Category Archives: Blogging

6 Bloggers I Hope Write A Book and Why

Despite some really good digital marketing/social media books out recently from the likes of Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan/Julien Smith, Tamar Weinberg, (soon to be) Greg Verdino, etc., There are still a bunch of bloggers I’d like to see put something into print. Here’s my short list. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

David Armano (Twitter)
Why I Want It: A book from Armano would most likely lie somewhere between The Back of The Napkin and Blink in terms of synthesizing complex ideas into easy visuals, and presenting something to make you think, not just a how-to. Also, a cowboy hat-including collectors edition would likely be a possibility.
What It Probably Will Be Called: Logic + Emotion: (Insert Explanatory Subtitle)
What It Should Be Called: Of Bathroom Sign People and Cowboy Hats, A David Armano story.

Jason Falls (Twitter)
Why I Want It: Jason has a knack for explaining things in clear, but intuitive ways. A book from him would probably be the kind of book you give to your boss and say “Here’s a quick primer on social media. Yes we can run ads there. And stop calling it “Facespace”. Low on ass-kissery, high on ass-kickery.
What It Probably Will Be Called: Social Media Explorer: Discover the Tools and Tactics of the New Web
What It Should Be Called: Heh.

Whitney Hess
(Twitter)
Why I Want It: I learn something legitimate from almost every post that Whitney writes, and I think her style would translate really well into the bound medium. She makes UX feel simultaneously elemental and complex, which is hard to do.
What It Probably Will Be Called: Pleasure and Pain
What It Should Be Called: Do Your Users Want To Punch The Internet?

Scott Monty (Twitter)
Why I Want It: Scott Monty has the rare experience of having been a big part of emerging channels agency Crayon, and then transitioning to heading up social media at a little company called Ford Motors. One of the most genuine people in the business, and hands down the best dressed.
What It Probably Will Be Called: The New Big Business: Social Media for the Large Organization
What It Should Be Called: Suit-Point-Oh: Style for the Social Media-minded Man.

Bill Green (Twitter)
Why I Want It: Equal parts snark and commentary, Bill gets enough content onto his Make The Logo Bigger blog to have his own monthly magazine. While some of the best stuff is video content, there’s plenty of advertising gold to go around.
What It Probably Will Be Called: Make The Logo Bigger.
What It Should Be Called: Why I Went To Law School

Alan Wolk (Twitter)
Why I Want It: In most of my reading, I’m more interested by higher level strategy and thought-process type stuff than I am in the how-to’s of tips and tactics. Alan Wolk does a good job of blending the digital and traditional worlds to figure out what the hell is going on in advertising.
What It Probably Will Be Called: …Honestly I couldn’t guess.
What It Should Be Called: Return of the Tangerine Toad.

Thoughts On: Blogging/This Blog

  • I think Twitter has really changed blogging. I know it’s still a young medium itself, but I feel like I’ve seen a ton of “I’m not blogging as much because of Twitter” posts lately. The short-form stuff that we used to blog about now goes straight to Twitter. I’m not sure if it’s a bad thing, but it seems like a trend to me.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about blogs and shifting the focus of the content; I’m wondering if it’s okay to change things a little bit. Obviously I’m not saying that I’m going to start writing about lolcats (but I should be able to if I want, it’s my blog after all), but I’m wondering if it’s disconcerting to the readers to experience a change. I feel like it would be a disservice to not allow the evolution of both the author and the audience. What do you think?
  • That being said, I change the tagline of my blog a lot. I feel like as I’ve been writing this more and more, I’m growing into a place where I’m really happy/comfortable with the style and content. If you’ve noticed, there’s been a lot more design/design thinking and visuals (inspired partly by Sir Armano). I’ve also become more comfortable with shorter posts because I’ve realized that if I sit on an idea too long, my motivation goes away. Gotta strike while the iron is hot.

But that’s just me. How do you feel about this stuff? What’s your take on the shifting focus of a blog? How have you grown changed as an author or a reader?

Fire away.

Are You Really More Important?

I was reading Noah Brier’s blog on his site the other day (usually read it through RSS) and I realized something different/very cool about his theme.

While almost every other blog in the world (including mine) has the author’s post first followed by the comments underneath, Noah has them side by side. It’s a really interesting idea that raises the question: which is more important? The post or it’s discussion that follows? I guess Noah thinks it’s both.

