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May 26, 2008

Why Am I Doing This Blogging Thing?

A reader of mine left an impassioned comment on my blog recently asking:

Tell me if I should be doing this? I’m busting my head against the wall with my blog. I’m trying so hard to get readers and it’s just not happening. What am I doing wrong? Should I be doing this? Why am I doing this? Tell me to stop if you think I shouldn’t be blogging.

First, it’s not my job to tell you whether or not to stop blogging. That’s your decision. Sometimes, at the depths of despair we find the motivation that kicks us up over the edge, turning whatever we are doing into magic. I won’t interfere in that process directly.

However, I do know that we are entering a time period in the recent life cycle of blogging when more and more bloggers are asking themselves similar questions. Now into the end of their first, second, and even third year of blogging, many are starting to evaluate how much time, work, and energy they are putting into something that has so little return on its investment. They are asking themselves why am I doing this?
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May 20, 2008

Is It the Responsibility of a Blogger to Set a Standard?

In legal terms, a standard is a methodology or specifications that have been adopted or repeatedly practiced by an industry, business, or community as the “way of doing things” – the average process that people expect when they think of how things work.

For example, it was a standard for years that you did not just show up at someone’s home without an invitation. Calling cards were sent to the home requesting a visit and appointments were made. In business, it is a standard for companies to pay a bill within 15 or 30 days of receipt. It’s the basic practices that need no law to support them as “this is how it’s always been done.”

What are the standards for bloggers?
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May 16, 2008

Blogging from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Stephanie Stockman is a NASA contractor working at the Goddard Space Flight Center, which is cool by itself. What’s even cooler is that she’s blogging it, talking about rocketships in voice and text, as well as posting photos, something every space nerd should follow for sure. Her blog is Geosteph, which incidentally is her Twitter nick as well. Check it out.

I found out about Stephanie’s blog via Blonde By Design, which in turn ended in my web browser via Twitter, that oh so magical microblogging service that keeps me fed with news stories and interesting links, as well as time-consuming chitchatting.

Anyway, the Blonde By Design post in question really wants us to send our names to the moon, a PR stunt (or similar funny idea that doubles as a PR stunt) headed by NASA, with June 27 being the deadline for name submissions. A pretty cool thing by itself.

So there you have it, a bunch of space reading on your Friday surf list! Aren’t blogging wonderful? Enjoy!

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May 15, 2008

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?

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May 7, 2008

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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May 5, 2008

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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April 29, 2008

How To Get Back on the Bloggy Path

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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April 28, 2008

What Do You Do When a Favorite Blog Goes South?

Recently, two of my favorite blogs have gone south. In other words, they have lost their bloggy way along the blogging path. One happens to be by a friend of mine so I called her up.

“What’s going on with your blog?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your blog posts are way off topic and it doesn’t sound like you any more. Is everything okay?”

“Everything is fine. I think everything is fine. It’s fine, isn’t it?”

What do I say. Can’t she see that she’s spent the past two years blogging about a specific subject, her writing fluid and powerful, keeping me interested and jazzed about her subject matter, returning often to bask in her wisdom, and now she’s babbling and not making any sense? Her posts are all over the map, with some fire and brimstone enthusiasm thrown in for color, but it all feels forced and desperate. Like part of the fire within her creative spirit has turned to ashes.

I miss her old sincere and honest self, the blogger who exposed herself as well as her thoughts in her writing. How do I tell her she’s lost her way without hurting her feelings. It’s clear she’s not ready to hear the truth.

The other blog is a professional one, one I’ve tracked for years, but lately it’s gone way off course with off-handed posts that appear to be more second thoughts rather than firsts, spelling and grammar errors unchecked, comment spam littering the comments, it’s wilting in the wind though it continues to generate a lot of content, just not a lot of quality.

I sent a concerned email to the blogger and the response was similar to my friend. “Everything is fine. Don’t you think we’re doing okay?”

No, I don’t. And you shouldn’t either.
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April 18, 2008

Groundbreaking Blog Viral Marketing: Obsidian Blackout Event

JC Hutchins, 7th Son Obsidian podiobook anthologyJC Hutchins has been breaking rules even before he started his blog in an attempt to give away his science fiction novel, 7th Son, which publishers didn’t want, as a free podiobook, one of the first audio books published as a weekly series of podcasts. He has come up with a variety of interesting viral campaigns to promote his book, blog, podcasts, and writings, turning his unpublished book into the most popular podiobook series in history, and becoming a specialist in the true sense of social networking and marketing. His innovative online self-marketing techniques attracted St. Martin’s Press, and his book will finally be published in 2009.

Tapping the creativity of his fan-base, Hutchins is breaking rules again by asking people to become victims and make history.
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April 6, 2008

If You Could Blog About Anything, What Would You Blog About?

In an interview recently, I was asked, “If you could blog about anything, what would you blog about?”

This question struck me to my heart. I’ve been blogging, or web publishing as we originally called it, for over 14 years and I blog about what I want to blog about – but do I really? Do you?

So often, we blog for the wrong reasons. Wrong might not be the correct term, but we blog for reasons that do not respond well to that question. We blog for money, fame, attention, social interaction, freedom of speech, defense, business, and reasons that maybe good and justifiable, but not the really right reasons.
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