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We Don’t Need More “Gangnam Style” Bloggers


The Gangnam Style  music video has swept the Internet, and while it isn’t unusual for a pop song to be so heavily played and inspire so many parodies (including this awesome video from Hubspot), this is a unique case because the song isn’t in English. In fact, many of the song’s biggest fans probably don’t even know what “Gangnam” means.

Actually, it’s a district in Seoul known as one of the most affluent areas of Korea. Singer Psy has said that the song is about how the girls in Gangnam are ladylike, classy, and perfect during the day, but aren’t afraid to party and get crazy at night. So of course, people have latched onto this notion of “I’m classy but like to have fun too.”

Only that’s not the entire story.

Gangnam Style is also a song that pokes fun at itself and at the Gangnam region. There’s subtle social commentary in this song about classes and wealth.

And perhaps most importantly, Psy himself has mentioned that people who actually do have Gangnam style would never announce it, kind of in the same way someone who truly has class would never walk around saying “I’m so classy!” Announcing that you have Gangnam style is kind of like flashing a wad of cash around. If you have to tell people you have Gangnam style, you probably don’t have Gangnam style.

We definitely don’t need more bloggers with Gangnam style.

We don’t need more people flashing their advice and money and shouting “I’m an expert!” We just need people who are experts, or rather, who are learning all they can about this new media world and passing it on.

If you have to tell people you are an expert, you probably aren’t an expert.

It’s not just the terminology either. We can debate all day long about whether you should call someone an expert or an influencer or a professional or something else, but that’s not my point. My point is that we all need to stand on our own merits of action and experience, rather than just doling out advice. If you’ve never made money blogging, for example, don’t start a blog teaching people how to make money blogging.

What have you done? What do you know? What is your passion? The next time you sit down to write a blog post, try answering these questions first. Leave the Gangnam style to the pop stars.

Join the conversation! Do you think too many bloggers are focused on their “Gangnam style”? Leave a comment!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Effie Trinket’s Guide to Blogging


Are you caught up in The Hunger Games Craze just like I am? I remember picking up the first book on a whim back in 2008 before the hype started, and I stayed up all night reading it. Although I love the books, I am no less obsessed with the movies; I saw the movie opening day, and am unashamed to admit I’m already planning to go again.

One of my favorite characters is Effie Trinket. For those of you who haven’t read the books or seen the movies, Effie is a character who lives in the well-off “capitol” which is surrounded by starving “districts.” She’s a comic relief of sorts, saying outlandishly trivial things when the kids in her care are preparing to fight to the death for all to see. It’s not that she doesn’t care. Effie just doesn’t understand.

I feel like the same can be said of bloggers to an extent – most bloggers have good intentions, but. So I thought today it would be really fun to write a guide to blogging as if from the world of Panem by Effie Trinket. And okay, maybe I have a few things to say myself, which I put in italics.


Effie says: As a blogger, you are a public figure and it is important to always act with perfect social grace. When writing posts, be sure not to offend, get personal, or act in a way unbecoming of your position. Furthermore, bloggers should always remember that their poor behavior will not only reflect on them, but also on those around you. Manners are important, above all!

Allison says: Okay, manners might be a little important, but as a blogger, one of your roles is to write posts that truly help your readers, whether that “help” comes from teaching them how to do something or showing them a new way of looking at something. Don’t be controversial for the sake of traffic, but don’t shy away from the tough topics because you’re afraid of offended someone. Manners will only get you so far as a blogger, so respect those around you, but don’t be so PC that your blog is boring.

“I just love that.”

Effie says: Be emotional and blog about things that are personal to you. Your readers don’t know what’s good for them, so it’s up to you to tell them. Create what sings in your heart; then, just sit back and wait for the praise of your adoring followers.

Allison says: The line above, “I just love that,” is from a scene where Effie shows a movie to the poor people of the outlying district that talks about how great the Capitol is and how important the Hunger Games are to their heritage. She’s emotional about it, but what she doesn’t realize is that it’s a slap in the audience’s face. They’re getting ready to sacrifice two of their children. Now, it’s not that I don’t think you should avoid being personal on your blog. On the contrary, I think you should tell your story. Evoking emotions is a good thing! But make sure your audience can relate to the story you’re telling. Know your audience, rather than just barreling ahead and doing whatever you want. Your readers matter.

“I don’t even think they can have dessert…and you can!”

Effie says: Look on the bright side of everything! No matter how unfair a situation might seem, there are good things happening. You should be happy! As a blogger, focus on these good things, rather than dwelling on the bad things happening on your blog. If you look hard enough, you can find positivity in the most dire of situations.

