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May 11, 2009

I Have No Idea What I’m Going to Blog About, But Here Goes

Nothing to blog about article series logoI’ve been at this blogging thing since before 1994 and faced many a time staring at my computer with dread. Not again. Honestly. Ain’t nothing left to say. It’s all been said before. And I said it. Tank’s empty. It’s boring. I’m bored.

A blog calls to you, begs you to feed it. Your readers want your words, and the need must be fed. What do you do when you can’t think of anything of value to add other than what you ate for lunch?

A couple years ago, when blogging was still in its infancy, a post title like this was fairly common, along with titles such as: read more

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March 17, 2009

We Keep Screwing Up to Give You Something to Write About

Driving home last night, I was listening to On the Media radio show on NPR. They were reading their Letters section with corrections to some of their past stories.

After they’d reported on the most recent corrections, they summarized that section of the show by saying:

We’ll do our part to keep screwing up to give you something to write about.

I’m sure they heard my laughter all the way to their studios.

Honestly, I can’t say when I’ve heard a better description of blogging.

Think about it. read more

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February 25, 2009

Blog Writing: What Do You Do When a Blog Goes Bye-Bye?

Ah, a day in the life of a blogger and computer geek. It began with an attack from two ten year old emil viruses and ended with the star blog of the article I was working on disappearing.

Blogging can be easy and fun, but if you do it for a living, it has its ups and downs, good days and bad. In my ongoing series on called “Blog Struggles,” I share some of the hardships associated with blogging, from the early days to present. Today, it was a bad day. Two weeks of research down the drain.

I’ve been working for two long hard weeks on an article about an open source program with the focus on an excellent community fan blog. Just before hitting the Publish button, I visited the site to verify some information.

The site I’d visited so often in the past ten days greeted me with a big white page and a note that the site had been “discontinued” without further explanation or link to an alternate resource.

site discontinued notice

Poof. Gone. Bye-bye. read more

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December 16, 2008

Exploring Social Media: Promoting Your Link Backs to You

Exploring Social Media article series badgeYesterday in Exploring Social Media: The Power of the Link Needs Content, I introduced the most powerful social media tool in the world, the link, and explained that unless you have make the link direct people to valuable and useful content, you are shooting blanks. The link makes a lot of noise with nothing to show for it.

The impact of linking to yourself is magnified in value. When you email or publish a link to something you wrote, recommending it, you are telling the world:

  • I know that which I write about.
  • I am an expert in the subject.
  • I have the experience to back up what I’m writing.
  • This is the best I can do.

Do your links qualify?

When you contact a blogger or anyone to encourage them to link to you, do you keep these things in mind? Are you offering your best work? Does your blog or social media tool show the world you are an expert in this?

If you have the proof behind your link, then maybe your failure is in the presentation of that link, especially when directed towards bloggers, the most capable of spreading the word far and wide about you and your blog. read more

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December 15, 2008

Exploring Social Media: The Power of the Link Needs Content

Exploring Social Media article series badgeIn The Power of the Link and Don’t Guest Blog Until You Have Content, I talk about two very important subjects that apply to our ongoing discussion and Exploring Social Media Series.

First, a link is a door people open to your world, be it a world within your blog, social media tools and services, or a recommendation to visit another world, one you hope your fans will enjoy so much, they will return to your world with joy, eager for more and telling the world about what you have to offer.

Second, if you link without anything worth linking to, without anything positive to offer people, without anything worth recommending, without anything worth returning to, you have lost the power in social influence within the modern online world.

If you link to yourself, then these two characteristics are magnified. You are offering people a gateway into your world, one they expect is worth linking to, deserving of attention, exciting, and worth telling others about.

The link is the most powerful social media tool of all. read more

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October 17, 2008

Wander, Wonder, Ask Blogs

One way of starting a conversation on your blog is what I call the “Wander, Wonder, Ask” method.

