September 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.

Feed Readers Reviewed

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 04/3/06

Over at TechCrunch there’s a good review on several of the major online feed readers written up by Frank Gruber of Somewhat Frank. The post covers: Attensa Online, Bloglines, FeedLounge, Google Reader, Gritwire, News Alloy, NewsGator Online, Pluck Web Edition, Rojo. My Yahoo, Live.com, Google IG and Netvibes were omitted as “virtual desktop applications” and not “heavy duty” RSS readers.

When checking Feedburner stats for one of my own blogs, I was interested to see that the top feed readers in the past 24 hours were: Bloglines, NewsGator Online, Rojo, Firefox Live Bookmarks, BlogBridge, Pluck, RssReader, Google Desktop, Opera RSS Reader and NetNewsWire. There were 50 overall, although I don’t know how many Feedburner will display at any one time.

The RSS reader reviews at TechCrunch were based on criteria in each of the following categories: user interface, feed set-up and discovery, support, mobile access and performance. What are the results? Here’s Frank’s summary:

If you are looking purely for performance, Google Reader and FeedLounge are the fastest in our tests. Bloglines and Rojo are the best choice if you are looking for a feature rich application (and Rojo blows Bloglines away on “web 2.0″ type features).

None, however, yet approach the speed and agility of the best desktop based readers like NetNewsWire and FeedDemon.

What I think was missing was the Sage plugin for Firefox. I’ve been using Sage for over a year now and it is by far my favorite way to track 200 plus search marketing feed subscriptions. Granted, it does not have all the features of the some of the desktop RSS readers, but that part of why I like it. What’s your favorite RSS Reader?
Update: Shortly after posting this, I received an email from Dave Taylor of Intuitive Life on his dissatisfaction with RSS and in particular, RSS readers. He makes some very good points.  For another view on RSS readers, check out Dave’s RSS reader rant.

RSS – Changing the Plumbing of the Web

Posted by: of Made for Marketing on 02/23/06

Dave Winer, the founding father of RSS, has a lucid essay on putting valuation on the current state of RSS investment in the world. Given the VC investment, the number of companies doing RSS and podcasting that have invested in RSS, and even the companies like Pheedo and FeedBurner that have hired and entire staff devoted to RSS, there’s a pretty substantial chunk of capital that’s decked against this technology.

I analogize it to CRM (Customer Relationship Management). I’m not sure who is the ‘arguable’ father of CRM – perhaps Tom Siebel plays a role. CRM is essentially the ‘plumbing’ of customer data & customer interactions inside most major companies. As of 2003, the CRM market was around $8.8 billion. It’s only grown from there. But if only 19% of user licenses of software like SAP are deployed, then I guess they’ve got issues greater then market size to contend with.
Back to RSS. The investment, however large, is real, and it’s alive. RSS is not a technology that sits on the shelf. RSS, once implemented, lives, breaths and connects content to customers, just by the nature of its very being.
In some ways, RSS is changing the ‘plumbing’ of the Internet and its effects are profound. The RSS investment trend illustrates just how powerful blogging and social media are in this web 2.0 world. Something CRM didn’t have in it’s favor.

To that end, Dave puts it this way.

Here’s one way to visualize it. Let’s assume the average home price in the U.S. is $400K. So $8.2 billion is about 21,000 houses. Now imagine you wanted to change the way the plumbing worked in all of those homes. You get the idea. There’s no way 4 or 5 random people on a Yahoo mail list, people of ordinary means, can move that much capital without having a pretty compelling argument and making it an incredibly compelling way.

Dave has a great point there. However, his next point is even more important.

Viewed another way, given that Scripting News, for years, was the central if not primary means of distributing information about RSS, it gives you a sense of how powerful blogging is. It can’t move that much capital overnight, but given enough time, and persistence, and a high-quality idea, you can create quite an economic effect.

That’s the mantra on RSS. Focus on the vision, persist in “changing out the plumbing”, and pushing for the constant incremental economic effects for and from RSS advancement.

Shamelessly cross-posted at the Pheedo blog.

RSS Feeds and Podcasting from Pubcon X

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 11/17/05

This week the search marketing conference Pubcon X was held in Las Vegas with many great sessions, one of which, was particularly well done.  Presenters included:  Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo, Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit, Daron Babin of New Gen Media and Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR.

