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Rolodexes Haven’t Gone Out of Style – Especially for Bloggers


Growing up, I would help out in my dad’s office. One of my favorite tasks was updating his Rolodex. He’d arm me with a couple of glue sticks and give me all the business cards he’d collected since the last time I helped out. I’d sit and glue those cards to the funky shaped Rolodex cards. Then I’d alphabetize all of the cards. My dad eventually worked his way up to four full Rolodex containers before he switched to a computer-based alternative. Entering all those contacts by hand became my job as well — and I enjoyed it.

I admit, it’s a little weird for a kid to be so enthralled with Rolodexes and address books, but it’s a fascination that has done well for me. I have a massive contact list — about 11,000 people last time I checked — and it’s the best asset I have for my blog.

Why Your Address Book Matters to Your Blog

We’ve all heard that we need giant mailing lists, scores of Twitter followers and generally a huge network to promote our blogs to. Our address books (and the email, snail mail and face to face connections that they represent) are just as important, if not more so. In the last day, I’ve used my address book to:

  • Find a guest poster for one of my sites that I can’t cover
  • Find the perfect interviewee for an ebook I want to write
  • Line up coverage for the next product launch I’ll be running
  • And plenty more…

Building the Modern Rolodex

As much as it breaks my heart not to get to handle physical cards, my dad’s Rolodexes have gone the way of his slide rule. There are so many better options now, that do a lot more than an eight year old with a glue stick can. You should consider exactly how you use your address book for your blog when choosing the right software.

Make sure you can tag contacts: While not ever single contact in my list is tagged, most are. That means that if I need ten fashion experts to comment on a specific question for a list post, I can just check everyone who is labeled ‘fashion’ to build my list. I can do the same if I’m offering an opportunity to past advertisers or guest posts.

Integrate social media as much as possible: Twitter is just as legitimate a way to reach out to someone these days as email or phone — and it’s often faster. If your address book doesn’t at least offer you a space for adding social media accounts, you need something a little more modern.

Let the software do the heavy lifting: There are tons of tools these days that will automatically build out your address, importing your contacts form different sites and even automatically making new contacts whenever someone emails you. While maintaining my contact list by hand may be something I enjoy, I’m confident that’s rarely true of anyone else, so why not choose a tool that handles most of the work for you?

Image Source: SXC

You Can Now Connect Blogger to Google+


In an effort to begin integrating Google+ into Blogger, Google announced you can now use your Google+ profile with your Blogger blogs.

It was back in July talk of Google unifying the Google+ brand began. Although they haven’t renamed Blogger to “Google Blogs” as it had first been reported, they are starting the process of integrating the two.

What benefit is there to connecting your Google+ profile to your Blogger blog?

Google says, “In addition to giving your readers a more robust and familiar sense of who you are, your social connections will see your posts in their Google search results with an annotation that you’ve shared the post.”

They are making this feature optional, considering all of their bloggers do not have a Google+ profile yet. If you don’t have one, you might want consider it. They hinted at more Google+ integrations coming in the future.

For those of you who blog with Blogger, have you added your Google+ profile yet?

Google Brings Dynamic Views to Its Free Blogging Tool Blogger


Google announced new layouts for their free blogging tool Blogger called Dynamic Views. These look amazing! The new themes are powered by AJAX, HTML5 and CSS3.

Dynamic views reportedly load 40% faster, as well as provide their blog readers with more enjoyment and discovery of their content. Some of the new features include infinite scrolling, keyboard shortcuts for quickly flipping through posts, lightbox-style posts for easy viewing and more.

Here’s a video look into the new themes.

Here’s a list of the descriptions and examples of the different theme choices via the Blogger Buzz blog:

  • Classic (Gmail): A modern twist on a traditional template, with infinite scrolling and images that load as you go
  • Flipcard (M loves M) – Your photos are tiled across the page and flip to reveal the post title
  • Magazine (Advanced Style) – A clean, elegant editorial style layout
  • Mosaic (Crosby’s Kitchen) – A mosaic mix of different sized images and text
  • Sidebar (Blogger Buzz Blog) – An email inbox-like view with a reading page for quick scrolling and browsing
  • Snapshot (Canelle et Vanille) – An interactive pinboard of your posts
  • Timeslide (The Bleary-Eyed Father) – A horizontal view of your posts by time period

If you would like to preview your favorite Blogger blog with the new Dynamic Views, you can do so here.

