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Book Review – Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World


If you have a business, you need customers. Plain and simple. Ironically, most consumers these days complain that customer service is at an all-time low. If you’re a smart business person, now is the time to turn that trend around and start setting yourself apart from the competition!

For those new to the social media space or who want to amp up their customer service efforts, I highly recommend you check out Peter Shankman‘s latest book, Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World (Que Publishing, 2011).

Probably best known for founding Help a Reporter Out (HARO), Peter’s someone who has made a career out of thinking differently. In this book, his version of thinking differently is reminiscent of a time when people saw people as humans and not merely as numbers. From identifying the different types of customers you’ll encounter online, including the complainers and the braggers, Peter tells you how to deal with each of them through your social channels. He also discusses how to drive revenue, keep an eye on the competition, utilize freebies, identify how your customers like to be communicated with, and how to monitor what people are saying about you. However, he also emphasizes all the human elements of customer service: how to acknowledge customers, show appreciation, create brand loyalty, and what to do when something–anything–goes terribly wrong.

There are also seven valuable case studies that profile companies who are succeeding in the online space by thinking outside of the box and offering value. My favorite is the story of Bravo! Italian Restaurant and Bar.

Some business books are a labor to read, but Peter’s is incredibly user-friendly. For a book that offers great advice, insights, suggestions, and is incredibly educational, it’s a surprisingly easy read.

So, in short, if you’re not maximizing your online efforts to connect with your customers, engage them, excite them, and make them lifelong fans, you need to pick up a copy of Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World. And, although, lots of social media books become outdated within months of publication, I have no doubt you’ll want to keep this one on your book shelf to reference time and time again.

BlogWorld’s own Shane Ketterman recently interviewed author Peter Shankman and they talked about all things social media, including pinning, poking, and Peter’s Top Ten Tweet of 2011 (which yielded some incredible customer service and amazing PR for a social media savvy company!). Be sure to check out the video below.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To see Peter live and in person, be sure to see his session When It Gets Real: What Happens When Your Fun Little Personal Brand Has to Grow Up at BlogWorld New York on June 6th!

Book Review: Click Millionaires by Scott Fox (Plus a Giveaway!)


Click Millionaires by Scott Fox is the latest book for people hoping to make money online. I don’t know about you, but whenever someone makes the promise to teach you how to quit your job and become an Internet millionaire, I get a little suspicious. As someone who earns a living through virtual work, I know just how much time, dedication, and hard work it takes to be successful. I find that many of the books out there on this topic are nothing more than a step above scams.

This is not the case with Click Millionaires, but that said, make sure you read this entire review before pulling out your credit card. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review.

“The traditional American dream centered on individual financial achievement–where becoming a ‘millionaire’ allowed you to control your own life, afford anything you want, and live on your own terms. But today the phrase ‘Click Millionaire’ captures the revolutionary idea that lifestyle benefits like independence, security, and self-confidence–formerly only available to the wealthy–are now available to anyone who chooses to build a successful lifestyle business online. As you can see from the definition above, money is important to Click Millionaires, but it’s not the only thing that matters to the ‘new rich.’ Money is not the destination on your life’s road trip; it’s just the gas to help you enjoy the journey.” – Scott Fox, Click Millionaires

First, before purchasing any book, I think it’s important to understand the target audience. In the case of Click Millionaires, you’ll find this book helpful if you are a beginner. Click Millionaires gives a great overview of all the ways you can get started making money online. He covers blogging, podcasting, creating videos, freelancing and more – all good options for people unhappy at their office jobs and hoping to get started earning money online.If you are already well-versed in the world of making money online, though, Click Millionaires is not going to be as useful to you.

Scott’s book is great about giving you brief looks at all the avenues you can take for success online, but whatever you choose, you’re going to have to do more research to find out exactly how to optimize your time online. If Scott went into that kind of detail in his book, it would be  be thousands and thousands of pages! So be warned – if you decide, for example, that podcasting is the right route for you, you’re going to have to become more educated about it. You can’t simply read Scott’s book and turn into a podcasting millionaire. What is great, however, is that Scott gives readers tons of resources for finding more information. He sets you up for success.

The most valuable part of Click Millionaires is Part Five: How to Find Your Niche on the Internet. Choosing a niche is super important to making money online, and I believe that Scott explains how to do this very well. I also love all the interviews he includes in this book. It’s great to hear about stories straight from the people who’ve found success online.

I don’t agree with every piece of advice in this book. In fact, I think that Click Millionaires makes the same mistake that make “make money online” books and information products make – it sounds too easy. Making money online is anything but easy. Can you do it? Can you become a millionaire online?

