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Keep It Simple, Stupid


Keep It Simple, Stupid are 4 words I never heard growing up. I have always had a secret love affair with all things food, heavily-concentrated-ingredient food at that. I grew up on Mom’s meatloaf, homemade macaroni and cheese, super meat and potato pie, roast beef and lasagna. I longed for anything cake, bread and ice-cream related.

And then just a few short years back, I found out I had a form of colitis and an inflamed esophagus. My diet suddenly took a drastic change and went from an unhealthy, all out love affair, to a basic “kiss.”

Keep It Simple, Stupid (K.I.S.S.): I blog the way I eat. I eat the way I blog. I have a saying, “Cut the ingredients. Clear the clutter. Simple. Zen.” Those who follow my Blog, Confessions, Truths & the Journey of a (Mis) Fortunate Foodie-Fitness Junkie, know that I am 100% gluten free, I only eat the best dairy products, I don’t do artificial or preservatives and for the most part everything about my diet (and my life in general) is plain and simple.

The food blogging population is on the rise! I am thrilled, as I love reading and learning from other people. But with this rapid growth comes the need for differentiation and focus. Differentiate yourself and your blog, while trying to focus on a certain aspect of food. Figure out what type of food blog you will be most interested in creating and “marry” that with who you are as an individual.

But how do you take your passion for food, differentiate yourself and then translate it all into your own Food Blog?

Here are 8 Ideas:

  1. Category Specific: Ex. “Just a Bean Pole” (All about beans, from shopping for them to cooking with them and recipes that use them.) Take a category of food you are interested in and focus on that. You might be surprised how many people want to reach about these “niche” foods. If you have a category-specific passion, explore the idea.
  2. Diet Specific: Ex. “South Beach Bum” (All about the South Beach Diet.) Do you follow a specific diet and know everything about it? Share it! There are millions of people who follow specific diets. If you are knowledgeable about one and are able to share that information, you will make someone else’s life easier through your blog.
  3. Product Reviews: Ex. “Product As-Is” (All about your food and food-product reviews.) Are you always trying the latest in food and food-product items? If so, blog about it. Share what you know, what’s hot and what’s trendy.
  4. Geographic Specific: Ex. “Eatin’ San Francisco” (All about food and restaurants in San Francisco.) Are you a foodie who is always talking about local food, food products and events? Do you appreciate your geographic location as it relates to food more than most? If so, blog about it.
  5. “Profession” Specific: “Ms. Traveling Executive Gets an A+ in Nutrition.” (All about eating on the road, with a busy, mobile lifestyle.) Maybe you have a job which requires constant travel? Or maybe you’re a professional athlete with specific food requirements. If you fall into these types of categories, but yet have found true passion in food as a complement, chances are someone will be extremely interested in this content.
  6. “Illness” Specific: Ex. “My Bum Tum” (All about food for people living with Colitis.) With food allergies and intolerance on the rise, many people have had to change their diets. Newly diagnosed people are not sure where to turn. If you have lived it and know the great tips and tricks, share it. Someone will be looking for content like yours!
  7. Sport Specific: Ex. “Run. Eat. PR. Repeat.” (All about a runner’s diet.) Sports require food, typically a lot of food! Athletes that participate in running and triathlon events typically have high-caloric intakes. Sharing how you achieve this and make it work for your training is interesting and informational.
  8. Beverage Specific: Ex. “Java Nation” (All about coffee.) Food can also be beverage. And maybe beverage is your choice passion. Maybe you are the local wine connoisseur or you’re traveling the world looking for the best cup of coffee. Blog it!

Does your Food Blog have to fall under one of these (or any other) specific category or “theme?” Absolutely not! That being said, people are more likely to read and follow your blog when they appreciate the content, find it useful and feel a connection to it all. People do this by reaching for the “like me” portion of content to invest their time in.

Don’t make your food blog harder than it should be. Remember 3 things: Embrace your passion for food, enjoy the art of blogging and always K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)!

Sarah Kay Hoffman
Sarah Kay Hoffman is currently the Community Manager for the Sears Fit Club. She is an avid foodie-fitness blogger, and dives into all things social media and integrated marketing communications related. You can find her at www.sarahkayhoffman.com, www.digitalmention.com and on Twitter @SarahKayHoffman

Twitter: @SarahKayHoffman

The Military and the Media: Things Are Unlikely to Change


Thomas Kratman

BlogWorld 2010 Speaker
MilBlogging Track
Thursday October 14, 2010
Time: 11:00AM to 12:00PM

The Military and the Media: Things Are Unlikely to Change …and they’re certainly not going to change for the better. The military and the media are not going to learn to like each other, generally, though each may make exceptions for individuals. They’re not going to learn to cooperate, generally, though there may be some rare bouts of it. And, generally speaking, neither are their respective world views going to come into sync nor their structural antagonisms to diminish. They can’t.

