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Blogosphere Trends + Your Blog’s Tone

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

After a brutal summer flu took me down and prevented me from writing last week’s weekly trends post, I’m especially happy to be back to bring you a fresh list of the most blogged-about stories of the last seven days. This week, along with the trends provided by Regator, we’ll be discussing your blog’s tone/voice. We’re talking about something more than first person versus third person or opinion versus hard news.

Think of your favorite blog. What keeps you coming back for more? The subject matter is certainly important, but it’s likely that the blogger’s voice and tone also play an important role in your appreciation for the content. Bloggers whose personalities shine through their writing are often more appealing, engaging, readable, and influential than those who hide their true voices. Read your three most recent posts. Do they “sound” like you? As in, would people who know you well in real life recognize your voice in your posts? Don’t beat yourself up if the answer is no. Maybe purposely adopting a voice that differs from your everyday voice, or maybe you haven’t been blogging long enough to find your writing voice. Give it time and, most importantly, have faith that your personal tone and voice will come with time and practice.

When I was a writing tutor in college, one of my peers who could verbally tell the most hilarious, charming stories you’d ever want to hear told me that he “couldn’t write.” I asked him to put down his pencil and tell me the story he’d told me a few days prior. I started a recorder and let him tell it. He conveyed it in his usual witty way and, when he was through, I stopped the recorder and we transcribed it, word for word. It was utter brilliance. He just needed to stop worrying about sounding “writerly” and start letting his natural tone come through. Let’s take a look at some posts about this week’s top stories that demonstrate the author’s voice:

  1. Independence DayThe Frisky’s “6 Ways To Celebrate Being Single And Independent This Independence Day!” is an example of that blog’s positive, encouraging, reassuring tone. The post’s suggestions to raise a glass and celebrate by making a new friend or indulging in a craving are cheerful and bubbly.
  2. LeBron JamesFanhouse’s posts, such as “ESPN Defends LeBron James Special,” are professional, straightforward, and unbiased. While this tone brings less personality than some others, it’s a valid choice for those who want to stay closer to the path of traditional journalism.
  3. World Cup – Like all of Slate’s blogs, Sports Nut’s tone is conversational but also slightly high-brow. It doesn’t come close to being snooty, but the language (“idée fixe,” “guru of aesthetic purity,” “quixotic displays of good taste”) in “Why all soccer fans should root for Holland to lose to Spain” certainly caters to an educated audience.
  4. Lindsay Lohan – The tone of ParentDish’s “Opinion: What Went Wrong With Lindsay Lohan” is sympathetic, earnest, and personal—traits that work well on a parenting blog.
  5. Gulf of MexicoThe Consumerist often adopts a slightly cynical, snarky tone, but “BP Spill Now Spoiling All Gulf States As Tar Balls Hit Texas” takes it to the next level with bonus sarcasm and bitterness…but given the subject matter, they can hardly be blamed for that.
  6. The Twilight Saga – As evidenced by the not one but two exclamation points in the headline itself, the tone of “Twilighters Own The Box Office! Eclipse Takes In $261.2M Worldwide!” is the same over-excited, enthusiastic, melodramatic style for which Perez Hilton has become famous. Love him or hate him, the man has a distinct voice.
  7. Michael Steele – When it comes to being controversial, angry, opinionated, and divisive, political bloggers have every other niche beat, hands down. “Michael Ames–Lying Liberal Scumbag” from The Tygrrrr Express fits the mold, complete with “If Michael Ames thought I was fiery in Idaho, he is going to get the Bachmann Turner Overdrive treatment.” Bringing BTO into it is hardcore, am I right?
  8. Mel Gibson – Unlike the aforementioned angry political bloggers, Feministing is not always full of rage but it is always exceptionally straightforward and to-the-point, as indicated in “Mel Gibson: Bonafide Abusive A$$hole.”
  9. Emmy NominationsBuddyTV’s tone is conversational but more importantly, the voice indicates that you are reading the words of  a highly authoritative expert, as indicated in “The 10 Biggest Emmy Snubs: Where’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’?
  10. The Social Network – Like its sister sites in the Gawker blog network, Defamer’s tone is colloquial, informal, and often tinged with humor. “The Facebook Movie Teaser Trailer 2: Too Fast, Too Serious” is a perfect example of how well this tone can work.

