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November 2012

23 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Blogger Health

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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: Blogger Health

The combination of working long hours at a desk, squinting at a computer screen all day, and working from home with full access to the fridge is a recipe for pretty poor health conditions for most bloggers. So this week, we’re talking about blogger health. This is an edition of Brilliant Bloggers we all need in order to ensure that we’re healthy enough to blog well into the future. Take care of yourself, everyone!

(Note: I am not a doctor, so before putting any practices into effect, also talk to your family physician to make sure it’s the best choice for your body!)

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

Say Bye-bye to Blogger Body, and Hello to Better Health by Tania Dakka

This post from Tania covers all of the essentials that you need to know about blogger fitness. Tania goes into details about five ways to live a healthier life as a blogger: diet, hydration, focus, exercise, and sleep. Writes Tania:

As bloggers, we love to get things done. We’re experts at hyper-focusing. And it feels good—really good—when we write master content we know rocks our readers’ worlds—even if it means hours on hours in the chair bent over our keyboards, drinking pots of coffee, and eating whatever we can get our hands on.

But, you’re bound to hit the wall sooner or later. The aching in your back that’s screaming louder than your three-year-old will become a relentless signal that can’t be ignored.

You have to take care of yourself—or your content will suffer.

After checking out Tania’s post, which is a guest post on the Problogger blog, check out her own blog, at TaniaDakka.com and follow her on Twitter at @taniadakka.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 7 Big Benefits of Exercise for Bloggers by Jared Singler
  2. 8 Useful Tips for Bloggers to Stay Healthy by Dr. Rajesh Moganti (@rajeshmoganti)
  3. 30 Useful Health Tips For Full Time Bloggers by Vijayraj Reddy (@vijayrajreddy)
  4. Are Bloggers Really Putting their Health at Risk? by Lea Woodward (@leawoodward)
  5. Blog, But Do Care About Your Health! by Saksham Talwar (@sakshamtalwar)
  6. Blogs May Help Teens Reduce Social Stress by Rick Nauert PhD
  7. Blogger Fitness Tips from Bob Greene by Kelby Carr (@typeamom)
  8. Computer Work Postures and Injury: The Stress of Reaching for the Mouse, A Doctors’ Perspective by Dr. Steven R. Jones
  9. Does Blogging Help New Mothers Relieve Stress? What the Research Actually Shows by Kristen (@stressandhealth)
  10. Free Stretching Exercise Reminder for Computer Users by Binary Head
  11. Health Tips for Bloggers: Stay Healthy While you Blog by Richard  (@thefreshhealth)
  12. How to Improve Your Computer Fitness by Heather Long
  13. On Being a Healthy Blogger by Darren Rowse (@problogger)
  14. Organizing for Health by Raquel (@OrganizedIsland)
  15. Optimize Your Health for Better Blogging by Joey and Chris (@versatilehealth)
  16. Some Health Tips For Bloggers by Fazal Mayar
  17. Stay Healthy in Spite of Your Addiction to Blogging by Brankica Underwood (@brankicau)
  18. Stress Less: 4 Tips To Stress Free Blogging by Lisa Drubec
  19. The Blogger’s Workout Plan by Taylor Davies (@shutupilovethat)
  20. Time Management Case Studies: Full-Time Blogger Fitness by Marissa Brassfield (@efficient)
  21. Tips To Maintain Your Health While Blogging by Atish Ranjan (@atishranjan)
  22. Your Computer Posture Could Be Hurting You by Dr. Cynthia Horner (@drcynthiahorner)

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

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Time Management for Bloggers

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.

013 The Podcast Report – One Event To Rule Them All

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Hey everyone, Cliff Ravenscraft here. I’m back with another episode of The Podcast Report with my co-host, Megan Enloe.

In this episode we share the news that there will only be one, single, New Media Expo event in 2013. You can read the full blog post with the announcement here. This excited me, personally, because I know many folks from my own community that can only afford to attend one event like this each year. I am thrilled to know that all my content creator friends will have one event where we are guaranteed to meet up face to face each year.

Also in this episode, Megan and I talk with John Mierau from ServingWorlds.com. John is an author and podcaster and will be speaking at NMX as a part of a panel session, with other creatives, titled “Using Comedy to Humanize Characters and Hook Listeners in Audio Fiction.” Listen to this interview with John to learn why he is excited about attending NMX and why you should consider attending his session, even if you are not a fiction author.

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Why You Want To Make Your Listener Forget

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Image Credit: Shaileshnanal

There is a primary reason most people seek entertainment. They want to escape reality. Help your listener make their escape by making them forget they are listening to a recording.

People want to forget about their troubles of the day. To get away, they watch movies, go to concerts, watch television, listen to radio and spend time with your podcast. People get wrapped up in another time, place and story. This makes them forget about their reality, even if it is only for a short time.

Take them to another place with your podcast by using stories. Make your storytelling so strong that their imaginations put your listener in another time and place. That’s what great storytelling is all about. That’s what great relationships are all about. It is engagement.

So, how do you make them forget? How do you engage and entertain to the point where your listener is so engrossed with your content that they forget about everything else? What are the steps to create a great story?

Take a few tips from movies and television. Tell compelling stories just like the movies.

Here are the five things you need to remember in order to create great tales for your podcast.

