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October 2012

010 The Podcast Report – Leo Laporte Coming To NMX – Podcast Community Manager – And More!

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Hey everyone, Cliff Ravenscraft here. I’m back with another episode of The Podcast Report.

Podcast Community Manager
I’m very excited to welcome Megan Enloe as a co-host to The Podcast Report. Back in August, the staff of NMX hired Megan to come on board as a community manager for the podcasting community. In the episode, we explain how this differs from my role as the director of podcasting for the conference.

One thing is for sure, I could not be happier to work with Megan to bring about the full vision that the staff of NMX has for the podcasting community. You’ll get to hear a great deal more about this vision as we produce weekly episodes of The Podcast Report between now and the show in January.

New Name, Dates & Location

In this episode, Megan and I talk briefly about the official announcement of the name change from BlogWorld & New Media Expo to NMX (New Media Expo). We also talk about the fact that the next event is coming up January 6-8, 2013 in Las Vegas. The room rates are only $99 per night and if you’re a geek like me, you may want to stay an extra day or two to check out CES.

Leo Laporte Coming To NMX

I’m super excited to announce that Leo Laporte will be providing our Keynote address for Monday, January 7th. Leo is going to be doing something out at NMX that you will simply not want to miss. However, we’ll talk more about that in next week’s episode of The Podcast Report.

Register For NMX Today!

If you are serious about your podcasting efforts, I highly recommend that you attend the leading podcast industry conference. If you haven’t registered yet, click here to get registered today.

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What Podcast Listeners Really Want from Your Show Notes

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Your podcast is recorded, edited, uploaded, and ready to promote. Now you can sit back and enjoy lots of traffic right? Well, maybe. But don’t forget about writing some show notes! Although blogging is my personal preferred medium, I’m starting to listen to more and more podcasts, and was even previously part of a weekly video game podcast for a few years.

What I’m discovering as I continue to explore the world of podcasting is that everyone has their own style for show notes. From a listener’s perspective, here’s what I like to see in show notes to enhance my podcast experience:

Links: Lots and Lots of Links

I asked my Twitter followers what they consider to be the top characteristic of good show notes, and without fail, everyone said links. I concur. When you’re listening to an episode and the host or guest talks about something but doesn’t provide a link in the show notes, it can be infuriating.

Yes, I can just Google it. But I shouldn’t have to. As a podcaster, your job is to entertain me or teach me, not make me do that work for myself. When I’m forced to look up something by myself, you also run the risk of me finding the wrong information and not really understanding your podcast.

Bottom line, to not have links in your show notes when necessarily is just lazy. It’s a must for any serious podcaster.

Bullet Points

I can appreciate a few paragraphs along with your episode. I’m a writer and I like to read. Just make sure that actual “notes” section of the page is written in bullet points or another format that is extremely easy to skim. I want to know really quickly whether or not the episode is going to interest me.

Times and Topics

Something I’ve noticed that some podcasters do is include not just a list of topics, but also a time when they start talking about this topic during the episode. I absolutely love seeing this as a listener. Sometimes, a specific podcast isn’t super interesting to me, but they are cover one topic that I love or talking to a special guest I want to hear. If I can avoid listening to segments that don’t interest me, I’m a happy camper.

Advertisement Information

Yes, believe it or not, I want ads. If you talk about something on your show, even if a commercial, it might interest me, so I want to know where to find more important about the company. Make sure you note when something is an affiliate link, so I’m not caught off guard. It’s also helpful if you note whether you use the product/service yourself and recommend it or if it’s just a sponsor and you have no opinion on whatever they’re advertising.

Having links to sponsor’s sites in your show notes is not only good for your readers, but it also adds additional value for your sponsors. In some cases, you can up your ad prices significantly or make a lot of affiliate money if you include a link.

A Brief Note About the People in this Episode

Don’t take for granted that I know who you are just because this is your 193rd episode. It might be the first one I’m listening to. At the top of your show notes, include a brief line about each host and guest on the podcast. Don’t assume that new listeners will seek out this information themselves.

Explanations of “Inside” Jokes

I absolutely hate it when I don’t understand a joke and it isn’t explained to me. You can certainly strengthen your community by having inside jokes and references only they “get” because it makes them feel like part of a club, but share that secret handshake with your brand new listeners too. Link to the episode where the joke originated and give a brief explanation.

