Just Heather

Live Blogging Session #4

Erik Deckers, Pro Blog Service

5 Simple Rules of Writing Quickly

Quality is important, but you have other stuff to do with your day.

Plan first.
Think about it during your downtime—in the car, in the shower, etc.

Plow through.
There’s really no such thing as writer’s block. It’s really just lack of motivation or getting stuck on what to say. The best cure for writer’s block is just to sit down and start writing. The rhythm of writing and stream of consciousness will eventually lead to what you want to say.

Fill it in later.
Start with an outline or bullet points and create paragraphs out of it later.
Write a lead; string leads together or space them out and add content to each lead.

Write everyday.
Writer’s write. They don’t watch tv, sleep, etc. Write everyday, no matter what it is.

Keep it short. Real short.
The shorter it is, the more likely people are actually going to read it.
If you end up writing a huge post, chop it up to create multiple posts and post date so you’re ahead of the game.
Series posts bring people back.

5 Simple Rules of Writing Well
Write for a Clever 12-year-old
We don’t like to read things written at a college level. We only have so much mental space and don’t want to fill it with heady articles.
Blog readers don’t usually want to think too hard.
Funnel—all the big, important information is in the first sentence/paragraph so the importance of the information gets smaller as the article goes on.
Bloggers should skip the background information that doesn’t need to be there. Keep posts to 300-500 words.

Be clear.
“For sale: baby shoes, never used.” ~Ernest Hemingway (the 6 word short story)

Use short words. Use short paragraphs too.
You can have 1 word paragraphs, despite English rules.

Edit mercilessly.
Revise and rewrite. Cut out useless words.

Don’t overwrite.
Say what you need to say with the fewest words possible.

5 Simple Rules for SEO writing
Write for readers, not spiders.
Being number 1 on Google doesn’t do any good if people leave 3 seconds after they arrive because they don’t want to read crap.
If you write for readers, readers will come. Write good, quality content that interests people.

Use unique keywords.
Erik is number 1 on Google for “It’s in my raccoon wounds.” for a post on his child’s vomit.

Integrate Keywords Naturally
Related words and synonyms

Don’t repeat your keywords.
Don’t pack key words. This is bad writing. No one is going to stick around to actually read it.

Anchor text
Be sure to use keywords in the actual post. It must be relevant.

Live Blogging Session #3

Brad Ward, Blue Fuego
Based on The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Oh, boy. I’m not sure I can do this one justice. Lots of graphs & charts. Taking notes probably won’t help me grasp it all in an hour. Clearly, I should have read the book first. Maybe if I understood The Long Tail, I could better learn how it relates to the Social Web. We shall see.

Not everyone tweets, but that won’t matter if you use Twitter API. They don’t have to find you and follow you to see the content on your page.

Even if you aren’t serving a large audience with some of your pages, it is important to get content to the people when they need it.

User Generated Content
Conversation is in the Long Tail—conversation is user generated. Comments give people a reason to come back and participate. As participation increases, so does content and engagement.

90% of the people who read your content are just lurkers. 9% will participate occasionally. 1% is brand loyal and engaged.

1% is the Gold Standard—if 1% of your fans comment/like your content, you are doing an amazing job.

Brand Generated Content
Build the Foundation—Your Website (navigation, content, etc)

“It’s not about what you think the customers want or want the customers to want. It’s about creating anassembing a collection of tools that captures the attention of people who truly care” ~Seth Godin

Choose your weapons—collection of tools: email, YouTube, forums, blog, Facebook
Watch backend analytics for unsubscribed fans as well as interactions
58.4% of pages open to a tab other than the wall; pages that open to the wall averaged 57.63% growth vs 23.78% growth.

Drawing in user generated content to use as on-site content (YouTube, tweet streams, etc)

Social Web Callouts: Digg, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc buttons

Secrets of the Long Tail
PHCC: Patience (it takes time to build your brand/niche), Hustle (get involved in commenting), Content, lose Control (you don’t own the content)

Think and, not or—Facebook and MySpace, not either or

Listen to the conversation; participate in the conversation; host the conversation

Be prepared for what’s coming.

Own it. Own your presence. Watch what’s being said about you and your competitors.

Have a ‘Max Strategy’ (Take whatever you are doing and do it to the max; “…since the marginal cost of distribution is free, you might as well put things everywhere.” ~Erich Schmidt

Research and Repeat. Make sure the things you are doing are effective and that you’re serving the user in the right way.