A blogger wanders around looking for news and finds something of interest, often newsworthy. She wonders about it and realizes that her wondering has some validity. It’s worth talking about. So she posts it on her blog as “news” and “information” and shares her wondering points, then asks, basically, “What do you think?”

“Wander, Wonder, Ask” posts are ubiquitous. There are plenty even here on the . We all do it. I’ve done it. Sometimes it works, more often it doesn’t.

When it works, it’s a great way to get readers to wonder and answer back. It works even better when they are out wandering and your blog post pops into their heads. They wander, wonder, and start to ask themselves the key questions that may lead to a solution, and possibly back to your blog. read more

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September 2, 2008

Tracking Scrapers Together Through Trackbacks

A blog post linking to one of my blog posts has been scraped dozens of times. Recently, it was scraped by eight different sites in the same day. The eight trackbacked sites turned out to have a single owner/webmaster using their auto-blogging scraper across multiple splog sites. I’ve let the blogger know – after the second time it happened – and now that it’s happened multiple times, it’s time to change strategies.

It’s now time to work together.

Have you received multiple trackbacks over time from an blog post with a link to yours and the investigation finds that it isn’t the original site but a scraper? What do you do? read more

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August 26, 2008

Help Blog Readers Keep Up With You

I’m a fan of Groklaw, but like any long-running soap opera, I tune out for weeks – okay, months – at a time and then check back in. I love the copyright news and litigation insider bits, but sometimes, unlike an ongoing soap opera, I don’t know what is being talked about. I can’t catch up.

Lately, there have been a lot of coverage dealing with SCO, IBM, and Novell. Two of the three I know, but the fourth I don’t recognize. Even if I knew all three of the acronyms, I don’t know enough of the story to follow the current blog posts.

In the legal world of who did what to whom and why, I’m trying to catch up. Why?

That’s what I keep asking myself.

A blog is a chronological vehicle of expression as well as communication. The most recent post may be the latest in a long back story that can go back for days, weeks, months, even years. However, I just landed here. I need to get caught up fast!

Which begs the question:

Is it my responsibility, as the reader, to keep up with the story, or should the blogger play a role in helping bring me up to speed? read more

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August 24, 2008

To Permit Troll or Not to Permit Troll

I’ve written a lot about how blog and comment trolls make blogging miserable, even to the point where we becoming over-sensitive and frustrated with blogging because of the amount of negativity and angst that comes with opening yourself up to the world of opinion through your blog.

I blog across many different blogs and participate in a wide variety of social media services and microblogs. and similar “follow” and “friend” networks are interesting as they help you get to know people beyond direct interaction. You get to watch how they behave and learn more about who they are as a person and a blogger through their interactions with others.

Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of watching someone go “off” on Twitter over a non-event. They lost their temper, said vicious things, even to the point of bigotry and prejudice. Very racial slurs. I was stunned to see such language on a public forum. I watched those directly involved handle his out-of-control and inappropriate rant professionally and skillfully, which earned my respect, and I made a point of noting the name and blog of this person, adding it to my list of those I do not wish to be involved with. Trouble like him nobody needs. read more

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Blogging Under Pressure

Pressure make diamonds, but does blogging under pressure make for a better blog and blog posts?

Joss Whedon, Creator and Executive Producer of the television series, Firefly, summed up the show in the season’s DVD extras in a way that reminded me of how many bloggers work under pressure to publish:

A lot of the pressure of being a show that might be canceled at any moment really helps you. It doesn’t help your digestion, it doesn’t help your marriage, but what it does help is your storytelling. Because you go back and say what is the most important thing I need to feel. What is the most primal story. What is the thing that is going to show how great this crew is, how funny they are, how brave, how disjointed – whatever it is you need. What do I need to get to the primal story?

A television and film under pressure of a time crunch and the threat of cancellation still has time to go back and “get it right” – clean out the clutter and time wasting words to really get to the point. Does a blogger have that kind of time?

There are a variety of pressures a blogger can be under. Time, timing, and word counts are the three key pressure factors I see most often at work. read more

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