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Bloggers are Nice People

The Scary Trend of Becoming a Follower

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There are certain bloggers who are “household names” of sorts. At least, among other bloggers. You know them. They’re the most well-respected bloggers out there in terms of giving blogging and new media advice, and they have hundreds of thousands of followers. Every post they write gets dozens of comments and even more tweets and Facebook likes. Many of them are where they are today because they’ve been blogging for over a decade.

And that’s awesome. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some of these bloggers in person, and I can tell you that they are kind, humble, and interesting people, even away from the computer screen. I’ve never met a blogging “guru” who is an asshole in real life, probably because if you are, you aren’t going to hold guru status for long – your fans are going to stop being fans.

I’m using  the term guru here because it’s fitting for this weird evolution I’m seeing among blogging fans – this tendency to become a follower. I don’t mean follower in the same way you can be a Twitter follower, but rather follower in the same way a philosopher or religious figure would have a follower. In fact, maybe blogging gurus are the modern equivalent to people like Socrates. They have this weird group of followers that will buy anything they sell, applaud after anything they say, and read anything they write. They’ve stopped using their brains.

And that scares me.

I am unashamed to say that I am a fan of certain blogging gurus. I think it is a good thing to have role models in your life, because there are people out there who have a lot to teach us. But what scares me is to see fans turn into disciples. They blindly follow these bloggers they respect and even fight on their behalf when someone says something critical of them.

  • They retweet and like the guru’s links without reading them first, because they just know that they’ll be good.
  • They flock to read any blog post the guru recommends, regardless of topic.
  • They follow the guru’s advice without critically thinking about whether or not it is the right advice for them.
  • They chastise anyone who is not a follower of the guru.
  • They purchase products from the guru, even if they don’t have a use for said product.
  • They review all of the guru’s products in a completely positive manner, even if there are some disadvantages or problems.

Can you see how these things start to get dangerous?

We need to think. There are a hell of a lot of people out there giving great blogging advice, and some of that advice is even contradictory to other great advice. That’s because the blogger assumes that their fans will actually think, not blindly follow them. Maybe we should have to put warnings on out blogs? It’s kind of like the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit. Sure, there was no warning on the cup that the contents were hot, but McDonald’s assumed that people would actually use some common sense and realize that coffee is hot. If you spill it on your crotch, you’re going to get burned. Duh.

So my question for you is this: do you actually think about the blogging advice you read?

It does not matter where you read the advice. It could be written or promoted by the smartest blogger in the world, but not every piece of advice will work for every blogger. What works for *insert name here* will not work for you – at least not in the same way. If there was some kind of formula that worked for everyone, we would all be doing it! Blogging gurus can tell you what they’ve done to be successful, but I guarantee that you cannot do exactly the same thing with your blog and get the same results.

You can take pieces of advice from other bloggers – in fact, I encourage it. There’s a lot out there to learn. But beware becoming a blind follower of anyone. The best bloggers out there have their heroes and teachers, but they are also critical thinkers who are paving paths of their own. After all, don’t you want to be a guru yourself someday? You won’t get there by being someone else’s follower.

Farnoosh Brock on Turning BlogWorld Experiences into a Book

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Farnoosh Brock from Prolific Living is someone who first entered my radar right before BlogWorld, when she stopped by my own blog, After Graduation, and left a comment. She was one of the roughly ten million awesome bloggers I didn’t get to meet in Vegas, unfortunately, but following the event I kept seeing her pop up on Twitter and on other websites. One of the things I noticed about her right away was that she was truly embracing the warm fuzzy feelings that we all had after the event. She was writing a lot about BlogWorld on Prolific Living, as well as starting to put the advice she received into effect.

She didn’t stop there. Farnoosh took it a step farther and released a free ebook about her experiences at BlogWorld and the take away messages she’s now using to make her blog even better. I was lucky enough to snag a small piece of Farnoosh’s time to ask some questions about her BlogWorld trip, the book she created, and what she’s doing now that the event is over.

