September 2, 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.

Fortune 500 Blog Wiki

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 12/31/05

Earlier this year, I put out a call on this site as to how many of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging. I guessed "somewhere in the 3-6% range currently." Yesterday I got an email from Wired Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, saying that he had wondered the same thing over dinner with Doc Searls. More specifically, they wondered whether companies that were thriving did not blog because they had less to gain from such openness while companies fighting to grow or regain market share were more inclined to blog, and whether this was a trend that could be correlated to companies’ business performance. So, Anderson set some Wired interns to the task and came up with this post describing what they found. Further, together with Ross Mayfield at Socialtext, they created the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki to keep track of the trend. (I’m gratified to note that my original estimate seems to be holding true: the collaborative effort has identified public blogs at 4% of the Fortune 500 firms.)

Blog Vacation Options

Once you’ve been blogging for a while the inevitable happens; your vacation time arrives.

For those of you who have recently started your own business you may now be saying, "what is this word ‘vacation’ that you use?" Just stick with me.

How do you handle this time off in terms of your blog? Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has amazingly come up with seven different things you can do with your blog while on vacation.

I myself have done both #1 (give it a rest) and #2 (pre-blog.) What’s your choice?

Can anyone keep up with blogging?

Posted by: of Duct Tape Marketing Blog on 12/26/05

Last week TypePad had well documented service issues and outages caused by in part by their attempts to keep pace with the enormous growth of blogging. Today, WordPress (probably the largest benefactor of the TypePad blues) launched a much awaited 2.0 upgrade.

But, if you tried to grab your copy you were greeted with this message all day long.
“Switching servers, please check back in about a half hour. Thanks! — Matt”

I’m not picking on either service, they are both wonderful success stories, I just don’t know if anyone can really handle the adoption rate of blogging. There’s certainly room for others to play!

Great discussion on blogs gone bad

Posted by: of Duct Tape Marketing Blog on 12/25/05

Georgia Patrick, one of the Duct Tape Marketing Channel contributors, has a great thread going, titled – All I Want For Christmas is a Blog Gone Bad. The post is about some media coverage titled “When Blogs Go Bad.” The discussion centers on the very good outcome that can be had when your blog receives what some might see as negative attention.

Take a look and add your good/bad blog stories.

Biz Blog Books

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 12/22/05

Buzz is that  2006 is the year marketing blogs will gain acceptance within the business community. Seems the publishing world is betting that people will want to read about how to use blogs as a marketing tool. For your reading pleasure the contributors of Business Blog Consulting have put together a list of published, and soon to be published, biz blog books.

Business Blogging Books
-We Blog, Paul Bausch, Matthew Haughey, Meg Hourihan
-The Weblog Handbook, Rebecca Blood
-Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies, Susannah Garden
-Unleash the Marketing & Publishing Power of RSS, Rok Hrastnik
-Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World, Hugh Hewett
-Blog, David Kline & Dan Burstein
-Blog On Building Online Communities With Web Logs, Todd Stauffer
-Blogging: Genius Strategies For Instant Web Content, Biz Stone
-Blog Marketing, Jeremy Wright
-The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Growing Your Business With Google, Dave Taylor

Coming Attractions Business Blogging Books
-Naked Conversations, Robert Scobel & Shel Israel
-The Everything Blogging Book, Aliza Sherman Risdahl
-The Corporate Blogging Book, Debbie Weil
-The Rough Guide to Blogging, Jonathan Yang
- Blog Wild! A Blog for Small Business Blogging, Andy Wibbles

Find more books about blogging at Blog Revolt
Heard it from: Debbie Weil, The Corporate Blogging Book

If you come across any new business blog books drop a comment. Let’s keep track of the new releases.

Splogs May Be 1 in 5

Posted by: of One By One Media on 12/22/05
It is reported in Adweek that there are 80,000 blogs a day popping up on the internet and 1 in 5 of those might be spam blogs.  Frankly, I believe that number may be higher than 20% as reported.  I am not stating that I have the pulse of the entire blogosphere, but I’m certain that there are not that many legitimate blogs being set up and content provided on a regular basis.  The article states that Umbria, a Boulder based company looked into some of the numbers:
 