Yes, I think you can. But it takes years of hard work and most people will never get there. The people who have become overnight successes online caught lightening in a bottle. They won the Internet business lottery. So be wary of anyone selling you hope. Don’t buy Scott’s book if you think you’ll be lounging on your own private island this time next year. Buy Scott’s book because you realize there is potential to earn money online and you want to learn about some of the paths you can take to do this.

Want to come to your own conclusions about Click Millionaires? This is your chance! Scott has graciously offered THREE copies of Click Millionaires to lucky BlogWorld readers.

How to Win:

Scott talks about making money in niche markets in his book, giving examples that range from a flight attendant who tells work stories via her podcast to a man who runs a message board about raising chickens. He’s also on the Making Money from Your Favorite Niche Market panel for BlogWorld New York. So, to win a copy of Scott’s book, leave a comment telling us: What is your favorite niche site?

Do you have a favorite fashion blogger who inspires you? Are you in awe of the videos your local baker posts about how to decorate cakes? Would you love to be as successful online as a friend who runs a forum for novice gardeners? Tell us about this site and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Scott’s book! Hurry, the entry deadline is May 25, 2012!

(Fine print: Winner will be drawn using Random.org and notified via email. Winner must respond within five business days to claim this prize. You may comment as often as you like, but only one comment per person will count as an entry. Commenting from multiple accounts and other attempts to cheat the system will result in disqualification. Only comments answering the above question will count as entries, though other comments are welcome. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. All decisions made by BlogWorld are final. Void where prohibited.)

Review: Online Community Management for Dummies (Plus a Giveaway!)


What’s the difference between an online community manager and a moderator? More cowbell.

At least, that’s the answer BlogWorld’s very own community manager Deb Ng gives in her new book Online Community Management for Dummies. Deb was nice enough to send me a copy to review, and at the end of this post, she even has a special giveaway for the BlogWorld community!

Online Community Management for Dummies is part of the best-selling Dummies guide series from Wiley. On the cover, Deb promises to teach readers how to:

  • Identify core tasks for community managers
  • Build and maintain positive relationships within your online community
  • Establish policies and transparency
  • Manager comments, respond to criticism, and evaluate ROI

I whole-heartedly think she fulfills these promises.

If you have blog, podcaster, business Facebook page, forum, video series, or any kind of other online content, you have a community – people who enjoy what you do and feel a sense of camaraderie about your online presence. A lot of people make the mistake of never engaging their community or even acknowledging their existence, but without these loyal people supporting your work online, you’re dead in the water. Deb’s book is all about how to interact online in a way that thanks your community for their support, builds your network of fans, and helps them thrive.

Online Community Management for Dummies is 314 pages split into the following parts:

  • Part I: The Basics of  Online Community Management
  • Part II: Embracing the Community Manager’s Role
  • Part III: Building a Productive Online Community
  • Part IV: Growing Your Community
  • Part V: Assessing the Health of Your Community
  • Part VI: Taking Your Community Offline
  • Part VII: The Part of Tens (Ten Essential Community Manager Tasks, Ten Must-Have Skills for Community Managers, and Ten Best Practices of a Community Manager)

I like that this book is so encompassing and even covers the complexities surrounding specific types of communities, such as communities for children. The biggest negative, in my opinion, is that this is a Dummies book. I think Deb does a great job making the content interesting, but I personally tend to enjoy books that have less of a rigid structure and more personal stories about failures and successes. That said, if you’re new to community management, the structure of a Dummies book makes it easy to follow along and learn step-by-step, so don’t let this observation of mine deter you from picking up a copy.

I found the most helpful section of this book to be Chapter 7: Listening to Your Community. Writes Deb,

It’s one thing to watch and a whole other things to listen. During your rounds on the social networks, blogs, and community pages, pay attention to what people are saying. How many members are saying the same things? Members won’t come to you with every concern or request, but they may share ideas with one another. Pay attention to what they’re saying an take notes.

I think that’s where a lot of community managers fall short – they monitor, but don’t actually listen. Of course, this is not the only point of good advice in the book. Deb also makes a lot of stellar suggestions and observations such as:

  • Adding a community calender so members know what’s coming up
  • Rewarding loyalty with prizes and perks
  • Encouraging members to share rather than making it all about you
  • Using Google alerts to make sure you know what people are saying about you
  • Consider planning real-world meetups/tweetups
  • Avoiding the negativity trap

I could continue, but in all honestly, you should just pick up a copy yourself! 😉

Or you could win a copy! That’s right, Deb has agreed to give away a copy of Online Community Management for Dummies to one lucky winner. To enter, simply leave a comment below responding to the following community challenge:

You write a blog post that goes viral and starts bringing in hundreds of comments. As readers weigh in with their opinion and reply to one another in the comments section of your blog post, you notice that one commenter continually makes negative remarks and calls other people names. He’s not just trolling, because he actually has insightful things to say about the topic, but his comments are increasingly rude and hurtful not just to you, but to other commenters. What do you do?

