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June 2012

The One Topic Your Business Blog Needs to Cover

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When you log online to make a buying decision, what information do you want most?

You perhaps are interested in a product’s features or the scope of a company’s services. Reviews might be important to you, and some people like to do in-depth research about their options. You may like to compare products/services, and you probably want to know disadvantages, not just good points.

Marcus Sheridan at BlogWorld New York If you have a small business, you can be covering all of these topics on your blog. But what one piece of information are most businesses avoiding but should be talking about regularly?

Marcus Sheridan talked about this one topic during his session at BlogWorld New York (see picture at right). David Brook talked about this on his Partners in EXCELLENCE blog. Others have touched on this, as well.

To talk about this topic, I want to examine three whys:

  1. Why people care
  2. Why businesses avoid blogging about it
  3. Why you can outshine your competitors if you blog about it

Why Everyone Cares about Price

That’s right – price is what most small business avoid listing online, even though everyone cares about it. Rich or poor, people want to know the money they need to get your product or services.

For consumers on a budget, price can be important in two ways: first, they might have to rule out options they can’t afford. Second, they might want to know price so they can save up for the purchase.

Even well-off consumers who don’t have budget restrictions care about price, though. Everyone wants to ensure they are getting a good value, that the price they are paying is justified.

Why Most Businesses Avoid Mentions of Price

Price is scary. As a freelancer, I have had to quote prices, and it’s frightening to avoid saying (or typing) a number. A lot of what-ifs go through my head:

  • What if consumers think my price is too high?
  • What if consumers think my price is too low and, thus, my services aren’t as good as my competitors?
  • What if competitors see that price and quote slightly lower to outbid me?
  • What if I undervalue my own abilities and the consumer would have been willing to pay higher?
  • What if I want to change prices in the future, but have already quoted this lower price?

All of those what ifs can be applied to any small business, not just freelancing. What if homeowners think my lawn service price is too high? What if would-be patrons think my prices are so low that I can’t possibly give a good haircut? What if competitors see my day care’s prices and price themselves just a little lower as a response? What if I’m missing out on profits because my restaurant’s prices are too low and hungry customers would have gladly paid more? What if people get mad when I raise my bakery’s cupcake prices?

Price is scary and that’s why most business owners avoid it, even though consumers really want to know.

To this fear, these what ifs, I have this to say: so what?

There will always be people who think your prices are too low or too high, and if competitors really want to know your prices, all they have to do is call and ask. What matters is that you are charging what your products or services are worth.

Why You’ll Kill Your Competitors if You Talk about Price

Just like competitors can call (or email) to ask about your price, so can consumers. So why is it important to put this information on your websites, and more specifically, on your blog?

People are lazy.

It’s that simple. People want a product or service, but calling around to find information is hard work. They’ll compare prices and value online, but picking up the phone takes an additional step. Sometimes, they’re willing to take this additional step – but only if you give them some ballpark information first.

Think about it. Let’s say you are in a strange city on vacation and you’re craving pizza. So you Google it and find three places near you that will deliver to your hotel. Two do not list their prices. The third says large pizzas cost $10. Are you going to take the time to call all three places, or are you going to simply hire from the $10 place, since that seems reasonable?

Many people will just go with the $10 option. It’s easier.

This works on a larger scale as well, for businesses selling more than just pizza. If you’re willing to list your prices, people will simply use your business – or at least consider you a top contender – because your competitors do not talk about price.

I suggest you take it a step farther by blogging about price often. Cover all the what ifs:

  • What makes your product or service worth a slightly higher price?
  • How do you keep quality high and prices low?
  • Why is your price justified even if competitors charge a lower amount?
  • What higher-priced packages do you offer for customers who want to spend more?
  • Why are you raising prices?

Talking about your prices – and talking about them often – gives customers the chance to learn as much about you as possible. This allows them to make informed decisions, and since you’re the one helping them make these decisions, they’ll be more likely to choose you over your competitors.

So, the bottom line? Don’t avoid listing some numbers, or at least giving people a general idea of what they can expect today. Don’t let the what ifs and fears keep you from talking about this topic!

Are Bloggers Different than Journalists?

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I’ve spent lots of time in newsrooms, for both print and broadcast news organizations. My first job was as a reporter; the ethics of journalism were pounded into me at an early age. Be objective, don’t do anything to tamper with the integrity of the story, and report the facts. As a blogger, however, I can’t say I follow those same rules.

