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How to Use Social Media to Land the Job of your Dreams

This interview was conducted by Monica O’Brien (@monicaobrien) from Twenty Set.

As the recession looms on, more and more people are turning to social media and blogs to look for jobs. Jamie Varon (@jamievaron) has generated buzz in the Twitter community with her new website called Twitter Should Hire Me, where she blogs candidly about her attempts to get a job at Twitter. In this interview, she shares her tips on how to use social media to land the job of your dreams, even in a recession.

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What kind of reception have you received since launching Twitter Should Hire Me?

By the end of the second day that the site launched, I had received over 20,000 views. My Twitter following count has increased by almost 40% and I have forged relationships that I would not have otherwise had. There have been multiple write ups about my campaign and I have been contacted by my local news and some other news outlets that I can’t discuss. The Twitter community responded to my campaign in an overwhelmingly positive way. They were very supportive and it spread very quickly throughout people’s Twitter streams. At one point, I was the 70th most retweeted person on Twitter, among the top 100 with huge influencers such as Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, and Pete Cashmore.

Sometimes the hardest part of finding a job is getting that initial interview. What steps did you take to get noticed by Twitter before starting Twitter Should Hire Me?

I had a connection recommend me to the hiring manager for an open position. I never heard back because the position was filled. I dropped in on the hiring manager at Twitter HQ to introduce myself and bring in some cookies (cheesy, I know). Then, a couple days after that, I emailed the hiring manager that I met. After not hearing anything back from any of those efforts, I decided it was time to do something a bit more extreme. That’s when I came up with the idea for TSHM.com. Plus, I thought it would be fun to do something bold like that and thought it would be interesting to see the response.

How are you promoting your site and your job search?

I promoted my site primarily through Twitter. I thought that the strategy of getting to Twitter through Twitter would be an interesting one. I didn’t contact any Twitter representatives directly, because I wanted the site to get to them organically. As of right now, I am not promoting my job search anymore, because I might end up with too many things on my plate, so I’m backing off a little bit. However, I am adding blog posts every day to my Twitter site to now show that I have information and ideas to back up the site — and not just a good idea that attracted buzz.

You’ve garnered amazing support for your site from the Twitter community. Why do you think people have rallied so strongly around you?

I think it’s a great story about innovation in a time where a lot of people are struggling to get noticed by companies. There’s a sense of hope, optimism, and ambition in my message, which people are very much needing to see. We’ve been hit by a lot of negativity in the media lately and the message of someone continuing to believe in themselves and go for their dreams, even in the midst of this crisis, hit home for a lot of people. There has been this sense of, “take whatever you can get,” and people were happy to see someone who was still keeping the hope alive.

What have you learned from the site about using social media to get a job?

The power of social media is alive and strong. I have learned that if you have something worth sharing, people will share it. And, that if you genuinely want to build community, you will attract people. I think that a main reason for my success with this site was that I had built a great community before I launched the site. I had genuinely been using Twitter to connect with people and wasn’t trying to push any agenda on them. My biggest supporters were people that I had previously connected with on Twitter. They really set the tone for the campaign, because they responded positively and put the word out. In terms of getting a job using social media, I think what I’ve learned is that people will know if you have an agenda. Building relationships without any pretense is vital to being successful with connecting (and then eventually maybe finding a job) through social media. There has to be something real there initially.

What will you do if Twitter doesn’t offer you a job?

I have three job offers doing marketing – One PT social media marketing position actually gets me into the startup industry in a big way. This site has opened up tons of possibilities for me in marketing.

That’s the ticket: I wanted something in the creative departments of startups. So, I created something unique and marketed both it and myself. No matter what experience I put on the site (even though I am pumping a good amount of info into it), I have achieved what companies want: buzz. My uncle, out of the woodwork, called me and wants to hire me as a freelancer and throw $5000 of marketing budget at me. That just doesn’t happen in this economy.

Furthermore, if Twitter doesn’t hire me at this point, I hope to create a relationship with them and maybe the future will bring a partnership. I know I will be in the startup industry to stay, so even if there isn’t a place for me on the Twitter team at this point, it doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a place for me in the future.

What advice would you give to people trying to get a job in social media?

If you want a job in social media, prove you can utilize social media without a paycheck. I recently was just asked to be a social media marketer for a company because I had spent the month I was unemployed building my own brand online. I didn’t wait for a company to give me a chance to prove I was successful within social media; I took it upon myself to let my actions speak louder than my words. If you can’t build your own brand (your blog or your Twitter, etc), then you can’t be successful in social media. And, companies will hire the person that has proven to understand social media, rather than the person who says they do.