So let’s start with the structural antagonism. That it exists is fairly obvious. Soldiers (likewise, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines) have a vested interest in keeping secrets. Their lives depend on it. Their mission depends on it. Their victory depends on it. Thus, their hope of ever seeing home in one piece depends on it. Moreover, for careerists, their future careers may well depend on it. This includes keeping secrets that, by rights, perhaps ought not be kept. Those careerists are human, after all, and most unlikely to want revealed anything that might show them in a bad light.

Conversely, for the media, their interest lies in the opposite direction. One needn’t attribute to them any particular hostility to the military – though that hostility is often enough too plain to deny – to recognize that their livelihoods, their standing, their personal “glory” is intimately tied to obtaining and revealing secrets that the military would wish kept, often for good reasons though sometimes not.

Secrets, however, are only part of the structural antagonism. Much also comes from the nature of war, itself, and of journalism, itself. Folks, war’s ugly and there’s little (nothing, really) to be done to prettify it. Moreover, in any society but 18th century absolutism or 20th century totalitarianism, winning the war requires popular support. Popular support and ugliness just don’t go together all that well. Thus, Soldiers want the ugliness suppressed, or at least elided over, to keep up popular support. Journalists, if they’re intent on doing their jobs (not all are), want the little girl with the napalm burns on the front page, the gut-shot trooper, screaming out his last, to lead on the Five O-clock News, and the human interest story in either to be about the wife and kids left bereft by the death of their husband and father…unless there’s a video of an allied policeman executing a prisoner which, naturally, would take precedence. It’s too much to say that all journalists are interested in undermining popular support, though some appear to be. It’s not too much to say that a substantial group is indifferent to maintaining popular support for a war.

Thomas Patrick Kratman, a political refugee and defector from the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts, is a retired infantry officer, a recovering former attorney, and a writer of political and military commentary, more or less disguised as science fiction, for Baen Publishing. You can also find him at www.tomkratman.com

Hyperlocal Blogging for Real Estate


Heather Elias

Confession: I’m one of those ‘hyper-local’ bloggers. By definition, that means that I write about my local area, a lot. I’d probably prefer to say that I’m a local blogger, hyper local makes it sound like I’ve had too much Red Bull. As a full time Realtor, I fall under the category of real estate blogging, although that isn’t typically what I write about. For me, blogging came naturally as a way to reach current and potential local clients. I have a journalism degree, so combining writing and real estate suits me.

When I started LoCoMusings (LoCo is short for Loudoun County, where I live), I didn’t set out to write a ‘real estate blog’… I only wanted to show people in my area that I was knowledgeable about Loudoun. So I started writing about things that were happening around me, issues that my neighbors were talking about, and stuff that was part of my everyday life. I included real estate as well, but my content is probably 80 percent local area and 20 percent real estate. I’ve written about road developments, power lines, holiday parades, youth sports, new construction communities, and builders that have gone out of business. I’ve also posted local area photos from across my county.

What I found as I developed my voice was that I was filling a need in my community that wasn’t being met by our local (weekly) newspaper, or DC Metro area television stations. My local news on my site covered stories and happenings that otherwise weren’t getting noticed by the media. LoCoMusings has become, to my readership, one of their news sources for Loudoun County. The difference between what I write and local media, though, is that you get my perspective, my opinions, and my spin on it as a local resident and business owner. For the readers, it’s honest, and for me, it shows my personality.

Last year at Blogworld I sat on a panel about the future of local media and hyperlocal blogging with another real estate blogger, Dave Smith, and two ‘traditional media’ representatives. At the time, it seemed like traditional media felt (very strongly) that real estate bloggers should leave the reporting to the professionals. From my perspective, the vibe was almost hostile. Now, however, a year later, things have changed, and local media (at least in the DC metropolitan area) is reaching out, sharing, and collaborating, which puts my blog in front of a much wider audience.

If you haven’t heard of TBD.com, make sure you take the time to check it out. Personally, I think it’s the future of news: it’s a multimedia mashup of television, traditional media (small stable of reporters), and a community network of bloggers covering the entire DC area. I’m part of the community network, so my blog posts are featured on the website, and I may participate as a ‘neighborhood expert’ on TBD tv from time to time. They are taking the best hyper-local blogs in our area and combining that with traditional news to enrich the experience for their audience. Amazing how much of a change that is from last year.

What I’ve learned since I started my blog is that you don’t have to write only about your industry to be providing relevant, useful content to your readership. Develop relationships with traditional media to widen your audience, and use your local area knowledge to grow your readership. Your unique perspective on your area is valuable to your readers, and will bring a sense of community to your blog.

Heather Elias is a real estate professional with Century 21 Redwood Realty, in Ashburn, Virginia. Heather has combined a background in public relations and marketing with small business ownership experience to grow her successful real estate business in northern Virginia. Her aggressive marketing program leans heavily on internet marketing and social media, garnering a solid 75% of her business from her online efforts. Her hyper-local blog about Loudoun County, LoCoMusings.com, is the lynchpin of her business and won her the title of Virginia Blog Brawl Champion in 2008. Heather also writes several local blogs that focus specifically on market statistics, and is a contributing author to VARBuzz.com, the blog for the Virginia Association of Realtors. She recently spoke for the National Association of Realtors Midyear Legislative Convention in Washington DC, at RETech South Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors in Herndon, Virginia.