Should a journalist be so removed from a story that they let someone die?

A photo journalist at the Washington Post recently wrote about watching someone endure the fatal consequences of a snake bite; all the while she took pictures, documenting the man’s death. The article, “Why I Watched a Snake-handling Pastor Die for his Faith” chronicles the photo journalist’s ethical dilemma: to help or to remain objective. In the end, she maintained her distance and shot the photos.

Would a blogger remain as objective?

In 2005, milblogger Michael Yon was embedded with an American troop in Iraq. When the soldiers found themselves under siege, one of whom was shot three times and another who was in hand to hand combat, Yon picked up a rifle to join the battle. You can read an overview of Yon’s story by checking out, “Michael Yon versus General Brooks.” In short, Yon inserted himself into the “story” to help save a soldier’s life.

What about citizen journalists?

In this day and age, every one of us can be a citizen journalist. With video and still cameras on nearly every cell phone, all of us can–and do–capture the world around us. But, as “regular people” do we just capture what we see or do we get involved?

Case in point, a video was captured this week during a road rage incident in Los Angeles, California. Four men got out of their cars after the altercation and two guys filmed the encounter from the safety of their car. One man was severely beaten and repeatedly kicked in the head, but the men behind the video camera did nothing to intervene. The video is below.

It used to be that the “media” were are all trained journalists. They represented formal news agencies and their reporting was held to an ethical and professional standard. But, with the rise of new media, anyone can start a blog, podcast, or Web TV series. Any of us can capture video with our phones and upload it to YouTube or Facebook in seconds. No editor, no news director. We’re all self publishers; we’re all media.

So, where’s the line? Do all of these groups play a different, but important, role? Is a journalist removed, a blogger engaged, and a citizen journalist a voyeur? Is one of these ways right and the others wrong? Or are the differences important, with each of these groups serving their own unique purpose?

Nine-year-old Blogger Becomes Web Sensation

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You don’t see many kids smack dab in the middle of a controversy about free speech. But nine-year-old blogger, Martha Payne, has been through a lot in the last few days. The blog she started just six weeks ago was shut down, but people across the globe rallied around her and got it reinstated. What was such a hot topic that put this little girl’s name on the lips of millions online? School lunches.

Like any successful blogger, Martha writes about what she knows. In this case, she dedicated her blog to discussing the meals that her school serves each day. She posts photos of the food and then rates it on taste, nutrition, and other factors, such stray hairs. Her blog, NeverSeconds, started as a daily writing project to share with relatives. However, it quickly exploded, securing millions of page views and dozens of comments each day. That success quickly put school officials on edge.

Although Martha had gotten permission to take photographs of her food, those images quickly illuminated the fact that those lunches weren’t always of the best quality. Frequently, showcasing small portion sizes which left Martha hungry and unable to concentrate on her studies. After posting just a few short weeks, Martha was told that she would no longer be allowed to take photos of her school lunches and she posted her final blog entry, titled “Goodbye.”

Well, nothing like a blogger done wrong to make the web come to life (remember when a PR flack dissed Jenny Lawson?). That goodbye message garnered nearly 2,400 comments of support and her traffic grew by the millions (as I’m writing this, total pageviews are six million and counting and I can actually see the counter go up a visitor each second!). Public pressure quickly convinced local officials in her hometown of Lochgilphead in Argyll, Scotland to reverse their decision and allow NeverSeconds to continue.

We caught up with blogger phenom Martha Payne today to talk about the trials and tribulations of being a blogger:

Q: When you started your blog, you incorporated a charitable angle by helping to raise money for Mary’s Meals. Why did you do this? Do you think it’s important for bloggers to raise awareness about important issues and inspire others to help?

A: Dad showed me a comment on my blog saying I was lucky to get a dinner as many children don’t. I have raised money for Mary’s Meals before and I thought of them. I think it’s important to show people looking at my blog that I care because I do.

Q: What has surprised you the most about writing a blog?

A. It’s harder some days than others. The hard days are when I am tired after school and a club.

Q: What have you learned about putting your opinions out there?

A: People you don’t know will discuss them.

Q: What advice do you have for other bloggers who may not know what to write about?

A: I chose school dinners because I have them everyday and I wanted to write everyday. I think pictures and ratings are fun.

Q: Other students have sent you photos of their school lunches and you’ve shared many of them on your blog. You could have very easily made NeverSeconds all about you. Why did you decide to let the community be part of your blog?

