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See You at SXSW in March

SxswJust a quick note to let readers know that it’s almost certain that I’ll be at south by southwest (interactive) in Austin Texas this coming March (just as an attendee).

I’ve eyed this festival off for a while now and am really excited to be able to go. Quite a few of the b5media core team will be there also as we’re planning for it to be our annual offsite team meet up at the same time.

So if you’re planning on attending I look forward to meeting you.

What one thing did you do on your blog in 2007 that improved it the most? – The Last Answers

Improve-BlogOver the last week I’ve run a 1 Question Interview Series here at ProBlogger. There have been some great responses (links to the full series are listed at the bottom of this post) but it’s not over yet. Today I want to post the last two responses (actually there might be one more to come in I’m told).

Here’s the two last(ish) short responses from Leon and Xeni.

Xeni Jardin from BoingBoing:

“Finally stopped talking about doing a video project, and just did it. tv.boingboing.net. We’re having a lot of fun with it, and so far, our friends/community/audience/victims are too!”

Leon Ho from Lifehack.org:

“At lifehack we’ve ditched short introductory posts so that we could focus and write long articles. It has a positive impact to our referral traffic from search engines and social bookmarking sites.”

And now the complete list of responses from all bloggers participating in this series:

Some interesting themes in that lot. Non of the 15 bloggers knew what anyone else was writing yet there was a few recurring themes including:

  • Less posts
  • Longer ‘feature’ posts
  • Hiring Bloggers

I hope you’ve found something helpful in this series. As I said in the first post I’d love to hear your own reflections on the question in comments below.

What one thing did you do in 2007 that improved your blog the most?

Spammers Love Me on Technorati

Looks like Technorati have been hit by spammers targeting the Top 100 blogs by favoriting them. Read about it at Technorati Favorites Spam.

Here’s how the latest ‘favorites’ section on ProBlogger looks:

Spammers-Technorati-1

Apparently it’s the same for all Top 100 blogs at the moment.

I guess more people will just have to mark ProBlogger as a favorite of theirs to knock the spammers out!

Add ProBlogger to Your Technorati Favorites Here and defeat the spammers by pushing them down so they’re not viewable!

Who Designed Your Blog? [POLL RESULTS]

Over the last couple of weeks I ran a poll here at ProBlogger which asked readers who designed their blogs.

1828 readers responded in total (thanks everyone).

DIY – The results showed that 57% of you either considerably tweaked a free template (35%) or designed your blog from scratch yourself (22%).

Free Templates - Another 32% of you are using a free template (either a default template that came with your platform (11%) or one from some other source (21%).

Paid Designs – Just 12% of ProBlogger readers paid for their blog design – either by buying a non unique ‘premium’ theme (5%) or hiring a designer (7%).

Here’s how the breakdown looks.

Blog-Design-Poll-Results

Using StumbleUpon to Get on the Radar of Other Bloggers

Here’s a quick tip if you’re looking to get on the radar of another blogger (big or small).

Bookmark their work using StumbleUpon.

Two quick stories:

Story 1

The other day I got an email from a blogger that I’d never had direct contact with before. The message was simply a thank you for submitting one of their posts to SU. To be honest I barely remember stumbling their post – but I was the first one to do it and so my profile photo was featured as the one who discovered it. The result was that when they went to see where traffic was coming from at StumbleUpon they saw my profile and tracked me down at my blog.

Their email was a thank you and to let me know that they’d just subscribed to my two blogs (which are listed on my SU profile).

Story 2

Picture 2-13This morning I noticed some nice traffic coming into StumbleUpon from this post. When I went to its StumbleUpon page to see how it was going I noticed a familiar face as the person who discovered the page – TheNanny612.

The reason that her face is familiar is that TheNanny612 (Shana) has stumbled/discovered my posts before (on at least one occasion). Of course in seeing who was behind the profile I discovered her blogs including Social Desire (a blog about social media). Shana is now on my radar (and in my news aggregator as i just subscribed to her blog).

Now in both of these cases I and Shana only got ourselves one extra reader by being active on StumbleUpon – but you just never know whose ‘radar’ might might end up on and what might result in that.

For me it illustrates the power of being a good active citizen of online communities.

PS One More Example

As I’m about to his publish on this post I’m reminded of another illustration of this same principle – this time from Digg.

It must have been over a year back now but I still remember the day where a Digg User popped up on my radar – his name was Muhammad Saleem. These days he’s become something of a social media celebrity – but Muhammad has become quite well known (and known as a social media expert) over the last year or two. One of the reasons for his rise to social media stardom is that he has been a prolific user of social media sites – including Digg. He managed to become one of Digg’s top users and in doing so got on the radar of many bloggers.

