March 21, 2008

What Do You Bring to a Blog Conference?

I’m getting ready to speak at three conferences in a row about blogging and WordPress, and something Rachelle Chase said at a conference we spoke at recently keeps popping up in my head. She spoke about techniques for making yourself memorable that she uses when she meets people who can help her with her business and blog.

Rachelle Chase JewelryShe contracted with a local artist to create autographed unique artwork in the form of a necklace and travel mirror. Decorated with text from her books and quotes about her books and blog, she sells them on her blog, but also gives them away to journalists and interview subjects as “reminders” of who she is and what she does. They are unusual and memorable, and say a lot about her, her work, and her blog.
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$2,000 in SOBCon+Consulting Prizes to be Won

SOBCon08Want to go to SOBCon08? Would $1,000 towards registration and travel expenses help?

How about a free one hour consulting session with me, face to face?

In addition, you can win the whole Authority Blogger course at launch …

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New Way to Hijack Blogs?

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Have you ever wanted to have a copy of your favorite blog to read offline?

WebCopier, a program that downloads entire Websites to your computer, certainly hopes so. The software will save an entire dot com to a hard drive, allowing you to view and print the contents at any time.

Should bloggers be worried about such a program? I mean, this seems to make it awfully easy for someone to grab years worth of valuable posts and do whatever they want with them. Sure, a content crook can sit there and copy and paste (or print) every blog entry; where there’s a will there’s a way. But at least those methods might discourage people because of their time-consuming nature.

On the flip side, Webcopier can be a useful tool for bloggers. The software can backup all of your posts or let you (or someone without Internet access) examine your Website for broken links, typos, etc.

WebCopier for Linux is free for personal use. Windows/Mac users can expect to pay $30.

So are programs like WebCopier good or bad for bloggers? Or, do they have no impact?

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Transfer Equity from Your Current Brand to the Next

In a recent conversation here at The Blog Herald, Chris Garrett asked a very good question:

What do you do when your well known brand doesn’t match with your business?

He cited Wendy Piersall’s eMom brands as a good example of an online brand that started as a blog and is now expanding into a full media publication for both moms and dads.

Rebranding or repositioning efforts can also be a move to package your site for a sale. Rob May of BusinessPundit.com did just that this past February. While May developed the voice and style of BusinessPundit.com, the site was well positioned to continue to appeal to readers in search of business news and information. The site lives on sans May.

While rebranding efforts online include potentially the redirect of a domain name to a new one or an expansion of the original brand, in addition to your readers, what you would like to transfer is the equity of your current brand into the new one.

Readers and business prospect will be more flexible than search engines in following your brand to a new place. They will do that because they follow you – in other words, your name is associated with the blog’s brand. That is a strength and it can be a weakness if you are working towards selling.

Brand Equity Can be Transferred

Equity means that you built a reservoir of characteristics and experiences that are identified with your brand. When the brand you own is one and the same with your name or person, you may need to work towards disassociating yourself from the brand before you can sell it.

Lorelle VanFossen wrote about the experience Aaron Brazell had when he put his blog for sale. One of the points she made was that the blogger counts. As more and more bloggers will look at selling their online properties and work:

The issue of separating the blogger from the blog will be a huge hindrance, but I think the value of the blogger and the blog may meld in an interesting way as more bloggers consider selling their blogs.

The plan is simple, develop a voice for the brand and begin to tone down the blogger’s personality – yours. This is exactly the opposite that you did when you built your blog. In the beginning it was probably all about you and developing a voice. Part of doing that today is also cross-networking your blog on Twitter and Facebook, for example. The more known you became, the better read the blog – because of you.

Do the opposite now. Build a stream on Twitter for your brand that is separate from you. If you have been using the brand’s name as your own, like in the case of Aaron with Technosailor, start a stream for Aaron and begin using Technosailor for the brand. Think it cannot be done? There are many memes on Twitter started by people with streams who developed a separate persona for a niche message.

What if I Use My Name?

If you use your name and have an eye on an exit strategy that culminates with a sale, what you need to do is find a name for that publication. Then you can begin to build equity into the brand by borrowing from your own. Here’s how you do it.

You begin by always associating your name with the blog name everywhere. Sooner or later, readers will begin to see you as one and the same. Then you start using your name a little less, making the blog/brand name more prominent while still using your voice.

Once you see that you are making headway with the new brand, you can complete the transferring of equity into that brand by working on making that voice separate from yours as I outlined above. The brand that can stand on its own and be seen as an asset with an established readership – metrics, please – and earning potential for a buyer, will be much more appetizing. At that point it will be neutral enough to appeal to someone else.

You Could Start by Developing Just the Brand

There is always the option to develop the brand as a publication with its own voice from the beginning. In this case you may be seen as the editor and not linked too closely with the posts. You plan it this way and play it detached for the very reason that you have an eye on transferring the asset in a sale.

Of course, even companies often start with the founder’s name and manage to be sold profitably and continue under a different leadership. In some cases it takes a long time – think about Ford – and many layers in the organization to make that happen.

I have a pretty good idea that online everything tends to move much faster – including the rate at which people may experience burn out. If an exit strategy is what you have in mind, you do want to think about making the arrangements to position your brand for it well before that critical moment. The value of your asset depends on it.

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March 20, 2008

Bird Feeders and Blogs: How Are You Luring Birds to Your Blog?