Pictures

The best show notes out there have images. As I’m following along with your podcast, I want to see what you’re talking about. Of course, podcast listeners don’t always have show notes in front of them, so you can’t rely on visuals, but having images where relevant is a nice touch.

Your turn to tell us what you want from show notes. Whether you’re a podcaster yourself or just an avid fan, what do you look for in show notes? What makes some podcasters’ show notes better than others? Leave a comment!

10 Reasons to Blog Every Day

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10 reasons to blog every day Every November, writers around the world join together for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an every-day-writing challenge that’s so popular, it’s spread to blogging with National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). Today, bloggers of all kinds come together monthly to post daily, whether about business or photography or their family life, sticking to that everyday schedule for an entire month and encouraging each other along the way.

Have you considered joining them and taking the challenge to post every day? Should you? Does it make sense? What does daily blogging have to offer?

To help answer that question, let’s take a look at 10 of the biggest benefits that come from a month of posting every day!

1. Increases Self-Discipline

A common piece of advice given to new bloggers (even if it’s considered overrated advice) is to post every day, at least for a month. Why is this advice so common? Why do many feel daily posts are so important? Perhaps it’s because regular posting, more than anything else, helps establish the blogging habit. “It is said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something,” writes John Rampton. “If that is the case then you need to spend lots of time practicing. “ What better way to practice than through the habit of daily posts?

”Daily practice in developing my voice means that I’ve been able to find words more quickly and say things more effectively, which is always a benefit even when you’re writing an e-mail to a client.” Blogger Dawn Storey, Alphabet Salad

2. Builds Community

Now hosted by blogging mega-community BlogHer, NaBloPoMo is an instant way to connect with other bloggers. Participants link up to their postings on BlogHer’s site, distributing their content amongst others taking part. This gives you a ready audience with whom to share your content, as well as other bloggers to reach out to and form relationships with. What’s more, to encourage participants, BlogHer offers regular inspiration, advice and writing prompts throughout the month to help make it easier for you to stick with the challenge.

3. Forces Creativity

The biggest hindrance that most bloggers who consider a monthly of daily posting find is coming up with daily things to write about. While posting every day may seem intimidating, the truth is, it could also be key in unlocking creativity.

There’s an old saying: “If you want to be a writer, write!” By forcing yourself to blog every day, you gain regular practice in blogging and force regular productivity.  “To be honest, the more you write, the more creative you become,” says David Santistevan, GoinsWriter.com.

Blogger Christopher S. Penn agrees:

”[When you’re blogging every day,] you run into your own limits. Forcing myself to a daily content scheme forces me to be creative, forces me to think outside the box, forces me to look at old things in new ways to see if there are additional avenues to extract value.”

4. Forces Faster Writing

If you’re like a lot of writers, you can easily spend so much time tweaking a project that you never finish. By forcing yourself to blog every day, you practice calling projects done. And as you, every day, have to come up with a new post and hit publish, you get better and faster at creating. This is not only good for blogging but also for all your work, as you push against perfectionism.

”Get the post up fast, not perfect. You can edit if you have to, later. Perfectionism kills good habits.”  Blogger Chris Brogan, ChrisBrogan.com

5. Adds Value to Your Site

When you’re daily posting quality content (and quality is key!), you’re giving readers a solid reason to keep coming back to your site—and this not only boosts SEO but also your value in the minds of your audience.

6. Encourages Comments

More posts mean more opportunities for readers to weigh in. What’s more, sometimes the more real-time nature of daily posts is more conducive to discussion as the posts feel less finished and polished.

7. Builds Website Authority

Daily posting can help boost your website authority, which improves your influence on the Web and sends the message to search engines that you’re an expert. Zemanta CEO Bostjan Spetic saw this firsthand when he decided to post once a day for a full month:

”I’ve learned that my blogging more regularly has brought more visitors to my blog and has raised my profile in the industry; in other words, I am becoming more influential,” said Bostjan Spetic in “One CEO’s Story on the Benefits of Daily Blogging” published on Contently.com.

8. Increases Back-Links

Every new post is a new opportunity to generate back-links—a key factor in search results. The more valuable your site is, the more links you’ll acquire from other sites, too, which is also good for both SEO and referral traffic.