Are you careful to keep a consistent tone on your blog? Share your thoughts in the comments. See you next week!

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

4 Resources to Build Your Blogging Business

Every week I am contacted by people producing training resources, courses, eBooks, books etc for people wanting to make money from blogging and other online activities.

If I were to write a post about every one it’d almost take over this blog completely so I’m pretty fussy about which ones I promote. However lately there have been a lot of them coming from people that I know and respect.

Not all will be ideal for every person (they have a huge variation in price points and a fair variation in topics covered) but I do know that some are going to be very valuable to different readers so here’s a summary of the latest products coming across my desk (in no particular order).

1. Freelancer’s Survival Guide

ZZ3D5154C5.jpgChris Guillebeau has done it again with another of his ‘Unconventional Guides’ (out today).

This one is for those wanting to get serious about their Freelancing Businesses. As with most of these guides Chris offers 3 price points for different levels.

Learn more about this Freelancing Survival Guide Here.

2. Beyond Blogging Project

beyond-blogging-project.png
A brand new project by Nathan Hagan and Mike CJ – authors of the successful Beyond Blogging book.

This project is a 6 months project to help you build your blog to the next level.

It includes web casts, podcasts, site critiques, Q&A calls, forum and a lot more. Both Mike and Nathan know what they’re doing – looks like something well worth considering. It’s not cheap and will price some out of participating (although not as expensive as some courses) but for a 6 month course with lots of personal touches it’s about what I’d expect.

Get all the information on the Beyond Blogging Project here

3. Product Launch Formula 3

_wp-content_uploads_2010_06_jeff-walker.pngJeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula 3 has had enough buzz in the last week that you’d have to have been having an internet free week to miss it.

It’s a high level product for those looking to launch products (I took version 2 and it’s helped me double my income from product sales in the last year) and it closes its doors in the next 24 hours (Jeff tends to only open them every 6-12 months).

Again – this isn’t a cheap product but it’s the formula behind many very successful online product launches so if you’re getting into that game it’s the type of teaching that has the potential to pay for itself. At the very least get yourself signed up for the product launch formula blueprint (pdf and video) which is free (for the the price of an email address) as it’s a handy thing to have.

Learn more about it in this interview I did last week with Jeff.

Full Details on Product Launch Formula 3 are Here

4. Engage

_wp-content_uploads_2009_05_20100126-kis1nw5n1qen8kpy186ijj4d9s.jpgThis is a book (yep, a paper one) that I’ve been reading for a month now. I usually don’t read too many paper books these days but this one is well worth the read.

The sub title is – ‘The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web‘ which gives you a little more on what it is about but as a mini review I’d say it’s well worth the read for anyone whose business is developing a plan for their use of social media. Much of it is useful for individuals but I suspect it’s going to be most powerful when a company gets ahold of it and implements some of Brian’s thinking in their business.

The first half is more introductory into the world of social media while the 2nd half is more about how to use social media to engage and some of the responsibilities that come with that. It’s a meaty book – enjoy.

Engage is Available on Amazon here

Disclaimer – each and every one of the links above is an affiliate link and you can assume that I stand to earn a comission if you buy any of the products. However I stand by the recommendations of the products and people mentioned. For every product mention you see here there’s another 1-2 that I’ve chosen not to include.

Blogosphere Trends + Writing Great ‘How To’ Posts

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

Hello and thanks for stopping in again for a list of this week’s ten most blogged-about stories! As always, Regator has provided the list, and we’ll use posts about these hot topics to illustrate this week’s tips. In the past, we’ve discussed some formats you can use to add interest and variety to your blog and, more recently, we looked specifically at list posts. Carrying on with that theme, we’ll focus this week on how-to posts. Because they solve a problem and guarantee a benefit, how-to posts tend to be popular with readers. And they can be used for virtually any niche (if the examples below aren’t enough to prove that point, check out “The Biggest List of ‘How To’ Blog Posts Ever Assembled” from one of the older ProBlogger Group Writing Projects). Let’s take a look at how bloggers used how-to posts to address this week’s hot stories:

