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Dancing Naked Down the Street

This guest post is by Carol White Llewellyn of Family, by Choice.

On July 7, Going Gonzo, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Blog, by Enzo F. Cesario, struck a chord with me.

dancing naked down the street

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His post reminded me of a creative writing course I took with the indomitable Dr. Abraham Rothberg, who passed away earlier this year. Dr. Rothberg was a wise man who advised, “when you write well, you’ll know it. You’ll feel more naked than if you walked nude down Fifth Avenue in New York City.” The Bronx native went on to assert that few New Yorkers would even notice. I’d add that writing well is really more like dancing naked down the street. When you do that, people do notice.

Cesario speaks about the importance of writing honestly … writing uncensored … writing naked. I admit that I have a hard time doing this. It’s only in rare and unguarded moments that my writing dances naked. But I always feel it when it happens.

Sometimes writing naked means voicing criticism. For those of us indoctrinated with the adage “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” criticism may never become integral to our writing. I like to think that’s okay. I can’t help but feel that if one writer doesn’t feel comfortable in critique mode, there’s probably all too many who relish it.

Sometimes it means sharing personal information and feelings. Like mine, your family mantra may scream, “It’s nobody else’s business what happens in our family.” To write “the truest sentence you know,” as Ernest Hemingway always advised, you have to overcome this.

Often, it means breaching your own privacy. I had my online identity stolen a year ago by hacks trying to scam funds from friends and followers, so I fear opening myself to more of the same. Jump the fear.

As for editing, sorry Enzo, I disagree. Less is more. It polishes the diamond. There was one adoption post on my blog, Family, by Choice that I rewrote three times before I felt okay to share it.

There are some topics, and some posts, that lend themselves more to openness. It’s the very rare writer whose words are an open door to their soul. At best, most good writers have to be satisfied with a swinging door.

Be prepared for the sting. You can’t dance naked without running into some hornets. The very first post I wrote on adoption was slammed by an anti-adoption advocate. She’d been adopted by an abusive family and she was vehemently opposed to the institution. After I got over the shock, I was delighted that she’d taken the time to write. I invited her to offer a counter-view. She didn’t. At least I knew the post hadn’t been met with apathy.

All you can do, day after day, week after week, is put yourself out there, warts and all. And on occasion, when the weather’s right and there’s a song in your esprit, your words will dance naked down the street. You’ll be surprised how many will notice.

Does your writing dance naked down the street?

Carol White Llewellyn writes the blog Family, by Choice for which she also produces a cable and online TV program, and The Finger Lakes Travel Maven (travelmaven.wordpress.com), which incorporates occasional video and for which she has begun producing cable TV specials.

What Do Fishing and Blogging Have in Common?

This guest post is by by Kevin Cullis of MacStartup.com.

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” —Benjamin Franklin

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime; sell him fishing supplies and a fishing guide and you’ve got a business.

Most of us start a blog with not much thought other than just to begin writing. But at some point you say: “I’m putting in all of this time into my blog, how do I make money from it?”

There are two parts to any business, including blogging: there’s the craft of your business (graphic art, doctor, lawyer, blogging), then there’s the business of your craft (making a profit from your craft).

Starting a blog first requires answering three main questions:

  1. Why are you writing a blog, what is your purpose for writing?
  2. How will you get it done, what specific actions will get you the results you want?
  3. What will be your expected results of writing your blog?

So what do blogging and fishing have in common? Let’s take a quick look at points 1 and 3, and a longer look at 2.

Question 1: Why?

Ask anybody if they’ve been fishing, and most people will say “yes.” However, when asked, “what are the steps to take to go fishing?” most people are stumped.

Blogging is no different. While you can start a blog and begin writing posts, it’s much like casting your fishing line in the nearest puddle, pond, or stream with no fishing lure, bait on your hook—or even a hook. You need a good reason to be out there.

Question 3: What?

If you’re fishing for fun or the love of fishing, that’s one thing: grab some fishing equipment and hang the “gone fishing” sign up. If you’re fishing because you’re hungry, this takes on a whole new perspective and you’ll hopefully put in some serious thought, or search for answers to help get food onto your kitchen table.

Getting results happens in two ways:

  1. taking action and learning from your mistakes and finding out what is the better way to get results, or
  2. learn from others and their mistakes, thus cutting down the time it takes to get the results you want.

Question 2: How?

Learning the how means having the right answers, and implementing them in the right sequence, to increase your chances of catching your fish (writing your blog). Even then, there are no guarantees. So here are those steps to a more successful blog (and catching fish):

  • Step 1: Who is your ideal customer/blog reader? Describe who your ideal customers are, and in some detail. You have to know the “fish” that you are fishing for, whether that ideal fish is salmon, tuna, or rainbow trout. If money is no object, you can pay the money to travel to Alaska and begin fishing for salmon. However, most of us don’t have that kind of budget, so we grab a fishing pole and head to the nearest fishing hole to cast a line out. Blogging is no different in that you need to know who your audience is and have a small enough niche to become the expert that everyone goes to.
  • Step 2: What problem does your solution/blog solve? What is your audience looking for? What is their ideal solution? In other words, what are your “fish” hungry for? What a salmon eats depends on age, species, and location, and fishing is about finding the right four or five baits or lures that work to increase your chances of catching salmon. Blogging means providing answers your audience is looking for. You can write blogs and guest blogs all day long with no focus, but you’ll go business- or results-hungry if you don’t watch the results of your blog and make the necessary changes. Sometimes blogging, much like fishing, requires trial and error to become successful. I blogged about how to create initial and drop caps in iWork Pages for my book because I worked out the solution, and within weeks it became one of my top viewed posts. If you don’t cast the line, you’ll never get a “bite.” Keep testing and changing to get results you want.
  • Step 3: Where are your customers/readers? Where do they visit, hang out, and connect with other readers of their tribe of offline and/or online connections? You have to know where are the ideal locations or “awesome fishing spots” for your customers/readers. Try fishing for salmon in the backwoods of Kentucky and you’ll go hungry. Write a guest post about Typepad for a WordPress web site and you’ll be rejected because it may not connect with their readers. So, fish where your ideal fish are.
  • Step 4: Why would your customer choose your product/blog over a similar one? What makes your product different, better, or makes it stand out? Choose the best “bait” at your local fishing store or what’s in your tackle box that works for salmon. Your blog “bait” is having an ideal message for ideal reader’s problem. What are the differentiating benefits of your blog from others? What’s your hook?
  • Step 5: How do your customers make buying decisions about your product? What makes them tick about how they choose your product? You have to have the ideal technique to lure your “fish.” Just plopping the hook into the water may not attract a fish. It takes a different technique to “hook” each type of fish. Blogging is no different in that your audience is different from those that read books or magazines. Google Analytics gives you the advantage to change your content overnight to meet your audience’s “starving” needs.
  • Step 6: When is the best time to promote your product to your customer? How often do you have to talk to your customer to get them to consider and then buy your product? You have to know the ideal time to “cast” your line to “hook” your fish. Fish have specific times they feed, which is no different to marketing during holidays, birthdays, or special events like weddings. In this case, as with most any audience or customer, you need to cast your line when they are ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell. The great thing about blogs is the internet guest blog “chum” you can spread around the internet “waters.” Then upload a relevant post (casting your line and lure) and watch the “chum” guest post lead traffic to your blog site.

