April 19, 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.

When Your Customers Blog…

The Web and the blogosphere can be incredible tools to connect with customers and prospects. Unfortunately, if you’re not doing a good job your customers can use these same tools to let the world know.

AOL found this out recently when one of their customers tried to cancel his account. Vincent Ferrari had heard horrible stories about AOL’s “customer support” so he decided to record his conversation.

After 15 minutes he finally got through to a human being. The call resulted in something that’s a cross between Dante’s 9th ring of hell and Orwell’s 1984. The king from Monty Python’s Holy Grail had an easier time explaining to the palace guards to keep his son locked in his room than Ferrari had explaining that he just wanted to cancel the account. “I don’t know how I can make this any clearer, just cancel my account,” he says time and again.

Ferrari put the recording on his blog, but was overwhelmed by the social bookmarking traffic. You can now listen to the whole painful affair at Putfile.com. When something’s this painful or funny, it’s very likely to go viral.

That virus got Ferrari on a number of talk shows and got him an official apology from AOL.

The lesson here: treat your customers with respect, because they just might be blogging.

By the way, if you think Ferrari is just a crank about customer service, read this recent post on his experience with Audible.

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).

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.

SixApart talks openly to customers about bad stuff

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/13/05

SixApart is one of the companies largely responsible for the migration of blogging from personal musings to the small business and corporate world. Their hosted TypePad service has been wildly popular amongst professionals. IBM legend Irving Wladawsky-Berger uses TypePad (instead of IBM’s blogging platform); Seth Godin uses it. Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, uses it. Intuit’s QuickBooks uses it here and here. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America uses it. This blog uses it. And lots more.

So when the TypePad service goes down, as it did earlier this week, it’s a pretty big deal. Lots of business blogs disappeared for hours. And if you’re the publisher of one of them, as I am, it strikes fear in your heart. Has the damn thing been swallowed up? All those thousands of words gone forever?

Sixapart_status_blog_2

I was in a panic to put it politely. For me, and thousands of other customers, this was a crisis. Frustratingly, there was scant information at the time on SixApart’s supposedly real-time status blog.

Well, I’m delighted to report that 6A now gets this crisis blogging thing (see above). They’re talking to us. They’re telling us, candidly, what happened:

Both Monday’s and Tuesday’s outages were the result of hardware failures…

That’s really all customers want. We care more about being kept in the loop than about how bad the news is.

It’s just that we want the information in real-time, during the crisis. Tell us something, anything immediately. Acknowledge that there’s a problem (even a big problem) and that you’re working on it. But do it in plain English. Get the CEO to jump on the "status blog," if necessary. Don’t for heaven’s sake leave it up to your techies to pen one sentence about a "temporary service degradation." That’s jargon. It’s not communication.

Hard to do in a crisis, I know. But it’s the whole point of having a blog as a channel for real-time communication. To turn your customers, who are momentarily in a panic, into your evangelists. And who better than SixApart to model how this should be done. Thanks guys, for being responsive to my comments.

Note: turns out you can back up the contents of a TypePad blog into a file and download it to your computer. I just did it here. Now that would be a good tip to give TypePad customers, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t reflect badly on 6A and is a gentle reminder that these are just machines after all.

Earthlink’s Protection Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 01/19/05

Earthlink has recently launched the Protection Blog to help customers battle spam, spyware, viruses and other dangers of online life. It’s a great example of using a blog for customer service on a particular theme (mission statement post) of interest to your customers that isn’t simply talking about how great your product is.

Earthlink’s Protection Blog

MSN Search’s Weblog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 11/12/04

Continuing to demonstrate that it understands and values blogs, Microsoft has launched a blog to complement its new search service.

Link

GM Smallblock Engine Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 11/1/04

This is big: the biggest car company in the world now has a blog. Coming on the heals of Mazda’s boneheaded faux-blog embarrassment, GM shows the way for companies to blog right: transparent, honest blog about cars clearly coming from GM. I would appreciate a mission statement or About This Blog kind of page somewhere (I admit, as someone who hasn’t owned a car in 20 years, I don’t know what a "smallblock engine" is exactly, and I don’t know who Ed Koerner, the site’s main blogger, is either), but it’s a pretty good start for such a huge firm. Stay tuned.

Link

Red Hat Blogs

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/30/04
redhat

A few months ago, I wrote about the Red Hat World Tour Blog. That apparently worked so well for the Linux services company that they now have a series of blogs, including an Executive Blog. It caught my eye that the first post there is from Michael Tiemann, VP of Open Source Affairs. I wonder if he’s any relations to former NYC mayor Daniel Tiemann for whom the tiny street I live on was named.

