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August 2012

How a Blog is like a House

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house

Photo Credit: Julie Jordan Scott

A blog may be like a home, but a number of posts have been written about how a blog – or a site – should be welcoming. It has to invite a person to enter. It has to attract the audience, the one person, the blogger seeks.

Those things are true, but they neglect a simple fact: a home is a house long before it becomes a home. The “hominess” is the result of a person living within a house and adding one’s own touch or flair to the dwelling. That doesn’t mean the house should be neglected in favor of style and decorative elements; quite the opposite. A home loses its allure when the paint fades or the foundation cracks. No one wants to live in an environment where the pipes spring leaks or where the floor is susceptible to becoming a sinkhole. People want to live in a place where they can rest in safety, where they can be comfortable.

Always check the foundation.

What is the foundation of a blog? It’s the underlying structure of the blog. It’s how the blog – the site – is arranged and organized. It’s the purpose, the why. Without that organization and understanding, the house becomes dysfunctional. Rooms are used for purposes that they are not meant. The house becomes a labyrinth. Its confusing structure catches a person unaware; the person becomes so lost within the blog that he or she cannot find the purpose behind it nor can he or she understand how to navigate from one part of the site to another.

Examine the walls.

The next component of the house are the walls – the things that find their roots in the foundation and hold up the roof. The walls of a blog are the actual posts. The posts are built upon the underlying foundation. They support the purpose of the blog, whatever that may be. For one blogger, it may be teaching his or her audience a new cake-decorating technique. For another, it could be sharing practical ways for becoming a better speaker. In both cases, the walls – the posts – must support those underlying purposes. If they don’t, the walls fall. The homeowner has to start again, this time keeping his or her purpose, the foundation, in mind.

Consider the roof.

Once the walls have been established, the roof can be addressed. The roof brings the four walls together. It unifies them. It gives cohesion to the walls and completes the work begun by the foundation. While the walls primarily act as an extension of the foundation, they also point toward the roof. They work toward a common goal, whether that be the goal of more e-letter subscribers, visits to the blog, or book sales. The roof is, in a way, the bookend of the foundation. The foundation is incomplete without the roof just as the roof is incomplete without the foundation. They need each other, and they need the walls that bring them together.

Now, build a house.

What joins the foundation, the walls, and the roof? A house can’t be built with only a concrete slab and some plywood and bricks. Other tools and supplies are needed. The different components of a house are brought together through piping, nails, and support beams. Such things in a blog are the things that the audience rarely sees or considers. It’s things like themes, which tie back to the purpose found in the foundation and the goal found in the roof. It’s consistency in writing blog posts. It’s things like grammar. Those things – and others – support the foundation, walls, and roof and bring those three things together. They are the glue, the cement, the nuts and bolts, the nails and staples.

The house already exists, and it has problems.

Of course, it’s not always that simple for the blogger. Not every blogger gets to start with a newly built house. Some bloggers have to work with pre-existing ones. Often, the conditions of that house are not ideal. Perhaps the foundation has sunk on one side of it. Maybe one of the walls is sagging. The roof could have a leak. Maybe some of the nails are missing, or a previous owner stretched the limits of a support beam. The house could have been vandalized. Maybe it has been left empty for so long that it requires not only maintenance but also the tearing down of walls so that they can be rebuilt. What does the blogger do in that case?

The blogger has one of two choices: he or she can ignore the issue or address it. Neither of those choices are preferable; the first only prolongs the inevitable, and the second means labor and inconvenience. Once the concern has been identified, though, something has to be done. That could mean adding support piers where the foundation has sunk. It could mean replacing windows and doors or adding insulation. Any of those acts has repercussions. Altering the foundation could result in nothing happening, but it’s equally likely that some sheetrock could crumble or that some plumbing could start to leak.

It’s also true that houses start to show their age after a certain amount of time. The house will need repairs. It could be time for a fresh coat of paint. The roof might need to be replaced. The walls could have started to crumble and need to be reinforced in some way. Maybe the homeowner now has a family and needs to add a room or two, that is, if the homeowner chooses to stay in his or her current house.

Blogging is no different; blogs start to show their age, too. The foundation may develop problems. Maybe the site needs a new look to bring it up-to-date and to keep it competitive with other sites. It could be that new goals – a new roof – are needed, particularly if the existing ones have been reached. Perhaps the posts need to grow and mature in order to support both the foundation and the roof.