  1. Gulf of Mexico – Sometimes, a how-to post is not a tutorial that readers will follow themselves but rather an explanation of how a larger problem can or will be solved. Cosmic Log’s “How to suck up all that oil” is an example of this sort of post.
  2. World Cup – If there is a particular problem or issue that your niche’s readers are concerned about, a how-to post is the ideal way to handle it. World Cup viewers, for example, seem universally irritated by the ubiquitous vuvuzela horns at the games, prompting a large number of sports and tech bloggers to offer solutions in the form of how-to posts. Asylum’s “How to Filter Out Those Annoying Vuvuzelas” is just one of many.
  3. Tony AwardsJaunted’s post on “How To Get Tickets To The Tony Awards” is a classic how-to. It clearly states the benefit of reading the post in its title then delivers on its promise in a succinct and straightforward way. It’s not always necessary to be extremely clever with how-to posts. Giving your readership the information they need is enough.
  4. Bob Etheridge – Representative Bob Etheridge, who lost the plot and had a physical confrontation with a student on film this week, must not have read Marshall Goldsmith’s “How to Keep Your Temper at Work (And Everywhere Else).” This post not only gives solid advice, it also establishes authority on the subject matter in a way that is subtle yet effective (the author discusses processes he has used to deal with negative emotions “for more than 20 years”). There’s a good chance you’ve established this authority and trust simply by blogging on your subject matter, but it’s worth taking a moment, as you write that how-to, to ask yourself how new readers know that your advice is worth heeding. It’s possible, through a short bio or brief comment such as the “20 years” line above, to strengthen your authority without tooting your own horn to an obnoxious degree.
  5. True Blood – Though Gawker.tv’s  “How to Date a Vampire” is clearly tongue-in-cheek, it has characteristics common to many good tutorials: It lists the materials that will be needed, it presents the process in clear numbered steps, and it keeps the readers’ interest through humor and interesting related tips. Consider these factors when writing your own posts.
  6. Helen ThomasDumb Little Man’s “How to Recover From a (Big) Mistake at Work” is an example of a how-to idea that was generated by the blogger’s own personal mistakes. Sharing the lessons you’ve learned from your mistakes is valuable and may prevent your readers from making the same errors or, in the worst case scenario, may help them deal with the aftermath of a similar faux pas.
  7. Nintendo 3DSOpposable Thumbs“What Nintendo must do to make the 3DS a must-have” uses the how-to format (directed at giving advice to Nintendo rather than readers) to provide commentary and opinion then ends with a solid call to action for readers to share their own opinions.
  8. Michael Jackson – When it was announced that the new Michael Jackson video game will teach players how to move like the King of Pop, Gawker.tv gave their readers a head start with “How to Moonwalk,” a video tutorial. There may be tasks, such as moonwalking or knitting, that are better explained via video. Consider whether video, audio, or photos would make your how-to post more effective and easier to understand.
  9. Al Gore – Al Gore’s divorce and subsequent rumors of infidelity may have him wishing for a post such as Divine Caroline’s “How to Rebuild Your Life After a Divorce,” which uses subtitles and short well-written paragraphs to clearly outline the post’s advice. Subheadings such as these can help readers skim for the information they’ll find most beneficial.
  10. Apple“How to Pre-Order an iPhone 4 With Minimal Hassle and Headache” from Switched provides continued usefulness to its readers by updating the post as information changes. If you’ve written a how-to that will change with time, the added effort required to go back and update the post will be appreciated by readers.

Do how-to posts work well on your blog? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

One more thing: I’ve received emails from some of you indicating that you’d like to have your blog reviewed for possible inclusion on Regator, but nominations were closed while we finished our relaunch. I’m happy to announce here that nominations are now open and ProBlogger readers are the first to find out. Feel free to submit your blog.

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

Using the Blogosphere’s Trends for Your Niche

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

Hello, fellow bloggers! Hope you’re having a fabulous week. Since I started this weekly column on April 7, we’ve discussed strong headlines and opening lines, use of video and images, list posts, effective quotes, and more—all through the lens of the week’s most-blogged-about topics. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the conversations we’ve had together in the comments and the knowledge you’ve all shared with each other and with me.