Cat looking out window - photograph copyright Lorelle VanFossenI have several bird feeders outside my window. My cats pass much of their day sprawled across my desk watching the birds feed. The window is covered with paw prints. I have a hummingbird feeder for the Anna’s hummers that pass through on their migration north and south, as well as the rare rufous hummingbirds which hang around year round. I have tiny seeds for the small birds, wrens, finches, chickadees, junkos, and sparrows, and larger black oil sunflower seeds and other goodies in another feeder for the spotted towhees, nuthatches, and northern flickers. On a fence, I have mounted a wooden box with a lid filled with dried corn, peanuts, and sunflower seeds for the squirrels and chipmunks to dig into with glee.

Each feeder is designed to service specific birds. A flat screen feeder that attaches to my office window allows ground feeders to land and feed. The hanging feeders have branch-like posts for the birds to land on and pull seeds from the holes in the side of the feeder. For small birds, I keep some feeders stuffed with thistle and niger, restrained with a smaller hole through which they can insert their beaks like breaking into a tree crevice or nut and extracting the seeds.
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Add Photo Captions and Credits With Picbite

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I honestly believe that one of the reasons many bloggers do not properly attribute the photos they use is sheer laziness. Thanks to the gang at Picbite, it’s now a snap to add short text to your photos, without making massive alterations.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but sometimes a simple statement is necessary to clarify how the image pertains to the text.

With Picbite you have the option to upload a photo or provide an image URL. Once uploaded, your image will appear with an empty speech bubble. Just double click and add your text. The bubble can be placed anywhere within the image.

Once complete, you can either choose to have Picbite host the photo (not recommended) or download it back your local hard drive.

As you can see with the sample below, “Picbite” gets a mention on each photo. It would be nice to see more options as far as color and style of the speech bubble.

blog_herald_caption

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The Free Web Is In Transition, Is It Time To Charge For Your Heart And Soul?

Every now and then I browse the web looking for new cool ways to utilize the tools I use when designing; most prominently, Adobe Photoshop. One of the sites I sometimes end up on is PSDTuts, a tutorial site which I deem pretty good, if not just to get some inspiration and remind myself what is possible with Photoshop.

Well, now it seems they are having some problems. First of all, they need to make money to keep the site going, which is pretty obvious to me. That’s why they created something called Plus, a $9/month subscription which gives you more Photoshop tutorials, and more sample files to download. A pretty good extension to the site, I’d say, since there’s still plenty of content available for the cheapskate visitor, like me. I don’t mind.
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March 19, 2008

People Are Commenting On Your Blog Posts – On Other Websites

Imagine this scenario:

  1. You write a post on your blog.
  2. Someone submits your blog post to a link-sharing site like Digg, StumbleUpon, or FriendFeed.
  3. Tons of people comment on that link on Digg, Mixx, or FriendFeed, and an interesting conversation ensues independent of your blog.
  4. Meanwhile, your blog proper has: 0 comments.

Does this bother you as a blogger? How about as a user?

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Four Israeli security staff allowed to write mundane blogs

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In an unusual move, Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, has allowed four of its employees to blog anonymously about their work life.

All four bloggers appear to be involved in fairly administrative roles, with such fascinating snippets as, “You don’t stay at work unless you really have to. It’s rare for me to come home after 6.30pm,” and “I didn’t get a siren to put on my car and I too have to sit in traffic jams.”

Their identities are hidden behind silhouetted portraits, and they use just their initials.

The reason for allowing these blogs? To win over hi-tech recruits.

As the blogs are written in Hebrew, I can’t tell you if they get any more exciting, but it’s somewhat surprising for an agency so heavily involved in security to be sanctioning these blogs, even if they are vetted.

shin-tech.org.il (Via The Guardian)

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WordPress Wednesday News: Sneak Peeks of WordPress 2.5, Beta Released, WordCamp Dallas Next Week, and More WordPress News

Sneak previews of WordPress 2.5 are everywhere. Due out next week. WordCamp Dallas is also next week, and registration is filling fast. Super Cache WordPress Plugin updated. Which WordPress Theme do you think should be the default? And more WordPress news.

WordPress News

WordCamp Dallas NEXT WEEK!: WordCamp Dallas is March 29-30, 2008 and I’ve written some reasons on why you should attend this innovative conference on WordPress – it’s the amazing speakers covering video blogging, SEO, podcasting, marketing, and lots of WordPress. WordPress 2.5 should have just been released and Matt Mullenweg will be there to discuss the latest version of WordPress and where WordPress is going to go. Charles Stricklin offers a WordCamp Dallas Attendee Breakdown based upon registration information to encourage you even more to attend. Be there!

WordPress 2.5 Beta Release and Preview: The first beta testing, release candidate for WordPress 2.5 has just been issued for testers only. Matt Mullenweg and the WordPress Development Blog showed off WordPress 2.5 with the redesign of the interface called the Administration Panels by Happy Cog. The redesign puts the emphasis on producing content not messing around with the backend. Weblog Tools Collections covers the “Colorful Future For WordPress 2.5 Administration Panels” and the color options users will have on their blog interface. And PlanetOzh offers “Per User Custom Stylesheet in WordPress 2.5″, a new technique to allow WordPress Users to set their own color scheme with the ability to add a per-user selectable custom stylesheet for your blog.

Other articles about WordPress 2.5 include:

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