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Have Blogs Killed Conventional Websites?

This post looking at conventional websites vs blogs is by Suzanne Falter-Barns from Get Known Now.

Have Blogs Killed Conventional Websites?

It’s a question that’s been bugging me profoundly since I got into blogging over a year ago. Blogs are cheap, easy, efficient, wildly easy to find on the Net, super marketing-friendly, and just plain fun. They work rings around websites.
So are conventional websites no longer necessary? To find out, I interviewed Andy Wibbels, the original blogging evangelist and author of the excellent book, Blogwild!. Here’s the short version of what I learned.

  1. Websites are clunky and expensive; blogs are lean and cheap.
  2. You have to wait for someone to make changes to your website; your blog can be changed easily by you.
  3. You have to wait for someone else to set up your site; your blog can be set up by you in 15 minutes.
  4. You can update your blog at an airport, while you’re on the run. You have to call your webmaster … and wait … to update your site.
  5. You can collect email addresses, and download free reports and bonuses off of a website. Same with a blog.
  6. You can use a shopping cart to collect money for e-commerce of a website. Same with a blog.
  7. You can set up a press room with all sorts of cool links and forms on a website. Same with a blog.
  8. It takes three to six months for the big search engines to find you with a website. It takes two or three days with a blog.
  9. You can easily track stats of who has visited your regular website. Same with a blog.
  10. The media are more likely to find you on a blog.
  11. You can learn more about your audience from a blog.
  12. You market automatically with a blog. But not with a conventional website.
  13. You can make a lot more friends with a blog.

The list appears to go on and on, but you get the picture. Blogs are, quite simply, the next wave. So if you’re thinking about setting up a site, stop in your tracks and turn towards blogs instead!

Note from Darren: what would you add to the above list of comparisons between blogs and conventional websites?

Stand Out: The Power of the Press Release

The following post on press releases as a way to promote your blog is by Eric Reynolds of Subnixus PR Services.

press-releases.jpgIn the past, savvy PR professionals used press releases to hopefully bring their clients a little media exposure. The process was long and drawn out, with the ultimate goal being, well, media coverage. However, the days of a press release being used solely for a newsworthy announcement are long gone. Why? The Web has changed what a press release can be…

Before I explain how a press release can benefit you as a blogger, let me give you a little background on myself. A few years ago I ran a small blog by the name of Subnixus (sold long ago) and decided to do a test. I had just recently learned about press releases and figured I would put one out on myself and post the results. I honestly didn’t expect much, but to my amazement a single press release resulted in dozens of television, newspaper, and radio interviews. Overnight my blog went from a few hundred readers, to a few thousand.

That single press release eventually led me to start my own PR firm and PR based blog.

While not all press releases are going get your face on the nightly news, they can serve another purpose.

How to Reach New Readers and Improve Your SEO at the Same Time

Thanks to the Internet, a press release can now be seen by the general public without ever even being touched by a journalist. Sites like Google News and Yahoo News are constantly updating their search results with fresh press releases from sites like PRWeb. So what does that mean to you, the new blogger just looking for a little attention?

Simply put it means you can reach thousands of (potentially) new readers, overnight. When you distribute your release via a place like PRWeb, hundreds of other sites re-publish your release via the PRWeb RSS feed. Not only does this mean more places for new readers to find your content, but it means more backlinks to your site (yes a press release can include links). And don’t forget, if you do it right your release will also appear in Google News, Yahoo News, Topix, etc… just to name a few.

Should You Hire a Professional or Do It Yourself?

This is a question I hear a lot and there’s no simple answer. While I could sit here and say you should hire a professional (like myself) to create your release and distribute it, the truth is anyone can do it, but like anything it takes a little work on your part. However, I do have some good news… unlike a traditional press release, a Web based release doesn’t have the same strict guidelines that must be followed. For the most part, you just need to remember a few basic rules.

1. Format it correctly. This page shows how a press release needs to be written.

2. It’s all about the headline. Just like a link submission to a site such as Digg.com, a press release needs to have a good headline and first paragraph if it’s going to create any buzz. Your press release could be the recipe for chicken soup, but if your headline is catchy, people will read it.

3. Keep it short. Remember, you want the people reading your press release to click on a link within the release to visit your site. Don’t put more information in the release than needed. It’s meant to peak their interest and leave them wanting more. Try to shoot for the 250-500 word range.

How Much Does it Cost?

Ahh… the big question. How much does a press release cost? Well there are plenty of free distributors out there. Places like PR.com and and PRLog.org will distribute them free of charge, but there are some drawbacks. PR.com doesn’t allow live links in their releases unless you pay a fee. And while PRLog allows links, they don’t have near the reach as other sites. Free sites may get you in Google News (and that’s about it), but in the long run it’s really not worth it. Furthermore, I’ve never seen a free release get more than a few backlinks.

So that leaves us with a paid distributor. My distributor of choice is obviously PRWeb, their reach in terms of RSS re-publishers and news sites just can’t be beat. The average PRWeb release will receive around 100-500 backlinks within a week and it will appear in every major news search site.

