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Who Wants to Learn How to Make Web Videos That Sell?

Webvideo-UniversityI’m starting a new course this week (as a student) – it’s called WebVideo University.

Over the past 6 or so so months I’ve been experimenting more and more with using Video on my blog. It started out with just an experiment or two but the response from readers was so encouraging that I set myself the goal of running weekly (or as it turned out every second week) video posts.

Like I say – the response has been wonderful – there have been numerous benefits:

  • For starters I’ve noticed a lot of new readers commenting on the blog. It seems that video connects with a different kind of reader. While some prefer text others prefer audio/visual teaching.
  • It’s added a more personal dynamic to the blog – when I was at the SXSW conference earlier in the year I had a lot of people come up to me because they recognized me from the video and had a lot of comments along the lines of ‘I feel like I know you from your videos’.
  • It allows me to express myself in ways I’d not really been able to do before with just written words and still images. Being able to use body language and different tones of voice enables a different level of communication.

The problem with video on a blog is that it is a lot of work. It also means learning a new skills set and spending a lot of time on things like filming and editing – time that I would previously have put into other core blogging tasks.

I personally think that there is a lot I could learn to improve my video so recently when David Kaminski from WebVideo University contacted me to see if I’d be interested in promoting his video making course I told him that I wasn’t interested in promoting it – but instead I was interested in DOING IT.

If you’d like to join me in some learning the course starts on 1 May. It’s short notice (I’m sorry, I was meaning to promote this earlier but it’s been a crazy few weeks) but I’m sure some of you will have time to leap into it.

The course goes for 4 weeks in a ‘virtual classroom’ where you log in to get your classes (video based lessons – what else would you expect in a course like this).

The course isn’t just focused on producing talking head videos but has more of a sales angle to it (creating web videos that sell/web commercials).

I’m looking forward to starting the course tomorrow – hope to see some of you as classmates!

Google Page Rank Updating…. But….

This is a short post that might hopefully stop the flood of emails that I’ve been getting for the last 24 hours:

Google’s Page Rank seems to be updating.

Thanks to the 47 people who have emailed, Twittered and IM’d me to let me know.

While these updates can be a little exciting for some I’d encourage us all to….

Video created in September 2007

What Topic is Your Blog? [POLL RESULTS]

Last month the ProBlogger Poll asked readers to tell us what their blog’s topic is. The results are in and it’s a fairly even spread across 11 categories. There were 3043 responses that categorized themselves as follows:

Types Of Blogs

I was actually quite surprised by the evenness of topics covered. There is probably a skew towards ‘internet’ as that is the niche that this blog is about but it goes to show just how diverse the blogosphere has become.

Following is another chart of the same information – showing the percentages.

Types-Of-Blogs

Five Reasons Why Mom Blogs Are the Blogs to Watch

The following post exploring the rise of Mom Blogs is by Michelle Mitchell from Scribbit.

In the Wall Street Journal’s April 10th issue Sue Shellenbarger interviewed Heather Armstrong (known to millions of fascinated fans as Dooce) and a gasp of surprise went up from print media around the country (even my hometown paper The Anchorage Daily News picked the article up off the AP wire).

But I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing surprising about Dooce’s super-stardom and in fact not only is it to be expected but other mom blogs are following in her wake. Mom blogs are poised to become the next big “It” when it comes to the internet–they’re gathering power like no other blogging niche and will only get bigger and better. Here’s why:

1. Moms can blog at home

You don’t need a PhD, an office or a small business loan to start up a blog and this especially appeals to mothers who are looking for ways to bring in extra income while they’re at home with their children. It’s a job that they can do while the kids are napping or away at school and allows women like me who have left the work force to raise a family to feel part of the tech age–always a benefit when your days are filled with diapers, dishes and drool.

Mom bloggers don’t have to leave their day jobs and they don’t have to make enough money to live off of–all they need is a little extra to pay for soccer lessons or a family vacation.

2. Moms need the sociality of the net

I couldn’t possibly count the number of days that I’ve spent without the live interaction of another adult (except maybe the clerk at the grocery store). Women want–no we crave and demand–social interaction and for those of us whose office is our home the internet and blogging opens up a new world of friendship, debate, learning and conversation. No longer do we have to pretend to hold conversations with Steve on Blues Clues just to talk to another adult, now we can blog. Women need to read about other moms’ struggles and disasters–it’s how we feel that maybe our own traumas aren’t so bad–and there are more and more moms daily that are discovering how the world of mom blogs helps them feel connected to other women.

3. Moms have a wealth of material to use

Tech blogs are just about technology, celebrity blogs are strictly about celebs but a mom blog could focus on parenting, protecting the environment, politics, crafts, food, homeschooling, gardening, household products, design, travel or just funny stories.