These six W’s—really five W’s and one H—are the basis for creating a successful blog. While it is easy to “spray and pray” your blog’s content with the hope of being successful, it’s better to watch your post results to see where your “hungry” blog reader’s are taking you. If you get a blog post comment nibble, “Hook ‘em, Dano!”

Kevin Cullis is a former US Air Force officer and considers himself an Entrepreneur, Mac Evangelist, Business Geek, Husband, published author of a Mac business book, readaholic, analytical, balding. He is the founder of MacStartup.com.

How to Silence Readers From Commenting on Your Blog

This guest post is by Ramcel Gatchalian of Meek Watcher.

You wake up one day and check your mobile phone for any new email notifications. There are none. Surprised, you quickly turn your laptop on and glanced at your latest blog post comment status. You can’t believe it. No comments whatsoever. Zero as in zip, zilch, nil, nothing.

silenced

Copyright Artsem Martysiuk - Fotolia.com

You open your Google Analytics to check your blog’s stats. And you feel a bit relieved to learn that you do have a number of pageviews. At least somebody saw your recent post. But how come your visitors left without leaving any comment on your blog? Not a single one!

Your blog is turning into a “ghost town” as far as I can tell. People just pass by, leaving no trace. The worst part is you have been blogging for several months now and it has been the same ever since.

“So, what seems to be wrong?” you ask yourself. Well, you may have honed the skill of silencing your readers. And just how did you refine this flair? Let’s count the ways.

1. You don the cloak of invisibility

You may have published a number of articles and achieved traffic of some kind, but unless you relentlessly promote your blog you will simply be a little spark in the blogosphere. No matter how great your content is.

2. You don’t extend any invitations

It may sound silly, but people usually won’t do something if you don’t ask them to. In fact, even if you turn out the best article you can craft, if it hasn’t been written to actually inspire interaction, people will have no reason to comment. So why don’t you invite them to comment on your blog, literally?

3. You don’t tickle their fancies

Readers love to think—especially if they find your article interesting, relevant, and engaging. It encourages them to wear their thinking hats and add their thoughts on the subject matter. If you don’t entice conversation and close your topic with a few questions, then why are you expecting answers?

4. You are such a party-stopper

Why, oh why do you force your readers to register or log in to your blog? Do you think they find it fun to type valuable insights in that comment box of yours, only to hit a message that says they’re not signed in and they need to register? You wasted their precious time—something that cannot be brought back.

5. You just give them a reason to leave

Readers came, but felt lonely since nobody was commenting. Why should they be the first? It isn’t fun to go to a party with no people at it. And you are not a DoFollow.

Something to muse about

Now that you came to realize these “talents” of yours, are you ready to go to the next level? I hope not. Let’s go for an open session: how can you counter these pitfalls? If you are a budding blogger, what advice you can give to bloggers who are in this situation?

Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it. —Frank Sinatra

Ramcel Gatchalian is a blogger who writes about Blogging and a food critique on his Food Blog. Checkout his blogs where he shares his finds about blogging and how he can tease your food craving.

Understanding Blogging Arbitrage

This guest post is by Kevin Muldoon of WordPress Mods.

As I used to run a few poker discussion forums and information websites, a large part of my income over the last several years has come from poker referral commissions. Commissions have dropped every month over the last few years, which is not a big shock since I sold my last gambling related site about five years ago. What was a big shock was the recent poker ban in the USA, resulting in thousands of dollars being taken away from me every month.

Strangely, this has not necessarily been a bad thing for me—quite the opposite. Having a constant stream of income every month for several years was great, though it did make me lazy in many respects. With these commissions gone from my monthly income, I have found myself really focused to get things done and get things done sooner.

The first thing on my agenda was to reduce outgoing costs. Sadly that meant letting two regular writers of my blog go (for the time being) until I can reassess where income can be improved. I enjoy writing so I don’t mind taking on extra writing responsibilities for my blog, though it did make me analyze my own duties more.

What is your time worth?

One of the biggest questions I had to ask myself when my income dropped was, “How much is my time worth?” If you make money from a number of different areas online (e.g. affiliate commissions, blogging, flipping websites and domains, etc.), this isn’t an easy thing to answer, particularly if your schedule changes from day to day.

If you are a blog owner and spend a lot of time writing articles for your own blog, there is a more suitable question to ask: “How much is my time worth as a blogger?” This is something I asked myself when thinking about the long-term posting strategy for my blog. Is some of my time better spent writing for other blogs and websites?

Consider a blog owner who writes one 1,000 word article for his blog every single day but unfortunately has no money to spend on writers. If he were able to find a good writer it would be in his interests to hire him if he was able to secure a writing job for himself at a much higher rate.

For example, if the blog owner got a blogging job that paid him $50 for every 1,000 word article, they would have the funds to hire a blogger at $25 per 1,000 word article. The blog owner would of course expect that the articles were of an equal or higher quality of his own. The outcome being another article being published on his blog plus $25 in profit from his own writing position.

