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October 12, 2008

How Two Guys and a Cement Mixer Changed How Bloggers Think

On , I just published “The Real Benefits of Sponsoring a WordCamp” which highlighted one of the most talked about exhibitors at Blog World Expo in Las Vegas a few weeks ago: Bruce Christensen and Tom Vail of Cart-Away Concrete.

While most of the exhibitors at Blog World Expo were there to promote their products and services to the mass of bloggers in attendance, Tom and Bruce were there for a different reason. They were there to learn.

So many events and conferences bring together a lot of people with a marketing agenda. They want to sell products and services and make money. Tom and Bruce of Cart-Away Concrete showed up at this blogging conference with their portable cement mixer and said, “We don’t have anything for you to buy. We came here to learn.”

That’s right. They just came to learn from everyone who walked through the Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibition Hall over the course of the three day event. They aren’t bloggers, they aren’t web hosts, they aren’t marketers, or guys with cool blog gadgets. They are construction experts in equipment and concrete. How many bloggers have a huge commercial construction project underway and would need them? Hmmm?

No, they were there to learn. They could hire someone to teach them what to do and set up their blogs and social media services to promote their franchise and contractor business, but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted to learn from everyone in this new online social media business.

And they did. read more

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September 2, 2008

When The Reaction to Your Blog Post Goes Wrong

A blogger just contacted me quite upset about the reaction to a blog post they’d written. They wanted my advice on what they should do.

“Should you do anything?”

“Well, I thought I should respond, but I don’t know what to do!”

“Did you want a response to your blog post?”

“Sure, but not this response.”

“You wanted a response. You got one. What about that response aren’t you happy with?”

When we put our words out there on a blog, we want a response. That’s part of the whole justification for blogging. We want a response. We want reactions. We want feedback.

The problem is when your expectation about that feedback isn’t met. 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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July 28, 2008

WTF Blog Design Elements: Most Recent Comments and Shout Boxes

In this ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, we’ve talked about blog clutter with too many “friend” pictures and badges and calendar archives, two of the many elements many use to clog up their blog’s sidebar. “Clutter” is a matter of perspective. If these added design elements really work for your blog, serve your blog’s purpose, and enhance the reader’s experience, leave them. In fact, put them at the top where they are the first thing people will see next to your post title and content beginnings. Promote them. If they are that important, let them stand out.

If they are not important, then they do become clutter.

One of the most popular blog clutters are the Most Recent Comments and Shout Boxes that many feel are important elements to a blog’s design.

The web is now social. People are experimenting with all types of methods to bring the social to their blogs and emphasize how social their blogs are – or at least appear to be. Among the most popular and easy to do are most recent comment widgets and chatting shout boxes. read more

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July 21, 2008

Prepare Yourself for the Blog Bullies

In 2006, I wrote about copyright violations saying that it wasn’t a matter of if but when your content would be stolen. The same premise applies to blog bullies.

It’s not a matter of if a blogger will blog bad things about you but when.

It’s going to happen. It may have already happened. It’s happened to me plenty of times. So what do you do when someone makes fun of you, pokes at you, says hurtful or harmful things about you or your blog on their blog? read more

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July 15, 2008

Blogging Jobs: How Much Are Bloggers Paid to Blog?

Blogging Jobs by Lorelle VanFossenAs we continue with this series on blogging jobs, it’s time to look at the income a blogger can make by blogging for pay.

The skills and qualities a company or blog owner is looking for from a blogger are extensive, far beyond just writing abilities. As with any freelance job, determining how to put a value on the time it really takes, and the costs associated with the time and production, is really hard when the real cost is in time, not materials. Bloggers should be paid for the time as well as their expertise and abilities. Are they? This is a problem that has been around for a very long time. How much is your time worth?

For many decades, professional editorial writers found a compromise on the time/value issue with payment by the word with a restriction on word count. I often was told, “We’ll pay you a dollar a word up to 1,000 words maximum.”

This meant the magazine, newspaper, newsletter, or other print publication had space for one thousand words that needed to be filled. Going over meant changing their magazine or newspaper design structure. Giving them less meant I’d be paid less, but somewhere in the middle was a compromise for both of us, usually in the form of me setting a minimum fee I was to be paid, no matter the word count, such as “I want $500 minimum for 700 words and a dollar a word thereafter.” If the article came it at 400 words, I would still be paid my minimum. If it crossed the 700 word mark, at which point I should have been paid $700 for a dollar a word, that’s when they have to start paying me the dollar a word rate. It wasn’t the best, but the companies felt like they were getting a deal and for the most part, I covered the minimum I needed to pay my rent and eat.

Here is a chart for the various traditional writer’s pay scale based upon a dollar amount per word. The more experience and expertise, the higher the fee per word.
read more

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