Link

Signs Never Sleep

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/24/04
lincoln-sign-co

SignsNeverSleep.com is the blog of the Lincoln Sign Company, based in Lincoln, New Hampshire. It’s a charming blog, nicely designed (better, frankly, than the company’s main web site, if you ask me), and a neat mix of recently completed examples of the company’s work, a glimpse of the process of sign making in progress and personal news (a weekend hike, what J.D. is reading, a bear sighting, photos of the kids, etc.). J.D. Illes writes me:

We just recently started a weblog as the first stage in a whole redesign of our web-presence.  We are a small, custom-commercial signshop in a small resort community.

I think our blog will be a terrific tool to show our customers what it is we do.  Usually a customer comes by to visit just after we have spilled paint all over their sign by accident, not when we have just completed a beautiful project.  I am hoping giving them a peek inside our doors on a daily basis will help them get to know us.

Thanks

J.D. Iles

Thanks for the note, J.D., and best of luck!

UPDATE:
Paul Chaney of Radiant Marketing Group read this post and was apparently so interested that he tracked down J.D. of Lincoln Signs for an interview about why he’s blogging.

Link

QuickBooks Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/9/04

Another great example of a business blog from software maker Intuit for its accounting software QuickBooks. The archive categories for posts say it all about this blog’s business value: Client Stories, Development News, Events, For Accounting Professionals, Product Features, Resources for Small Businesses, Stories from Our Clients, Tips & Tricks, Training and more.

Link

WordLog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/29/04

Blog for blog publishing platform WordPress. Strange that the blog’s archive starts only this month.

Ugh. I’m working so hard on various paid research proejects at the moment, that I’m giving this poor blog short shrift. I’m relying a bit to heavily, therefore, on you, my wonderful readers, to do all my fact-checking for me. Poor blogging habits, I know, but there you are; my theory being bad blogging is better than no blogging at all.

Anyway, I got this wrong, as commenters have pointed out. This blog is unaffiliated with the business, just a volunteer blog. Therefore, it doesn’t really count as a business blog, does it?

Sorry! I’ll try harder next time, I promise. <fingers crossed>

WordLog

IEBlog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/23/04

The latest blog from Microsoft, this one by the Internet Explorer team.

Link

SkyBox by Maytag Weblog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/15/04
skybox

Wow.

Okay, for starters there’s the product: a personal beverage vending machine for your living room by large appliance maker Maytag. The product is called SkyBox. I am guessing this product is not targeted at women. In fact, I’m guessing this product is not targeted at men with women in their lives. (I could get a pool table or pinball machine in my livingroom sooooo much easier than a vending machine with my wife, and I couldn’t get either a pool table or a pinball machine in my livingroom with my wife in reality.) Is this like the livingroom bar for the new millennium? Somehow, tacky as the livingroom bar seems, it seems a lot classier than a vending machine….

Anyway, what this product obviously needs is a blog. This is Maytag, mind you. More power to them!

And, again, thanks to Olivier for the link.

Link

HackingNetflix.com: Bloggers & Corporate Public Relations Departments

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 06/27/04

This post on a fan blog devoted to the movie rental service Netflix is a perfect example of how poorly many companies understand the opportunities of weblogs. First of all, it’s painfully obvious that Netflix itself should have a blog. If you have any doubts about that, just check out GreenCine Daily.

But that’s not even what HackingNetflix.com is proposing. HackingNetflix already has the traffic (~1,000 visitors a day) who are interested in Netflix; all the blogger was asking to do was to forward “Ask Netflix” questions to Netflix’s PR department, but their PR department declined.

HackingNetflix’s blogger (identified only as Mike) notes that he gets on the order of 20-30,000 readers per month interested specifically in Netflix news. Yet this is not enough to register on the radar of Netflix as important? And this is an Internet-based company? Sad.

HackingNetflix.com: Bloggers & Corporate Public Relations Departments

Google Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 05/11/04
googleblog

Well, ever since we spotted the trial blog at Google a few weeks ago, we knew this was inevitable. The Google Blog was born on May 10th. Disappointing there hasn’t been a new post yet today — seems like they’d have a lot to talk about, but I wonder whether it will end up being a more occasional blog, like Blogger’s own blog. Another peculiarity of the blog seems to be that there is no obvious author. The first post (see below) is from Evan Williams, appropriately enough, creator of blog software tool Blogger.com, which Google acquired last year. But we know this only because he signed the post within the body of the post. The footer information about each post does not contain an author identification, so the second post is anonymous.

Here’s Evan’s first post to the new Google blog:

Ever since I came to Google, they’ve been talking about putting up an official Google blog. And now, less than 15 months later, voil√†.