Allison: What initially inspired you to attend BlogWorld? How was your experience there difference from what you thought it would be?

Farnoosh: Honestly, my husband kept insisting that I must go to Blogoplooza, our nickname for the fabulous BlogWorld expo conference. I was nervous, hesitant and tempted. He wouldn’t drop it. You see, I didn’t consider myself ready as a blogger to attend the event. Then I realized a few of my blogging friends were going to attend and the thought of meeting these people in person excited me more than enough. These are people I have come to know so intimately through our blogs and people with whom I have formed amazing friendships. One look at the BlogWorld Expo conference page, the exciting sessions, the keynotes and the discounts for early registration, I knew I had to be there.

The experience was above and beyond my expectations. Even though I was a bit lost and a lot overwhelmed, I found the networking and putting faces to names exhilarating. I met incredible people, felt amazing energy of this gathering, and I now wholeheartedly believe it is necessary to, at least once, meet and touch the people who impact our lives daily in blogosphere.

Allison: What inspired you to write about your BlogWorld experiences on your blog and eventually turn those experiences into an ebook?

Farnoosh: I had to capture and bottle up the flowing inspiration from some of the keynotes – these things happen few times in a lifetime – and the empowering experience of connecting in person with some of my closest and dearest friends. I knew that many other bloggers, some of whom I knew and was hoping to meet, were not fortunate enough to be at BlogWorld. I wanted to take home a gift for them. I wanted to bring Blogworld to them. The ebook idea came from the readers; I heard their request to have all the BlogWorld series in one single story and acted on it! All my readers ever have to do is ask. I had to deliver and since this was to be my first ebook, I poured my heart and soul into it, I pulled the story together and developed it in PDF and the epub version (for all eReaders and most Smart phones). I offer it as a completely free gift on my site. My sincere hope is to bring more bloggers together at BlogWorld 2011.

Allison: Since BlogWorld has ended, what are some of the most rewarding things that have happened to you or that you’ve been inspired to do because of the event?

Farnoosh: Oh BlogWorld ended but my inspiration has been sky high and my motivation has been building higher and stronger every day. I turned a corner at BlogWorld during the keynote with the beloved trio, Brian Clark, Sonia Simone and Darren Rowse. That was the day I decided to take my blog super seriously – but not myself so much! 😉 – so I can spread my message to more people, I decided to implement everything I learned with patience, I decided to learn even more about my readers, and I decided to put fear and hesitation aside so I can bring my ideas to life. The launch of the ebook was extremely exciting; the blogging community loved it. Then I started to see multiple mentions of my site on reputable blogs, I get invited to participate in projects and give interviews, my writing desire has been unleashed, my readership is growing, working endless hours on the blog does not even phase me, my ideas about what to offer next to my readers has tripled and my relationships from BlogWorld are still blossoming. And these are just to name a few.

If you loved BlogWorld as much as Farnoosh and I did, you should definitely grab a copy of her BlogWorld 2010 ebook, and even consider putting together one of your own based on your personal experiences at the event.

Thanks, Farnoosh, for such amazing support of BlogWorld!

Scott Stratten Doesn’t Know Who You Are

Author:

Scott Stratten was the keynote speaker at BlogWorld 2010, and getting to meet him was definitely a cool moment for me, since I respect his work. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine, and it led me to realize something important that I wanted to share with you:

Scott Stratten doesn’t know who you are.

Furthermore, Darren Rowse doesn’t know who you are. Chris Garrett doesn’t know who you are. Brian Clark doesn’t know who you are.

And I would even go a step farther and say that none of these guys even cares who you are.

Chris and Darren don't know who I am because I am a supporter of theirs. They know who I am because I marched up, introduced myself, and *told* them I am a supporter.

Why? Simple:

  • You lurk on their sites or as a Twitter follower.
  • You comment sporadically or never really say much in a comment other than “I agree.”
  • You RT them, but never actually comment on their tweets.
  • You’ve never introduced yourself.
  • You’ve never approached them in any way other than with the question, “Can you help me?”
  • You’ve never linked them on your blog, or even referenced them.