Allison says: I’m all for positive thinking, but focusing on dessert when you’re facing an upcoming battle to the grave is just silly. Bloggers sometimes get wrapped up the things that are going well, but ignoring your blog’s problems isn’t the way to go. You have to discover these problems and attack them full force. Even if you think your blog is pretty great, there’s probably *something* you could be doing better. Don’t be complacent.

Happy Hunger Blogging Games, everyone! May the odds stats be ever in your favor!”

Picture credit.

Three Posts to Avoid on Your Small Business Blog


You have a small business. You’ve decided to start a blog. You’ve even done your research and learned how to use WordPress, search engine optimization, and social media. Congratulations! Blogs can be a great marketing tool, and although it takes time to build traffic, over time, it can bring in a lot of extra business.

But what should you post? As you stare at that blank screen wondering what to write, it can be paralyzing. Actually, small business blogging is more about knowing what not to write. Avoid the following three types of posts; any other post you write will only help you be successful.

1) Negative Posts, Especially About Competitors

Things aren’t always happy in the business world. You have to deal with angry customers, annoying regulations, and more – but your small business blog is not the place to vent. You especially want to stay away from talking badly about competitors in such a public online space, since it makes you seem petty. You can talk about mistakes you’ve made or changes happening within your company even if the circumstances aren’t great, and responding to customer concerns online can show that you’re dedicated to finding solutions to make everyone happy, but don’t use your blog to rant. You want readers to leave feeling positive about your company and your industry in general.

2) Word-for-Word Press Releases

As a small business, you probably write press releases occasionally, and there’s no better place to post these documents than on your own blog, right? Wrong. The point of a press release is to get lots of others to post it, and many won’t change a word (which is what you want, since you probably considered the press release language carefully). On your own blog, make your announcement special! Not only is it better for search engine optimization, but you can customize the announcement to really draw in readers, rather than using a press release, which is colder and less personal.

3) Personal Information

I’m a big fan of adding personality to any blog, even if you’re writing a small business blog. It helps readers connect to you and want to be loyal to your blog (and, in turn, your business). However, there is a thing as too much information. Make sure that every post you write directly relates to your business or your industry so it makes sense for your readers. It’s okay to talk about personal details occasionally, but if you write a blog about your restaurant, going off on a tangent about your cat probably isn’t interesting to your readers. Also, be careful about the personal information you share from a security standpoint. Don’t give out your home address (use a P.O. box or your business address) and think twice before posting pictures of your kids – make sure you can do so safely.

Do you write a small business blog? What’s your best posting tip?

10 Internet Memes – And What Bloggers Can Learn From Them


I’m an unashamed fan of Internet memes. I remember the first time I saw the Dancing Baby – we didn’t have the Internet at my house yet, but we had computer class at school, and someone pulled it up when we were supposed to be practicing our typing skills and the teacher stepped out of the room for a moment. We all got in trouble when she got back, but it was totally worth it.

Below are some of my favorite memes of all time. You’re welcome in advance. Okay, okay, to make it a little more relevant, let’s also look at why they’re successful and how you can apply these characteristics to your own blog posts.

#1 – Nyan Cat: People like uplifting stuff.


True story – as I’m writing this post, Nyan Cat is playing in the background. You can see it on YouTube, and there’s a whole site that tracks how long you’ve been nyaning. It’s absurd. It’s a cat with a pop tart for body who’s flying through space, leaving a rainbow in its wake and meow-singing (or rather nyan-singing) a song on loop.

Why is it so addicting? Why am I still nyaning after (let me check) 198 seconds? Because it makes me smile! I’m as guilty as any of writing posts that are somewhat negative, and they always bring in the hits, but people like silly, uplifting posts too. Life already throws a lot of bs at us. Sometimes, you just need your day brightened, and the blogger who can do that is a blogger you’ll return to read again.

267 seconds. Seriously, this is like crack.

#2 – Numa Numa: Don’t be afraid to be yourself.


The Numa Numa guy, whose real name is Gary Brolsma, wrote on his website, “I’ve always have been a fan of making little video clips to entertain friends, by making mini-documentaries on stupid things, or just plain old goofing around.  Honestly, the original video was exactly that.  I’m just a regular guy that sits in front of his computer bored out of his mind messing around on the internet looking at funny videos and other websites to pass the time.”

In other words, he wasn’t worried about hits or making money or going viral or anything like that. He was just being himself and was brave enough to put it up there for the world to see. Sometimes, as bloggers, we get a little wrapped up in the numbers and what we think will be popular. Take a deep breath and just be yourself instead.

#3 – Winning: Relate to your readers.

One of the more recent memes to hit the ‘net is Charlie Sheen’s catchphrase “Winning!” with runner-up mentions going to mentions of having tiger’s blood and adonis DNA. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that this kind of overly-confident banter is kind of addicting – we’ve all had the urge to say it at some point. The question is this: Why?