PRWeb charges $80 for their basic level and it goes up from there, but the basic level is good enough for any blogger just looking for a little boost. In fact, if you really know your stuff, you can get away with only paying $40 for distribution, as long as you get an editorial score of 4/5 from their editors.

Conclusion and Examples

So in conclusion I would urge everyone who’s serious about their blog to at least try a press release (free or paid). You might just be surprised at the results. For people looking for a few examples, here are a few I’ve done in the past few months.

An Example of a Release Getting Media Coverage

Here’s the release: Blogger Saves 18 Homes From Foreclosure in Less Than 6 Months With His Web Site and here’s the result: CBS News coverage.

An Example of the SEO Benefits of a Release

Here’s the release: SEOmeter.com Unveils Their New Google Crawl Tool and here’s the result: A Google search of the headline “SEOmeter.com Unveils Their New Google Crawl Tool” shows 750 listings, with a large portion of those containing backlinks.

So there you have it… The Press Release; a valuable tool that too many bloggers overlook.

***

Eric Reynolds is a long time blogger and the owner of Subnixus PR Services. He is also the sole author behind PRunderground.com.

p.s. – Some of you may recognize my name or site. Long time readers of ProBlogger might remember an article I wrote a long time ago calling blogs that focus on “making money online” infomercials. Well, after writing that article I did sell off my own blog (don’t be confused if you see it online, the person I sold it to never changed the “about me” section, so the site still looks like it’s ran by me, but it is not), but as you can see… I never stopped reading ProBlogger. Take that for what it’s worth.

9 Tips to Start Blogging Successfully

babyComputer.jpgThis post was written by Sudeep D’Souza

I have been blogging for close to 3 years just for the fun of it without realizing the amount of money you can make. One day while browsing the internet, I stumbled upon problogger.net and suddenly realized the opportunity out there. So I started to blog a bit more seriously and here are 9 tips that I should have implemented to have a successful blog.

1. Have a Consistent URL

The identity you create for your blog lies in the URL. Once you decide on a URL for your blog, do not ever change it. Every time you change it you need to popularize your blog all over again. Besides, the technical problem is that the search engines and articles that reference posts in your blog have links to the older URL and it can create a lot of confusion and hence lost readership. Choose your URL carefully and stick to it.

2. Choice of subject to blog about

Choose the subject of your blog with care and consideration. Your blog should mirror your passion and knowledge on the subject. Identify whether you will be able to consistently post on the subject. Some topics that are search engine friendly and that never really die out are technology blogs, product related blogs, city centric blogs and money making blogs. There is always news to give your readers and also there are a lot of points to discuss on. More challenging blogs to write are blogs on thoughts, ideas, short stories, poems. In these blogs you have to be able to provide self- driven original content whereas in the previous kind there are other websites from where you can draw inspiration and ideas.

3. High Quality Content can get hard to produce consistently

Posting quality content consistently keeps your readers engaged and makes them come back for more. In the initial days posting is easy since you will have a lot of ideas in your mind. However, delivering high quality content to your readers day after day gets tougher as time progresses and ideas dry up. You need to keep innovating and ideating constantly.

4. Marketing your blog is hard work

Once you have content in your blog, its time to tell the world. The challenge is – ‘How do you tell prospective readers that your blog has what they are looking for?’ Social networking sites like stumbleupon, orkut, twitter, facebook and a zillion other websites are breeding grounds for finding prospective readers. Building your network can be a time consuming, never ending task, but it doesn’t end there, you need to make the effort to make your network aware of your blog. The benefits can only be exponential. Getting them to post comments is a completely different ball game.

5. Technical know how is required

Lack of technical know-how can hinder you from tweaking your blog and giving it the finesse and feel that you envisaged for your blog. Serious bloggers will have to dabble with HTML, JavaScript and so on. It is this technology that can give the blog the uniqueness, user-friendliness and functionality that makes it stand out. Be prepared to invest some time in learning web technologies. Being search engine savvy can go a long way in getting the traffic that you are looking for.

6. Research, Read, Reflect

Every post is a brand new post. Don’t be surprised that you would have to regularly research on your topic, as there is always something new out there. Read what others have to say and reflect. It involves a lot of hard work, patience, persistence to read content, assimilate and formulate your own content. At times, you should be ready to dig deep within your self.

7. Expect to ride an emotional roller coaster

Do not expect an easy ride when you blog. You can put in a lot of hard work and then realize that nobody is commenting on your post and on the other hand you will write a one liner and you will have the whole world talking about it. You will have days when you will be banging your head against the wall wondering what to post about and then there will be days you have so many ideas in your head that you don’t know where to start. So be ready to enjoy the ride.

8. Be prepared to sacrifice something in life

Since all this hard work is going to use up your time, you have to be prepared to give up something. For those that have a full time job – your personal life or work life is going to take a hit. Maybe some of your other hobbies or interests will get affected. So you need to decide carefully on the things in life that you are ready to forego in order to become successful as a blogger.