Why my Wife would make a Great Internet Marketer

Recently at a family dinner I heard ‘V’ (my wife) raving about how much she loves her pillow (I don’t know how that came up). Since she bought us new pillows (Denton pillows) she says she’s not had a bad night’s sleep.

I chuckled to myself as I heard her as it’s a conversation I’ve been hearing a lot lately – V’s become an evangelist for Denton pillows.

I joked on the way home from dinner to V that my whole family would be sleeping on Denton pillows by the end of the month.

The next afternoon my phone rang and it was my brother in-law. He and my sister were out shopping and wanted to know the name of the pillow.

Converted!

As I thought about my wife’s persuasive powers it struck me that she’d be great at affiliate marketing.

V

Here’s some of the characteristics that she possesses that I think bloggers wanting to generate income from affiliate products need to have:

  • she’s a connector – Malcolm Gladwell talks about ‘connectors’ in Tipping Point as people who have wide social circles. The amount of people that V connects with on a daily basis makes me (a real introvert) want to curl up in the fetal position and rock backwards and forwards. Sure I have a lot of people read my blogs – but she’s at her best when she’s surrounded by people in real life and has an incredible ability to connect with each person as though they’re the only one in her life. This ability to connect with many people and to still give them individual attention is a great skill to have an a strong one if you’re a marketer.
  • she tries lots of stuff – V isn’t one to hold back on trying new things. She’s always experimenting with new recipes, products, movies, places, restaurants etc. I think there’s something about trying something new that she finds quite energizing. This is why she’s an endless supply of knowledge on things to try – because she’s done them all. This sets her up as an expert in many things (another great attribute of internet marketers).
  • she’s the type of person people seek out for advice – as a result of being well connected and trying lots of things out – she has a constant stream of people coming to her advice (on all facets of life). I think this is a key to internet marketing. If you can become the type of person that people seek out for advice instead of someone that has to push advice upon others – you’re already one step ahead of the field.
  • she’s enthusiastic/positive – V has a wonderful way of putting a positive spin on life. While she’s not afraid to tell it like it is if something isn’t right (see below) she’s incredibly enthusiastic when things are right – and not in a false or cringe inducing way. I think a lot of internet marketers could learn a thing or two from this. Instead of bombarding their potential clients with tonnes of hyped up emails raving about a product – one single, genuinely positive review could have a big impact.
  • she’s an evangelist – V can’t help herself – when she finds something that she loves (and she does only ever love or hate things – perhaps another characteristic worth mentioning) she tells everyone about it. This was the key last week with my family – she loves those pillows – so her natural first reaction was to share it. I emphasize ‘natural’ because I think this is something that some internet marketers miss out on. This last week I’ve been hit by one such marketer with at least 15 emails promoting his new product. The emails are all very excited – but every time I get one I get the sense that the excitement is more about the money he’s making and less about the product he’s selling.
  • she’s brutally honest about the things she doesn’t like – many people will tell you about what they love – but they keep their mouths shut about what they don’t like for fear of offending. V’s not like this. If she tries something and doesn’t like it she’s as likely to tell people about that as she is likely to talk about what she loves. I think this makes her all the more credible as an evangelist. Again – this is something that I see missing in some internet marketers. The only thing you ever hear them talk about is the things they’re promoting (and making money off). While this appeals to some – my suspicion is that many tire of it.

Now I just need to get V to start blogging!

Speedlinking 4 January 2008

Some links from my feed reader:

  • Bobs Brain Dump has a useful post – Social Networking Tips and Business Plan. Thanks to JeffRoyce on Twitter for the tip.
  • Blog Bloke has been documenting his migration from Blogger to WordPress platforms. If you’re looking to make the change this will help shed some light on the ups and downs of it
  • Hyder shows you how you can blog anywhere – even if you don’t have a computer.
  • Yaro asks do you really need a unique niche? He talks about the importance of unique relationships and unique communication methods. I think it’s an insightful post – although I wouldn’t abandon the idea of focussing upon a niche either – at least when it comes to blogging. I think unique niche, relationship and communication methods make a nice trifecta to aim for though!
  • Skellie tells you what the web’s best content all has in common.
  • Seth’s done it again and said something worth taking time to ponder in his post Blogs and self promotion. – “Last month, I posted excerpts from my new book. I also wrote a glowing post about Garr’s new book on presentations. Guess what? My stats show that I sold more copies of Garr’s book than mine.” So very true.

    The truism of the web: people talking about you is far more effective than talking about yourself.”