A: When Dad showed me the first email sent in I liked it so I thought other people would too. I have learnt a lot and can find lots of countries on the globe.

Q: Fans of your blog came to your defense when NeverSeconds was shut down last week. How does that make you feel? What would you like to say to everyone who spoke up for you?

A: I’d like to say thank you to everyone that supported the blog and Mary’s Meals. I haven’t read all the messages as there are so many but it is great that I am allowed pics again.

Q: Do you see yourself being a professional blogger when you grow up?

A: I’d like to be a journalist when I grow up because it is easier to ask questions than answer them.

Q: Your school term is ending in a few weeks, what will happen to NeverSeconds during your break from school?

A: Dad would like schools from around the world to guest blog for a week at a time. He thinks schools may be interested.

Q: Many bloggers find it difficult to make the time to write blog posts every day. What are your tips for people who want to write daily, but make excuses about why they can’t?

A: It was hard but now it’s habit. I think you get used to it.

The uptick in exposure for NeverSeconds raised so much money for Mary’s Meals that a new kitchen is being built at the Lirangwe Primary School in Blantyre, Malawi and nearly 6,000 meals can now be given to other needy children. Martha was given the opportunity to name the new kitchen and, in recognition of the community that made it happen, she chose “Friends of NeverSeconds.”

The lunches at Martha’s school have also been improving. Students are now allowed to have unlimited salad, fruit, and bread and Martha was recently asked, “Is that enough for you?” when she was given her lunch. Think a blogger can’t change the world, or his or her corner of it? Think again.

As content creators, many of us struggle from time to time. We either lack the discipline to create regularly, or come up short when it comes to ideas. But, Martha can be an inspiration to us all and her story is a good reminder to bloggers of what it takes to be successful online:

  • Write about what you know
  • Don’t be afraid to share your opinions
  • Allow your community to participate in the discussion
  • A picture always tells a story
  • Find a way to give back
  • Acknowledge those you contribute to your success and accomplishments

Even at the age of nine, Martha gets it. So, the next time you feel as though you’ve hit a wall with your blog, podcast, or Web TV episode, channel your inner Martha. We suspect this young blogger has a bright future in store.

Five Headlines Lazy Bloggers Use To Hide The Fact That They’re Wasting Your Time

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I’m reading David Wong’s Cracked.com post on “5 Ways To Spot a B.S. Political Headline In Under 10 Seconds” and laughing out loud.

But I’m also a little worried.

I’m a recovering print journalist and generally love my new life as an online journalist, but I’ll admit the link-baiting headlines all of us are guilty of writing every now and again still make me squeamish. Wong is looking at how the mainstream media writes headlines for political stories where it is committing journalism: in other words, stories where the reporter and editor try to turn a dog-bites-man story into a man-bites-dog story.

But the more I read, the more I realize a lot of his b.s. detection rules could apply to most any of us writing online, regardless of the topic. The headlines in question are almost always the product of lazy research, an effort to generate a story or a buzz where none (should) exist.

And this isn’t just coming from some old-school, finger-wagging print reporter: it also comes from a reader. Sure, the types of headlines below may have fooled me once or twice or even dozens of times, but after awhile I (and lots of other readers) have become immune to these once tried-and-true tricks of generating click-throughs.

With all that said, these are the types of headlines I try to avoid writing, and the types of headlines on stories I almost always kick myself for being tricked into reading:

Headlines That End In A Question Mark

As Wong explained to On The Media Host Bob Garfield in an interview last week, headlines posed as a question are usually found on top of a “news story so questionable the publication literally felt the need to mark it as such.”

Good journalism is about getting answers for readers. These headlines, particularly when they’re on blog posts, allow the writer to discuss a topic without digging into it and finding an answer. The he-said, she-said objective nature of print journalism all but killed it, and readers are going to be conditioned to spot these headlines as the tell on the online version of these types of stories.

And even if the writer does go far enough to answer the question, there’s another problem: it’s most likely a rhetorical question. Readers won’t read something if they believe (rightly or wrongly) they already know the answer. And online time is precious: a rhetorical question, which almost never has a fact, wastes readers’ time.

Headlines That Start With the Word Why

I’m sorry, Mr. Recently-Graduated English Major, but I don’t trust you to sum up “why Microsoft’s Bing partnership with Facebook will be the death of Google” or “why Facebook’s IPO pricing is so clever” on your blog. Unless you have a crystal ball, you’re just not that smart.