In the spirit of those open conversations, I wanted to answer the most common question I’ve received: How can I use these general trends if I don’t blog about current affairs? Well, you can find trends on your specific niche on Regator, but the true answer is that no matter what your niche, there is often a way—with enough creativity and research into the details of the story—to make it work for your readers. And tying posts to the week’s hottest topics can be a great way to get new readers and attract attention. This week, along with trends from Regator, we’ll take a look at how these topics were covered by bloggers in unexpected niches…

  1. Gulf of Mexico – You’d expect the disaster in the Gulf to be covered by blogs on environmentalism, marine biology, perhaps even business and politics, but PopEater managed to find a way to bring this ecological story into the realm of pop culture in “An Interview With the Guy Skewering BP on Twitter.”
  2. World Cup ­– The Next Web’s “World Cup fever? Here are 5 apps to keep you on top of things” took what would traditionally be a sports story and moved it into the technology space by focusing on related apps rather than the event itself.
  3. Steve Jobs – Jobs’s highly anticipated World Wide Developers Conference talk unveiled the iPhone 4 and was covered widely by technology blogs but Star Trek blog TrekMovie.com was able to make the event relevant to their readers by focusing on the Star Trek references in the talk and technology from the show and movie in “Steve Jobs Invokes Star Trek (Again) While Unveiling 4th Gen iPhone.”
  4. Helen Thomas – While political bloggers obsessed over Thomas’s offensive comments, women’s blog Jezebel covered the story by discussing what Thomas’s undignified fall meant for a woman who had been an icon and inspiration to women everywhere in its post “Helen Thomas: When An Icon Disappoints [Iconography].”
  5. MTV Movie Awards – Rather than approaching this star-studded event from the usual entertainment blogger’s perspective, gay blog AutoStraddle’s “MTV Movie Awards 2010 Celebrate Lesbian Innuendo, Swearing, Twilight” made the awards more relevant to their readers by honing in on the “10 most homosexual moments of the MTV Movie Awards 2010.”
  6. Rue McClanahan – While many television and entertainment bloggers focused on McClanahan’s television and theater legacy, Ecorazzi’s “RIP: Actress And Longtime Animal-Advocate Rue McClanahan Dies At 76” brought the story to their ecologically conscious demographic by focusing on the actor’s animal rights work.
  7. Lady Gaga – On a week when Lady Gaga’s latest music video was on everyone’s lips, Social Psychology Eye’s post “Facing illness, belief helps” skillfully worked the pop icon into the blog by discussing the psychological implications of Gaga’s recent revelation that she had been tested for lupus, undoubtedly earning them quite a few more readers than they would’ve gotten on a straightforward academic post on illness perception.
  8. Rush Limbaugh – Rather than obsessing about the details of Limbaugh’s wedding, as many entertainment bloggers did, The Daily Beast’s “Celebrity Wedding Singers” took Elton John’s unexpected role as Limbaugh’s wedding singer and created a list post that broadened the appeal of the story.
  9. Israel – Music bloggers aren’t the most expected source of news from Israel, but several, including Drowned in Sound with its post “Bands cancel shows following Israel’s flotilla raid” covered what is essentially a political and international affairs story in a way that created value for their music-obsessed readers.
  10. Harry Potter – While film bloggers were busy dissecting the latest Harry Potter trailer, travel blog Gadling put its own spin on the popular character with “London mayor rails against Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Florida location.”

One thing all of these posts have in common is that the bloggers took the time to learn enough details about these stories to find a way to make them work for their blogs’ niches. Have you managed to work a popular story into your blog’s niche by using a creative angle? Tell us about it in the comments!

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

Must Read Free Report and Recordings with Smart Entrepreneurs

I’m literally heading out the door to speak at an event here in Melbourne but before I do I wanted to let you know about a great free report written by CopyBlogger’s Brian Clark and two great conversations with amazing entrepreneurs Jason Fried (37 signals) and Steven Pressfield.