Presentations ranged from the how-to’s of podcasting and tools, podcast optimization, using RSS to uncover and promote hidden publisher content, industry data on podcasting and of course, Jeremy focused on Yahoo’s tools involving RSS and .

Detailed coverage of the session can be found at: "".

RSS, the heir apparent to the throne

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 11/15/05

Neville talks about an interesting, really cool IMHO, thing the U.K. supermarket chain Tesco is doing.  Not only are they sending out traditional e-mail marketing e-mails to customers (on the quantity or quality concept) they have created a “deal of the day” RSS feed.  Now, this rocks.  Frankly, I’d love to get my store flier in RSS.  Maybe, the just before the end of the day … how about a quick recipe for an easydinner and oh … here are the ingredients … oh and severalof them are on a special web-recipe sale. How about that.

From Neville:

So my prediction is – more RSS feeds by consumer-focused businesses such as supermarkets. It’s getting easier for people to use RSS (often without realizing it) and will get easier still as more businesses offer information via RSS, as simpler ways of describing it emerge (like ‘ live bookmarks ,’ for instance), and as it becomes ever more easier to get the information offered via RSS. (Related development: expect more advertising in RSS.)

It’s the heir to the direct marketing throne.

I think he’s really got it.  I can sit here and think about all the easy, easy ways for companies to reach customers.  And as all the Browsers get better at this … well we’re not even going to notice are we?
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Yahoo Issues White Paper on RSS

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 10/20/05

Yahoo has issued a new white paper on RSS. You can download the PDF but here are some key findings:

  • 12% of users are aware of RSS, and 4% have knowingly used RSS.
     
  • 27% of Internet users consume RSS syndicated content on personalized start pages without knowing it’s RSS
     
  • 28% of Internet users are aware of podcasting, but only 2% currently subscribe to podcasts.
  • Even
    tech-savvy "“Aware RSS Users"” prefer to access RSS feeds via
    user-friendly, browser-based experiences (e.g., My Yahoo!, Firefox, My
    MSN).

World news and national news are preferred at 52%. More specialized content such as blogs
(23%) and podcasting (11%) are gaining. So basically, it’s mainstream media rather than niche content that gets the most use.

The primary benefit reported for use of RSS is efficient access to media sources.

Publishers
striving to syndicate their content via RSS should pay attention to how
their feeds are listed within popular RSS readers since that is the
preferred method to discover and subscribe to feeds. Publishers should
also
provide easy and prominent means for users to add RSS feeds on every
article page.

27% of Internet users subscribe and read RSS feeds without knowing being aware of RSS as a format. These "Unaware RSS Users" are
similar demographically to the average Internet user, suggesting that
RSS is not only for early adopter techies.

Jupiter Analysts Tell Scoble to Get Over Himself RE: RSS

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 02/23/05

Microsoft’s uber blog evangelist Robert Scoble is frothing at the mouth he’s so mad about about a marketer daring to not have RSS on his site. He blogged [emphasis his] "Sorry, if you do a marketing site and you don’t have an RSS feed today you should be fired. I’ll say it again. You should be fired if you do a marketing site without an RSS feed." Easy, boy. We’ll get a doctor. You’ll pull through.

Jupiter Research analyst Eric Peterson politely suggested Scoble get a grip, that RSS really isn’t for everyone. His colleague Michael Gartenberg concurs. Me too.

MarketingStudies: Unleash the Marketing and Publishing Power of RSS

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 01/18/05

Rok Hrastnik has just produced a huge study on RSS and its power for both marketing and publishing. Price: $39.95. He sent me a preview copy, but I confess to having been too busy lately to have given it proper attention, so I’m just going to rip off what my pal Tig over at MarketingVox said about it:

European e-marketer Rok Hrastnik spent the last year or two researching
an exhaustive review of syndication technology on the web, finally
releasing to Marketingstudies.net
a 550-page definitive ebook on RSS and the marketing uses of
syndication. The advance copy sent to MarketingVOX is written in a
detached, rational tone, in some contrast to the sales pages’ hard sell
copy. Of particular interest will be the technical background
information and the near comprehensive set of interviews of industry
figures, which serves as an indication as to where RSS is heading and
what significance it has to marketers and publishers.

MarketingStudies: Unleash the Marketing and Publishing Power of RSS

MediaDrop: Newspapers with RSS: A List

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 12/15/04

A handy list of newspapers that syndicate their content in XML.