9. Boosts Overall Search Rankings

The combination of greater website authority and more backlinks can lead to higher search rankings. As most SEO experts will tell you, more blog content usually translates to better search results. In fact, “you’ll get the most out of your SEO program if you publish new content as often as possible,” says Brandon Cornett at Austin SEO Guy. Why is this the case? The more you’re posting quality content, the more opportunities you have to draw the attention of readers, the more ways search engines can notice you, the more established your site becomes.

10. Increases Traffic

When blogger Todd Schnick posted every day for a month, he saw unique visitors to his site more than double; the same thing happened to Ryan M. Healy of RyanHealy.com. Why the huge uptick? Most likely the change came partly from better SEO and partly from the new content drawing readers each day. One thing’s certain, though, an idea that doubles traffic is an idea worth considering.

What do you think? November is fast approaching, and along with it, another opportunity to test this strategy yourself. Have you already participated in a NaBloPoMo? Will you? Or does the thought of posting daily leave you scared stiff?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Social Media Checklist: 12 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Tweet

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Social media managers have definitely been known to get themselves into hot water. For example, during a presidential debate, KitchenAid made a very insulting joke at President Obama’s expense, due to an employee who tweeted from the company account rather than a personal account. This certainly isn’t the first time a rogue tweet has made the news, and I’m sure it won’t be the last either.

Whether you’re tweeting on behalf of your employer or just tweeting from your personal account, what you say matters. Your tweets reflect on you and everyone who chooses to interact with you, including family members, co-workers and employers, and friends. So it doesn’t really matter if the tweet in my example came from KitchenAid’s account or the user’s personal account. It was still something the person should have thought twice about tweeting.

You can’t really erase something you’ve said online. People are quick to take screenshots, so just because you delete something in one place doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. And yes, digital blacklists do exist, so a single tweet can cause you to lose sponsorship deals, employment opportunities, and even friends.

So before you tweet, here are ten things to ask yourself:

  1. Am I tweeting from the right account?
  2. Does my tweet fit within my (or my company’s) brand online?
  3. Am I too emotional right now? (If you don’t know, wait three hours and see if you still feel like sending the tweet!)
  4. Would I be okay with my mother/grandmother/role model reading this tweet?
  5. Will I be okay with my children (or future children or nieces/nephews/whatever) seeing this tweet when they Google me someday?
  6. If a potential employer reads this tweet, will I miss out on job opportunities?
  7. Is the tweet clear or could it be confusing for some people? (This is especially important when using sarcasm or making a joke.)
  8. Are the links in the tweet working?
  9. Does my language (cursing or otherwise) reflect my personality and represent me well?
  10. Is tweeting a reply publicly the right choice or would a DM be better?
  11. Have I made my tweet short enough for others to retweet?
  12. Have I used hashtags when relevant so others can find my tweet?

Mistakes happen. I can’t count how many times I’ve accidentally tweeted from the wrong account or with a broken link. But even when I make a mistake, it’s not a big deal because I’m careful about what I say on Twitter regardless of the account I’m using.

The moral of today’s story? Be careful what you say online. Statements have a way of coming back to haunt you in ways you can’t imagine. Err on the side of caution, especially if you’re managing multiple accounts, and remember: just because you can say something online, doesn’t mean you should.

24 Must-Read WordPress Tips and Tricks

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WordPress tips Whenever I do a workshop on WordPress, I see the little flashes, the light bulbs that turn on when someone finally “gets it.” And it isn’t always something earth-shattering. Often it’s that tiny problem that’s been bugging you forever. You know—the one that when you solve it, life becomes a little easier.

Here 24 tips and shortcuts that might eliminate some of those bumpy spots in the road:   