This is great content and it’s part of a new project that Brian’s putting together called Lateral Action.

Here’s what you get:

  • A recorded conversation (with edited transcript) between poet/entrepreneur Mark McGuinness and bestselling novelist and historian Steven Pressfield, about the true art of entrepreneurship.
  • A recorded conversation (with edited transcript) between writer/entrepreneur Brian Clark (hey, that’s me!) and 37signals founder Jason Fried, about building businesses that produce not just remarkable profits, but remarkable lives.
  • A 31-page PDF report from me called The Lateral Action Guide to Starting a Smart Business.

The recordings are a really insightful glimpse into the minds of two very smart people, but the report – as is usual with Brian’s stuff – is really excellent if you’re thinking through starting a business (or rethinking an existing one).

To get all three just visit Lateral Action and add your email address to get immediate access.

Update: the Lateral Action Course is now up and running – learn more about it here.

Blogosphere Trends + Effectively Using Quotes

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 use Regator’s trends algorithm to bring you a list of the ten most blogged-about stories. This week’s list is, admittedly, a bit of a bummer, with the Gulf of Mexico’s oil spill spending its sixth straight week in the top ten, accompanied by a number of celebrity deaths and the unstable situation in Israel.

But instead of getting down about the state of the world, let’s focus on how a few bloggers used quotes to add to the coverage of these important stories. Careful use of quotations is something many bloggers overlook, but well-chosen quotes can support your argument, increase your credibility, provide an alternate viewpoint, create emotional impact, provide a voice of expertise, add humor, and increase the quality of your post. As you select quotes for your posts, remember that a good quote is not filler and will always make your post more intriguing or useful to your reader. Quotes are one of Darren’s “13 Ways to Add New Dimensions to Your Next Post.” Let’s look at some examples along with this week’s top trends:

  1. Gulf of Mexico ­– A particularly impactful (and short) quote can make a great headline. The Daily Dish employed this technique by using Obama’s “Plug The Damn Hole” as the title for a recent post. The quote is an efficient way of providing a voice of authority and conveying the president’s frustration with the situation.
  2. Dennis Hopper – Roger Ebert’s “Dennis Hopper: In memory” uses quotes from the recently deceased actor to add depth to the post. Hopper’s own words, such as, “There’s always this fear of not being able to make the films, not being able to do the work…” personified the icon in a way that few descriptions could.
  3. Gary ColemanThe Inquisitr’s “911 call before Gary Coleman’s death, wife says ‘blood everywhere’” features multiple quotes designed to take readers inside a very personal experience.
  4. Memorial DayArmy of Dude uses a quote to set a scene and add detail in “Metal Memorials,” a touching, well-written post on the bracelet this veteran wears to commemorate his fallen friend. The quote, “Hey man, just so you know, I’m going to set this thing off” is real and conversational and puts the reader into the security line at the airport with the author, who has to repeatedly explain why he does not remove his memorial bracelet at the metal detector.
  5. Israel – Quotes can add intrigue and spur curiosity, particularly if they are featured in the headline as “Says One Israeli General: ‘Everybody Thinks We’re Bananas’” from Jeffery Goldberg’s blog on The Atlantic.
  6. World Cup – In “2010 FIFA World Cup’s Biggest Quote: ‘God Willing, I’m Ready,’ Says TorresThe Bleacher Report begins by stating, “This could be the single most important pre-World Cup statement made so far,” proving that the right quote can be a jumping off point and/or inspiration for an entire post. As you read, keep an eye out for quotes that may inspire you to explore a topic further.
  7. Rue McClanahan – Sometimes, a quote is the most succinct way to answer a question. When it was revealed that Golden Girl Rue McClanahan had passed away, many wondered how the one remaining Golden Girl was coping with the loss. Zap2It’s “Betty White: Rue McClanahan ‘was a close and dear friend’ provided the answer in Betty White’s own words: “… It hurts more than I ever thought it would, if that’s possible.”
  8. DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) – Quotes may be in the form of videos, as in Queerty’s “Is Dan Choi’s Hunger Strike Coach Planning On His Death?” The advantage of video is that the speaker’s emotional state and body language add to the quote’s impact.
  9. Tipper GoreThe Kicker (Columbia Journalism Review’s daily blog) gathered quotes from a number of sources to illustrate a trend and support a point in “Fineman on Gores: ‘Finally.’
  10. AT&T – Quotes need not be in textual format to provide value. The Consumerist’s “Listen to AT&T Ask Customer to Stop Sending Them E-mails” lends credibility to a rather unbelievable story by providing audio proof: “I want to first thank you for the feedback and going forward need to warn you that if you continue to send emails to Randall Stephenson, a cease and desist letter may be sent to you.”