MediaDrop: Newspapers with RSS: A List

Wired: RSS Attracts Really Serious Money

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/31/04

In my recent comment/rant on RSS replacing email, a folks have pointed out a recent wave of investment in RSS-related companies. So I thought I’d duly note this story for more details along those lines. Note that it mentions NewsGator got some funding, which I said in my post is my pick of the lot of RSS readers.

Wired: RSS Attracts Really Serious Money

One (Percent) Reason Why Not to Switch From Email to RSS

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/28/04

[This is a teaser of a post. I have original research data about RSS usage to report, but I ramble on and on first and only deliver the goods in the last paragraph.]

I’ll admit it, when I first discovered RSS, I was all excited about it, too. I even gave in to the hype and joined the popular speculation that RSS might be a viable alternative to email for marketing purposes. But then, like the guy in Monty Python’s Holy Grail who complained of having been turned into a newt, I got better.

Frankly, I’ve always been a bit underwhelmed by RSS. I know that’s not cool to admit (the gals over at BigBlogCompany will probably get their panties in a bunch to hear me say it), but there it is. Yeah, in principal it’s great, but having tried several RSS syndication apps, I haven’t been impressed with the execution. The main thing I hate about most of them is the ephemeral quality of posts: if you let a few days go by without checking in on your feeds, the older items scoll off into the ether, and if you want to go back and look at old links, you’re SOL. I did love NewsGator when I first discovered it and even paid the $30 for it. The idea of having RSS feeds turn into email messages really clicked for me. The only problem is I don’t use Outlook for my email. I’m a Eudora user and have been for many years and I’ll give up on Eudora in favor of Outlook when you pry it from my cold dead hands. For a while, I was using Outlook exclusively for my NewsGator RSS feeds, but somehow I couldn’t keep up the momentum of regularly using yet another Internet communications app; I haven’t checked my NewsGator feeds for months.

But I do have a point here aside from just my own lukewarm experience with RSS. I just came across a post titled Seven Reasons to Switch from EMail Marketing to RSS Advertising on Pheedo.info. Bill (whose last name is not apparent on the site; what’s up with that?) gives these seven reasons to back up his thesis:

  1. Sender ID
  2. CAN SPAM ACT
  3. Blacklists
  4. Known Sender
  5. Email Filters
  6. Bonded Sender Program
  7. Cost of Sending Email

(Bill’s orignal post on Pheedo has links on all of those reasons for more context.)

I don’t get this. Aside from Blacklists, those all seem to me like reasons to stick with email marketing, signs that legit marketers are going to triumph over spammers in the end, or at least competitive advantages they have now to distinguish themselves from spam. Frankly, I’m happy to go on record predicting that spam is on the retreat. I firmly believe in 2-3 years, spam will be much less of a problem for email users and legit marketers compared to today.

But, more to the point, switching from email to RSS? Don’t be a fool. By all means, introduce RSS. Despite my personal lack of fascination with RSS, I do believe it has a role to play and a more promising future, even if that may not be in the near future. Note that the post I linked to above (on MarketingVox) where I had given into dreaming of a time when RSS may present an alternative to email, I was writing in the context of Microsoft saying it will introduce an RSS reader into its Longhorn operating system. When Microsoft comes out with a free RSS reader, particularly one built into the OS, then I think RSS will go mainstream. What they should really do, in my opinion, is buy NewsGator or just rip off the idea. But Longhorn isn’t due out till 2006, so let’s not hold our breath.

But here’s the kicker, the reason why I hope you made it all the way to the bottom of this rambling post. Why not kill your email program in favor of RSS today? Because virtually 100% of Internet users use email and virtually 0% of Internet users use RSS today. Sure, we all assume it’s not a lot of folks who use RSS, but I’ve got the actual number. This July, I conducted a survey for my client Quris, an email marketing services provider, of 2543 Internet users from Harris Interactive’s panel. I am still writing up the report for this research, so this is an unreported scoop, but I trust Quris won’t mind. One of the questions we asked was about various digital communications media and devices they use, including this choice:

I use a “news aggregator” to subscribe to websites (using “RSS” or another “XML” syndication language).

The response? Thirty-five people out of 2543 checked that option. That is 1.4% of the total, that five years after RSS has been available to the world.

