September 9, 2006

If You Are Afraid of Blogging…

Typepad is hosting a Seth Godin podcast. In it, Seth mentioned that Bob Dylan is a legend because he is unafraid to get booed off the stage. Bloggers could do well by also being unafraid to be wrong. Being worth talking about (and thus citation worthy) means being willing to be wrong.

If you are afraid of the audience response, and let fear control what you are doing, then you have already lost purpose.

August 22, 2006

Why VC Investment in Blogs Is Dumb

On the same day you have articles about VCs seeing a huge opportunity in blogging and blogs making $60,000 a month in ad spend.

Mark Cuban flamed Jeff Jarvis for hating on Mark’s new blog Share Sleuth, which is a blog about trading stocks in companies they uncovered dirt about.

If it is wrong for bloggers to buy and sell stocks based on their market influence then why is it right for companies to be able to buy and sell the influence of media?

The real issue is that as soon as you take on investment a blog loses a bit of that cozy feel, and then the numbers matter more than the feeling. Which sucks, because for about every bad thing I have ever written “bad as in as noted from business friends much smarter than I” I have also had other people compliment me.

When competing with large established business interests that will eventually buy into new technologies all you really have as a competitive advantage is your authenticity. If the numbers get in the way you lose.

I am sure some companies that buy into blogging will make money from it, but most of the bloggers willing to sell are not writing with real passion. The day they sell is the day the concede their passion, IMHO.

April 30, 2006

Realistic Expectations: Some Topics are Hard to Talk About

My mom has got a few loyal readers on her blog now. She writes about weight loss and fitness, which is a topic that is easy to find content about and also an easy topic to discuss and comment on.

A friend of mine recently whined about not having many comments left on his blog. If you are truly passionate about your topic you can evangelize its value and extend the borders of your topic to relate it to more people, but quite often most topics are not going to have a huge base of people discussing them. If your topic is niched down or boring in nature you have to think of creative ways to make it relevant to other news issues and things you know people will be searching for.

Some people are writing for link popularity or distribution while others write with a different goal in mind. Web readers, on average, want to read and understand quick bytes of knowledge over long scrolling posts. Shorter faster stronger. Are good for posting. Many people write at a level above the comprehension of most readers. What is the point of the post? To make it really matter for the few who understand you? Or to try to get it seen by as many people as possible?

You also can’t reach everyone and still be relevant to a niche. I find many people end up being sad or frustrated because they make apples to oranges comparisons. My step dad’s blog on home security is going to be much harder to evangelize than my mother’s weight loss blog. You could have 50% of the home security market and not have as much traffic as a person pulling 5% of the weight loss market. To parallel it with the offline world, it is unrealistic for the average girl to compare here perceived beauty with doctored up photos on the cover of some magazine. Hopefully my step father does not read this and think I am calling him a plain girl. ;)

Patronizing News

I don’t watch cable television much, but when getting a sandwich at the local shop they had a television on. The news program talked about blogging and how bloggers find something new to rant and rave about each week, outlining a bunch of out of context ultra biased ignorant sounding low quality one liners. This week covered bloggers whining about gas prices and saying that it wasn’t fair to place any blame on the gas companies that just had combined quarterly profits of over 10 billion dollars.

The program seemed like its only purpose was to undermine the perceived quality of content on blogs to try to make the newscast seem more viable and interesting than it is. Creating a weekly series that aims to play down other publishing models hardly seems a way to stay relevant.

April 29, 2006

How to Leave a Cheesy Comment

Some bloggers who have been around for years leave cheesy comments like

  • “I just blogged this on my site too LINK”
  • “This is relevant also LINK”

Worse yet, now there are meme tracker tools that track conversations and similar posts, and if you leave the cheesedick check out my site here comment on a couple blogs it looks tacky.

There are enough people doing automated comments that you really want to stand out as a signal of quality in a field of muck. If a blog has great reach then many people will eventually see your comments. I probably left a number of cheesy comments in the past, but on the whole I wouldn’t recommend doing it nowadays.

When blogs were new being relevant with your comment was enough, but as the amount of noise continues to grow and spam and ad networks make more and more things seem relevant good blog comments not only need to be relevant but also interesting and/or useful.

If your comments are good enough then eventually the other bloggers read your stuff and / or give you natural citations that are going to be hard to duplicate. If you just link drop eventually you piss people off.

SethF consistently whines about being a Z lister, but it is the cheesy comment link drops that makes him hard to like.

April 28, 2006

Paying Writers in Blogging Business Models

Andy Hagans lays down some phat posts about blogging network business models. In Sorry, Rev Share Still Blows Andy states that the lack of risk to blog network owners also leads to less opportunity.

It’s About Incentives: The Economics of Blog Pay Structures Andy talks about overcoming the spam issues typically reinforced by most blog payment terms:

Depending upon the risk aversion of a particular writer the figures can change, but essentially the best payment structure is something like:

  • 80% fixed salary
  • 20% discretionary bonus contingent upon writing quality
  • Weekly posting quotas
  • 4x Penalty structure

The point is to provide sufficient stability in payment rates such that you can attract professional writers, but still maintain a sufficient motivation for quality in the form of a bonus. And finally, to tackle the problem of posting regularity include a penalty clause which is a multiple of the per post rate.

