Join Me at Facebook Success Summit 2010

One of the excellent upcoming conferences that I’m speaking at is the Facebook Success Summit 2010. It’s run by Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. I’ve been involved in Mike’s summits before and they are packed with information.

This conference is a live online conference (so there are no travel costs) that is packed with amazing speakers. All sessions are recorded so you don’t have to be on live calls to participate but can listen to those you miss later.

All up there are 22 experts sharing what they know about how to use Facebook to build their businesses. Speakers include:

  • Brian Solis
  • Mari Smith
  • Michael Stelzner
  • Justin Smith
  • Others from Intel, Xbox and Cisco

Topics are varied and cover everything from the ‘why’ of getting a business on Facebook through to many aspects of how to best do it effectively.

My own session (which I’ll be running with Mike Stelzner) is titled ‘Building Community with Facebook and Blogs’ and the description of the session is:

Are you looking to build a loyal community on Facebook? If so, look no further. In this session, Darren Rowse (founder of and Michael Stelzner (founder of reveal how Facebook has enabled them to build a loyal following of tens of thousands of Facebook fans who engage and promote their content and ideas. You’ll learn about the apps, widgets, and blog enhancements they use to keep their readers engaged.

The price for Facebook Success Summit goes up by $200 later this week (on the 22nd) so if you’re thinking of attending make sure you get in at the early bird rate today.

Weekly Trends + Using Polls

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Last week, along with the list of the ten most-blogged-about topics of the week, we talked about how to get more comments on your blog. But the truth is, some readers aren’t going to comment, no matter what you do. If you want them to interact, you need to give them another option. Polls are quicker and easier than comments and many readers who won’t take the time to form a fully thought-out comment are more than happy to hit quick button to share their opinion via poll. When used for the right reasons, polls can increase interaction and participation.

Every week, we look at the ten most blogged-about stories of the previous seven days (trends provided, as always, by Regator) and today, in addition to those, we’ll see how some bloggers made use of polls in their posts…

1.  MTV Video Music Awards/VMAs
Gold Derby’s “Poll: Will Chelsea Handler flourish or flop as MTV VMAs host?
Lesson: Be sure your polls work with your blog’s topic matter. Occasionally, I’ll run across a blog that is hosting a poll on a question unrelated to its subject matter in the sidebar. I assume that questions about political affiliation or age on a parenting blog, for example, are done for either the sake of marketing research or the blogger’s own curiosity, but they are useless because they aren’t fulfilling a need for your reader. In this example, the blog is about awards shows and the poll is on how a particular celebrity will fare as an awards show host. It’s a great fit.

2.  September 11/9-11
Gallup’s “Nine Years After 9/11, Few See Terrorism as Top U.S. Problem
Lesson: While not a blog, I have included this example from Gallup because the site can be a good resource for poll results and statistics. You need not run your own poll to make use of a poll on your blog. Seek out results from places such as Gallup, which allows you to search for polls on a variety of topics, then deliver commentary or start a discussion around the results.

3.  Tea Party
Poll Watch’s “Beyond the Primaries: How Much Impact Will the Tea Party Have Now?
Lesson: People love stats. People love stats twice as much when you present them in some sort of infographic, pie chart, or line graph. I can’t really explain why, but you know it’s true. Present your findings (or the findings of the poll you’re referencing) in a visual way for maximum impact, even if it’s just a very simple pie chart like the one seen in this example.

4.  Lady Gaga
Ministry of Gossip’s “Lady Gaga wears a meat dress — need we say more?
Lesson: Give voters enough options to accurately portray their feelings on the subject. When you’re selecting the options for your poll, think beyond a simple “yes” and “no” system. In this case, the blogger could’ve asked, “Did you like Lady Gaga’s meat dress?” and provided two simple options. Instead, she broadened the choices to: “A cutting-edge political statement,” “A cutting edge-fashion statement,” “Tasty,” and “Pathetic.” Do note, though, that three of the four available options are positive. Try to provide balanced choices so as not to subconsciously guide voters.

5.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell/DADT
Joe.My.God’s “CBS Poll: 75% Support Gays In Military”
Lesson: Hosting polls can give readers an alternate means of interacting with your site, but posting results from polls—either your own or another source’s—can be a way of starting a discussion in the comments. This example provides results with minimal commentary, but it prompts a conversation in the comments.