In economics this is known as Arbitrage. Arbitrage is the concept of taking advantage of the difference in price between two markets. If someone can exploit this, their profit will be the difference in prices. Those who have dabbled in PPC marketing will be aware of this concept, as it’s used by many affiliate marketers to make money through Adsense. (In short, they bid low for certain keywords on PPC services and hope to make a profit when the user clicks on an Adsense advertisement which pays out more.)

Therefore, blogging arbitrage could be described as:

The difference in price between the rate you personally charge as a blogger and the rate you can pay to other bloggers to take over your writing responsibilities.

There are some things to bear in mind when applying this strategy:

  • You need to take a note of the time you are spending writing articles for others. Getting paid twice the rate you pay out is irrelevant if the articles are taking you three times as long to write.
  • A little time needs to be set aside when hiring writers for your blog, as it can be time consuming emailing them with advice and guidance, proof reading their posts, and then arranging payment.

Taking advantage of blogging arbitrage

I don’t believe that any blogger should spend more time blogging for others than on their own site. It’s important to have an input into your own blog and not let additional work slow your blog’s progress.

There are benefits of using blogging arbitrage, though. Not only is it an extra way of making money, it also helps promote your own blog. Most blogs have an author bio at the bottom of each article where some information about the author and a link to their website can be found. Therefore, writing for other blogs will bring you some extra money and traffic back to your blog.

The additional income is something that is vital for bloggers who are starting out and are looking for ways to increase their profits, so the benefits of using blogging arbitrage will decrease as your blog becomes more successful.

Nevertheless, I think that it is an important principle to understand. Have you ever used blogging arbitrage? Does it sound like a tactic that could help you make your blog more profitable?

Kevin Muldoon is a webmaster and blogger who lives in Central Scotland. His current project is WordPress Mods; a blog which focuses on WordPress Themes, Plugins, Tutorials, News and Modifications.

The 23 Blogger Breeds—Which Are You?

This guest post was written by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence.

A new blogger is born today! Aw, look at her beautiful blue Twitter and Facebook icon eyes and her cute little RSS nose. This baby blogger does not know the perils of comment moderation, stalkers, low traffic, and spam that await her. I wonder what type of blogger she’ll be.

The blogosphere is populous and it keeps growing. With millions of bloggers out there, there are a certain number of very identifiable qualities that are seen. This blogger aims to cover as many of those qualities, or “breeds,” as possible.

While there may be some purebreds out there, 99.832% of bloggers will be mutts, possessing a combination of these traits. Keep that in mind and don’t blame me for oversimplifying your primary breed! It is highly unlikely that you are a purebred.

You can consider this a tribute to blogging, but it will be educational as well as I’m listing pros and cons for every breed. You will laugh. You will relate. You will (probably not) cry. Enjoy!

1. The Machine

Blogger machines know how to pump out content … like a machine. They post on a daily basis and sometimes multiple times per day. Microbloggers fall into this category as they write very short, frequent posts.

Pros

  1. SEO— the more content you have, the more information Google has to work with.
  2. The readers of a machine blogger know that they can visit every day and still get fresh content—possibly boosting reader engagement and traffic.

Cons

  1. Burnout—I can’t imagine having to post every day (let alone multiple times a day) without getting mentally exhausted. That could be because some of my posts take me 15 hours to write, but I know I’m not alone in this.
  2. Quality could suffer from the obligation to produce content every day and forcing the issue when inspiration is lacking.

2. The Ninja

Ninjas are stealth bloggers and the opposite of machines. While the machines are pumping out blog posts like ipads, the ninjas are sitting back for days or weeks without posting. When the time is right, the ninja strikes with a mind-boggling post and dashes away for another few days … or weeks.

Pros

  1. Every post is special. Like the Summer Olympics and World Cup are special for being held every four years, new blog posts are a rare treat for fans of the blog.
  2. Quality can absolutely be assured if each post is being crafted over several sessions and multiple days.

Cons

  1. The audience might forget you exist if you post once every fortnight.
  2. If a new post fails to impress, there is a high probability of unsubscribes or generally upset readers. The stakes are higher and the consequences are greater when you post less frequently.

3. The Social Engineer

Social engineers are on Twitter and Facebook more than their own blog. They are the masters of the social world. There is something about the way they conduct themselves online that draws people towards them. That something could be that they are connected everywhere with 50 different social accounts—Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Google, Yahoo Buzz, Reddit, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, etc.

Pros

Social Engineers are very popular. They know what social media platforms to use and how to use them best. Their reach is far and they are always up to date with the latest social gadgets (such as Google’s +1 button).

Cons

Oh, they have blogs too? Social media is notorious for sucking away valuable time for trivial socializing. Social engineers are particularly vulnerable to this as their popularity results in many social interactions.

4. The Name-Dropper

Chris Brogan said that…

Darren Rowse did this…

53 other bloggers in my niche are great because…

Excessive name dropping is not my favorite for a few reasons, but some people thrive on it. Name-droppers mention other bloggers very frequently. If you become very entrenched in the industry and your blog topic is relevant to what other bloggers have said, you might find yourself dropping names everywhere.

Pros

From what I’ve seen, name droppers benefit tremendously from their efforts. They come across as unselfish “community bloggers.” The people that they mention will often be so flattered that they return the favor or at least leave a comment and share.

Cons

If people with my mindset visit your blog and just see you dropping names all over the place in most articles, we’re going to ask, “Okay, but what do you bring to the table?” Sometimes name-droppers will drop names because they know it gets a lot of attention. Skeptical bloggers like me wonder if excessive name droppers actually do it for selfish reasons (i.e. it helps their blog grow).

5. The Soloist

I see Steve Pavlina as a near purebred soloist. I frequent his blog and know that he does not write guest posts, accept guest posts, have a public email address, or allow comments on his blog. He has never spent any money on advertising. When you visit his blog, you’re getting Steve Pavlina and nothing else.

Pros

  1. If you’re very good like Mr. Pavlina, then you can just focus on writing great content and word of mouth will eventually spread everywhere. Steve has said that his blog grew because people wanted to share his content. I have shared his content often.
  2. Not needing to worry about writing for others, moderating comments, editing guest posts, and responding to emails is a HUGE time and energy saver.