Real Estate Blogging 101


The starting point for real estate bloggers (or any blogger for that matter) is enthusiasm for the subject. It isn’t necessarily a requirement that you currently work in the industry however you should have some personal knowledge and interest in whatever you’re going to write about. The beauty of real estate blogging is that you have a vast array of topics to choose from due to the vast scope of the industry. You can cover commercial, residential, local, national, finance…the list goes on and on. Topics abound in the real estate sector and are just sitting there waiting for you to come along.

Topic Development

So what are you going to write about? I happen to have some ideas for you. You might start a blog that focuses on government oversight and financial fraud within the industry. You’ll have all of the content you need to keep very busy while helping your readers in the process. Alternatively, your blog might revolve around a particular style of architecture. I personally love Victorian era homes so if you start a blog about them, send me a link. You might provide information on the best or most affordable locations to live or cover. How about covering the most exclusive luxury homes out there? Most people love to see mansions and dream about owning one. Two growing trends – eco-friendly buildings and homes suitable for retirement lifestyle also make good subjects for the aspiring real estate blogger.

Financial concerns can be basis of a blog providing tips and advice on getting a mortgage and saving money for those seeking to buy a new home.? Like to travel and have the means to do so? How about covering locations around the world of interest to other travelers? These are just a few topics that you might consider when starting out and there are a thousand others as well. You just have to jump in and start doing it.

Content Development
Publishing interviews with industry leaders and real estate experts or having someone in the industry write as guest blogger will add great value to any blog. In return, these folks (typically) will expect to get a link back and a strong recommendation for readers to visit their own website. You might not land Donald Trump for an interview but it never hurts to ask either. Seek out the biggest fish you can and go after them with a vengeance. Your credibility and exposure will grow over time as a result if you’re successful in gaining just a few expert interviews each year. There are even sites out there that will help you find guest bloggers. BlogWorld is (of course) also another great way to network and meet other bloggers that might be willing to write a few pieces for your blog. You’ll find that there are many very generous people in the blogging community that are willing to help beginning bloggers. All you have to do is ask!

More on Content
Content of real estate blogs becomes more relevant, original, informative, and compelling when images, video and graphics are used so make sure you use them frequently. These are as effective as text and equally as important for tagging with keywords. People enjoy viewing pictures and videos reflecting different lifestyle choices, design features and locations so this type of content is likely to stand out on social networks and various bookmarking sites.

Community Development
Blogging is an interactive occupation. When real estate bloggers invite comments, welcome opinions and encourage queries, more readers can participate and get responses. So make sure you get your readers involved on your blog. This is crucial to your long-term success.

Get active on those social media sites out there. Establish yourself as an authority on real estate (in whatever sector you’re covering) and offer advice to others frequently. Make sure you visit other industry blogs as well and get to know the owners. If you participate on their blogs, in most cases they’ll return the favor.

Advertiser Development

When a real estate blog has sufficient content and traffic to benefit from advanced monetization, you need to seek out advertisers to keep the lights on. Financial products and relevant industry services are most likely of interest to your readers so make sure that prospective advertisers know who you are. They’ll gladly pay well to reach your readers if you can provide them with some demographics and/or analytic data for your blog.

Real estate blogging is most profitable when a blog stands out for having content that is relevant, original, informative, and compelling. Create a niche blog and your audience will be well defined. This is particularly useful when selling advertising. With enthusiasm and originality it is possible to make an impact and achieve great success as a real estate blogger. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you along the way.

Jason Carr is the founder of urThots.com launching at BlogWorld 2010. Be sure to stop by Booth #417 at the show for some free stuff and to check out the new kids in town.

Image Credit: Fotolia

How to Create Mouth Watering Content for Your Blog


BlogWorld 2010 Speaker
BlogWorld Track
Friday October 15, 2010
Mariners A/12

Time: 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Hi, my name is Nathalie Lussier and I’ve been a blogger nearly half my life, starting way back on platforms like Livejournal and Blogger. A lot has changed since the early days of blogging, from awesome conferences like BlogWorld Expo to attend, to new blogging platforms, and different promotion strategies!

One thing that has remained important since the start of my blogging career has been the ability for a blogger to create mouth watering content that entices readers to share with their friends. On Friday October 15th, 2010 I’ll be sharing my experience creating mouth watering content at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas. Click here to RSVP for my talk!

This session is for you if you’re completely new to blogging or you want to take your existing blog to the next level. If you’ve already achieved massive success with your blog, my tips might give you some new ideas and directions, but you’re probably already familiar with some of these techniques. This session will be geared toward bloggers who want to spread the word about their business and their blog.

I run a successful food blog, where I help people eat more fruits and vegetables by enticing them with recipes, photos, and tips. If you think getting people to retweet your blog posts is hard, try getting them to eat more healthy food! I’ll be borrowing from my experience blogging about food in my talk, but the advice is applicable to any blog or business.