Why all this focus on a blog as a house? Because it’s only after addressing foundational and structural issues that a house can become a home. It’s only then that a blogger can concern himself or herself with style and with adding that bit of personality that makes a site his or her blog.

25 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Google+ Hangouts

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

This Week’s Topic: Google+ Hangouts

Whether you love Google+ or hate Google+, I think one thing we can all agree on is that their hangouts are pretty cool. And now that everyone has the ability to publicly broadcast on air, hangouts give both content creators and businesses some cool options, from hosting webinars to simply chatting with fans online.

Today’s Brilliant Bloggers are all talking about hangouts, so read on to find more information about hangout tips, hangout ideas, hangout etiquette, and more!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

shira gal My Google+ Hangout Experiment by Shira Gal

What I like about this post from Shira, who is a self proclaimed “Duru” (do guru – love that concept), is that she goes through the entire hangout process from start to finish, talking about some of the problems she experiences with her hangout, tips to make things go more smoothly, and whether or not Google+ Hangouts are a better option than Skype and GoToWebinar. She’s honest about the limitations of Google+ Hangouts, as well as the high points of her experience. Check out her entire post, then consider following her on Twitter at @shira_gal and, of course, circling her on Google+.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Note: I usually only included Twitter handles here, but given the topic, I also includes Google+ profiles this week when I could find them!

  1. 4 Lessons from a Google Plus Hangout Moderator by Garrett Kuk (@garrettkuk / Google+)
  2. 5 Reasons Google Hangouts Are Cooler Than Skype For Video Chats by Tina Sieber (@tinasieber / Google+)
  3. 5 Ways To Use Google Plus Hangouts In Your Business by Arelthia Phillips (@PintopPro / Google+)
  4. 10 Ways B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Google+ Hangouts by Trevor Nolte (@trevornolte / Google+)
  5. Cameraman App for Google Plus Hangouts On Air by Sarah Hill (@SarahMidMO / Google+)
  6. Chris Brogan’s Google Plus Hangouts Tips – Live Video Chat For Business by Grant Crowell (@grantcrowell / Google+)
  7. Five Google+ Hangouts Features Businesses Will Love by Joseph Fieber (@josephfieber / Google+)
  8. Google Hangouts – A Creative Way to Increase Your Small Business by Jason Phillips
  9. Google Plus Hangouts On Air is a Killer App by John Jantsch (@ducttape / Google+)
  10. Google+ Hangouts: 4 Creative Ways People Are Using Group Video Chat by Amy-Mae Elliott (@amymaeelliott / Google+)
  11. Google+ Hangouts On Air and the Education On Air Conference by Melissa Venable (@melissa_venable / Google+)
  12. Google+ Hangouts On Air = Awesome for Your Business by Larry Snow (@SJCWebDesignLLC / Google+)
  13. Google+ Hangouts On Air Tips by Ray Hiltz (@newraycom / Google+)
  14. Google+ Hangouts On Air: What Marketers Need to Know by Mike Delgado (@mikedelgado / Google+)
  15. Google+ Launches Hangouts on Air to the Masses: What Marketers Need to Know by Pamela Vaughan (@pamelump / Google+)
  16. How Google Plus Hangouts can Help Your Business by Paolo Tosolini (@tosolini / Google+)
  17. How to Hold a Google+ Hangout and Why You Should by Marc Pitman (@marcapitman / Google+)
  18. How To Use Google Plus Hangouts On Air For Your Business by Luis Galarza (@luis_galarza / Google+)
  19. How To Video Podcast Using Google Plus Hangouts by Rob Jackson (@phandroid / Google+)
  20. Minding your Hangout Manners by James Fierce (@Fierce_Living / Google+)
  21. The Freelancer’s Ultimate Introduction to Google+ Hangouts by Laura Spencer (@TXWriter / Google+)
  22. Using Google+ Hangouts For Business by Sheryl Loch (@sherylloch / Google+)
  23. What People Are Using Hangouts For Other Than Hanging Out by Alex Growwman (@GrossmanAJ / Google+)

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

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Tumblr

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

Want to Find More Fans? The #1 Place You Need to Be (And It’s Not Facebook)

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Want More Fans? Go Mobile! We talk a lot about how you have to find your audience online. Go where they like to hang out, whether that’s Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or somewhere more niche like a community forum about your industry. It’s solid advice that you can use to build your business online or find more traffic for your blog, podcast, or videos.

