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Finding New Readers for Your Blog with Guest Posting

Blog-Promotion - Guest PostingThis week I’m looking at five ways that I’d promote a new blog to new readers if i was starting out again. Read the introduction to this series here.

Perhaps one of the most powerful ways of exposing your writing to a new group of people is to put some of your best content on other peoples blogs – and not your own.

Guest Posts have long been a feature of blogging but it has been in the last year or two that I’ve really seen some wonderful examples of bloggers launching their own blogs and raising their own profiles through focussing their attention on writing guest posts on other blogs.

Names that come to mind of bloggers who I’ve seen do this brilliantly include Leo Babauta from Zen Habits (who has been a prolific guest poster and who has grown his blog to 37,000+ subscribers), Skellie from Skelliewag.org and Anywired and ChrisG. These three bloggers (and many others) have consistently put some of their best content on other people’s blogs over the last year and have seen tangible benefits from doing it.

Giving Your Best Content Away

While it might seem a little odd to put your best posts on another person’s blog it is something that does pay off.

Keep in mind that last week we talked about the best way to get people to convince people that you’ll write great content in future is to show them great content now. While you can keep showing your regular readers great content on your blog – the best way to show people who’ve never heard of you your best stuff is to go where they’re already gathering – on other people’s blogs.

Keys to Successful Guest Posting Campaigns:

I’ve seen a lot of people attempt to use Guest Posts as a means to promote their own blog with varied rates of success. Here are a few tips that I’d give for doing it most effectively:

1. Pick Blogs Strategically – one of the best things that you can do to increase the effectiveness of a Guest Post campaign is to choose the right blogs. The key is to find blogs that have the type of readership that you want and that are on topics that will have some sort of cross over with your blog. Obviously blogs with large readerships are good – but I would argue that a smaller blog with a more relevant readership would be more effective than a large one with little relevance.

2. Repeat Posts - build a relationship with the readers of the blog that you’re writing for my writing regularly for it. Of course this is not always easy (and depends upon the blogger who you are writing guest posts for being open to this) but each time you write a post on another blog you reinforce your own brand, expertise and authority in the mind of their readers.

3. Multiple Blogs – a lesson that we can learn from the three bloggers that I’ve mentioned above is that they each have blogged regularly on multiple blogs in a niche. In doing so they exposed themselves to a wider audience but also reinforced their brand as many of those blogs would have been read by the same readers.

4. Defined Time – one thing that I’ve noticed particularly about Leo’s guest posting is that he seemed to engage in the practice for defined times and in ‘bursts’ of guest posting. He used guest posts to launch his profile in a niche but then drew back a little in order to work on his own projects – then went on another ‘burst’ to launch his next project or give his older ones another round of promotion. This makes a lot of sense to me.

5. Keep Working on Your Own Blog – it is absolutely essential that you not only focus on producing exceptional quality posts on other people’s blogs but also your own. The key is to put great content on other people’s blogs to get attention and to have them check out your own blog – but to have content on your own blog that engages them and gives them reason to subscribe to your blog. I’ve seen a number of bloggers do brilliantly at writing for other people’s blogs but have seen their own blogs suffer as a result. It could be a wise thing to plan the posts on your own blog before you start a guest posting campaign.

6. Don’t Burn Yourself Out - another mistake that I’ve seen from a few guest posters is that they end up burning themselves out by overloading themselves with guest posting appearances. The result of this is that their own blog can suffer but also they can run out of ideas for new posts if they are posting on too many blogs in a niche. The key is to walk the fine line between being prolific but also keeping yourself fresh and able to sustain your posting for the long haul.

Have you tried guest posting on other people’s blogs? What did you learn?

I’ve explored this topic further in posts like How to Get Guest Blogging Jobs and How to Be a Good Guest Blogger.

Want to Win 1,700 Visitors? Review Vista Rewired

This week’s community consultation of Vista Rewired gives you the chance to win something very good for your blog: 1,700 visitors! Leave a helpful review with some non-intuitive tips in your comment and you could win a stampede of 1,700 StumbleUpon users to your favorite post. If your content is good, those 1,700 visitors could grow into a much bigger traffic snowball as votes for your content pile up.

What we’re looking for: a thorough review of the blog answering all the questions below and containing some non-intuitive advice. That’s all you’ve got to do to be in the running. There will be only one winner.