 Umbria examined results in October from three blog search engines—Technorati, IceRocket and BlogPulse—and found them rife with spam sites. On average, 44 of the top 100 results on the engines were spam. For instance, an Apple iPod search turned up splogs in 80 of the top 100 results on IceRocket, and 75 and 71 on BlogPulse and Technorati, respectively.
What the numbers did not tell us were the number of blogs being lost each day through attrition.  Those bloggers that tried it out for a few days to see what the hype was about and then abandoned the platform.  I’m certain that Google has numbers through its blogging tool Blogger that would perhaps track the numbers of their blogs that are not active or have remained dormant over a period of time.  In fact I would assume that for purposes of cleaning out their system of dead blogs, they would discontinue the accounts of those blogs not updated for a period of time, perhaps putting them on a suspension basis and then dropping them from the database once a redemption period expired.  I might investigate this further with them and report the details.
 
Cross posted from One By One Media
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Great Blogging Tool for Firefox Users

Posted by: of Duct Tape Marketing Blog on 12/21/05

Great new extension for Firefox users allows you to blog a site directly from your browswer. The extension seems to work flawlessly with TypePad, WordPress and MovableType blogs. Easy to use and easy to set-up

Performancing for Firefox

Favicon and Robots.txt – Must-Haves for your Blog

I heard at the Search Engine Strategies conference earlier this month in Chicago that the Ask Jeeves spider doesn’t cope well with websites that don’t have robots.txt. So if you don’t have a robots.txt file hosted on your blog’s document root, create a blank one.

Another detail often missed by bloggers is to create your own custom favicon.ico file. The favicon is a little 16 pixel by 16 pixel image that appears in the location bar on people’s web browsers; many of the RSS readers use it as well. Peter Brady at Performancing has some interesting things to say about whether or not bloggers need to have a favicon. My take on it is this: with a custom favicon, you look cooler and more with it, plus it differentiates you from the rest of the pack in your subscribers’ RSS subscription lists. If you don’t have time to mess around creating one in Photoshop, you can do a quick and dirty one pretty easily using the free web-based tool Favicon Generator. It took me all of two minutes to create my favicon for my blog using this tool.

5 Strategies To Combat Negative Comments

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 12/17/05

The  #1 concern I’m hearing from organizations interested in exploring blogs to support marketing strategies is, “But what about the negative comments? How do we control people posting bad things about our brand or our company?

Marketing has changed. The world has changed. It changed while you were not looking. It changed when the internet, email and cell phones made it easy and cheap to communicate.

Bottom-line with over 50 million people chatting it up on blogs if you turn comments off you loose the home court advantage. People will talk about your company, your products, your customer service and even your blog. Why would you not want that discussion to take place where you can easily monitor it and respond?

To turn comments on. To turn comments off. This has be come a tired debate in the blogosphere. One of the benefits of a marketing blog is the opportunity to dialogue with customers, prospects and stakeholders.  Sorry, no comments does not make a conversation. It’s called a monologue. One person takes center stage with no opportunity for direct feedback. For my money, a blog without comments and trackbacks is an on-line newsletter. And that’s not a negative comment.

Great example of a highly focused brand kibitz on a non “corporate blog” is McChronicles. This blog about McDonalds recently welcomed it’s 18,000 visitor. A Google search for McChronicles pulls 15,800 results. And with this post the count is now 15,8001. That’s a lot of Big Macs! U.S. News and World Report highlighted McCs in an article about customers creating buzz.

Citizen or conversational journalism. McDonald owners get it. Some are asking McChronicles to review their restaurants. Corporate McD people have been known to drop by to listen (tracked by referral stats). However, the folks at corporate McD’s must be busy chowing down on their burgers since a sanctioned McD blog has not yet surfaced.

If you’re still not convenienced that comments on are a smart business decison, here are …

5 Strategies To Combat Negative Blog Comments
5. Turn off comments
4. Monitor comments
3. Develop a comment policy
Include on your navigation bar and above the comment section
2. Delete comments that do not meet your guidelines

The Number One Way To Combat Negative Blog Comments …
1. Show ‘em what you are made of!
Use negative comments (those that express legit concerns) as a way to demonstrate how you handle customer concerns.

Our customers’ sphere of influence is not limited to their around the corner neighborhood or the company water cooler but anywhere there is an internet connection or cell phone access. With the understanding – that companies no longer control the message (influence yes. control no.) – and that customers have more power than ever before in “helping sell your product”, you gain a huge advantage over your competition – those that are trying to swim upstream against the current. It’s an exciting, new world. Don’t be afraid to become apart of it. 