Rise Of The Blogging Service Industry

In this guest post, Neil Matthews from WPDude.com writes about the rise of the blogging service industry, and how bloggers can use their existing skills to enter this lucrative industry.

Blogging has moved away from a niche activity to such an extent that it has spawned it’s own service industry. There are numerous activities and companies supporting the blogger.

The market is huge, with hundreds of millions of blogs in existence and thousands more being created each day, there is an insatiable need for blogging skills, something the experienced blogger can use to their financial advantage.

I would like to present you the various sectors of the service industry and how you can use your existing skills to enter the industry.

Theme Development

If you have experience designing and modify the theme of your blog, you already have the skills to become a theme developer.

The routes available to you are to develop a premium theme such as Thesis and sell if from your own site. A second option would be to set yourself up as a service company selling bespoke theme design and development services.

People want individual blogs, not standard themed “Just another WordPress blog” blogs. For many Probloggers a target is to have their own bespoke theme built for them. This requires theme developers.

Plugin Development

Do you have computer development skills? If you do you can string together the code to write a plugin, there is place for you in the blogging service industry.

Plugin developers can make their money in two ways, much like bloggers, directly and indirectly.

The direct method is to write a plugin and charge for it. The majority of plugin in circulation are free, but there are a growing number out there which are for profit. They tend to be larger and more complex. The paid for plugins I have used include a mailing list and a membership site plugin.

The second method is to develop plugins, distribute and support them for free and use them as a showcase for your technical skills. This is excellent social proof that you have the ability to develop blogs and can lead to other development jobs.

Coaching & Consulting

As I mentioned there are millions of blogs, and many of these blogs owners needs support from blogging experts.

Well know bloggers such as Chris Garrett and Michael Martine offer consulting services to their clients on the back of their very successful blogs.

If you have the skills and know-how to coach people or companies on their blogging strategy/problems, then this is a route into the blogging service industry with a low barrier to entry. All you need is some social proof that you know what you are talking about and a website to inform potential clients of your wares. This is the sector I work in.

Copy Writing

Blogs have an insatiable thirst for content, they need to be fed with a continuous stream of words. Why not set yourself up as a blog copywriter.

Check out the PB jobs board for a small section of the work that is available. There are paid freelance writing gigs out there for good writers.

Create a portfolio of writing by developing posts on your own blog, cast the net out and guest post (for free) on other blogs and take this social proof to the market to prove you can write quality content

Books

A quick search for the word blog on Amazon, will return page after page of results on books about blogging. This is another sector of the industry which you could enter.

The skills you have learned developing content for your blog can be put towards a larger writing project. Can you take your blog posts and edit them together into a larger work? If you can develop a few hundred blogs posts, then you have the skills to string them together into a book length piece of work.

I understand that a couple of up and coming bloggers called Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett (no I’ve not heard of them either) did just that. They wrote a book on blogging called ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

The only thing I would say about writing about a dynamic medium like blogging is to make it timeless. The time to press for a book can make your manuscript out of date before it is in the hands of your readers. I have read a number of blogging books only to come away thinking that was yesterdays news and techniques.

Consider writing a book for your niche. Blogging for {INSERT NICHE HERE} books may be viable way to service the blogging industry.

Graphic Designers

If you are handy with Photoshop, there are a huge number of opportunities to service bloggers. We need logo design services, 125×125 banner ads, fancy RSS logos, even the latest tools such as Twitter need graphic designers to create home page backgrounds.

Whilst blogging is predominantly a text based medium, it still required a lot of imagery for the presentation layers of those millions of blogs.

Check out freelancing sites such as elance.com for graphic design gigs.

Other Bigger Services

There are other sides to the blogging service industry which is probably out of reach for most bloggers to enter but well worth a mention anyway and these are the large infrastructure services underpinning blogging. These include:

  • Syndication services e.g. Feedburner
  • Hosting – Deamhost, Godaddy to name just two
  • Advertising – Adsense and Chitika,
  • Blogging platforms- Blogger, WordPress.com

If you have the benefit of a generous Angel Investor and the next big idea for bloggers, there is a large enough audience to enter the infrastructure side of the industry.

Conclusion

There is a brand new service industry out there servicing an abundance of blogs, getting a slice of this industry should be easy for people like us; the early to mid level adopters of blogging. Remember as the medium becomes more and more mainstream, there will be more and more blogs and more and more opportunities.

If you can establish yourself as the blogging expert in your niche, not just a blog writing expert in your niche there is money to be made from a fertile market.

4 Pretty Pictures to Illustrate Impact of Email Newsletters on Traffic (and Social Bookmarking)

Today I was reading a post on CopyBlogger by Dean Rieck on the importance of using email to grow a blog and it struck me how many bloggers still don’t fully understand the power of email as a way to grow their blogs.