How often and why do you use quotes on your blog? Please share your experiences in the comments. Have a great weekend and see you next week!

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

Top 10 Blogosphere Trends + 10 Great List Posts

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, Regator brings you a list of the ten stories bloggers have been writing about most during the previous seven days (click any trend to see a list of posts about it). And while blogging about the week’s hottest topics may help you snag some new readers, it also puts you squarely in the center of a massive crowd, all talking about the same subject. That’s why, along with the top ten lists, I always give examples of posts that covered the week’s top stories in interesting ways.

We’ve already looked at interesting formats that can inspire you and add variety to your blog. Today, we’ll look in more detail at one of those formats: list posts. Writing a list post is the assignment for Day 2 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook because (among other reasons) list posts are scannable, succinct, visually attractive, persuasive, and have a higher than average chance of going viral. If you’re new to this type of post, get some valuable tips by checking out “10 Steps to the Perfect List Post.” Let’s see how some bloggers used lists to cover this week’s top stories:

  1. Gulf of Mexico – By offering five solutions, Inhabitat’s Top 5 Green Ways to Clean Up Oil Spills ensures that readers know exactly what they are being promised.
  2. Rand PaulThe Atlantic Wire’s 6 Ways Rand Paul Is Like Sarah Palin uses a bullet-pointed list to break up what might otherwise have been an unwieldy block of text providing comparisons between the two politicians.
  3. Google TV ­– 7 Ways to Watch Web Video Without Google TV gives readers value through tips on products, along with the pros and cons of each. Using a non-round number such as seven can have the effect of encouraging readers to add to the list in the comments, which has happened on this Gadget Lab post.
  4. French Open ­– The Bleacher Report’s 10 French Open Observations, provides tennis enthusiasts with ten scenes from this important event. As one commenter noted, the post keeps things “brief and moving along.”
  5. North Korea – As demonstrated by PajamasMedia’s North vs. South Korea: How Bad Could a War Get? list posts don’t always have to be numbered. Breaking this story down into “The Good News,” “The Bad News,” “The Worse News,” and “The Downright Scary News,” dissects and simplifies a complex situation.
  6. World CupAbduzeedo’s The 10 Stadiums of the 2010 World Cup is appropriately image-heavy and text-light for this design-focused blog and uses the round number 10, which (like 25, 50, or 100) lends the post a certain amount of authority.
  7. Mark Zuckerberg ­– Agree to Disagree’s 5 Ways to Deal with Facebook’s Privacy Policy shows that the list itself might be only part of your post. Create the list then spend the rest of your post playing devil’s advocate or debating the pros and cons of each item.
  8. Craig VenterJacks of Science used a bold, attention-grabbing, humorous headline to sell 5 Reasons Craig Venter Might Kill You. It’s not a brand-new post relating to Venter’s recent creation of the first synthetic life, but it does provide interesting trivia in a fun-to-digest format.
  9. Series Finale ­– BuzzSugar’s The Top 10 Highlights From the American Idol Season Finale! uses the word “top” to create interest. Words like “top” and “best” lead your readers to believe that they’re seriously missing out if they don’t read your post and therefore tend to do very well in the titles of list posts. Techland’s 10 Ways LOST Shouldn’t End takes the opposite approach and looks at the worst ways the show could end rather than the best. Lists of the “worst,” “most awful,” “most disastrous” also tend to do well. Call it schadenfreude.
  10. Shrek Forever AfterReelz Channel’s Top 10 “Wow, You’ve Really Let Yourself Go” Movies uses one timely story to illustrate a trend, presenting each list item with a clear subheadline in larger text and bolded phrase that hopes to intrigue readers into reading the smaller text.

