July 28, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

Forbes “Attack of the Blogs” article raises lots of important questions

While just about everyone in the blogosphere is reacting with some level of hostility or scorn to the Forbes Magazine cover article by Daniel Lyons entitled “Attack of the Blogs”, it turns out that there are many valuable lessons that we bloggers could learn by reading through the piece, and some ironic proof that Lyons’ isn’t too far off in his “attack” metaphor when the reaction of the blogosphere is considered.

It’s certainly a very different take on the article than what you’ve read online before, I’m sure:

    Forbes “Attack of the Blogs” is surprisingly accurate

You might not agree with my analysis and commentary, but take the time to read through what I’ve written anyway. The points I raise, whether you believe Lyons raises them too or not, are important discussions for the blogosphere to have nonetheless.

Panasonic … great products, bad blog

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 10/30/05
Ah, let the controversy reign.  Another big company
has decided to jump into the Blogosphere to help build buzz about their
products, and again they are blowing it.  Panasonic has a video geek blog allegedly authored by "Tosh
Bilowski".  I say allegedly because thought he
claims to exist
, it’s hard to prove that he does.  Amy drew my
attention to this with her post asking
just who is Tosh Bilowski?
and Dave follows suit with asking whether
character or "fake" blogs just always plain wrong
.
 
While I’ve defended character blogs in the past, no dice on this one.  This
isn’t a character blog (e.g. the Moose Tracks blog) where it’s clear that the
author isn’t a real person, this blog is supposed to be written by a real
person, Tosh Bilowski.  The problem is that it doesn’t look like Tosh exists. 
Amy and I Googled him and came up with bubkus.  Sorry, if
you’ve been sing the Internet at all in the past, you’re going to leave a
trace.  It’s pretty much inevitable.  Check out these Google searches on my name
(short
and long
forms).  You will find references to my life as an academic (co-authored papers
and book chapters), lab manager (how to get imaging software to work), tech
support person, webmaster, and blogger.  The record goes back well over a
decade.  What’s my point?  Look if Tosh is about my age (looks like it) and he’s
a true vid geek, he should be pinging up on e-mail lists, newsgroups, websites,
etc.
 
 
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Are character blogs fundamentally a bad idea or just inherently boring?

The latest incarnation of this debate in the business blog community revolves around the Def Perception weblog written, ostensibly, by someone named Tosh Bilowski on behalf of Panasonic Corporation. The tag line of the blog reads “Tosh Bilowski focuses on high-def pro video – brought to you by Panasonic.”

So far, the blog community seems to be enjoying some detective work (see for example Amy Gahran’s article Who Is Tosh Bilowski: Corporate Blogs and Authenticity and engaging in its typical criticism of any corporations trying to do something new with weblogs, at least in my opinion.

But I want to bring this topic to the Business Blog Consulting crowd because I suggest instead that Panasonic deserves some significant credit for having the courage to try something new and interesting. Yes, a quick Google of “Tosh Bilowski” reveals zero matches, which seems darn curious for someone who is a blogger, but I don’t think that’s really so important. Indeed, for Global PR Blog Week II I wrote an article on this very subject, entitled Fake Blogs: New Marketing Channel or Really Bad Idea?

In that article, I wrote:

“There’s no reason why a fake blog cannot be interesting, amusing and informative, while also having the desirous blog characteristics of credibility and authenticity within the context of the blog itself. Indeed, I don’t even like the pejorative “fake blog”, so let’s call it a “story blog” instead, to emphasize that everything about the weblog, from its premise and entries to the very persona of the author, are part of the fiction, of the story being told.”

I then observe that: “the real reason that story blogs aren’t better and therefore more popular is because it’s just darn hard to produce material week after week as a fictitious character.”

That’s the fundamental problem with the “Tosh Bilowski” weblog effort from Panasonic and its PR agency in my eyes, not that it’s “fake” or that they’ve pretty clearly created a fictional ‘video geek’ to write about their product line, but that it’s just boring and unengaging.

Even when “Tosh” acknowledges that there’s some controversy about the blog (as he does in the entry Oh Brother, Who Art Thou?) he doesn’t link to anyone, doesn’t acknowledge the controversy and doesn’t have anything interesting to say.