I’m not going to rehash all of the reasons why email marketing is worth adding to your blogging or even give tips on how to build a successful email newsletter – today I just want to illustrate with a couple of charts why I believe in email marketing.

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What you see above (click to enlarge) is a screen shot of the Google Analytics area of the forum area of Digital Photography School (ie it doesn’t include the blog area’s traffic).

The stats go back for 6 weeks and you’ll notice that there is a nice weekly pattern going on in terms of rises and falls in traffic.

What causes the predictable rises in traffic each Thursday? Thursday is the day I send newsletters.

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Each week a newsletter goes out to readers that simply contains a summary of the latest activity on the site. Interestingly – the newsletter only contains one link to the forum area – yet that one link is enough to come close to doubling traffic to the forum for that day.

But Wait, There’s More

OK – so the ability to drive regular traffic to your blog is one great reason to start an email newsletter for your blog – but today as I analyzed my blog’s stats I realized that there’s another reason.

Take a look at this chart. It shows traffic from Digg to the blog area of DPS since mid last year (click to enlarge).

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OK – it’s a little hard to see a correlation between newsletters and Digg traffic from that graph – but what I noticed today is that the majority of my ‘Digg Events’ happen on the same days of the week. Let me show you (click to enlarge):

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I’ve had 19 ‘Digg Events’ in this period and 16 of them have happened on a Thursday or a Friday (two of the others hit the front page on a Saturday).

Articles hit the front page of Digg every day of the week yet on my site they almost always fall on a Thursday or a Friday.

I send newsletters out to my readers on a Thursday morning.

Now I rarely mention Digg or any form of social bookmarking in my newsletters – but it seems to me that the newsletters are having an impact upon social bookmarking to me.

Further Reading on Email Marketing/Newsletters and how to use them Effectively:

How has the Economic Downturn Impacted my Blogging Earnings?

How has the economic downturn impacted your blog earnings?

Team Nirvana recently emailed to ask me what impact the recession has had upon my blog earnings – it’s actually a question that I get quite a bit when talking to friends and family – (I guess everyone is asking it about everyone’s jobs at the moment).

In answering the question here I want to acknowledge that this is not one answer for all bloggers. As I’ve pondered the question for my own circumstances I’ve realized that the economic downturn will be impacted bloggers very differently depending upon factors such as their blogs topics (some topics are booming at the moment while others are not), the life stage of their blogs and numerous other factors such as the demographics of their audience.

That being said – here’s how things have been going for me of late:

Ad Revenue – Steady and Up in Private Ad Sales

My biggest income stream across my blogs at the moment has been advertising revenue. This comes from a combination of sources including AdSense and Chitika (I run these on DPS) and Private Ad Sales (here on ProBlogger, DPS and TwiTip) as well as a few other ad networks like Shopzilla and WidgetBucks.

Overall my advertising income has increased however this is largely due to an increase in private ad sales. I’ve noticed that ad networks like AdSense, Chitika, Shopzilla and WidgetBucks have been holding their own for me. Some have decreased a little but this is mainly due to me dedicating more ad space to private ad sales and decreasing the space I give to the networks (due largely to demand for private ad sales).

While I’m hearing other bloggers reporting a decline in private ad sales (which they attribute to the economy) I’ve seen the opposite and I put it down to a couple of reasons:

1. increasing traffic – DPS has continued to really grow in size and a natural reaction to his is that it is easier to sell to premium sized advertisers. For example we’ve recently been doing a large campaign with Lenovo which has gone particularly well.

2. my topic – here on ProBlogger I’m in a somewhat unique position to be blogging on a topic that there is actually more and more people coming online to learn about (making money online). As a result of this I’ve noticed more advertisers coming into the space. Similarly – starting a blog on Twitter recently was pretty good timing as Twitter is really growing at the moment.

Affiliate Revenue – Up a Little

Affiliate sales have certainly been healthy for me over the last 6 months (on all of my blogs). Again, there are a number of reasons for this:

1. Traffic is up – (see above – increased traffic means that you’ve more people potentially seeing your affiliate promotion)

2. Increased Affiliates to Promote – I’ve always found that affiliate marketing earnings seems to have periods where it naturally goes up and down partly depending upon what programs there are launching in your industry. For example in the ‘blogging’ space there were a few quality affiliate programs that all launched within weeks of each other a couple of months back.

3. More emphasis on Affiliate Marketing – at DPS I had rarely done an affiliate promotion (except for Amazon) since I started it two and a half years ago. In recent months I’ve begun to experiment more with it as an income stream on that site (with mixed success). I’m still looking for a high quality product that ‘fits’ perfectly with my audience but the attempts that I’ve had have brought some success so far.