6.  Google Instant
Lifehacker’s “Do You Like Instant Search?
Lesson: When you display results, take caution not to look like a ghost town if your blog is still working on building its readership to a good level. In this example, Lifehacker displays not only percentages, but the actual number of votes cast for each option. Their total is 7,857 votes—pretty darned respectable. If you run a poll for several days with only eleven votes cast, you run the risk of showcasing your lack of traffic. Use percentages instead.

7. Mexico
Immigration Chronicles“Illegal Immigrants or ‘Illegal Aliens’”
Lesson: Use polls to find ways to improve your blog. In this example, a blog focusing on immigration issues is polling its readers to learn about the specific terminology their readers prefer. If you’re not sure what your readers would like to see more (or less) of, how they feel about a particular issue you cover regularly, or if they’re tired of a certain feature, what better way to find out than to ask?

8.  Pope Benedict XVI
Example: Politics Daily’s “Pope Benedict’s Visit to the U.K. May Be a Flop
Lesson: We’ve all heard the “lies, damned lies, and statistics” warning…and for good reason. You can find numbers to support nearly any hypothesis. You can increase your credibility by citing several sources and, most importantly, clearly indicating where your data came from. This example compares results from a British Social Attitudes poll with a Guardian/ICM poll.

9.  Toronto International Film Festival
IndieWIRE’s “criticWIRE @ Toronto: Grading All The Films”
Lesson: Consider polling a specific group of people rather than the general public if it will lead to more accurate results. In this example, IndieWIRE started a “criticWIRE poll,” asking critics to indicate how they felt about this year’s TIFF selections. By restricting the poll to critics, many will find the results to be more trustworthy, and it’s likely that the results will be shared on other blogs.

10. Oprah Winfrey
PopSugar Australia’s “Pop Poll: Is Oprah Worth the $3 Million Bill To Aussie Taxpayers?”
Make your polls easy to interact with (don’t require registration) but not easily gamed. This example shows a clearly laid-out, attractive poll that allows easy voting. And unlike many polls, refreshing the page does not allow you to vote again. Obviously, polls in your posts aren’t highly scientific, but do what you can to avoid having results manipulated.

Please share your experiences with using polls in the comments. Have you found polls to be effective on your blog? What tools do you recommend for creating polls?

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Blogosphere Trends + Encouraging Comments

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

You may have heard the stat that for every 100 people who read your post, only one, on average, will leave a comment. The fact is, most of us are lurkers by nature. I know I am; I read dozens of blogs every day but very rarely comment. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the content, just that I didn’t feel the need—or have the time—to join the conversation. So the next time you’re looking at the vast sea of white pixels below your latest post, don’t beat yourself up over it. Having eyes on your post and having comments aren’t necessarily the same thing, but the silence can be frustrating. After all, interacting with readers and creating a conversation are the aspects of blogging that many people enjoy most. That’s why, as we look at this week’s ten most-blogged-about stories (trends provided, as always, by Regator), we’ll also pick up some tips on how to encourage readers to interact with content:

1.  Google Instant
Business Insider’s “Microsoft Bing Exec Pees On “Google Instant,” Says Bing Results Still Way Better
As Darren pointed out in his excellent 2006 post on comments, one way to encourage comments is to write open-ended posts that leave room for readers to provide extra information and expertise. This example provides one side of the story, allowing readers to add detail or jump in with opinions and facts that support the other side of the argument. Being thorough but not too thorough tempts readers to fill in the gaps.

2.  Labor Day
ComicMix’s “Labor Day and the Cost Of Doing Business in Comics
Ask for comments. It sounds elementary but is probably the single best way to get more interaction. The question that ends this example post, “So how would you do it?” manages to create an in-depth discussion that is longer and more detailed than the original post.

3.  Terry Jones
Mediaite’s “How To Marginalize A Media Whore: Morning Joe Refuses To Interview Pastor
Be controversial. Taking a stance on a hot-button issue such as this one is almost certain to create discussion and debate. This example got 113 passionate comments in just eleven hours.

4.  US Open
Bleacher Report’s “2010 US Open: Can Robin Soderling Break The Cycle?
Cultivate a relationship with your readers. Author Rob York takes an active role in the conversation in the comments of this example, and it’s clear he has developed relationships with some of his regulars. Your blog almost certainly has commenters who are more active than others. Getting to know them keeps them coming back and their contributions may, in turn, create discussions that prompt others to join in.