The truth is, “why” headlines are a ploy to make you think someone has found the last word on an often highly-nuanced subject. They usually try to position themselves as the last word on a subject that would most likely be impossible to sum up in a single blog post. They almost never have a definitive answer, and I find they’re most often used by bloggers who are sprouting off their own brilliant thoughts and ideas

The “[Insert Industry, Technology, Cultural Touchstone Here] Is Dead” Headline

Things that have been declared dead in the past few years:

See where this going? As Jonathan Potts noted on Spin This last month, “the best way to start cheap conversation is to declare something dead — an industry, a technology, a hallowed way of doing business.

The “X Is The New Y” Headline

This headline has been so overused that it has become a cliche. But I note it because A) it was used enough to even become a cliche in the first place and B) its status as a cliche hasn’t stopped people from using it. And using it. And using it.

It barely worked five years ago when some blogger boldly declared “Facebook Is The New MySpace,” but now its used to describe everything from Bing to Tim Tebow’s dog.

Headlines About Someone Tweeting Something

I may be fighting a losing battle on this one, and the old rule of “if you’re mother tells you something, check your sources” may not be feasible online, where “beating” someone on a story is measured in seconds instead of hours or days. And I’ll be the first to admit I troll Twitter hoping to see stories as they’re developing.

My real problem is when the story is so thin that the headline is about the person tweeting something. It means the writer didn’t bother to do any reporting, offer the reader any context or try to dig any deeper than what I could have figured out for myself by simply going to Twitter. The writer is trying to draw traffic, not help me as a reader better understand what the story is and why it’s important.

EDITOR’S NOTE: David gave a great presentation at BlogWorld New York, titled “Reporting for Bloggers,” which, as David says “gives bloggers tips for quickly reporting stories and delivering readers factual information that will allow them to avoid writing shoddy, whorish headlines.” His session is available on the Virtual Ticket, which is on sale until June 23, 2012.

30+ Brilliant Bloggers Talk About BlogWorld New York 2012

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I doing know about you, but I think I’m finally caught up on sleep after BlogWorld New York! We made some huge announcements this time around, including our name change to New Media Expo, which better reflects our entire audience of not just bloggers, but also podcasters, web TV producers, social media professionals, and more.

So, I guess this was officially the very last BlogWorld! It’s time to start an exciting new chapter in this conference’s life.

People are still buzzing about the New York event, though, so before closing the book on BlogWorld, I wanted to devote this week’s Brilliant Bloggers to our awesome community and what they have to say about the event.

If you don’t see your BlogWorld New York post listed below, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list! Also, check out the bonus list of top tweets from the conference!

Brilliant Bloggers Talk About BWENY 2012:

BONUS: Some Brilliant Tweets from BWENY 2012:

  • Andrea Cook (@andreacook): “Link bait is like a one nightstand.” – @leeodden talks about value of accumulative metrics #BWENY #optimize
  • Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray): “Want to have a pity party? Fine. Have one. The time limit is 5 minutes.” @thenapkindad says #bweny
  • Christopher Penn (@cspenn): Publishing is a bad business decision. You need to own your content, says @jimkukral
  • David Griner (@griner): Per @davefleet: Social media marketing is plagued by “basement punditry” – influential critics w/ no business experience. #bweny
  • Eric Deckers (@edeckers): @CorbettBarr is inspiring me to stop writing good shit, and start writing EPIC shit! I’m sounding my barbaric YAWP! today. #bweny
  • Ian Cleary (@ianmcleary): You know when a conference is great when you’re not looking forward to it being over #BWENY
  • Maddie Grant (@maddiegrant): Love the idea of longform on tablets balancing out the speed of the web. #bweny
  • Paige Worthy (@paigeworthy): I’m going to put it out there RIGHT NOW that not everyone who blogs is a writer. #thereisaidit #bweny
  • Rieneke Schokker ?(@RienekeSchokker): Great session about mobile marketing, amazing what is already out there, exciting to see how we will use our phones in the future #bweny
  • Stephanie Sammons (@stephsammons): Smartphone is the 1st screen for millions of social networkers #bweny

Brilliant Bloggers will return to its regular schedule next week. Check out the past editions, plus our upcoming schedule so you can submit your links every other week.

The Single Biggest Reason BlogWorld NY 2012 Rocked

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WOW.

My mind is blown from attending BlogWorld & New Media Expo in NYC last week.