They’re usually written with an emotion and personality which connects with readers in ways that other niches often can’t and they speak about subjects that naturally carry strong emotions: home, family, marriage, children, the environment–all of which encourage dedicated readers. A blog about the latest techy gadget, while interesting, doesn’t carry the emotional weight that a post about home and family does. While other bloggers may sneer over moms posting stories about life with little ones and the oddities of every day life there have been plenty of writers from Erma Bombeck to Dave Barry to Jerry Seinfeld that have built careers on noticing life’s quirks and inconsistencies and mom blogs are cashing in on this.

4. Moms are record keepers

Blog means “web-log” and most blogs are started as online journals. Moms naturally tend to be the record keepers for their families whether it’s a newsletter, scrapbook or photo album and more and more women are turning to blogs as an easy way to keep their family’s diary. Staying in touch with Grandma, recording a child’s growth, these are the reasons women are turning to blogs and even though 99% of them will never see traffic outside of their family those who blog read other blogs. And who are they going to read? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not TechCrunch.

5. Mom blogs wield economic power

In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point he writes of the importance of mavens–those who are trusted for their opinions and who pass along information on what products, services and ideas are the best–and mom blogs are the maven nesting grounds. Moms want to know which products work and which don’t; they want to give an opinion on what’s worked for them and share their experiences with others and advertisers are just beginning to discover this advertising pot of gold.

Because women are generally the buyers for their homes in everything from clothing to food to minivans mom blogs talk about things that can be bought and sold, products that can be promoted and services that most households need. Proctor and Gamble, Sony or General Electric can throw up their logos on PerezHilton and that might make them look rather hip but if they can get Dooce to say she liked their stuff that’s when the sales start rolling in. You’ve heard “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”? Well she who does the shopping then blogs about it rules the net.

Mom blogs are growing and it’s not going to be too long before Dooce stops being an anomaly in the blogosphere and becomes the matriarch of mom blogs everywhere.

What is the Biggest Source of Traffic to Your Blog?

It’s time for another ProBlogger Poll.

What is the Biggest Source of Traffic to Your Blog?

Is it search engines? If so which one? Is it RSS subscribers and loyal readers? Is it Social Media sites (and which one is it)? Do other blogs and sites send most? Or is it some other source of traffic?

If you want to base your answer on a period of time – do it for April (so far).

What is the Biggest Source of Traffic to Your Blog?
Total Votes: 593 Started: 4/29/2008 Back to Vote Screen


I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this one. Feel free to expand on your response further in the comments on this post.

ProBlogger Readers Prefer ‘No Show Briefs’

OK – time for a ‘comical’ interlude.

I was just over at the ProBlogger Book page at Amazon and scanned down the page to see this:

related search amazon problogger.png

OK – so what ProBlogger reader is searching for ‘no show briefs’?

How Do I Grow My Blog?

Gala-Darling-10In this post Gala Darling from iCiNG shares some of her experiences of growing her blog and getting readers involved with comments.

“When you started iCiNG, how did you make it known? And goodness I’m gonna sound pretentious but how long did it take for you to start having constant readers and comments? I started my blog just because I wanted to write, but it can be a little unmotivating to write something really inspired or enthusiastic and don’t get really any response. I know it’s just a matter of time and to keep writing with my heart, but I’m still wondering how it all works.”

“How do I make my blog more interesting/get more comments (minus the hateful ones haha)? I made a resolution to post everyday but I don’t know :( I know you wrote something before like, ‘get your readers more involved’ but I don’t have a huge following like you.”

Well, I didn’t have a huge following when I started, either! The same goes for every blog, regardless of how popular it might be these days. We all start from the same place — just someone in a room, churning out content, hoping people like it.

What you need to do is work out the best way to find the people who you think will dig what you’re doing. That might mean finding a forum of people with similar interests, or leaving comments on a blog that has the same kind of readership. It’s a bit of a tricky balance doing this sometimes. Remember, you’re there to add value, not to spam & tarnish your blog’s name!

In my case, I’ve been journalling online in some form or another since about 1998, & I had a fairly considerable number of people following my Livejournal. So, when I’d written my first article, I made a post on Livejournal saying so. I asked what people would like to see, & encouraged them to ask me questions that I could use as the basis for articles. It grew from there.

The growth was really organic, & soon I saw that people on my friend’s list were recommending my blog to other people. It was an amazing thing to see, & it made me really happy! I also made an effort to connect with other people in my area — mostly fashion blogs — & we helped to promote one another.

It’s important to remember that in order for people to keep coming back & reading, you need to be providing them with something! Making someone laugh, providing them with information, inspiring or distracting them are all excellent reasons for someone to subscribe to your blog. If you think about the most popular sites on the web, most of them fall into one of those categories. Why else are people fanatical about XKCD, Darren Rowse, Martha Stewart, Perez Hilton? They all fit into at least one of those areas. Consider what you’re providing, & if you’re not exactly sure, you might want to redefine what you’re doing.