5.  Tony Blair
Spectator’s “Why Tony Blair remains a class act
Be opinionated. This is a great example of a blogger spurring conversation and debate by sharing a strong opinion. Those who disagree will feel the need to explain why you’re wrong. Those who agree will jump in to support your arguments.

6.  Ground Zero
Gothamist’s “Donald Trump Offers To Buy “Ground Zero” Mosque Site
Have an official policy on comments. Some of the comments on this example are harsh, but Gothamist has laid out some very clear rules regarding comments, namely that “…once you post a comment on one of our sites, it becomes part of the public conversation. Our policy is that we will not remove a user’s comments unless they are in violation of our Terms of Service…We cannot simply remove your comments because you have a change of heart about making them.” You may want a more gentile atmosphere and can alter your policy accordingly, but it can only help to have some sort of policy in place.

7.  Mark Hurd
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog’s “Can H-P Win Its Suit Against Hurd?
Make it easy to comment. There are far too many log-ins and passwords in our lives, and nothing will reduce the number of comments you receive more than a complicated system that requires users to create yet another account in order to join the discussion. This WSJ blog is a great example of a system that is fast and easy to use.

8.  Fashion’s Night Out
Jezebel’s “Fashion’s Night Out Sparks Global Fashion Orgasm
Reduce spam. No one wants to wade through dozens of “look at my blog!” and “buy my product!” comments to be part of a discussion. Jezebel’s unusual commenting rules actually contradict the advice I just gave about making comments easy. In their case, commenters must “audition” by showing that they’re capable of enhancing the conversation “because our editors want to spend more time providing new content and less time moderating comment threads.” It’s a bold move, but one that seems to have worked for a blog that, at one point, had a fairly significant spam issue. Deal with spam however you see fit, but do deal with it.

9.  San Bruno
Karoli’s Blog’s “Infrastructure, you say? Ask the city of San Bruno why we need it
Interact in the comments. This gets harder as your blog becomes more popular, but it’s worth some effort because the more you take part in the conversation, the more likely your readers are to feel a connection to your blog, visit regularly, and help spread the word about your brand.

10. Pakistan
John Quiggin’s “A slow motion disaster (update)
Tell readers what to do. If you want readers to take an action, give clear instructions, as John Quiggin did here. This post ends with “Please give to your favorite charity and record it in the comments box,” and readers did just that.

If none of these tips work, this bunny has a foolproof tactic.

What do you do to increase interaction on your blog? Please share your experiences in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Blogosphere Trends + Guest Posting

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

While Darren and his family are on a well-deserved holiday, he has lined up enough pre-written content and guest posts to keep ProBlogger readers supplied with plenty of quality reading in his absence. So it makes sense that, this week, we’ll be focusing on the art of the guest post. The most important thing to remember is that guest posts are a win-win situation for the host blog and guest blogger. Keeping that in mind as you send pitches (or review incoming pitches) will take you far.

Regator has, as always, provided a list of the ten most blogged-about stories of the last seven days, and we’ll use posts about those hot trends to learn about what makes a great guest post:

1. Iraq
A Traveler’s Library’s “Baghdad in War Time
Have a strong understanding of the blog you want to write for. What topics are covered? Who is the audience? What tone is used? Preferably, you’ll pitch your idea to a blog you read regularly, but even if you’re trying to expand your niche by writing for a blog that is new to you, take time to skim posts dating back two to three months to ensure that your ideas are in line with the blogger’s vision. Pitching an idea or post that is not in keeping with the blog you’re targeting shows a lack of respect for the host blogger’s time. In this example, the guest poster has a history of writing about topics from health and science to environmental news, but this post shows a clear understanding of the tone, theme, and audience of the host blog.

2. Emmy Awards
Plus Size Plum’s “Plus Size Beauty Goes to the Emmys
There are several reasons you might solicit guest posts for your blog: They provide fresh voices and content, allow you to take breaks without leaving your readers hanging, and as this post demonstrates, guest posts can be used to provide a unique point of view. This guest poster wrote about the Emmy Awards from the perspective of an attendee whose spouse was nominated for an Emmy—a vantage point that few, including the host blogger, would have been able to provide.