And I’m not just saying that. Because, really, it’d be good marketing and sales talk to write about how BlogWorld blew my mind, and I could write a bunch of hyperbole about AMAZING sessions that will MAKE ME MONEY YESTERDAY and how it’s the best thing since sliced bread (and what’s so amazing about sliced bread anyway?), and that’d be all well and good, but you’d probably smell the BS, seeing as I work with BlogWorld on the Virtual Ticket and am not exactly unbiased.

But that said and sensationalist BS aside, I’ve got to say that this was the best conference I’ve ever attended. And this is with me trying to remain somewhat neutral and unbiased. (Seriously.)

Here’s the single biggest reason why it was awesome: This event has realized that blogging is not the only new media activity worth engaging in. Rick and Dave even announced from the stage, during the Wednesday keynote, that BlogWorld & New Media Expo will no longer be called “BlogWorld.” It’s now just the last part, the “New Media Expo” part. Why? Because blogging is just one of three areas they’ll be focusing on in future events. The other two are podcasting and Web TV. And this spectrum is more realistic, more representative of the ways the web and new media work best.

I thought the NYC event was so great because I really saw all of this multimedia stuff coming together. It wasn’t all blogging this time. And it also wasn’t just a trifecta of blogging, podcasting, and Web TV in their respective corners, all receiving isolated attention, either. What made this event so cool was the crossover.

There was a session about how all bloggers (in one corner) should be podcasting (moving into that other corner). I talked to Jonathan Fields, who, despite being a prominent blogger and author of the written word, is starting a TV production. I talked a bit with Cliff Ravenscraft, who is known as a prolific podcaster, about how he’s realized the importance of accompanying his podcasts with detailed show notes… which essentially means he’s blogging more than ever. There were several sessions about how writers and authors can increase their reach by offering their content in audio versions.

Audio and video is being transcribed more than ever. Pat Flynn’s strategy of “being everywhere” (which he talked about at BlogWorld LA 2011) is… well… everywhere in BlogWorld’s culture now. You can be a blogger, podcaster, or Web TV person. But you can get more mileage if you’re more than one of those things at the same time, or all three.

What I saw at this event blew my mind and has me thinking of moving into more modalities. I’ve been a blogger for years, but I recently became a podcaster too. Maybe video is next?

This is what we need in a conference. We need new ideas, not just a rehashing of the same ideas. And that, my friends, is why I thought BlogWorld NYC was so amazing this year.

Now, if you missed all of this amazingness because you couldn’t go to NYC (or if you did go to NYC and still missed stuff because there’s too much going on at once), you can still get it. My partner Lisa and I masterminded the Virtual Ticket this year — the “at-home, on-your-own-schedule” version of BlogWorld. The Virtual Ticket contains recordings of almost all of the conference sessions (slides and downloadable audio), plus more than twenty bonus interviews that Lisa and I conducted on-site.

Until the end of June 22nd, you can still get the Virtual Ticket for the pre-conference price of $347. BUT, if you were there live, you can add the Virtual Ticket to your registration for only $97 by emailing registration@blogworldexpo.com. But if you want to get the Virtual Ticket, do it now. On June 23rd, the price is going way up.

It was awesome. Can’t wait to see what the Vegas event is like.

P.S. For the sake of completeness, I should mention that I also thought BWE was amazing this year because I got to watch Derek Halpern be good-naturedly mocked by a waiter and took a hair-raising bike taxi ride with Pat Flynn and was given a salad during a time of need by Jason Van Orden, but I don’t think BlogWorld had those things on the official schedule. Maybe for Vegas.

Did The O’Reilly Factor “SPIN” BlogWorld in the Wrong Direction?

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Yes, it’s that time of year again…time when we look back and reflect on BlogWorld NY, which is now in the history books. As a speaker at BlogWorld every year since it launched several years back in Las Vegas, I’m proud to say I love BlogWorld, what it represents, and the audience that it brings together. Bloggers, online marketers, and even celebrities from all over the world come together to network and discuss how blogging and social media is changing the way we do business online.

This year, I was quite excited to see Fox News on the exhibit hall floor talking with many of the exhibitors and attendees. I was fortunate enough to meet up with the Fox News team and do a quick interview with Jesse Watters, the producer of The O’Reilly Factor. The interview consisted of a wide range of questions, everything from blogging, social media and technology, to making money online and of course politics. I was told the video would air on The O’Reilly Factor on Monday and I was quite excited to see what they would put together for the show.