9. Writing a good post takes time and patience

There may be few gifted bloggers out there that can churn out interesting posts easily. Some have this skill from practice, and for some, it is a gift, but for the majority of us it is hard work right from coming up with the title to the way the post is structured to the content of the post. Be prepared to go through many iterations of it before you come up with the post that you would feel proud to publish.

Sudeep D’Souza in his blog sudeepdsouza.blogspot.com narrates his experiences in the software world and everyday life in Hyderabad, India.

How To Build 22,938 Links To Your Blog

The following post on building links to your blog Evan Carmichael.

It’s no secret that building links to your website will help drive more referral traffic as well as increase your rankings in Google and the other major search engines. In previous ProBlogger posts Aaron Wall and Wendy Piersall have talked about it. Darren has also been known to create a post here or there on the topic.

Today I wanted to share with you how I built 22,938 links to my website and how you can do the same:

How To Check Your Links

building-links-blog.jpgBefore getting started on the tips, it’s important to know how to check the number of links Google recognizes. Most people know about the link:www.YourDomainName.com command that you can type into Google. This function, however, will only return a sample number of links to your site and does not show the complete picture.

To find out how many links Google actually sees you need to create an account at Google’s Webmaster Tools. It’s free to sign up and the information you will receive is of vital importance if you are trying to improve your Google rankings.

If you already have an account, simply go to the Dashboard, click on your domain name, click on Links on the left side bar, and then select the pages with external links option to see how many websites are really linking to you.

7 Ways To Build Links To Your Website

1) Pick a Niche and Own It With Quality Content

Darren has blogged at length about the importance of having quality content if you want to stand out as a successful blogger. Quite simply, if you aren’t writing material that is new, different, and offers an interesting perspective, you won’t get readers or links to your blog. Just as important, I believe, when you’re getting started is to pick a niche and dominate it. If you’re not making money online yet, don’t write a blog about how to make money online! There is too much competition and you don’t have valuable content to add.

Find a topic that you are passionate about and that isn’t too competitive yet. As an example, I chose famous entrepreneur stories. I now have the largest collection of stories of famous entrepreneurs anywhere online and get linked to as a resource. I’ve since been able to expand beyond the famous entrepreneur stories but it’s important to first start with a niche and get known as an expert in your field.

2) Get Involved In The Community

Once you have picked your niche, get involved in the community surrounding it. No matter what topic you pick there are blogs and forums already discussing it. Join the conversation! When I first started my site I listed the top 10 blogs and forums where entrepreneurs hung out. I commented on the blogs, helped people in the forums, and answered questions as they came up. The bloggers appreciated my valuable insights and the forum members loved the help I gave them.

I always included my website in my signature and pretty soon I was generating traffic and links from the community sites. Because I was getting known as an expert I also had people link to me from their sites without me having to post a comment or forum entry on theirs! People link to Darren because he’s the best in the world at helping bloggers turn their blogs into businesses. What are you going to be the best at?

3) Get Press

Another strategy I used to create awareness and build links was to get media attention. I put keywords relating to my niche into a Google News Alert (a free tool that lets you know when a new story comes out around a particular keyword) , found news stories that dealt with the entrepreneurs I was profiling and contacted the reporters to congratulate them on a great article. I also offered them my insights and added them to a media list that I created in Excel. From then on I would send them a press release every two weeks that dealt with a new famous entrepreneur story on my website.

I also submitted the stories to free online PR directories and did some research as to how to write an effective press release and experimented with different headlines. This led to articles being written about my website in the New York Times, Globe and Mail (Canada’s most respected daily newspaper), the Dallas Morning News and countless other publications. It also led to television and radio appearances. Each time I gave them great stories as well as promoted my website. Always remember to ask for a link back from the media outlet. They are usually very highly ranked and the link can help drive your search engine rankings.

4) Social Networking Sites

Social networking is all the rage now but it’s more than just hype. An effective social networking campaign can help drive tremendous amounts of traffic as well as build links to your site. I haven’t personally gotten much from sites like Facebook and MySpace but the news and bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, and del.icio.us have been fantastic traffic and link generators for my website. The key I’ve found is to start off with quality content and then get the community to help you promote it.

For example, at the end of last year I compiled a list of the Top 50 SEO Posts of 2007 (Darren’s Secret Confessions of a Link-A-Holic made the list). It was a list that brought genuine value to people and saved readers a lot of time. Instead of having to dig into each blog themselves we did the work for them to find the best posts on SEO of the year. Once we finished the top 50 we let everyone on the list know about it. Many of them blogged about it and linked back to us, others submitted it to StumbleUpon and other social networking sites. In the first week of the list being out StumbleUpon alone sent me over 5,000 visitors to that one page!