I’ll be covering the following topics in my talk:

  • My content creation process, from the time an idea hits to the publishing finish line
  • How to create your content in a way that really connects with your audience
  • Why it’s important to plan out your blog content in advance, and how to do it the right way
  • The only way to ensure your content lives on after you hit publish
  • My light-hearted social media approach that gives your fans a way to spread the word about you while naturally attracting new readers
  • How to choose between all the different distribution channels: Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, SEO, and guest blogging
  • When to pick one strategy and run with it, so you’ll get more results for your blogging efforts

You will leave the session with a solid action plan for creating mouth watering content. The session also gives you an in depth look at content promotion strategies, allowing you to decide which technologies to focus on to get the most out of your time spent promoting your blog content. All of this knowledge leads to more loyal readers, customers, and fans.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you at my session! So mark your calendar for Friday 4pm and be sure to tweet me @NathLussier; before the talk, and say hi in person!

Nathalie Lussier is a Software Engineer turned business owner, known as the Raw Foods Witch. She turned down a career on Wall Street to help people eat more fruits and veggies, and now blogs about making healthy lifestyle choices easier for busy people like you. From curing cravings, to designing a web presence with social media and videos, she is making her mark on the world one carrot at a time.

Top Gadgets & Tools For Blogging While Traveling


As long as you can avoid the dreaded writer’s block, blogging while you’re at home – with a reliable internet connection and maybe even a second monitor – is the easy part. It’s blogging while traveling that can be a challenge.

I’m not even talking about the difficulties of finding time to blog while you’re on the road, either – I covered that topic in a BlogWorld Expo blog post in June. In this case, I’m talking about finding the best tools and gadgets to help make your blogging life easier while you travel.

Best Gadgets and Tools for Blogging While Traveling

What traveler doesn’t like travel gear? Sure, not every traveler is giddy at the thought of bringing the latest tech toys on a trip, but if your blog isn’t taking the same vacation you are then you might want to embrace just enough technology to keep your readers entertained while you’re traveling.

Bringing a desktop computer on a plane clearly isn’t an option, and sometimes even bringing your average laptop doesn’t make sense. My own everyday laptop isn’t huge by normal standards, but the 15″ screen makes it not exactly teeny, either. What’s more, if your whole life is stored on your laptop and something happened to it while you were traveling, you’d have more than a stagnant blog to worry about.

Some computing alternatives that help you blog while traveling are:

  • Netbooks – These tiny laptops aren’t the most powerful machines, but they’re incredibly travel-friendly. Even the best netbooks for traveling aren’t going to be powerful enough for you to do much in the way of photo or video editing, but if you can save that for when you get home then a netbook might be a good choice for you. They’ll stow easily in backpacks and even in many not-huge purses, and if you get one with a solid state hard drive you don’t even have to worry so much about being gentle with it. Blogging while bumping along in a chicken bus? No problem!
  • iPad – For many, the iPad is becoming the travel blogging weapon of choice over the old netbook. It’s definitely a versatile gadget, being more about media consumption than it is about media production, and is far prettier to look at than even the shiniest of netbooks. The main drawback for anyone who’s using an iPad for content production is its lack of an external keyboard (not everyone is skilled at or comfortable with typing on the screen). If your typing needs are minimal and you just want to be able to post the occasional photo or make sure previously scheduled blog posts go up as planned (plus be able to watch movies on long flights) then the iPad may be a more fun travel option than a netbook – and you can always buy a portable iPad keyboard, too. Be sure to get a durable iPad case for your toy, however, since there’s no close-able cover to protect the screen.
  • Smart Phone – Maybe you have no plans to do any blogging while you’re traveling because you’ve cleverly scheduled blog posts or have guest posts going while you’re on the road, but you’d like to be able to moderate comments, make sure posts publish when they should, and perhaps check email. You prefer books to movies on plane rides anyway, and you’re not interested in carrying a laptop-sized anything on your trip. Alrighty, then! A smart phone may be the only gadget you need. The iPhone is the most popular choice these days for traveling bloggers, but it’s not the only choice. There are Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Flickr apps, for instance, on the BlackBerry and Android platforms, too. Whatever phone you have, just make absolutely sure you’re not going to a destination that will have you racking up enormous roaming and data charges (or that, if you are, you take appropriate measures on your phone to avoid them). Conversely, if you know you’ll need to get online with your smart phone while traveling, make sure you’ll be able to do that from wherever you’ll be.
  • Internet Cafes – Remember when you first started seeing internet cafes popping up when you traveled? Okay, you might be too young to remember a time before internet cafes, but for those of us who are a bit (ahem) older, the existence of an internet cafe sometimes served as the technological drink of water us wandering techno-philes longed for. Those of you who still relish the idea of traveling essentially without tech gear will be happy to know that there are still plenty of internet cafes to be found everywhere from Bali to Barcelona to Bamako. You can never be sure what kind of machinery you’ll encounter – not to mention how many will be on the fritz – and it may take you ages to type even a simple email on a foreign keyboard, but if your computing needs are minimal that may be more of an amusement than an annoyance.

It’s not all about the hardware, of course. So what are some other tools that can help you keep blogging while you’re traveling?

