biggest hurdles content creators have: the cost.

On top of that we have a couple of technical items that we are excited about. If you have attended the show in the past, you should have received an email yesterday with a unique link to the registration site. This link has all of your info from last year already populated so you don’t have to enter it all over again every year. YAY!

Lastly we are really excited about this and at the same time really mad that it took this long to make it happen:

Anyone can now log in to register with their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google + ID. You don’t have to create and remember a new user password and log in. Double YAY!

You have no idea how many registration companies we went through or talked to in order to make this happen. Something all of us take for granted and that seems so simple was so hard; but now we have it, and this will make getting your pass easier than ever.

On behalf of myself, Dave, Deb, Patti, Chris, Jen W, Jen H and the rest of the team I sincerely hope you decide to come join us in New York this June 5 – 7. Old friends and new will be waiting to see you.



Remember That a Podcast is Just One Tool in Your Online Armoury


During the January just past, as people look at their New Year resolutions and decided to try out some new projects, I’ve had quite a few people come up to me (okay, pinged me on IM, but you get the idea) and ask about starting a podcast. While many of them are looking for more technical details, I’ve always asked them what they’re looking to get out of the podcast.

I’m trying to figure out if a podcast is the right thing for them.

In many circumstances, people are looking to explore the podcasting space, to find out how it all works, to see how they get on with it, and have a bit of fun. There’s nothing wrong with that – one of my popular podcasts started as a few shows on my personal blog and it eventually became too big for me to not notice the traffic and “spin it out” to its own site.

But for a long time that show was just a hobby, with it’s own little corner of my website. And while I have long running shows that are nothing more than a weekly podcast posted on a basic blog, that’s a great place to start and learn the ropes. But if anyone is looking to start up a podcast with a serious goal in mind to be noticed and get coverage, I always come back to the same piece of advice.

A podcast will rarely stand alone.

And if you think about it, you would never start a new site and not have an RSS feed. You wouldn’t ignore Facebook, or Google Plus. You’d make sure to have a Twitter account. I’d argue that providing a podcast, be it audio or video, is one of those tools. It’s rare that a podcast will be the only tool you use (just as it is rare a Twitter account would be the only tool you use), but it can be an important one.

It provides a voice to your site, and a regular spot to engage directly with your readers. It allows a different type of discussion to be taken, it provides continuity and regularity if done well, and keeps your readers interested in your content. The podcast is a surgical tool, but it’s one that is easy to wield. And in my opinion there are very few circumstances where a podcast would not help improve a site.

No, I Don’t Want to Sign Up for Your Mailing List (And Here’s Why)


I need more emails like I need a hole in the head. I recommend that every online content creator out there has a mailing list, but I actually sign up for very few of them personally. I think mailing lists are great, but some people could have more subscribers if they used their lists slightly differently. Here’s why I don’t sign up for your mailing list…and what you can do to change that:

1. You email me every post you write.

I think having your RSS feed available via email is a really great idea. Lots of people prefer reading posts that way. Personally, though, I use Twitter as my feed reader (find out how here) because emails get buried too quickly for me. When I sign up for a mailing list, I do so because I want emails from the blogger that I wouldn’t get otherwise – newsletters, announcements, discounts, etc. It’s okay to have an email RSS option (I recommend it), but make sure subscribers know what they’re getting when they sign up and, if possible, have two options – one for people who want special emails and one for people who want to receive your feed via email as well.

2. I can’t quickly find your sign-up box.

For many bloggers this isn’t a problem – their subscription form is located proudly on their sidebar, near the top of the page. However, occasionally, I find myself searching for a subscription box that doesn’t seem to exist – so I give up and go along my merry way. Later, I often find out the blogger does have a mailing list, but I had to go to a certain page or whatever to find out how to subscribe. The more time a person has to spend clicking around your site, the less likely it is they’ll actually sign up.

3. Your pop up punched me in the face.

I don’t mind pop up ads if they are done correctly. Three seconds after I get to your site is not correctly. At that point, I don’t know if I want to sign up or not. Give me a little time to read or watch your content first. Then, if you must, send me that pop up asking me to subscribe.

