April 23, 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.

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.

MySpace could be YourSpace too

What site has atrocious design, usability issues, a frustratingly restrictive web page creation platform, and countless junk/spam/abandoned profiles, yet the highest number of pageviews out of any other site? Why, MySpace of course!

MySpace.com is a slice of humanity – a very big slice. With tens of millions of users (and most of them NOT teenagers), MySpace apparently drives more traffic to online retailers than MSN Search, according to some recent Hitwise data.

MySpace is a site that should concern retailers and business bloggers alike. It’s where our audiences hang out.

The MySpace ecosystem is host not just to teenagers, but also concerned parents trying to keep tabs on their kids, college students, obsessed sports fans, realtors, and every one else in between. And companies too, from bars to bands, brands to quirky dotcoms.

Before you go off half-cocked with your MySpace marketing initiatives, you need to understand it. Just like with the blogosphere, the MySpace community can turn on you the moment you make your first misstep. So rule #1 is ‘keep it real’.

Another one of the critical factors is having ‘Friends’ in your network. For instance, Apple’s iPod Nano registered 1,500 friends on October 15; by October 27 that had risen to 37,070 friends. Nice marketing job Apple!

“Weird Al” Yankovic breathed new life into his musical parody career, thanks in no small part to MySpace and YouTube. On MySpace, Weird Al has accumulated 420,000 MySpace friends since he joined the site in July last year (I chronicled this a bit more here).

I interviewed Michael Boldin at Pugster.com, who has been using MySpace to generate traffic, sales, and a very respectable 8,000 friends. He shared several great tips for cultivating friends on MySpace, among them:

  • When starting out, you need to get friends, even “bad” ones that tally up to a respectable number on your friend list. Start with bands; they are really easy, as they always grant Friend requests.
  • Have patience. Invest time. Give people something interesting that isn’t related to your business. Develop trust.
  • Keep it personal – just like emailing a friend.
  • Fancy and high end vs. simplicity, school’s out on layouts, but don’t frustrate your visitors by moving stuff around.
  • Seasoned MySpace users won’t wait for content to load, so no slow loaders.

More MySpace marketing tips here

New RSS Ad Program Feedvertising

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 09/29/06

Feedvertising

A new blog/RSS advertising option has launched this week from the folks at Text Link Ads called Feedvertising, which is a service that allows you to monetize your RSS feeds with ads. Text Link Ads will sell the ads for you, or as is the case with my blog, I combine links to my an affiliate program with Marketing Sherpa along with a few ads sold by Text Link Ads.

Not only is Feedvertising a potential source of revenue for blogs, but it’s also a clever way to cross promote other areas of your blog, company web site or other web sites that you publish.

Here is a tutorial on Feedvertising over at Tubetorial that explains how it works or you can check out the Feedvertising web site.

Co-founder of Text Link ads Andy Hagans took a few minutes to answer a few questions about Feedvertising for me. Basically Andy says Feedvertising is a way to give RSS feed publishers a lot more control over ads and the market is still very new.

What prompted you to develop this tool?

Advertising via RSS is a small but emerging market. We took a look at existing products and didn’t see anything that was very impressive, from a blogger or advertiser standpoint: pricing was often confusing and inefficient; the ads were often graphical or JavaScript-based, resulting in banner-blindness; and finally, most systems left bloggers without any control over what ads ended up in their feed.

We developed Feedvertising with the idea that bloggers should be able to monetize their RSS feeds while maintaining complete control; i.e., they can manually add their own ads or promotions, or sell space through the TLA system, or do a combination of both.

What kind of earning potential is there for advertisers and what’s the business model for Text Link Ads with this tool?

The business model for TLA is to help monetize those feeds where the blogger chooses to do so through the TLA system. We think the earning potential is great, as reaching the influencers who use RSS is a very important marketing objective for companies who are trying to gain mindshare among early adopters or bloggers. Right now we are testing the price points, so the exact numbers will probably change over time.

What do you think of the RSS advertising market? What are some innovative uses of RSS where advertising might be most productive? ie, advertising on a blog feed is one thing, advertising on a new product RSS feed is another.

Again, this market is pretty immature, but so are all marketing channels in the beginning. Our goal is to stay innovative as this channel evolves and expands. As long as we stay commited to delivering value to both bloggers and advertisers, the feature set should move naturally with that.

What kinds of blogs are best suited for this kind of advertising? What kind of traffic should a blog/RSS feed be getting in terms of hits or subscribers before it makes sense to advertise?

Without getting into numbers, it really comes down to advertiser demand. If your blog has a smaller number of RSS subscribers, but those subscribers are mostly business executives (or any other valuable audience segment), there is still going to be demand from the advertising side.

That said, we think Feedvertising is a great product for ANY blog, even a new one or one with small readership; at the very least, you can use Feedvertising to cross-promote your own feature pages, or other sites.

There are other great reviews of Feedvertising at TechCrunch and Problogger.