So tell us – what do you think of the new Blogger Dynamic Views?

How Bloggers Can Make The Most of The School Hours


As the kids go back to school, we bloggers have several hours during the day to ourselves. If you are not careful, those hours will go by very quickly and you’ll find that you haven’t accomplished anything. Here are a few tips bloggers can use to make the most of school hours.

Routines. Set up a weekly routine and put it on your calendar. I like to start my week out by writing on Mondays and Tuesdays. That way I have the rest of the week for social media, meetings and anything else that comes up. Some weeks, I have to rearrange, but I try to stick to that routine. By having it on my calendar, I don’t spend any time figuring out what I need to do. I can be productive as soon as I sit down at my desk.

Do tasks that require peace and quiet. I try to schedule conference calls and meetings for the 6 hour span that all 4 of my kids are in school. I know I won’t be settling arguments while on the call. That is another reason I like to write during the day. My thoughts are not interrupted by, “I’m hungry.”

Exercise. That may sound counter productive, but if you start your day by moving your body, you will have more energy for your day. I find the days I work out, I accomplish more in less time.

Be ready when the last child leaves. Don’t use the time the kids are gone to shower and get ready for your day. Get up before the kids if you need to. Once they are out the door, you can begin your work day.

Set business hours. You may want to post your business hours on your blog. If someone is trying to contact you or set up a meeting, they know what your hours are.

Following these tips has helped me become more productive during the day which leaves me open and available to my kids after school when they need me. I have had to learn to be very flexible though. It never fails that someone will be sick or we will have snow day when I have an important meeting. I will rearrange my week so I can work around the changes. Ultimately it all comes down to managing your time well.

What tips do you have for maximizing those school hours?

New Blogger Redesign Available to Everyone!


Remember news of the Blogger redesign? Well, you can check out the preview of features right now!

While there are some new features available (like customizing your favicon) – the most prominent aspect of the redesign is the streamlined look of Google+ and Gmail’s new facelift.

Check out how clean the Overview page looks:

And a new Post page is extremely sparse:

Since the design is still in draft mode, Blogger invites you to provide feedback on anything you see. They say, “We hope you’ll enjoy the new Blogger interface and send us your feedback by clicking on the “Send feedback” link from the navigation bar. Happy blogging!”

What do you think of the redesign?

Google to Rename Blogger “Google Blogs”


Update: It has been confirmed there are no plans to rename Blogger or kill the brand.

Mashable learned an interesting tidbit of news in regards to two Google owned brands – Blogger and Picasa. It looks like they will be renamed in an effort to unify the Google+ brand.

Blogger and Picasa are two of Google’s most popular products, so they’re definitely not going anywhere. In fact, Blogger is one of the 10 most visited sites in the world.

According to Mashable, Blogger will be renamed “Google Blogs” and Picasa will be renamed “Google Photos”.

It was just back in March that Blogger announced the site would be getting a makeover and that 2011 would be one very exciting year for the company. They said more changes would be unveiled throughout the year and it looks like a name change may be one of them.

When exactly can you expect this to happen? Possibly as soon as 6 weeks! The launch may coincide with the public launch of Google+, which should be on or before July 31st.

For those of you who use either one of these sites, what are your thoughts on this? It’s expected that some users will be upset with the change.

5 Tips for the Hesitant Blogger


… by JoAnna Haugen

BloggingI’ve been a member of many writers’ groups, and despite all the genres people work in and the creative ideas that spawn their words, I’ve discovered one thing that’s certain: Writers, by nature, prefer the tangible piece of paper. As an extension, they are often (though not always) hesitant or uncertain about how to embrace the art of blogging.

Writers tend to get bogged down with what, exactly, they should be writing and whether what they have to say is worthwhile to anyone else. Add to that a frustrating vocabulary of terms such as SEO, traffic and analytics, and I can appreciate why people want to go running in the opposite direction.

The important thing to realize is that, regardless of whether you’re a writer or not, blogging doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating, and, in fact, it can be a lot of fun. If you’re among those who would like to blog but don’t know where to start, here are five tips to keep in mind:

1. Blogging can be very easy.

Assuming you know the basics about navigating your way online, setting up a blog is simple. There are many free templates predesigned for bloggers, and you don’t have to pay to use them. Blogspot and WordPress are two of the most popular platforms available to bloggers. All you have to do is set up an account, and you’re free to write your first entry right away.