3. Glenn Beck
Religion in American History’s “Beck Plays Prophet
As a general rule, bloggers do not want recycled content. When you pitch a post or idea, it should be something that has not been published on your blog or any other blog. But as this example demonstrates, there are times when a blog sees fit to use a guest post that has already appeared elsewhere. The important thing is to be honest and up front about the post’s history. Unless you explicitly state that a post has run elsewhere, most host bloggers will assume you are delivering original content.

4. Apple TV/iPod Touch/Ping [It was such an Apple-heavy week, that I’m combining the three so that they don’t take over the trends list. Apple fever is an epidemic.]
Silicon Alley Insider’s “Apple Just Killed MySpace Even More Dead
When relevant and appropriate, link to other posts on the host blog. It’s good for their SEO, it shows the blogger that you are keeping up with the blog, and it’s helpful for readers.

5. Hurricane
Sociological Images’ “Racial Violence in the Aftermath of Katrina
Don’t save your best material for your own blog. Put your all into every guest post. After all, the key word is “guest.” When you’re in your own home, it’s fine to put your feet up on the coffee table if you want, but when you’re a guest in someone else’s home, you should be on your best behaviour and respect the rules of their home.

6. Paris Hilton
Clusterstock’s “Senators Are Pushing To Cut Taxes For Paris Hilton
Once your post is published, your work is not finished. You’ve got two more jobs: 1. Assist with promotion. Share the link so the host blogger receives new visitors from your network. Remember the win-win rule. 2. Check back to answer questions and follow up on comments. This example received several negative comments but when the guest poster didn’t return to address them, they got out of hand. It’s the internet, once the negativity starts, it has a bad habit of snowballing. A simple reply can show that you’re engaged and open to discussion.

7. Afghanistan
The Best Defense’s “How to get kicked out of Afghanistan without really trying — too hard
Before pitching a post or idea, ask yourself what you’re offering and how you’re adding to the blog. You should, as always, be solving a problem or providing a solution with your post. This post by a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve offers an insider’s perspective.

8. Ground Zero Mosque
Pagan + Politics’ “Guest Post: Islamophobia
Include a brief bio with your post. If the host blogger wants to write his or her own intro for you, as has been done with this example, he or she will do so, but a brief, well-written bio provided by you may save time on the blogger’s end and will give readers an idea of your expertise and background.

9. Discovery Channel
Watts Up With That?’s “Stop the Hysteria
Stirring controversy in a guest post is risky business, particularly if the host blogger disagrees or the comments get out of hand. As Chris Garrett said in a ProBlogger guest post from 2008: “If you are going to be snarky, damage your own brand.” This example, however, is opinionated but clearly backs up the host blogger’s opinion. You’ll need a pretty good sense of his or her ideologies before you can do that though, so understand where you stand before you take the plunge. As always, be sure to take the blog’s tone into account. Darren has fostered a positive, helpful vibe here on ProBlogger so my posts are still very “me,” but tend to be a bit less snarky and opinionated than posts I might do elsewhere.

10. Oil Spill
Naked Capitalism’s “Guest Post: Scientists Say Dispersants May Delay Recovery of the Gulf By Years … Or Decades
In addition to building your reputation and expanding your audience, getting backlinks is one of the main reasons many choose to guest post. This example shows subtle promotion. Don’t go overboard and make the entire guest post about you and your brand. It’s content, not an ad.

Do you accept guest posts? What advice would you give those who wanted to guest on your blog?

For further reading on ProBlogger, check out:

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Blogosphere Trends + A Challenge

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts) – Darren

Hi-dee-hoo, fellow bloggers! Thanks for joining me for another edition of the weekly blogosphere trends, provided by (Click any trend to see posts about it.) Darren’s post “The Key to Successful Blogging: Do Something!” from earlier this week resonated with a lot of you (and with me), so it seemed like the perfect week to look back at some of the important topics we’ve discussed in this column and issue a challenge: Kick procrastination in the butt by putting at least two of these techniques to work THIS week on your own blog. Then share a link to your post in the comments.

If you truly want to take it to the next level, download Darren’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which has enough tasks to last you an entire month and is an incredible resource for any blogger…particularly those who are ready to stop talking about what they’ll do someday and start doing today. Let’s take a look at this week’s most popular stories…and your challenges:

1.  Ground Zero Mosque
Your challenge: If you normally write posts from a neutral standpoint, take a strong stance on at least one important and/or controversial issue this week.
Read more about: The importance of being opinionated
Example: VetVoice‘s “Muslims Already Have a Place of Worship at the Site of 9/11 Attacks” backs opinion up with carefully thought-out reasoning.