  1. When you do a return in a post or page, you always get a double space. If you want it single, simply press <shift> <return> on your keyboard.
  2. Creating a powerful password for your admin login is the first step in making your site more secure. The second is to change that password monthly.
  3. To get your readers to click through to your full post, stop it at exactly the spot where they will be most curious to read the next sentence. Every post has such a spot (or it should). To take advantage, stop the post there and insert the “read more” tag.
  4. If you have unused plugins or themes installed, and have not activated, delete them. This greatly beefs up site security.
  5. If you are looking for a WordPress developer to create your site, your first question should be: “Do you know php?” If they claim to be a developer (not a designer), but their answer is no,  run!
  6. Don’t use a widget because it’s cool and shiny. Use it because it is useful to your reader.
  7. Whether it’s your WordPress blog or website, make sure that people are able to contact you. Don’t hide your contact info in size two font in the footer of the page. Make a separate, highly visible contact page.
  8. Remember, it’s WordPress. Capital W, capital P, no space between. If you land on a site and they call themselves a WordPress expert, but spell the name wrong, beware.
  9. When inserting a photo into your post or page, don’t forget the alt (alternate) tag. This is what Google looks for when it’s indexing images on the web and the big G doesn’t like a site with alt tags missing.
  10. If you have chosen to block search engines in your privacy setting during the construction of your blog or website, remember to turn it back on when you go live. Because that little sucker blocks them good.
  11. Keeping your plugins up-to-date is just as important as keeping your WordPress version up-to-date.
  12. Do you want to change your homepage to a static page rather than your blog? Can’t figure out what to do? Create a page for your homepage and one for your blog. Then go to settings >reading and change the settings on the “front page displays.”
  13. If you are self-hosted, back up your database and all your files regularly. Hear that? Back up, back up!
  14. Think about the theme you choose for your blog or website. Does it meet all your needs? Does it allow your site to grow as your business grows? Because if you decide to switch themes down the road, chances are it’s not a simple one-click process.
  15. If you fly off the handle or rant in a blog post, remember, the moment you hit that publish button, it appears on the web and to your RSS subscribers. If you are angry when you write a post, it’s always best to save it as a draft and revisit it later for one last look.
  16. Use a photo to provoke emotions in your blog post. Not only will you attract more readers, but they will remember your content longer.
  17. If you have only one row of tools when you are creating a page or post, simply click on the far right button, “show kitchen sink,” and you will get a whole second row of tools.
  18. If you are still using the default “admin” for your user name, it’s time to get rid of it. Create a new one, then delete the old one, assigning all posts and pages to your new user name. Otherwise you are giving hackers 50% of your login info.
  19. If you cannot find an option on your edit post or page window, check the tab “screen options” in the upper right corner. That feature may be hidden.
  20. To expand your editor window, grab the lower right, ridged corner and drag it.
  21. Be careful when you underline text. Readers still have a habit of thinking any underlined text is a link.
  22. Remember to turn off your comments on static pages. No one wants to comment on your about or contact page.
  23. Remove or replace the default blog tagline under your general settings. Otherwise, people will see that generic message that says, “Just Another WordPress Site.”
  24. And lastly, don’t be taken in by over-promises.  Like most worthwhile things, WordPress has a learning curve.

Yahoo! and You Too

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Stan Slap Kicking off our 2013 BusinessNext Social conference (formerly the Social Media Business Summit) on day one is Stan Slap, president of the international consulting company called, by remarkable coincidence, “slap.” Stan has a history of accomplishments as a CEO with as many as 5,000 employees reporting to him and has served as a director of several companies with their CEOs reporting to him, which he prefers a whole lot more.

Stan has directed the successful expansion for companies ranging from Patagonia to Pennzoil. He designed the plan that helped Oracle sell their strategic intent to 40,000 employees in 167 countries and developed employee re-engagement plans for HSBC, Europe’s largest bank. He has created winning brand strategies for companies from Deloitte to Black Entertainment Television. He has invented many successful advertising campaigns, consulted to leading advertising agencies and personally written slogans for companies from Coca-Cola to Checkpoint Software.

I had the pleasure of working with Stan in 2002-2003, back in the days when he spiked his hair and his book Bury My Heart in Conference Room B was merely a life changing experience. Ten years later, thousands more people are living their values at work, and Bury My Heart in Conference Room B is a New York TimesWall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller.

Stan’s latest thinking – advice to Marissa Mayer on how to go about restoring Yahoo! to its former glory – is featured today on Forbes.  Stan begins:

“I don’t know Yahoo! personally; they’re not one of my company’s clients. But I know how cultures work and how to work them. The turnaround that Marissa Mayer is attempting will be decided by the reactions and actions of its manager, employee and customer cultures – in that order. You may not know Yahoo! either but these are the same three groups that are deciding the success of your own company while you read this sentence. Listen up.

A culture is not simply a bunch of managers, employees and customers. When they form as a culture, each of these groups is far more self-protective, far more intelligent and far more resistant to standard methods of corporate influence.”

In the article, part of Mark Fidelman’s “Socialized and Mobilized” column, Stan outlines Marissa’s main challenges — to foster the manager culture’s willingness to treat the success of the company like a personal cause; to win the trust of an employee culture pre-conditioned to be weary and wary; and to regain its brand status, which has been the subject of sightlessness inducing self-abuse — and how to overcome them. 