Splogs, Does Anyone Care?

Posted by: of Blogging Systems Group on 12/15/05

Steve Rubel shares some stats today regarding the growing prevalence of spam blogs, otherwise known as splogs. Citing a UMBC eBiquity Research Group study it appears that up to 75% of pings to blog ping servers are from these thorns in the blogosphere’s flesh.

Steve addresses the issue head on with the question, "Does anyone care…?" I’m sure people do, but if so, where’s the outcry? Other than Mark Cuban that is. Perhaps splogs have not sullied the reputation of the blogosphere to the degree that something obviously has to be done. But, from a marketing standpoint, I don’t know of any other tactic that could turn marketers off to using blogs than splogs and I challenge us to take a proactive approach. And I’d really like to know what other BBC contributors think.

Microsoft announces RSS icon, world yawns

I don’t really get it. The Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 development team, on their Team RSS Blog, announce that they’re going to use the same “RSS available” logo as the Firefox web browser (read their article). Okay, so I suppose that Apple will have to knuckle under and change the “RSS” icon it uses in Safari to match.

But here’s what I don’t get: why do people care what icon is chosen? I mean, go on to the “RSS blog” and you’ll see dozen and dozens of comments about this. Is it a harbinger of a kinder, gentler Microsoft that’s more willing to work with the open source community? I don’t think so. I mean, it’s an icon, for goodness sake. Just a little 50×50 graphic.

And yet, a quick Technorati search reveals that lots of people are talking about this, including the inevitable entry from Robert Scoble, along with his prediction that it would be hot news (e.g. appearing on Memeorandum), Neville Hobson, Alex Barnett, Asa Dotzler, Heiko Hebig and even publications have jumped on this invisible wagon: Gadgetopia and The Guardian.

What am I missing here? I just don’t have a clue why everyone cares about a single icon. There are plenty of bigger issues for us to wrestle with as a group of blogging thought leaders, why waste the energy on a tiny orange icon?

Blogs and Tag Clouds – A Match Made in Heaven

With the blogosphere abuzz with the announcement that Yahoo has acquired
del.icio.us, I predict tagging is going to get a lot more coverage in
the press now. Along with that will come a validation to their readers
of the importance and benefits of tagging with business people. In
anticipation of that, all us business bloggers need to get serious about
incorporating tagging into our blogs.

One thing I haven’t seen enough of on blogs — but I predict will be
up-and-coming — is the appearance of tag clouds, where certain keywords
are larger in font size than others, all of them clickable, leading to
various category pages, tag pages, or search results pages.

One of my favorite implementations of a tag cloud on a blog is on O’Reilly Radar

My second most favorite is a new approach to “auto-tagging” on Eurekster’s blog.

The latter is actually what Eurekster calls a “BuzzCloud” and any
blogger or webmaster can get one for free by signing up for a Swicki. A
swicki is a personalized search engine of the web that is targeted and
relevant to you and your blog audience. The buzzcloud contains a set of
search terms that you have suggested along with ones that Eurekster
auto-tags by noting which searches are popular with your audience. When
one of your readers clicks on the links, they are taken to a search
results page in Eurekster for that search term, and the results popular
with you and your audience are promoted to the top of results and marked
with an icon — in essence, tagging the results as well as the search
term.

I believe tagging that requires manual intervention such as del.icio.us
and technorati are primarily for web-intensive users; the combination of
manual control and auto-tagging offered by Eurekster with swickis can
potentially lead to mass-use.

You can sign up for a swicki for your blog or website here.

Help Craft a Blog Damage Control Strategy

Just about every company has a bad day, an inferior product and some disgruntled customers. It’s inevitable, whether you’re running a restaurant or building million-dollar homes. What’s new is that unhappy customers now have a greater reach than they ever did in the past, and companies can no longer easily ignore these grumblers, but have to actively address their public comments.

I’ve been asked to help one company with just this challenge, to help them come up with a response to critical reviews of their service on some well-known blogs. The company knows it’s losing sales because of these critiques (the power of blogs!) but how to respond?

Here’s my article on the subject:

    Building a blog damage control strategy

Even the most rabid anti-business folk must agree that it’s best to have both sides of a situation presented, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Please, read what I suggest and add your own ideas on this topic.

Blogads Sells The Farm!