6) Directories, Craigslist, Wikipedia

When I first started the site I submitted it to all the relevant directories that I could find. In all honesty I didn’t get many hits from them except from Business.com, but I viewed it as a link building exercise that would eventually pay off. If you run any kind of events, you need to also put them on Craigslist. We run a number of offline events for entrepreneurs and Craigslist helped send us a decent amount of traffic. Their pages also rank well and you can include a link back to your site from the postings you create.

Wikipedia is another excellent source worth checking out. Like every other webmaster, before Wikipedia put nofollows on their links I was trying to get all my pages listed as external links on the famous entrepreneur related pages. The result? The editors quickly removed my links and wrote an email to me warning me to stop. I did stop posting but was surprised to find out that I kept getting traffic from Wikipedia. It turns out that a number of my readers had used my articles as references for different famous entrepreneurs. As a result they included a link and it was driving traffic! It again all comes down to being the best at something and dominating your niche. If I didn’t have good content then I would not have received the links from Wikipedia.

7) Give People An Incentive To Link to You

As wonderful as it is to get bloggers and other website owners to link to you on the merit of your content alone, sometimes they need a push and an incentive to do so. As a result of building a popular website I began recruiting other experts to write for my site. Once you build up credibility in your niche you will have people who want to be associated with you. As an example, I wonder how many people are trying to guest blog for Darren while he’s gone?

For my own site, if the articles my guest authors submitted were relevant and valuable, I put them up. I then wrote to my authors and told them that if they linked back to my site from theirs I would give them even more exposure on my site and list them as Premium Partners. The incentive worked for many of them and I quickly built even more backlinks to my site from reputable experts. It sometimes takes thinking outside the box, but if you can find a way to help another webmaster in return for them linking to you, the extra incentive can make the difference between getting and not getting that all important link.

Additional Link Building Tips

  • Try to get links to your internal pages and not just your home page. The more you have to your internal pages, the better those pages will rank. For example, I have 22,938 Google-recognized links to my site but only 8,075 of them go to my homepage. The rest all go to internal pages on my website.
  • Get as high a Page Rank link as you can from the websites who profile you. A link on a Page Rank 1 internal page versus a Page Rank 5 homepage will make a big difference to your site. Just because two pages are on the same domain name, it doesn’t mean that they carry the same link value.
  • When getting a link, don’t tell people what anchor text to use (the blue text that is underlined). If all your links have the same anchor text you can get banned from Google for that keyword. I always ask my link partners to use anchor text that they feel best describes what my website is all about.
  • As soon as you get a link, tell Google about it through their Add URL page. It’s another free tool that Google offers and the sooner Google knows about the links to you, the sooner you will rise up in the rankings.
  • Don’t give up! Link building is an ongoing process and requires patience. It’s better to work for 1 hour a day for 24 days than to work for 24 hours straight and burn yourself out. If you keep working at it, the links will come!

Good luck and happy link building!

Evan Carmichael is the owner of www.EvanCarmichael.com, the Internet’s #1 resource for small business motivation and strategies.

Pros and Cons of Niche Blogging

In this article Mark Avey discusses the pros and cons of running a niche subject blog, from a point of view of making money.

A little History

I run a number of blogs. Most of them cover pretty niche subjects but one, in particular, is about as niche as you can get – flight simulation. Nothing more, nothing less. The site (flightsimx.co.uk) started life as a simple, fairly static web site. With the release of one particular item of flight simulation software, the increasing number of news items grew to such an extent that I needed an easier way to manage it. A blog format was the ideal choice for me. Whilst technically it is a blog, I guess you could argue that it’s really more of a news site, but a blog it is and a blog it is likely to stay.


It was around 14 months ago that the blog really started to attract visitors in reasonable numbers. It’s now getting around 2,500 uniques and 5,000+ page views a day, which I’m pretty happy with. In that time, I’ve learnt a lot about blogging. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and hopefully learnt from them. One of those things has been to be aware of the pros and cons of running a very limited subject blog from a financial viewpoint.

Why it’s bad to have a Niche Blog

  • Almost by definition, you’re aiming at a small audience. A small audience means a lower number of potential “customers” than you’re going to get for a Britney Spears fan club site (in this context, customers is referring to anyone following through with an ad on my site, be it an AdSense click, an affiliate sale, or any other method)
  • There are relatively few affiliate programs available for you to pick from. The low audience status of the blog also filters through to a low audience for things you might want to try and sell through such a program
  • Context sensitive ads are few on the ground. With something as specific as my flight simulator blog, there are a relatively low number of people willing to pay for advertising through programs such as AdSense. This can mean you start getting ads repeated quite often, which can easily lead to “ad blindness”
  • It can be much harder to get other sites to link to you (and hence bring you new customers). This is obvious really. The subject is so narrow that there aren’t (in my case) all that many sites out there on the same subject. Additionally, of those that are out there, most of them want to keep the visitors on their own sites and not send them away to mine via a link.
  • It can take a long time to start getting search traffic. This is simply because there aren’t all that many people searching for the subject matter of your site. (This really falls into the good and bad sections, so I’ll come back to this in a moment)

Why it’s good to have a Niche Blog

Strange as it may seem, a lot of the negative aspects can actually work for you after a while.