Leave a comment below by Friday, May 11, 2012 at 5 PM EST and one lucky winner will be drawn to receive a copy of Deb’s book!

(Fine print: Winner will be drawn using Random.org and notified via email. Winner must respond within five business days to claim this prize. You may comment as often as you like, but only one comment per person will count as an entry. Commenting from multiple accounts and other attempts to cheat the system will result in disqualification. Only comments answering the above question will count as entries, though other comments are welcome. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. All decisions made by BlogWorld are final. Void where prohibited.)

Review: MyBlogGuest Premium


If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I’m a fan of MyBlogGuest, a forum run by Ann Smarty from SEO Smarty. This forum was created to help connect bloggers who are interested in writing and posting guest posts. You can get started for free, and I highly recommend signing up for this version if you’re even slightly interested in guest posting in some capacity. For free, you can:

  • Surf the forums for bloggers looking for people to guest post on their blogs
  • Post a guest posting opportunity if you want guest posts on your own blog
  • Post that you’re looking for places to guest post about a specific topic
  • Post/view real paying jobs available around the web
  • Ask for help promoting guest posts via social media
  • Participate in blogging contests
  • Chit chat with other bloggers who are interested in similar topics
  • Access a free email course about guest posting

Yes – all of this is completely free, so you really have nothing to lose in checking it out. I working with one of my clients to secure guest post opportunities, and this forum has been invaluable for me. There’s no guess work – if a blogger posts on this forum, you know they are accepting guest posts. Without MyBlogGuest, I would be left contacting bloggers randomly, hoping they accept guest posts, and that takes a lot of time.

But what about MyBlogGuest premium? There’s an option for you to purchase premium membership for $20 per month, and after months of considering it, I decided to take the plunge last month and upgrade my account. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about what you get as a premium member and whether not it is worth it for you as a blogger.

As a premium member, you get access to a private forum, where premium members can speak with one another, but to be honest, I don’t really see much value in this private forum personally. The real value in premium membership, in my opinion, is with the article gallery.

As the name implies, the article gallery is  a section where users can upload posts that need homes. You upload the title, content, and byline you’d like, along with a picture (optional), tags, and a short description. Users who want guest posts for their blogs can browse the articles by category or keyword and make an offer to you if they think your post would be a good fit for their site. As the post’s writer, you can review all of the offers you receive and choose one or reject them all and wait for another offer.

Screenshot of the article gallery. Note how you can click on categories or search for posts via tags. If you scroll down, you can also see the most recently uploaded guest posts.

You can also suggest your post to other users. If you do this, that user will receive an email alerting them that their is a post that might be a good fit for their blog. It’s a great option if you have an awesome post that hasn’t attracted much attention in the article gallery.

Additionally, you can post directly to blogs for users that allow this option. With this feature, you can send your post directly to the person’s blog, so all they have to do is hit the publish button when they log into their dashboard. You can search for blogs that allow this feature by keyword.

Of course, this has been my perspective as a guest post writer, but it all works in reverse for someone who wants to post guest posts. You can browse the gallery for posts that are relevant to your site, add the “post directly to blog” option so you’ll see new posts when you log into your blog’s dashboard, and accept suggested posts that users email to you.

My experiences have been mostly positive. I’ve found that 99% of the time when I upload a new post to the article gallery, I have multiple offers for that post within 24 hours. Occasionally, a post sits in the gallery longer, and when that happens, I like having the option to suggest it to other users or post directly to blogs. Suggestions have worked out great. I have mixed feelings about posting directly to other blogs – when using this function, I’ve found that it’s a crapshoot. Sometimes, the person gets back to me, but just as often, I never hear back.

Final Recommendations:

So, should you upgrade your account to be a premium member? Yes. Well, maybe. It depends what your time is worth to you, your ultimate goals as a guest poster, and the volume of guest posts you do. Let me explain.

What MyBlogGuest premium essentially does via the article gallery is allow people to approach you when they want a guest posts, so you don’t have to spend time researching the blogs out there that might fit what you want to write. However, you don’t necessary get guest post opportunities from top bloggers in your niche, mainly because most of these bloggers are MyBlogGuest members. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t awesome blogs using this service – there are – but they are most small and mid-sized blogs.

I’ve also noticed that some MyGuestBlog users have blogs don’t necessarily have a strong niche. They’ll accept any content. This might be okay if you’re guest posting for SEO purposes, but it isn’t necessarily going to help you if you’re looking to connect with new readers.