So I remain convinced that there’s an opportunity for companies to create “story blogs” that are interesting, compelling and effective at selling their products, but am still waiting to see an example of what this could be and how this could be done well. My kudos to Panasonic for making the attempt to further push the blogging envelope, but they need to find a better agency or blogger to work with. “Tosh” just isn’t going to make any headway in gaining visibility for their product line in the blogosphere.

Google and Yahoo Lead The Lynch Mob

Posted by: of One By One Media on 10/28/05
 Forbes 80 100 Forbes Magazine calls out blogs in its “Attack of the Blogs!” issue on the magazine’s latest cover.  In his article, (requires registration) Daniel Lyons tells us that blogs are being used for evil, saying  “they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns.”
 
Lyons goes on to say that companies like Google and Yahoo are leading the way in the campaign with their free blogging platforms.  Lyons also includes companies like Microsoft and Six Apart as part of the gang leading the way.
 
In the article, Peter Blackshaw, Chief Marketing Officer of Intelliseek, is quoted
 
 “Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality”.
Lyons suggests that the companies like Google, Yahoo and the rest operate with “government-sanctioned impunity” without any liability of what is being published on their free platforms.
 
This is surely going to rile the natives in the blogosphere and I can say that it has already caught fire with some of the A-List bloggers.  Is the MSM throwing down the gauntlet?  Have they finally felt the threat and have been backed into a corner like a wounded animal?  The people at Forbes seem to be on the attack about the lynch mob they call bloggers. They look to possibly level the playing field calling upon bloggers to have some accountability for their writing and actions.  I can smell the fear.
 
 
 

SixApart’s Mena and Ben Trott explain current problems with TypePad

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/27/05

Update (2 days later): SixApart’s CEO Barak Berkowitz provides more details. He posted his Message from the CEO to the TypePad blog and also sent it in an HTML email to customers:

Dear Debbie,  

As you might know, some of our users have been experiencing slow performance with the TypePad service over the past few weeks…

Pretty nice. To back up a minute… we (meaning a bunch of contributors to this blog) are taking partial credit for these blogged
responses from SixApart. We started complaining vociferously on
Wednesday Oct. 26th (first me and then Tris Hussey, Rich Brooks, Toby Bloomberg and Paul Chaney) about the recent slowness and outages with TypePad, SixApart’s popular hosted blogging service.

The result? SixApart co-founders Mena and Ben Trott posted a reponse,
the first real explanation we’ve gotten from the company after several
weeks of problems with TypePad. The number of TypePad blogs and the
activity on them (the good news) has outstripped their server capacity
(the bad news), they tell us. They’re working to move TypePad to a new
data center (which hasn’t been going smoothly).

Moral of the story? The blogosphere works. You kvetch enough. You get everybody’s attention. (Addendum: we’re quite pleased with the effect of our buzz campaign.) Now let’s  hope they can fix the problems…

Backstory
I sent Anil Dash
(a SixApart VP) several emails yesterday begging him to "listen up" and
to make lemonade out of lemons, so to speak. Anil is a friend and
colleague. I suggested he get the top dogs at 6A to acknowledge the
recent problems and address them more transparently than the cryptic
messages we get on 6A’s Status Weblog about "temporary service degradation."

He listened.

Another
takeaway… there are many channels of communication. You need to use a
combination of public and private ones. The blogosphere is a very very
public place. It’s not right for everything.

Is TypePad the Wrong Tool for Business Bloggers?

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/26/05

As many active bloggers out there know, TypePad has been paaaaaaaainfully slow lately. If you have a TypePad account, posting has been somewhere between difficult and impossible.

Here at Business Blog Consulting
(the other BBC), behind the locked doors of our Yahoo Group, there’s
been a lot of chatter about leaving TypePad for greener pastures. 

Debbie Weil, over at BlogWrite for CEO’s and a fellow BBC blogger, takes TypePad to task with her post Listen Up SixApart: some of your TypePad customers may switch. Because Debbie’s, well Debbie Weil, Anil Dash from Six Apart actually responded on her blog.

I know that other BBC contributors plan on posting their own
thoughts both to BBC and to their own blogs in the next 24 hours, and
as I get a list of those posts I’ll update this post.

