November 24, 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.

Want a Traffic Spike? Link to Google’s Blog.

This morning I wrote a post on my blog called “Bush No Longer a Miserable Failure, Claims Google.” It was in reaction to Google’s new algorithm that defuses “Google Bombs.

At the bottom I linked to the post on Google’s blog that goes into more detail about what they did and why. (Whoops! I did it again!)

At the bottom of the post they have a section called “Links to this post” which has…wait for it…links to that post.

About a third of my traffic so far this morning is from that Google post, obviously from the blog’s readers.

Caveats:

  • A spike in traffic is not the same thing as a spike in business.
  • Don’t link to the Google blog unless you’re adding to the conversation.
  • I’m not seeing a hard coded link to my blog from this page, so you’re probably not gaining any PageRank.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten this reaction from linking to Google’s blog. To make the most out of it, you probably want to get your link in their early, while there’s still a lot of people coming to that post.

Alternatively, you could link to it late, and hope few people link after you, pushing you down the list.

Like any other technique, this is easily abused. Use it only for good, my young padawan.

FTC May Regulate Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Posted by: of Blogging Systems Group on 12/14/06

The Washington Post is reporting the Federal Trade Commission may regulate word-of-mouth marketing and require full-disclosure.

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said that companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships.

In a staff opinion issued yesterday, the consumer protection agency weighed in for the first time on the practice. Though no accurate figures exist on how much money advertisers spend on such marketing, it is quickly becoming a preferred method for reaching consumers who are skeptical of other forms of advertising.

I’ve ranted about the PayPerPost, need for full-disclosure debacle a couple of times and have one more such rant in me, which I’m considering posting here later this week. However, if the FTC steps in, it may make my harangue moot. More to follow on this I’m sure.

Via TechCrunch and CopyBlogger

Guidelines Needed for Government Employee Blogging

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 09/18/06

Virginia Department of Business Assistance employee and dedicated blogger, Will Vehrs got a good result last month from the Commonwealth’s Department of Employment Dispute Resolution. The severity of disciplinary action against him for some blogging activity was reduced and the ten days’ pay that had been docked was ordered to be restored.

The story in summary form is at Virginia’s Daily Press site in the article State worker suspended over blog comments wins grievance. That’s not a blog post so I’m not sure about the archiving, but the story is told also on Townhall.com.

The bigger story here is that as an outcome of these events we have a landmark decision by a government agency, about public sector employee blogging, in the published findings of the Virginia Department of Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR).

I am not a lawyer, but I have been a government executive and more recently a government sector consultant. I believe this document will prove very helpful to public service managers who take the time to read and ponder it, and to anyone who consults on blogging to government departments or agencies.

Not before time. Until now I have not been able to discover any really useful information, directly about government employee blogging, as distinct from coverage of general issues about employee blogging.

There are several well-cited codes or sets of guidelines on blogging by employees in the corporate sector, e.g. those from IBM, Sun Microsystems and Thomas Nelson. But to the best of my knowledge no one has yet produced a set of blogging guidelines for the public sector, or at least not so as to be readily accessible from an online search.

And my sense is that any public sector manager or blogging consultant asked right now to advise a government agency on, for example, blogging guidelines for employees, would have to cobble something together from the various corporate sector guidelines and codes of blogging conduct.

That would be better than nothing, but might not be enough to provide guidelines adequate to the challenge. Or at least might not be enough to satisfy the client that every area of risk or uncertainty has been covered adequately and in language that speaks to the government employment context.

There is also the issue of workable guidelines being developed for individual agencies, which, it could be inferred from the EDR decision, may be acting less than prudently in relying on blanket guidelines established on a ‘whole of government’ basis.

A related issue is that if a government agency permits (or encourages) employees to blog, there could be a need for some quantification of what constitutes acceptable use of ‘on the job’ time. As the EDR decision makes clear, one of the limitations on Virginia Department of Business Assistance (VDBA) managers’ ability to discipline employees over blogging was that the applicable policy, i.e. the Commonwealth’s policy on Internet usage, allowed for ‘incidental and occasional personal use’ of the Commonwealth’s internet access, but did not attempt to quantify that.