I think why so many people (including me) jumped in the “I love Charlie Sheen bandwagon is because we related to the situation and wanted to emulate it. I’m not saying that he was right, but here was a guy who felt like “the man” was keeping him down, and he was actually standing up for himself. We’ve all felt like that, that we wanted to start a revolution because we see a perceived wrong-doing. In the same way, you want to connect to your readers. You don’t have to relate to them in the same way (i.e., it doesn’t have to be about wanting to get back at people who’ve wronged you), but you want to relate to them in some way. Be on the same team. Write posts that make your readers want to stand up and say, “Yeah! Me too!”

#4 – Rickroll: Be sharable.


Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been Rickrolled. Multiple times. If you don’t know what rickrolling is, check out this link to learn more.

See what I did there?

When someone rickrolls you, you instantly want to share it with other people. You can laugh at yourself, but it’s even more funny when you turn it around and “get” someone else the same way someone got you. It’s extremely sharable, in part because they want to be the first person to share it. If you share something with someone and they’ve already seen it, it isn’t as gratifying. You want your posts to be the same way. When someone reads it, you want them to instantly want to share it with others.

Think about what makes a post sharable when you write something: the message was clear, there’s humor involved, the idea is super smart, the post was short or very skimmable (like a list), etc. Use these characteristics when you write posts.

#5 – Trololo Guy: Pattern interrupts are good.


The Trololo guy is being called the new rickroll. The video is just…weird. Seriously. Look at it. WEIRD.

Part of the reason it went viral is just that – it’s really strange. Think about that as you’re writing posts. You don’t have to be super odd, but think about how you can be a pattern interrupt in someone’s day. It will keep them interested in your blog and make them more willing to share with people they know.

#6 – Lolcats: Give readers something they can make their own.

Lolcats might be the most widespread meme on the Internet. Unlike many of the others on this list, this isn’t a single image or video or phrase – it’s an idea. One of the reasons it is so successful is that not only can people enjoy the lolcats images already in existance, but they can become part of the meme by making their own. They become part of the lolcats community.

As you write blog posts, think about ways you can allow your readers to make your content their own. Encourage comments, invite readers to take your advice and then come back to share their experiences, and otherwise add to the conversation. You can also feature their tweets, comments, and emails as part of your posts, and remember – whenever you link to someone else, they’ll be more interested in what you write, since they have a small part in the content you’ve created.

Lolcat image via joystudios.

#7 – Philosoraptor: Be funny, but have a point.

Philosoraptor is one of my favorite memes. It’s less popular than some of the others on this list, but still extremely addicting. Basically, it’s a velociraptor image (the same one every time, with the same background), that always has something philosophical and say. Often, philosoraptor is funny, but still makes you go, “huh.”

There’s a lot of funny stuff on the Internet. A lot of funny stuff. Being funny isn’t enough to get shared anymore. If you have a point, too, though, you’re a double threat. Don’t lose the meaning of your post in trying to be funny.

#8 – Baby Cha Cha: You don’t have to be perfect.


Baby Cha Cha (or the “Dancing Baby”) is one of the oldest Internet memes out there. To say you “might have seen it” is an understatement. If you use the Internet, you’ve seen it. Heck, even if you don’t use the Internet, you’ve probably seen it, since it’s been featured on shows like Ally McBeal and VH1’s I Love the 90s.

The point I’d like to make about Baby Cha Cha is that it isn’t anything perfect – it was experimental files collected as a sample for a new 3D animation software product. Your blog posts don’t have to be perfect either. Too many bloggers get caught up in editing and re-editing, and while it is important do a good job, don’t get caught up in the details so much that you don’t hit the publish button.

#9 – End of Ze World (NSFW): Make a statement.


I would classify End of Ze World more as a viral video than an Internet meme, but it still fits what I’m talking about here. If you haven’t watched the video, be aware that it is NSFW, so if you’re offended by strong language, you might want to skip it. The basic idea is this: a narrator is talking about the state of the world and the probability of countries using the nukes they have. The video is light-hearted, but it is also strong social/political commentary.

This point kind of goes along with point #7 – be funny, but have a point. I’d like to take that a step farther though, and say that you should not be afraid to speak your mind. Not everyone will agree with you, but those who do will spread your message. The best ideas always offend someone. Don’t be afraid of that someone.

#10 – Peanut Butter & Jelly Time: Repetition is your friend.


The last meme I wanted to highlight is another that I’m sure you’ve seen, since it’s over ten  years old and has invaded nearly every facet of pop culture – Peanut Butter and Jelly Time, or PBJT. The thing this meme does right that you’ll find with other memes (like nyan cat on this list, hamster dance, badger badger badger) is repetition. As annoyed as we might be by things on loop, human beings are psychologically attracted to repetition. Child learn when lessons are repeated, for example. So, as annoying as PBJT might be, the repetition (and goofiness) is part of what makes it so popular.

