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Are You Blogging a Castle or a Pile of Rocks?


… by Jeff Greenhouse

As bloggers, we parcel out our insights in very discrete packages. We identify the seed of a promising post, then wrap it in layers of detail and background until we have created something solid, with sense of weight. When it’s done, we place it on top of the blog for our readers to enjoy, and we start all over again. We build our pile, one post at a time. But, if we give some thought to the whole versus the parts, we can actually creating something bigger. Then those individual blocks of stone form a regal castle instead of a jumbled rock pile.

I’m not saying that each post should be a continuation of the last. That wouldn’t be a blog, it would be a novel chopped up into small parts. I’m saying that each piece should contribute to an overall sense of you: as a brand, as a person and as a personality.

The topics you choose to blog about lay the foundation. A good blogger has an opinion about just about anything, but narrowing the field to a few topics creates structure and lets you develop depth in those areas. It also gives you the chance to create a detailed point of view that can influence your readers.

Your writing style adds the flavor and the flair. A dry blog is about as tasty as a dry turkey (and just as desirable). A blog doesn’t have to be as neutral as a corporate website. Blogs are written by people, and its good to see the personality of the writer come through.

Finally, don’t be afraid to connect the blocks. Refer to earlier posts when you circle back around to similar topics. If you have a few key points that are a core part of your philosophy, don’t be afraid to bring them up again and again. If one of your readers makes a particularly good point in a comment, use it as the basis of a future post.

Some of this may come out naturally, but it should still be based in conscious thought (especially for business and brand-focused bloggers). With a little planning, you’ll be able to stand back and marvel at the palace you’ve built.

Jeff Greenhouse is a 16-year digital marketing veteran, agency founder and serial entrepreneur. He blogs about marketing, creativity, innovation and technology at http://www.JeffGreenhouse.com and Tweets at http://Twitter.com/JeffGreenhouse

The Art of Volume


My favorite scene in The Bucket List is when Jack Nicholson makes a crucial decision:

He’s going to kiss the most beautiful girl in the world.

Confused, Morgan Freeman asks him how specifically he plans to accomplish that.

And in one word, Jack says it all:


If you want your voice to matter.

If you want people to following your thinking.

If you want to build a value-forward digital platform.

If you want to out-write, out-publish and out-position the competition.

If you want to make a name for yourself and a bank account for yourself.

Volume is the vehicle.

That’s the one-word marketing strategy that I used to make all my money.

AND KEEP IN MIND: Volume is not the only vehicle.

But in my experience, it’s the vehicle that trumps all others:

  • Volume trumps accuracy. It doesn’t matter if you’re right – it matters if you’re everywhere. Are you perfect or prolific?

  • Volume trumps knowledge. It doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing – it matters if you’re doing a ton of it. Are you stopped by not knowing how?

  • Volume trumps winning. It doesn’t matter if you come in first – it matters if you come to play everyday. Are you keeping the game going?

  • Volume trumps talent. It doesn’t matter if you’re good – it matters if you’re visible. Are you winking in the dark?

  • Volume trumps popularity. It doesn’t matter if everybody likes you – it matters if everybody remembers you. Are you

  • Volume trumps rationality. It doesn’t matter if you’re logical – it matters if you’re liberal. Are you giving gifts worth telling people about?

  • Volume trumps order. It doesn’t matter if you’re put together – it matters if you’re putting something down. Are you afraid of spilling your head out?

  • Volume trumps influence. It doesn’t matter if you’re persuasive – it matters if you’re pervasive. Are you trying to change people or trying to surround them?

  • Volume trumps placement. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the right place at the right time – it matters if you’re in a lot of places. Are you in enough?

REMEMBER: Volume is the vehicle for being heard.

Go publish something.

Image Source: SXC

Building Your Content Bubble: Become a Resource


One of the first presentations at BlogWorld New York 2011 was Dave Murray’s “Building Your Content Bubble.” There were a lot of valuable take-away tips from Dave’s session, but overall, I think one of the most important points was this: You need to become a resource.

As you start blogging, it makes sense to focus on a very specific core topic, and you can start to expand to include related topics, passionate pieces, and sharing other content. But above all, as you’re planning your posts, make sure that they’re not just hard-selling your product. As Dave put it, there’s a lot of I in content creation, but by turning that into YOU (i.e. reflecting the reader’s wants), you’ll be able to build a blog (and a brand) that resonates with people. Help people. Become they’re go-to resource for your topic.