Not only was I excited to see if I would get coverage on Fox News network, but I was also excited to see that BlogWorld would also gain some national television exposure and be introduced to a whole new audience. Monday came and I was thrilled to see that I made it to prime time television, but I was quite disappointed that no one in the video received a name reference, and also the manner in which Fox News portrayed the attendees, audience, and intent of BlogWorld.

Instead of focusing on the benefits of blogging and internet marketing, Fox News took a different approach and almost made a joke out of it. I understand that The Factor needs to align their segments with their audience, but they also could have provided a greater value for their audience by letting them know about BlogWorld, the unknown world of blogging and how it really is changing the way people do business online. Heck, even Rick Calvert was interviewed for the piece, yet no one knew he was the founder of BlogWorld, since Fox News didn’t bother to put a name or title with anyone they spent time interviewing.

If you didn’t get a chance to catch the segment when it was live on Fox News, be sure to visit their web site and watch the full video. After you check it out, send Bill O’Reilly an email at oreilly@foxnews.com and let him know your feelings concerning how The Factor represented BlogWorld and bloggers.

The Devil Is in the Details: A Blogger’s Guide to Best-Kept WordPress Secrets

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Last week, at BlogWorld in NYC, I found myself thinking about the conference in a different way. I had recently organized WordCamp Seattle for the first time. And as I watched BlogWorld unfold, I could relate to all the energy the organizers had expended up to then, and what they would be experiencing over the next three days—although BWE was easily 10 times bigger than my event. The key to a successful conference is attention to the details. because it’s the small things that can make a big difference in an attendee’s experience.

And as I finished presenting my session at BlogWorld, I thought about how the experience of WordPress users can also be affected by the small details. WordPress is notorious for hiding small, simple solutions. Some of the brightest people I know have struggled for hours with something that should just have taken them mere minutes.

When I share these small details at workshops, I always find at least one person who has been using WordPress for months, only to finally have their ‘a-ha moment.’ More often than not I will hear a gasp coming from a chair somewhere in the back row.

It was no different at my session at BlogWorld.

Those freaking’ WordPress details that can drive a blogger mad

The Kitchen Sink

If you have been working with one row of buttons in your editor window, live dangerously and click on that last button. Now you suddenly have a whole new row of options.

Editor Window Size

By default, the editor window isn’t very big, which makes it hard to see much of the post or page you are working on. Here are two solutions: 1) grab that ridged corner in the bottom right and drag, or 2) go to settings > writing and increase the number of lines in the size of post box.

Privacy Setting

Are you not showing up in Google? Sometimes by default, or perhaps when the person was setting up your site, they may have blocked your site to keep the search engines from indexing your page before your site was finished. Make sure you check out your privacy settings under settings > privacy.

Changing Your Homepage from a Blog to a Static Homepage

This is a biggie. So many times bloggers find a simple theme, but down the road decide they would rather have the homepage, or landing page, a static intro instead of a lists of posts. They would rather see the blog as an inside page. It’s pretty simple. Create a page, call it homepage, and add your content. Then create a page and call it ‘Blog,’ but don’t add any content to it. Now go into your settings > reading and change “Front page displays” to “Static Page.”

Your Publicly Seen User Name

Typically, when you create a username to sign in to your WordPress dashboard, it isn’t your actual name (for security reasons, of course). Your user name might be something like: bobX45Ng88. But when you do a post, you don’t want it to say “Posted by bobX45Ng88”. So go into your profile, fill in your first and last name, and then, from the drop down menu by “Display name publicly as,” choose your first, last, or both names for your posts. Or you can create a nickname and use that instead.

Hide Comment Box on Pages

This is a common mistake. There is nothing more strange looking than to find a comment box on a page of a site. For example, if I see a comment box on your contact page, I think, what the heck? Am I supposed to say something like “Wow, great contact page. I never thought of doing one like this. I really like how you created this form.” Your theme may allow you to turn off comments on all pages globally, but if not, when creating a page, scroll down to your Discussion options and uncheck the “Allow Comment” box. It will make your readers and your blog much happier.

So, there you have it, just some of the small details in WordPress that can drive a blogger crazy.

What other things have taken you over the edge of sanity?