1. Have great characters

Every story has great characters. You may love them. You may hate them. Either way, you remember them, because they stir emotions within you.

The characters are well-defined. You feel like you know them. During the story, you find yourself either rooting for them or against them.

Podcasts create these characters in various ways. It may be the host that is the character. The host may tell stories about others. The people defined in the e-mail questions answered during the show could be the characters of the stories. You could take phone calls or voicemail questions from people. Their voice alone helps define their character. Live guests with colorful backgrounds are also a source for great characters.

“Billie Jo, single mother of two who works as a waitress in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to make ends meet” is somebody you can begin to envision in your imagination. “She uses her kids to shoplift” completely changes your perception of her.

Great characters get your audience wrapped up in the story, so they forget they are listening to a recording.

 

2. Create some tension

All good stories have a plot. As we learned in composition class, great drama and tension create a solid plot. The protagonist must overcome the dilemma. Your listener begins to wonder what will happen next.

Podcasts that answer listener questions create some tension. The listener typically has a problem they need solved. This typically isn’t an Earth-shattering problem. However, it is a form of tension.

Great guests have usually overcome some obstacle to achieve their success. These obstacles create great tension in the story. Help your guests define that tension.

Tension in the story gets your audience wondering what will happen next. Once your listener gets focused on your story, they begin to forget about their reality. That’s what great stories are all about.

 

3. Use great details

Details make stories come to life. When you use vivid details, your listener can smell the air. They see the colors. They can hear the sounds. Your details put the listener in the moment.

You can tell a story in one of two ways.

The first way would have no details.

I stopped at a diner to grab some dinner.

That line does very little to stir the imagination and transport you to another time and place.

The second way incorporates vivid details.

Dinner would be the first meal I would have that day. I stepped into the roadside diner and shook off the snowy, December cold. The beat of the jukebox and bubbly chatter of the locals began to warm me even before I could take a seat at the barstooled counter to order my biscuits and gravy.

The detailed story begins to stir your imagination. You can feel the cold. You can hear the jukebox and crowd. You can almost smell the diner food. When those senses are activated, you begin to forget you’re listening to a recording.

 

4. Have a resolution

The resolution is the payoff to every great story. It is the climax to the movie plot. It is the “happily ever after.” The resolution puts the bow on the whole package.

Your resolution comes when you follow through with whatever you were hoping to make your audience feel. It could be the answer to the question. It could be the breakthrough success of your guest. You could wrap up the story with the punchline to the funny tale. Your resolution is where you solve the conflict and tension.

 

5. Me, not us

Talk to your audience one-on-one. Make your podcast personal by treating every listener as an individual. The more personal you get, the more engaged your listener will become.

Notice the tone of this writing. I’m talking directly to you. I’m helping you with your podcast. I’m not addressing “you guys.” I’m not talking to “all of you.” Sure, I’m writing for many. But when you read this, I’m writing for you and only you.

If I’m talking to you, you will in turn feel responsible to listen. If I’m talking to “all of you,” it becomes easier to assume somebody else will listen if you want to stay focused on something else. Engage by speaking one-on-one.

When you record your podcast, you need to create that wonderful theater of the mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading fiction or talking about gardening, put your audience in the moment. Transport them to another time and place.

Make your podcast entertaining by creating great stories using the five elements. Great stories have great characters. Engage your audience with some tension. Spark the imagination of your audience with vivid details. Wrap the story up with the resolution. Finally, speak to your listener with a one-on-one tone. Stories help your listener forget about their troubles of the day.

Try to incorporate stories in every podcast. Stories will help them escape reality. Make your listener forget they are listening to a recording.

Should Bloggers Think More Like Start-Ups?

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During my recent trip to Israel, I met with over 100 different start-ups, venture capitalists, and investors who are really passionate about their ideas. Israel truly is a start-up nation, for better or worse, as my friend Renee from SheBytes noted on her blog.

Meeting with so many start-ups really got me thinking about the similarities and differences between new entrepreneurs and new bloggers. The approach to this new endeavor is almost often extremely different, but is this a good thing? Could bloggers – those who hope to make money at least – benefit from taking more of a “start-up” approach to what they’re doing?

Is a Blog a Business?

I think the “is a blog a business” debate is one of the most interesting in our new media world. Certainly, not all blogs are businesses. Some are purely for hobbyists, people who simply enjoy expressing themselves online. But what about the people who do have some kind of business in mind when they start their blog. Typically, people are in one of two mindsets:

  1. The blog is the business. They hope to monetize the content through advertising, premium content, affiliate sales, or other means.
  2. The blog is not the business, but rather a means of marketing the business. They hope to use their content to lead to sales through being hired as a consultant, selling products, etc.

Often, there is overlap between these two opinions and it is a matter of perspective whether the blog is the business or the blog is a marketing tool for the business. For example, a blogger who posts affiliate links might consider the blog the business, while a blogger who emails affiliate offers to people who’ve signed up for their list might see the blog as a marketing tool for the real business, the list.

Regardless, there is a business element to the blog. So doesn’t that make your blog a start-up? By their very nature, start-ups are designed to grow quickly, which is the hope for every blogger as well. No one wants to feel as though their mom is the only one reading.

What Bloggers Can Learn from the Start-Up Mentality

If you’re starting a blog, here are a few things you can learn from the world of start-ups:

  • This will be hard work.