To hear more of Stan’s take on business today, be sure to register to see him live and in person on January 6th at the BusinessNext Social conference in Las Vegas (powered by BlogWorld).

For Internet trolls, Freedom of Speech is not Freedom from Accountability

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anonymity on the internet Every few years, when a well-known and roundly reviled Internet personality is outed by investigative bloggers, a vocal minority attacks the unmasking as a violation of free speech.

The argument, trotted out most recently by defenders of Michael “Violentacrez” Brutsch upon his 4,700-word public shaming by Gawker as “the Biggest Troll on the Web,” boils down to this: “No one deserves privacy, but we deserve anonymity.”

As a highly active Reddit user, Brutsch spent years sharing salacious pictures of underage girls as “jailbait,” voyeuristic photos of women in public and much, much worse, including pictures of dead teenagers. Now that his unsettling hobbies have cost him his job, supporters are claiming that the outing by Gawker’s Adrian Chen is a threat to free speech across Reddit, which bills itself as “the front page of the Internet.”

This idea, that bloggers are somehow threatening free speech by outing anonymous Internet users, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It is not an impenetrable shield for anonymity, nor does it make any American immune to accountability for our actions.

The First Amendment protects us from our government, but rarely from each other. In other words, the same law that gives Brutsch the right to say despicable things also gives Chen the right to call him out for it.

In fairness, being confused about the Constitution’s protection of free speech is understandable. The First Amendment is so short, it could be reprinted verbatim in two tweets, and yet it is quite possibly the most complex and carefully parsed law in the land.

The First Amendment is a protection granted by the government against the government. But outside journalistic circles, it typically gets simplified down to the idea that we can say whatever we want without repercussions. Of course we can’t.

Free speech always carries implications far beyond the legal system. It can get you ostracized by your friends, families and peers, not to mention making it difficult to find a job or seek public office. That’s always been the case, but it used to apply only in rare cases of whistleblowers and political dissidents. Today, the Internet has opened the danger of accountability to millions who live in a digital universe where being anonymous is the norm instead of the exception.

In times gone by, anonymous authors and snarky gossip columnists made the decision in advance to hide their identity specifically because of the content they were creating.

Today, that model has been flipped. Many Internet users begin within the comforting cloak of anonymity and then, seduced by the lack of consequences for their actions, start saying things that they would never say in public. Some devolve further into trolls, clutching that anonymity cloak as if it made them invisible. When it is suddenly stripped away, they realize just how precarious of a situation they’ve made for themselves.

Their only hope at that point is to recast themselves martyrs of free speech. They see their impending accountability and use it to terrify their legion of anonymous Internet peers. “Today, they came for me. Tomorrow, will they come for YOU?”

That’s an argument that occasionally has legs. When a record label sues an Internet service provider for the names of its users in hopes of finding an illegal downloader, we all get nervous. Companies rarely have the right to know about what we each do in the privacy of our own homes, and all of us are right to be concerned.

But in the case of Internet trolls like Brutsch, we’re not talking about being exposed for our private actions. We’re talking about being exposed for our public actions. We’re talking about accountability.

And it should be noted that Brutsch did relatively little to hide his identity. He attended public Reddit meetups and put himself up for questioning in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” Q&A session. Brutsch’s wife and son are reportedly active on the site, as well, and have linked their accounts to his. His voice even appears on podcasts. Chen didn’t subpoena anyone to learn who Brutsch was or rifle through the man’s garbage; he just put a few obvious clues together once he got the right tip.

When word got out that Chen would be publicly identifying Brutsch, some Reddit moderators retaliated against Gawker by removing links to the popular blog from the areas of Reddit that they curate. The Politics Subreddit moderators went so far as to say they were punishing Gawker for its “serious lack of ethics and integrity.”

These moderators are well within their rights to evict Gawker. However, in the process, they send a pretty hypocritical message: “You suppress our guy and we’ll suppress you.” Since when do Redditors wage their battles by limiting access to information?

Reduced traffic is a consequence Gawker and Chen were likely prepared for. There’s no law guaranteeing them fair treatment on Reddit, just as there is no law guaranteeing outed trolls like Brutsch fair treatment anywhere else.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

The Top 5 Phrases Successful Bloggers Never Say

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We all measure blogging success in different ways. For some, it’s seeing those traffic numbers increase every month. Others care most about their bank account, and still others just want to write something they’re proud of writing. Whatever your goals, though, you can learn from the people who are already successful (by your own standards) in your niche.

