December 17, 2007

Name Calling Bloggers

The The Pioneer Woman calls the man in her life the “Marlboro Man”. Chris Cree of SuccessCREEations calls his wife “Gorgeous”. I refer to my husband as “hubby” in my blog posts, a contradiction to the tall, handsome, Mensa-brilliant, multi-lingual engineer I love and adore. What do you call the lovers, spouses, friends, and family members in your blog posts?

Whether you are a personal blogger or business blogger, there always comes a time when you need to refer to someone in your life who would rather remain anonymous, protecting their privacy, and sometimes your own. What names do you use?
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How To Provide Attribution in the Blogging World

When the Richter Scales posted their “Here Comes Another Bubble” video, they didn’t expect the attention that they would get.

The video and song, a parody of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” lampooning the current wave of Web companies, almost instantly went viral, generating over 600,000 views on YouTube and becoming an instant Internet sensation.

However, the video also found itself at the center of a copyright controversy when photographer Lane Hartwell objected to the use of one of her photographs in the video montage.

Making sure that there was proper attribution, or acknowledgement of your sources, could have prevented a lot of controversy.

Here’s how you can do it right.

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December 16, 2007

What is Yahoo!’s Role in the Blogosphere?

Filed as Features with 4 comments

Ever since Yahoo! released its Shortcuts plugin for WordPress I’ve been wondering what Yahoo!’s role in the blogosphere is. The plugin is developed for Yahoo! by Alex King who wrote an impressive amount of popular WordPress plugins. Will this plugin become another success? Responses seem to mixed and vary from “Please God, no more pop-up links” to “Very Cool!

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December 14, 2007

Blogger Sucks. Wanna Move to WordPress?

I’m seeing a lot of “Blogger sucks” posts in my feeds as many are frustrated with the new login system and inability to leave links in comments from non-Blogger/Blogspot blogs, as well as other whines and gripes about the new changes to the blogging platform.

Here is a step-by-step instruction to help you move to or , the free blog hosting service.
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Tap into the Power of Tupperware Parties to Market Your Blog

The holiday season is upon us and parties abound. Whether the event is a small gathering or a large affair, people are in the mood to chat, see and be seen and generally predisposed to being marketed to. When done with a soft touch, marketing at a party is the best kind of soft sell.

You probably heard about or participated in a Tupperware party in your neighborhood at some point — this is the quintessential American compliance setting, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini in his popular book “The Psychology of Influence”. The dynamics of a Tupperware party in fact make use of many methods of influence. Let’s take a look:

- Reciprocity — the event’s kick off includes many games at which participants win small prizes. If you don’t win a prize, you get to pick from a grab bag. Transfer this to marketing your blog and you have the idea of giving before the buying begins. There are many ways to give value up front in form of eBooks, papers, tips, links and resources that your readers will find useful.

- Commitment — each participant is invited to share about uses and benefits of the Tupperware he already owns. Inserting smart inquiries in your well crafted posts allows your readers to describe how helpful your material has been to them so that others can see it. These are what marketers call testimonials. You’ve seen them probably as quotes extolling the virtues of a product or service complete with name, title and company of the satisfied customer.

- Social proof — once the buying begins, each purchase goes to reinforce the act of buying for others. We like to have what people similar to us have; it must be good if others are buying. The hardest action is always the first one, the one that kicks off things — think about auctions too. Once someone indicates they like something, others come forward. It’s the same for a shop, a restaurant or a cafe’ — you like to see people in there having a good time. Number of commenters and number of readers make a positive impression and provide social proof for your blog.

Yet by far the most powerful dynamic you can tap into is the liking rule. In Tupperware parties you have a person who acts as the demonstrator. As entertaining and persuasive as that person is, the actual selling is done by the host — she is your neighbor, someone you know and like. The arrangement has her get a cut of the evening’s sales — and everyone knows that.

It works even when customers are totally aware of the pressure they are subjected to because of the liking and friendship. These numbers date back to the early nineties, but you may be astounded to learn that these parties generated sales in excess of $2.5 million per day at that time.

What are the factors that cause a person to like another person? How can you put the liking rule to work for you?

Attractiveness — this of course applies to people. In blogging it applies to layout and design. Social scientists call it the “halo effect”. A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. A professionally looking design and layout can introduce an overall positive impression of the site. According to research, visitors will automatically assign favorable traits like intelligence, honesty, and kindness to attractive individuals. to be sure, we make those judgments without being aware that we do.

Similarity — we like people who are similar to us. Whether we talk about opinions, personality traits, background, or life-style. You may have noticed it at parties, groups of similarly thinking individuals hang together. They do so also online. One of the groups with the highest level of affinity I have seen so far is bloggers who write about social media. It may be because the topic attracts gregarious people or perhaps it is the nature of the subject that makes people that way. Marketers are also quite expansive with each other.

Compliments — do I need to say more? Have you said “I like you” to anyone lately? it really works because we are suckers for flattery. Well, it needs to sound genuine, but in general we want to believe praise and like those who provide it.