2.  Star Wars
Your challenge: If you normally steer clear of list posts, write one this week.
Read more about: Writing list posts
Example: Asylum‘s “Our 5 Favorite Moments From Star Wars Celebration V” does a countdown with clear subheads and photo accompaniment.

3.  Facebook Places
Your challenge: If you don’t make regular use of videos, give it a try this week in at least two posts.
Read more about: Effectively using videos
Example: Mashable‘s “How Foursquare Feels About Facebook Places” allows readers/viewers to get a better sense of the Foursquare VP’s reaction than mere text would’ve.

4.  Eat Pray Love
Your challenge: If you rarely or never do interview posts, do one this week. It can be any format (Q&A, video, podcast, etc.) but it must be an interview you’ve conducted yourself rather than one found elsewhere and reused.
Read more about: Effective interviewing
Example: MovieWeb‘s “EXCLUSIVE: Director Ryan Murphy Discusses Eat, Pray, Love!” is an exclusive Q&A.

5.  Pakistan
Your challenge: This week, use an image from a source you’ve never tried before. Make sure the licensing allows you to use it.
Read more about: Great places to find quality images
Example: The Big Picture‘s “21 Faces of The Pakistan Flood” uses photos to tell a powerful story.

6.  Dr. Laura
Your challenge: Make use of quotes in at least two different posts this week.
Read more about: Making the most of quotes
Example: Mediaite‘s “Dr. Laura Caller Speaks Out: ‘I Didn’t Want To Turn This Into A Racial Thing’” has a quote in the headline that piques curiosity.

7.  Iraq
Your challenge: Brainstorm at least five headlines for a post you’ve just finished rather than choosing the first that comes to mind. Consider each then choose the best one before publishing.
Read more about: What makes a great headline
Example: AmericaBlog‘s “Are Iraq combat operations really over?” asks a question to create curiosity then delivers by answering it in full.

8.  Social Security
Your challenge: Set a goal to inspire or encourage your readers to take some sort of action this week.
Read more about: Setting goals
Example: Elder Abuse‘s “‘Don’t Steal My Social Security’” encourages readers to sign a petition.

9.  Scott Pilgrim
Your challenge: Cover a story in a creative or unconventional way.
Read more about: How to dig deeper to create unique content
Example: ScreenRant’sWhy Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like?” identifies a wider trend tied to a popular story.

10. Justin Bieber
Your challenge: If you don’t normally write how-to posts, write one this week.
Read more about: Creating how-to posts that work
Example: Lifehacker‘s “How to Create Your Own Slowed-Down Ambient Epics” features both a video walk-through and step-by-step text instructions.

Are you up for the challenge? I honestly cannot wait to see what you’ve created. I look forward to reading each one. Please share your accomplishments in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Blogosphere Trends + Interview Tips

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts) – Darren

Think interviews are best left to Barbara Walters, news reporters, or magazine journalists? Think again. Conducting interviews for your blog helps create unique content, increases your blog’s authority, and adds an additional voice of expertise. In today’s post, we’ll look at how some bloggers covered this week’s most talked-about stories using interviews and how you can use interviews to your advantage. As always, the weekly blogosphere trends have been provided by

1.  Proposition/Prop 8 – The Courage Campaign Institute’s blog, Prop 8 Trial Tracker, has been traveling the United States, doing video interviews with both supporters and protesters of gay marriage. One interview in particular, from “An amazing 24 hours: Round-up of NOM tour and marriage equality news,” was featured by several other bloggers and news organizations. Creating exclusive content that is picked up by other media outlets gives you opportunities to build your blog’s reputation as a voice of authority in your niche.

2.  Steven Slater – There are a lot of ways to secure an interview and, while stalking apartment building elevators as City Room did for “Flight Attendant Had Long Imagined Escaping Down Chute” certainly isn’t your best first option, it did do the trick and prove that a bit of persistence and thinking outside the box can lead to an unexpected win. Try a brief, polite email or phone call first, detailing what you’d like to talk about, the amount of time you expect it to take, why you are interested in talking with that individual in particular, and when/where the piece will be published.