Job Boards – Up a Little

The ProBlogger Job boards have continued to grow over the last month or so (particularly in the last month). Again this is one of those examples where the economy itself has actually benefited me as more and more people are moving online to find work and more and more people are looking to hire in this space.

Dollar Conversion Rates – Up

Perhaps the biggest contributor to an increased income of late has been the decline of the Australian dollar as opposed to the US dollar. Mid last year we were close to a $1USD = $1AUD scenario. As you’ll see by the graph below this has changed significantly which means as I write this $1USD converts to around $1.50AUD. Considering 99% of my income is in USD things have certainly improved of late. Of course the preceding 4 years saw us going from a similar position to what it was back in July so there are ups and downs in this type of thing.

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Overall – Up…. a little

The largest contributor to my income increasing of late has been the conversion rate. All of the other three areas (ad sales, affiliate revenue and Job Board earnings) have seen small increases but not massive. In fact if you were to analyze the earnings increases against traffic increases I’m almost certain that traffic is up significantly higher than earnings – if traffic had remained steady I suspect earnings would have dropped.

My Strategy Going Forward

Here’s what I’m concentrating on in the next 6-12 months.

1. Building the Best Blogs I Can and Increasing Readership – while the amount of money that companies are spending online with their advertising MAY be decreasing, my approach is to continue to invest as much of my own time and energy into building great websites to attract what advertising I can now but to position myself for when things improve.

My prediction is that the internet is here to stay and will only continue to grow. As a result I firmly believe that we’ll see the ad dollars come back. I want to have sites with thriving communities and large readerships when the advertisers return.

2. Exploration of New Income Streams – on both of my main blogs (here at ProBlogger and at Digital Photography School) I am working on adding new income streams. I’ll hold off on announcing them here and now but in both cases they build on what I’ve already been doing on the sites and will hopefully add revenue so that I’m not quite so reliant upon the advertising revenue that the sites currently draw in.

How has the economic downturn impacted your blogs?

Should Legal Blogs Be Monetized – If so…. How?

“Should Legal Blogs Ever Be Monetized?” asked by @chrischeatham on Twitter.

“Should I try to make money on my blog?” is a question I hear a lot from bloggers of many niches and while ultimately the answer will vary from blogger to blogger depending upon their own circumstances and the focus of their blog – there are some topics which present challenges when it comes to monetization.

While I don’t pretend to be an expert in the legal blogging niche I suspect that as a topic it is probably one such niche that is challenging to make money directly from.

Let me share a few disorganized thoughts that perhaps some legal bloggers (and other business bloggers as some of this is relevant to other niches) can expand upon and share their experiences of.

Indirect vs Direct Income

My initial reaction to the question above is that legal blogs are probably better suited for monetization through ‘indirect’ methods than ‘direct’ ones. You can read more on this distinction in my posts on direct and indirect monetization but essentially what I’m thinking is that using direct methods of making money from a blog (like by selling advertising) are probably not going to be as successful as indirect methods. In fact I’d probably steer clear of running ads on a legal blog at all and stick with indirect methods.

Indirect methods that may work might include:

  • selling your own services (consulting, legal advice, speaking, training, events etc)
  • writing and selling an ebook, real book or some other kind of resource
  • membership areas (for example if you had specialized focus that people might be willing to pay to join a community on)
  • classifieds/job board

Once again, I’m not overly familiar with the niche so perhaps some of the above isn’t quite on the mark and perhaps there are other more obvious indirect earners for legal blogs.

Promoting Competitors with Advertising

I did chat with one legal blogger recently who showed me his blog which he was monetizing with AdSense. While the main point of his blog was to build his profile drive business to himself as a lawyer he told me proudly that he was making reasonable money on a per click level from the AdSense ads which he was excited about – however when I viewed his blog I immediately saw ads for other lawyers and companies offering services that this blogger himself offered.

One of the problems of using AdSense as someone trying to ‘sell yourself’ in some way from your blog (and in fact many other types of ads) on a blog is that to make money you are sending people away from your blog – quite often to your own competitors. For this reason I’d probably avoid advertising on a blog through a network where you didn’t have much control over who could target ads for your blog.

The Flip Side of AdSense

Of course for every recommendation there is a flipside and as I mentioned in the above example the blogger was reporting healthy earnings on a per click level with his legal blog. He specialized in a focused area of law (a particular type of personal injury) and as a result AdSense earnings were higher than for some other topics.

IF you were not blogging with the motivation of selling yourself (indirect earnings) then perhaps the AdSense thing could in fact be something to explore as you wouldn’t be sending people to competitors.