Oh well, it’s not like we own a recently relaunched service where you can create a blog in two minutes or something. Okay, we do. (Sorry for the plug.) But I guess other Googlers have been a little busy what with all the searching. And the advertising. And filling out purchase orders for all those hard drives.

Anyway, I’m excited the blog’s up. We’re going to post stuff here – regular bloggy things: What Larry had for breakfast. What Sergey thinks of that Hellboy movie. Which Dawson’s Creek character reminds us most of Eric.

And perhaps, news about Google, and our thoughts on whatever random events cross our horizon.

Oh, and we have email feedback too. So we hope to hear from you, as well.

- Evan Williams

(Blogger Program Manager, Google)

ClickZ makes this pertinent observation:

Interestingly, the launch comes as Google is preparing for an initial public offering of stock, during the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) "quiet period" in which companies usually refrain from making public statements that could be interpreted as an offer to sell stock.

CNET’s New.com is already nit-picking at Google’s blog for having discretely edited a post to tone down potentially controversial comments about outsourcing. It’s clear that this blog will remain under a magnifying glass for some time to come, at least through Google’s IPO.

Link

Association of National Advertisers

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 05/3/04
ana

Robert Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA, has been blogging for a little over a month. The ANA is one of premier industry trade associations for marketing industry. I have to say, I’m surprised that “a suit” seems to really get blogging as well as Loidice demonstrates. For example, he links to Wikipedia to clarify concepts in his posts, which is a smart blogger thing to do. Not surprisingly, he uses the blog to boost for the industry (e.g., “Great (Not Just Good) Times Are Ahead for Marketers”), but he also uses it to comment on an initiative of another industry association (“NAB Responsible Programming Taskforce”) as well as to respond to how the press is clarifying ANA initiatives (“NUDG: What Really Happened”). A great example of why every industry association should adopt this handy communication tool.

Link

BizNetTravel

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/22/04
biznettravel.gif

BizNetTravel is one of the business blogs I created and do much of the writing for on behalf of a client. The company is a travel agency, and the blog offers links to a mix of travel destination features, travel news for travelers, quirky travel items and more. We also maintain a Special Offers blog page for this client, featuring original travel packages for customers.

The main purpose of the blog is as a service to the agency’s existing customers, but it also does serve to attract lots of new prospective customers to the site.

Link

BlogAds

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/19/04
blogads.jpg

CEO Henry Copeland launched this do-it-yourself ad network for blogs nearly two years ago, and at that time there was a fair bit of skepticism that the business would ever pan out. Well, it has. The service now has more than 200 blogs using the system, each of which has at least 3,000 ad impressions each week. Some, such as InstaPundit and DailyKos, have millions of readers per month. The service has proven particularly popular with political advertisers — more than two dozen candidates in the presidental and other races have used it to reach political junkies through blogs. But many smaller and medium-sized companies are also find blogs a great way to advertise niche products. Blogs are ideal “for products that have a sensibility, not commodities, those looking to find audiences with a particular mindset,” Copeland said. Some of the biggest bloggers using the system are now earning thousands of dollars a month in advertising.

I have counseled BlogAds about its overall business strategy.

Link

Macromedia Blogs

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/17/04
macromedia.gif

Macromedia, the software firm that makes a range of web and multimedia authoring tools, has been a pioneer in letting its knowledgable inner circle of product architects communicate directly with customers through a series of weblogs. These blogs, many of which both note that they represent the private opinions of their authors and carry the Macromedia company logo (go figure), touch of a range of topics, including the authors comments on general technology trends, as well as comments specific to Macromedia products. The company’s blogs include these:

  • Mike Chambers – Flash Community Manager: “News, resources, info and links on everything Flash from a Macromedia Product Manager for Developer Relations”
  • John Dowdell – News for MX Developers: “A news service for people using Macromedia MX. Not quite daily — focus is on news you can use”
  • Christian Cantrell – Server Community Manager: “Christian Cantrell’s Perspective brings you news, resources and information on ColdFusion and Java from the Macromedia Server Community Manager”
  • Sean Corfield – Director of Architecture: “Thoughts from the Director of Architecture in IT at Macromedia on: ColdFusion MX, Rich Internet Applications, software design… and neat CFMX hacks!”
  • …and many more

Red Hat World Tour Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/14/04
redhat.gif

Red Hat, vendors of commercial Linux services, staged a worldwide customer outreach tour in early 2004, and supported it with this blog about the behind-the-scenes activities of the tour. During the tour, the blog was averaging more than 3,500 visits a day. MarketingSherpa has a great case study about this event and blog.

Link

 

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