Also there are More Blog Awards today:

update – A late speedlinking post – WPCandy has just released The Advanced WordPress Help Sheet – a helpful PDF ‘packed with snippets that help extend WordPress’ capabilities.’ For those of you using WP who want to take things a step further – this might be a good one for you.

Networking with Bloggers – ‘Lower’ Your Sights and You Could Benefit More

Today i came across a great post written by Rocai from Blogging Mix – Why it is Better to Network with Non ProBloggers.

One might think that from a title like that I’d avoid it (and to be honest it’s a difficult post to read on some levels as it brings up something that I grapple with daily) but I think it contains some bitter sweet wisdom.

The argument is that rather than targeting the biggest bloggers to network with it can be more effective and helpful to interact with newer and smaller bloggers.

As I’ve said in a comment on the post (in moderation as I write this) this is something that I think there’s real wisdom in on a number of levels.

For starters it’s hard to break through the noise that is often around big blogs and bloggers. I experienced this myself today when emailing another well known blogger and getting an auto-responder message. Yesterday I emailed another big blogger and got an email back from his personal assistant instead of him directly.

These are just two ways that some well known bloggers deal with the thousands of emails that fill their inbox on a daily basis. I’m not at this stage yet but know the pressure of having to trawl through an inbox full of genuine and wonderful bloggers wanting to connect. The sad reality is that there are only so many that I’m able to do it with – it’s me as much as anyone who misses out by not being able to connect with everyone.

The other thing that I like about Rocai’s post is that the advice to interact with newer/smaller/less prominent bloggers is actually a real opportunity. While they might not have the reach or influence of big blogs – there are thousands of them, they’re often more open to interacting and the amount of time that they have available to put into your interactions can be greater (and lead to some great partnerships).

In my own early days of blogging I tried to get on the radar of a few bigger bloggers – but the interactions I had with them were fleeting. They were definitely worthwhile (I remember a couple of big links that drove a lot of traffic) – but they were not ‘relationships‘ in any shape or form.

What I found was that it was my interactions with smaller to medium sized blogs in my own niche that benefited me (and them) the most. These interactions became ‘relationships‘ that lasted. Some of them became very fruitful ‘partnerships‘ in time.

I’m not arguing that you should ignore bigger bloggers in your niche – many of them are very open and willing to interact and they can actually be very worthwhile to know and interact with – however I would encourage all bloggers to look around them in their own niche and interact with other bloggers who are on a similar sort of level. These networking opportunities could be the ones that take your blog to the next level over the long run.

Moving From a Single Blog to a Blog Network

Improve-BlogToday Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home shares how she improved her blog in 2007 by shedding some light on the process of shifting her blog from just being a blog into being a network/magazine-style site.

The “one” thing I did to improve my blog was a huge undertaking :: I shifted the focus of my one-woman-show blog to a blog network and created a magazine-style site. Though it was a huge risk, only three months later, the rewards have far exceeded my expectations, and I couldn’t be more proud of the site, our authors, and the content we are producing for the home business and internet marketing community.

Emoms

We’ve hit some huge milestones in a short amount of time, and it wasn’t without a ton of hard work, enormous stress, and plenty of sleepless nights, especially at the beginning. But in doing so, I have changed my business model to one that is far more sustainable and scalable than it used to be. Before, if I didn’t write blog posts, I didn’t make money. And if I wanted to increase revenue, the only way to do so was to work harder and more often. 60+ hour workweeks quickly ensued and I was stretched to the hilt. The whole reason I work at home is to enjoy increased work-life balance :: I was failing miserably on that front.

By adding 7 new blogs – ‘content channels’ – back in September, the site is growing and generating revenue even when I take time off. Our community is much better served because they are getting the highest quality content, more so than I could have ever given them on my own. And even though traffic and page views have almost tripled since we started, we are already outgrowing our current setup and I’m having to find more ways to expand.

When I started eMoms at Home, it was just supposed to be a hobby blog – a place to share advice and learn while I worked on building my ‘other business’, a self help community site (which never went anywhere because eMoms took off). Ironically, the site is now evolving full circle into a site remarkably similar to what I first set out to do – create a place where people could go to learn from and support each other. Never in a million years could I have predicted how my blog got here from where I started. But by pushing myself to the limits (and beyond) of what I felt capable of, eMoms at Home is now the fastest growing site in our niche.

I had no idea that blogging was such a powerful medium when I started. A passionate author with a powerful message can move mountains with a blog. My greatest wish is not for fame and fortune (though I do want those too!), but to lead others to greatness by example and inspire others do the same. I’m able to do that now far more than I ever could before on my own.