Do you know every single person online? Of course not. Even if you’ve been online longer than Peanut Butter and Jelly Time, you can’t possibly know everyone in your niche, even. Do you even know all of your Twitter followers? Unless you only have a handful, probably not.

So you sit there and fume that Scott Stratten (or whoever) doesn’t engage. “His entire stance on social media is that you have to engage with people. What a poser – he never once said anything to me, and I’ve been a fan of his for years. Waaaaaaah.”

Ok, I hope you aren’t actually being that melodramatic. Still, I think we all find ourselves thinking these thoughts. We feel ignored by people who, frankly, have no idea they are ignoring us.

If you do actively try to engage with any of these people (or the people you look up to within your niche) and they outright ignore you time and time again, ok. I stand correctly and they’re assholes. But I’ve never once met someone in the social networking/Internet marketing/blogging world who is like that. In fact, I never once met anyone considered to be “kinda a big deal” in their industry who is like that. You don’t get to be a “big name” if you refuse to acknowledge people.

Have you ever just tried being a friend? Have you ever walked up to Scott or Darren or Chris or Brian or (insert your favorite blogger here) and just said hello? I have.* And guess what? They know who I am now. Are they going to be my new bff in real life or even on Twitter? No. That’s just silly. Building a relationship is a slow endeavor. Meeting me once at a conference does not mean that they are now going to recognize every single thing I do or say. “Oh my god, I just tweeted that I’m going to bed. WHY HASN’T SCOTT SAID GOODNIGHT TO ME?!?!”

If you want someone to know who you are, 99 times out of 100 it is not their fault if they don’t. You want the relationship, so initiate it. These people all want to meet their fans…and more importantly, these people all consider you as a peer, not as someone on a lower level. They’re more than happy to get to know you if you actually take the time to get to know them, as a friend, not just as a follower. Say hello. Reply to their tweets. Comment on their blog posts in a way that adds to the conversation. Propose well-written, interesting guest posts for their blog, if they accept them. Write a blog post that names them in the title? I don’t know – do something to show them that you support whatever they’re doing. Y’all are creative people. Be creative.

I would like to make one other point before I leave you with your thoughts for the night, and to be honest, this point deserves a blog post to itself, which I’ll probably end up doing in the near future:

If your mindset is “What can he do for me?”, Scott Stratten may come to know who you are, but he will never care who you are.

And that’s true of anyone. Even me.

*Well, I almost. I never actually found Brian Clark at BlogWorld to say hello…hopefully next year!

Don't Let Your Speaker Proposal Go to Waste!

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Deg Ng and the rest of the team are busy bees getting the schedule for BlogWorld 2010 squared away, but as she’s noted earlier this week that some of the best speaker proposals weren’t accepted simply because there aren’t enough hours in the day. Good proposals also weren’t accepted due to duplicate panel ideas, ideas that were too generalized, late entries, etc. In short, most of the the people who received (or will receive) rejection letters don’t suck.

If that’s the case, we’re missing out on a lot of great content simply because BlogWorld can’t be a 24/7 event every single day of the year.

That is, we’re missing out…unless you, as the rejected speaker, do not let your proposal go to waste!

Sure, you can shelf the idea, work through the concept more or tweak it, and resubmit next year, but if your content really was good enough for a slot at BlogeWorld, there’s no reason you have to wait for another chance to get the concept out there to the masses. We want to learn from you! Here are a few things you can do with the idea and any content you’ve already created:

  • Host a webinar.

Earlier today, I went to a free webinar hosted by Sean Malarkey, Chris Garrett, and Lewis Howes about their new training product, Magnetic Webinars. It was actually a webinar about webinars, which is kind of like reading a blog about blogging, but they made a good point – if you market a webinar correctly, you can make a lot of money. If you were proposing a panel with other bloggers, but didn’t get accepted, there’s no reason you can’t come together to do a panel anyway – just do it on your own time as a webinar. You can also do a webinar solo for your market. Post it online for free to help promote your blog or products, or consider putting together a more comprehensive class-type set of webinars about your topic that you charge people to attend.