Over time, as you define the voice and purpose of your blog a bit more, you may want to consider buying your own web address and customizing the design, but don’t sweat about that now. At this point, just set up a blogging space to call your own and go from there.

2. Write what you know and love. Don’t worry about the technical stuff.

When I first started blogging, I wrote about what I loved most—travel. I shared travel stories and advice on what I had learned while traveling around the world, and I loved it. And then I started learning about all the technical stuff I should be doing, such as adding key words and tagging photos. Okay, I thought, I’ll start doing those things. But then blogging became a bit of a drag. It was more work than fun. I’ve since gone back to writing what I love (with some of the technical stuff tucked in the back of my mind), and my readership has grown.

The bottom line is that without good content, you won’t have readers. Your audience knows when you write for Google, so don’t do it. When you start a blog, find your passion and your voice. Create quality content. And, yes, learn a bit about the technical stuff, but don’t let it bog you down. If you aren’t having fun blogging, then there’s no point in doing it.

3. Blogging is a labor of love.

Starting and maintaining a blog does not come easy. It will not write itself. Before you begin blogging, think about what you want to blog about. There are blogs on anything and everything, from pet care and location independence to daily musings and political insights. Choose a topic (or a broad but somehow related range of topics) for your blog. Make a list of things to write about before you start the blog (10-12 ideas is a good place to start) and continue to add to it so that you always have something to write about. Decide how often you want to post. Once a week is a fairly reasonable goal to begin with; ease into more posts as you get used to the process. If you don’t know what to write about, consider tip #2 above and write about what you want and what you like to read.

Once you’re started a blog, you need to maintain it. Make time in your weekly schedule to blog every week so that it becomes a habit. In order to reach the most people possible with your content, you’ll need to make time to reach your audience via social media as well. Yes, it all takes time, but many people come to love their blogs as an extension of themselves, and once you’ve found a dedicated audience, the people you touch will make the work worth the time.

4. What you write exists forever.

Make no mistake about it: Once you hit “publish,” your words have the opportunity to permeate the virtual world. You might think you’re writing for a small audience, but online, anyone can read what you’ve written. The difference between a personal journal and a blog is a big one. If you don’t want to share it with the world, don’t write it on your blog.

Because of this, many people choose to write about subjects that aren’t necessarily personal to them. If you write about people you know, you might want to change their names. Avoid including personal details such as your home address and phone number.

5. Give a little to get a little.

Blogging is a two-way street. You can write in a void all you want, but part of being a successful blogger requires being an active participant in the blogosphere. This means you’ll want to take the time to interact with your readers by responding to comments and visiting and commenting on other blogs. Doing this is also a good way to spread the word about what you’re blogging about, but make sure your intentions are honest. If you’re only interested in promoting your own work, then you can’t expect others to reciprocate the deed.

Using social media is also a good way to promote other bloggers that you admire. When bloggers support each other, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

JoAnna Haugen has spoken on panels and at workshops regarding successful blogging practices. She maintains two blogs (a personal travel blog and a Las Vegas travel guide) and Twitter accounts focused on general travel and writing as well as Las Vegas travel.


Blogger To Get a New Interface and ‘Smarter Content Discovery’


Blogger has launched a campaign that teases some impressive stats and reveals a complete revamp of their platform! The company, 11-years-old, is one of the world’s top 10 biggest websites. Acquired by Google in 2003, they now tout that they have more than 400 million active readers around the world, and over 500 million posts!

So what’s to come in the near future? Well, Google is giving a sneak peek into a redesign of the Blogger user interface, updated analytics, an updated mobile experience, and “smarter content discovery” – which features access to other content and media.


The interface looks to be a lot more functional and robust than the current tools. And while there’s no set date for the launch of this redesign, we can only hope it’s coming soon!

How to Monetize the Content of your Blog in Speaking Engagements


… by Barry Moltz

Make New Things We love to write, but it’s time we learn to monetize our content. Many bloggers try to sell consulting services as a primary source of income. While this may work in the short term, it is difficult to make a lot of money billing by the hour. There is no leverage in consulting services when paid hourly. While many bloggers turn to selling products through their website, an overlooked path to monetizing content is speaking professionally.