UPDATE: Albert has offered a few prizes to sweeten the pot!

1. The Top 3 Reviews will win a sponsored link in the blog’s sidebar for one month. The blog is PR 5!
2. The runner-up review will win  500 visitors to their blog!

The blog’s owner, Albert, describes the blog like this:

Vista Rewired was designed to help Vista users get the full experience out of their operating system. There are numerous tutorials and tips to help them solve computer problems or make their life easier with Windows Vista. My ultimate goal is for the site to become the de facto site for Vista information.

The blog’s owner has asked for feedback on the following areas (you can answer one, some, or all questions):

  • How can I max monetization on my blog without filling it up with too many ads?
  • If you can, please tell me one thing my site is missing. (I don’t know if this question can be worded better.)
  • My returning visitors are less than 10%. Is this normal for a site such as mine? If no, how can I increase the rate of returning vistors other than writing more often?

And the standard five points:

  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We look forward to your helpful and respectful advice. Good luck!

How I’d Promote My Blog If I Were Starting Out Again

Blog PromotionToday I want to explore a ‘secret’ of growing the readership of a blog.

A few weeks ago I explored how to increase the number of subscribers on your blog through creating anticipation. The more people anticipate that they’ll get something of value from your blog in the future the more likely they are to want to come back and subscribe.

The problem is that you can create anticipation on your blog as much as you like without increasing your readership one iota if you don’t also do what I’m going to share with you today.

I touched on this ‘secret’ last November in a post titled Blog Promotion: Are You Preaching to the Converted? but let me summarize the mistake that I see many bloggers (big and small) running into when they’re promoting their blogs.

The Problem of Preaching to the Converted

The mistake that I think many of us make in our blog promotion is that we continue to promote our subscription methods to the same people – those who have already subscribed to it – our regular readers.

We’re preaching to the converted – or to use another analogy we’re mining the same patch of dirt over and over again.

Some Promotion to the Loyal is OK

Now I’m not arguing with this post that you shouldn’t talk about your subscription methods to regular readers or that they should never see your invitations to subscribe (promoting your methods of subscription prominently is an important technique in building RSS subscriber numbers) – however doing it to your regular readers will have a diminishing conversion rate the more you do it.

Perhaps the most public example of this was in the post that I linked to above where I observed that John Chow and Shoemoney’s competition to increase subscriber numbers seemed to largely pitched to their current readers – however I see daily examples of how many bloggers do this (and have done it myself).

Example One - I once followed a blogger who writes a post each week which promotes their subscription methods.
Example Two - I follow another blog that has an invitation to subscribe to it’s RSS feed actually in the footer of every post on that same RSS feed.

While I do encourage you to post about subscription methods (see point #2 here) – the more you do this the less impact it will have over time. In fact the more you do it the more you run the risk of annoying your regular readers (illustrated by the point that I no longer read the blog in example 1 above).

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s ok to preach to the converted a little (it does work) but your main efforts when it comes to promoting your blog should be happening OFF your blog.

If you really want to grow your blog’s subscriber count you need to find new potential readers to draw in.

Another Obvious Secret

Yes this is another obvious piece of knowledge – yet it’s something that many of us fail to understand and live out. We continue to dig in the same patch of dirt expecting our blogs to grow.

So How Do You Expose Your Blog to NEW Readers?

Ok – so the ‘secret’ is to keep your blog promotion efforts more OFF your blog on readers that you’re yet to connect with rather than those that area already loyal – but how do you do it?

I will say up front that as easy as the principle is in practice it’s a lot harder. Getting word out about your blog to new groups of readers is not easy – however unless you make a concerted effort to get yourself out there your subscriber count will remain slow (at best).

How I’d Promote My Blog If I Were Starting Out Again

I’m regularly asked how I’d promote my blog if I was starting out again today and didn’t have the profile that I currently have. This week I want to answer that question with a series of posts – all of which are focused upon this topic of finding NEW readers.

I’m going to cover five areas that I’d focus upon as a new blogger attempting to give my blog a start. I hope you find them useful.