Cons

  1. Most blogs will die if they are not connected, advertising and promoting themselves, writing guest posts, allowing comments, etc.
  2. Being out on an island has drawbacks too. You might be perceived as elitist or self-absorbed if you don’t engage with others.

Note: When bloggers reach a certain level of fame, it is very common to develop soloist tendencies. Don’t take it personally, they just want more time to write posts and spend more time with their family. It takes a lot of time to thoughtfully respond to 100 comments, emails, and tweets per day!

6. The Copy Blogger

This one has nothing to do with copyblogger.com, a fantastic copywriting blog. Copy [space] bloggers are actually terrible. Some of them will rip content word-for-word from other blogs’ RSS feeds (some person is doing this to my blog). Others will paraphrase content they read on other blogs without attempting to create their own content.

Pros

It is possible to get better content than you’re capable of creating—for free and without doing any work.

Cons

Oh that’s right, it’s illegal. Darn.

7. The Guest

Guests are always seen writing for other blogs. You’ve seen it—you’ll read two articles on two different blogs only to see they were by the same author of yet another blog! Guests feel at home on other blogs that have more influence than their own. There is something warm and cozy about traffic spikes.

I am one of them. ProBlogger seems to be my favorite host. At time of writing, I’ve written as many guest posts for ProBlogger as the others combined! I write for my own blog sometimes too.

Pros

Seasoned guest bloggers know the pros already—inbound links for SEO, increased traffic, credibility, valuable connections, and many more. Guest blogging is good.

Cons

Guest posting on a relatively dead blog is not fun. You’ll find yourself refreshing the page to see if there is any action—but nothing. You’ll look for incoming traffic on your own blog—but nothing.

I once guest-posted on a blog that buried my post under three other articles in the same day (I won’t be posting there again).

8. The Host

Guests need hosts. The purebred hosts are those blogs who live off of guest posts. They have enough traffic and reputation to consistently attract high quality content.

ProBlogger is the quintessential host of the blogosphere. Darren blogs here every once in a while, but if you’re a regular here, you know that the next post is probably going to be a guest post like this one. Guests like myself are very thankful for the opportunity to contribute!

Pros

Darren doesn’t have to write another article for ProBlogger ever again if he doesn’t want to. There is enough content coming in that he can simply post whenever he feels like it. Premium hosts can ride the wave of success into the sunset if they so choose.

Cons

It does take quite a bit of work to sort through guest posts, edit them, and manage the whole guest-posting process.

9. The Commentator

You see this blogger everywhere. They are not guest posters, they are the commentators. After every blog post you read, you scroll down to the comment section, and sure enough, there is the dude that commented on the last five blogs you visited.

Pros

I love commenting on blogs. It is enjoyable to engage with others who produce quality content. There are also some who believe that commenting is a viable traffic-generating strategy, but that has not been my experience.

Cons

  1. Some comments are better than others. If you leave stereotypical “great post” comments everywhere you go, nobody will like you or visit your blog.
  2. If leaving comments is your main strategy for getting traffic, I doubt it is going to get you very far. Correct me if I’m wrong.

10. The Evil Spammer (Sploggers)

Spam. Did you just shudder when you read that? Recent surveys show that approximately 0% of bloggers enjoy spam (that includes the internet and canned versions). Spam isn’t always in the obvious form of broken English and a shady link—sometimes the commentators will covertly use your comment area as a platform to advertise their blog and products.

Pros

It can work to the tune of a whole lot of money for those who run automated programs. It can also work to get sploggers more traffic. (That link is from a 2005 ProBlogger article and is a fascinating read … a little dated, but still good).

Cons

Everyone will hate you because spam is the worst.

11. The Comedian

The comedian is always out to make us laugh. Some blogs have that as the only goal. Other blogs are about different topics, but have an author that can’t resist to squeeze in a one-liner or share a funny story.

Pros

Who doesn’t like to laugh? Seriously, I’d be interested to know the answer to that. The fact is that laughter is enjoyable and a successfully comedic blogger will be able to gain fans quickly because people love to share funny content.

Cons

If your humor fails to impress, it has the opposite effect of “gaining fans quickly.” There will be some people out there that don’t appreciate your particular style of humor. Humor doesn’t mix well with all niches (sewing?).

12. The Statistician

Statisticians see blogging as a numbers game. They are usually the ones who make the most money because they track what visitors or doing and why. Then they make changes based off of that information.

You’ll hear them talk about “conversions” a lot—which is the number of desired actions divided by the number of visitors. Three advertisement clicks out of 100 visitors is a 3% conversion rate.

Pros

As I said, they tend to be able to make more money by making tweaks and experimenting with their sales pages. Split testing allows them to isolate variables and make definitive conclusions.

Cons

  1. Statisticians could possibly make poor decisions by interpreting data incorrectly.
  2. Analyzing statistics is a time-consuming affair (but the results can make it worthwhile).

13. The Authoritative Guru

Gurus are the unquestioned leaders in their niche—Darren Rowse, Seth Godin, Brian Clark, Stephen Guise, Steve Pavlina, Chris Brogan, Leo Babauta, etc. They have legions of followers and their advice carries a lot of weight. It takes a lot of time, effort, and talent to be in this elite group.

What? You’ve never heard of Stephen Guise? Don’t worry about it.

Pros

Yes, these guys are pros. They do well financially, are the most respected bloggers, and carry an enormous amount of influence in the blogosphere.

Cons

With great exposure comes greater amounts of spam, haters, and hackers to deal with.

14. The Experts

One step below the gurus are the experts. Experts may know their subject inside and out, but they lack the notoriety of the gurus. There are many experts in each niche. It typically takes great content over time to build up an expert reputation in your niche.

Pros

Lots of traffic from people wanting trust-worthy answers, a high degree of respect from peers (including other media outlets), and a very loyal following.

Cons

Increased pressure. When you are considered an expert, the pressure is on to live up to that. If you say something half-witted, you can expect a strong reaction by those who are waiting for you to mess up so they can announce it to the world.

15. The Inspiration

I think of Jon Morrow from Copyblogger as the face of this group. His story is so amazing and inspiring that it has a profound effect on everyone who hears it. He is also a fantastic writer.