  • A niche site can bring you a lot of dedicated readers. Most of my traffic comes from search engines (around 75%). Most of the remainder are return visitors. I think a near 25% return rate is pretty good.
  • Expanding on point 1 a little, once you’ve been around a while (assuming you’ve got your SEO optimised), the search engines can start to like you. If the search engines are picking you up (my posts get indexed within about an hour now), people that are searching for your subject have a pretty good chance of finding your site.
  • Whilst there are fewer affiliate programs out there for you to choose from, you can get some reasonable deals if you go looking. The same rules of supply and demand work for anyone working in that niche, so people selling related items are looking for as many people as possible to sell their goods, which can put you in a good position.
  • Your name can get around. I get a lot of emails from people along the lines of “Are you the guy who runs the flight simulator site?”. As well as giving you a nice warm fuzzy feeling, it also means your name is being associated with that niche subject. If you do your job properly (blogging), this can turn you into an expert in your field, which is great news for your blog. This in itself can bring people to your site.
  • You can create a captive audience. Because there are so few sites dealing with the subject of my blog, people who are interested in the subject are more likely to return once they find me. If they’re coming back, they may click on an ad.
  • If you’re going to start from scratch with a blog, you’ve got more chance of finding a subject that few people have already covered. You’re going to find it hard to compete with a blog about movies, but you may have some success with political movies of the 1940′s for example.

Is it Worth it?

Overall, I’d have to say yes. I’ve been lucky. The subject of my blog is something I’m passionate about. Hopefully this comes across and will encourage other people with a similar passion to come back. And click on an ad.

How to Make Your Video Posts More Accessible to an Untapped Market of Millions

This post on making your video posts accessible to the deaf community was written by Stephen Hopson from Adversity University.

According to Technorati’s report last year, the blogosphere continues to proliferate, doubling in size every six months. Technorati is now tracking over 70 million blogs. Over 120,000 of them are created every single day – that’s about 1.4 blogs per second. On top of that, you have 1.5 million posts a day, which translates to 17 per second.

Check this out:

Slide0005
Source: State of the Blogosphere Report

Astronomical; even overwhelming, if you ask me! How does one manage to stand out in today’s fast evolving blogosphere?

Ever since I started Adversity University in the spring of 1996, I’ve read countless of articles on attracting and retaining quality subscribers, how to write authentic/inspiring articles as well as how to add visual images, to name a few. You’ve probably thought about jumping on the video bandwagon in an effort to stand out and connect with your readers. Perhaps you’ve already done so. Perhaps not.

The purpose of today’s article is to show you how easy it is to transform your videos into a visual symphony of sorts for thousands, perhaps millions of people who rely on the written word to “hear” your messages.

How?

By adding subtitles to your videos.

Would you believe that the art of subtitling is actually very easy?

And that it won’t cost you a cent?

Vast Untapped Market

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are an estimated 35 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States alone. You also have aging baby boomers who find themselves continually cranking up the volume of their TV sets, radios and telephones. And then you have those whose native language is not English – like most people learning a new language, they find it easier to read than speak or understand spoken English.

How about reaching out and knocking on the door of their hearts with your wisdom?

If you knew that the simple act of subtitling your videos could potentially double, triple or even quadruple the size of your blog’s community, would you want to know how to do it?

I think any serious blogger who truly wants to make a difference and reach across language barriers would at least want to consider the possibilities.

ProBlogger Plants a Powerful Seed

It is remarkable how a seemingly insignificant action or event can change entire lives. One day last year, Darren unknowingly deposited a giant seed in my mind when he launched his first video post. He was among the earliest bloggers to give this new media tool a whirl.

While I sat transfixed and watched his introductory video, I literally heard the wheels turning in my mind:

Gosh, how did he make that video?

Would it be possible to subtitle a video post without causing myself a lot of pain and frustration?

Although deaf since birth, I consider myself an expert lip-reader but there was simply no way in high heck I could harness every word Darren was saying, no matter how hard I tried. From the moment my eyes feasted upon his video, those two questions unfurled before me a compelling vision to make video blogging accessible for the masses. With razor sharp focus, I combed through the Internet like Sherlock Holmes, searching for clues.

Despite my enthusiasm, I did not immediately apply what I discovered along the way because I allowed my technical-phobias stop me from taking action. Eventually, I became a little chagrined at having boxed myself into a quandary and woke up one morning, slammed my foot on the bedroom floor and said to no one in particular:

JUST DO IT.

By golly, we have Nike to thank for inspiring us with that one!

As a result, I posted an introductory 2 minute video with subtitles at my blog last week (if you are an RSS or email subscriber, please click the title of today’s post to see it):

As you can see, there’s no need to make your first “perfect” video. Just be honest with your readers and let them know you’re still learning the ropes. They’ll forgive you. You saw how my video ended rather ungracefully. That’s because I still haven’t learned the fine art of editing – it’s on my to-do list. What had happened was that I ran out of battery power but by that point I had done about 10 retakes and knew that if I didn’t end it right then and there, I’d never go through with it. All that mattered was that I (and Darren with his) took the first step, right?