  • Create a video series.

Like webinars, a video series can be used to promote a blog or product, or you can charge people to view in more of an in-depth class-type session. Videos aren’t live, so you don’t have the same level of interaction with views, but if you’re new to public speaking, this is a great way to get out there the first time, eventually working your way up to doing webinars.

  • Sell an ebook.

You already went to the trouble of writing up a speaking proposal; use that as the source material for an ebook. Ebooks don’t have to be 100 pages to sell. Sure, if you’re going to charge a grand for it, there better be a ton of content, but you can easily create a short, informative ebook that sells for $20 or so a pop.

  • Offer to speak elsewhere.

BlogWorld isn’t the only blogging and social media event out there. It might be the best (cue sucking up to the people who sign my checks), but bloggers at networking events about as often as fat kids gather at McDonalds. Which, in case you’re not big-boned like some of us, is often. Don’t think of it as “this wasn’t good enough for BlogWorld.” Think of it as “this is a proposal that was heavily considered by BlogWorld.” Propose it for another event, be it something equally large or a smaller local event. Remember, sometimes with a little modification, you can make the idea work for a non-blogging crowd. For example, Amy Parmenter is presenting “How to Get Media Coverage for Your Blog.” If she wasn’t chosen, she could have tweaked that idea and presented “How to Get Media Coverage for Your Business” at a local business association meeting.

  • Break up the idea for blog posts.

If you can only create a single post from your speaker topic, chances are you were rejected because the team didn’t think you could fill an hour or your idea wasn’t fleshed out well enough. Chances are, however, that you can create an entire series of blog posts about your topic. Heck, your topic might even be launch pad for you to start an entirely new blog/business about the topic.

We, the readers, want to hear from you. Don’t get caught up in the mindset that you are not good enough. You are and we want to hear about your speaking topic even if there wasn’t enough room for your topic at BlogWorld this year. Don’t let it collect dust.

In fact, if your proposal was rejected and you create something awesome from it anyway, be it a short series of blog posts or a year-long intensive training course, contact me (allison-at-abcontentonline-dot-com or @allison_boyer) and let me know. Not only will I considering watching/buying/reading/attending/etc, I am more than happy to promote what you’ve created and would even love to write a post about it to share with other BlogWorld attendees.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She feels like she may have just opened herself up for a giant wave of emails…but that’s a good thing if it means quality content to share and promote. Bring on the flood!

We Need You! Guest Bloggers

Author:

We’re finalizing our editorial calendar for the next few months and could use guest bloggers for a variety of topics. If you would like to share your expertise and knowledge on one of these areas, please shoot me an email and we’ll see if we can slot you in!

Conference Topics:

  • Attendee Tips
  • Speaker Tips

General New Media Topics:

  • Blogging 101
  • Monetization
  • Distributing Your Content
  • Building a Community Around Your Blog
  • Social Media
  • Social Marketing
Niche Topics:

  • Podcasting
  • Video Blogging
  • Lifestyle Blogging
  • Food Blogging
  • Entertainment Blogging
  • Medblogging
  • Milblogging
  • Parenting Blogs
  • Sports Blogging
  • Tech Blogging
  • Travel Blogging
  • Real Estate Blogging
  • Political Blogging
  • Digital Photography

We already have some amazing bloggers lined up, so stay tuned for great tips, tricks, and posts!

BlogWorld is Thrilled to Welcome Our New Blogger – Allison Boyer!

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BlogWorld is thrilled to announce that Allison Boyer has joined us as a full time Blogger!

Allison Boyer

I had the pleasure of working with Allison at b5media, and although we blogged in different channels, she came highly recommended by her channel editor when I went in search for staff bloggers for BlogWorld.

I can see why.