3.  Jennifer Aniston – You don’t always need to interview the big celebrity to create a useful post. For “Jennifer Aniston Not ‘Destructive,’ Say Parenting Experts,” PopEater talked with parenting experts about Aniston’s newest role. Insights from a social psychologist, a parenting expert, and a mommy blogger add information and expertise. If you blog in a particular niche, you should be working right now to build relationships with experts in your field. Keep a database of people who can be interviewed or quoted on your topic.

4.  Teen Choice Awards – Odds are you won’t be joining PopSugar on the red carpet of the Teen Choice Awards (“David Beckham and Twilight Take Over Teen Choice, Zac Tips Vanessa’s Sexy Dance, and Ashley’s Bikini Party”) and unless your blog is focused on celebrity gossip or pop culture, you probably wouldn’t want to. But the good news is that “regular” people (aka non-celebrities) can be just as exciting and interesting—often more so because, unlike stars, the average Joe isn’t media trained to spit out PR-approved soundbites. I interviewed musicians and actors for years and, to this day, one of my favorite interviews was with a cop who’d been fired for perpetrating a Bigfoot hoax. People are interesting if you give them a chance.

5.  CEO Mark Hurd – Keep in mind that, because these are the week’s most blogged-about stories, the blogs that are able to score interviews with the high-profile individuals involved are likely to be larger entities, such as The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to learn from them when it comes to growing your blog. “Digits Live Show: Mark Hurd Isn’t Leaving H-P Quietly,” shows the importance of prepping for an interview and researching your subject before sitting down to talk. Study the topic and come prepared with a list of questions. Never try to wing an interview.

6.  Ground Zero – Though it’s difficult to tell exactly how War Room’s interview with Newt Gingrich’s spokesman for “Gingrich aide: Mosque at Ground Zero is like statue of Marx at Arlington” played out based on the post, it does bring to mind another piece of interview advice: Leave controversy and potentially upsetting questions until last. Make sure you’ve asked your subject any other questions you may have because, by bringing up sensitive topics, you stand the risk of ending the interview or, at the very least, putting your subject in a less-than-helpful mood.

7.  Net Neutrality – If you enjoy interviewing, consider adding a weekly or monthly podcast to your blog. Bits has a regular audio component that features a combination of interviews, news, and tips (“Tech Talk Podcast: Net Neutrality”). You can choose from any number of podcasting tools.

8.  Senator Ted Stevens – GretaWire conducted a phone interview for “Former Gov. Sarah Palin Reflects on Ted Stevens.” Interviews can be conducted via phone, instant message, email, or in person. If your subject is high-profile, they may have their own requirements. Otherwise, choose based on the length of the interview (driving two hours for a ten-minute in-person interview doesn’t make sense) and the limitations of each option (email and instant message don’t allow you to read body language and the subject’s vocal cues). If you decide on an email interview, be clear about your deadline. If you choose phone and decide to record, be sure to ask the subject’s permission.

9.  Scott Pilgrim – The “Exclusive: Edgar Wright Vs.…FIGHT!” Q&A illustrates the most important quality of a good interviewer: being a good listener. Remember: The interview is not about you. It’s okay to add some personal information to put the subject at ease or build rapport but keep the focus on your subject. In my personal opinion, this interview tends to bring the interviewer into the mix a little too much but it’s clear that he is taking the time to listen to the answers and ask solid follow up questions. Follow-ups of this kind can yield some of the best information, and if you’re too busy thinking of what you’ll say next, you’ll miss those opportunities. Keep quiet and let your interviewee fill the silence.

10.  Katy Perry – Blogging is about filling a need for your readers. As you interview or prepare for an interview, ask yourself what your audience wants or expects to learn from your subject. According to “YouTube Users More Interested in Katy Perry Than Barack Obama,” YouTube’s approach to interviewing Katy Perry was to actually ask YouTube users for question suggestions. You can try this on your own blog if you’ll be talking with someone who is well-known in your niche. Keep in mind that the questions you choose—whether created by you or your readers—should be open ended (“What do you like about ProBlogger?” rather than “Do you like ProBlogger?”) and creative. Stock, overused questions yield nothing but stock, overused answers.

One last bit of advice: If you can’t score the interview, don’t do this.

Do you do interviews for your blog? Please share any tips you have as well as an example or two from your blog in the comments. I’d love to check out what you’re working on. See you next week!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

2 Products Worth Considering to Improve Your Blog Today

Each week I see multiple products launched targeting bloggers wanting to improve their blogs. I’ve tested many of them in my time and the reality is that most don’t deliver what they promise and I don’t promote them. However from time to time – some hit the mark and present unique and helpful information that delivers real value.