For me, this reminds me of the mid-90′s when AOL’s email went down for about two days.
People lost it. Businesses claimed they were being ruined. Congress
held hearings on what could be done. And Steve Case said something to
the effect that it showed how important AOL was to American Business.
(At least that’s how I remember it.)

I believe the lesson business owners learned from that is that
whatever your communication medium is, it needs to be rock-solid.
Piggy-backing your communications on a consumer product like AOL is no
way to run a real business.

Until recently I recommended TypePad as a platform for business bloggers…especially compared to Blogger,
which doesn’t have half the bells and whistles TypePad offers. However,
as more businesses turn to blogging as a legitimate marketing tool they
are going to expect enterprise-level solutions…not “waiting on
TypePad.com” messages.

The recent problems with TypePad and slowdowns at Technorati
show that blogging is growing at a mind-boggling rate; businesses will
continue to flock to it, and so will dollars. Whether TypePad is going
to be part of the solution for business bloggers or an also-ran will be
determined by how they respond to their current problems.

Hosted blog platforms need to move to “business class”

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 10/26/05
I gather from my friends that TypePad had a little issue yesterday.  Okay, they were down or sluggish.  Blogware has had its share of problems too (Disclosure my personal blog is sponsored by Blogware).  Debbie vented her frustrations (here too) and in true Blogosphere style Anil Dash of Six Apart replied in a comment to her post.
 
I’m not going to bash SA here.  There’s no point.  The blog hosts are all having the same problems scaling.  Think about it realistically, how many blogs are created per day?  How many posts?  Top it off with occasional deluges of comment and trackback spam, and you have a real infrastructure issue to handle.  My hat is off to them for working hard to fix and prevent problems.
 
That being said, blog hosts are only slowly
becoming aware that for many of us our blogs are mission critical parts
of our marketing, communications, and daily life.  When Blogware has been
sluggish and I can’t update the Qumana blog … man you don’t want to
have sensitive ears in my presense for sure.  What is needed are
improved SLAs
and hosting for business users.  Squarespace is trying to reach this
market, but they built a whole new platform (Qumana supports
Squarespace, btw)-which means porting things over.  Painful at best,
terrible failure at worst.  I think TP and Blogware need to both
improve their architecture and start to offer a higher level of service
for business users.  Think about the opportunity here … business
users, is your blog critical?  Keep everything the same, but pay a
small increase in monthly cost for … benefits.
 
The other side of it is that many folks are going to start moving to install your own set ups.  At Business Blog Consulting we’re talking about moving to WP.
Seriously.  The move wouldn’t be that hard … lord knows we have
enough geeks capable of doing it.  There is both a threat and
opportunity here.  Let’s see how it all shakes out.
 
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Listen up SixApart: some of your TypePad customers may switch

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/26/05

Update: SixApart’s Anil Dash responds.

As I wrote here and here a few weeks ago, I’m one of thousands running a business blog on TypePad. The service has been excruciatingly slow of late. (Just now I thought I’d tear my hair out while waiting for this post to Save.) Sometimes it’s down altogether.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a “trash 6A” blog entry. It’s a please please please listen to your customers before it’s too late message. The buzz is building. There’s talk of moving some high-profile blogs (including this one) to WordPress or another platform.

My advice? Post fast. Post fresh. Be transparent. The blogosphere is gonna bite if you don’t. And get something up on your Status Blog (which, BTW, doesn’t have an archive so it’s conspicuously not quite a blog) or on Mena’s Corner that acknowledges the problem.

C’mon guys. We love you! Don’t disappoint.

52 Blogs in 52 Weeks

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 10/25/05

In the spirit of a task the Blog Herald has undertaken in reviewing 100 blogs in 100 days, blogger extraordinaire and small business blogging advocate, Paul Chaney has undergone an ambitious task of reviewing 52 small business blogs in 52 weeks.

Undoubtedly, small business blogs, like small business web sites, represent a significant growth opportunity. Yet most media attention is focused on large company blogging activities. Paul’s project is a great effort at generating visibility towards small business blogs and is sure to uncover innovative and interesting blog implementations.

Paul has received quite a few "nominations" already, however he may have some open yet.  So send any small business blog examples of your own or of your small business clients to him via email.

BTW, Paul did not ask me to post this, I asked him. We’re both blogging at AllBusiness.com and I think the small biz blog review is a great project.