5 Ways to Promote Your Blog – the Series So Far

  1. Guest Posting
  2. Networking
  3. Advertising
  4. Social Media
  5. Viral Content

The Top 5 Recommendations for Furniture Fashion

It’s that time of the week where I try to shrink down dozens of in-depth reviews into five actionable points resulting from our community consultation. This week we held Furniture Fashion under the magnifying glass. You can head back to its launch post if you want to read the reviews in detail.

Before we start, congratulations must go to Bruce for winning our 1,700 StumbleUpon visitor prize for the best review. He asked an incredibly important question: what’s your focus? Are you a catalog, or an interior design blog? The answer will inform a lot of the steps John Cavers and his blogging partner take from here.

Here were the top 5 recommendations made by the ProBlogger readers who critiqued Furniture Fashion:

1. The interplay between niche and design

A number of viewers felt the design seemed messy and visually unimpressive. There is little padding between elements (making things seem squashed together), and the color scheme of green, white, red, blue and black doesn’t seem to mesh well. The blog’s niche makes this more of an issue. Interior design is an aesthetics oriented industry and I suspect most readers would question a design blog that doesn’t express a sense of the aesthetic in its own design.

Because of the blog’s magazine-style content, I’d suggest switching to an elegant magazine theme like Futurosity EOS. Having said that, if the existing design is working well in terms of monetization, a few simple tweaks would make it a lot better.

1. More padding between the content, sidebar and header, and more space between items. The lack of padding makes it difficult for the eye to isolate specific elements.
2. A simplified color scheme, without the bright blue (orange might work as a replacement).

2. New ways to make money

Some reviewers wisely suggested entering into furniture affiliate programs to sell items directly from your posts. Another option would be eBay or Amazon affiliate programs to sell homewares and smaller, more shippable decorative items.

Another common theme was the color and position of the AdSense ads in the sidebar. Most notably, that the ads were bright blue — a color not found anywhere else in the blog. My suggestion would be to pick a unique color that matches the theme (a reddy orange, perhaps).

3. Boosting your content

Even if the blog contains mainly catalog style content, it’s still possible to mix this up with posts that could do well on social media. For this niche, I’d suggest:

  • Top 10 lists of weird or cutting edge furniture.
  • Photographic profiles of famous interior designers and their work.
  • Collections of themed tips on interior design.

4. Boosting traffic and subscribers

Catalog-style content can be fantastic for generating well-targeted AdSense, but it usually receives a lukewarm response in terms of long-term loyalty and repeat readership. This type of content is unlikely to gather traffic through social media and links. I’d suggest focusing on SEO and keywords within posts and headlines. Without the hope of social media traffic on catalog-style content, there’s little motivation to write headlines with flair — just go for well optimized ones. Working the full formal product name into headlines is a great way to attract cut and paste searchers doing research and price comparisons.

As for increasing subscribers, I would suggest either not worrying about them (they don’t really aid on-site monetization), or creating more value-packed content. Catalog content attracts curious browsers researching items they’re interested in buying, but it’s not great for attracting long-term, loyal readers. If the aim of the blog is to serve as an online business, though, this might not be so important. The importance of subscribers will depend on your goals.

5. Building a community

Catalog style content works well for making money through PPC ads, but it’s lackluster when it comes to creating a community and comment culture on a blog. To change the culture among your readers, you need to change your content.

  • Give advice.
  • Provide opinions and analysis — something readers can add their thoughts to.
  • Post three items of furniture and ask readers to vote which one they like best.
  • Create discussion posts: i.e. “What was the last piece of furniture you bought?”
  • Take questions from readers and answer them in-post.
  • Write reviews with pros and cons. This will encourage readers to chime in with their thoughts.

Concluding thoughts

Overall, ProBlogger readers felt Furniture Fashion was monetizing well but remained unconvinced about the blog’s design and focus. We wish John a lot of luck in implementing the changes!

5 Teaching Techniques that will Improve your Blogging

TeacherIn this post Leslie Madsen-Brooks explores 5 teaching techniques that bloggers might like to explore to connect with their readers

The best teachers–from first-grade teachers to university instructors–employ some simple techniques that bloggers can use to their advantage.

image by Patrick Q

Here are five of my favorites:

1. Find unexpected common ground.

A couple years ago, I was standing in front of a classroom of 100 college students immersed in small-group discussions. Try as I might, I had a hard time getting them to reconvene. So I pulled out a trick I had seen elementary school teachers use. I took a deep breath and said, “One, two, three–eyes on me!” About a dozen students responded with “One, two–eyes on you!” — an effect that astonished us all and allowed us to share a laugh. Many of my students had been conditioned years ago to respond to that simple rhyme, and they were surprised to see the technique had made its way around the state and the country, that it wasn’t unique to their own first- or second-grade experiences.