Posted by: of One By One Media on 12/10/05
Perhaps not in the sense that everyone else thinks, but they sold the largest block of ads to MSNBC according to Blogads President, Henry Copeland.  I received this information from Henry in an email regarding the purchase and he stated:
 
This is a nice way to end 2005.  To give you some personal context, this is biggest blogad buy ever — 800 blogs.  This is more ads than Blogads.com sold in the entirety of 2003.  (The previous record was held by Audi, which ordered ads on 286 blogs last spring.)  I’ll leave it to the media mavens among you to figure out the larger ramifications, but for me this is just a darn pleasant way to end a good year.
 
This is truly the largest ad purchase I have heard of for blogs, and I think it will be the wave of the future as companies want to get their message in front of the people surfing the internet and reading blogs.  He went on to state in his email:
 
Finally, I’m fuzzy on the details of this, but there may be some opportunity for bloggers to interact with one of the NBCites (Keith Obermann on online viral weirdness, Rita Cosby on porn and Joe Scarborough on internet addiction) as they pull together the shows. If you are interested, write me and I’ll try to put you in touch with the NBC person who floated this idea.
I sent Henry an email indicating I was interested in the interaction opportunity.  I hope to hear from the NBC contact and if contacted I will make sure to blog the results of the conversation, and perhaps more details on the details.
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Is blog tagging becoming more mainstream?

There seem to be two major camps in the blogging world, one that believes strongly in the value and utility of “tagging”, whether through a third-party service like De.licio.us or directly on a blog through applications like Technorati, and a separate camp that believes that the lack of standardization in the keywording / tagging community dooms it to inevitable failure and that it’s a waste of time and effort.

Figuring out which side is correct might well be something that can only be accomplished from a distance, however, and that distance might well be in time, not geography.

But there are a few interesting data points that I’ve seen in the last few weeks…

    Is Tagging Growing in Importance?

Just about everyone who reads or writes for blogs has an opinion on this subject. What’s yours?

It’s election time in Canada … where are the party blogs?

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 12/7/05
Here in Canada we’re in the midst of a federal election. The Parliament was dissolved a bit ago and the campaign is starting to get going (sort of a semi-start since the Holiday Season is going to come in the middle of the campaign towards the late-January election).
After the success of blogs in the American Presidential election, one might think Canadian Federal parties would wise up to this. Think again. They are totally missing the boat.
Politics is like business in many, many ways. Blogs work for this so well. Personal opinion, passion, wit, clever writing. This yells “Blog me!”.

AWeber to Generate Email Newsletters of Your RSS Feeds

AWeber is a company/service that I usually associate with autoresponders and email newsletters. We use them to deliver our 7 Days to Success e-courses. (The last "s" may be superfluous; I’ve yet to write a second one.)

That’s why I was surprised and excited to receive an email from them announcing their newest service: AWeber Feed Broadcaster. This new service allows you to:

  • generate HTML/plain text emails from your RSS feed,
  • choose from several attractive templates (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) or create your own,
  • decide how many posts will appear in each newsletter,
  • add specific marketing messages to your email newsletters, and
  • add the signup box to your blog.

Why would you want an email newsletter generated from your RSS feed?

Well, most people still don’t "get" RSS feeds, but everyone "gets"
email and email newsletters. Plus, there’s no real downside. Current belief is to deliver your message in as many ways possible to
reach the customer in a way they want. (Blogs, podcasts, TiVo, etc.) If people want to read your blog
delivered via email, why not let them?

Perhaps in a couple of years (or months) this will seem superfluous,
but for right now it can greatly extend your marketing reach.

While there are certainly other services that generate emails based on your blog posts (currently flyte’s web marketing blog uses Bloglet), I’ve yet to see one that looks so sophisticated.

I haven’t yet trialed the product, so this isn’t a review, just a
head’s up. The service is included in your regular paid AWeber account,
so if you don’t use AWeber yet, you’ll need to sign up.

If you’re looking for additional information there’s a great video tutorial here, and an F.A.Q.

When I’ve had a few weeks of experience with AWeber Feed Broadcaster I’ll post a review.