Think about it this way – if you were a car lover, what would you read: a company’s blog post that was nothing but a press release about new steering wheel covers and a pitch to sell it to you – or a post called “Ten Car Parts You Need – and Might Not Own” with a pitch about your steering wheel covers at the end. Which post would you pass to a fellow car enthusiast? Which post would you tweet? Which post would entice you to leave a comment?

And most importantly: Would you come back?

I thought Dave’s presentation also hit on another key point: the need to stop hiding behind the computer screen, especially for small business bloggers. If someone leaves a great, thought-provoking comment on your blog, it’s great to comment in return, thanking them for their opinions.

But it’s even better to email them and ask for a phone number so you can call to discuss their views or even set up a time to meet face-to-face. BlogWorld proves it – in-person networking is still not only relevant, but necessary. Content creation is communication, and it shouldn’t be a chore. So, talk to your readers and find out how you can help them – and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

Thanks to Dave Murray for a great BlogWorld NY 2011 session. Dave works with re:group, an integrated marketing communications company focused on creating and maintaining relevant, powerful brands, which you can follow on Twitter @regroupinc.

Season Your Content With Your Voice


… by Mike Dobranski

If blogging were to have a Golden Rule, I think it would be that “Content Is King.”  When it comes down to it, we can all write, but the people with the interesting content said in the voice that genuinely touches the audience will ultimately be the most successful.  Blogging is all about good touches.

When our palette is narrowed down to our palates with Food Blogging, new and original material is often times tough to come up with after a while.  For those of us that blog about restaurants, how many different ways can we talk about too much salt on the New York Strip, or for those that blog about cooking, really…how many friggin’ variations of a cupcake are there?

Many times it’s all about the angle and the light.  What angle are you going to approach the over-salted New York Strip?  Is it part of a review of the restaurant?  Is it enough to stand alone as a spotlight on the dish?  Do you want to put it as part of a list of the saltiest things you ate in 2010? Do you want to talk about the abused piece of meat on a “Versus List” such as; Steak vs. Salt Lick, Steak vs. Rim of a Margarita Glass, Steak vs. Dead Sea, etc.?  How many different approaches can you take with a common problem you’ll see over and over and over again?

However, all these different approaches don’t mean squat if they aren’t in your own voice.  The worst thing a blogger can do is try to fit them self in someone else’s mold.  Write the way you talk, not the way someone else talks.  If you think the glaze for those homemade donuts you’re blogging about looks like smegma, then say so.  If the mere thought of smegma makes you want to take a boiling hot shower and say ten Hail Mary’s, then don’t do that.  Write in your own voice.  Your followers will find you.  So will the haters…but tell the haters to kiss your ass (in your own words, of course!). Remember, for every single vocal critic out there, there’s usually a couple hundred reading silently, nodding their head in agreement with you.

Engage your audience with quality, original content.  Make them see things in a way they never saw them before…that’s when the magic happens.   Above all else, say what you need to say in your own voice.  If people wanted to read about that cupcake the way someone, perhaps, more “established” would have said it, then they can always log on to their site.  Say it like you mean it.

Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. He is the founder and writer for http://TastingLasVegas.com, a blog and podcast dedicated to news and reviews of the Las Vegas restaurant scene. You can join Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Do your Readers Care about Your Content?


Photo-A-Day #1000!BlogWorld 2010 Speaker: Andrew Bennett
Content You Care About
Room: Islander G
Friday October 15, 2010

Time: 2:45PM to 3:45PM

When I visit a blog I am almost always immediately drawn to any multimedia content that is on the blog. I’m a fan of bloggers who create not only photo content, video content but also audio content. There are a ton of tools online that you can use to to put your content online. There are also a ton of tools that you can use offline to create this sort of content.

The main thing for me is that your content be your own. Sure you can pull photos and videos from Flickr or Youtube that are legitimate to use through creative commons. I even put creative commons on my photos so that other people can use them if they wanted to. I make my Photo-A-Day available on my blog so that anyone can grab the code and post it on their blog and the new photo gets automatically served each day. The content is mine and I’m free to distribute as I wish.

Creating my own multimedia content is very important to me. I have been taking and posting photos on my blog every single day for 5 straight years. People sort of marvel at that commitment and I wonder why. To me, taking photos is a natural extension of who I am as a person. This endeavor started as a challenge to myself to take photos and document a year in my life. I turned 31 and started my journey. When I turned 32 I was completely hooked on taking a daily photo so one year turned into five. Just the other day I passed 2000 straight days of posting photos and blogging about them.