Similarly, I’m always delighted when I find a blogger who establishes novel common ground among his or her diverse readers. Sometimes that connection is ridiculously simple and tied to Internet pop culture, such as a recent post on the fabulous professorial blog Edge of the American West called I CAN HAZ SPLENDID WAR?. I didn’t care much about the sinking of the Maine in 1898, but the post title’s reference to LOLcats made me read on, and I was tricked–tricked, I tell you!–into placing history into a contemporary perspective and vice versa.

2. Offer points for participation.

At my university, faculty can’t grade students on attendance. One way, therefore, to get students to come to class is to offer incentives for participation (or, some would say, punitive consequences for non-participation). Each student’s final grade in any of my classes, therefore, depends a good deal on how much–and well–he or she contributes to class discussion. Students appreciate it when faculty weave student contributions into the fabric of a lecture or class discussion.

Bloggers do much the same thing when they pull a reader contribution from the comments and make it the inspiration–or even reason–for a new post. It’s a way of driving a conversation into different direction but it also rewards readers who leave quality comments.

3. Know every student’s name by the second day of class.

In a large lecture class, this tactic may be beyond the capability of most faculty. But when I have classes of 25-50 students, I try to learn their names as quickly as possible, usually by letting them introduce themselves while I madly take notes on their appearance and their quirks so that I can remember them in the next class period. (A colleague of mine uses Facebook to study her students’ photos.)

If someone stops by your blog and comments meaningfully or comments several times in a short span of time, drop her a line to thank her for her participation and to welcome her to the community. Take notes on what your commenters say so you can refer back to them when the opportunity arises. Even better, go leave comments on your reader’s blog. In the corner of the blogosphere I frequent, there are 100 or so blogs where the commenters all seem to know one another’s stories. It’s a powerful community that came about through reciprocal links and comments.

4. Give meaningful, fun homework assignments.

At my university, we’re on a 10-week quarter system. Science students begin taking “midterms” during week 2-3 of the quarter. Accordingly, science majors enrolled in my courses are tempted to stop doing the reading assignments at this time. To encourage them to read, I make sure to provide interesting homework and in-class assignments that require students to read all the course texts and come prepared to talk about them. Students are rewarded for doing the reading when they come to class and receive the respect of their peers for contributing meaningfully to our conversations.

Blog contests and challenges provide similar stimulus for reader involvement. Right now I’m very much enjoying how Dave Navarro is blogging his way through Christine O’Kelly’s e-book on freelance writing. He hasn’t explicitly given homework to his readers, but I’m inspired to follow along just the same, especially since I purchased O’Kelly’s book.

More explicitly in this vein, Darren offered his readers a 31-day course in building a better blog, complete with such homework as link up to a competitor and do a search engine optimization audit on your blog.

5. Be interdisciplinary.

While teaching, it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of your discipline. For example, just about everyone in your department might use the same textbook for a particular course, so all students get stuck learning the same material from the same source in the same way. But if you’re in chemistry and your students are looking a bit bored, you can liven up your discussion of sugar versus saccharin by tossing in some history of how sugar was rationed in the U.S. during WWII in part so that candy bars and other sugary treats could be sent to U.S. soldiers, whom, it was believed, needed sugar for energy. Saccharin, in the form of saccharin pills, therefore became a necessary sugar substitute–and a chic accessory on middle-class dining tables. Paint a humorous picture for your students of 1950s housewives using teeny tiny prongs to pick up saccharin tablets from bejeweled, turtle-shaped saccharin containers, and your students have a new context for their learning.

Similarly, if you blog in, say, the internet marketing niche, it’s easy to simply re-blog the same techniques everyone else is using and to promote the same affiliate programs. Why not branch out into another discipline or field–online or off–in order to bring new perspective to your readers? What, for example, are librarians doing to help clients better find the information they need? What can you learn about keyword searches and keyword research from their techniques?

