November 1, 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.

Las Vegas is for Bloggers: Blog World Expo, Cirque du Soleil, America’s Got Talent

I had a great time last week at Blog World. The turnout was great, at several thousand attendees. The show was buzzing the whole time, even on Day 1 which is normally a light day in terms of attendance. The sessions were *solid*. It was a “who’s who” of bloggers presenting. The networking (in the speaker lounge, in the hallways, at the receptions, etc.) was excellent. The WiFi worked great (at least for me). The only real negative in my opinion: the food was not vegetarian-friendly (grrr).

I had my 18-year-old daughter Chloe with me. She and I both were speakers at Blog World, she was on a panel about blog monetization and I was on a panel about SEO. Chloe monetizes traffic to her Neopets cheats site/blog with Google AdSense, and spoke a bit about that. I did impromptu site critiques in my session.

Then there were the shows. All I have to say was “Wow!”. This is one thing that Blog World is known for — is for hooking up bloggers with free tickets to shows (“Bloggers Night Out” I believe is what they call it). We did FOUR shows in two days! It was fun but exhausting. The first night was America’s Got Talent Live! and Blue Man Group. The second night was Jersey Boys and Cirque du Soleil “O”. My daughter and I had a blast.

All four shows were excellent. Jersey Boys is my favorite musical now. It was awesome. My new favorite Cirque du Soleil show is “O” (and I’ve seen 6 Cirque shows). It was spectacular! If you haven’t seen a Cirque show, you absolutely *must*.

Cirque du Soleil O, Eugen in Umbrella

Blue Man was bizarre and amazing. Surreal. I loved it! And America’s Got Talent Live was great too — I have to admit I had no idea what to expect with that, and I was pleasantly surprised. My favorite AGT acts were Recycled Percussion, Nuttin’ But Stringz, and Barbara Padilla (here’s a picture of me and Barbara, below). But honestly, they were all great. (I can’t believe how low Lawrence Beaman’s voice goes!)

Barbara Padilla

Even though Vegas is not a family friendly town, my daughter and I had a great, clean time. As much as I wanted to see Zumanity, I passed on that one (not really an appropriate father-daughter activity!).

I also wish we weren’t forced to walk through the cigarette smoke filled casinos so much. No matter what, it seems, you have to walk through the casino to get *anywhere*.

My sincere thanks to the three shows that provided me and Chloe with the comp tickets — America’s Got Talent Live, Blue Man Group, and Cirque du Soleil. It’s brilliant blogger outreach to treat us bloggers to such great shows.

Wiley Reaching Out to Bloggers by Mailing Books

Got a package from J Wiley, the publisher, last month. It contained a copy of Personal Finance for Dummies and a letter. Here’s what the letter said:

Dear Stephan,

It’s a new year, a start of new beginnings, challenges, and opportunities.

Maybe you’ve resolved to try something new, to challenge yourself, and expand your horizons. I hope we can help with that.

When you attended BlogHer last year, you indicated that you would like to take the Dummies challenge. With this book, I invite you to do so. Whether you choose to tell your readers about your project is up to you. I do hope that you experience the success that millions of other For Dummies readers have.

If you want to try even more, consider stopping by Dummies.com. For Dummies is already the most widely recognized and highly regarded reference series in the world. Now, Dummies.com is bringing the how-to brand you know and trust online, and whether that means directions on how to set up a new PC, make dinner in your slow cooker, knit your first sweater, or load your new iPod, you can trust Dummies.com to tell it like it is, without all the technical jargon. However you like to learn – by watching how-to videos, looking at photo step-by-steps, reading articles, or following our team of expert bloggers — Dummies.com will make everything easier.

Please share your experiences, for better or worse, with me. You can find me on Twitter (@elleinthecity), Facebook, or you can email me at —–@wiley.com.

Best regards,
Ellen Gerstein
Marketing Director
Blogging at trueconfessions.wordpress.com

I edited out her email address as otherwise the spammers with their email address harvesters will grab her email address from this post.

I vaguely recall opting in for something book-related at BlogHer. So I’m pretty confident that this wasn’t a completely unsolicited reach-out. But even if it had been, I still wouldn’t have minded. What blogger would mind getting a free book, especially if it’s relevant/useful to them?

I congratulate Wiley on this blogger outreach campaign. I think it was tastefully done. And hey, you got a link out of it. Actually I gave you three. So it worked. ;-)

Anything Wiley should do differently? Hmm, well I found the letter quite dry. I didn’t really read it, just scanned it, as it was clearly marketingspeak. It would have been great if the letter was truly personalized to me and it was clear she had visited my blog. Now *that* would have been impressive!

Blog carnivals – a link building secret weapon

One thing which has been alluded to briefly here on BusinessBlogConsulting.com in a couple previous posts is blog carnivals — a relatively untapped opportunity for blog marketing and link building.