Disclaimer: Today is my first attempt at live blogging. I needed to take notes and this seemed like the best idea, given the topic. These are my raw notes as they happen. I’ll come back later to fix obvious typos and errors, but if I decide to expand on anything I heard, it would be in a separate post. To quote my girls, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Live Blogging Session #2

Mike Seidle, Pro Blog Service

Why the Numbers Matter
You cannot manage what you cannot measure.

Three Blog Types:

Ad supported—makes money for selling ads, affiliates or pay per click
Business blog—blog generates leads or sales
Other— everyone else

Numbers Everyone Needs to Know
Visitors—number of people who visit the site.
Uniques or Unique Visitors—does not count repeat visitors
Page Views—number of actual pages viewed
Bounce Rate—Number of people are “one and done”
Top Pages—content that gets the most traffic
Referrers—who sends your site traffic
Keywords—what words are being used to find your website

Knowing your top content helps you know what people are interested in so you can create content they want.

Analytics Tools
Log Analyzers—track requests to your web server
(Analog, AWSats, SmarterStats, Webalyzer, Urchin, WebTrends, Click Tracks, etc)
Script Based—track when script or pixel are accessed *more accurate data*
(Google Analytics, Yahoo Analyitics, Omniture, WebTrends, Click Tracks)

Mike Recommends
If you have mad money, Radian6+Webtrends.
If you don’t:
Yahoo Anaytics + time
Yahoo is real time. Google is not.
Real time matters if you start getting lots of traffic.

It’s important to use something that is screening out bot traffic.

Ad Supported Blogs
What You Need to Know
Page Views—by author, topic, day of week
Impressions—how many ad views your site shows
CTR—ad clickthrough rate
CPM—price per thousand impressions
EPC—what you make on average when someone clicks on an ad
Comparative Rankings
Compete, Alexa, Nielson NetRatings

Use numbers to set prices and make your blog appealing to advertisers.
Advertisers will use comparative ranking sites to

EPC = Advertising Income / Ad Clicks (try calculating by author or topic)
Proj. Income = (Proj PV/1000) (CPM) or Proj. PV x CTR x EPC
ROI = 1 – Cost/(Income-Cost)

Business Blogs
Goal is leads or sales.

What You Need to Know
Top Pages
Conversion Rate—number of people who turn into leads or sales (don’t edit – include everything)
CPA – Cost per action: what it costs to get a lead or sale
ROI – the bottom line is what really matters
*Use a contact form so you know which leads found you through your blog.

What Business Blogs Do Not Need to Know
Conversation Rate
Conversation Depth
*It’s all about leads generated so the engagement & authority is irrelevant.

The idea of a business’s blog enhancing the brand value is bogus if the leads/sales generated aren’t increased.

Okay, this is the point where I realize that I’m not a business blog and I no longer care. Here is where I started playing on Facebook and Twitter and forgot to take notes. It’s also where my uber late night and early morning caught up with me. I’m eating Milk Duds and trying not to think of lunch. My bad.

Other Blogs
What You Need to Know
The usual: PV, UPV, Bounce Rate, etc
Conversation Rate—how many comments you get per post
Conversation Depth—Do you get big or little comments?
Authority—how important is your blog?

What makes a blog credible—the people in your audience
The right audience—depends on the blog
Finding your authority
1. Social Media Authority—focus is on influence (values links, conversations and aggregates like Technorati, Radian 6-Style, Google Centric)
2. Traffic—focus is on readers & numbers

Secret to Gaining Influence:
Write blog articles others will blog about
Make friends with other bloggers so you will talk about one another’s posts on your blogs
Use outrage. It works.

There’s no differentiation between good authority or bad authority.

The power of Radian-6: It exposes relationships. It’s expensive but worth it!

This is my first attempt at live blogging. I need to take notes and this seemed like the best idea, given the topic. These are my raw notes as they happen. I’ll come back later to fix obvious typos and errors, but if I decide to expand on anything I heard, it would be in a separate post. To quote my girls, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Live Blogging Session #1

Robby Slaughter, Slaughter Development

Lesson #1: Almost all bloggers quit eventually
95% off all blogs are abandoned.

Lesson #2: Amazing Blogs are Regular
Great blogs are updated frequently.
Patterns create success.

Lesson #3: Quality doesn’t matter (much)
We’ve all owned a car that just gets us from point a to point b.
Bloggers actually debate the value of grammar and spelling.
Every blog has terrible entries. It’s out there and part of the blog’s history.