  • Google Docs – Even if you’re bringing your own netbook on your trip, storing an increasing amount of data on it will just slow it down over time. Saving documents out in the web-o-sphere means you can access them from anywhere and you aren’t taking up space on your computer.
  • iPhone Apps – As mentioned above, the iPhone is the most popular choice among traveling bloggers these days, and that’s due in part to the array of travel iPhone apps available. Your iPhone can now be your travel guide, your GPS device, your entertainment, and your blogging tool – in addition to being your phone. It’s not as easy to type on an iPhone as it is to type on an iPad or a computer keyboard, but that hasn’t stopped some people from relying entirely on an iPhone as a computing device when they travel.
  • Automatic Backups – This should go without saying, but too many people still don’t back up their data even when they’re at home… So obviously it needs to be repeated. Get thyself a backup system, people! At home, I have an external hard drive sitting on my desk, but I still use both that and a web-based backup method (I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of girl when it comes to my data). When I’m traveling, however, the web-based backup is all I have. And don’t think that just because you’re carrying only an iPhone or solely using internet cafes that you don’t need to worry about backups – make sure your blog is set to back itself up regardless of where you are.
  • Travel Insurance – Carrying any amount of expensive tech travel gear is enough to make anyone nervous. Nevermind having your blog go without a new post for a few days, the consequences of having your netbook or iPad lost or stolen aren’t fun to contemplate. If you’re bringing gear that you care about on your travels, be sure to get travel insurance before you leave home. Some trip protection insurance will cover up to $2500 of “personal effects” if something happens to them on your trip, so be sure to look for that when you’re getting insurance quotes. This obviously won’t keep your gear from getting swiped, but if the unthinkable does happen at least you’ll have some recourse to get a new gadget. (And since you backed up all your data, you haven’t lost anything. Right?)

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of the gadgets and tools to keep your blog chugging while you travel. I haven’t even talked about camera gear, for one thing, or the various bags designed to more elegantly tote your gadgets around. So I’m going to conclude with a question – what is your favorite piece of equipment to blog when traveling? What devices make it possible for you to keep up with your blogging duties even while you’re out and about? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

Jessica Spiegel is a staff writer at BootsnAll (your resource for all things budget travel) and spends most of her energy on BootsnAll’s Italy Travel Guide, WhyGo Italy. She’ll answer all kinds of Italy travel questions, including how to find cheap flights to Italy, which Italy tours might be worth your time and money, and critical stuff like how to get from the Rome airport into Rome. When it comes to gear, Jessica is more of a netbook girl than an iPad girl, and she won’t go anywhere without a camera (although she’s afraid of water enough that a regular ole DSLR is preferable to even the coolest waterproof digital cameras).

Photo Credit: scriptingnews

Becoming a Destination in the Growing Travelsphere


Travelblogging didn’t start yesterday. Expats and wanderers have been chronicling their travels online for at least a decade – Lonely Planet and BootsNAll have provided online spaces for travel stories and advice for longer. What is new is the rise of travelbloggers as a recognizable entity and community.

@nerdseyeview and @kag2u blogging from an Iowa campground.

In 2008 I co-hosted Travelblogging for Beginners at SxSW with Sheila Scarborough – it’s the first time I’d seen travelblogging on a conference agenda. The following year saw the launch of TBEX, the Travelblog Exchange, which attracted an audience of 300 travelbloggers in 2010. This year is also the second year of a travelblogging track at Blog World Expo. We are popping up on panels at PR conferences, in Best Of lists, and on daytime TV . We are even scoring book deals. We have arrived.

For a few years, I had a freelance gig for BlogHer. I’d read the travelblogs twice a week. Sometimes I searched for topic specific information – for example, after the flooding in Peru, I wanted to see what travelers were saying about the Machu Picchu region. Other times, I’d click through new blogs looking for inspiration. After four years of this twice weekly browse-fest, I can catalog a post or an entire blog in a few clicks.

Here is the gap year adventurer. Next, a mom dealing with the tribulations of small children and the TSA. Now , another round the world couple living out of their backpacks. Yawn. Yes, I have become jaded and a hard critic in the classic sense of that word. And under that jaded sensibility is a challenge for travelbloggers. As we grow and become easier to pigeon hole, how are we going to stand out? I think there’s a way. And while this is targeted towards travelbloggers, most of this translates to bloggers of any stripe.

Be transparent: I’ve followed with great interest travelbloggers who exposed exactly how much money they were saving prior to their adventures or exactly how much things cost. I stumbled across a blog that had an attached spreadsheet capturing every single dime spent per country with an average for each category and country. I’ve also followed bloggers who report not only how much they earn, but exactly how they earn it and on which domains. This kind of honestly in finance is not only inspirational but provides a much needed reality check to those planning their travels and those with aspirations to make money travelblogging.

Transparency doesn’t just apply to finances, though. Use it for press trips, anything that’s sponsored, giveaways, reviews: disclosure isn’t just a legal consideration, it builds trust.

