A BIG Reason to Read a Pet’s Blog

I’ve often taken a snarky approach when it comes to people who set up blogs for their pets. I barely want to read about humans’ mundane lives, let alone issues with litter and pooper scoopers. However, there might be a new reason to subscribe to Lucky, Fido or Buddy’s blog.

Animals’ ability to prognosticate goes far beyond the annual Groundhog Day ritual. Since the beginning of time, many have believed that little furry creatures (and fish!) can tip off humans to imminent natural disasters.

…an earthquake specialist from the US Geological Survey in San Francisco kept a record of the numbers of small ads for lost pets in the local newspaper. He found there was a dramatic upsurge in missing pets weeks before a quake. How animals could forecast earthquakes is not known.

Animals also seem to forecast severe weather. There were many reports of bizarre animal behaviour before the cyclone that devastated Bangladesh (then called East Pakistan), in November 1970. For example, dogs howled endlessly for days, cattle became restless and stopped eating and ants moved to higher positions.

Given the recent disasters in Myanmar (Burma) and China, it might be time to start monitoring the moods of our four-legged companions.

Read more here.

What Do You Really Need to Know About a Blogger to Admire Their Work?

In an upcoming interview, you will read me say the following:

I hate labels and putting people in boxes. That’s why blogging and the web is so exciting to me and I’ve long been one of its stanchest fans and advocates. I don’t care if you are black, brown, green, yellow, or chartreuse. I don’t care if you have eyes or ears. I don’t care if you have legs or feet. I don’t care if you are young or old. I just don’t care about the surface. I care about what’s inside. I care about what’s under the skin, no matter how much skin you have or don’t have.

I care about your words. I care about your thoughts. Your feelings. Your ideas. I want to know what you think about a subject. Not what you think you should say, and definitely not a regurgitation of what others have said. I’m so SICK of the blog echo-chamber! I want you to matter and a blog gives you a platform to have that say. Make it matter. Make the soap box you stand on count.

As I looked at that on the screen, I realized how much that summed up my feelings about blogging, a closer definition of blogging than most that people come up with.

When I read a blog, I don’t care about the surface qualities or characteristics of the blogger. I care about what goes on inside their head and how they translate that onto their blog.

What about you? Does this match your thoughts about bloggers? Is it important to you to know their color, religion, age, or sex? Or is it honestly the quality of the content that matters more? Have we reached this point in our development as a species?

Are You Educating Your Readers About Blogging?

Part of our task as bloggers is to educate our readers on the subject of blogging. Do you? Many do and aren’t even aware they are. Let’s look at some of the ways you may be teaching your readers about blogging.

You teach readers how to comment on blogs

By opening your blog to comments, you are teaching your readers how to comment on blogs. But it’s a shared teaching position. Your commenters also help to educate other commenters.

The conversation on a blog begins with the blogger’s post setting the voice and writing style as they present their opinion and information. Depending upon the emotional quality in the writing, the commenters will respond in kind.

A sad, sorrowful tale invites supportive comments. A raging rant tracts others who support the cause or have an equally emotional response in contrast. An educational and factual tone elicits like comments. Once the tone is set by the blog post, the comments tend to follow along.

Visitors read through the blog comments to get a feel for what others are saying as well as how they are saying things. If the comments are open and friendly in tone, then they may feel comfortable joining the conversation in that tone of voice. If the comments are bitchy and whiny, then they will follow that form, whether or not the blogger initiated that tone of voice.

There will always be exceptions to the rule, but most people tend to respond in kind. How you respond to comments sets the tone for others to follow on your blog.
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How Is Twitter Helping or Hurting You and Your Blog?

At more and more conferences, Twitter is becoming the conversation of choice. Instead of live blogging, people are twittering live reports from conferences, as well as chatting among themselves as if Twitter were a live chat or instant message service.

is easy. It’s accessible from the web and cell phones. Anyone can do it. You just have to stay within the 140 character limit.

People are adding Twitter to their blogs, integrating their tweets into the blog’s sidebar, as well as tweets from others.

So how is this helping or hurting your blog?
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If You Were in Charge of the Social Networking Industry…

If you were in charge of the social networking industry, what social product or service would you offer?

has always been defined as “social” when it comes to creating an online presence and community, after all, a blog is all about community building, which differentiated it from a static HTML site.

I see many of today’s social networking services as accessories to your blog. No matter where you go around the web, you can always point to your blog like a virtual business card and resume. “Check out my blog! See what I can do!”

However, Matt Mullenweg and others want to really push the limits of what social means in social networking and put WordPress at the center of your social experience online. Their first steps came with the release of the Prologue WordPress Theme and the incorporation of BuddyPress. They are hard at work to make it even more “social”, though what that means is my question.