Content that you create is also a powerful way to let your readers get to know who you are and what you stand for. When I do video reviews I often do them in one take where I do not write anything ahead of time because I want the reader to see my authentic reactions to what I am reviewing. Being unpolished, especially when talking authentically is a powerful thing and people can spot a liar.

The latest thing that I have gotten into is creating audio content in the form of a podcast. I am a co-host of Geek Dads Weekly and through that I can pop on a pair of headphones, fire up Skype and audacity and record to my heart’s content. There isn’t anything tremendously fancy needed to get started making your own multimedia content. My session will help you get started in the world of Audio, Video and Photo content creation.

If you are interested in learning what sort of tools are available to you to create your own podcast, videos series and photos then you should attend my session: Content You Care About on Friday at 2:45pm. Not only will I talk about websites for hosting photos, audio and video but I’ll also have some prizes to give away to people who attend. BlogWorld sponsor Kodak has graciously given me a camera and an all new PlayTouch video camera to give away. I’ll also have other prizes from my personal stash of great gadgets.

Andrew Bennett has been blogging for the past seven years. During that time he’s taken over 1800+ photos on as many consecutive days and has attended every Blog World so far. When he’s not on Twitter (@BenSpark) he can be found at http://www.benspark.com or http://imnotafamousblogger.com. You can contact him at benspark@benspark.com.

Investigative Tips for Bloggers


Gregory Ferenstein

BlogWorld 2010 Speaker
Content Track
Friday October 15, 2010
Tradewinds C/9

Time: 12:15PM to 1:15PM

 Each and every blogger has the capacity to produce the original content that other media outlets and bloggers link to. Included in this post are some of the tips I’ll be discussing in my upcoming panel at Blogworld with Jay Rosen and Wired.com Editor-in-Chief, Evan Hansen.

For starters, here are a few types of content that everyone can source:

  1. Interviews: Its a misconception that influential people only want to give interviews to legacy media. Being asked to be interviewed is flattering, and big names are happy to give you at least a few minutes of their time to be filmed or recorded. There will be more than enough big names at Blogworld to do just that.
  2. Statistics: Dan Zarrella and Nate Silver got their start by producing original (and useful) statistical analyses in their fields. If you are comfortable with math, great. If not, grab some analytical tools and produce information that you feel others could benefit from.
  3. Investigations: Many organizations, from start-ups, to a big businesses with a new product are happy to be the subject a well-researched piece. While at Blogworld, approach a number of organizations in the same field, tell them about your thesis, and say you’d like to come by their workplace and do interviews. Even if your personal blog doesn’t get much traffic, your post might make the organization’s blog, and be tweeted by their (well-followed) twitter account.

Become the go-to person:

Your social network is your best place for news sources. Unlike legacy media, sources don’t come to bloggers; we have to seek out each and every story. So, get to know everyone you can. Email introductions are a superb way to grow your network inbetween events. Find two people in your contact database that you think would benefit from knowing one another and shoot them both an email about why they should connect. Usually, the recipients are so appreciative, that they’ll reciprocate in kind. I cannot overstate the value of getting into the habit of email introductions.

Also, when possible, attend industry conferences and participate in on the late-night, alcohol fueled chatter. Its a great way to forge new relationships and get the skinny on upcoming news stories. Introduce yourself as a journalist and say that you’re always looking for a good story.

After an event, I can spend as much as 20 hours just following up via email and making introductions.

Tech Tools:

  1. Smartphone: its a video recorder, sound recorder, and wordpress uploader all rolled into one. I once conducted an interview with the US president of Ford Motors as he was running to catch a taxi through the noisy halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. My iPhone picked up the whole conversation perfectly.
  2. Google Voice: since bloggers don’t have much of a travel budget, we have to conduct interviews over the phone. For incoming calls, Google voice can record the conversation for later transcription.
  3. Todo list: If you’re like me, you probably have a stack of businesses cards after each event and often don’t remember what you were supposed to follow up with them about. Every time I take a business card of someone with a potential story (or connection), I create a task in my appigo Todo iphone app. I like tasks better than “notes,” since a task will stare at you in the face until you email the person. Notes become unwieldy and, then, eventually forgotten about.

These are just a few of the tips that I’ll be discussing on my panel at Blogworld (let alone what gems Jay and Evan will drop). I’m excited to see all of you in Vegas. Please do come up to me and say hi…and maybe come out to share a drink or two.

Greg Ferenstein:
Twitter: @ferenstein
-Contributor: Mashable, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and others
-University of California, Irvine: Research in Political Psychology, Curriculum Design, and Mathematical Behavioral Science

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