“You have to understand how tough it is,” says Dov Moran, CEO of start-up Comigo and inventor of the USB flash drive. “It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of fighting. It’s not fun. […] But if you do it and succeed, it’s amazing. Go ahead and do it, understanding the price.”

Bloggers often start with the mindset that this is an easy work-from-home opportunity, in part because what you see most often are the success stories. Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Darren Rowse, Jenny Lawson…these are are hugely successful bloggers, but what you don’t see are the thousands of bloggers who “fail,” either because they give up or in the sense that their blog never supports them financially.

If you want to have any financial success, if you want to make blogging a career, you need to be prepared to for the amount of work you’ll have to do. Any blogger who tells you that it’s easy to make money online is lying – or at least not telling you the whole truth. Building any kind of business, online or otherwise, takes a lot of hard work.

  • What problem are you solving?

Often, the difference between a start-up that fails and a start-up that succeeds is the magnitude of the problem they are solving. If someone develops a technology that cures cancer, you better believe they have a better chance of success out of the gate than someone who develops a technology that cures hangnails.

What problem does your blog solve? This is a question most bloggers never ask themselves, but if you don’t think about it, you could be missing out on an opportunity to succeed.

Sometimes, the problem you’re solving is pretty straightforward. For example, here on the NMX (BlogWorld) blog, we help people become better bloggers, podcasters, video producers, and social media users. Other times, the problem you solve might be that people are bored and you want to provide entertainment. Cracked.com is a great example of a blog that’s solving the problem of boredom.

Check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The more basic your needs (near the bottom of the pyramid), the bigger problem you’re solving for people. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed if your blog addresses the need for creativity instead of the need for food, but it’s something to consider when you’re pinning down the topics you want to cover.

  • Monetization needs to be in the plan.

One of the reasons I believe that many start-ups fail is that they don’t have a strong monetization plan. It’s great if you have investors, but those investors aren’t just going to keep throwing money your way forever. You have to have a plan to make money. Blogs are similar. If you truly want to make this a career out of this, you have to have a plan to make money.

Yes, that plan starts with great content. But where does it lead after that? You don’t have to have an in-your-face hard sell present on your blog from Day One, but you do have to have a strategy from Day One, leading you to a final goal of making money. It might take a little time to perfect this strategy, and that’s okay, but don’t make the mistake of saying, “I’ll worry about making money later.” Once an audience is used to content without any kind of advertising, for example, they’ll revolt when you do decide it’s time to start selling ad space on your blog.

Maybe Start-Ups Should Think More Like Bloggers Too…

Although I do think something can be learned from start-ups, I think bloggers have something to teach too, especially about community.

When you’re a new entrepreneur, working hard to get your start-up off the ground, it is somehow easy to forget the people behind your business plan. Why is this a solid business idea? Who will ultimately become your customers? What does your audience really want and need? Most bloggers are very in tune with the idea of community, but start-ups sometimes get so involved in research and development that they forget this aspect of business. So maybe we have something to learn from one another!

Do you think a blog is like a start-up? Do you treat yours like a business?

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Working with Guest Bloggers: The Secret to Your Success

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Guest bloggers? Isn’t your blog supposed to be your voice, representing your view and perspective on business, life, parenting, family matters, your hobby, or even products you’re selling? Well, yes, it is. But it can be more…

Actually, there are lots of reasons why inviting people to write guest posts on your blog can be a great idea, including adding a bit of variety for your readers, gaining visibility through more popular writers, offering slightly different perspectives on your topical area and giving you a bit of a break from the daily grind of blogging. There’s also this thing called SEO and people who are willing to publish guest articles might just find themselves more frequently invited to write guest posts on other people’s blogs. Those guest posts you write that include a link back to your own site are great for your own site’s visibility. A win-win!

Even on the most personal of blogs, embedding a dialog with someone else that perhaps started out as an email exchange can be a powerful entry to write, or you can even frame a guest article by introducing it to your readers in the opening paragraphs and then add your own concluding paragraph after, reacting to the main piece and ensuring that your own voice isn’t lost in the process.

To have your guest bloggers be successful and to make the process as easy as possible, here are my hard-learned tips:

Agree on a theme or topic in advance — This saves a lot of hassles and misunderstandings, when the guest blogger sends you an article that’s just not relevant to your audience. Rejections are never appreciated, even if they’re appropriate, so sidestep it by asking them for a sentence or two summary of what they want to talk about.

Specify your writing style — Do you like publishing obscenities? Do you want long, complicated sentences that are suitable for your audience of research scientists, or short, easily understood grammatical constructs perfect for a busy parent to understand? It’s your site, I encourage you to ask the guest writer to try and match your own writing style while still honoring their own voice in the process.

Long or short? Give ’em a target word count — This is one that always seems to be a challenge, but if your audience is used to substantial articles of 400 words or longer, a guest post of 135 words will seem insubstantial and pointless. Avoid that by specifying “target word count: 400 words” or, in the opposite situation, “please don’t exceed 250 words.”

Pictures? Video? — Just about all blog posts are enhanced by including some sort of media content. Are they responsible for this content? If so, make sure you tell them, and also ensure that they obtain the rights to the content (easily done if it’s their own photo or graphic, of course) so that they don’t put you in potential legal hot water due to rights violations. Your blog, your problem, even if the original was sent by a guest author.