Allison has a wealth of knowledge and information to share – for all levels of bloggers. She has launched her own websites, has implemented strategic monetization tactics, and knows the ins-and-outs of content creation. Look for some thought-provoking posts, and newsworthy headlines from Allison as she gets her feet wet with us.

Allison has been a freelance writer for several years, working for companies like Indy Posted, b5media, and is a founding member of Binge Gamer. She also created and runs After Graduation, a website for people new to freelancing online.

We’re working hard behind the scenes, so look out for our amazing new site redesign – coming soon! And thanks to Allison for hanging in with us while we got BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2010 registration up and running before announcing her position.

You can learn more about Allison via her After Graduation bio, and make sure to follow her on on Twitter!

Why I Don't Want to Be Chris Brogan

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Man, I wish I was Chris Brogan.

This is what a blogger told me at the Blogger Lounge at SXSW as we watched Chris interact with a mob of people. I thought about this for a minute. Chris is someone to admire, for sure, and I’m happy to consider him among my friends at these events, but do I want to be him? Chris is famous now, maybe one of the most famous people in the social media space. He’s accomplished so much at a very young age. He surely has it all, but do I want that?

No. I don’t think so.

With all due respect to Chris who worked so very hard to get where he is today, I don’t want his life. Here’s why:

  • Travel: Chris is always on the go. I can’t speak for him, but I imagine it isn’t easy. It was hard enough to be away from my family for five nights while attending SXSW. If you want Chris Brogan’s rock star life, consider how much time he spends away from home and decide if that’s a perk or a pitfall.
  • Mob Scenes: For all the times I’ve seen Chris, we must have spent a total of 15 minutes talking. That’s because we generally chat for about 30 seconds to two minutes before he ‘s on to the next person. Chris is generous with his time and makes sure to say hello to everyone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him when he’s not surrounded by people. So if you’re hoping to be Chris Brogan, considering how you won’t even be able to head for the men’s room without being stopped by 20 people. I’d be worried I’d have accident.
  • Favors: Everyone wants something from Chris including retweets, free books, jumping to the head of the line at the Mashable party, and lots and lots of taking without actually offering anything in return. As someone who receives at least 1000 bits of email each day, many asking for favors, I can tell you this can get old very quick. Do you want people contacting you all day, every day, asking you for stuff? Do you want people to only contact you when they need something and not to say hello?,
  • Expectations: Again, I can’t speak for Chris but I imagine there are rather high expectations being sent his way. Chris Brogan mostly likely can’t have a bad day. He can’t be cranky because folks would write him off as a jerk, he can’t be off his game because folks would complain that he’s not “all that” and he probably can’t just blow everyone off and go to the beach or something because they’d probably say something about his ego. If you want to be Chris Brogan consider whether or not you can be on your game 24/7 and what would happen if you aren’t.

I like Chris. I never saw him be unkind to anyone and he always makes me feel as if I am someone. He’s someone too, though. He’s not a God, he’s a human being. Before you say you want to be him, consider whether or not you truly want his lifestyle.

Rock on, Chris.

Deb Ng is founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs Network. Follow her on Twitter @debng.

Why You Should Disagree with Your Blogger (If You're Not Feeling the Love)

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I just unsubscribed to a couple of  blogs. They were decent enough blogs with occasional discussion-worthy topics but their communities were kind of a drag. It  was difficult to get into any kind of interesting coversation.  The only comments allowed were positive “Oh I so agree with you” type of posts. Anyone disagreeing was labeled as a hostile and ignored or even deleted for being negative.

Now, I’m all for positivity. In fact, it’s my goal for the new year. No blog wars. No Twitter battles. No Facebook feuds. Positivity only. Last year featured enough toxic sniping to last a lifetime. However, I seem to have missed the memo that equated respectful disagreement with negativity.