It was fellow Business Blog Consulting contributor Toby Bloomberg who first turned me on to blog carnivals. For those who aren’t aware of what a blog carnival is, it is a traveling column on a particular subject matter that is passed on from blog to blog, each blogger selecting a topic in that subject matter and including relevant resources accompanied by their own commentary about those resources. For example, there might be a blog carnival on nonprofit marketing and indeed there is. The members of the blog carnival rotate in and out, kind of like a column rotates. Here is an example post from a nonprofit marketing blog carnival.

Why should you care about blog carnivals? In short, because it’s a great way to grow your link popularity and thus your search rankings, and because it’ll also gain you visibility in the blogosphere amongst bloggers. This can be accomplished in two ways:

  1. First, by hosting a blog carnival, you garner links you wouldn’t otherwise have garnered from the other blog carnival hosts as well as other bloggers who follow that blog carnival (assuming of course your posts are of some value!).
  2. Second, even if you don’t join a blog carnival, you can submit your own posts to the current host for consideration in the next carnival post. For instance, in the example carnival post above on nonprofit marketing (which focused on “Creating and developing online communities through Web 2.0″), imagine if you had written a post on “How Nonprofits Can Use MySpace” and then gotten that post included in that week’s edition of the carnival — and all it would have taken is reaching out to the host via email to get on their radar.

Check out BlogCarnival.com, a directory of blog carnivals, to see if a blog carnival already exists for your industry or topic of interest.

Cirque du Soleil Does Killer Outreach to Bloggers

Earlier this month I went to Las Vegas to attend (and speak at) PubCon, a conference renowned among search engine marketers. Many of my fellow SEO professionals in attendance were also bloggers. The organizers of Pubcon, including Brett Tabke and Joe Morin, had the foresight to offer the bloggers an irresistible offer, a “Bloggers Night Out“…

“So to put a twist on things, we are excited to announce that we have secured several hundred tickets to some of the best live theatre that Las Vegas has to offer. After years of having conferences in this town we’ve made a few friends and now these friends of ours at venues such as Blue Man Group, Cirque Du Soleil, MGM Grand, Treasure Island and The Wynn Las Vegas have graciously offered us tickets for our attendees in the hopes that they wouldn’t mind compiling a little review telling them what you think of their shows.”

KaI was really, really impressed with the generous offer. So I put my hand up. And I’m pleased to say that I was one of the lucky recipients to the Cirque du Soleil show called “Ka.” I’m a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil and had high expectations for this show. And boy it did not disappoint! I had a great seat and to take the show in. It was quite a different show from the ones I had seen in the past, such as La Nouba, Alegria, and Saltimbanco. It was a spectacle full of warriors swinging from ropes and jumping off balconies. They did the most amazing stunts on the stage as it rotated and tipped to the vertical.

It’s really forward-thinking on Cirque du Soleil’s part to agree to participate in something like this for Ka and for their other show, Mystere. Not only did I enjoy their show immensely, but I was clearly happy to blog about it to tell you what an amazing time I had (as you read in the paragraph above).

Now my challenge to you: can you emulate Cirque du Soleil’s marketing prowess by giving something of significant value away to bloggers? Reach out with this gift to bloggers in a positive, non-demanding way, and then get out of the way so those bloggers can spread the word about your quality service, product or, in this case, show.

Extraordinary customer service inadvertently becomes blogger outreach

Anyone who knows the online retailer of shoes and handbags, Zappos will know that they are renowned for their stellar customer service. But this story blew me — and many other bloggers (such as Seth Godin, Jason Kottke, and the folks at 37Signals) — away:

I Heart Zappos

In this post, Ms. LaMarr shares a poignant and heartfelt story that brought tears to my eyes. She described how she bought shoes for her mom that didn’t fit, didn’t get around to returning them, then her mom died. Out of her heartache came one ray of light: from Zappos, the online shoe store where she bought the shoes. Not only did Zappos arrange for a UPS pick-up, they sent her a bouquet of flowers along with their condolences.

Guess what? The customer that Zappos treated with such care and concern happened to be a blogger, and one with some readership. The word of Zappos good deed spread like wildfire. It’s still spreading. This was no PR stunt, it was simply a genuine act of human kindness, and it earned Zappos a ton of kudos in the blogosphere. This is inadvertent blogger outreach at its very best.

Contrast that with the slap in the face that Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza issued to one of their supposedly valued customers by inadvertently CCing the customer in his email reply to his employee:

Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.

As you can probably guess, word of the Spirit Airlines CEO’s affront got out to the blogosphere. And boy did it turn into a blogstorm. Now this post is number 3 in Google for “spirit airlines.” Classic. I don’t feel any sympathy for the airlines. Ben Baldanza literally asked for it — “Let him tell the world how bad we are.” Oh brother.

All this just goes to show, one good (or bad!) turn deserves another. Karma is alive and well in the blogosphere.

 

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