Blogging is full of inspiring people and stories. Stories of people quitting the 9-5 job they hated to blog full-time and make more money. Amazing success stories of very young bloggers making five figures a month and traveling the globe. Others like Tim Ferriss that seem to succeed in everything they do.

This is such a broad category because inspiration comes in many different forms from different sources. Sometimes the people inspire us, other times the content inspires us. I’ve come to think that blogging is a communication medium packed full of inspiration—a wonderful thing.

Pros

Everyone loves to be inspired. Much good comes from it—changing lives, changing the world, and success.

Cons

A con about inspiring others? The only possible con would be if you inspired others to live incorrectly.

16. The Grammatical Failure

These bloggers aren’t the best with written language. I feel somewhat bad about including this, but it is what it is. Most readers won’t demand perfect grammar, but we all have our limits of what we will tolerate.

Pros

It is possible to write posts very quickly if no attention is given to grammar.

Cons

If the grammar is bad enough, I and many others won’t revisit a blog. Undoubtedly, many promising blogs have died from grammatical failure. I do, however, remember seeing a blog with disgusting grammar that had over 4,000 subscribers—so it isn’t always fatal.

17. The Disruptor

Disruptors create waves in the still waters of the blogosphere. They call people out. The write controversial posts more often than not. They challenge the status quo.

Pros

Disruptive posts have a greater chance of going viral (something all blogger dream about) than posts that fit neatly into a well-known category. I’ve noticed that disruptors are usually popular because they stand out so much from the crowd. Julien Smith at inoveryourhead is a popular disruptor.

Cons

When disruptors try too hard and aren’t very good at it, it is like watching a middle-aged white man try to dance. (When I’m a middle-aged white man, I will change this stereotype, but I still have 25 years to go.)

18. The Marketing Maven

Marketing mavens know what combination of words will psychologically induce you to buy a product. Scary, huh? These bloggers are often found in the making money online niche and simply know how to promote themselves and products.

Pros

If you are an expert marketer, you stand to make a great deal of money online. In most cases, excellent marketing of an average product exceeds the sales of average marketing of an excellent product. Darren gave a great example of the magic of marketing in this article.

Cons

If you’re constantly marketing (I’m talking to you, Twitter broadcasters) and selling, many people will grow weary of you and you could lose potential business. Once a customer thinks you see them as a sales opportunity, they will be hesitant to purchase from you. Then again, savvy marketers know how to avoid this perception.

19. The Beloved

Everyone loves _____!

These bloggers have the personality and charm to somehow avoid the haters and gain (nearly) universal praise and adoration. My guess is that they use a potent airborne concoction of concentrated love powder that can be dispersed through the internet.

It’s possible that they’re just too amazing to dislike. Still, I think this becomes very difficult as you gain influence and notoriety … unless you’re Barbara Walters.

Pros

We love them. All of us.

Cons

What’s not to love about being loved?

20. The SEO Fanatic

You think you’re reading a post written for you, but sorry, these bloggers are having an affair with Google. Oh the passion … Er, I mean they just want to rank well for particular keywords.

Pros

Search engine optimization done right can result in massive traffic numbers and increased sales.

Cons

  1. SEO fanatics might be tempted to try some “black hat” SEO tactics that Google doesn’t appreciate and get banned or demoted.
  2. Stuffing an article with keywords has a chance of sounding contrived, unoriginal, and repetitive.

21. The Passion Purist

Passion purists refuse to write about anything they wouldn’t lose a kidney for. They aren’t into making money by working the system and using SEO on an untapped niche of little interest. They blog because they have passion for the subject matter. Some make money and some do not.

Pros

Passion is contagious, and humans are attracted to it. If readers sense that a blogger is very passionate about a subject and they share interest in that subject, there is a good chance they will stick around.

Cons

  1. Missed opportunities to gain traffic, money, and sales from writing about something that isn’t inspired.
  2. Only posting when passion is present could mean an erratic and/or infrequent posting schedule – the effect of which is negative (debatable).

22. The Money Purist

These bloggers will blog about anything to make money. Blogging is a job and a business to them and pa$$ions exist to be monetized.

Pros

  1. Money purists are very intentional about making money and therefore will plan from the start how they plan to accomplish that.
  2. They are very likely to make more money than most bloggers as that is their primary focus.

Cons

  1. Possible burnout as a result of not caring what they write about.
  2. Potentially less enjoyment (offset by extra money?)

23. The Conglomerate

These are massive blogs that have an entire team behind the operation and multiple writers. Engadget is a popular tech blog that falls under this category.

Pros

  1. They get traffic numbers that make me nervous.
  2. They can make an enormous amount of money.

Cons

Conglomerate blogs don’t have the personal touch that individual bloggers have. You don’t go to Engadget to engage with their writers—you go there to read about the iPhone 5.

Honorable mentions

The blogosphere is bigger than this article of 3000+ words, and I simply couldn’t cover everything. So here are some honorable mentions (you can guess what they might mean).

The Moral Compass/Preacher, The Emotion Generator, The Mommy Blogger, The Novelist, The Fake, The Mystery, The Lurker…

Which breeds did I miss?

Stephen Guise spent a long time writing this. He blogs at Deep Existence, where deep thinking is deemed appropriate. If you subscribe, you’ll get a free ebook on how to remove stress permanently. Deal?

How to Build Trust by Association

This guest post is by David Edwards of www.asittingduck.com.

When I started my site I had no clue about animation, illustration, or online marketing. It’s almost three years since the site went live, so by now I could have started University again (I quit in the first term at the age of 20) and have an official qualification in one of those fields.

Let’s say I did that, and today I started my website. Would I still have to build trust and gain success by association? Yes! The good news is, if you haven’t got a degree and you want to run a successful website, there is nothing stopping you!

Even to this day people are intrigued to know how I managed to convince a small team of animators to trust me and build a viral series around a few doodles that I did on the back of a house bill. This is how I did it, and how you can do something similar within your own niche.

I started with one contact…

Out of my whole high-school year, as far as I’m aware the only pupil to leave and start a company was a mate of mine, Matthew Adams, who started Webfactore. That was the first rung on the ladder to success—a nice discount on the website!