Study their techniques and tips all you want, but at the core of success is attitude. What you don’t say is what matters most in finding success. You have to mentally get your ducks in a row first.

These are five things top bloggers do not say to others…or even to themselves:

1. “I don’t feel like it.”

Being a successful blogger is hard work. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. Do not buy it if someone tries to say that making money online is easy. They’re probably trying to sell you some kind of secret or something, but there is no secret. It’s just about hard work.

Successful bloggers never say that they don’t feel like blogging (or working on the business end of their blog) and instead take time off. They just get stuff done. The idea that you get to flit away on vacations or spend all day with your kids is a silly notion. For each hour your spend away from your computer, you have to replace it with an hour (or even more) at your computer. Time management tips can help, but if you can’t hack the work, you aren’t going to find success.

And, really, if you’re saying that you don’t feel like working on your blog, perhaps this isn’t your true passion after all. Over six years after I wrote my first blog post, I still absolutely love doing this. Sure, I have my days (don’t we all), but if you never feel like it, if blogging is a chore to you, go out there and find something more fun to do with your life.

2. “I should *insert task here* but I’m just way too busy.”

Top bloggers might say no when they are legitimately busy, but be careful with how many opportunities you miss with the excuse of being too busy. If you really want to do something, you will find the time. Several times at NMX (previously BlogWorld), keynote speakers have flown across the country for just a single night in order to give their talk. You can usually make time if you really want to do something.

That doesn’t mean that you should spread yourself so thin that you never sleep. What it does mean, however, is that you prioritize your tasks honestly, work on your time management skills, and stop lying to yourself about being busy when you really just don’t want to do something.

3. “This is easy.”

I never take someone seriously if they say blogging (professionally) or making money online is easy. It is not easy. This goes back to point one – blogging is hard work and anyone who tells you differently is lying.

Furthermore, you’ll probably notice that top bloggers have all gone through struggles to get where they are today. Beware overnight successes. They’re usually lying, doing something to scam the system, or both.

Even after you’ve “made it,” blogging isn’t easy. There are a lot of cogs in this machine, and you have to grease them all daily. Yes, the hope is you can someday hire people to help you or sell your blog completely, but the truth of the matter is that it will never be easy.

4. “I can’t.”

I recently wrote a post about the three words killing your blog, and those three words are “I don’t know.” The sister of “I don’t know” is “I can’t.” These two phrases should be banned from your vocabulary! If you don’t know something, figure it out. Google is your friend. If you can’t figure it out, find someone who can. Social media is your friend, too.

Top bloggers never say they can’t do something and just give up. They are problem solvers, and they find a way to make things happen, one way or another. If you can’t fix a problem, find a path around it. If you can’t find a path around it, ask for help. “I can’t” is just another excuse.

5. “I don’t care.”

Lastly, if you don’t care about your blog and your business, what are you doing in this industry? Top bloggers are extremely passionate and in tune with every part of their business. They care what font is being used in their posts. They care what community members say in the comments. They care about minute details that probably don’t actually matter at all.

To be a top blogger, their blog is their baby. If you don’t feel that strongly about your blog, think about changing your niche. You have to care about the details to be successful.

I already talked about banning “I don’t know” and “I can’t” from your vocabulary, but in actuality, all of the above phrases should be banned! Are there any I’m missing? What phrases do you think bloggers need to ban to be successful? Leave a comment!

Bloggers, Are You So Focused On “What Works” That You Forget “What’s Right”?

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Like all bloggers, I can sometimes get a little wrapped up in stats. I love looking at my traffic, doing split testing, and trying out new techniques. One of the reasons I enjoy attending NMX (previously BlogWorld) is learning new ways to get traffic, how to create content that engages readers, and build a brand online. I’m always interested in hearing about others’ experiences with what works and what doesn’t work.

But sometimes, I worry that we get so focused on what works that we forget what’s right.

NMX has been part of the “are Internet marketers scammers” debate for quite some time, and I feel like this is the core of the issue: Almost any tool or technique used to make money online can be manipulated by scammers.

Let’s use SEO (search engine optimization) and guest posting as an example. You can boost your SEO through writing high-quality guest posts on others’ blogs and linking back to your own blog within the post or at the end of the post in a bio line.