Those are the key factors to ensure success working with guest bloggers. It’s easy and it’s fun!

I also asked a few other popular bloggers what their parameters are with accepting guest blog articles, and here’s what they had to say:

Jenny Ford: I have contributors and accept guest posts. it’s one of the only ways you won’t get stuck writing every single recipe!! (and getting grossly over-weight on my site! HA!). My tip – have a format, give clear details and expectations, let people know your deadline, make sure they have terrific photography.

Mary-Frances Main: I only take local “voices” and then they have to be relevant to the topic (which seems like a no brainer, but you’d be amazed!). Personally I like people I know – but will accept a recommendation of another connection.

Elizabeth C. Lewis: Make sure that before you ask for a guest blogger, you have read some of what they write! You don’t want to ask someone to write something to find out that they are terrible at writing and have to find a reason that you can’t use it.

Amy Gahran: Have a process: offer clear guidance on length, format, topic. Tell them how to submit a draft: text file? Word doc? HTML doc? Only do this for evergreen topics that can run anytime. Guest posts often don’t happen on deadline.

So there you have it. Not just my enthusiasm for guest bloggers showing up on one of my blogs — and I have four that I publish, ranging from my AskDaveTaylor tech support site to DaveOnFilm, where I share film reviews and the popular GoFatherhood site where I write about my experiences as a single dad — but the view of some other savvy bloggers who also invite submissions from friends and colleagues to mix things up.

Now, what are your thoughts on this? Do you accept guest submissions and, if so, what are your parameters?

Editor’s Note: For those who want to learn more from Dave, check out his session at NMX called “Quick and Dirty Video Production Workshop for Your First YouTube Video.”

Phil Hollows: Chat Transcript

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For our most recent Facebook chat, we were pleased to have Phil Hollows stop by as our special guest. Phil is known by many for his work at FeedBlitz and is the author of List Building for Bloggers. In January, Phil will be presenting at NMX; his session is “The 7 Deadly Sins of List Building.”

If you missed our weekly Facebook chat, you can see the transcript below to see what Phil has to say about email lists.