Don’t Be An Island: Connecting and Relating Online

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Last week, I wrote about how Shane from Contently spoke about the future of content online, but he wasn’t the only speaker at BlogWorld NY to delve into this topic. Shane co-presented with Andraz from Zemanta who also had a few tips for online content creators who want to safeguard their practices for the future. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that idea that we as bloggers, podcasters, and web TV producers can no longer be islands, out there working by ourselves. A vital part of successfully creating content online is connecting with others.

“Building bridges is what content marketing is all about.” – Andraz Tori, Zemanta

This goes beyond convincing other people to like you and spread your content. In fact, this type of connection is not what the “don’t be an island” advice is all about. It’s true that you do need to connect with people in order to distribute your content well, but first, it’s about connecting with people to ensure that the content you create is good before you even start to distribute.

Citing Your Sources

Others, such as Dave Copeland, also talked about the importance of citing your sources when you’re reporting. And they are right. When you reblog and reblog and reblog of a press release, information gets lost or mixed up along the way. We also have a tendency to skip the legwork of following links all the way back to their original sources, and we instead give credit to someone else who reblogged along the way. This is not only unfair to the original source, but it is also a disservice to your readers. Link out to your sources to make your content better.

Find Inspiration

Connecting with others can also help you find inspiration for your own content. I think this is an important tip because it encourages bloggers, podcasters, and web TV producers to all open lines of communication. Remember, don’t be an island. If someone writes a blog post and you don’t agree with it, write your own post and say why. Link back to that original post and encourage others to do the same. Conversation through online content can be an awesome way to engage you followers.

Better Content

Finally, connecting your readers to more content through links simply makes your content better. Sometimes it isn’t about citing a source or providing a link to the person who inspired your content. Sometimes it is simply about connecting in order to give the reader a place to find more information about a topic. For example, you might link to the background story for a news piece you are writing. Or you might mention a topic in passing and link to a place where readers can find more since you don’t want to devote the space to it. Better content is only possible if you connect with others. We simply do not have enough hours in the day to be the one-stop resource for everything, so we have to turn to our fellow content creators and work together to create a better user experience.

Want to hear more from Andraz and all of our BlogWorld New York 2012 speakers? Consider picking up the virtual ticket to get access to all of the recordings from the show.

Come Speak at NMX Las Vegas

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I am happy to announce that our speaker submission form for New Media Expo Las Vegas 2013 is now live; with some great new features. Along with our name change from BlogWorld & New Media Expo to New Media Expo (NMX), there are some new features to the speaker submission form, as well as the entire conference schedule, that you should know about.

What’s New

New Media Expo (NMX) focuses on the Blogging, Podcasting, and WebTV industries. Within each of these industries we will have tracks discussing content, community, and commerce as it relates to helping educate content creators achieve their goals. We will also discuss tools and, of course, represent our various niche communities.

As such, there are now questions that identify what industry you are a part of, the track you want to speak in (content, community, commerce), and the specific topic within each track (for example, mobile, monetization, etc.). You will also be asked to identify an education level for your presentation, as we are seeking a percentage of beginning, intermediate, and advanced sessions.

Part of the excitement of these new features, is that we will now be able to show attendees sessions based on their own unique goals. For example, here are some options an attendee would see to help them come up with their own personal conference schedule:

  • I am a blogger who wants to build a business, what sessions should I take?
  • I am a podcaster who wants to grow my community, what sessions should I take?
  • I am a blogger who wants to create better content, what sessions should I take?
  • I want to learn how to create better content in the WebTV industry, what sessions should I take?
  • I am new to blogging, podcasting, and WebTV, what are the beginner sessions I can take?

These are just a few samples of the options attendees will see when trying to locate sessions to attend. This will help attendees enjoy an educational experience that is organized, goal-based, and flexible.

FAQ

Here are a few questions you might have. If there’s anything else you need to know to aid in the submission process, please feel free to leave your questions in the comment box below.

Where are the tracks that I’m used to seeing?

The tracks are now called Content, Community, and Commerce. The ones you used to see such as Monetization, Content Creation, Mobile, Traffic & Distribution, etc. are now topics within these three main tracks.

What about the niches? Are they still represented?

Absolutely.  We will have rooms dedicated to our special niche communities such as parenting, milblogging, education, etc.

Apply Now

Here is a link to the new submission form, which will be live until July 31st, 2012. We look forward to receiving your submissions and can’t wait to see you at the show in Las Vegas on January 6th – 8th, 2013 at the RIO Hotel & Convention Center.

Learn About NMX

NEW TWITTER HASHTAG: #NMX

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