Share your expertise: Be it a specific destination or a style of travel, targeting your expertise to your audience – parents traveling with children of a certain age, or Honduras or Hawaii or Hanoi — digging deep into your topic ties you to both the curious and the enthusiastic. And you’re helping! You’re offering up useful, concrete, actionable information about traveling with a wheelchair or finding the best gelato. Those you help are your advocates; they’ll help you stand out in return for sharing your knowledge.

Have a presence: Ah, it’s so lovely to dream of the day when all I’ll do is write posts for my own blog. Ideally, this is accompanied by lucrative speaking gigs (backed with a luscious per diem and all expenses paid.). Never mind all that. Showing up elsewhere is good for your reach. This might be a blogging gig for a network site, but it can be many other things – engaging on Twitter and Facebook, hosting meetups , thoughtfully placed guest posts, or sharing your platform with good causes. No meetups near you? Start something, even if it’s just coffee with a travelblogger across town.

Tell it like it is: Lose your luggage in the airport and your lunch over the rail on the boat? Fall in love with the surf shack boys even though your adoring husband is right behind you on the sand? Fear for your life on that taxi ride to Monteverde? Bring all that emotion with you to your blog – travel or otherwise. There are servers chock full of sanitized for your protection travel “content”, there’s no need for more of it. Bring your sincerity and wonder, your fear and aggravation, this is your story. Make it live for others and they will love you for it.

Pam Mandel is a freelance writer and the blogger behind Nerd’s Eye View . She’s a cofounder the travel social gathering, SCOOT (Seattle Consortium of Online Travel) and Passports with Purpose, the annual travelbloggers fundraiser.

Photo Credit: Photo by road trip buddy @pwcarey

Yes Virginia, There Is A Military Track


The question in many people’s mind is “Why is there a military track at Blog World?” The answer is that members of the military (as opposed to the military itself) have been at the forefront of using and pushing the boundaries of new and social media. As they have done so, the military and a host of other institutions have begun to take new and social media seriously.

Milblogs have long served two distinct and important purposes. A number of them were started simply to keep family and friends informed about a particular individual, or a small group of
people. They let those interested know how they were doing, what it was like wherever they were, and some of what was going on at that location. Others started up to share broader information with those interested, to overcome the lack of reporting and in-depth analysis of events and plans, and – in some cases – bad information.

For the first time in history, a broad audience could have access to current information on events, activities, conditions, and much more at the front lines – as well as the rear, the middle, and even during transit. Those blogging from overseas helped push both the technological
envelope for new media, as well as the social envelope by helping establish that blogging was an effective and responsible means of sharing information.

As social media evolved, these same groups of people began to use Facebook and other platforms, then Twitter, and, well, you get the idea. As members of the military have moved forward on various fronts, they have also helped advance new and social media in the process.

Today, members of the military are still pushing those envelopes. As new platforms and technology are emerging and evolving, they are being given a trial by fire, in some cases literally. As they demonstrate the maturity and/or the efficacy of platforms and technology, they are also showcasing the effective and innovative uses to the world.

This year, we have an interesting line-up of panels in the military track that we hope you will consider attending. They are not just for the military or even the military-interested public: they are for those interested in innovative uses of social and new media, tech and
use trends, how social media can be done and how it works under less than ideal conditions, and even those interested in separating myths from reality. We even hope to have a surprise or two for you:

Panel 1: Surprise for now
Panel 2: Social Media: Force Multiplier for Spouses?
Panel 3: Media and the Military: Myth versus Reality
Panel 4: Ideal versus Field: Social and New Media In Less Than The Best Circumstances
Yeah, we are still working on that last title…

In the days ahead, you will be hearing more about each panel and the participants, and even getting to meet the participants a bit. We are not out to recruit; we are not out to debate tactics, and we are not out to bore anyone. What we plan to do is talk about new and social media and explore its use, its future, and trends that will be of interest to all. With a bit of context from a specialized group that has pushed the envelope and helped shape what is and what is to come.

Stay Tuned…

C. Blake Powers
Blake Powers has been blogging since 2003 at laughingwolf.net and milblogging as Civilian-in-Residence at http://www.blackfive.net since 2005. He is a consultant on new and social media and has reported as a blogger from Iraq.
His background includes working as a project manager on several Spacelab missions, serving as Director of Outreach for NASA’s Space Product Development Program, worked for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, working with (and serving as furniture for) wolves, and has co-founded the charity Cooking with the Troops.
Yes, that is a real wolf in the photo.

How to Get Published on a Premium Tech Blog


The word “influence” has become one of the most popular buzzwords across the blogosphere and apparently there’s a right way to garner influence, and a wrong way.

For most tech bloggers, influence is about becoming a thought leader on a specific topic in order to reach a business or personal goal. So whether you’re the world’s foremost Android expert, a hardcore coder or a complete gadget nut, the reason to strive for influence is to establish credibility – and you can’t do that alone. Someone already influential needs to vouch for you.

Last March I wrote an article about CDBaby founder Derek Siver’s TED Talk. In the video, Sivers shows how an influencer/leader is nothing without an influential first follower. As far as I can tell, blogger credibility falls along similar lines with the basis of influence coming from:

  • Consistently adding value to readers’ lives; and,
  • Having that value publicly recognized by credible first followers.