But are you missing out on the number one place where your audience is hanging out?

Forget about Facebook. Say ta-ta to Twitter. The number one place you need to be to connect with your fan is on their mobile devices. This week, Pinterest released new mobile apps to connect with their social network via your Andriod phone, iPhone, or iPad, and this was a much-needed, smart move for the company. If your audience uses a mobile phone (and chances are good that they do), you need to be there.

Mobile by the Numbers

Mobile is growing at astounding rates. When Tom Webster talked about the state of social media at BlogWorld New York 2012, He kept mentioning over and over again how millions of people are accessing social sites via their mobile devices. According to a June 2012 report by mobiThinking:

  • As of the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscribtions world-wide. This is a huge increase from 5.4 billion in 2010 and 4.7 billion in 2009. Even when you take into account the fact that many people have more than one subscription, there are an estimated 4.2 billion people world-wide who are connected via their mobile devices.
  • Sales for mobile devices were up over 11% from 2010 to 2011. These sales are expected to grow another 7% by the end of 2012.
  • In 2011, over 470 million smartphones were sold (up over 60% from 2010). IDC predicts that in 2012, 686 million smartphones will be sold.
  • 68.7 million media tablets sold in 2011. This is predicted to rise to 106.1 million units in 2012.

In other words…mobile is important!

Taking Your Content Mobile

So how do you get a piece of the mobile pie? There are three main options, and I suggest that you explore all three:

  1. A mobile version of your website
  2. Mobile advertising
  3. A mobile app

If nothing else, it’s very important to have a mobile version of your website. Don’t point to your stats and say that no one mobile is visiting your site. Of course they aren’t if the site isn’t mobile-friendly. I can’t tell you how often I go to a site using my mobile phone and there’s some kind of pop-up feature that completely blocks everything and is so big I can’t click out of it. Even if you don’t have that problem, though, your site probably has teeny tiny text and is hard to navigate on a smaller screen. And let’s not forget about data costs. If your site isn’t optimized, it’s going to be expensive for someone to load, as well as taking a long time. So, install a mobile version of your website or develop a responsive design.

Mobile advertising is also a facet of this conversation to consider. If you’re a small business, use geo-targeting to reach people in your immediate area. But even if you’re not, you can make use of mobile advertising. Think about the huge number of apps that are downloaded every year and consider purchasing advertising with some of these apps that fit your niche/industry best.

Lastly, you may want to consider developing your own mobile app. App development can be expensive and if you aren’t a tech-savvy person, it can seem impossible. However, before you go out there and hire someone to create a custom app for you (or write it off completely), check out the affordable options offered by companies who specialize in helping small business owners, bloggers, and others online create their own apps. Some require more knowledge about app development than others, but at least you have options:

If you work in a specific industry, there may also be customizable apps you can choose. For example, here at NMX, we’re in the conference/trade show industry, so it makes sense to work with a tool specifically for events.

Not everyone needs an app, of course, but don’t ignore this option. If done properly, an app can bring you tons of new fans and customers.

Be Mobile

For a long time, I made the mistake of saying how much I hate my smartphone. I complained often about how I wish I could just have a phone that made calls and nothing else. I think a lot of people are in that same boat. But it’s the wrong boat to be in.

If you truly want to be successful on mobile, you have to understand how mobile devices are used. That doesn’t mean becoming an expert on the technology behind mobile, but it does mean having first-hand mobile experience. How do you use your smartphone most? When it’s your primary means of connection, what are some of your patterns of use? What are some of your biggest mobile frustrations? These are questions you can really only answer by being a mobile user yourself. So pick up your phone and learn to use it so you can see how your audience is using it too.

Three Steps To The Art Of The Tease

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Photo Credit: Tiom

When you want your listeners to stick around and listen to what you have to say, you need to give them a compelling reason.Your listener needs to anticipate what is to come later in the show. You need to excite them. You need to tease them.

Anticipation is a key feature to storytelling. Your story should build just like a good plot builds in a movie. You need to make your audience anticipate the content that is on the way.

Your story is similar to a vacation you are planning to take. The fantastic anticipation for the trip is almost as pleasurable as the trip itself. You can’t wait for it to arrive. You want your listener to feel the same way about your story.