New Media Expo Phil – Let’s start with something basic. Why does a blogger or podcaster, or anyone who creates content online need to build a list?
Patti Hosking What is the most effective outreach when marketing to PR firms, Phil?
Phil Hollows Hi! Several reasons: Because email is the most engaging subscription mechanism available because it is the most engaging
Phil Hollows So compare an email update to a tweet or an FB post – it’s much richer and more appealing for readers, which yields much greater engagement
Phil Hollows Seth Godin says that his email readership engages 10x more than any other mechanism
New Media Expo All – don’t forget to refresh your page to see responses and new questions.
Phil Hollows Secondly, you own and control your list. That’s a big deal when Facebook and other social sites change the rules, hide updates etc.
New Media Expo How does one even begin building a list?
Phil Hollows So if the rules change or your Google rank tanks, your email readership will be there for you and your business
Phil Hollows @Patti I don’t know – not my area of expertise ;)
Carol McElroy McHolland Generally speaking – what are the minimum stats/pieces of info you would ask for in an opt-in email form? Which would you require and which would be optional?
Phil Hollows To build a list you can sign up with a service like mine, FeedBlitz, or you can run with plugins or other solutions for your site. You should always have an opt-in form, even for a brand new site – you never know who’s going to stop by.
Megan Enloe Can’t agree more with the concept of controlling your own list as apposed to one controlled by Facebook or Twitter. If you are going to put all or most of your eggs in one basket, at least make it one you have control over.
Phil Hollows Think of capturing email subscribers as the flip side to SEO. Your SEO gets the visitors *to* your site; email subscriptions enable you to *capture* them once they arrive. Else your SEO efforts may be largely wasted.
Megan Enloe How often should an email go out to your list? How much is too much or too little?
Phil Hollows Hi Carol – Email address required, obviously. After that as little as possible. The more friction you add to the process the less likely a visitor will convert. For example, if you want to run a birthday promotion, don’t ask for date of birth – too personal,might put people off! Ask for birth *month* and send a mailimg to everyone that month with their birthday surprise.
Rick Calvert that’s a good tip Phil!
Phil Hollows Hi Megan: On frequncy your list will tell you when you’re getting it wrong! Too often, people will leave. Too little, people will leave. It varies for some people how much they want to hear from you, so you can offer multiple versions of your list – say a daily and a weekly digest – and offer people the choice when they sign up
Phil Hollows That way they self-select into the time frame they’re comfortable hearing from you – greater engagement, fewer unsubscribes.
New Media Expo What is a good open rate, Phil Hollows?
Mary Jo Manzanares I like the birthday example Phil. I’m of that age where I’m offended when it asks for a year.
Dave Cynkin Phil, for content creators who don’t have a handle on content marketing yet, what advice would you give them for inviting visitors to join their list and providing something of value?
Phil Hollows It varies – but if you’ve a good engaged list then getting in the 20% range is very possible. For larger or more stale lists the open rate might be less – and I’ve seen large lists with 2% open rates. While that sounds bad – and it kinda is! – there’s still enough activity from that group to generate revenue
Megan Enloe Unless you’re my doctor you don’t get to ask for my birthday.
Phil Hollows What you really need to do, whatever the open rate, is work on improving it. Looking for patterns.
Phil Hollows So short, SEO-optimized keyworkd rich post titles translate really well into email subejct lines
Phil Hollows Get the important information at the start of the subject line
Phil Hollows Because on a smart phone in portrait mode you only have about 35 characters and the blink of an eye to persuade the owner to open the email. Make it count!
Phil Hollows Dave – Start writing great content. Have an email subscription service on your site so that you get the visitors engaged and wanting to hear from you. Secondly, having a relevant incentive to join a list is a fabulous idea – there’s a trade in return for them giving you their email address.
Phil Hollows It helps establish trust and value from the very beginning.
New Media Expo Phil Hollows – Please share some common mistakes people make when building their lists and also in marketing to those on their lists.
Phil Hollows Great questions! Let’s see on common mistakes…
Phil Hollows 1) Hiding the email subscription option below the fold or behind an ambiguous icon.
Phil Hollows 2) Not offering incentives to enncourage new signups
Phil Hollows 3) Being too aggressive with popups! <– Pet Peeve
Phil Hollows 4) Writing rambly subject lines and / or redundantly repeating site name / company in the subject line
Phil Hollows In terms of errors when building a list:
New Media Expo Phil Hollows Please also share some ways we can entice our communities to join our list.
Phil Hollows 1) Not mailing enough or mailing too often
Carol McElroy McHolland Hi Phil – thanks. Yes, the conventional wisdom now says as little as possible and I tend to agree. But, that doesn’t provide for much “mining”. Would you mine information with later surveys, questions, etc.?
Phil Hollows 2) all “20% off, free shipping” and not providing content / value
Bob Dunn oh, I hate popups … but question back on the open rates, do open rates show just the first time that it’s opened, or is it counted if they go back and open again, as I usually get around 60%
Phil Hollows 3) Not creating targeted lists for different content categories
Phil Hollows 4) Going too far off topic!
Phil Hollows To join a list make sure your form(s) are clearly visible, above the fold
Phil Hollows Use social proof (x,000 readers) to help visitors realize that they are not alone and that they can trust you
Phil Hollows Incentives!
Phil Hollows Use email signup links in your email signature, business cards and printed / offline collateral.
Phil Hollows Bob: Popups work – they’re really effective – but they must be used respectfully. You need to be on the 2nd or 3rd page view of the session before you pop one up, because at that point you know the visitor’s interest has been piqued and they’re exploring more. The popups that slam into your face before one has even had teh chance to tread the first page show that the site owner doesn’t respect me as a prospect. I always bug out.
New Media Expo What type of newsletter or email content receives the best response , Phil Hollows?
Phil Hollows Carol: For mining you can always ask for more information when you move the visitor down the funnel. So for a blog subscription you migth just want email address. For an e-book or white paper, perhaps name and (for corporates) job title, company etc.
Bob Dunn Yeah, I grumble because they are effective, like you, it’s a pet peeve :)
Phil Hollows There’s no point asking for information if it isn’t relevant to the mission or if you’re never going to use it.
Phil Hollows So the deeper in you get, the viasitor is that much more engaged and willing to part with more information to get the more valuable item you’re offering.
Phil Hollows Bob – don’t get me started ;)
Carol McElroy McHolland I realize all industries are different, but can you give an example or two of fresh/creative/useful execution you’ve seen recently?
Phil Hollows OK so what gets the best response? The content that’s the best fit for your audience! But if you’re writing a post with an action in mind, make sure that you have a clear, explicit call to action.
Bob Dunn did you see the other part of my comment questioning open rates? … should have known better to start if off with a comment on popups
Phil Hollows And I’m a big believer in making calls to action imperative and to the point. get the download. Buy now. Don’t be like me and be all English and say “please”! :) Be the boot camp drill sergeant and TELL THEM what to do
New Media Expo Phil Hollows Which brings us to – how can you tell what gets the best response?
Phil Hollows LOL Bob! That 20% rate should be a unique rate – at least per day. But if you see a recipient engaging multiple times with a piece, that’s a great “tell” that you’ve written something they’re very interested in.
Allison Boyer ” I’m a big believer in making calls to action imperative and to the point” – love that advice, I think a lot of marketing via email (and otherwise) is just too wordy. Any advice for self-editing? I’m bad at that personally and my communications always seem to go on too long.
Phil Hollows how to tell? Metrics, metrics, metrics. Track what subject lines delivered the most opens. Figure out why. Test!
Phil Hollows Vary calls to action – what happens to your click through rates?
Phil Hollows And if your actions end up being say a purchase or a download, what you want to maximize is the # of people taking that action at the end of the day. So you might want to consider testing more focused subject lines or calls to action if that yields better desired activity. I mean, everyone loves kittens, right? So lots of opens for cute kitten emails. Pretty poor impact if what you want to do is sell a book on oil drilling.
Phil Hollows hey Allison :) Practice! Think SEO keywords.
Carol McElroy McHolland Hey Allison – I read this book once a year – it’s a classic and I promise it will help. :) See below…
New Media Expo When it comes to the short attention span, Phil Hollows, should email communication be brief or do people generally read through?
Phil Hollows The other great thing you can do is build lists based on activity. So if soneone’s downlaoded an ebook, say, or already bought from your store, they’re MUCH mroe likely to repeat that activity. So target them with mailings – they will be much more effective than a general broadcast.
Phil Hollows Also use autoresponders to nuture people based on what they have done.
Phil Hollows So for example, if you download the FeedBurner Migration Guide from FeedBlitz, our goal is to have you start a trial. So the autoresponder you get when you download the Guide helps explain all the good things you can do at FeedBlitz thaht you can’t at Feedburner. Then, when a trial starts, we start you off on a training course sequence to help you be sucessful. We’re trying to nurture the prospect into being a trial user, and then a trial user into becoming a successful customer.
Phil Hollows Tough to keep up! Great questions :)
Phil Hollows OK so mostly brevity is the soul of wit, so if you can get your point across quickly, so much the better. Seth Godin’s emails are ytpically very brief – learn!
Phil Hollows OTOH Copyblogger’s are typically longer because the agenda is much more educational. If you’re posting about food, perhaps it’s better to have the whole recipe in the email. So longer is better.
Phil Hollows I know that I’ve sent several thousand-word emails out because I was writing my book (ListBuildingForBloggers.com) one hapter – one blog post! – at a time. But the interesting thing was, those who did read all the words were really engaged with them anbd bought the book. So it really does vary! See what works best for your audience
Carol McElroy McHolland Excellent example re: FeedBlitz/FeedBurner. “and then a trial user into becoming a SUCCESSFUL customer.”.
New Media Expo Is it bad form to send out more than one email per day – if they all tout something different?
Phil Hollows Carol – I tend not to subscribe to much beyond what I need for the mission here at FeedBlitz. I think one example of what NOT to do (although it was creative!) was American Apparel’s crossing the taste line with their Hurricane Sandy email promotion.
Phil Hollows Sending more than one email ad day is OK *if* that’s what the subscriber list expects and *if* it’s relevant
Phil Hollows For example, many of feedBlitz’s customers happen to be coupon / deal bloggers. Coupons expire and their subscribers want the best deals *now* – so these guys often have “express” mailings that mail out multiple times a day – it’s what works for their audience.
Phil Hollows For some people though a daly mailing starts to feel like they are being “bombarded” – and that’s a quick way to low engagement, unsubscribes and spam complaints. You don’t want that. That’s why we recommend creating a weekly digest variant of yout blog subscription, where you can mail out a summary of the week’s activities autoamtically.
Phil Hollows Five minutes! Have I missed anyone?!
Phil Hollows (LOL – Facebook is asking me to slow down – hope they don’t block me from this chat!)
New Media Expo Phil Hollows Thanks so much for coming by and sharing your lunch hour with us. I hope you won’t be a stranger to the NMX community and we’ll see you in January!
Phil Hollows Join me at my talk in January at NMX “The Seven Deadly Sins of List Building”
Dan R Morris Oh man. . . I get here right at the end.
Phil Hollows You can also follow me on Twitter as @phollows email me phil@feedblitz.com
Carol McElroy McHolland Thanks, Phil. Cheers! :)
Phil Hollows THANK YOU so much for inviting me here to chat – it was a pleasure and a privilege :)
Megan Enloe Thanks for stopping by Phil.
Megan Enloe No problem Dan. Phil Hollows will be at the Expo in January. You can ask your questions in person:-)
Bob Dunn Thanks Phil a lot of great stuff here… now have to go and get my next newsletter ready to send out via Feedblitz :)
New Media Expo Also, I’m sure Phil Hollows won’t mind coming back to respond to any late questions. We’re always open on the Facebook page!
Allison Boyer Thank you, Phil! See you in January!
Our next Facebook chat will be tomorrow, Wednesday, November 7 at 10am PT/1pm ET. Our special guest will be Chris Ducker who will discuss outsourcing. Chris will also be presenting his session, “45 Things New Media Content Creators Can Outsource to Virtual Assistants to Help Grow Their Business” at New Media Expo in January, so be sure to see him live at the event!