This week there were two of these such products that hit the market. Both are quite different in their focus but both are from experts in their field and will help bloggers improve two important aspects of their blogs:

1. Jon Morrow’s Apprentice Program for Guest Bloggers

Jon is someone who has built a career for himself as a copywriter and blogger using Guest Posting. He’s been a guest poster here on ProBlogger numerous times and is a regular on blogs such as CopyBlogger.

Over the last week or so he’s release a series of great videos (here and here are two) on the topic of guest blogging and this week launched a comprehensive program that literally guarantees to get you a guest post on a high profile blog (if you don’t you’ll get your money back).

Jon’s course is a mix of video, private forum, Q&A calls and one on one interaction with Jon.

Guest blogging is a technique many bloggers have used to launch their blogs to great things and Jon’s the perfect person to talk you through how to do it. Sign up Today Here.

2. Gideon Shalwick’s Rapid Video Blogging

Gideon Shalwick has also taken his blogging to the next level by being prolific at one aspect of online discipline – VIDEO. He too has released a series of great videos this week that talk you through different aspects of using video to make money online (check them out here, here and here – they are free and whether you buy the course or not offer great insights) and today launched a great product – Rapid Video Blogging.

Gideon’s course is massive and comprehensive. It includes 125 instructional videos and transcripts/audio version as well as a heap of great tools and resources including videos with great video bloggers, live interactive sessions for Q&A.

Video is an incredibly dynamic medium and mastering it is something many bloggers need to learn – check out Rapid Video Blogging for more information on just how to do that.

Which one is for You?

Both of these resources come from experts in their fields and will present different value to different bloggers. Neither are super cheap entry level products (you’re getting a heap of content with both) and so you’ll want to consider your needs carefully and view some of the free videos that the guys have produced – but if you’ve been thinking about how to take your blogging up a notch lately and want to make an investment into your learning – do give them both consideration.

They both do come with money back satisfaction guarantees and both Jon and Gideon are people I trust to honour that promise.

I’m looking forward to hearing how you enjoy these courses and seeing how they help you improve your blogs.

150 Bloggers Pack Melbourne Hotel for ProBlogger Training Day

One week ago today in Melbourne the first ever ProBlogger training day took place. What started as a spur of the moment idea less than 4 weeks before ballooned into a very worthwhile experience.

Originally I had thought it would just be a day for 10-15 bloggers gathering around a board room table talking about blogging – but it quickly turned into a sold out training day with 150 bloggers from around Australia (and one from New Zealand) packed into a hotel’s conference room to spend a full day learning about four aspects of blogging.

Speaking on the day were Chris Garrett, Yaro Starak, Collis Ta’eed, Pip Lincolne, Shayne Tilley from SitePoint and myself.


We covered four main ‘pillars’ of blogger:

  1. Creating Killer Content
  2. Finding Readers
  3. Building Community and Reader Engagement
  4. Monetization

Here’s Yaro, Chris and myself – and no we didn’t coordinate our clothing for the day but we’re wondering if perhaps jeans and grey shirts are the new blogger uniform. Image by TheCreativePen.


There was also a couple of panels and two case studies as well as a work-shopping session.

I wasn’t quite sure how we’d pull it all together in such a short time but considering there was only a few weeks lead time the event went swimmingly with loads of requests to do it again both in Melbourne and around the country (and overseas). I’m not quite sure when or how we’ll put on another one – but I do hope we can do something similar again.

A number of people kept great notes on the day so I’ve compiled the ones I’ve found below for those of you not able to be there. Some of them are blow by blow accounts so you’ll be able to pick up a lot of the tips touched on during the day. Also below is a video shot on the day by Lara from Social Rabbit asking attendees for tips on what they learned.

Summaries/Notes from the Day

PS: we did record the day and are trying to work out what to do with the 7 or so hours of content recorded. One option is to bundle it into a DVD – if you’re interested in buying a copy please let me know in comments below to give us an indication as to whether it’s feasible to do so.