Our Apologies: Comments Are Currently on the Fritz

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/25/05

Sorry folks, but we realized we were getting slammed with comment spam, so I’ve turned on TypeKey for comment authentication. I hate TypeKey as much as the rest of you, but I hate comment spam even more and am not aware of any simple fix that’s better than TypeKey (and works with TyepPad). Unfortunately, TypeKey isn’t so simple that I’ve figured out how to make it work right yet. For the time being, it’s impossible to leave comments; you get some error message. I’ve left a question with TypePad’s customer support, so I hope to have it sorted out soon.

Blogging Destroying American Productivity

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/25/05

In an article entitled What Blogs Cost American Business, AdAge.com contends that in 2005 alone, employees will waste 551,000 years reading blogs at work.

Some interesting factoids:

  • 35 millions workers (25%) visit blogs and spend on average 3.5 hours a week at them.
  • Time spent in the office on non-office work blogs is equivalent to 2.3 million jobs.
  • U.S. workers will wast 2.3 million business work years this year alone.

What the the article doesn’t mention is if these lost hours are coming out of actual productivity, or the time we spent looking for good travel deals or checking last night’s sports scores, and will Expedia and ESPN suffer because of this.

It also doesn’t talk about the fact that most American workers work longer hours, work through lunch and take our laptops and Blackberries home with us. Don’t we deserve some time to blog off?

This story found via Blogcritics.org.

Debbie Weil asks: What Can You Do With A Blog?

In doing research for her book, The Corporate Blogging Book, my colleague and friend Debbie Weil asked a half dozen or so of her blogging colleagues if they wanted to comment on her proposed list of categories for blogs. As she explained it:

“I’m trying to be more creative than saying blogs can be used ‘for marketing and PR and thought leadership, as well as internally for project and knowledge management.’”

Her proposed list includes blogs as a complement to traditional PR, conference blogs, customer evangelist blogs (what today’s NYTimes calls branding blogs), etc.

Where this gets interesting is that I didn’t respond with a expansion of her categories, I responded quite differently, and the subsequent email offers some good insight into how blogs have evolved from a simple system to a proscribed technological communications platform with many specific requirements. I’ll let the email talk for itself.

Here’s what I wrote:

“But blogs are just content management tools, Debbie, so I believe it’s the case that they can be used for an infinite number of different corporate tasks, as many as there are tasks requiring online communication, archiving, or discussion. Anything from a shared discussion space for developers to a space where draft documents can be discussed in the pr group to evaluating logos for a new product in marketing, with the watchful eye of the VP involved.

“I understand your desire to categorize and “taxonomize” but the very act of trying to break it down into discrete parts inevitably changes the nature of what you’re writing about and your reader’s reaction to the material.

“Make sense?”

Rick Bruner then followed up with:

“I’m so glad, Dave, to hear you say “blogs are just content management tools.” I agree completely. I honestly think what’s most remarkable about blogs is the simplicity of the tool, not all the rules people apply to personal voice, whether comments are on or off, etc. At their heart, they are just a means for anyone to self-publish with little hassle.”

Toby Bloomberg offered an even more potentially controversial response:

“I agree with you and Dave; that was why I began talking about blogs to begin with… but then the marketers got their fingers in the virtual pie and the game hasn’t been the same.”

Sally Falkow agreed, with her comment:

“How refreshing to hear these comments. I have been taken to task many times for using blogs in odd ways – and not having all the things a blog is ‘supposed to have”

“I completely agree that a blog can be used for many different things. I have clients who publish news blogs – and now that Yahoo News is indexing blogs their content is being picked up.

“I am also using blogsites as a monitoring tool and it works very well. The RSS feeds are set up to monitor words and phrases and then the analysis is done in the blog so other members of the team and execs can access it. Internal use only, of course.”

Tris Hussey gave an additional thought and added a prediction about the next release of WordPress too:

“Expanding on the blogs as content management theme here … Blog platforms make great, cost-effective platforms for “websites”.  If you’re an SMB [small to medium size business -ed] with a limited budget you can get some budget hosting that includes MySQL and have WordPress installed in a few mins.  Since WP’s theme and style system is pretty flexible you can cut design cost and time incredibly.