Leslie Madsen-Brooks helps a broad spectrum of clients–including university faculty, K-12 schools, museums, and businesses–develop better learning experiences online and off. Among other venues, she blogs at Museum Blogging and The Multicultural Toy Box.

Staying on the cutting edge: OpenID for bloggers

The following post on OpenID was submitted by Yung Chin from YC’s Ramblings.

openid_big_logo.pngUndoubtedly you’ve seen the icon shown here appear in the comments section of many Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, and MovableType blogs recently. What it means: “this site is OpenID enabled”. In case you’ve missed all the news buzz on it, OpenID is the up-and-coming universal login technology, bound to become as ubiquitous as email.

While that sounds like future-talk, let me convince you that for blogging specifically, it makes a lot of sense to start using OpenID today. In short: your comments on others’ blogs will look more professional, having your verified signature, and you can offer that same convenience to your visitors, while also keeping commenting on your blog easy.

What it does

I’ll skip telling you what OpenID does in general – here’s a scenario specific to the context of blogging: visitors that want to comment on your blog can use the address of their own blog to verify their identity.

  • your visitors enter their comment and their blog address
  • your blog server connects to their blog server
  • their own blog server checks that it’s really them (by login)
  • their blog server confirms this to your blog server
  • their comment gets a confirmed link back to their own blog

See how convenient this is? You only ever have to login at your own blog, and you’re automatically allowed to comment on any other OpenID-enabled blog. For an illustrated introduction, there are walk-throughs at eg. Blogger and WordPress.

Just to be clear, you won’t replace your regular commenting system. OpenID login is merely an optional convenience you’re adding. Oh and, although I’m focusing on bloggers, commenting also gets more convenient for visitors who don’t blog but do have an OpenID.

Credibility

By now you may be wondering how relevant the whole OpenID thing is. If its support in Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, and MovableType (in that interview by Darren, Anil Dash puts it among their top ten features!) isn’t convincing enough, recent coverage at eg. News.com, BBC News, and ITBusinessEdge will tell you that all the biggest players in the web services space are on top of it, including Yahoo, Google, and AOL. What’s best is that the OpenID foundation is a non-profit that ensures the technology is freely available to anyone – including you.

OpenID keeps you out of the spam filter

Spam blocking firm Defensio suggest that your use of OpenID may simplify comment spam filtering. Here’s the idea: if you consistently use your OpenID to comment on blogs, spam filters like Defensio’s will learn that you don’t spam people. Thus, your contributions will never be accidentally marked as spam. And as a blog host, you can be a bit less worried that valuable contributions from your readers got stuck in your backlog of spam awaiting moderation. Saves you work!

Signed communications: a professional touch

Put in other words, OpenID allows you to tell another blogger “it’s really me, the author of (insert your blog), commenting here”, because indeed you can prove to them that you are the owner of your blog. I think that’s the closest thing to an official signature that the blogging world has yet seen.

If blogging is your profession, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to be professional in your communications, to actually sign the messages you leave on other blogs, and to more officially say “I’m backing my statements”? So now you can.

Make leaving comments smoother than ever

Let’s recap all this. Why was requiring a login annoying for your readers? They’d have to create a new account, and then remember that later on. So now you don’t require logins, but use aggressive spam filtering instead. As a result, many comments go into a moderation queue.

When you give visitors the option to use their OpenID, they won’t need to create an account and logins are mostly automatic, while they’ll still get the benefit of being recognized by the spam filter. In addition, you’re giving them the opportunity to come across more professionally, in the same way other bloggers are offering that to you.

Getting set up

The little technicalities of setting your blog up for OpenID of course depend on your blogging platform. All I’ll say is that it is typically rather simple – see eg. this description of installing a WordPress plugin.

If your blog is hosted by one of the big blog providers, you’re probably only a click in the configuration panel away of getting it going. If you host your blog yourself, a query for OpenID on the help pages of your favourite blogging platform should get you a long way. Short of that, here are some links into the OpenID community. And do ask questions, too!

In closing

OpenID as a technology provides much more than I could show you here. In some other context, it might for example make sense to use not your blog but your Flickr account as your OpenID to say “I really own these photos”. So in case you thought you’d just learned everything: it was really only the start. Have lots of fun!