 

Chris Ducker Joins NMX for Facebook Chat

Author:

It’s almost time again for our weekly Facebook Chat. This week, we’re pleased to welcome Chris Ducker as our special guest. So mark your calendars for tomorrow, Wednesday, November 7 at 10am PT/ 1pm ET.

Chris Ducker is a serial entrepreneur, blogger, WebTV host, and podcaster. He owns three successful companies, employing over 300 people. He writes a personal blog, where he produces content on the subject of starting, marketing, and growing businesses in the new economy. He is also the founder of the popular lifestyle design blog, VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com, and associated iTunes podcast.

Chris is regarded as the go-to guy for everything and anything to do with the outsourcing industry and working with virtual staff. He is also a speaker and popular business coach. He is currently working on his first book.

At NMX in January, Chris will lead a session entitled, “45 Things New Media Content Creators Can Outsource to Virtual Assistants to Help Grow Their Business” that promises to be a must-see. To get a little preview of Chris’ take on how virtual assistants can help you meet your business goals, be sure to join us for the Facebook Chat tomorrow, Wednesday, November 7 at 10am PT/ 1pm ET.

We’ll see you there!

Making Your Online Audience Uncomfortable in 10 Simple Steps

Author:

Almost all businesses can benefit from an Internet presence, but if your online efforts aren’t properly managed, you could end up with a very uncomfortable audience. I’m all for stirring the pot when the moment is right, but if you aren’t careful, this discomfort will drive away business. Uncomfortable, awkward moments rarely lead to sales.