When your listener can’t wait for the story to arrive, you have created some great content with a powerful tease. Your listeners will get more enjoyment from your show when they get the tease payoff more often. The pleasure of the “oh wow” factor will be increased. The joy of anticipation will keep your audience coming back for more.

There are three steps to creating an effective tease.

1. Intrigue me.

When you promote content that is coming up later in the show, you must give your audience an intriguing reason to stick around. It isn’t enough to simply say, “A great story about this weekend is coming up.” Few will stick around for the payoff. The tease lacks stickiness. It doesn’t hook the listener.

A creative tease produces anticipation. Instead, use something like, “You’re never gonna believe what I found in the attic this past weekend. My world is about to take a wild turn.” With that statement, your imagination begins to work.

What could it be? A wasp nest? An antique? A structural problem with the house? Imagination is the magic of a creative tease. Stir the imagination of your audience to truly engage them with your content.

When possible, intrigue by incorporating the listeners world. “This weekend, I discovered a way to save $100 a month on my grocery bill by changing one thing in the way we shop. I’ll tell you how you can do it too.” It answers “what’s in it for me” for your listener.

2. Give them 80%.

To create an effective tease, give your listener 80% of the story while leaving out the most important 20%. It is similar to giving the setup for a joke without providing the punchline. Lead your listener right up to the line, but make them wait to step over.

The key to an effective tease is to withhold the most important 20%. Let’s use our previous example of the attic weekend. I could say, “You’re not gonna believe it, but I found a $25,000 antique painting in the attic this weekend. I’ll tell you what’s on it coming up.”

This is a perfect example of withholding the wrong 20%. Who cares who is on it. If it’s worth $25,000, it could be a painting of the sky. It wouldn’t matter to me. I’d only be asking where I could sell it.

Twenty-five thousand dollars is the most exciting piece of information in the entire story. That is the piece that I need to withhold to create some excitement. To properly tease, I need to say, “In the attic this weekend, I found an antique painting of Napoleon. You’re never gonna believe how much it is worth.” You are more likely to stick around to see if I can retire on my winnings when I set it up in this fashion.

3. Make it impossible to search online.

You want your listener to keep listening for the payoff to your set up. If I can simply search on Google for the answer to your tease, there is no reason to keep listening. I can just look it up and be done with it.

You need to get creative to make your tease unsearchable.

Let’s say I have a story about Joe Celebrity getting drunk at High Profile Bar in Las Vegas over the weekend where he got arrested for assault. I could say, “Another movie star got arrested this weekend after he got in a fight with a customer at High Profile Bar in Las Vegas. I’ll tell you who it is coming up.”

Celebrity name is part of the correct 20% I’m withholding. However, I can look this story up on Google in a heartbeat. If I search “Arrest High Profile Bar Las Vegas” the chances are good that I will find the story in the first few search results. The tease isn’t effective. It is too easy to search.

To make the tease more powerful, make it impossible to search. “Another bar fight over the weekend landed another celebrity in jail. The story is coming up.” This tease makes it much more difficult to search. If you entered “celebrity bar fight weekend” in Google, 70 million results show up. It will be much easier to wait for my payoff than to begin searching 70 million Google entries.

The three steps to powerful teases will help you begin to engage your audience on the way to building powerful relationships. Use the three steps to entice people to listen to the episode. Then, use them again during the introduction of the show to get listeners to enjoy the entire recording.

You’ve worked hard to create your content. A lot of effort has been exerted on your part while writing and recording your show. Make your content intriguing by using these three steps to intrigue your audience.

When you use the art of the tease, your listeners will spend more time with your show. The increased frequency of the tease payoffs will help your audience enjoy your content more. When your show is more entertaining, it becomes more engaging. When you truly engage your audience with your content, you can begin building powerful relationships. That’s where trust and influence with your listener begins.

How Being a Nerd has Made Me a Better Blogger

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Are Nerds Better Bloggers I’ll admit it; I’m a total nerd. My idea of a romantic date night is playing video games or Magic: The Gathering with my boyfriend. I’d rather hang out online than hang out at a bar (most of the time). I can quote Doctor Who on command and would rather watch Star Trek than Sex in the City.

Perhaps my nerd-dom is summed up in the fact that I couldn’t think of a more recent popular non-geeky television show than Sex in the City.