Affiliate Marketing

If developing their own product or resource to sell isn’t something that a legal blogger has time to do then there could be scope to develop an affiliate relationship with someone else who has got some kind of product. The key would be to find a product that you believed in and that was of a high quality (don’t recommend a shoddy product as it’ll impact your reputation) and then find relevant and genuine ways to promote it to your audience.

Premium Advertising/Sponsorship

The last piece of advice that comes to mind is more aimed at legal blogs who might have built up a fairly substantial readership. It involves running advertising with a limited number of high quality and non competing advertisers.

For example I was recently speaking with a blogger in another business field who had just landed a sponsorship deal to run ads on their blog for the premium conference within their niche. They were proud of the sponsorship and were confident that if anything it would enhance their blogs standing in the eyes of their readers rather than anything else.

In this way you have very limited advertising on your blog but it is of a high level (and good earning potential). It also remains relevant to the audience and topic yet not sending people to your competitors.

Personally – if I were a legal blogger I’d still stick to the indirect methods than running advertising on my blog (unless the ads were highly relevant, on topic and from a reputable advertiser) – what about you?

They’re just a few of my thoughts on how to monetize a legal blog – what do you think?

Likaholix – Get a Free Invite to the Alpha Here

logo-red.gif Over the last day or two a new social network by the name of Likaholix has been released by two former Google employees. I’ve only just signed up in the last hour or so but like what I see so far.

I’ve also been given 500 invites to the closed alpha for ProBlogger readers (be fast, I just gave away 100 on Twitter and they went within 15 minutes).

Skip the rest of this post and Give me the Invite Codehere it is.

Likaholix is a little hard to describe and is best experienced – but in short:

It is a way to share and discuss your likes and discover new ones with people you know. You can ‘like’ anything from a great blog you like reading to your favorite food to some art work that you love.

ie: it is a place to share what you like and to discover the things that others in your network like. There’s integration with Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook also. In a sense it is Digg meets facebook as there are elements of both social bookmarking and networking.

You can read more about the service here.

Want to see what it is like for yourself? The first 500 people to sign up with this link will get access to likaholix. Otherwise it is a closed alpha at this point.

Review it Here

OK – so lets do a group review – what do you think of likaholix?

Google Chat: A Bloggers Best Friend

google-chat.jpgToday Eric Hamm from Motivate Thyself and Blogopolis Blueprint takes a look at Google Chat and suggests it as a great tool for bloggers.

I’m a cloud computing fanatic. Web 2.0 may just be a buzz word, but the growing number of ways we can connect over the digital airways is increasing by the day. Intertwined and interconnected, our blogs, social media, news sites, and so on, all breathe the same air and share the same massive cluster of server space. As a blogger in this opportunistic information age we must harness the right tools to communicate with fellow cloud cadets and utilize every opportunity allowed. The telephone used to be the standard, then came email. Now we have available to us a vast number of tools to tap on the shoulders of our fellow bloggers.

Over the months I have used many of these tools for both general communication as well as in depth collaboration. Out of all these tools I have found NONE to match the flexibility and all around effectiveness of Google Chat. Being the little brother of Google Talk, Google Chat (or Gchat for short) has really grown up over the last couple years and now offers a mature range of communication capabilities.

The difference between Google Talk and Google Chat:

Google Talk is Google’s standalone IM software that can be downloaded and installed on your computer. Very similar to AIM or Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk can sit in a nice, neat little window in a LCD location of your choosing. Google Chat, however, is the integrated chat feature in Gmail. Though they share many of the same feature and uses, Google Talk is more ‘well endowed’ when it comes to capability. But, as you’ll see in a minute, Gchat is ever expanding and much the capable little ‘chat box’.

7 Google Chat Features You Might Not Know About

1: Transcript. One very simple, yet amazingly useful feature of Gchat is the fact that each conversation is saved in a transcript form email. This means you not only have access to all the words shared, but you can treat them like those in an email. They can be searched for, forwarded, labeled, etc… And they all reside in the ‘Chats’ section, just two links down from your Inbox.

I didn’t think much of this feature until I started using Gchat on a regular basis. One day I had a great conversation with a fellow blogger and had discussed ideas for future blogging projects. Weeks later I wanted to reference a few sentences that had passed back and forth. So I just typed in a few key words in the Gmail search field and BINGO! There was the entire conversation, ready for reference.

2: Go off the record. If, for any reason, you don’t want your conversation recorded, there’s a nifty feature of Gchat that handles this beautifully. Just click on the ‘Video & more’ button on the bottom right of your Gchat window and then click ‘Go off the record’. It’s as easy as that! Just keep in mind that, if not changed back, your future ‘conversations’ with that particular Gmail user will always be ‘off the record’.