How to Deal with Blog Hecklers

The following post on dealing with blog hecklers was submitted by Jonathan Fields.

Blog-HecklersI was only a few weeks into my blogging adventure when I took my first very public thrashing at the feet of another much more established blogger. I’d written a round-up column, featuring insights from a wide variety of top bloggers on off-blog marketing.

A number of suggestions included developing relationships with more established bloggers. The very notion that anyone might connect with other bloggers, though, and derive some secondary marketing benefit really ticked off some hardcore traditionalists…and their really big followings.

In fact, one was so enraged, he posted a response to my article on his blog tearing not just into the content of the article and the people featured in it, but me, personally. And, while a number of his readers left comments on my blog, his comment section really caught fire.

I ended up being called names that, only three-weeks into blogging, made me seriously re-think whether I really wanted to keep going.

But, after stepping back, I decided to continue on and accept the fact that one of the elements of blogging that makes it so compelling is the opportunity for everyone to have a voice. And, sometimes that includes what I’ve come to call blog or comment-heckling.

If I was going to continue, I decided, I’d need to develop some reasonable framework for being able to categorize the different types of blog-heckling, then decide what was worth responding to and how.

Here’s what I came up with as my golden rule…

Try to get to the underlying intent of the commenter.

If you find yourself or your ideas being attacked in a comment or even a post on someone else’s blog, it’s important to try to understand what the commenter is trying to accomplish by voicing her/his opinion. This will go a long way toward letting you figure out how best to respond, if at all:

The genuine thrasher.

Some people literally spend the better part of each day looking for a fight. It makes them come alive. And, very often, with the added separation of the screen, people feel even freer to let loose online.

These folks often look to provoke a fight and seek an active response as fuel to escalate the fight. They’re less interested in a genuine conversation or debate and more interested in just venting, proving dominance and ranting.

A quick click over to their blog or search for comments they’ve left on other blogs will usually reveal this pattern on a broader level.

My advice, here, is to make a conscious choice, based on your temperament and what result you’d like to achieve. If you are someone who shies away from conflict, you may want to explore either ignoring the attack with reply or simply replying one time, responding only to any relevant point or arguments in a respectful way and leaving the conversation at that. If they feel to the need to escalate, just disengage.

If, however, you’ve got a bit more sass in your step and are someone who’s comfy with conflict, then go ahead and engage…BUT, take the higher ground, keep it civil and attack the issues, not the person. Yes, I know emotional fights and rants can drive traffic, but, in the end, the net result is not all that constructive.

The PR thrasher.

Similar to the above, but some folks will actually provoke a comment war in attempt to drive traffic or publicity to their own blog or website.

One big giveaway here would be to check out the heckler’s blog, then search on them, especially the link text they used in your comments and see if they are using this same tactic in other more highly-trafficked blogs.

If they consistently link back to a newer, less-trafficked blog when they leaves thrasher comments or have a pattern of leaving highly-provocative comments on other higher-traffic blogs, you’ve likely got a PR thrasher. My advice is to pretty much ignore them. The more engage, the more you give them what they want and more often they’ll return.

The debater.

Similar to the genuine thrasher, some people just love to debate and, if they disagree with your point of view, they want the opportunity to be heard and have a discussion on the merits.

The difference between debaters and thrashers is a genuine desire to discuss an issue with a stronger emphasis on intelligent conversation and, if possible, resolution. It’s not about the fight, it’s not about abusing or disempowering anyone…it’s about the conversation.

You can usually tell the difference between the debater and thrasher by the tone of their language, their focus more on the message, rather than the messenger, and their openness to a continuing, civil discussion. It’s not about name-calling or belittling, it’s about exploring issues with respect.

Debaters can be great contributors to the community as well as help you refine your own point of view and learn new information.

The Joker.

Some people look at your comment-section as their weekly comic relief and chime in with jokes about you or your content. And, I have to admit, sometimes, they can be really funny and a welcome addition (or distraction from) the discussion.

Other times, though, they don’t really add anything, save an opportunity to hurl a bit of smack at either a blogger or another commenter.

I look at these comments on a case-by-case basis and, though I rarely ever delete any comment, if something is so irrelevant to the discussion, off-color or offensive that I think it genuinely adds nothing or, worse, propagates hate, I’ll seriously consider going beyond ignoring it to deleting it. Genuine hate, bigotry or prejudice is not something I want to provide a forum for.