Pretty sharp stuff Andy. Few people actually post about the realities of pay scale and how to pay people to run blog networks. Clearly in giving out this information Andy is trying to reinforce his position as a blog overlord.

February 22, 2006

Self Referential World

I am a bit disappointed in myself for creating a blog about blogging…jumping into another hyper-saturated market prior to having adequate exposure in my first hyper saturated market.

The best part about being able to write a blog on whatever topic you are interested in is that you have a free responsive outlet.

The downside on not grabbing a niche topic is that people expect frequent publishing (and that may be required if your blog is a large part of your business model). That leads to…

Where you run into problems with that sort of stuff is that people can not separate themselves from their own experiences. I think Mike and Jeremy are both spot on in those posts, but the people with broad reach which they are refuting probably are writing what I would be consider misinformation which to them seems 100% true…based on their own experiences.

It is a problem we all have as writers / authors / bloggers / story tellers. Who we are defines why people like us and why they hate us. Given a podium and no time limits or restrictions it can be a bit easy to go on even after the good original inspiring stuff is all gone.

It is really hard to see past your own nose, and once you get successful you want to tell other people that if they do what you did that they would do well too, but in many cases that is not the truth…in many cases some things (like market timing, prior reputation and employer) can not be replicated by most other people.

Please note I probably make the same errors the others do…it is so hard to give advice without giving at least a bit of bad advice.

Update: looks like I am losing my edge. Jeremy Z said what I was trying to say, but a bit better.

I’m becoming more and more sickened by the increasing number of articles and blog posts I’ve seen in the last few months that are self-proclaimed “HOWTOs” on making your company, PR folks, or Marketing Department blogger friendly.

After all, there’s nothing like a few excited bloggers to kick off a good viral marketing campaign, right?! Who cares if your product is lame. Just get some bloggers to talk about it!

How long can it be before some new Web 2.0 startup (old maybe a desperate Old Media company) offers up the chance to “win a date with a supermodel” for anyone who blogs about their newest product. What after that?

January 26, 2006

New Blog Designs / Finding a Blog Designer

So I was looking around for some blog designers and was a bit surprised by the search results. It took a good bit of effort to look around and find someone I thought was really cool.

A while ago Darren recommended Cre8d, but I thought I would hunt around to see if I could find a few more I liked.

For Christmas I ordered my step dad a design for his Home Security Blog from Elegant Webscapes. They took a bit longer than I liked, but their rates were exceptionally affordable and I think they did a great job on that template.

DianeV is a cool cat and looks as though she offers blog design services. I may end up bugging her down the road.

The Hugh Page also has a list of blog designers. Some look killer good, and some of them looked like I designed their clients sites, and generally I think that is bad since I usually stick to the buy a logo and color match some defaultish template to it school-of-design. Hard to do quality control on Wikis unless you have a large userbase, or exceptionally limited reach & commercial interest, or are absolutely devoted to quality control. It is even harder with blog design resources though since with blogs beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Some great blogs have designed by links on them which are helpful for finding a designer, but many of the better blogs do not. Who are your favorite blog designers?

January 1, 2006

Blogs and Press Releases

Some topics are so spammy that likely over 95% of the news in those fields is composed of spam. While uncertain of what to write about some new bloggers may post about press releases as much as interesting news because until you really learn the web and learn your subject well it is a bit hard to distinguish the good from the bad.

If you are new to blogging or are building a blog network based on scale and low costs a few tips worth noting off the start are:

  • Most press releases are spam.
  • Most information is spam.
  • In highly commercial categories almost all information is spam.
  • Blogs do well because they are not like press releases. Instead of giving you just the spin and junk marketing messages most good bloggers sort through good and bad information and highlight the best information.
  • When in doubt it is almost always better to reference a media site over a press release.
  • If what you are doing can be done by an algorithm then there is little point in doing it manually. Learn how to program and set your program loose.

Even if your blog is entirely commercially oriented it is still possible to provide interesting information if you hunt long enough. Good bloggers save their readers time or help them find new perspectives, deals, and relevant topical information.

December 29, 2005

Around the Blogosphere…

Is Blogging a fireable offense? Yes. If bloggers could better monetize their marketshare then perhaps it would not matter.

FineFools network hits a rough patch. Cool to see how open they are with content, but at the same time I am not sure how much business sense that policy makes longterm. Also the openness of the network – the lack of structure in picking topics around which great value may be created – may be one of its greatest problems. If people want to blog to be read networks offer that. If people want to blog to make serious bankroll most blog networks do not offer that.

Photo company under heat changes their name. Totally stupid move. A company threw away their search profile and started from scratch after coming under heat. Bloggers quickly cross referenced the new and old companies. Now that makes them look even shadier. If you play your cards right with bloggers hate stories can be flipped into good link popularity and smart viral marketing. Running away from the problem works not so good.

Technorati adds trending graphs and other features.

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