Gawker skwers the corporate: The Consumerist

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 12/7/05
Inspired by a Hungarian website Nick Denton has launched The Consumerist to hit corporations where it hurts … where they blow it. Here is the intro on the blog:
Welcome, internet, to The Consumerist, the latest title from Gawker Media. The Consumerist loves to shop, and is reconciled to utilities, but hates paying for shoddy products, inhumane customer support, and half-assed service.
Each week The Consumerist will guide you through the delinquencies of retail and service organizations. The Consumerist will highlight the persistent, shameless boners of modern consumerism — and the latest hot deals, discounts, and freebies around.
My favourite on the site the site right now … NyQuil not working. I guess in an effort to keep NyQuil off the must-have ingredients list for crystal meth labs, they took pseudoephedrine out of the formula … and now it doesn’t work. Oops. Not good for the cold season. Maybe try Buckley’s (if you live in Canada).

IBM’s Podcast Guidelines

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 12/7/05

Like it or not … corporate guidelines for blogging are becoming SOP (standard operating procedures). Next up podcasting guidelines?  Yup and IBM is the first company, I know of, to draft guidelines for podcasts. Can vlogging guidelines be far behind?

IBM’s blogging guidelines
were used as a basis and then a few extra podcast/medium specific
guidelines were added.  Most are common sense and reflect a standard of
professionalism that should not be a big deal within a business
environment.

IBM’s Podcasting Guidelines

-Do not podcast IBM Confidential material.
Currently there
is no way to protect/encrypt audio files in a manner that meets IBM’s
security guidelines. Files can be easily shared outside of IBM. Don’t
disclose anything you wouldn’t disclose outside the company.

-Be mindful not only of what you say, but how you say it.
Sometimes
the way you say something — the tone of your voice, such as a hint of
sarcasm — can be as revealing as what you say.

-Protect your privacy and the privacy of others.
Make sure
you don’t record any person without his or her consent and awareness.
Surrepitiously recording and distributing conversations is a breach of
other’s privacy and can have severe consequences for you. Start each
audio recording by identifying all the individuals participating.

-Set the bar as high as you can for audio production and content quality.
External
podcasts that present topics or points of view relevant to IBM’s
business or broader corporate interests inevitably reflect on the
company’s brand. To put it bluntly, if it does not sound good, even the
greatest ideas may not be enough to hold a listener’s attention.
 
-There may be some invitations to participate in non-IBM podcasts that warrant IBM Communication’s involvement.
You
should treat these the same way you would treat an interview request
from a reporter. If you’re in doubt, be sure to talk to your local
Communications people to discuss the opportunity before agreeing to
participate.

 -Identify your podcast as the voice of an individual or small group within the company, not the “official” voice of the company.
This
is similar to the standard disclaimer in IBM blogging guidelines — but
in the case of a podcast, it’s necessary to make such a declaration
verbally.

 -Before you initiate a podcast, ask yourself if it is the most appropriate method to communicate with your audience.
Before
creating a podcast, listen to some. Experience what podcasting is like
from the audience’s perspective. Go out and listen to some podcasts.
What do you think works well? What do you dislike? What is it that you
have to say — and is this the right medium in which to say it?

IBM also reminds its folks that MP3 files (like blog posts) can remain accessible for a very long time. Aint that the truth!

Read More: Corporate Blogging Guidelines

Heard it from: Christopher Hannegan’s Blog Employee Engagement

Dot Org and Dot Com Blogs

Posted by: of Blogging Systems Group on 12/6/05

I’ve been doing some personal musing for a while now over exactly at what point bloggers stopped using the dotorg domain extension and started using the dotcom one. Let me explain.

It seems to me at least some of the more longstanding blogs (or blog-related sites) used org. Case-in-point, Jeremy Wright’s Ensight blog, the Threadwatch blog, and Movable Type’s site. Now, I realize this might be a silly thing to think about, and that it might have been due to nothing more than the dotcom domain was already taken. If so, stop reading. But, I think there is a deeper question here and the BBC site is an appropriate one to discuss it.

It is this: At what point did the paradign shift take place from when blogs were viewed as a purist medium for self expression and become used for commercial purposes? It’s stating the obvious to suggest such a shift has taken place. Perhaps it was gradual, a Gladwellian tipping point sort of thing. But, was there a seismic shift and, if so, when did it occur? If there are any blog historians or anthropologists reading this, I’d enjoy your answer to the question.

With all the newbie bloggers there are out there, it seems to me there might be a need for a book (an essay at least) on the history of blogging. Though blogging has morphed, in that it is being used for a number of purposes now, the essence of it remains the same and we don’t, in my view, need to lose touch with the past just because we are embracing the future.

 

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