“Business schmisness!” you say? Alright then; here’s how to make your audience uncomfortable in 10 simple steps.

1. Get political.

The easiest and fastest way to drive away your online audience is to be extremely opinionated about a topic that doesn’t have anything to do with your company, but is extremely dividing. What better option than politics? So go ahead and tell us how stupid you think Democrats are! Or let us know that you think Republicans are morons! Encourage your audience to vote for your candidate of choice. After all, if they disagree, you don’t want their business anyway, right?

2. Get religious.

Politics aren’t your cup of tea? No problem! Just get religious. Nothing will make your audience uncomfortable faster than if you start challenging their belief system while they’re trying to buy your product.

3. Get defensive when you’re wrong.

If you don’t like politics or religion, don’t worry. There are still plenty of ways to make your audience uncomfortable. Your online outlets will have to deal with customer problems from time to time, for example. Instead of apologizing and addressing the issue, get really defensive. Start an argument with one of your customers, and remember: never back down.

4. Beg for money.

Your audience won’t be truly uncomfortable until you’re begging for money. Tell them about your financial problems. Plead for more sales. If you really want to take the discomfort to the next level, you can even consider adding a donate button to your website. It’s not enough for people to support you by buying your products. They should just give you money as well.

5. Start an argument with another brand.

Your competitors really suck. Who cares if your audience is uncomfortable; you should tell them in a very public way so everyone knows how much better your company is.

6. Ignore a problem.

So what if your customers have problems? So what if your product’s been recalled? So what if your entire audience is ranting about issues online? It’s not like your store is on fire or something. Just ignore the problems and they’ll probably go away.

7. Mix personal with professional.

It’s going to make everyone extremely uncomfortable when you post your pictures from vacation on your company Twitter account, especially since you spent most of your time at a nude beach. Make sure to boost the discomfort level by going into detail about how your kid is potty training, and take every opportunity to complain about life. There’s no need for separation between personal and professional when you don’t care about audience comfort.

8. Be R-Rated.

Some of your customers prefer mild language? Kids might use your website? Eff that. It’s your business. You should be as vulgar as you want. Bonus points if you’re vaguely inappropriate with one of your customers.

9. Opt for text-speak instead of using grammar.

You only have 140 characters on Twitter, so you better make every one of them count. No need to shorten your message and use proper grammar (or at least make it readable). Speak like a 14-year-old girl would text. They’ll figure it out.

10. Give out incorrect information.

If your audience isn’t already clicking away from your site or profiles online, start doling out incorrect information. There’s no need to fact check. Go ahead and contradict yourself. If anyone asks a question to clarify, just ignore it (see point #6). That way, you can not only make your audience uncomfortable, but you can also really tick them off.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Technical SEO Considerations For Websites

Author:

seo There is a fine balance in SEO between focusing on user experience at the same time as search engines. Once a sweet spot is found, the balancing act has to be ongoing because both are interdependent of each other. Users understand that a great deal goes on behind the scenes of a website to make it amazing, but a certain amount of respect must be earned before they are willing to engage with it. Broken links, malware, slow loading pages and unresponsive designs are just a fraction of issues that can badly affect the usability and reputation of a website. The same can also be said for brick and mortar stores. If a store is untidy and hazardous or the staff are rude and ignorant there is very little chance that a customer will buy anything or go back to that place. One of Google’s own philosophies is to “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” For webmasters they advise a similar ethos by favoring websites that provide engaging, as opposed to thin, content.

Here is a hypothetical scenario. With everything above in mind, a web developer goes away and comes up with the most innovative, jaw dropping, responsive website that has ever existed. It attracts heaps of links, social shares and citations across the web and has even won awards for being so stupidly great. The website owners search for themselves in Google and are shocked to see that they don’t even rank for their own URL. After a closer inspection it is found that search engine bots are being blocked from crawling the website, there 40 products, it takes 15 seconds to load and it’s hosted in North Korea. For the sake of this example, that is actually possible. It is unbelievable that such simple issues can completely hold back a website. Without a basic understanding of SEO there is no way that a person would know what is wrong.

The problems above can be diagnosed and fixed in the following ways:

Firstly, install Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster. This is very important unless you have the time and patience to trawl through access logs. Although using Splunk to view access logs makes life easier.

Check robots.txt

Search for the following www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt to see what is blocking search engines from crawling your website. The most common mistake webmasters make is this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

This will stop all robots from crawling your website, although Google will list your website in the search results, it won’t show any content. To fix this problem change the robots.txt or add a new one like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow:

Check Meta NoIndex

Unlike blocking with robots.txt the html meta tag, noindex stops your site from being indexed completely. This can be useful when applied to certain pages that you don’t want to be indexed at all. It usually appears at in the header of a page and looks like this:

<META NAME=”robots” CONTENT=”noindex, nofollow”>

If the website title is not even showing in the search results then this could be why.

Check for sitewide rel=canonical

In 2009 Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft acknowledged the use of rel=canonical. This tag gives webmasters the option to remedy duplicate content issues by stating which version of a page is the most important. This in turn signals to a search engine that it should disregard the lower priority page in favor of the most important one. However if the tag is inserted into a global header it can cause a major problem. All of the pages on a website will be regarded as duplicates of whatever page is in the tag. This is how it looks in the of a source code:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/about/” />

Google only takes the preference into account and should not be substituted for permanent redirects. 301 redirects affect both the search engine bot and user experience in that a URL automatically switches to a new one, specified by the webmaster. They also pass some strength from one page to another which is another reason why they should be a first option. Problems arise when these redirects become chained. This occurs when a page goes from A to B to C to D to E at once. For the user this could go from A to E without any indication of the URLs in between. However this could cause search engine bots to give up crawling which stops your content from being indexed. For more information about duplicate content and canonicalisation take a look at this post.