3: Pop-out. In that same menu from the ‘Video & more’ button you can click ‘Pop-out’. This will un-integrate or unstick the Gchat window from your gmail page and allow you to move it where ever you prefer. This is great for so many reasons! You may want to keep ‘talking’, but move away from your Gmail page to a different location on your computer or in your browser. I love to pop my Gchat window over to my second monitor and fully enjoy the freedom of ‘chatting’ and working/surfing at the same time. It’s Googleiscious! :-)

4: You can have multiple ‘conversations’ at the same time. A few weeks ago I was having a ‘back and forth’ with a friend when I received a Gchat message from a fellow blogger who I’d been waiting to hear from. My knee jerk reaction was to say goodbye to the friend so I could talk to the blogger. But I decided to see what a double conversation felt like in the land of Gmail. Within a few seconds I realized that it was not only possible to talk to two ‘chatters’ at the same time, but actually quite efficient!

If you IM much you know there’s that little bit of downtime between ‘pings’. With two people to talk to you can get into a natural rhythm which fills all those time voids and allows for maximum use of conversation time.

5: Group chat. Once again, located in the pop-up menu of ‘Video & more’, you can select ‘Group chat’ to connect with more than one ‘chatter’ and create a three-way conversation (or more). You just initiate the chat with one of the users and then click on ‘Group chat’ to start bringing others into the conversation. I’ve found this to be an amazing way to collaborate and just chat away with groups of friends, bloggers and colleagues.

6: You can chat with AIM and iChat users. For a while I didn’t realize that a blogging friend of mine whom I chat with regularly, was using his iChat to connect with me on Gchat. It all felt the same on my end as the connection was seamless. And if you have an AIM account you can log directly into it and chat with other AIMers, all through your Gmail account.

7: Video/Audio Gchat. Back in November Google added an exciting feature to Gchat. Now you can see and hear those you are in conversation with, which can be a wonderful change from the tedious typing when your conversations become more involved.

A few months ago Leo of zenhabits and I were ‘chatting’ about a blogging project. Very quickly I realized that this ‘typing conversation’ wasn’t going to be very efficient while trying to answer some of the questions we were presenting each other. So I asked if we could go to video. Little did I know that all this could be done while in Gmail. So, being an uneducated Gchatter, I closed Firefox and opened iChat to prepare for the new conversation. But Leo, knowing more than I about these nifty new features, sent me a link to the necessary plugin to enable this feature. (You can find it HERE.) After I downloaded and installed it and then restarted my browser, we were able to dive right back into our discussion, but now with the convenience of full audio and video.

A few more tidbits on this new feature:

You have the choice to go with just audio or both audio and video. This is nice because there are certainly times when you’d rather have a phone-esque conversation as apposed to having to see and be seen. Sometimes I even find the video part to be distracting when I’m discussing ‘thinking’ matters such as business collaboration. Also, depending on your Internet speeds, the audio may be ‘cleaner’ when not coupled with the video.

And don’t forget that you don’t have to stick to the tiny screen on the bottom right. You can either click ‘Pop-out’ (as mentioned in #3 above) and not only become mobile, but grow in size by about 50%. Then, if you REALLY need to see every hair on their head, you can go FULL SCREEN. The main downside to this is that it becomes a little grainy, but only noticeable if you are right up to the screen.

Finally, I wanted to point out the quality of Gchat Audio/Video. I’ve spent a lot of time on iChat video with Sean Platt of Writer Dad, while working on some blogging projects and we both agree that the Gchat offering is noticeably ‘cleaner’. On iChat I often heard an echo of my voice while speaking to Sean, but since we’ve been using Gchat it has been crystal clear.

Final thoughts on Google Chat:

Just like any other form of communication, becoming proficient with this amazing tool is the key to getting the most out of it. When we seek connection with fellow bloggers we want the topic, not the form of communication, to maintain most of our focus. The more Gchat becomes and extension of our tongue, the greater the efficiency and effectiveness of our words. So if you haven’t already, be sure to dig into all that Google has to offer when it comes to moving information. You may have tapped on the face of Gchat before, but until each feature is under your belt you will only benefit by the smallest degree.

Eric Hamm is a blogger and WordPress designer/consultant. You can find him at his 2 main blogs, Motivate Thyself and Blogopolis Blueprint or utilize his affordable web design services at FrugalSiteDesign.com.

Advice For Part Time Bloggers Juggling Blogging with Work, Family and Other Commitments

Over on Twitter recently @jimlavin asked if I had any ‘ideas how someone with a normal day job can schedule time to blog on a regular basis?