Keep in mind that if you want to get your money’s worth, you have to actually be able to devote time to writing guest posts. You still have to write the actual post – the $20 per month that you’re paying to be a premium user is justified because you’ll be saving time in finding guest post opportunities. If you only write one or two guest posts per month, the price of premium might not be worth it to you, especially if you already have a large network of contacts who would be willing to accept your guest posts whenever you email them.

For my needs, MyBlogGuest is awesome. I write guest posts for a client who blogs about and sells insurance, which is much different than my own blog’s niche (and therefore doesn’t really make sense for the network of contacts I’ve personally built). This client pays me based on the number of guest posts I can have posted every week, so saving time is important to me. MyBlogGuest has paid for itself over and over and over again in just the short one month I’ve been using premium membership.

I will say this as well: if you’re someone who needs motivation, paying for premium membership can inspire you to get moving with guest posting, something that can really give your blog a boost. Money is always motivation for me!

Something else I want to make very clear: If you’re someone who wants to accept guest posts on your blog, but not necessarily write them, premium membership is not for you. You can find posts on MyBlogGuest with just a free membership – you don’t get any extra perks as a premium member, other than the private forum access, but as I’ve noted before, I don’t see a ton of added benefit to that part of the forum. Most of the users active there are just as active on the free forum.

I recommend started out with free membership to learn how the MyBlogGuest forum works, and peruse the article gallery for some content for your own blog. If you find that guest posting is something you want to do more, explore the premium membership option. At least test it out for one month – $20 isn’t much of an investment, and in just a month it’s easy to determine whether or not the price is worth the benefits for you.

Disclosure: I did not receive free access to MyBlogGuest premium in order to write this review (I paid full price out of pocket), and I’m not part of any kind of affiliate program, so there’s no financial benefit to me if you sign up. I was honestly just interested in exploring this option and wanted to recommend it to you! I’m not opposed to receiving free review products or affiliate programs with transparency, that’s just not what’s happening here.

Book Review & Giveaway: Get Rich Click!


In Get Rick Click, Marc Ostrofsky shares his techniques and strategies for making money (legitimately!) online.

The Internet is arguably the most powerful business tool in the history of mankind. It’s a vast resource through which anyone – from stay-at-home moms to small businesses – can make money easily and quickly, often without the need for startup capital. And at a time when thousands of people are still without jobs after being laid off two years ago, making money from home sounds more attractive than ever. But how does one navigate a frontier of endless possibilities, especially with little or no technical background?

Online entrepreneur Marc Ostrofsky was a pioneer in taking full advantage of the Internet’s business potential. In 1995, he purchased the domain name Business.com for $150,000, shocking industry insiders that anyone would pay so much money for a simple Web address. But four years later, he resold the domain name to eCompanies for $7.5 million, and landed in The Guinness Book of World Records. Since then, Ostrofsky has continued to excel in online businesses of all kinds, with his current companies, generating $75 million in annual revenue.

In GET RICH CLICK! The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet, Ostrofsky draws on his own success as well as hundreds of ideas and real-life stories from entrepreneurs of all ages to show how easily and quickly one can make money on a full- or part-time basis. Here are examples of folks who have made their fortunes auctioning on eBay, buying and selling domain names, arbitraging Internet traffic, selling leads or other products and services via the Internet, and many other ways. In the book he explains:

  • How to make money online using just a photo – requiring no money up front
  • How people are making money using blogs, e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube
  • How anyone can buy Internet “traffic” for a few cents per visitor and sell it for 5x, 10x or even 25x the upfront amount
  • How to make a full-time living from home creating e-books that are sold by others
  • What the “Lead Generation” business is and how to make money providing leads to other websites

Audience: Large Businesses, Small Businesses, Individuals – Anyone interested in using the Internet, Blogs and Social Media, to make money!
Tone: Conversational with a wealth of examples, case-studies, “Click Tips”, lists, and explanations.
Takeaways: Each chapter ends with “Putting Your Ideas into Action” with a variety of ways you can start making money today.

An excerpt from the book:

Making Money With Blogs
While some blogs publish to disseminate information, others intend to create that loyal following marketers crave. Your blog should provide some type of value to your readers. If you supply value, you ought to make money from the value you supply … Daily posting is critical to building a loyal following and a sense of community. Be careful not to post too often. It’s usually best to post one strong, focused topic ead day. Save your other ideas for a day when you haven’t got a topic in mind.

I couldn’t get enough of this book! Every chapter was full of resources and tips and it covered everything from content creation to advertising, to affiliate marketing, to social media and more. BlogWorld is even listed in one of Marc’s Top 25 Internet Conferences! Definitely pick up a copy today (it just came out this week) or you can even win a copy here! Here are the rules:

  • Leave a comment below, saying what you’d hope to learn from the book, to receive one entry.
  • Tweet about the contest for a second entry.
  • Entries must be received by midnight PST May 10th to be considered.

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