Check for faceted navigation problems

A common issue that arises a lot with larger websites has to do with faceted navigation. This is where users are able to filter content based on facets such as color, size, price, language. It mostly occurs in eCommerce websites but can also affect other sites where each of these parameters can be changed to serve different content to a user. In some cases this can waste a search engine bot’s time and will cause it to leave your website. Every search engine bot has a budget for each website and it crawls them based on factors related to the underlying strength of that site. Once that budget is depleted it finishes and moves onto another website. If bots are being sent on wild goose chases because of hundreds of irrelevant variations of one item or product then the other, more important pages, are missing out. For example, if a page can be ordered alphabetically there is no need to index it twice because it is the same content in reverse.

This can be fixed in the Configuration > URL Parameters section of Google Webmaster Tools and Index > URL Normalization in Bing Webmaster. Here you can find a video of how to configure them for Google.

Check page load time

PageSpeed Insights by Google is an extension that allows you to test the speed of a website. It gives you a score out of 100 and pointers on how to improve your score. In 2010, Google incorporated page load time into its ranking signals which helps both usability and visibility in Google.

Check the current hosting provider

Another reason why a website is running slow could be due to the hosting provider. Search for the domain name in Netcraft to see where in the world it is hosted and which other websites on or the server. Hosting providers with full servers can slow a website down by making it queue up to serve content to a user. Servers that go down a lot also have a serious impact on rankings and usability. Signing up an account with Pingdom allows you to set up regular checks which notify you about the health of a server as an when an event occurs. If you run a busy blog website it would be important to know if it goes down. Pingdom can alert you by SMS if something does happen.

With these bare bones laid out, you can be search engine friendly and focus on creating great content for your users.

Using Crowd-Funding To Make Your Next Project An Enormous Success

Author:

Many times the main struggle for creative people such as writers, indie artist and social activists is to find the tools and resources to get their project properly created, packaged and promoted–whether its a book, an album or a charity event. Beyond that, it becomes even more difficult for a creative person to come up with enough money for proper promotion of their idea or project. Being able to afford a good promoter, marketing rep, publisher or manager depends on your cash flow.

There are many creative people with out-of-the-box ideas who need the funding for a project that they can’t afford within their current budget. Many creatives need an assistant to come along and help them to the next level. Crowd-funding can be that assistant for some. Some of you need to find someone who is going to be the wind beneath you wings to get your idea going.

If you haven’t broken into a stream of easy money yet then you are probably working paycheck to paycheck trying to gather enough money to get a decent video, a publisher for your book, an editor, raise awareness for your social cause, or craft some method to become the next social media star of the moment. Trying to figure out how to create a buzz can be time consuming.

We all know by now that by using blogs, Twitter and Facebook you can create a generally decent buzz for your content or project through friends, family and connections. However, to go beyond the group of people you know or who know about you, tools are necessary to create more ways to access your end goal. Taking your project from creation of the content, to syndication through other channels of promotion, bringing it back to creating revenue can be a costly endeavor.

Get a kick start with crowd-funding. It is a new and unique way to raise money and awareness for your crafty idea, band or project. Crowd-sourcing offers a way to build a buzz and offer perks to fans. Sites like KickStarter, CauseVox, CrowdSpring, IndieGoGo, ChipIn, FanNextDoor, MicroVentures, PeerBackers, RocketHub, ProFounder, of course there is CrowdSource, and a host of others give you opportunities to offer unique perks to fans that support your campaign based upon your project and needs.

This is a unique new way that you can turn casual fans and followers into partners of your enterprise. Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon today. If you don’t have enough out-of-pocket money for a big tour, copy editor, social justice fundraiser or gigantic promotional campaign this is the way you can start raising money and awareness for your project, band or tour.

Crowd-funding takes you beyond just social media networking and enables people to get directly involved in the brand, project or artist they want to see perform, create or release a project. This involvement is showing a lot of potential. Some indie artists, writers and social activists have been able to raise thousands of dollars in weeks and months.

There are a few good sites that provide crowd-funding. Many creative people have begun signing up to start gathering a crowd to fund their projects. This method really brings things back to a grassroots-bottom up level. In this internet age, at times it seems digital media is making the world seem closer and smaller. We are gaining new avenues of accessing and being involved in the creation of content we enjoy and brands we want to see more of.

Here are some projects creative individuals have started using crowd-funding for:

  • Media Campaigns
  • Marketing
  • Web and Print Campaigns
  • Promoting
  • Manufacturing
  • Promotional Tours
  • Web-Design
  • Artwork
  • Merchandising
  • Article distribution

If you are looking to build a media campaign, start a social justice project or have your project promoted on a higher level than you can do with your own funds–then crowd-funding is for you.

Editor’s note: To learn more about crowdsourcing, be sure to check out Jeramiah’s session at NMX entitled, Three Very Unique Ways to Build a Massive Community.

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