I think a lot of people aren’t sure what to write about, so they start blogs which consist of their opinions on various subjects (life, shoes, Apple products). That’s okay, but unless you are exceptionally knowledgeable, funny, successful or interesting, it’s probably never going to be a huge hit. Why? Because everyone has an opinion. They’re just not very valuable!

It can be hard to know, however, whether your low traffic is because you’re just starting out, or because you’re not providing something that people want. Sometimes it can be hard for us to realistically assess what we’re doing. We’re so attached to our work & our creativity that we’re quick to proclaim ourselves dunces or geniuses — & we’re probably not either of those things. In situations like this, it can be really useful to seek the input of someone whose opinion you respect (& who is, ideally, known for being honest but kind!). Of course, you probably need to act on their advice, too!

Don’t be afraid to evolve in a new direction. Most of the biggest companies now make the bulk of their money from doing something completely different to what it was they started out with. You may not be into blogging for money, but it’s an example of the fact that being open & flexible & trying new things is important! Find a niche & fill it — just like that cool glue that expands to fill gaps!

In terms of motivation, I always think that if something’s a drag, you shouldn’t do it. It’s your life, live it how you want to! If you’re writing out of obligation, it’s never going to have the same spark that it will if you’re writing because you love it.

Ideally, you want to be doing something you enjoy which also provides value to people. When you stumble upon that magical combination, you’re totally golden.

The best writing always comes about when you’re doing it for the right reasons. I guess we all have different ideas of what the “right reasons” might be, but I tend to think it’s based around writing that makes you joyful, writing you’ve enjoyed, & words you’ve pieced together with a real sense of fun & excitement. I tend to think that when you write with the intention of making money or netting praise, it doesn’t come across very well. This might be a bit weird & supernatural of me, but I think people can sense that in your words — & the more writing I do, the more true & obvious that becomes.

Be enthusiastic about your work, promote yourself, learn to take criticism & make adjustments without major ego damage, embrace the writing you do, share, set a good example. Make people happy with what you do. Uplift & educate & inspire. Do what you love & the money will follow. It just requires a little faith.

So you want to be a writer
Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.
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Speed Posting – the Aftermath of Answering 19 Twitter Questions in a Weekend

This past few days have seen me experimenting with a new type of post here at ProBlogger – Speed Posting.

I set myself the challenge to answer 20 or so questions from my Twitter followers in no more than 3 minutes per post. I then handed each post over to readers for them to continue to posts.

The Results? Well I had a lot of fun, got some good feedback from those Twitter followers who asked the questions, and there were a lot of great comments left.

Lastly – I wrote the following 19 posts. I hope you enjoyed them and will stop by those you feel you’ve got something to say on and add your thoughts.

Thanks to those on Twitter who asked the questions. Follow me on Twitter for next time I run something like this.

update: The winners of the three ProBlogger Books who win a copy from leaving a comment one one of the posts over the weekend are:

1. Kelvin Kao
2. Zopito DiGiovanni
3. DB Ferguson

I’ll be sending an email out now to each of you to get your mailing details to send you the book.

What Time of the Day is Best to Post to Your Blog

Speed-PostingLeftTheBox asks “Hey Darren I know you post daily but do you try to post at a certain time each day?”

I certainly do! I not only set myself minimum post numbers each day but I’ve taken it a little further and narrowed down some daily posting windows that I aim for.

Really it comes down to a bit of research and experimentation to work out when the best time to post is (and I suspect it’ll vary from blog to blog depending upon where their audience is situation and even depending upon topic).

For me I attempt to have a fresh post go up on my blog in the morning US time. Here at ProBlogger my audience is fairly global but the majority of readers are in the Americas so I attempt to have something fresh for them for when they get to work, check their feeds over a morning coffee etc. I then also attempt to post something for the end of the day (US time). Then on days that I post a 3rd post per day (it’s usually more of a ‘newsy’ post) I attempt to put that up about 8 hours after the 2nd one just so that posts are evenly spread through the day.

This the frequency that seems to work best for ProBlogger in my testing however it wouldn’t work for everyone. For example I have one friend who runs a sporting blog who posts once per day (around midday for his main audience) during the week but up to 5-6 times a day over the weekend as that’s a time his readers are thinking sports.

I find that posts that go up on weekdays during the day in the US get more traffic and comments than other posts…. however….

Disclaimer – let me finish by saying that while I have obviously given this a little thought (or a little too much thought) that it’s not one of those major things that I’d suggest you invest a lot of time into thinking through. It can have an impact but in a time where a lot of blog readers are accessing blogs via RSS or email subscriptions the time you post may have less impact than you think.

That’s my posting schedule – what’s yours? Do you find that the time you post impacts traffic and comment levels?