Sure, go ahead and dump your email programs in favor of RSS. But don’t come crying to me when you realize how dumb of a choice that was.

Reuters: Livewire: All-You-Can-Eat Headlines Served Online

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/15/04

RSS is new and neato. Et cetera.

Reuters: Livewire: All-You-Can-Eat Headlines Served Online

InternetNews: Blogs: The Marketing Killer

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 08/15/04

Kind of a ridiculous, over-the-top piece of hype article — the likes of which ultimately doesn’t do a lot of favors for business blogging being taken seriously — that suggests blogs are going to make marketing departments obsolete, confusingly conflates RSS, blogs and social networks and otherwise paints a rather muddled picture of things. For examples:

The question by some is, “Do companies need a full-blown marketing or PR department when the employees themselves and the conversations they have on these blogs are getting the corporate info out more effectively?”

Who exactly is asking that? Crazy McLiealot?

InternetNews: Blogs: The Marketing Killer

NPR RSS Feeds

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/26/04

Yay!

Link

NYTimes.com RSS Feeds

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/16/04

If this were any cooler, I’d probably wet myself: you can now subscribe to NYT stories via RSS.

Link

Promoting Your Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 06/17/04

A friend, who has had an on-again / off-again blog for more than a year (mostly off-again) writes to say he’s now determined to blog every day and asks how should he go about getting more traffic to the blog. It’s a pretty basic question, one to which I have only some pretty basic points of advice, namely these:

The main thing I’d say is to stick with it. After you’ve been at it diligently for a month or so, you may be able to reach out a bit more to get in-bound links. But until folks have confidence you’re really dedicated to it they may be reluctant to link to you, if they fear you’re going to lose interest after a few weeks.

Also, periodically produce a really utilitarian post (like, for example, this one) that people are going to find particularly useful, not just interesting. Dedicate an hour or more to rounding up a lot of links on a theme or analyzing a trend in detail and debunking common misperceptions or otherwise really doing some real work of investigating, aggregating or articulating something that a lot of people are going to find useful. That is more likely to get you a lot of links to a particular post than just general posts along the lines of “Here’s an interesting article” or “Boy am I steamed about what Bush said today” or whatever. How-to pieces are good for this. Read the lists of most popular links among bloggers on DayPop, Technorati, Blogdex and Popdex to get a sense of what kind of blog posts get lots of people pointing to them. It’s a law of nature that people love lists.

Beyond that…

1) Definitely publish an RSS/Atom/XML feed. Are you still using Blogger? If so, you can click a button and turn on RSS [make that Atom, another version of XML feed, as Mike clarifies in the comment section of this post]. (For that matter, you can start an XML feed with pretty much any standard blog publishing platform.) You’ll get a lot more pick-ups that way.

2) Engage with other bloggers, particularly in their comment sections. Also email them. Politely make them aware of your blog, especially in context (e.g., “Joe, nice comment. You may be interested in something I wrote along similar lines…”)

3) Register your blog, and your RSS feed, everywhere possible. Here’s a list of such sites to start with.

4) Create a “blogroll” list of your favorite bloggers in the margin. Bloggers like the quid pro quo when it comes to links. Just by virtue of listing a bloggers does NOT mean s/he will link back to you, but it certainly improves your chances. It also makes it more likely that you will come to their attention, as they will likely see traffic from your site in their logs and maybe the link itself on Technorati.

5) Of course, plug your blog in your email signature, and, for that matter, on your business cards, if it’s really that important to you.

6) Consider your headlines carefully for the kind of phrases that people may search for on search engines. Remember, B.L.O.G. stands for “better listings on Google.” Also, along these lines, make sure to set your archives to list each entry on a page of its own (possible with Blogger only in its more recently updated version).

Here are some other similar pieces of advice:

I’m sure there are lots of other posts out there along similar lines. I welcome anyone who can point some more out to please do so in the comments, and I’ll update the good ones here in the main body of this post.