For those of you who have technical phobia, don’t worry. As much as you might want to turn and run away from this challenge, let me reassure you that I present myself as someone who has blatant disregard for user manuals simply because I have a terrible time grasping technical concepts. I don’t even have a Blackberry, never owned a pager and my VCR continues to blink 12:00. For goodness sake, you can’t get any worst than that!

In other words, don’t stress about it because if I can do it, you can too.

10 Steps to Making a Video and Then Adding Subtitles

1. You do not need to buy an exorbitantly expensive digital camcorder. What I used was a compact SONY MPEG4 Net Sharing Cam. When it first came out a year ago, it was selling for $200 but now you can get one for only $149. It comes with a CD-ROM, USB cable, AC Adapter, A/V Connecting Cable and a wrist strap. The best thing about it is that it has a rotatable viewfinder so I could see myself talking. At this point, I’m still experimenting with it. With the exception of some minor inconveniences like the trouble I first had in starting and stopping the recording process, I like it so far (I had to click the start/stop button several times to get it to do what I wanted it to do).

2. Along with the camcorder, I bought a tripod that was small enough to sit on my desk; yet capable of expanding to a larger size for when I want to stand in front of the camcorder. Compact tripods are everywhere – what you want is the one that has a removable plate to screw the SONY camcorder onto the tripod. The tripod was $20.

3. Since the internal memory of the camcorder was only 8 MB, a memory card with at least 1GB was necessary so that I could store my videos and photos. Toward that end, I purchased the Sandisk Memory Stick PRO Duo for about $28.

4. Ten retakes later (looking at the camera took getting used to), all I had to do was to connect the USB cable to the computer and download the video to a Movie Browser program that was previously installed onto my hard drive via the supplied CD-ROM.

5. I then signed up for YouTube (a breeze) and clicked the upload button. (You are asked to browse for and then select the location of your video).

6. Next, I visited Overstream, a do-it-yourself subtitling website, opened a free account and downloaded the YouTube video by filling in its URL. (Note: It also works with Google Videos if you prefer that).

7. With the help of Overstream’s very user-friendly tutorial, I was able to subtitle the video on my very first attempt. Granted, it took me 2 hours to get it just right it but it was a lot easier and more fun than I imagined it would be. Put yourself in my shoes – in order for me to do this, I had to watch the video very closely and read my own lips. Assuming that you have the ability to hear yourself speak, imagine how much easier subtitling would be for you.

8. After I was finally satisfied with the timing of the subtitles, the video was saved on Overstream’s server. You can drive yourself a little crazy here, especially if you are one of those perfectionists – at some point, you just have to stop and say, “Enough, this is the best I can do.” A pop-up box appeared, giving me a link to the embed code and a choice between small, medium and large video sizes – I went for medium.

9. For those of you who use WordPress, you probably already know how taxing it is to embed a video in a post because in order for it to work, you have to remember to first deselect the visual editor option before pasting the video code. To deselect the visual editor, click the “Users” tab within the WP Administrator Panel and then choose the “Your Profile” sub-tab. You’ll find the visual editor box on the upper portion of the page, under Personal Options.

10. Once I deselected the visual editor, I went back to the post and simply embedded the newly subtitled video.

That was it!

Now that I have shown how easy it is to create and subtitle a video, will you join me in a massive worldwide movement to make video blogging more accessible? I’d be humbled and grateful for it and so will countless of other people who rely on the written word to “hear” your video messages.

Until the next time we meet, let me wish you continued success with your blogging endeavors in 2008!

About the Author of this Post: Help and support Stephen by subscribing to his blog at Adversity University to receive inspiring articles about the power of achieving the impossible, overcoming and dealing with adversity in addition to some of the most revealing, in-depth “Stephen Hopson Interviews” of authentic bloggers. He is a former award-winning Wall Street stockbroker turned motivational speaker, author and the first deaf pilot in the world to earn an instrument rating in 2006. Read more about Stephen here.

Building a Blog Plan for Success

Learn How to write a business plan for your blog in this post by Shawn Williamson of DoYouLiveOrSimplyExist.com.

blog-plan.jpgSuccessful businesses create a business plan. It is a road map to establish how the business will operate, its goals, and to be a showpiece for investors when seeking funding. Probloggers can use the same technique to build a successful blog.

A blog plan, like a business plan, is important to give your blog a path to follow, rather than randomly blogging day to day and hoping for success. It will help you plan what your blog will look like and where it is going one year, two years, even five years from now.

Get out a piece of paper, or open a new document. Start with these…

Basic Questions

Why does your blog exist? Is it purely for ego or self-expression? To generate income? To expose yourself and your writing to the world as a method of promoting other ventures? Work out why you are blogging. This will help to determine your goals for the future.