Before picking up that big check, people need to have a reason to listen. Every blogger should articulate a strong brand and promise: For example:

  • What have you done?
  • With who (brands more famous than you)? What did they say about you?
  • What have you published?

The most effective place to get content for your speeches is from past blog posts and articles at other sites. Repurposing content from tweets to these articles or guests posts can also be effective. Videos with other ‘bigger named’ people also will extend your brand. Podcasting is now simple with free tools such as Blog Talk Radio. Most importantly, increase your reach by blogging about what is in the general news that day which revolves around your area of expertise.

If you want to be paid as a speaker, your web site needs to have the following:

  • One line brand on what you speak about.
  • What the audience will learn.
  • Video of you speaking.
  • Which type of businesses benefit most from your speeches.
  • Show your expert deliverables: your books, webinars, and ebooks.

Where do you start constructing a speech?

  • Find the two things you want your listeners to learn.
  • What are the 5-7 points you want to emphasize with stories, examples and action items?
  • What is the impactful opening and closing that the audience is sure to remember?

Don’t memorize, but learn the speech. Break it into 3 to 5 minutes modules that you can be comfortable learning. Practice, Practice, Practice Outloud!. Watch video of yourself giving the speech. This is the key un-magic of speaking. Don’t have the arrogance that you can just wing it on stage. Don’t get fooled by watching other professionals that make it look easy. The good people have practiced it hundreds of times.

How much should you be paid? Start small. Do it for free to get experience. Then, charge expenses and a small honorarium (Less than $500). Using these initial speaking engagements as your base will propel you to command four to five figure fees.

Tell us how you made the leap!

Barry Moltz has founded and run small businesses with a great deal of success and failure for more than 15 years. He helps small businesses get unstuck and get back their long forgotten potential. Follow him at www.barrymoltz.com or on Twitter @barrymoltz.

Sharing the Knowledge of Better Bloggers


I know it may come as a shock to you, but some bloggers are better than you are. Yes, you are a rock star, I’m sure, but when it comes to blogging in a certain niche, you just can’t know everything. When that’s the case, don’t leave gaps on your website. Show some link love and share the knowledge of better bloggers.

Recently, I wanted to write a post on After Graduation about publishing your book. As I started writing, I realized that I was way over my head. I’ve never published a print book. Hell, I’ve never even finished writing a book, though I am a professional novel-starter. Who did I think I was, giving advice to my readers on a topic that I knew nothing about in the practical sense? Sure, I’ve taken some publishing classes, but just because you take a class doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.

Yet, this was an obvious hole on my website. It was something that my readers needed to know, and without covering publishing at all, it felt like my blog was incomplete. So, I created a post filled with links. The post has 18 resources for my readers who are interested in print publishing, many of which are websites specifically covering the subject, not just single articles. I even learned a few things about publishing when perusing websites, even though that’s not an interest of mine at the moment.

In other words, I found people who were experts in an area that I’m not, and I directed my readers there.

Now, you can look at this in a bad light if you’re so inclined. Every time I give a list of links instead of writing a post filled with my own advice, I’m saying to my readers, “Hey, I don’t know much about this topic.” Does that discredit me? Maybe a little.

But the fact of the matter is this: I know a lot about freelance writing in other areas. If you have a question about becoming a web content writer, I’m 100% your girl. I’m even developing a course for professors to teach this topic in the classroom. Admitting that I don’t know anything about a related topic (in this case, print publishing) doesn’t mean that my advice on online writing is worthless.

You should also consider that link love lists do send the reader away from your site. Even if you set the links to open in new windows, the reader could easily get lost in someone else’s website, never making it back to yours. This happens all the time. I should know – I have Internet ADD just like the rest of you, and a short trip online to check my email often turns into a three-hour surfing session where I end on the Wikipedia page for drum machines or Richard Rodgers.

So, you have to ask yourself, “What will bring my readers back to me?” Be memorable, and hook your readers so they sign up for your RSS feed or mailing list. Be an “ultimate resource” by listing dozens of links on a topic, so they come back to you again and again or even bookmark your page. Share the knowledge of better bloggers, but be a better blogger yourself.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She’s ashamed to tell you how many hours per week Wikipedia sucks her into its devious web.

Image credit: sxc.hu

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