Contact and cooperation — we are more favorable towards the things we have contact with. One of the reasons why making comments on other blogs and interacting with people on Twitter, for example, works is because we become accustomed to seeing their avatar and reading their style and they ours. As for cooperation, think about guest posts, agreeing to moderate someone’s discussion or publicizing their work.

Conditioning and association — being connected and associated with good news or good things influences how people feel about you. Spending time with the right group of writers and thinkers will elevate your skills and influence your decisions and learning positively. Think also about a popular topic. If you can time it right, you may be quite opportunistic and ride the wave with the movers and shakers of the blogosphere by writing about it and publicizing it in the appropriate venues. You will then be seen as associating your smarts with theirs.

One word of caution, do not exploit these techniques. They need to be tempered by authenticity and candor or else they will stop working and turn on you, just like a medicine taken one time too many. The best way to influence others is to maintain a gentle hold on the influence you exercise on yourself.

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The Importance of Branding Yourself Online

Getting yourself known in your niche is incredibly important if you want to earn a living online. What that means in reality can be quite different from what people think it means.

For a start, note how I didn’t say “getting your name known”. It has to go deeper than that. What do I mean, and how can I be so sure?

Well, you probably don’t know, but there are two Chris Garrett’s in blogging …

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The Importance of Community

I’m a dedicated WordPress supporter. The fact that this particular blogging software exists as an open source offering is, indirectly, paying my bills. You see, most of my income is from designing WordPress themes (and leeching The Blog Herald of course), and that would be pretty hard if WordPress wasn’t free. Still possible, but I sincerely doubt that the system would be this widespread, hence I would have a harder time finding clients that needs to prettify their blogs and sites.

When I was getting started with WordPress quite some time ago, pre-1.5, the community was a great help. The WordPress support forum answered my questions when I needed it to, although most of them was actually already out there, on the forum or in the WordPress wiki, called Codex nowadays, a great resource.

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December 13, 2007

Improving Your Blog: Why Blog?

I’m often contacted by companies who tell me they need a blog. “So how do I get a blog?”

“Why do you think you need a blog?”

“Everyone’s got a blog. I need a blog.”

No, you don’t. Not everyone nor every business needs a blog. Should they? Maybe? But do they need one? Absolutely not.

If a static website, a billboard on the web, is enough for their customers’ needs, giving them basic information about the company, its employees, location, driving direction, and products and services, that’s good enough. Why blog?

If the business has a strong customer service base that is Internet savvy, and it wants to improve its online identity and reputation, then maybe a blog is worth considering.
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Google: Adsense To Allow Publishers To Filter Out More Unwanted Ads

Google has (finally) allowed publishers who use Google Adsense to filter out ads that are either not relevant to their site or a publisher would rather not see on their site. Called the “Ad Review Center,” this feature will be slowly rolling out to publishers over the next few months (note: I wonder why?).
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Advantages of Blogging For a Network

So I have been a full time, network paid blogger for the last two and a quarter years now, and one thing I have realized is that there are many advantages to working for a network.

I realized early on that I wasn’t the type of person that could get to the full time earnings level working for myself. I am not very good at monetization, or search engine optimization, and when I first started blogging, I really wasn’t very good at anything. Slowly, as I have gone along, my abilities have grown and evolved, but I can still remember how things were when I first started, and I am glad I took the route that I did.

Time

One of the things that many bloggers don’t realize is how much time is used up doing things outside of just writing posts. There is marketing, hosting, software, search engine optimization, editing, research, networking, promotion, and a whole slew of other tasks that can quickly eat up your day. Having a team, like we do at Splashpress Media, helps spread the work around, and lets people concentrate on their specialties.

Knowledge

I didn’t know about all the extra things that need to happen on a blog. I figured I research, write, and publish, and things would eventually take care of themselves. I knew a bit about WordPress, and plugins, but to no where near the extent that I have to deal with the popular blogging platform today. Also, securing advertisers was never my job, and so I just kept on pushing out posts. Without the support of others, I doubt the blogs I wrote on ever would have gotten some serious traction online.

I was able to learn from these people that surrounded me. I began to learn more about server administration, search engine optimization, marketing, advertising, and promotion. These skills continue to help make me a better blogger, and while I would have had to learn them on my own if I wasn’t in a network, I doubt that I could have spent as much time refining them as I have been able to.

Money

Of course the biggest advantage for me was the immediate transition. Unlike most bloggers, I went from a full time job, right into full time blogging. To me, that was huge! I used to blog during my free time, but now, with a network supporting me, I could blog all day, and during my free time, I could blog some more. Sure it was long hours, and the income was fairly small at first, but being able to transition how I did was a very liberating and rewarding experience in and of itself.

Conclusion

If you are looking at becoming a paid blogger, being backed by a network or company is a really great feeling and just might get you to your dream of working part time or full time as a blogger faster than you would be able to on your own. Check out BloggerJobs.biz for opportunities that might suit your interests.

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