Don’t be afraid to repeat your message on your own blog. You don’t want to pound ideas into your readers’ heads to the point where they’re sick of reading your posts, but finding new ways to repeat the same lessons will help your blog readers become your disciples.

What are your favorite Internet memes? What lessons do they have for bloggers?

How to Blog Like the X-Men


Despite a really disappointing run with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, everything I’ve been reading an hearing about the latest X-Men move, X-Men: First Class, has been great. I’m looking forward to seeing it myself later this week, and until then, I thought it would be fun to look at a few ways the X-Men can inspire us to be better bloggers.

Blog Like Wolverine: Be a Loner

Wolverine is perhaps the best-known character in the X-Men world. He’s known for having retractable metal claws, for his ability to heal at an accelerated rate…and for being the stereotypical tough guy loner. While the term “loner” has some negative connotations, if you’re a blogger, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

I’m not suggesting that you turn all anti-social on me. What I am suggesting is that you pave your own path in your niche, doing something completely different from what everyone preaches that you have to do. So many blogs I see are people trying to be just like the big name in their niche. If you imitate success, you too will be successful, right? Not really. You might have your fans, but you’re never going to be as good as the a-lister who inspires you. If you take a chance and do something different, sure you might be a bit of  a loner at first,  but you’ll find your fans…and better yet, you have the opportunity to be great.

  • Take Action Right Now: Write a post that disagrees with a post recently written by an a-lister or that disagrees with common advice in your niche. Don’t disagree for the sake of disagreeing, but find a topic where you actually do disagree with the norm in your niche and voice your own opinions about it.

Blog Like Storm: Get Creative with the World Around You

When I was a kid and everyone played X-Men at recess, I was always Storm. Yes, I was a total geek, even as a seven-year-old. Anyway, Storm’s main special power is the ability to manipulate the weather. As a blogger, I want to encourage you to stretch your creative skills and try manipulating the world around you just like Storm does. Challenge the status quo and write posts that really matter.

You’ve heard the saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” right? Bloggers have a unique chance to really put that saying into effect, reaching people from around the world. Regardless of your niche, at least every once in a while, take some time to write about issues that are super important to you

  • Take Action Right Now: Write a post about an issue that’s really close to your heart. This can be related to your niche, but if it’s not, that’s okay too. Every so often, it is okay to step away from your niche to talk about important issues.

Blog Like Rogue: Show Your Versatility

Rogue can absorb the powers of other mutants she touches, and although she didn’t always have control over this power, but older versions of Rogue have learned to harness her abilities and make the most of them. I think what we can all learn from Rogue is the benefit of being versatile.

At first, Rogue saw her abilities as a curse. I think versatility can be a curse for bloggers too. If you know a lot about a lot of subjects, if can be difficult to define your niche and find your audience. You might love mid-century art and college basketball, but a blog that covers those two topics isn’t going to appeal to most people. However, once you’ve learned to control your versatility, you can use it to your advantage. Your various interests make you a unique blogger, so show it off. A good example is this very post. I’m a geeky geek, so I wanted to include a post that highlights something geeky while still staying relevant to the BlogWorld readers.You can do something similar by drawing parallels between topics.

  • Take Action Right Now: Bring a seemingly unrelated interest you have into your blog by comparing it to something that *is* relevant to readers. Ex: “How Social Media is Like Cake Decorating” or “What Jersey Shore can Teach You about Business”

Blog Like Cyclops: Focus

Cyclops is one of the original X-men, and he often takes a leadership role in the group. You can recognize him by the red visor-like glasses he wears, a piece which allows him to control the energy beams he shoots from his eyes. The lesson I think bloggers can take away from cyclops is simple: focus is important.

If you can’t shoot lasers from your face, don’t worry – the focus I’m talking about is much more attainable. As a blogger, take some time to determine exactly how often you can commit to blogging…and stick to that. I see so many blogs derail as bloggers burn out or get busy with other things in life, and this is the quickest way to confuse your readers. If you want to connect, you have to be consistent, whether that might be once a week or once a day.

  • Take Action Right Now: Decide how often you can blog, even on busy weeks, and create a schedule that you can maintain. If it helps you stay motivated, start a series of posts, announcing to your readers when they can expect to read future installments.

Hopefully, even if you aren’t a comic book fan, you’ve picked up a few tips. If you took any of the action points I’ve listed, link us below – I’d love to read anything this post inspired!

Picture credits: Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Cyclops

The Scary Trend of Becoming a Follower


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

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

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

And that scares me.

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

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

Can you see how these things start to get dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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