Then I used the Facebook search box to hunt down an animator in Cardiff. Why animation? I like drawing and I was fascinated by a viral animation from America called “Charlie the Unicorn.” I thought it was amazing that one guy and a couple of mates managed to get millions of people to view their cartoon—it’s even been the topic of a question on “Jeopardy”!

Luke Hyde was the first animator I found and he was happy to meet me. It was luck, really, as he was the first person I asked, and at the time he had no contracts to work on. You can get lucky, but if you don’t, keep searching for someone!

Through Luke, I tapped into a creative world that I’d never been a part of.

I’ve always doodled and sketched—it used to help pass the time away when I worked in a telesales job. But I never knew that people actually made money from it. Through Luke I met Flash animators, illustrators, sound engineers … the list goes on!

When you start to build an online business it can feel overwhelming and you tend to think that everyone seems to be more resourceful than you. If you’re an avid reader and blogger, well, believe it or not, that’s a very powerful skill to have, and you can trade that skill with other people to get what you need.

Also if you have patience and show that you’re not just going to sap someones resources and run, you will have the chance to gain respect from the person and his or her circle of friends.

I never got complacent with networking

If you do gain a bit of success through association, keep going. I cemented links in the creative industry, then set my sights on the marketing industry. Why? Because these guys are crushing it when it comes to work ethic and connections. Five top affiliate marketers can reach out to tens of thousands of potential customers!

I did some more searching and eventually found Alex Jeffreys, who’s well know in the affiliate marketing world, having launched several successful coaching programs. I spoke to Alex on the phone and he was happy to help me. I also attended his seminar in London, which was an awesome opportunity to meet other marketers, and meet Alex in person.

Alex has taught me some key points to rapidly grow my presence online. Here are some of his tips:

  • Leverage each stage you’re at: If you only have five people that are helping you online, that’s not
    just five people! It could be 500 people, if each person has a social network of 100 friends. For instance, if you were friends with me on YouTube, and I liked your video, I have 10,000 friends to share it with. That’s very powerful leverage!
  • Don’t market to the whole world: Alex has built a very profitable business from looking after his confirmed subscribers. He very rarely reaches out to the masses on Twitter or Facebook, as lots of his subscribers do it for him.
  • Consistently add value: You should look to email a useful piece of content once a month and build up trust. Go from a blog post, to an audio podcast, to a video. Once people get a range of content over six months or so, they will absolutely love you!

Building trust by association will help with sales

Many bloggers and site owners try to make and launch products. There is a huge market and there are hungry buyers, but from my experience, you have to concentrate far more on networking and connecting with successful people, than on locking yourself in a room until your ebook is complete.

Once you have established yourself with people in your niche, then interact with your prospects, you’ll have a much better idea of how loudly your till is going to ring!

Have you tried to connect with other website owners face to face? I would love to read your stories.

David Edwards is an internet marketing consultant and the founder of www.asittingduck.com.

Creating Great Content for Today’s Social Web

This guest post is by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting.

Welcome to an increasingly social landscape on the Web.  Social media started this shift from information to conversation, and now with the search engines increasingly using social signals to determine what to show searchers it’s a trend that, as a publisher, you have to get on top of to write and promote great content.

This post will discuss the movement of Bing and Google towards social search, and how that affects the organic search landscape. Then I’ll provide some tips on how this impacts your writing and promotion of your content.

Search and social integration

The integration of search and social media is already here.  Back in October 2010, Bing and Facebook announced plans for tighter integration. As I learned when I interviewed Bing’s Stefan Weitz, Bing is already using Facebook signals as a ranking factor:

“… if any of my friends anywhere have liked any (relevant) link across the entire world wide web, I am going to inject that link into my results page.”

Stefan refers to the notion of boosting a search result just because one of my friends Liked it.  But that is just the beginning, as we also can see that Bing is making use of the wisdom of the crowd, as per this example search on the New York Post:


Even if none of the 54 people that Liked “15 Best Dresses” are my Facebook friends, Bing thinks the article’s popularity is still noteworthy enough to show it to me.

Google does not have as close a relationship with Facebook, but is making use of other social services such as Twitter, and recently launched Google+

The bottom line is that social signals are a ranking factor in the search engines’ algorithms, and you can’t ignore this.

The social media revolution has much broader implications

We don’t know exactly how the Web will continue to evolve, but we know that more major changes are coming our way.  To get a perspective on why this is, consider the three major stages of the Web’s evolution so far:

  1. the initial failure of the Dot-Com Bubble from 1998-2000: too much focus on a land-grab mentality without understanding how to make money in the process
  2. the combined revolutions of ecommerce (Amazon, EBay, et al) and getting instant access to all the world’s information online (Google): this second stage is still unfolding and the third stage is already underway
  3. the social media revolution: this is driven by instant and continuous access to your friends, and the ability to communicate and engage simply.  Texting, Facebook, Twitter are the current driving forces, but more are to come.  People love these short communications so much that email is becoming passé, and the idea of making a phone call seems unnatural to many teenagers.

What has come with this third wave is a new way of communicating and a whole new emphasis on relationships.  People are beginning to associate online familiarity with your personality and who you are, and with trust. And trust sells, trust engages, trust makes people come back.

The implications of this on how you approach your writing are profound.  And, chances are that the importance of this social approach to writing will only become more important.

Impact on your writing: three critical concepts you must adhere to

1.  Build relationships with your audience

Social networks like a personal approach.  They want to see your personality.  They want you to share. They want you to evoke emotions.  These elements are key to creating engagement not just with your content, but with you.  Social networks make you more accessible to your potential readers and can play a significant role in growing your reach.

I remember when I first began publishing sites on the Web, the approach I used was dry and academic.  This was the strategy I used to communicate authority and trust.  I am beginning to think that this is no longer the right approach.  Do you trust the advice of a university professor that you have never spoken to?  Or does the combined opinions of your friends count for more?

The wisdom of the crowd is very much upon us and it is only going to get stronger.  As a writer, you need to accept the notion that trust comes from familiarity with you, and your ability to be approachable will enable you to communicate your message.