Microsoft.com: Remarks by Bill Gates…Microsoft CEO Summit 2004

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 05/24/04

If you’re still on the fence about the power of blogs in business, our cause has a new advocate: Bill Gates. At the recent Microsoft CEO Summit 2004, a conference for CEOs, Gates raved about blogs and product-oriented communities, two related trends I’ll be talking about later today at AdTech. Thank you, Bill, you just made my presentation! Read the complete speech in the link above or read the BBC’s assessment of the key points on blogs, or just read the pertinent section of the speech excerpted without permission here:

Another new phenomenon that connects into this is one that started outside of the business space, more in the corporate or technical enthusiast space, a thing called blogging. And a standard around that that notifies you that something has changed called RSS.

This is a very interesting thing, because whenever you want to send e-mail you always have to sit there and think who do I copy on this. There might be people who might be interested in it or might feel like if it gets forwarded to them they’ll wonder why I didn’t put their name on it. But, then again, I don’t want to interrupt them or make them think this is some deeply profound thing that I’m saying, but they might want to know. And so, you have a tough time deciding how broadly to send it out.

Then again, if you just put information on a Web site, then people don’t know to come visit that Web site, and it’s very painful to keep visiting somebody’s Web site and it never changes. It’s very typical that a lot of the Web sites you go to that are personal in nature just eventually go completely stale and you waste time looking at it.

And so, what blogging and these notifications are about is that you make it very easy to write something that you can think of, like an e-mail, but it goes up onto a Web site. And then people who care about that get a little notification. And so, for example, if you care about dozens of people whenever they write about a certain topic, you can have that notification come into your Inbox and it will be in a different folder and so only when you’re interested in browsing about that topic do you go in and follow those, and it doesn’t interfere with your normal Inbox.

And so if I do a trip report, say, and put that in a blog format, then all the employees at Microsoft who really want to look at that and who have keywords that connect to it or even people outside, they can find the information.

And so, getting away from the drawbacks of e-mail — that it’s too imposing — and yet the drawbacks of the Web site — that you don’t know if there’s something new and interesting there — this is about solving that.

The ultimate idea is that you should get the information you want when you want it, and we’re progressively getting better and better at that by watching your behavior, ranking things in different ways.

Another big phenomenon is building communities around Web sites, around products. And virtually every company ought to have on their Web site the ability for their customers, their suppliers, various people, to interact and their employees to see the dialogue taking place there and jump in and talk to them and help them.

The idea of these communities making these things fun, how you make sure nobody dominates the community or invades the community, a lot of progress there that make those things important. Built into every one of our products now are connections back to the community, a thing called Office Online, or Visual Studio, our development tools have the developers online, that’s called MSDN. And we learn so much about what people are doing or what they want from that and we literally require our employees to engage in those communities so they’re up there and visible and getting that direct exposure not through statistics but through particular customer dialogue.

Information visibility. This is one that we often talk about, because our view is what’s being done in terms of insight in information is so small compared to what can be done and what should be done — seeing trends in customers, seeing quality type issues, tracking those, even the most basic things around budgeting, forecasting, sales analysis — getting it so somebody can take form the back-end systems that have the information in a very complex form necessarily and navigate that and bring that into their ad hoc tools, typically Microsoft Excel, and play around with it and yet still be connected to the updates and not run any issues about is it secure enough that they’ll let you get at that information, that’s been a big challenge. Steve will talk about a few cases where I think we’ve really got some best practices here in terms of insight into the information.

My only question is, where’s Bill’s blog?

Microsoft.com: Remarks by Bill Gates…Microsoft CEO Summit 2004

Reuters RSS

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 05/8/04

Yeah, I know blogs and RSS are not the same thing, but their related trends, so I end up lumping them together. Anyway, Reuters.com has just introduced RSS feeds. Cool.

Link

Wired: Will RSS Readers Clog the Web?

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

I know that blogs and XML syndication are not synonymous, but let’s face it, bloggers are leading the charge on adoption of RSS, Atom and related XML syndication protocols. This article by Wired suggests that there may be too much of a good thing in this regard, and that if XML syndication were to really catch on big (e.g., Microsoft is planning on releasing its own XML syndication reader built into its upcoming overhaul of the Windows operating system), the resultant demands on traffic may overwhelm the Net. Seems to me this could be overcome with some smart use of proxy servers or other work-arounds, but I’m not really a technical guy, so what do I know.

Wired: Will RSS Readers Clog the Web?

Rolling Stone RSS Artist Syndication

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/19/04

Not really a blog, but Rolling Stone has adopted RSS to let you subscribe to news about your favorite musicians. Cool enough to make the list.

Link

 

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