Being a nerd isn’t really a badge of honor for me as much as it is a fact of life. Luckily, being a nerd has made me better at my job as a blogger. Here’s why:

  • Nerds are used to dealing with haters.

These days, being a geek is “cool.” Or so it seems. I would argue that living zombies and playing Madden with your “bros” doesn’t really make you nerdy. But regardless, nerds out there know how hard it was growing up loving books instead of cheerleading or chess instead of football. I count my lucky stars that I’m a girl, so I was never on the receiving end of a wedgie (do boys still give wedgies to one another on the playground?), but I was certainly teased and even bullied. It’s great experience for dealing with haters online. I’ve grown a thick skin over the years, which makes it easier for me to voice my opinions online without being fearful of people thinking I’m uncool.

  • Nerds love education.

Growing up, I was always the kid who actually liked going to school. The first day was exciting for me, and I would often start browsing through my textbooks as soon as I got them, even before we had homework assignments or had jumped into lessons. This love of education has really helped me as a blogger, because I’m constantly trying to learn new things in my niche. More importantly, I like the research aspect of blogging, which is where I feel like a lot of bloggers are lacking. The amount of misinformation online is astounding, and even most opinion pieces online could benefit from better research. Don’t just tell me why I should do something a certain way. Tell me what proof you have to back up your opinion.

  • Nerds are passionate about weird stuff.

To be successful as a blogger, you have to be passionate about your niche. Weirdly passionate. Nerds already get that. We’re fangirls and boys of weird stuff, whether it’s bringing Firefly back on the air and who shot first–Han or Greedo. We follow every snippet of news about books from our favorite authors  becoming movies, we spend hours creating fantasy characters for a new tabletop game, and we stand in line behind thousands of other people at ComicCon to see our favorite comic book artists. That weird obsessive behavior is what will make you successful in your niche, and trust me; nerds have weird down pat.

  • Nerds are driven.

I wasn’t given a basketball scholarship. Making friends didn’t come easily to me. Getting a date? Let’s not even talk about that. Growing up, if I wanted something, I had to try really, really hard. Even with academics, the competition to be best among nerds is fierce, and if you aren’t working hard, you’re falling behind. Nerds have to work extra hard at everything they do growing up, so it leads to a very driven personality in many cases. Now, that’s not to say that if you aren’t nerdy, you aren’t a hard worker. But as a nerd, I personally learned to be a very driven person, working hard for everything I have with nothing just handed to me. This is a quality that has helped me be a successful blogger today. You aren’t going to be successful if you aren’t willing or able to put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into your blog.

  • Nerds love a challenge.

Whether it’s figuring out that math problem or writing a novel or beating a video game villain, nerds love a challenge. And really, that’s what blogging is–a challenge. If you’re someone who easily quits when things get tough, this probably isn’t the right path for you, at least not as a career. Challenge is scary, but it can also be extremely rewarding. When you embrace the challenge of blogging and combine that with your nerdy nature to be driven, passionate, educated, and willing to express your opinions even in the face of haters, that’s when you can truly start to build a better blog.

So let your nerd flag fly! Embrace the inner geek, learn to love your dorky self, and start building a better blog instead of repressing those memories of getting picked last in gym class.

For other nerds out there: do you think being nerdy has helped you become a better blogger? And if you weren’t a nerd growing up, do you think that your personality as a child (and beyond) has helped you be successful as a blogger?

In Defense of BlogHer

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One of our favorite events to attend as a team each year is BlogHer. The BlogHer community is always welcoming and we never fail to come home on a positive note. This was the first year we weren’t able to attend. Instead, the entire NMX team headed to San Diego for a marathon team meeting so we could plan our own event. What we love about the blogosphere is the ability to live vicariously through blog posts, videos, tweets and Facebook updates, so that when we do miss out on an event, we can still feel like we were there. We eagerly read all the BlogHer ’12 news and updates.

In many of the BlogHer recaps, attendees expressed a different vibe this time around. They felt the event had gotten too big and lost some of its intimacy. Many wished for a smaller event like in past years and I’d really like to talk about that today. As someone who helps to plan a conference, I feel kind of funny commenting on BlogHer and I hope it’s not out of line to discuss this. However, I also think that this gives me a unique perspective that most attendees may not see.