Who are you and why are you uniquely qualified to write this blog? Remember that successful blogs are personal. Blogs that reveal the lives of their writers tend to have more subscribers than blogs that reveal nothing of their writers. The statement you write here will serve to guide you in the coming months. It may help you find your blogging voice. As you grow as a blogger, you may find yourself reflecting back on who you used to be when you started and who you have become.

What are the topic areas this blog will discuss? Be just broad enough to have plenty to write about, but narrow enough to stay within your niche. It’s important to have regular topics rather than complete randomness. Readers who want to read particular topics will come back to your blog again and again. Random posting won’t build a targeted readership.

When will you post? Every day? Twice a week? Determine your posting frequency. Look here and here for inspiration.

Where are you? Do you blog from a certain country or city? Do you travel as you blog? While not specifically required for a good plan, it can help readership identify with you as a “local” or a respected foreign authority.

How will you deliver your messages? Is this a one-person blog, or a multi-blogger magazine-type blog? Will you use a custom theme or modified stock theme? RSS delivery should be a must.

Will you plan your weekly topics, or just shoot from the hip? Consider an editorial calendar to plan your posting schedule, not only through the week, but through the year as well. Having a calendar of upcoming events and holidays makes sure you aren’t scrambling at the last minute for that special St. Patrick’s day entry. :)

If you want to invite guest posts, I suggest having a basic editorial calendar available so a guest blogger can see if you will be covering a subject which they may be interested in writing.

With the basic questions out of the way, now it time to address specifics of how you will succeed.

Monetization

If you hope to generate income from your blog, you will need to address how you will monetize. Some methods are expected, but don’t forget to brainstorm for other ideas.

The Endgame

Many business start with the end in mind. What does the endgame of your blog look like? Do you plan to blog until you are in your 90′s? Or until blogs become unpopular? Or maybe you plan to sell your blog when it reaches the pinnacle of it’s popularity?

Having the end in mind will guide how you will build your blog. For example, if you end goal is to sell, how will you extricate yourself from your blog after the sale? Will it be a sudden shift of writers or will you stay onboard for a while? If you know you want to sell and need to extricate yourself easily, maybe you would build the blog using many guest writers, or even write under a pseudonym which another writer can take over.

Building the roadmap

Once you have laid the foundation for your blog business, the day to day operations, topics and goals should be much easier.


Shawn Williamson is a Salt Lake City writer who found that he has squandered most of his days by living on autopilot. He documents his journey of escaping the rat race at DoYouLiveOrSimplyExist.com. His writing has attracted an astounding 8 subscribers. Visitors are always welcome.

Can Poor Writing Skills Overshadow Good Content?

In this post Daniel Scocco answers to another question from the Problogger Question Box. Vivienne asks:

Can poor writing skills overshadow good content?

Considering that I am not a native English speaker, I wish that the answer to this question was “no.” Unfortunately the opposite seems to be true; poor writing skills do can affect your otherwise witty and useful content.

Grammatical mistakes, misspelled words, incorrect punctuation and poorly structured sentences can make your content confusing, if not utterly unreadable. If you then consider the fact that we have hundreds of blogs on every niche these days, you can see that the writing quality could be the difference between a loyal and a lost reader.

Now one could say: “well, but I know a blogger that has thousands of readers and makes thousands of dollars monthly, yet he does not have superb writing skills and his content is often crippled with grammatical mistakes.”

Similar cases do exist, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. Additionally, if you pay attention to these bloggers, you will notice that their blogs do not represent their main business, and that they are seen as experts on their niches. The authority factor over-weights poor writing skills.

Suppose you have an online marketing guru that is able to generate thousands of dollars in revenues from his activities. People would be interested in his ideas and tips, regardless of how they are presented.

If you are a superstar on your niche, therefore, perhaps you could get away with frequent grammatical mistakes and poor writing skills (and even in that situation improving the writing quality would only benefit you). If you are in the middle of the pack like most of us, however, you probably should pay attention to your words and sentences more closely.

Don’t get me wrong here; I am not arguing that one should be able to write Shakespearean novels to be a successful blogger. But at the very minimum you want to respect the basic grammatical rules and avoid misspelled words.

How does one improve his writing skills, though? Below you will find 3 points that can help you with this task.

1. Avoid the common mistakes

The Pareto principle states that for many events 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This principle holds true to writing as well. I would say that 80% of what people write incorrectly come from 20% of all the possible mistakes. That is, we are talking about a small number of common mistakes that people repeat over and over again.

What are these common mistakes? Its for it’s, alot for a lot, your for you’re, their for they’re, affect for effect and so on. Copyblogger is a wonderful resource for this topic, and the three links below should get you started.

Related links:

2. Proofread

I would say that over-emphasizing the importance of proofreading would be a very difficult task. I try to proofread twice all my articles and text pieces, and still once in a while a typo appears.

Sure, proofreading is not what one would call a pleasant activity, but it is necessary. Additionally, if you make it a habit and adopt some clever strategies, you will see that it will consume less time and it will become less of a pain.