Interesting scoop on the Amazon Sponsored Links Program

Google AdSense is the cornerstone of the Google empire in many ways and so it’s no surprise that lots of other companies, from Yahoo to Microsoft, are trying to hone in on the business with their own contextually sensitive text ad blocks. But Amazon? Who would have thought that the Seattle book company was busy building a sophisticated program of its own, called the Amazon Associates Sponsored Links Program. Never heard of it? You will:

    The Amazon Associates Sponsored Links Program

The information I share is all directly from Amazon. It’s a must read if you pay attention to the world of online advertising.

Seeking Example of Blogger Hired Thanks to Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 09/29/04

Folks, I’ve been contacted by a journalist for a major media outlet who wants to write a story about blogs helping people land jobs. She’s seeking examples of such. Only caveat is outside of the realm of journalism, as she already has examples of that. If you have such a story to share or know of someone who does, email me at rick at e-summary dot com. Need this ASAP; don’t bother later than Friday of this week.

Calling for Blog Publishing Platform Reviewers

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/11/04

I want to commission reviews of the following blog publishing systems:

UPDATE: Based on your feedback, I’ll also include the following platforms for review (what the heck, it’s only my money, right?):

That is, of course, presuming I can find folks out there willing to write about all of these. (NOTE: Movable Type, TypePad and Blogger aren’t on this list because I am prepared to write those reviews myself.)

I am ready to pay the princely sum of $25 per review in real cash money (of the PayPal variety, anyway) for a worthy review according to specs outlined below. Sure, it’s crap money, but how much do you get paid to blog now? Besides, if you’re interested in getting paid to help anyone set up a business blog on your chosen platform, this may be a decent lead generator.

If you’re interested, here are the conditions of the deal:

  • You should NOT send me a review unsolicited. This is an important test of your ability to follow directions. You should instead send me an email describing why you are the best person to for the job of writing such a review
  • You should have at least a few months’ of experience blogging on the platform you intend to review
  • You should have no close affiliation with the company that produces the software in question or other potential conflicts of interest
  • You must adequately address all of the review points I note in the review guide below.
  • You should be at least technically literate enough to address all of the questions below.
  • You can also post the review to your site, but for my palty $25 I can repurpose the review however I see fit, including packaging all these reviews together in a report for sale or other creative uses.
  • If I accept your review for publication on this site, I won’t edit it except to correct spelling, grammar, etc. though I may add bracketed editorial comments, if I’m so inclined.
  • You need to have a PayPal account, as that’s how I plan to send reviewers payment.

There may be other qualifications I haven’t thought of yet that I’ll explain in private correspondence if we get that far.

If you’re interested, keep reading below the review guide:

Review Guide

Reviewers should address all of the following points in their software review:

  • General performance. What makes this different/better than other blog publishing platforms?
  • What are some of the best advantages about this platform?
  • What are some of its disadvantages?
  • What’s the killer feature, if there is one?
  • What features does it lack or need fixing?
  • Where does the publishing engine reside? On its own hosted servers, like Blogger or TypePad? On your own web server, like Movable Type? On your desktop, like Userland Radio? Other? (Outerspace?) What advantages/disadvantages do you see in this approach?
  • What’s the geek factor on this? How comfortable can non-technical people be with it?
  • What’s the learning curve? Totally intuitive? Lots of features, thus requiring more time to familiarize yourself with all of it?
  • What’s involved in setting it up? If you’re not technical, do you need help?
  • Are there platform restrictions? (E.g., PC/Mac, APS vs. Linux servers, SQL Server, etc.)
  • Who produces it? Is it an open-source community, a labor-of-love by some programmer, a company with financial backing? What is the likelihood this development team is going to still be at it a year or two from now, providing new features, etc.?
  • Where is the software developed? How is language support in English (the web site, the manual, the support communities, etc.)? Other languages?
  • What’s the pricing of it?
  • Is there tech support?
  • Is there a good user manual?
  • Is there a third-party developer community? If so, how active?
  • Is there a vibrant user/support/forum community? If so, what are the URLs of such?
  • Is there support for photos galleries?
  • Is there a built-in Blogroll/Link List kind of feature to manage blogrolls?
  • Can you post via email? Mobile phone/moblog?
  • Does it email posts to subscribers who so choose?
  • Anything notable in the archive features?
  • Does it support comments? Comment-spam filtering? If so (the latter), what’s the approach?
  • Does it support trackback?
  • Any idea how well it works on a Mac, with Mozilla or other non-W2K IE platforms?
  • Does it pioneer any other new blog features that other platforms don’t have?
  • Does it support multiple authors? If so, does it have decent permission controls? (E.g., can you limit authors to publish only to draft?)
  • Does it support a simple modular design for page elements? (E.g., when editing templates, are things like blogroll lists, sidebar elements, headers, etc., managed as separate entities, or are they all just in the HTML of a single template?)
  • Is it well suited for public corporate blogging? Why or why not?
  • Is it well suited for internal corporate blogging? Why or why not?
  • What other blog platforms have you used that you can compare this to?
  • What else do we need to know about this system?