All Conferences Want to Grow

When I first began working for NMX I was shocked at how much it costs to put on a conference, especially one where everyone wants to have food and fun programs. Some venues will charge $200 to plug in a power strip or ask for $50 per head or more to provide everyone with a $7 sandwich. If the conference has a food or beverage sponsor who wants to provide free or discounted food or drinks, the organizers still have to pay full price for the items in what is called a “corking fee” in the event industry. The organizer also has to hire bartenders and food servers from the venue at union rates (typically $20 an hour or more) as well to serve attendees their “free” food and drinks. Each room or exhibit hall booth space comes with its own set of costs too.  So it’s in a conference’s best interests to grow.

The more people who attend a conference, the easier it is to cover costs. Plus when you have a lot of attendees, there’s a better ability to land sponsors and exhibitors. These sponsors and exhibitors help to keep ticket costs low and allow the organizers to provide food, parties and other fun stuff. It’s not easy to find sponsors for a small conference. When you also factor in people who are, in essence, stealing from the conference by hosting unsanctioned events or suitcasing (selling products and services at an event without purchasing an exhibit space), conferences really don’t make money unless they get bigger. BlogHer is a business and all business owners agree they need to continue to grow and profit to succeed. The bottom line here is that if you want BlogHer to be successful then you should want to see them grow.

A Sign of the Times

There are other reasons to be happy for BlogHer for their growth beyond the business point of view. This growth is a positive sign for all who work in new media and all content creators. It says “we’ve arrived.” Exclusivity is an interesting thing. On the one hand, we like to have our little clubs and niches that other people don’t belong too because it makes us feel like special, early adopters who knew about a cool thing before the rest of the world found out. Yet, we complain about people who lock their tweets or don’t let us into a Facebook group or membership forum because they’re being too exclusive and cliquey. We really can’t have it both ways.

We, as a community of content creators, should be proud when a conference such as BlogHer achieves such growth. It tells us that our industry is growing and reaching the mainstream. Growth tells us there will be more jobs and opportunities in blogging, podcasting, web TV and video. It also tells us that we’re going to be taken seriously and not just written off as a bunch of insignificant bloggers. It tells us finding sponsors for our content is getting easier, and fewer people will be rolling their eyes at us when we say we blog for a living.

Conferences for radio or television broadcasters or book and newspaper publishers reach tens of thousands of people. If we want to be thought of in the same light and prestige as old media, we can’t think of ourselves as an intimate group that doesn’t want to grow. There are more online content creators than there are news reporters or radio disc jockeys. We should be embracing our numbers rather than lamenting them, because the numbers are where the big money and recognition is. The numbers mean there will be a place for us in the future.

The Challenge

Maybe the issue isn’t that BlogHer has so many people. Maybe it’s that folks feel that when a conference begins hosting thousands of people attendees feel as if they’re not receiving the same personal service. Maybe we’re not as upset with the numbers as we are disappointed that we’re no longer attending events where everyone knows our names. The challenge for any event is to not lose the personal vibe with the growth. As long as people still receive good service, and we can still welcome them with a smile and genuine appreciation for their participation we’ll be just fine. The key is to try and maintain the same feeling our community and our industry had when we were small even when we hit the big time.

Congratulations to all the people who organize and help to run BlogHer. Five-thousand attendees is a wonderful accomplishment and an important milestone for new media content creators. Here’s wishing you many more years of growth. All of us at the NMX team applaud your achievements!

Read on for More About BlogHer

Here’s a great roundup of posts about BlogHer so you can feel like you were there too!

 

 

How to Set Up Lighting for a Video Interview

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If you’ll be interviewing subjects in your videos, using the proper lighting is important for a professional-looking quality. One of the best set-ups to use is three point lighting, which uses a direct key light, filler light, and a back light. This kind of lighting allows you to see the subject’s face clearly, without any stark shadows, and it also makes the subject stand out from the backdrop.

For more information about three point lighting for video interviews, along with diagrams of your lighting set up, check out this video:

If you’re on a budget, don’t worry; you can still do three point lighting without the fancy equipment. Use the same general concept and principles with whatever lighting equipment you do have.

Want more great video tips? Check out the web TV and video track at New Media Expo in Las Vegas this January.

Quality Blog Content: It’s Not What You Think

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Quality Blog Content “You have to have quality content on your blog to succeed.”

“Search engine optimization only works if you have quality content.”

“Content is king.”