On the links below you will find several strategies and tips that you can use to make your proofreading and editing sessions more effective.

Related links:

3. Expand your vocabulary and master the grammar basics

Regardless of your profession, the ability to write and communicate in a clear and concise fashion is essential. In order to do so, however, you need to have a vast vocabulary and a solid understanding of the basic grammar rules.

There are several resources and books that you can use for that purpose. On the links below you will find a newsletter that delivers one word every day to your inbox, the BBC resource website dedicated to people that want to learn the English language and the Wikipedia page for English grammar.

Related links:

This post was written by Daniel Scocco from the wonderful Daily Blog Tips (a blog on my daily read list that should be on yours too).

The Ultimate Guide To Networking With Bloggers

Learn how to Network with other Bloggers and grow your readership in this post by Alex Shalman from AlexShalman.com.

networking-with-bloggers.jpegNetworking online and in person are like twins with different personalities. You’re ultimately trying to do the same thing, which is build a connection and form a relationship. At the same time your using different tools and executing different strategies.

In order to make a great impression, and create an amazing relationship, you’re going to have to be a certain type of person and do a few things you might not normally do. This isn’t an exercise in being fake, rather it’s an attempt to get yourself out there, in order to shine a spot light on the extraordinary you.

Here is a list of everything you need to be a successful networker. Remember, bloggers are all people, just like you. With that said, this is not just a guide for networking with bloggers, but with people as a whole.

The Mentality

  1. Have the best intentions. You might be really good at faking it, but essentially your intentions will become transparent. Try on the idea of operating with the greatest good of all in mind. Whether you’re contacting someone for a favor, partnership, or just to make a friend, you must consider how the interaction will be a win-win.
  2. Respect their time. Make the assumption that whoever you’re talking to is an extremely important, and busy person. Do not contact them with a long-winded 5 page essay with a million details, about something that is vitally important to you, but may not have any signficance to them. Be concise and get to the point.
  3. Be genuine with them. Be very transparent in what you want right off the bat. If you manipulate a person into giving you their attention, and than spring something major on them, they will most certainly not appreciate it. You might get what you want, but it won’t be ethical, and you won’t have a lasting relationship.
  4. Give more than you take. Do not be a leach that sucks away someones time and resources. Be willing to offer more of your time and service than you are expecting to receive. I know this sounds like a cliche, but it’s more fulfilling to give, than to receive, and it’s a better way to make friends too.
  5. Keep them at eye level. People feel uncomfortable if you put them on a pedestal and they resent being talked down to. By talking to someone as if they are just like you, you build a stronger connection and sense of reporte. You’ll find people opening up, speaking casually, and possibly becoming a friend.
  6. Have unshakable confidence, and ask. Most contacts are not approached, and deals are not made, not because someone got rejected, but because they did not ask in the first place. This should have been rule number one. Take the first step, write that comment, or that e-mail, and believe in yourself.
  7. Be presentable on search. When contacting someone for the first time, the chances of them googling your name are pretty high these days. Make sure you give them something good to find, other than a myspace page with drunken pics. Have a weblog set up to showcase who you are and what you do.
  8. Treat them the way they want to be treated. This is more important than treating someone the way you want to be treated. This is the ultimate form of showing someone you understand them, and are willing to give them what they need. It requires a little bit of proactive listening on your part.

The Tools

  1. Comment on their blog. The amazing part about blogging is our readers can give us direct feedback on what was just published. You can take advantage of this by leaving relevant, intelligent, insightful, and thought-provoking comments on their blog. They will notice.
  2. Trackback conversations. A step further than commenting is answering what they said on your own blog, with more detail, and using a trackback to notify them. Bloggers are generally big fans of positive conversations about them, and love being linked to.
  3. The short e-mail. Keeping in mind what we discussed in the mentality section, you are now ready to craft the perfect e-mail. Remember, once they’ve read it, they have formulated a first impression of you, so make it count.
  4. Skype it or cell it. Over a year ago I was e-mailing one of my blogger friends Liz Strauss, and she randomly asked for my number and called me. She has become one of my strongest blog contacts, and also a dear friend. Her approach worked. Talking to a person, and getting to know them, is the ultimate way to network.
  5. Networking events. Part stalker, part fan, I traveled to New York City TWICE to meet up with Darren. I genuinely wanted to connect with him, and I think I’ve been able to accomplish that goal. There is nothing better than networking off-line. Bloggers are more than just a web page, they’re people, just like you and I.
  6. Other tools. There are many other communication tools out there, such as instant messengers and twitter, that help facilitate speedy conversations. New methods of communicating are coming out at a rate that seems daily. It’s always good to explore, and take new things into account, but never forget the fundamentals!

Photo by b_d_Solis

Alex Shalman writes about personal development, communication, blogging, success, and happiness on his popular site AlexShalman.com (RSS). He created the Happiness Project series of interviews with notable bloggers like Darren Rowse by using the networking techniques outlined above.