“I’ve been advocating blogs as website solutions for SMBs before, but now even more so. Personally when WP 1.6 comes out I think it’s really going to shake things up in a huge way.”

I’ll let Debbie have the last word:

“Yes, yes and yes. I agree with all of you. I’ve been explaining blogs as a content management tool since 2001. But for the purposes of the book I can’t just say “Oh and you can do anything with a blog.” I need to give examples to make it make sense to readers. And I like to put examples into categories. It’s just a way of packaging the info.”

But what do you think, dear reader? Is a blog simply a tool for managing content on a Web site, or are there a specific and well-agreed-upon set of capabilities and features that it either must or should have to truly be considered a blog in the greater online community?

This article about What can you do with a blog? is republished with permission from The Intuitive Life Business Blog and is © 2005 by Dave Taylor.

Blooks: Blog to Books

Posted by: of Blogging Systems Group on 10/24/05

Author05Denise Wakeman turned me on to this earlier today. Tom Evslin, the guy who invented VOIP technology (I think), is writing a novel and posting each chapter as it’s written to a blog. It’s called blooks – online books distributed on blogs.

This takes the Naked Conversations approach one step further and, so far as I’m aware, he’s the first to actually upload chapters as they’re being written. You can download them at no cost too.

Denise tells me that doing this actually increases sales of the book once it’s printed. She indicates people see the book as a "souvenir." After all, who’s going to download the entire book? (Other than me that is.)

Yet another innovative use of blogs.

Splogs, Is Google complicit?

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 10/24/05
Jim Turner (a fellow BBC-er) posed an interesting idea to me today, is Google complicit in the whole splog problem?  This question turned into a great blog post.  Jim isn’t pointing fingers per se, but let’s lay out the premise here.  Google owns both Blogger and AdSense.  A splog can put AdSense on their blog pretty easily and quickly.  Then the splogger scrapes content from legit folks like us, then people visit the splog and click an AdSense ad.  Google makes money.
 
Hmm.  Personally I don’t think Google is complicit in all this.  Granted they are probably reaping some significant monetary benefits from ads on splogs, but I think Google is just as pissed as we are at this.  Google is trying to be a big, yet cool, company and being labeled a purveyor of online vermin doesn’t help one’s bottom in the long run.
 
As Jim points out, splogs are a big problem.  Hopefully the recent changes to Blogger will make it harder for sploggers to get their work done.  Now if we could only smite the trackback spammers.
 
Orginally published on the Qumana Blog.
 
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How to Set Up a TypeKey Identity to Post Comments and Trackbacks

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/24/05

TypekeylogoHave you ever wanted to post a comment or trackback to a blog and you get the following message:

"If you have a TypeKey identity, you can sign in here."

Unfortunately, if you don’t have a TypeKey identity, there’s no link to get one. Even clicking on the "sign in" link doesn’t help.

If you’ve been stymied in the past, read on…

TypeKey is a tool for bloggers to reduce comment and trackback spam on their blogs. To quote the TypeKey homepage:

Enabling TypeKey on your own site increases accountability for the
content that appears on your weblog and stops comment spam cold.

Unfortunately, it also stops some potential commenters cold.

However, TypeKey is free and only takes moments to set up:

Step 1: Go to TypeKey.
Step 2: Register (for free) by completing your info and copying an overly-cryptic confirmation code.
Step 3: Wait for the confirmation email.
Step 4: Return to the site to enter your confirmation code.
Step 5: Edit your information as you like.

That’s it! Although WordPress
fans will tell you there’s better ways to stop comment and trackback
spam, now you’ll never have to worry about TypeKey stopping your own
comments or trackbacks.

Another blog network in town … it’s the power of aggregation

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 10/24/05
Are blog networks the next hot thing?  I’m a part of several blog networks/group blogs.  It’s reminiscent of the 70′s "super group" phenomenon.  Get a group of super stars together and see what shakes out.  For Business Blog Consulting (BBC), it’s working out pretty well.  I’ve been on a few that didn’t fair so well.  You have to have a mix of keeners and those folks who can only post once and a while to make it work.
 
 

 

A group of bloggers including mainstream journalists from outlets such as   CNBC, The Nation and The New York Times are banding together to strike a blow   at established media and pick up some ad dollars in the process.