When you write for an acclaimed web property, it’s as if the site’s editors are ushering your ideas in with their seal of authority. While they may not agree with everything you say, there’s the recognition that what you say matters to their audience – and in many cases, that audience is extremely powerful.

Why do you think I’m writing for BlogWorld? In addition to putting my name on a page next to industry heavy hitters, I also want to encourage more bloggers to contribute to the pool of good tech resources. Below are a few tips on how to pitch tech editors in the hopes that you’ll consider taking a stab at the tech blogging profession.

Prove Your Abilities: There’s always someone that thinks they can write a better post than the one that’s published in front of them. If you’re that person, then quit flapping your gums and prove it. Think about everything that’s missing from a story, list those points, and fire off an email to the editor establishing your expertise on the subject. If you write a tasteful pitch that focuses on how you can help (rather than criticizing someone else’s work) you’re proving both your subject knowledge as well as your ability to write a persuasive argument.

Prove Your Existing Credibility: If you’ve written past articles, uploaded relevant podcasts, spoken at subject-related events or worked at a well-known and relevant company, then those are all points that speak to your credibility. Other establishing bullets include testimonial from industry luminaries and quotes in established online publications.

Prove Your Reach:While this wasn’t always the case, more blogging sites are interested in bringing in writers that extend their reach to new communities. If you’ve got a huge Digg or Reddit following, you’re active on HackerNews and Wikipedia, or you’ve got more than 10,000 Twitter or YouTube followers, then an outlet might choose you over another less social writer. When you’re considered a leader in an online community, editors realize your posts are more likely to gain traction with those audiences.

Prove Your Integrity: Editors want you to write for them because of your expertise, not because of your business interests. You need to establish how you’re going to add value to readers before you can fulfill your own agenda. Outlets don’t want to read a repurposed press release about your company. They want candid news, reviews or tips. If you can cover one of those three bases, then it’s fine to highlight a company case study. You just need to disclose your financial interests openly.

Now that you know how you’re going to pitch your story, here are a few publications you can pitch to get started.

A number of technology blogs take pitches from guest writers:

Dana Oshiro is the Senior Analyst and Publishing Strategist at NetShelter Technology Media. In her spare time she continues to contribute to ReadWriteWeb’s startup channel as well as her personal site Villagers With Pitchforks. You can follow her on Twitter at @suzyperplexus or email her at dana.oshiro@netshelter.net.

Fitness Tips for Social Media Geeks: Get in Shape for BlogWorld!


Dave’s Fitness Tips for Social Media Power Users – 1st Installment: Get Moving with an Easy Walking Routine.

It’s getting pretty close to BlogWorld time, and every year I think to myself “I’m spending so many hours at the computer working, not exercising or eating well enough, this cannot be good for my body. I’m an active person, what am I doing?…Come BlogWorld time, I’m going to feel (and look) like a wreck.”

Walking Shoes

Break out of your inactive lifestyle behind the computer, start getting healthy with a simple walking routine!

This year, I’m going to take a new approach, scheduling a little time each day to exercise, eat better, and I’m going to share some of the simple fitness and diet tips I’ve learned over the years with you. I’ll even seek out the advice of fitness and diet experts to help from time to time. Hopefully, together we’ll get to BlogWorld feeling and looking better, and it’ll be a great start toward a healthier 2011 for all of us geeks and busy social media fanatics.

First, a little backstory on my past history in geekdom, and my health wake-up call.

When I moved to San Diego in my early 20’s, I was a graphic designer and copywriter working long hours, trying to save my pennies toward an eventual condo purchase so I could settle down with my college sweetheart. I worked 8am-7pm, then 9pm-Midnight (sometimes later). All the while, I was eating seldom, but when I did, it was large portions and not the best food, mind you. I ate based on convenience, not quality. And since I was surrounded by computer geeks, designers and video gamers, it made a whole lot more sense to take a break from work in an action-packed video game networked with my buddies, than getting up and actually getting myself in action.

After a couple of years of this, I’d gone from my previous svelte, high school athlete weight of 176 lbs up to 218 lbs, my hair was thinning, my skin was a mess, my trouser size kept increasing and I was even getting out of breath going up the stairs to my second floor office…not good.  I felt like I was aging rapidly, and at this pace, I’d most certainly be following in the footsteps of my father–having a heart attack and open-heart surgery (or worse) in my 30’s.

I looked in the mirror one day, astonished to see a completely different person looking back at me than I once was, and I made a decision. I was not going to die young, dammit. I was going to get my health back, and get in shape. Good shape!

My life was too busy to add more complexity. No fancy cable-driven workout machines, no time-consuming drive to the gym, no gear. I just wanted a simple start to getting active again. Shoes, shorts, t-shirt, door, outside. I began walking. Such a simple thing, right? I’d been a competitive athlete in so many sports (tennis, cycling, skiing, baseball, etc) and yet, I’d never thought of walking as an athletic activity. But it was for me now. I was so out of shape, I just needed to get moving. Simple goals.