Trust in the community.

A final thought. Once your community grows large enough, very often, if you give them enough time, your supporters and fans will rally to your cause in the comments. In fact, they may even engage a blog-heckler, where you’d rather have just let a comment die a slow, unacknowledged death. At that point, you have to decide whether to step back and gently moderate or take a more active role in the direction of the conversation.

In the end, it’s important to circle back to one critical understanding…

Compelling blogging requires a willingness to have and share a voice.

When you do that, you not only draw attention, you inspire conversation. And, there will always be people willing to oppose your point of view in a effort to further their agendas. Sometimes, those agendas are constructive. Other times, not. When this happens, it helps to have a strategy to deal with how and when to respond.

Over time, my guess is we all develop a set of comment-heckler coping tools that allow us to keep sharing strong opinions. Without those tools, it’s just too easy to slip into fluff in an effort ot avoid having to deal with any conflict.

And, by all means, if you have found any other techniques effective, please share them, along with your thoughts, in the comments. Heckle away!

image by Simon Kimber

SXSW – Where I MIGHT Be

A few people have asked where I’ll be at SXSW this week. The following is a shortlist of sessions that I have on my ‘might go’ list. If you’re there and see me – do say G’day!

Friday, 7 March 2008

03:30PM How to Rawk SXSW: The Basics (18ABCD)
04:30PM Book Reading: Radically Transparent: Monitoring & Managing Reputations Online (Day Stage)

Saturday, 8 March 2008
10:00AM Quit Your Day Job and Vlog (12AB)
11:30AM Sponsored Panel: Managing Communities That Work (5)
02:00PM Opening Remarks with Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson (A)
03:30PM The Art of Speed: Conversations With Monster Makers (18ABCD)
03:30PM 10 Things We’ve Learned at 37signals (A)
05:00PM A General Theory of Creative Relativity (A)
05:00PM Social Network Coups: The Users are Revolting! (19AB)

Sunday, 9 March 2008
10:00AM Online Advertising for Newbies (10) (I’m on the panel of this one)
11:30AM Core Conversation: 10 Easy Ways To Piss Off A Blogger (And Other Mistakes Marketers Make) (Ballroom E)
11:30AM Core Conversation: Blog on Company Time Without Getting Dooced (Ballroom E)
11:30AM Core Conversation: Blogging for Dollars – Blogging’s a Profession? (Ballroom E)
11:30AM Core Conversation: “I’m Internet Famous”: Status in Social Media (Ballroom E)
02:00PM Keynote Interview with Mark Zuckerberg (A)
03:30PM Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users (A)
03:30PM Blogs, Buzz, and Buddy Lists (12AB)
05:00PM LOLWUT? Why Do I Keep Coming Back to This Website? (18ABCD)
05:00PM SEO 3.0: Optimizing Search & Social for 2008 and Beyond (A)

Monday, 10 March 2008
10:00AM Beyond the Blogosphere: How Online Talent is Being Developed Offline (12AB)
10:00AM The Art of Self-Branding (A)
11:30AM Social Networking and Your Brand (B)
11:30AM Core Conversation: Your Blog Is A Niche Community (Ballroom E)
12:30PM The Weblog Awards Ceremony (Day Stage)
02:00PM Monday Keynote: Frank Warren (A)
03:30PM Online Adulation: Use Don’t Abuse Your Fans (8)

Tuesday, 11 March 2008
10:00AM Book Reading: Blogging for Dummies, 2nd Edition (Day Stage)
10:00AM Future of Corporate Blogs (A)
10:30AM Book Reading: WordPress for Dummies (Day Stage)
11:30AM Independent Success: Bloggers Who Made It (A)

Elite Retreat adds Matt Mullenweg

Elite Retreat is almost sold out and the more I hear about this year’s event the more I like it. They’ve just added Matt Mullenweg to the already amazing line up – they’ve got limo pickups for attendees, have a top notch dinner for the first night and Jeremy says that they’re giving speakers Macbook Air laptops (I wonder if they’ll give one to speakers from last year!?!). If you have the money – this is an amazing thing to get along to. I wrote more about it here.