How often have you heard people say one of the above phrases or another version that essentially boils down to the need for high-quality blog posts if you want to succeed as a blogger? The word quality is throw around more often than any other, and justifiably so. I fully agree with the advice that, as a blogger, you will live or die by the quality of your content.

But what is quality?

One of the main problems I see in blogging world right now is that few people actually define what constitutes quality content. So let me ask right now: What is quality blog content? I personally don’t think there is a single, all-encompassing answer, but if you aren’t asking yourself that question, I wonder: how can you honestly be providing true, quality content?

What Quality is Not

I think we need to be disillusioned about the true definition of quality content as it relates to blogging. What comes to mind when someone says quality blog content to you? I’ll tell you my knee-jerk reaction:

  • Quality content is well-researched.
  • Quality content is written artistically and with care.
  • Quality content is original and interesting.

That’s my knee-jerk reaction…but I’m not sure it’s correct. At least not entirely.

If your blog needs quality content to be successful, and quality content is well-researched, artistic, created with care, original, and interesting, I have to ask: Why are there so many popular blogs online that do not have any of these characteristics?

I’d like to suggest that quality is not the same online as it is in the print media world. In fact, I think the definition of content quality online is still evolving.

What Quality Really Is

So if quality isn’t any of those things I’ve listed, what is quality content?

I’d like to suggest that quality content is this: Content created that will help you reach your overall blogging goal.

We’ve been talking a lot about goals here on the NMX blog recently. Last week, I asked, “Are Your Blogging Goals Realistic?” and before that, I posed the question, “Are Your Actions Aligned with Your Online Goals?” As a blogger, you probably have (and should have) several goals, but if pressed, what is the single thing you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is your goal to…

  • Sell a product?
  • Raise brand awareness?
  • Position yourself as an expert?
  • Educate your community?
  • Entertain readers?
  • Promote a cause or idea?
  • Enjoy the blogging process?

Any of these are justified goals, and most bloggers will point to more than one. But what’s your one general, most important goal? In order to create quality content, everything you write has to be created with that one goal in mind.

Quality in Action

To illustrate how this works, I’m going to use two very different blogs as an example. The first is celebrity gossip blog TMZ, and the second is social media blog Social Media Examiner. Very different blogs, right? But in their respective niches, they are both extremely popular.

TMZ’s goal is to entertain readers. You don’t go to TMZ for education, and they aren’t really trying to sell anything. Readers visit TMZ as a guilty pleasure, to pass the time, and to satisfy the natural curiosity we have to know how celebrities live.

Social Media Examiner isn’t about entertaining readers. This site is all about education. Yes, they sell products, and I’m sure they certainly want to be seen as experts in the social media field, but overall, this site is about educating their community.

Forget about niche, if you put content from TMZ on Social Media Examiner, readers will absolutely not think it is quality. The opposite is true as well. TMZ readers would not be happy if they started blogging in the same style as Social Media Examiner.

The Subject Nature of Quality

To everyone reading this post, the choice may seem simple: You’ll take Social Media Examiner over TMZ any day, am I right? But we’re an insular community in many respects, and what we like isn’t necessarily what others like. A lot of people use the Internet not for work, but for relaxing when they get home. The last thing they want to read online is educational content. They want fun. To them, Social Media Examiner may seem extremely low quality because the posts are long and boring.

In other words, quality is subjective.

It’s important to remember that why you’re throwing around advice that writing quality content is important. What’s quality in one niche or even to one blogger might be drastically different in another niche or to another blogger. So before you point to someone and say, “You content is not quality” and more importantly before you give advice about how to create quality content, it’s important to step back and ask whether or not the content is aligned with the goal of the blog.

Marcus Sheridan talks about making speeches more social

Author:

When I went to BlogWorld Los Angeles, I had one overwhelming thought. I LOVE that Marcus Sheridan guy! I had never seen him speak before, nor even heard of him, yet after his session, I was an immediate fan. Seriously, I can’t gush enough about what an incredible speaker he is, how he engages the audience, and how many fantastic insights he has for the small business owner. (You can hear his session from the most recent conference in New York by purchasing the Virtual Ticket!)

Check out what Marcus has to say about presenting and what makes for a memorable session in this interview from Blogcast FM‘s Srinivas Rao. Also, think that you can just blog when you feel like it? Marcus has some thoughts on that, too.

What do you think? Should speakers interact with their audiences more? Do you like a monologue or would you rather interact with the speaker throughout the session?

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