 

Pajamas Media, alluding to the belief that bloggers (pros especially) work in our jammies (I don’t BTW … I have to get dressed like everybody else in the morning). The founders are clearly hoping leverage what I was writing about this weekend for Bloggers for Hire (B4H, which I am a part of with fellow BBC-er Jim Turner) that bloggers can leverage their skills and the ease of publishing to blogs into more exposure, etc.  PJ is clearly going for the all-star cast model.  What will come out of it?  We’ll have to see, but I think the trend is a good one.  Blog networks will give bloggers more destinations to publish their work and therefore the potential to make more money in the process.
Jeremy Wright told me this during a Skype IM conversation regarding PJ:

 

"It’s
always nice to see the big players finally waking up to the power of
blog networks. Obviously everyone’s keen to see what the incredibly
creative people who are involved with PJ Media come up with but, until
we see what they actually have up their sleeves it’s a little hard to
get too nervous.

 

Even in just the 1 short month b5media
has been around, we’ve already seen 3 networks promise big launches,
only to tone back their expectations (one launched with 50 and now only
has 35, for example).

 

We look forward to the competition and new ideas PJ Media will bring.   It’s always nice to be challenged, after all."
The
competition aspect, IMHO can only be good for the Blogosphere and
bloggers.  Think about it, if you’re good (and I certainly don’t claim
to be), you could entertain offers from several networks and take the
best offer.  Or you can just publish to them all and reap the benefits,
and chronic sleep deprivation.
 
 
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Companies Drool for Brand Blogs

Posted by: of AndyWibbels.com on 10/24/05

The New York Times has an overview on a blogging phenom: brand blogs. Take Michael Marx, for example:

"I’ve been drinking Barq’s for 15 years. It’s my beer," said Mr. Marx, who started his blog, thebarqsman.com, last year to collect news about Barq’s, commercials he likes for the drink and musings on why he thinks Barq’s is the best. As
the number of blogs has grown, more consumers like Mr. Marx are keeping
Web diaries dedicated exclusively to their favorite brands.

Juicy detail: Coca-Cola (owner of Barq’s) didn’t know about the blog. Free tip: Use Feedster, y’all.

Isn’t this the Holy Grail of marketing? Customers freely promoting and glorifying your brand?

Most consumers are searching for unbiased opinions, a niche that blogs
can fill. A testimonial from one blogger can speak directly to readers
in a way advertising does not.

Granted, bloggers can still criticize the brand with the same tools.

Also mentioned:

Blogstores: rethinking business blogs as online stores

I work with a variety of different companies on business blogging strategies, but almost all of them are focused on how to get their message into their marketplace, rather than selling specific products or services. But there’s really no reason that a weblog couldn’t be used as a storefront, and with one of my clients, Waldorf in the Home, we’ve experimented with doing just that, as exemplified by the Waldorf in the Home Online Store.

The introductory section is obviously unique to this area of the site (and yes, it’s dynamically generated so that new blog entries cause the intro listing to change too). You can see the more traditional blog view of things by going to the blog store categories, like Online Store: Parenting.

Now I’m helping my sister out with her splendid Art Dolls.info site and she’s moving from just talking about how to make soft sculpture art dolls to actually selling them, based on reader demand.

My question is: who is doing innovative work in this area and what models are out there to help guide us in taking yet a further step towards what I’ll call blogstores (since everyone seems to love inventing jargon)?

To me, this is a logical evolutionary step in blogging. Most companies that have online sites either have catalog based software backends that are highly structured but expensive, or have everything built by hand, making it prohibitively difficult to add new products or services on a daily or weekly basis.

Blogging, of course, solves these sort of content management difficulties by allowing you to focus on the content, on what you want to say (or sell, in this case), rather than worrying about how it’s going to be formatted and displayed.

Admittedly, the features of a high-end catalog or online shop management system, features like cross-selling and up-selling, aren’t going to be easily rolled into a blogging backend, but I believe that there are many hobbyists and small businesses that could benefit from being able to use their blogging tool as a comprehensive backend for their store, main Web pages and more traditional weblog areas.