Nor, it seems, is a ‘common sense’ approach going to be necessarily adequate in itself. In Will Vehr’s case, the supervisor counseled him about use of the weblog, warning that he would have to be careful not to ‘cross the line’, to be careful about the frequency and content of his commentary, to use good judgment and make sure his commenting did not become a distraction. Those principles are pretty much in line with the various corporate guidelines, such as those mentioned above. But once a media storm blew up and politicians and community members got involved, the principles were not enough in themselves to enable the supervisor to discipline Vehrs in such a way that the action would hold up under the scrutiny of a grievance procedure.

An interesting side issue is that although Vehrs had a disclaimer posted on the blog stating that the views he expressed were his own, EDR found that the posting of the disclaimer was “not sufficient to insulate him from violation of the policy (that he was required to state that his communications were personal and not a ‘communication of the agency or the Commonwealth’)”. Which raises the question of what would constitute a disclaimer adequate for the purpose.

According to reports, such as that on the Townhall.com site, the VDBA’s solution to these interesting challenges to public administration has been fairly basic – ban blogging. Presumably that means blogging on the taxpayer’s time. Nothing is said in the reports I’ve seen about guidance on private blogging by a state employee, where similar guidelines surely need to be established as are included in corporate sector guidelines cited above.

A ban is not a policy. And while understandable in the circumstances, that outcome is not helpful for those of us who might be interested in seeing how a government agency would go about adopting a more nuanced policy approach.

So in the absence of such an approach and drawing on the EDR findings, here are some key points I would be looking to include in any set of guidelines for government sector blogging, in addition to principles already established for the corporate sector:

  • quantify what would constitute an acceptable – not necessarily recommended – upper limit of time over a given week for personal use of the employer’s internet access, on the employer’s time, for blogging
  • with due consideration to privacy issues, establish logging and archiving arrangements adequate to provide objective evidence of time spent in blogging, to assist in resolving any future dispute
  • advise employees fully, in writing, of any applicable law, overall service guidelines and any specific governmental, departmental, agency or unit guidelines
  • advise employees of the need to provide disclaimers in a prominent way, so that readers of their blog posts or comments understand that ‘their views are their own’
  • provide managers with appropriate guidance and training in their supervisory role regarding employee blogging and specifically on the need to be able to provide objective evidence of any alleged breach of guidelines, before proceeding to disciplinary action

I’m sure there are more principles and refinements to be included in any comprehensive set of blogging guidelines for government employees. On the other hand, I expect that some bloggers will regard even what I’m proposing here as unduly restrictive or onerous.

But whatever guidelines eventually emerge, public sector managers, and consultants advising the public sector, have reason to be grateful to Mr Vehrs for having taken his grievance to EDR, and grateful to that Department for publishing its decision online.

Net Neutrality and Your Business Blog

A couple days back I posted “Net Neutrality and Small Business on the Web” at flyte’s blog, alerting small business owners and entrepreneurs about some legislation that might affect their online business.

I stood up for net neutrality, the idea that all information should be treated equally on the net, and that ISP’s like Verizon and AT&T shouldn’t be able to give preferential treatment to their partners and other large corporations willing to pay a premium for such a benefit. In my mind, changing the current method (which Verizon and AT&T are lobbying hard for) hurts small business.

Within hours there were five comments at my blog (which is a lot for me): four against and one for. (And I wrote that one!)

Commentors questioned why the government should be interfering with yet another aspect of our lives (point well taken) and felt the market should sort it out. Some felt we should leave well enough alone. However, it seems to me that big ISP’s are lobbying for a change to the current system.

Just a few moments ago I got an email from Andy Wibbels — a smart guy if ever there was one — asking for support of net neutrality. Andy asks us to “imagine if the eletric company made your refrigerator run slower if it wasn’t a Whirlpool brand.”

Alternatively, imagine if the passing lane on a highway could only be used by giant corporation’s trucks, and all other traffic needed to take side streets.

What if your competition was a Verizon partner and their blog came up faster in a browser at the expense of your own? GM’s FastLane Blog might benefit from this change, but probably not your blog.

Well, now you’ve heard those in favor of net neutrality. What do the rest of you think?