Lesson #4: The most recent post wins
When you have a baby, you are the most important person in the world for your friends & family. Until another baby is born.
Google loves recent content. ~Doug Karr, Marketing Tech Blog

Lesson #5: We are all vain
Bloggers write because they like being read. Otherwise, you’d keep a private journal under your bed.
Blogs succeed when people talk about them.
Engaged visitors = people who buy.

Applying the lessons
1. Everybody quits:
Pick a day to blog – put it on your calendar.
Pick times to blog – choose 2, one to get it started and another to finish/publish.
Develop a process.

2. Great blogs are regular:
Don’t imply otherwise.
Don’t apologize for not blogging.
“I haven’t posted in a long time is the Web 2.0 version of Under Construction.”

3. Quality doesn’t matter.
Let go of pet peeves. (should be part of your process)
Repetition is more important than creativity.

4. Newest post wins
Bury bad posts with new posts.
Respond to headlines. If something happens, write your own post about it. Commentary on current events puts you in the forefront.
Get the last word. The conversation never ends in the Blogosphere—you can always have the last word.

5. We’re all vain.
Get attention by praising other blogs. Talk about it, write about in your own blog, email it to your friends. Mention posts that you liked and expand on them in your own blog.
Get attention by arguing. Picking a fight/disagreeing with another blogger gets attention.
Promote your blog—tell people it’s great. Go to their website, comment on posts and mention your own posts on similar topics.
We’re all vain—accept it and use it.

Blogging Faster:
Characterize Blog Posts:

  1. Response— to another blog, news article or op-ed content
  2. Summary—of an event we sponsored or attended
  3. Continuation—of a previous post, possibley from months or years ago
  4. Perspective—on a bit of common knowledge or an everyday expression
  5. Announcement—of an upcoming event or proposed action

Schedule & Constrain
At most 1 hour
No more than twice daily
Start with once weekly

Divide by activity
Brainstorming (coming up with an idea)
Writing (putting together the post)
Editing (polishing—grammar, spelling, layout)
*Everyone isn’t good at all 3—find partners that can meet your deficiencies.

Blogging in 600 seconds:
Write your topic into the post title just to keep in mind what you’re writing about. You can change it later. (Tip: write the topic in all lowercase to remind yourself that it isn’t the final title.)

Write something you know. Create a lead.
Include a plug—talk about something else you do well that’s related.

Q. How much does the editing process take away from the tone?
A. The balance between being readable and accessible vs. formal depends on the style of the blog. Be careful that your editing doesn’t destroy the tone of your overall blog. Maintain a common style or voice.

Q. Do you typically add images to your posts?
A. It’s pretty tough in 600 seconds, but usually visuals are good. Photos can even become your inspiration. Use them as part of the brainstorming process.

Q. How do you know where to stop?
A. Use a timer. Limit your words. (Slaughter Development has a 500 word max; Robby’s personal blog is long essays and has a min of 1500 words)

Q. How do you use networking to drive productivity?
A. Include networking as part of your process. Twitter the posts; if it’s a response to someone else, comment on their blog and use a quote from your post.

This is my first attempt at live blogging. I need to take notes and this seemed like the best idea, given the topic. These are my raw notes as they happen. I’ll come back later to fix obvious typos and errors, but if I decide to expand on anything I heard, it would be in a separate post. To quote my girls, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Shawn and Noah have put together a great conference for us. I’m excited to be here to learn about the things I need to be doing to make my blog and Inexpensively what I know it could be. They really know what their doing when it comes to connecting. They’ve been on top of every question I’ve had on the conference—even the ones I didn’t think to ask.

It was a bit disconcerting to walk in and have someone I’ve never met greet me by name. I guess my avatar looks just like me. Who knew? I’m so bad about names and faces that it throws me when others aren’t. It actually happens all the time, though, so I guess I need to get used to it. (Yes, Mom, I’m wearing makeup!)

This is my first attempt at live blogging. I need to take notes and this seemed like the best idea, given the topic. These are my raw notes as they happen. I’ll come back later to fix obvious typos and errors, but if I decide to expand on anything I heard, it would be in a separate post. To quote my girls, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Live Blogging Keynote

Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer: The Rules Are There Are No Rules

“If the rules are there are no rules, what the hell is this guy going to say? I’ll get to that, in about 40 minutes.”

The rules are there for a reason, but sometimes they’re meant to be broken.