Back to my sister’s site, here’s the first doll she’s selling:

Dasselrond

Dasselrond, © 2005 by Judi Wellnitz

The first doll for sale at the Art Dolls site, as written up and displayed at Dasselrond Needs a New Home, is on a page that seems very busy. It’s very “bloggy” with all the recent postings, categories, archives, Google ads, etc., and probably isn’t the most effective presentation of something for sale.

What do you think of that page, though? Do you like narrative descriptions of products? Should the images be at the top of the entry? Should there be “buy now” buttons like you see at the Waldorf in the Home site?

The blogging system underlying Art Dolls is a piece of clay ready to be molded into whatever shape we want, so I’d be interested in your thoughts independent of whether they’re blog-centric or not. If we need to strip out all the extraneous material and just have the dolls for sale with their narrative descriptions and buy buttons, we can do that.

Thanks for your help, dear reader, and if you want to help Dasselrond find a new home, don’t hesitate to act quickly. He’s a beauty!

This article about Blogstores: rethinking blogs as storefronts is republished with permission from The Intuitive Life Business Blog and is © 2005 by Dave Taylor.

Yahoo Issues White Paper on RSS

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 10/20/05

Yahoo has issued a new white paper on RSS. You can download the PDF but here are some key findings:

  • 12% of users are aware of RSS, and 4% have knowingly used RSS.
     
  • 27% of Internet users consume RSS syndicated content on personalized start pages without knowing it’s RSS
     
  • 28% of Internet users are aware of podcasting, but only 2% currently subscribe to podcasts.
  • Even
    tech-savvy "“Aware RSS Users"” prefer to access RSS feeds via
    user-friendly, browser-based experiences (e.g., My Yahoo!, Firefox, My
    MSN).

World news and national news are preferred at 52%. More specialized content such as blogs
(23%) and podcasting (11%) are gaining. So basically, it’s mainstream media rather than niche content that gets the most use.

The primary benefit reported for use of RSS is efficient access to media sources.

Publishers
striving to syndicate their content via RSS should pay attention to how
their feeds are listed within popular RSS readers since that is the
preferred method to discover and subscribe to feeds. Publishers should
also
provide easy and prominent means for users to add RSS feeds on every
article page.

27% of Internet users subscribe and read RSS feeds without knowing being aware of RSS as a format. These "Unaware RSS Users" are
similar demographically to the average Internet user, suggesting that
RSS is not only for early adopter techies.

New corporate blogging survey grossly inflates percentage of companies that are blogging

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/20/05

Sorry, I can’t let this one pass. As much as I’d like to believe the reported results of the iUpload and Guidewire Group Corporate Blogging Survey released this week, I can’t. The survey reports that 89% of companies are blogging. And that corporate adoption of blogging is entering the hyper growth phase.

Here’s the rub. The conclusions are based on 140 respondents. That’s far too small a number from which to draw such a sweeping conclusion. In addition, the way the survey was conducted taints the results. DoubleClick research director Rick Bruner (yes, Rick is the brains behind this blog!) spoke with Mike Sigal of Guidewire Group to find out more. Rick emailed me the following:

"I think the sample size is less of an issue than the sample recruitment methodology…

Oh, and not so coincidentally, perhaps, iUpload sells an enterprise blogging platform. Download the  iUpload and Guidewire Group Corporate Blogging Survey here.

…He [Mike] said they sent out invitations from some
mailing list that should have been representative of the Fortune 500…
But they also put the word out to lots of [bloggers], who posted about
the survey on their blogs. Meaning that a significant number of
respondents were self-selected. Hence, it’s likely that companies who
are particularly tuned into business blogs were more likely to respond."

Makes
sense, doesn’t it? I know I was one of the respondents who took the
survey and I suspect every blogging "consultant" or expert also took it
just to see what questions were being asked. Add up the number of non-corporate respondents to the survey and I wager you’re well under 100 statistically valid responses.

In comparison, I got over 700 responses [PDF of results] to a survey I ran last summer on business blogging. The clearest result from that survey: Time is the top Fear Factor when it comes to corporate blogging.
Other results: 55% of respondents said blogging will become a
"must-have" corporate marketing tool. But it’s not quite here yet. My
survey was publicized to the 15,000-plus subscribers to my
e-newsletter, WordBiz Report.

Download the survey
You can download the iUpload and Guidewire Group Corporate Blogging Survey here. Read with a grain of salt. Then do leave a comment below. Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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