Let’s brainstorm. What would that look like? If you were in charge of social networking around the world, what would you want on your blog to make it more social and connect all the online social with your blog as the center focal piece?

SOBCon08: A Conference Experienced in the Moments

We do not remember days; we remember moments.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) in Chicago last weekend was a collection of moments I will remember for a long time.

Throughout the weekend, people kept asking what was different about this conference from all the other conferences they go to. It was clear it was different, and different from the first moment. Why?

Was it because it was a group of bloggers? I’ve been to blog events and while that was part of the reason, it wasn’t the whole reason.
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SOBCon08 Biz School for Bloggers: Connections and Community

Photos from SOBCon by Wendy PiersallThe worst part of the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) is that I now have to add over a hundred feeds to my feed reader.

When you are in a room with over a hundred of the most powerful, exiting, socially aware and responsible, and enthusiastic bloggers, your feed reader count is going to grow. Not to mention your Twitter list. And Skype. And GTalk. And email list and all the other ways we stay in touch.

The most amazing part of SOBCon this year is the proof that lightening does strike twice. It struck twice in Chicago as and Terry Starbucker hosted the second annual SOBCon event, bringing together top notch bloggers for The Biz School for Bloggers, helping bloggers learn how the blog marketplace works and how to turn those blogging connections and decisions into money.

As both speaker and attendee, Anita Bruzzese wowed the audience on tips for being a blogging journalist and social responsibility for what you publish. She also admitted that she had no idea what people were talking about throughout the weekend (describing it as Klingon) and that she has a lot to learn about blogging.

Many were impressed with the presentation by David Bullock, especially when he blew the crowd away with:
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Blogging is Not About You

Wendy Piersall - SOBCon Conference PhotographOne of the loudest messages shouted from the rooftops in Chicago at Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) was: It’s not about you.

This came through on many levels. Let’s examine a few.

Your blog is not about you.

Your blog is not about you. Sure, it starts out about being about what you want. About what messages you want to send. About how you want to frame and publish content. About who you want to reach and what you want to get out of your blog.

But once you hit the publish button, it no longer is about you and what you want. It’s about the readers. It’s about what they want. It’s about what they need. It’s about giving them what they want and need in order to keep them, and attract new readers.
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How To Get Back on the Bloggy Path

Stop blogging graphic by Lorelle VanFossen

Yesterday, I wrote about how bloggers can lose their blogging path, often without noticing. I offered some clues I use to detect when I’m straying from my own bloggy path to help you determine when you may be going astray.

Everyone has their own clues, the symptoms that speak loudly, even if they aren’t listening, that say, you’ve lost your way. I’ve been watching the DVDs for the popular television show, House. Basically it’s about a brilliant doctor who can look at a patient and diagnose them – at least for the typical ills – with nary a word from the patient nor test. While assumptions like these don’t often work in the real world, nor on the television show, the idea of noticing the small clues to help with the diagnosis rather than only relying upon big open wounds and obvious ills, or even what the patient says, is fascinating, and keeps me slipping in the discs, one after one.

The truth is, we are often clueless when things are starting to fall apart. We live in denial, assumptions, and the believe that if we ignore it, it will either fix itself or go away. Some things don’t. Some things do.

We also think this is natural, which it is, so we continue to go down the wrong path, just going with the flow.

Want to know the biggest clue that you are going down the wrong path with your blog?

Your readership changes.

Numbers drop. The audience shifts. The responses shift. Instead of attracting positive, insightful readers and commenters, you start to find negative whiners and more time waster commenters. Your readers notice the downhill slide and respond accordingly, consciously and unconsciously, following the tone you set.

When your blog goes off track, there are things you can do to get it on the right course, but you have to notice that it has left the tracks first.

When you have noticed, what do you do about it?
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Deal With the Devil: Week 2

Two weeks ago I blogged that, against YOUR advice, I would be offering my blogging services on a weekly basis to a larger media company – for free.

Here’s the latest update. Nine days ago I submitted an article to the company. And since then: silence.

My article has not appeared on their live site and I have not been updated as to when it would appear. In the meantime, I did not submit an article last week. I plan to hold back until the editor explains what their editorial process is. In hindsight, a question that I should have asked (or the company should have outlined) ahead of time.

Next time, I’ll be sure to find out:

– How in-depth will my piece be edited; content? length? spelling? etc.

– When I should expect to see the article posted.

– How stringent the issued word count is.

– Who I can contact if my main contact is out of the office.

– As estimate of traffic I should expect from my blog entry.

My goal with this series of posts is to help you make better decisions in similar situations. I also hope they’ll open the eyes of companies that pursue bloggers on what they should and shouldn’t do.