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Image by Helico

This is actually a great question and one that I’m sure many others will grapple with. While a handful of bloggers are able to blog full time the vast majority of bloggers can not and blog ‘on the side’ before, after (and I’m sure for some ‘during’) other work or life commitments.

This is how I started out. When I started blogging entrepreneurially I was working 3 part time jobs and studying part time (in addition to other ‘normal’ life stuff like being a husband. You can read more of how I progressed from a part time blogger to a full time blogger here.

Following are a few lessons that I learned through that process. It doesn’t just focus upon the topic of scheduling posts (although does give a few tips on that) – but rather probably gives more general advice for those juggling blogging and other priorities such as work, family and other commitments – particularly advice for those wanting to transition from part time to full time blogging.

Priorities

When I first started blogging it was simply a hobby and something I did out of interest. I had no intention of making money from it or growing it into a business. However when I began to realize that there was potential for this medium to earn an income I (or ‘we’ as I always involved my wife in the decisions) had to make a decision as to whether I was seriously going to pursue it or not.

If you want your blog to grow into a significant income stream or to achieve other serious goals then you do need to make a decision to invest time, energy and perhaps even a little money into it. Making this decision doesn’t guarantee success by itself but for me it was important.

In actual fact for me there were probably a series of 4-5 such decisions. Each time I let go of a part time job to put more time into blogging was a decision that we thought long and hard about and was effectively a stepping stone towards going full time.

Set Aside Regular Times

This might vary a little depending upon your situation and personality and style of blogging but I found that I worked best when I set aside regular times to blog and established a daily pattern of when and where I did it. For me the times that I blogged varied a little at different periods depending upon my other commitments but I distinctly remember a time where I was getting up an hour earlier than normal to do a solid hour of blogging before going to work. At other times I would set aside time in the evenings (the same time each night) or arranged to have access to a computer over a lunch break at work.

I found that if I didn’t set time aside to blog (and to effectively diarize it) that I simply didn’t do it (or struggled to). For me it was a little like exercise – if I don’t set aside the time it doesn’t happen.

Boundaries are Important

One of the things that I struggled with particularly in the first year or so of blogging was the setting of boundaries. Working a number of jobs, studying, family life and blogging all competed for my attention and at times blogging encroached upon some of these other aspects of my life when it should not have.

My last point of setting aside time to blog was helpful in this but so was giving those around me permission to tell me when I was getting obsessed with blogging.

Batch Blogging

One practical tip that I would give those juggling numerous hats is to learn about Batch Processing. I’ve written about how batch processing made me more productive but in short it is a technique where you set aside concentrated time to do one particular task rather than trying to achieve lots of things all at once.

For me there was a time where I would set aside every Monday morning simply to write posts for my blogs. I’d take my laptop to a local cafe, stay offline, switch off my phone and church out 5-6 posts in a morning. I’d then schedule these posts for the days ahead and let them publish automatically. I would still do other shorter/newsy type posts during the week – but the posts I wrote on Mondays were my longer, deeper more feature length content.

I found this approach to writing suited me and released me during the rest of the week to concentrate on my other jobs as well as other areas of my blogging.

Gradually Increase Time Invested into Blogging

If you read my story you’ll see that ‘going pro’ as a blogger was a fairly gradual process which effectively involved me decreasing the time I put into other work to increase the time I put into blogging.

While this is not the only way to do it (I know 1-2 bloggers who just decided to go full time and live off savings) it is the approach I recommend IF you have the goal of going full time (and I say IF because I know many bloggers don’t want to go full time). I recommend this approach mainly because building successful and profitable blogs takes time – deciding to quit your job and go full time as a blogger is a nice dream but in reality most blogs earning enough to support a full time blogger take years to build. Unless you’ve got a nice nest egg to live off in the mean time you’re cutting off the income stream that will sustain you while your blog grows.

Bring Those Around You On the Journey

IF your goal is to go full time (or even to earn a significant part time income from blogging) it is probably going to impact those around you. For me it was something that impacted ‘V’ (my wife) more than anyone else.

‘Honey, I’m going to be a full time blogger’ is a statement that you might want to think twice about saying over breakfast one morning (or at least wait until her mouth isn’t full).

‘V’ was incredibly supportive of my vision to grow blogging into an income stream but it was a process for her as much as it was for me. It meant that we were giving up other income in order for me to concentrate my time upon blogging for starters.

One of the sad things that I’ve seen happen a couple of times over the last few years is bloggers forging ahead with their vision to ‘go Pro’ without bringing along their partners. Blogging is great, but it’s not that great!

Daily Posting isn’t Essential

When you’re starting out the pressure to post every day on your blog is great. In talking to many new bloggers I find that many struggle with this expectation of daily content. Those who don’t achieve it often feel guilty or as though they’ve failed. Others keep the daily posting level up but as a result let the quality of their work slip.