How often do you use list posts? Under what circumstances to you think they work best? Let us know in the comments.

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

Join the Third Tribe Before the Price Changes

If you’re struggling to find your place in this internet marketing game and feel torn between the hype and obnoxious tactics of some of the traditional internet marketers and the ideals, principles and yet lack of profitability of many of the social media purists… you just might want to check out The Third Tribe.

Third Tribe was designed as a place for those who see themselves as internet entrepreneurs who want to embrace and learn from different types of internet marketers – yet who don’t want to abandon their principles, ethics and sell their souls along the journey.

thirdtribe.jpg

Two weeks back I posted an update on the Third Tribe and hinted that now was a great time to join as the price would probably be raised in the coming month – on 1 June, the price will rise so this is your last chance to get in at the current level.

The reason for the price rise is simple – since launching we’ve added 10 hours of seminar content and a further 10 hours of other kinds of content including twice monthly Q&A calls. The value that you get out of the archives on day 1 of joining (currently for just $47) has risen – and so will the price if you don’t lock in at the current one.

Seminars already in the archives are:

  • Product Launch Strategies: What Always Works and What’s Working in 2010
    Jeff Walker & Sonia Simone
  • How to Get Your Customers to Do Your Best Marketing for You
    John Jantsch & Chris Brogan
  • Email Marketing Strategies that Work
    Sonia Simone & Brian Clark
  • Action Email: Copywriting Tips for Insanely Effective Email Marketing
    Dave Navarro & Sonia Simone
  • Internet Business Models: Part One – the Problogger model
    Darren Rowse & Brian Clark
  • Internet Business Models: Part Two – the Chris Brogan model
    Chris Brogan & Sonia Simone
  • Internet Business Models: Part Three – the Copyblogger model
    Brian Clark & Sonia Simone
  • Internet Business Models: Part Four – the Zen Habits model
    Leo Babauta & Darren Rowse
  • The Quick Start Guide to Making Money Online
    Johnny Truant & Sonia Simone
  • Advanced Affiliate Marketing with Social Media and SEO
    Brian Clark & Glenn Allsopp

You can get a lot fuller descriptions of the sessions and see the back story on why Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, Sonia Simone and myself started this project on the Third Tribe Site – so check them out.

Of course on top of the content is the community of Third Tribe. With thousands of members coming from a diverse back ground of online disciplines the forum area is a treasure trove of information, knowledge and potential collaborations.

Currently you get all of that plus recordings of the Q&A sessions the minute you subscribe for just $47. You’ve got no obligation to continue your membership after month 1 but if you do you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’re locked in at the current monthly price and won’t pay any more even after the price rise.

If you’ve been thinking about giving Third Tribe a go – it’s a great time to join us! I hope to see you on the inside!

Blogosphere Trends + Choosing and Using Images

Welcome back for another edition of the weekly Blogosphere trends, now on its new day of the week. If you’re blogging about stories, like those on the trends list, that are covered by hundreds of other bloggers across the blogosphere or in your niche, how can you make sure your post gets the attention it deserves? We’ve talked a bit about using effective headlines, interesting formats, and strong opening lines to draw readers to your posts. Today, along with the trends generated by Regator, we’ll look at some types of images that could be used to help posts about these popular stories stand out from the crowd.

Normally, I use individual blog posts to illustrate the week’s tips. This week, I’m taking a slightly different approach and using images from Flickr (unless otherwise noted) because I want to demonstrate the variety and quality of images available there via Creative Commons licenses. We’ll talk in a moment about licensing and other places to get free (or affordable) legal images for your posts, but first, let’s take a look at how this week’s hot stories could’ve been enhanced with visuals:

  1. Gulf of Mexico – Powerful photos, such as this oil-covered pelican, can be used to add emotional impact to your posts. Remember, a picture is worth 1,000 words…but it’s the internet, so your readers probably don’t have the attention span required to read 1,000 words.
  2. Elena Kagan – Clear, well-framed photographs can also be used to set the scene for your post. This photo of the U.S. Supreme Court is Konomarked, which is a bit different from the standard Creative Commons licensing normally used by Flickr. The Konomark symbol, which looks like a pineapple in a circle, generally means that the owner of the content is willing to share it but must be emailed first for permission.
  3. Cannes Film Festival – Perhaps you weren’t able to stand in the center of the red carpet at Cannes to get a dramatic shot…but someone was. Use their access to transport your readers to an exclusive location or event in order to give them a perspective they wouldn’t ordinarily be privy to.
  4. Ronnie James Dio – When choosing photos of celebrities–or people in general, for that matter–spontaneous shots that capture a moment in time are usually far more impactful than staged, posed promo shots provided by PR companies. Though taken on stage, this shot of Ronnie James Dio, who died this week, seems to offer a glimpse into the human being behind the rock star persona.
  5. Senate/Rand Paul/Arlen Specter – You might also consider using a comic or illustration rather than a photo. Because of the time involved in creating them, it can be tough to find free versions of political cartoons, this Arlen Specter work isn’t free but the prices are listed to give you some idea of what something like this would cost.
  6. Miss USA/Rima Fakih – The right image can be used to add humor to your post. In this case, this (really weird) “pole dancing is prohibited” sign could provide light-hearted commentary on the Miss USA pole dancing scandal.
  7. Robin Hood – If you regularly blog about movies, music, or television, you probably receive more publicity stills and promo shots than you’d use in a lifetime. They can be useful in the right context though. Slashfilm used promo shots to give readers a glimpse of the highly anticipated but then-unreleased Robin Hood movie. PR contacts are often happy to provide you with promo shots if you just ask.
  8. Steve Jobs – Although the old adage that pictures never lie is certainly not true in the age of PhotoShop and photo manipulation, they do still add a certain level of credibility to a story. Gawker published screen shots of a heated exchange between a blogger and Steve Jobs because it was not only a more visually interesting approach, but also helped legitimize the story.
  9. David Cameron – Infographics, such as this analysis of the UK election under different voting systems, can help your readers quickly and easily understand a complicated topic or simply present information and statistics that might’ve been dry or wordy in a more dynamic, interesting way.
  10. World Cup – Like infographics, maps are a visually engaging way to provide a great deal of information using minimal text and space. This annotated map of the World Cup surrounds quickly conveys important safety information to World Cup fans.

Most of the images above are available via Creative Commons licensing on Flickr. It’s vital to understand the various types of licensing so that you understand what you can and cannot do with a particular image and how it needs to be attributed. Many new bloggers make the mistake of using random images from a Google image search, hot-linking to images (a BIG no-no), or using Flickr or other image sites without fully understanding the licensing. Here’s my approach: I begin by doing an advanced search on Flickr, making sure to check the box that says “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.” Then, once I’ve found an image I’m interested in, I click the “Some rights reserved” link (if it says “All rights reserved,” it it not available via Creative Commons) under “More information” in the lower right corner of the page to learn more about the licensing for that photo.

Flickr is a great resource but certainly isn’t your only option for free-high quality images for your posts. Here are a few other options:

- Use the advanced option of Google Image Search. Select the correct option under “Usage Rights.”
- Wikimedia Commons is another amazing resource with more than six million images to choose from.
- If you’re ever in need of space or astronomy-related images, you can’t do better than NASA Images, which allows you to use any image (as long as it doesn’t imply that NASA endorses a particular product) simply by including a credit that says, “NASA/courtesy nasaimages.org.”
- Stock.xchng, now owned by Getty Images, has 350,000 free stock photos. There are also a few other sites where you can find images free of charge, including MorgueFile, EveryStockPhoto, and Freerange Stock.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a sizable library of nature-related digital media, all available free of charge.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a beautiful library of photos, all available for free with a few minor restrictions regarding attribution.
- Use your own photos. With a decent camera and a bit of practice (along with some tips from photography blogs like Darren’s Digital Photography School), you can save yourself the time it’ll take to hunt down photos taken by others and get the satisfaction of creating even more original content for your blog.

Do you have a great image resource I haven’t mentioned? Please share it with your fellow bloggers in the comments.

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