2.  Tell me why I care

The other big factor that emerges from the ability to get all the world’s information online is that there is too much information. We are more impatient than ever.  If I am going to spend the time reading your article, whether or not I trust you, tell me why I should read this article in the first paragraph.  Get to the point.

3.  Strive for uniqueness, not “me too”

Lastly, don’t waste your time writing “me too” content.  To see what I mean, consider this screen shot:

Making French toast is really, really easy.  I have not made it in 20 years, but I can still tell you how in two minutes.  We don’t need 2.54 million web pages on the topic!

For the search engines, showing multiple results with little distinction from one another is a waste of time.  For your average web surfer, reading more than one such article is a complete waste of time.  So even if I trust you, and even if you tell me what the article is about in the first paragraph, don’t waste my time with a useless review of something that tons of other people have already covered. Give me something new!

Mastering these concepts is essential for today’s bloggers.  Those who get there the fastest will be tomorrow’s authorities.

Promoting your writing

This may be the most straightforward part of this post.  You do need to integrate basic social elements into your posts.  This includes elements such as the Facebook Like, Send, and Share buttons, a Tweet This button, and perhaps a Google +1 button.  While the +1 button does not have the same usage level as the other elements yet, one can expect a meaningful integration into Google+ in the near future.

Going a little deeper, consider using Facebook Comments instead of the built-in comments capability of your blog platform. The content from the comments does not show up as search engine-visible text on your web page, but given that you are writing original posts, this is probably not critical.

But what it does do is function like a Facebook Share.  It shows up in the News Feed of the commenter, and the News Feeds of all their friends.  This is a great way to spread the visibility of your posts. It also provides some inherent spam protection, as no one will leave a spammy comment behind unless they have taken the trouble to setup a throwaway Facebook account.

Also, think of ways to entice your reader to engage more with your blog.   Ask a leading question at the end of your post to invite comments.  Install functionality that suggests other related posts they can read next.

The most subtle part of promotion is the way you use the social networks themselves as a direct extension of your blog.  Daily activity on Twitter and Facebook may prove to be a great way to build the personality and trust that people are looking for.  They both offer great platforms for viral spread of ideas you want to communicate.

Use these platforms to communicate the same types of messages as you do on your blog, but in smaller doses of course.  Use them to establish your personality and build the trust.

Is your content social-web-friendly?

Fully embracing the social revolution is key to the blogger’s long term success.  Based on the pace of the evolution of the Web over the past decade, it is reasonable to expect that the next major shift in web behavior is around the corner.

Three years from now, those of us who are centered on Facebook, Twitter, and texting, but have not yet adopted the next new thing that comes after them will be seen as being behind the times.  There will be many more paradigm shifts in our lifetime, and it will be important to stay as current as you can. Use the media that your audiences use to communicate with your audience.  It sounds simple, and yet it is critically important.

The first step though, is to adapt to the changes that have already taken place.  I could call this a requirement for survival, but I always use a positive mindset—I consider it an opportunity to excel.

Eric Enge is the President of Stone Temple Consulting, a 20 person SEO and PPC consulting firm with offices in Boston and Northern California. Eric is a crusty old veteran with 30 years working experience in technology and the Internet. STC provides Internet Marketing Optimization services to companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies.

Why Bieber SEO Copywriting Sex Doesn’t iPad Work Minecraft

This guest post is by Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

Today, I bring you heresy. Not on the scale of Galileo trying to convince Pope Urban VIII that the sun doesn’t revolve around the Earth, but close enough.

Stop believing the lies. SEO is a fool’s errand.

SEO copywriting is the worst invention since the vuvuzela, and does at least as much to drown out coherent thought. I’m not talking merely about the damage SEO does in the hands of independent bloggers like (presumably you) and me. Visit the landing pages of some major corporations and other business entities, and you’ll see particular words and phrases dispersed and repeated through the text so awkwardly that the finished product barely qualifies as English.

Here’s an excerpt from a famous American hotel’s landing page. Discretion forced me to substitute the name of another city for the hotel’s actual city, which will make it .002% more difficult for you to figure out what hotel the passage refers to:

Your Ultimate Cincinnati Experience Begins At Our Cincinnati Hotel Resort.

Elevate your experience at the (5-word phrase describing the hotel). See all the changes that make our Cincinnati hotel new – up down and all around. The best value on the Cincinnati Strip, the (5-word phrase describing the hotel) offers affordable dining, spacious hotel accommodations, exciting Cincinnati hotel casino games, headline entertainment and some of the best thrill rides in the world, all in a central location. Boasting the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States west of the Mississippi, this iconic Cincinnati hotel is recognizable all over the world. Visit the indoor and outdoor observation decks in the (5-word phrase describing the hotel) to see why our panoramic view of Cincinnati was voted the Best of Cincinnati for 2010 and 2011 by the Cincinnati Review-Journal. Dine in the city’s only revolving restaurant, Top of the World, offering 360 degree views of Cincinnati. Grab a drink at one of our many lively bars. Take advantage of our exceptional Cincinnati hotel deals and relax in our spacious rooms.

Wait, where are you located? And what type of establishment is it again? Thanks, I wasn’t sure. The accompanying photos of the hotel and the iconic skyline it inhabits weren’t giving me a clue either.

No one has ever read that preceding dreadful paragraph in its entirety, possibly not even the person who wrote it, ran it through an SEO program and then posted it.

The worst part is that the people responsible know that SEO “copywriting” results in non-syntactical gibberish, yet don’t care.

Why?

SEO devotees got trapped in the minutiae and lost sight of the ultimate objective: getting people to buy. Everything else is secondary, including intermediate and tertiary goals such as moving up in Google rankings.

It’s as if you were to make it your life’s work to keep your car’s license plate as legible as possible. You shampoo it daily, then buffer it with the most reflective wax you can buy, letting the plate serve as a gleaming reminder to the vehicle behind you of who you are and what state you live in. Meanwhile, you never bother to change the oil, check the tire pressure, fix the shattered windshield, or even confirm that you filled the tank and inserted your key in the ignition.

SEO not only shouldn’t be an end in itself, it runs counter to the more basic goal of getting people to hear what you have to say. The above paragraph could have read something like this:

The best value on the Strip boasts affordable dining, enormous rooms, casino games, spectacular entertainment and world-famous thrill rides, capped by the highest observation tower west of the Mississippi. Stand behind the glass, brave the elements, or even enjoy a gourmet meal, 1,149 feet above the ground.