Blogosphere Trends + Digging Deeper

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Each week, we look at the ten most blogged-about stories of the last seven days, as provided by Regator (which is turning two years old on Saturday!). Today, we’ll see how several great blog posts looked beyond the basics of these popular stories to give their readers more value and provide unique content. Digging deeper to approach posts in an unconventional or creative way can mean the difference between getting noticed and fading into the background. Let’s see some examples:

  1. Proposition/Prop 8
    The basics: Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, was ruled unconstitutional.
    Looking deeper: Daily Intel’s “The Prop 8 Ruling: The Scrutiny Question, and What Will Happen Next?” examines the judge’s methods of scrutinizing the case, how that approach will impact future rulings, and the history of other cases that led to this point. When everyone else is telling readers what happened, do a bit of extra legwork to tell them how it happened.
  2. Chelsea Clinton
    The basics: Chelsea Clinton got married last weekend.
    Looking deeper: Conservative blogger Kathleen McKinley’s “Weddings and More. How Two Former President’s Daughters Are Quite Different” looked beyond the bride’s choice of hairstyle and gown by comparing Chelsea Clinton’s wedding to the wedding of Jenna Bush, another first daughter. She then broadened the comparison past the weddings themselves and into the lifestyles of the young women. Use comparisons to create a post that’s more appealing to readers in your niche.
  3. Android
    The basics: It was reported that Android phones were outselling iPhones.
    Looking deeper: Rather than taking the figures at face value, Cult of Mac spoke to an analyst in an attempt to put the figures in perspective in “Android Competing Against ‘Dumb Phones.’” Take time to question information you receive through press releases, other blogs, magazines, newspapers, television…well, pretty much any source. Don’t be afraid to do some extra reporting.
  4. American Idol
    The basics: Ellen DeGeneres left the show after one season as a judge.
    Looking deeper: While most blogs were awaiting official news about new judges, Pop & Hiss offered ten recommendations and the reasons for each in “Why not hire a music critic as an ‘American Idol’ judge? Ten contestants for the job.” Add your own opinions and recommendations to a story to make it your own.
  5. Oil Spill
    The basics: BP finally managed to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Looking deeper: Investment blog Seeking Alpha chose the angle that worked best for its readers in “Static Kill a Success; What’s BP Worth Now?” The post hypothesizes on the company’s current value and, just as importantly, explains how the blogger arrived at those figures. Use your expertise to provide value to your readers and information that other types of bloggers cannot.
  6. Ground Zero
    The basics: An Islamic cultural center (incorrectly referred to as a “mosque” by some) is set to be built on the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, causing controversy and debate.
    Looking deeper: As the tagline “Answers to your questions about the news” indicates, Slate’s Explainer does a fantastic job of looking beyond the headlines and dissecting issues. “Can anyone stop construction of the mosque near Ground Zero?” which examines the legal and zoning issues around the facility, is no exception. Look for aspects of a story that aren’t being explored and try to tackle unanswered questions.
  7. BlackBerry Torch
    The basics: Research In Motion (RIM) launched the BlackBerry Torch.
    Looking deeper: Instead of simply reporting the release, PCWorld’s “BlackBerry Torch First Impressions: Fresh But Familiar Indeed” blogged their first impressions based on the blogger’s brief interaction with the device at the launch event. Going out and employing a hands-on approach will always get you better results than sitting at your desk waiting for press releases or review products.
  8. Kanye West
    The basics: Kanye West joined Twitter, spawning memes galore.
    Looking deeper: Vulture’s “What Did It Cost to Be Kanye This Week?” is an extremely creative, entertaining approach to the story. Look for trends within a story (e.g., not only is Kanye on Twitter, he often tweets about his lavish lifestyle) to find unusual and creative angles.
  9. Google Wave
    The basics: Google’s much-hyped Google Wave was shuttered this week.
    Looking deeper: In “Why Developers Did Not Adopt Google Wave,” ReadWriteWeb took a broad approach to coverage, discussing reasons Wave may have failed, the future benefits of its brief existence, and previous coverage of the product. Explaining why something happened (as well as how, see example #1) can be just as important as explaining what happened. Take the extra time and effort to give readers more.
  10. Lady Gaga
    The basics: Lady Gaga’s cover story in the latest issue of Vanity Fair and record number of Video Music Awards put her on the list this week.
    Looking deeper: used a combination of techniques we’ve discussed above—namely using comparisons and identifying why something (in this case, Gaga’s popularity) has occurred—in “Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and the Coup d’Pop: A Diva Revolution.” Developing and supporting your own hypothesis is a sure way to ensure original content.

How do you get beyond the surface story to a unique angle that will appeal to your readership? Share your ideas and methods in the comments!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.