UPDATE:
These additional questions have since occurred to me:

  • Does it let you publish in XML syndication? If so, in which formats? RSS 1.0? RSS 2.0? Atom? Others?
  • Does it have a spell checker?
  • Does it have a wiki-publishing component?
  • Can you easily set up multiple weblogs from one account or instalation of the blog publishing software, or must you create multiple accounts or installations?
  • Does it support categories? If so, how about hiearchical categories (e.g., Movies / Horror, Movies / Comedies, Movies / Thriller, Books / Fiction, Books / Biographies, and so on)? What about surpressed categories? (That is, in the monthly archive, publish all except the “Breaking News” category)?
  • Does it let you easily create a “remaindered links” blog-within-a-blog, a la Anil Dash‘s Links Blog? (Obviously, you can kludge this in most systems, but I’m wondering if some blog software has it off the shelf.)

If you have other points you think I should include in this review guide, please recommend them in the comments field. Also, if there are other blog publishing platforms you think I should add to this list (excluding TypePad, Movable Type and Blogger, which I plan to review myself), please also note in the comments section. If you are interested in writing such a review for me, please send me an email making a case for why you’d be the best person to do so.

Discount for BlogerOn Conference

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

Those interested in attending the BlogOn conference in Berkeley, CA, July 22-23 can recieve a $100 discount by entering the promotional code “socialtext” when registering here.

Seattle Times: Election 2004 Backyard Blog Project

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/7/04

The Seattle Times is looking for a 20-something political blogger.

Are you interested in this year’s elections? Know your community? Like to talk politics with your friends, colleagues and neighbors? Want an opportunity to blog about your observations?
Apply to join a grass-roots campaign coverage effort by The Seattle Times. We want fresh thoughts and perspectives about the elections from places and people not often found in newspapers — your neighbors, your favorite cafes and other local hangouts.
We’re looking for contributors under age 30 who are following the ’04 campaigns ‚Äî national, regional and local. Each participant will be given a blog on seattletimes.com and periodically appear in The Seattle Times.

And so on.

Seattle Times: Election 2004 Backyard Blog Project

Seeking Conference Bloggers for Ad-Tech Chicago, July 12-13

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 06/25/04

So, the AdTechBlog was a raving success in San Francisco. Hence, Ad-Tech has invited us to repeat our stellar performance for the Chicago show, just over two weeks from today (sorry for the last-minute notice; that’s just the way we do things around here).

Here’s the deal: you get paid nothing, and you pay for your own travel and accommodation. But you do get a full pass to the event, including all sessions, a $995 value. You have to blog a minimum of five posts, including sessions, exhibit hall activities, general conference activities and, last but hardly least, parties.

If you think you’re man or woman enough for the challenge, drop a line. Experienced bloggers preferred, and industry knowledge (Internet advertising/marketing) of some sort is pretty much a must.

WordBiz: The Uncool Blogging Seminar

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 06/16/04

Debbie Weil of WordBiz is producing a half-day seminar about business blogging in the Washington DC area on June 30, 2004. Some of the extensive web site copy reads:

Learn how adding a blog to your site can increase its value for your customers, prospects or members, put your online marketing on steroids… and make your job easier!
You will leave this highly-practical seminar with a blue print for how to launch and maintain a business blog and how to integrate it with email & e-newsletter marketing.

The seminar costs $249, which includes several sweeteners, including a Business Blogging manual by Don K. Crowther and an earlier teleseminar WordBiz conducted on business blogging.

UPDATE:
Debbie writes me: “For those who can’t travel or leave their office, this event is now a 90-minute Audio/Web conference on Thursday July 1st at 1 PM Eastern. … This is a highly-practical event that will explain what a business blog is, how a blog works technically, how it can complement an e-newsletter, what to write about, etc. A meaty intro to business blogs.”

WordBiz: The Uncool Blogging Seminar

Seeking Conference Bloggers for AdTech San Francisco, May 24-26

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/21/04

AdTech is the leading industry event for the online advertising and marketing industry. At the last occasion of the conference, last November in NYC, MarketingWonk and I helped AdTech create the AdTech Blog, where a team of bloggers provided coverage of the event.

AdTech has invited us to repeat this, as it was quite successful. I can offer free attendance to interestest parties in exchange for your blogging efforts. To be clear there is no payment involved, and travel and accommodation are not included. But the pass to the three days’ worth of the sessions is a $1,095 value. For anyone interested in the Internet marketing and media sector, this is a valuable opportunity, as AdTech is the best educational and networking event in the sector, in my professional opinion.

Requirements:

  • Should be reasonably knowledgeable about the Internet marketing and media industry

  • Must commit to a minimum of five to seven short entries — mostly coverage of sessions, but we also plan to cover the (many) parties, the exhibit hall, and more. The blog posts can run on as long as you want, but you don’t really have to write more than about three paragraphs for any one entry.
  • That’s about it. Good writing skills. Experience writing for a blog a plus. Your own laptop with WiFi is a plus, but you could alternatively take notes on paper and file reports from the press room.

If interested, email me. I am expecting to get more inquiries about this than I have passes for, so I’ll have to get back to you in a couple of days.

 

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