Design Matters:
Design doesn’t matter in the tech/social media world because more than 50% of readers are never going to visit your website—they will subscribe to your RSS feeds instead.

The more you engage with people, the more connected you are with your audience.
A blog that does not allow comments is not really a blog. It’s a personal publication platform.

Blog Frequently:
Deb Schultz, Jeremey Pepper, Dave Weiner—Don’t blog frequently, but when they do it is incredibly compelling and engaging.
Keep it short and simple. People want short snacks in today’s attention deficit world.

Play Nice:
Some who don’t can get away with it because they are entertaining, if you get their humor and/or sarcasm.

Provide Value to Your Reader:
Value is relative—any blog will have value to someone, even if it’s just your mom.

Most blogs will never make more than $24.99 (and no one will cut you a check until you make $25)
Monetizing blogs is not about advertising; it is capitalizing on opportunities that your blog provides.

Driving Traffic:
Promote your blog.
The rules say be active on Digg, Reddit, Stumble Upon, Propeller, Mixx.
The theory is readers vote for good content. “The theory is bullshit.” None of the front page content on social media sites is actually based on what the community wants to see. It’s based on the back scratching and trading of a few hundred people.

How to Use Social Bookmarking Sites/Breaking the Rules:
Vote for good content when you see it.
Help friends with votes, if I like the content.

Social News/Bookmarking Success:
Spend all day on the site.
Get secret invites to voting circles
Pander to people via IM
“all the damn time!”

There is a lot of great advice, guidelines and “rules” but bottom line is are you happy with your blog? The success of your blog is really determined by how you feel about it.

Jason’s Rules for Blogging:
Be bold. Say something that other people are not. If your blog offers nothing different than what other people in your niche are saying, you’re just a me too. Take a different stance now and then.
Be fair. Let your opposing readers have their say. Letting them have the last word now and then is classy.
Follow the rules…sometimes. Good advice is still good advice.
Be loyal to your audience. Remember what people come there for and stay true to it. See what drives traffic. See what people comment on. Write about what your readers want to talk about.
Write good stuff!

Q. What would you call it then, if there are no rules? Aren’t we still in need of rules and guidelines?
A. I would call it Blogging Best Practices.

Q. What about ghost writers?
A. Transparency is key in social media. Ghost writers are the opposite. The biggest problem is getting found out. You run the risk of being disingenuous. It intimates that you have something to hide.

I have been blogging for several years. The blog world has grown and changed around me. My reasons for blogging and what I’ve taken from it has also changed over the years. When I first started, it was a medium for adult conversation. Over time, it became a journal of sorts for my girls. Along the way, I found a few Hoosier bloggers and began to take my blog connections offline. When I relaunched this blog a few months ago, it was with my professional image in the back of my mind.

My professional self launched a new business earlier this week. While FeedIndy was all me, Inexpensively connects a network of frugal bloggers. When bloggers contact me in hopes of joining the network, the interview process includes reading their blog and following them on Twitter for several weeks. Yes, that’s right, I read blogs as my job! This also means that blog conventions become real and actual business conferences.

I’m attending BlogHer ’09 next week (well, it’s LobbyCon because I didn’t get my tickets ordered on time!). I’m looking forward to actually meeting some of the bloggers I’ve “known” for years. I’m also terrified of meeting people. I’m stressing over what to wear, who I’ll meet (Tim Gunn—ack!) and how I’ll remain standing on heels all day long. That’s my irrational, paranoid side. The rest of me is just plain excited. Just a few weeks after BlogHer, I’m attending a local conference. I’m even more nervous about this one.

At BlogIndiana, I have a real opportunity to make connections with fellow Hoosiers. I’m also speaking at BlogIndiana—I’ll be on the Foodie Panel for Saturday’s Social Media Summit. I’ll probably be the pickiest eater on the panel, but it’s exciting to be able to share the concept of doing whatever you do, inexpensively. People mistakenly assume you can only save money at the grocery store if you buy junk, but it just isn’t true. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to the panel, but I’m still a bit worried about being the least foodie person in the room.

I’m less worried about my shoes for Blog Indiana, though. I don’t think it will be quite the focus.

Update: I am now on two panels for Blog Indiana. They have added a Mommy Blogger panel that has me very excited! In honor of the addition to Saturday’s Social Media Summit, I have a special coupon code for you! Enter momblogsrock at the checkout to save 20% off your ticket purchase.

Blog Indiana 2009 countdown!