This is what’s wrong with the blogosphere today. Everyone is supposed to blindly follow the appointed guru and not ask questions. Before everything turns into a giant kumbaya complete with group hugs, let me assure you all that it’s ok to disagree with your favorite blogger. I promise, as long as you’re respectful Chris Brogan or Darren Rowse will not ban you to the comment hall of shame. They welcome your point of view, even if it isn’t the same as their own. Jason Falls will not sentence you to eternal damnation for offering opposition on his social media blog and Liz Strauss will still smile and chat with you in the hallways of conference halls if you don’t share the same point of view.

Now, I’m not saying you have to be all Amanda Chapel about it, because loud mouthed attention seeking isn’t the same as respectful disagreement. However, if you have something to say, you shouldn’t feel as if you need to follow the crowd.

Go ahead. Tell your favorite blogger why you feel he missed the mark or why you don’t think she’s capturing the entire picture. Be nice about it. Don’t curse and get all loud. Offer respectful disagreement and watch the conversation take on a whole new direction. Most of us are geeks who didn’t go along with the crowd in high school anyway, so why do it as adults?

Debate is good. Debate is healthy. Debate and disagreement aren’t the same as fighting or being abusive.

To me, there’s nothing more boring than watching the same five people travel back and forth between each other’s same five blogs and do nothing but agree with each other. Why are so many bloggers afraid of a spirited discussion. Not a negative discussion but one that offers many different points of view? My assignment for you, dear blog readers, is to visit your favorite blogs until you find someone with whom you don’t quite agree. Offer a respectful rebuttal and see what happens. It’ll feel good, I promise.

Don’t agree? Tell me in the comments. I welcome your point of view even if it isn’t the same as mine.


Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network.

BlogWorld '09 One Week Later: Thoughts from Around the Blogosphere

Author:
Dinner on opening day: Lara Kulpa, Darren Rowse, Angie Shwartz and I (Deb Ng)

Dinner on opening day: Lara Kulpa, Darren Rowse, Angie Shwartz and I

One week after the BlogWorld and New Media Expo, life returns to normal. We’re rested. We’re over the “BlogWorld flu.” We’ve hugged our kids, snuggled with our spouses, and did massive loads of laundry. We uploaded tons of images updated our FaceBook and Flickr streams and we’re catching up with the email.  Was it worth all the hype and lead up? Absolutely! This was the biggest and best BlogWorld ever.

Filled with bloggers, charities, major brands and social media aficionados BlogWorld offered something for everyone.

My takeaway? Everyone is an A-Lister.

Some other things I realized:

  • I learn more by talking to old and new friends in the hallways than by attending sessions. Not that the sessions don’t rock.
  • Closing keynotes rock harder when they’re not a giant kumbaya.
  • I’d much rather have dinner with friends where we can chat and share ideas than yell over loud music at a trendy club.
  • The Bellagio Balloon guy is really annoying.
  • Not everyone at BlogWorld is a blogger.
  • Sometimes hotels lose other reservations.
  • FatBurgers rock.
  • Not everyone blogs to make money.
  • Geeks enjoy talking puppets and Star Wars icons.
Sharing ideas in the hallways with Patrick O'Keefe, Brandon Eley and Connie Benson

Sharing ideas in the hallways with Patrick O'Keefe, Brandon Eley and Connie Benson

If there’s one thing I did differently this year as opposed to the past couple of BlogWorld’s it’s that I wasn’t as shy. I took a deep, brave breath and introduced myself to the people I wanted to meet. Another thing I’m doing differently is taking all the business cards I collected from interesting people and following up right away. The last two years, it was too late and I didn’t remember all the great stuff we discussed.

Originally I was going to offer a giant list of thoughts and comments  regarding this year’s BlogWorld, but then I thought, “Who better than to offer a post-BlogWorld round up than all the bloggers in attendance?”

So here it is:

BlogWorld One Week Later: Thoughts from Around the Blogosphere

What did you takeaway from BlogWorld this year?

Many thanks to Rick, Dave and Jim for hooking me up with the best gig ever (blogging here), their endless support and encouragement,  and  for making it possible for me to attend BlogWorld 09.

– Deb Ng

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