It’s not Shakespeare, nor even Dickens, but it gets the point across. More importantly, it would get read. Perhaps not by Google crawlers, but by eyes connected to heads (and indirectly to wallets.)

If you’re writing for Google crawlers, or anything other than humans, the battle is already lost. Otherwise, who are you writing for? Literally no one. For people who preach SEO as a moral imperative, verbal resonance doesn’t matter as much as strategic keyword placement.

Oh, isn’t Greg being cute and naive. His right-dominant brain thinks that cold science is sullying his precious art.

No. SEO isn’t a hard discipline like chemistry or physics. It’s an attempt to codify a metric that has only a tangential relationship (and occasionally an adversarial one) with the more important one of attracting customers. You remember customers, right? The people who buy your products?

Telling a talented writer to write for SEO is the equivalent of someone having told Mozart, “Those concertos of yours are okay, but you should include at least one diminished seventh chord and a couple of appoggiaturas every ten measures.”

There are even better arguments for the death of SEO, one of which is an insurmountable little mathematical problem. Just as not all children can be above average, not all sites can be optimized. If they could be, then your definition of optimization is wrong. If every blogger in your field intersperses the same select words and phrases throughout her copy, the result is nothing. You can’t have everyone move up in the rankings. If you have 100 competing sites, and they all adopt the latest SEO practices, what remains are … 100 competing sites. When every blogger spends less time creating content and more time trying to please algorithms, the result is that no one benefits and readers now have a more difficult time sifting through everything. It’s the Tragedy of the Common Nouns.

And another thing. No one mentions that every time you Google something, the initial page grossly overstates the number of results. People see an intimidating 7- or 8-digit monstrosity that’s supposed to represent how many instances of the relevant phrase exist online, and then those people panic. 

For instance, entering “control your cash” (with quotes) ostensibly returns 8,410,000 results. (Fortunately, the top six that appear in the screen capture all happen to reference my site.)

Search results

Of course, I indeed searched for that phrase when I was thinking of names for my site. At that time, had I wanted to, I could have thought, “Oh my Lord. Even if I somehow add enough keywords in my copy that I reach the 99th percentile, there will still be 84,100 results ahead of me. Google displays them ten to a page, so unless a searcher is willing to press the arrow labeled “Next” at the bottom of the page 8,410 times, no one will ever see me.”

Try pressing that “Next” arrow anyway and see what happens. Go ahead, I’ll wait and meet you back here 8,410 clicks from now.

More search results

“Control your cash” doesn’t return 8,410,000 usable results. It returns 479 unique results. And that’s for a fairly generic phrase. If you want people to search for something more specific, such as (“heating ventilation and air conditioning” + “Fremantle” + “open Sundays”), you don’t need to season your pages with endless repetition of the same words. You just need to exist and be a little self-aware.

Writing is still the fundamental form of communication among literate people, last I checked. And those same literate people expect other literate people to speak to them as clearly and concisely as possible. That sound you heard was Strunk and White emerging from their graves, bloodied but undead, ready to tap a bony finger on anyone who thinks that doing the opposite of writing something compelling is going to boost business.

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].

Why You Should Never Comment on Blogs. Ever.

This guest post is by David Hartstein of Wired Impact.

I’m sure you’ve heard well-reasoned, logical arguments for why you should be commenting on blogs:

  • “You can be a part of the conversation happening out there.”
  • “You can build your own authority.”
  • “You can drive traffic to your blog.”

But, while there may be a burned, unpopped kernel of truth in these statements, none of them take into account the many reasons you should never comment on a blog.

Well here are some of those reasons for your consideration.

First of all, you shouldn’t even begin to think about commenting unless you have something really profound to say.  If you merely express agreement, it is likely judgment will rain down upon you.  As, to be fair, it should.  There is no room for mere opinions in the comment section of a blog.  It is a blog after all.  No feelings, just facts.

Plus, there’s a good chance you don’t have the authority to be commenting on a post.  I mean, if someone is writing a post, they are certainly held in high esteem by all of the peers in their field.  The Internet won’t let just anyone publish.  And if you’re not an expert, you likely don’t have much to offer.  Sure, maybe you have some ideas, but are they the kind that are best kept to yourself?  Unless you have a graduate degree in the subject at hand, they should probably be filed away in your journal.

Additionally, if no one else has commented yet, you’re essentially lowering your head onto the chopping block.  You could write the first one, but doing so opens you up to being the minority opinion.  It’s very possible that just after you finish singing the praises of a particular post, a series of users will go on an angry tirade ripping the author apart.  You’d look really dumb.  Who cares what you thought?  Those other commenters probably know more than you anyway.

Also, don’t forget that browser spellcheck leaves something to be desired.  Sure, it will catch a word that you’ve butchered, but what about something more minute?  And forget any kind of oversight on your grammar.  Plus, there’s a very good chance that a misspelled word will leave whatever you have to say incomprehensible, leading to angry comments about the spam you are leaving behind.

Once you’ve waded through the murky waters of actually drafting your comment, you’re still faced with giving away your personal information.  If you’re anything like the average web user, you probably haven’t given out much personal info online before, perhaps with the notable exception of some obscure social networking site.

If you do feel the need to comment, you have the requisite authority to do so, and other people already have commented, consider taking the following action:

  1. Draft the comment in a word processor.
  2. Check the comment for spelling and grammar mistakes, both with the built-in tools and manually.
  3. Re-check.
  4. Send it to a family member or a friend for their thoughts (pick someone smart).
  5. Print it out, sleep on it, and revisit it at breakfast the next day.
  6. If you’re still feeling the urge, go ahead and publish it.
  7. Deal with the ensuing fallout.

If, after reading this, you are still wont to publish a comment from time to time, go ahead.  But consider yourself warned.  It’s a dangerous game. 

And, whatever you do, don’t you dare write a comment on this post!

David Hartstein is a partner at Wired Impact, a web design company that builds websites for nonprofits. You can connect with David on Twitter and the Wired Impact Facebook Page.