Here’s the thing – daily posting is not essential to grow a successful blog.

For example – when I while Digital Photography School has two new posts go up each day these days – when I started I posted just 3 times a week to it. My goal was to write 3 high quality, helpful, unique, engaging feature length posts each week for the first month or so and then as the blog grew to increase that frequency. I worked toward producing 4 a week, then 5, then 6….. and beyond. It took me over a year to get it to daily posting even though I was working full time as a blogger.

Daily posting is great, but don’t stretch yourself too thin early on. 2 quality posts a week is better than 7 average ones.

Editorial Calendars

To help with the posting frequency it can be well worth thinking about developing an editorial calendar. For me at different times this meant setting time aside to set goals for the types of posts I wanted to write each week.

Some bloggers take this further and allocate a different type of post for each day of a week (ie Mondays might be the day for reviewing a product, Tuesdays might be a day to do a ‘how to’ post, Wednesdays might be a ‘reader discussion’ day…. etc).

I didn’t do this allocating of topics for days type editorial calendar (at least I never did it for long) but I found when I thought ahead about the content that I wanted to produce, identified topics ahead of time and even set myself deadlines for them that I was much more productive than if I just got up each morning and sat down to write with a blank mind.

Further Reading on Editorial CalendarsEditorial Calendars and Professional Blogging and 7 Ways to Keep Fresh Content Flowing on Your Blog.

What’s Your Bread and Butter?

this guest post is by Dot Com Dud

Bread & Butter.png

In business, the phrase “Bread & Butter” is used to describe something that is core to the success of a business. A good example is a lawyer for whom divorce cases bring in the majority of their income, those cases are their Bread & Butter. Without these cases they would be struggling to fill their workload and bring in an income.

When it comes to posting quality content for your blog you should be careful not to forget your Bread & Butter either. In the case of blogs posts your Bread & Butter are usually posts which are regular features that tie-in to the core topic of the blog. By identifying these posts you can make your work as a blogger a lot easier as well as making your blog’s appeal to readers much more consistent.

Why are Bread & Butter posts important?

Bread & Butter posts help identify what your blog is about, they are the kind of posts that your regular readers will come to expect from your blog. These posts can become your blog’s trademark because readers will associate them with your blog and they will in turn become a part of your brand.

Another advantage of Bread & Butter posts is that you usually wont need a flash of inspiration to write a Bread & Butter post. You’ll know when they need to be posted and what they need to be about, so the hard part is done for you. Not only do they give your blog structure but they will help shape your work flow and the other posts around them.

Examples of Bread & Butter?

A well known example of Bread & Butter posts are income reports on Make Money Online blogs. These work because they appeal to the targeted audience of the MMO niche and they can be relied upon to get the attention of readers.

Some other examples of common Bread & Butter posts on blogs of different topics include;

Progress Updates – These don’t have to be on Make Money blogs only, there are a lot of personal development blogs that would be ideal for regular progress updates.

Regular Reviews – Movies, weekly TV shows, sporting matches etc. Anything that occurs often or on a regular schedule is ideal for posts like this and can be easily used as a basis for an entire blog.

Reoccurring Prizes – If you give away prizes on a regular basis, you can utilise these to create Bread & Butter posts. For each competition you can include an announcement posts, a sponsor “shout out”, a prize update (planned from the start) and naturally the prize drawing. Contests can also feed into progress update posts if they are long running or have specif criteria for the entrants to be informed of (such as a points scoreboard).

Weekly Roundups – Not everyone agrees with the value of having regular posts consisting solely of link lists to your week’s best posts or news from around your niche but they are common enough and usually become a staple for the blog that use them.

Whats your Bread & Butter?

The answer to this question will be different for almost every blog out there, what is important is knowing how to identify the kinds of posts that make up your core blog content.

Once you’ve done this you can start planning your content around them and focus on what makes them successful, so that you can adapt this into new potential Bread & Butter posts.

Ask Yourself:

  • Which posts are the most popular? Follow your readers!
  • Look at your categories and see which have the most content, these posts already make up your core content
  • Are you repeatedly posting about the same topic, why not make them a permanent feature?

You can also run a survey with your readers to find out their favorite posts and what they’d like to see more of. It’s important to remember that a potential post must have longevity if it’s going to become reoccurring content.

In closing, I have only written about the Bread & Butter concept in regards to blog posts but there are plenty of other areas that this idea can be applied to. There are Bread & Butter advertisers, traffic sources, affiliate programs and more but the goal is the same; find out what works, what is reliable and repeatable, then use it to your advantage!