4. You offer me stuff I don’t want.

Offering free stuff is a great way to get people to sign up for your mailing list – but done incorrectly, it can also send people packing. For example, let’s say that I’m on your cat blog reading about my cat‘s weird behaviors, and I’m enjoying the content. You sign up form says, “Enter your email address to get a free ebook about litter box training.” Am I going to sign up? Nope. My cat is already litter box trained, thank god. The way you’ve promoted the sign up form just promotes the free gift, which people may or may not want, not your actual email like. Change the wording a bit to say, “Stay connected with emails from us and get a free litter box training ebook” or “Sign up to get a free litter box training ebook and more surprises straight to your inbox” and I’m much more likely to enter my email address. That way, you’re still hooking people who want the freebie, but you’re also making it clear that there are other benefits as well.

5. Your content just isn’t that compelling.

Of course, the number one reason I won’t sign up for your mailing list is that your blog’s content isn’t that great in the first place. Remember, every post you write could be the first post someone reads on your blog. Don’t be afraid to go back and delete content that isn’t up to par. We all have bad days, and not everything you do is going to be amazing, but if you write a real stinker, consider getting rid of it so people who come to your blog for the first time get the best impression possible. And of course, always work to improve your content. Don’t get complacent and think that what you’re putting out is good enough. We can all learn to be better!

Your turn – why don’t you sign up for mailing lists? Or why do you sign up on other sites?

Why I Don’t Mind Pinterest Hijacking My Links


Recently, Joel Garcia at GTO Management bought it to everyone’s attention that everyone’s new favorite social sharing site, Pinterest, is basically hijacking links to make money as an affiliate. I highly recommend checking out Joel’s complete post, but here’s the main idea:

  • When you “pin” something, unless you you the upload option to post your own picture, users can click on your pin to go to the original source. It’s a good system – it allows as much traffic as possible back to the site of interest, no matter who pins or repins.
  • There’s this tool called SkimLinks that website owners can use that will basically look at an entire site and whenever a link could be an affiliate link, but isn’t, SkimLinks automatically makes it one.
  • What Pinterest has done is installed SkimLinks so that anything pinned by any user that could be an affiliate link (but the user didn’t make one) will be made into one – using Pinterest’s ID.

It’s an upsetting thought for a lot of people, but I’ve never been one to go with the crowd. I’m more than happy to allow Pinterest to make money from my pins using SkimLinks. But I feel like a disappointed parent…because I wish they would have just told me.

Beyond FTC rules they are potentially breaking by not disclosing the presence of affiliate links, I don’t think it’s fair that Pinterest doesn’t make this process clear to new users. Even worse, the process for adding your own affiliate ID is difficult. In most cases, you have to add the pin, then go back in and edit the link, and while you’re making adjustments, your pin is live with their link…and people repin stuff pretty quickly sometimes.

The other problem is that sometimes bloggers and other content creators what to post their own products. You obviously aren’t an affiliate for yourself…but Pinterest could just take it upon themselves to add their own ID to your links, so you’re doing all the pinning work but you still have to pay out a commission to the company. Bogus.

Overall, though, I’m not inherently mad about Pinterest hijacking my links and making some money with affiliate sales. In fact, I hope they keep doing it.

The company has to make money somehow, right? Take a look at the site. Right now, how is it making money for the company? The answer is…it isn’t. To be sustainable long-term, the company would probably have to start having sponsored pins (yuck), blatant sidebar ads (yuck), or membership fees (yuck). I’d rather them make use of potential affiliate links that aren’t being used anyway. It makes sense because it doesn’t change my Pinterest experience in any way, yet the company still makes money.

It’s kind of like the chubby kid in the cafeteria coming up to you and asking, “Are you going to eat that?” If you’re not, give him the other half of your sandwich. Someone might as well enjoy it rather than it getting thrown away.

But they need to disclose this. Here are the changes I’d like to see:

  1. Full disclosure about SkimLinks when you sign up for the site. Not buried somewhere in the TOS…clearly stated for everyone to see.
  2. An option to add your own affiliate link when you pin a product (if you want to) as you’re pinning – not having to go back after the fact and re-link the pin.
  3. A dedication to warn and potentially ban users who are using affiliates without disclosure on their profile or boards.

Pinterest, I’m happy for you to make some money from me. You have an awesome platform that I love to use, and I feel good that you’re able to make a little money in exchange for me being able to continue using your cool site. Just be honest about it and give me some options to make the experience less shady. Let’s keep Pinterest awesome. That way, we can all make a little cash and enjoy the pinning experience.

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