Someone using this technique the right way will link to high-quality, relevant posts that give the reader more information. They’ll be upfront about where the link leads and seek to guest post on blogs that have a connection to their own niche.

Someone trying to game the system will write low-quality articles stuffed with keyword links. They don’t care about the topic. They don’t care about whether or not the links are beneficial for readers. They only care about their precious links. Often, they don’t even write these posts themselves, but instead hire freelancers. Now, as a freelance writer myself, I can say that there’s nothing wrong with hiring a freelancer to write guest posts for you, but not if you pay them $3 per post to basically “spin” or even blatantly plagiarize stuff already online.

Luckily, Google is increasingly improving their search engine algorithm to prevent any kind of manipulation like this, but it still happens. I see it all the time.

It’s tempting to do whatever works. You have to keep up with the Joneses, and if all the other bloggers in your niche are doing it to gain advantage, it’s hard to say no. If crappy guest posts on unrelated blogs give you a huge boost in search engine traffic why wouldn’t you do it?

Because despite it being what works, it’s not what’s right.

What is right for your readers? What is right for the Internet? Are you making the world better in some way or are you contributing to the problem?

I haven’t always made the best decisions with my own blogs. I’ve tried techniques and tools that resulting in huge ROI, but just didn’t sit right with me from an ethical standpoint. I think it’s okay to make these mistakes as long as you’re constantly monitoring yourself.

When’s the last time you held yourself accountable?

The reason people who make money online (especially those teaching others how to make money online too) get labeled as scammers is because there’s a lack of this self-regulation. We need to be better than that. Before calling out others we feel are scamming people or only contributing trash to the Internet, it’s important to look internally. Ask yourself, what can I be doing better?

And definitely speak up. It can be intimidating to say that a popular blogger is doing something you don’t agree with, but the only way this world of online content will get better is if we’re all honest about our own activities and willing to vet our role models. When you go against the crowd with legitimate concerns, you might be surprised at how many people agree with you.

Lastly, if you’re heading to NMX this January, please take the time to fill out the surveys about individual speakers after attending sessions or even just shoot us an email with any concerns. We don’t just want to know who is a good public speaker. We also want to know who is teaching valuable information, not contributing to the problem by promoting techniques you consider to be scams. There is definitely some grey area here, but your opinion matters to us.

Amy Jo Martin and Kare Anderson Join BusinessNext Conference as Co-hosts

Author:

We’re excited to announce that Kare Anderson, author, columnist and CEO of Say it Better Center, and Digital Royal University Founder Amy Jo Martin are joining Mark Fidelman as co-hosts of our BusinessNext Social conference (formerly known as the Social Media Business Summit).

Kare Anderson is an Emmy-winning, former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter turned speaker and strategist on quotability, connective behavior, and making places and conferences more meaningful by storyboarding them. She’s been a state senator’s chief of staff, co-founder of nine PACs, founding board member of Annie’s Homegrown and coach to over 30 pre-IPO teams. Kare also writes for ForbesHuffington Post and the Harvard Business Review, and she’s the author of Moving From Me to WeResolving Conflict Sooner, Walk Your Talk and Getting What You Want.

Amy Jo Martin founded Digital Royalty and Digital Royal University to help companies, celebrities, professional sports leagues, teams and athletes build, measure, and monetize their digital universe. Clients include Shaquille O’Neal, FOX Sports, Nike, The X-Factor, Chicago White Sox, UFC and Dana White, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Los Angeles Kings, Jabbawockeeez, and Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com.  Amy herself has nearly 1.3 million Twitter followers (@AmyJoMartin) and she travels the world to speak about the latest trends in social media, how to monetize various social platforms, and how to successfully build a personal brand by utilizing social media.

Kare, Amy, and Mark will guide attendees through the three jam-packed days of TED-style sessions, on-stage interviews, and roundtable discussions with some of the world’s foremost social business leaders and influencers.

“I’m thrilled that Kare and Amy Jo are joining the show,” says Mark. “I couldn’t think of two more qualified people to help attendees make sense of the disruptive technologies and social business strategies that are accelerating the rise and decline of businesses.”

Follow @BizNextEvents to stay abreast of conference and speaker news and promotions. BusinessNext takes place at the same time and same venue as NMX, January 6-8, 2013 at the Rio in Las Vegas and is the go-to event for any company that wants to succeed online.

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