Indonesia Business Blog

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 01/28/06

For anyone interested in business possibilities in Indonesia, or perhaps in the international adventures of US corporations they may have business with or shares in, business journalist Yosef Ardi’s Indonesia Today blog is required reading.

His January 18 post US business heavyweights are in town, the long wish list, in which he provides an imagined text for what the visiting US corporations really want and are really concerned about, is an elegant and witty piece of economic and political commentary.

According to the bio on his site, Ardi spent a year in 2004-2005 as a visiting scholar at the UC School of Journalism, Berkeley CA.

He also has a blog in the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, Articles in Bisnis Indonesia, Bisnis Indonesia being the economic newspaper published in Jakarta, Indonesia, where Ardi was managing editor.

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!”.

It’s time for an Internet Sales Tax

David Cortriss of Revenue magazine recently interviewed me about the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, a project that intends to make it easier to calculate sales tax in various venues, including online. While it’s not news that people are trying to simplify pieces of our incredibly byzantine tax codes, it’s worth noting that the Streamlined Sales Tax agreement is already winding its way through quite a few state legislatures.

David’s question to me about the Streamlined Sales Tax has led me to reconsider one of the sacred cows of the Internet, taxation of Internet purchases.

In a nutshell, I believe that it’s high time for us to reconsider the Internet Sales Tax with the triple whammy of the war in Iraq and the widespread devastation left in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But there are even more important reasons why it’s time for us to enact taxation of Internet purchases…

Let me start by quoting myself, from the interview:

Q: Are Internet taxes a good thing or a bad thing? What will the overall impact be? Who benefits and who loses?

A: I’d like to see Internet taxes, actually. At this point in the evolution of the Web and online shopping, it’s hard to truly justify that online companies need special advantages to continue growing. A flat tax, perhaps at the 5% rate, that applied across all in-state and interstate commerce would be the most logical, truly simplifying the tax burden while generating tens of millions of dollars in city, county, state and national revenue.

Who will benefit? All of us. Not only will…

Mayor Tony Williams’s Yoda Approach To Blogging

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 08/24/05

Tony Williams, the esteemed mayor of Washington DC, has joined the blogosphere. On the 15th of August Mayor Williams launched Mayor’s Blog. He  posted a couple of paragraphs and told his constituents to "stay  tuned." Expectations were set that the new blog would connect the Mayor with the citizens of DC.

The people chatted; they welcomed Mayor Williams to the blogosphere,
expressed their concerns and even offered the Mayor blog advice: need
an RSS feed, filtering comments is not transparent, read other DC
blogs and don’t forget to remind people it’s really you.

And then they waited. And waited. And waited. The people were getting
annoyed. Where was their leader? Where was the connection?  "When
are you going to say something interesting, helpful, provocative or
something? So far it’s a snooze with a long time between snores."

Mayor Williams came back a week later with Star Wars humor. Yoda would say, "a weekly paragraph will not an exciting blog make." Then he really got serious and set expectations for himself….

Generally speaking, I will try to be cogent and consistent. By this I mean: first, providing you observations you can’t find elsewhere in over 100,000 pages of the website; and second, stating the same, take your pick – distinctive or disgusting comments regardless of the audience and the circumstances.You should know my position on an issue, whether you agree with it or not. Blase press releases will not a …YODA!

And expectations for the readers … the blog is not a service line but righteous indignation or comforting, supportive comments are welcomed.

Mayor Williams, I think you’re getting this blog stuff….go forth unto the blogosphere and prosper.

A lesson for all bloggers – "a weekly paragraph will not an exciting blog make."

Article in the Washington Post (free subscription required).

Top Nukes General Blogging

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/28/05
Gen. James Cartwright
Gen. James Cartwright

Defense Industry Daily, a relatively new industry blog from Watershed Publishing (publishers of MarketingVox), reports that four-star general James Cartwright, the top guy in charge of the U.S.’s nuclear arms infrastructure, is now blogging. It is literally required reading in his reporting command.

While the blog is supposed to be secure on a need-to-know basis, Defense Industry Daily indicates it’s actually read the thing. (Yipes.)

 

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