I began walking early in the morning before work several days each week, 30-40 minutes at a time, just a long loop through the rolling hills of my neighborhood. After 2 or 3 weeks, I was able to jog a little bit here and there. Walk 10 minutes, jog 3 minutes, walk again. Every couple of weeks, I’d add more time to my jogging segments until it was a 50/50 ratio of walking to jogging. I’d never been a runner (sort of despised running actually, used to think it was incredibly boring) but this was actually fun! I had no special training, fancy equipment, I was getting fresh air, seeing some great trees, sunshine and I was feeling like me again!

After a few more weeks, I hooked up with my neighbor and began jogging non-stop for 45-60 minute stints. He was a “real” runner, fancy shorts, special running shoes and all, but he liked me anyway. Why, I have no idea. I must’ve had a great sense of humor, or perhaps he was amused watching me run and dragged me along for the entertainment value. After a few months I was down to 183 lbs…I’d lost 35 lbs, holy cow! I felt so much better, and the person in the mirror was starting to look familiar again.

So, that’s how I started getting back in shape. Walking. For those of you behind the computer for long hours, days strung together with no exercise mixed in, neck, shoulders, legs and back stiff and sore, here’s your fitness tip for the week. It’s a simple one…

Get outside and walk for 30-40 minutes, 4 mornings this week before you begin your day. Just open the door and go. Simple as that. Below is the walking routine I used to get back on the road to fitness when I was in the most unhealthy, inactive time of my life.

Dave’s Easy Morning Walking Routine:

(Take deep breaths of fresh air as you begin; in through the nose, blow gently out through closed lips.)

  1. 10 Minute Moderate Pace Warm-up: Walk at a moderate, easy pace for the first 10 minutes to get your muscles and body awake and warmed up. (Moderate means you’re not trying hard, not straining, walking at an easy-to-maintain pace, but not going slow enough to shuffle your feet.)
  2. Interval 1 – Brisk Pace 1 Minute, Easy 4 Minutes: Take brisk strides for 1 minute, then slow down to moderate/easy again for 4 minutes.
  3. Interval 2 – Repeat Brisk Pace 1 Minute, Easy 4 Minutes: Same brisk pace as before; it should feel easier and more fluid the second time, now that your muscles are warm and pliable. After 1 minute, slow to your moderate pace and try to feel your feet rolling through the strides, touching the ground mid-foot first, rolling through the ball of your foot. Feel the muscles of your feet and legs cushioning your stride—don’t let your heels take the shock of your stride, you’re designed to walk and run with muscles absorbing and giving you a cushy ride, so don’t force the shock into your skeleton by hitting your heels on the ground!
  4. Interval 3 – Brisk Pace 2 Minutes, Easy 3 Minutes: You’re now warm, fluid in motion, and you can maintain the brisk pace for 2 minutes, with a 3 minute easy pace to cool down. If you feel like you’re straining during the 2 minute brisk segment, you’re walking too fast, slow it down and just keep a pace which requires effort to maintain. You’re training your muscles and lungs to develop some endurance, this is a good thing!
  5. 5 Minute Cool-down, Easy Pace: You’ve done great, just walk at your moderate pace for 5 minutes, feel the cushioned stride, keep your arms active and keep breathing deeply—in through the nose, out through the mouth. Gradually dial down from your moderate pace to a really slow pace. Keep your good form, don’t hit the heels, maintain cushioned strides, just shorten them to match your slow forward progress.
  6. 5 Minute Stretch: While your muscles are warm, this is the time to stretch, get some flexibility back, and help avoid future range-of-motion injuries. Do your favorite stretches, basics are fine. Stretch arms up to the sky, clasp hands and slowly hang down at the waist and reach for the toes; next put hands on hips and bend to each side reaching outside hand up and over toward the leaning direction; next gently stretch Achilles tendons with one foot flat behind you while leaning with hands against a wall or bench. Add a couple of stretches you like to finish off, and remember with all stretches, you can prevent strains and pulls by doing doing them s-l-o-w-l-y.

That’s it, a simple 35 minute walk, including a nice stretch at the end. If you haven’t had any exercise in a while, I’m betting you’ll feel pretty good. Do this 4 mornings per week, and in a couple of weeks, you may actually be feeling great!

The first step in moving toward a healthy and fit you is literally, taking forward steps! You just need to move your body, and your body is built for walking (and running). You will feel better, and trust me, you’ll be on your way to getting healthier for BlogWorld!

Next post, we’ll talk about eating light and basics of weight loss.

Tweet me your health & fitness questions! If you need help with health & fitness, or if you’d like to share or discuss training or exercises, tweet me @dave_blogworld and let’s talk about it!

Important: Check with your doctor before any new exercise routine, and get professional guidance and oversight. I’m not a physician, just a social media fanatic like you. If you have injuries, a disability, pain from exercise, or other warning signs that something’s “wrong”, seek medical attention immediately. Being healthy includes being smart, and safe! And remember to hydrate: drink water before and during exercise time; you’ll decrease muscle cramping, avoid overheating and speed muscle recovery.

Disclaimer: Posted health & fitness tips are suggestions and anecdotes provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

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