I might be inclined to agree.

noahbrier

Some Blogging Tips

So I’ve been blogging for a little bit now. Here’s some of my favorite tips, in the order that I thought of them:

  • If you don’t love it. Don’t do it. Or quit now and save yourself the trouble.
  • Go outside your comfort zone once in a while. Put up some visuals or a video post. Go way off topic.
  • Just because you think someone else has “said it better” doesn’t mean you can’t add your take on things.
  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with a link-baitey post every once in a while.
  • Someone will always say it better. But someone will also always say it worse.
  • It takes a long, long time to get a decent sized audience. Those people who have 10k readers in a week are like people that lose 100lbs on diet pills.
  • Decide why you want to blog before you start, but keep in mind that it’s a fluid concept.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about whatever the hell you want sometimes.
  • Put a picture of yourself on your front page.
  • Use bold, headlines, bullets, etc. to make your stuff more scannable.
  • Don’t get caught trying to perfect an idea before you start writing. The inertia will kill you.
  • Do your best not to take yourself to seriously, get self-righteous or self-important.
  • If you want people to give you their time and attention, they have to get something back in return.

Two Types Of People (And The Middle)

When it comes to people who care about Social Media (everything from blogs to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc.) there are generally two types.

People that know the basics, and people who are still learning them.

And, in general, people who know the basics are looking for more advanced stuff, and people still learning will soak up as much of that as possible.

Yes, there is a small “middle” section in that group. A segment of people that have a good grip on some, but not all, of what they want to know. But I think that group is constantly in flux, because with a lot of social media, once you “get” the way something works a lot of other things suddenly make sense.

This segmentation matters because you have to understand who you’re talking to.

If you’re a social media blogger, you have to decide if you’re going to cover the basics (and do a great job like Mack Collier, Chris Brogan, and Jason Falls) or push the envelope with higher level thinking (like Alan Wolk, Greg Verdino, Paul Isakson, and Valeria Maltoni).

If you’re writing instructions, or explaining your new web service, you have to understand if people get the concept of “friending” or “tweeting”.

I’d like to think that I fall somewhere in the middle on this blog. Where are you? What kind of content do you look for?

Common Mistakes In Starting A Blog

So you’ve decided to start a blog? Awesome. You deserve a hug, pat on the back, or at least one of those 80′s freeze-frame jumping high fives.

But wait. It might not be all sunshine and roses right away. There’s a few simple mistakes that a lot of us make in the very beginning that tend to decrease the effectiveness of our new-born blog. But the good news is that they’re almost always easily corrected. Let’s take a look.

Not letting us know who is writing it.

Letting us know who is behind your blog is extremely important, but for some reason it gets overlooked in a lot of new blogs. If your blog is a personal one, then this part is easy. Just let your readers know, often and early, who is responsible for the content (something like that dashing picture of me in the upper-right helps).

The same thing goes if your blog is for your organization or company. Make sure you highlight the fact that the blog has multiple authors (you can include small pics or bylines) and let each of their personalities show. Companies don’t blog – people do.

Not having a clear purpose.

The big question. The cosmic “Why?” of your blog. Make sure you spend some time thinking about this one before you sit down to write anything, because if you don’t you’ll soon find yourself wandering off track. A clear purpose helps keep you focused on the mission you had when starting.

Not having any content.

It seems simple, but you’d be surprised how many blogs I see with only one or two posts. Before you announce the launch of your new blog, make sure there’s some content there for people to go through. Nothing is more disheartening than hearing about a great blog launch and only finding one post to read.

In these cases, a soft-launch is usually a good idea. Start building your content and slowly invite people to check out your site. Start with a small group of people your trust, and go from there.

Not having “pillar” content.

Every blog should have a few home-run posts. These posts, often called “pillar” posts, are your best stuff, the stuff your blog stands on. It’s okay if you haven’t worked out your best writing yet, but presumably you had some good ideas when you decided to start a blog. Write out your best ideas into clear, well thought out posts and feature them prominently on your site.

You can check out my best stuff in my Must Reads section.

Monetizing right away.

I can’t speak for the interwebs at large, but I find it extremely silly when I visit a new blog and it’s covered in ads. You just started, you have no traffic or following yet, is that $0.09/month from AdSense really enough to justify cheapening the look and feel of your site?

I’m not an expert on when the “right time” is to monetize your blog, but a quick Google search will give you all the answers you need.

Not linking out.

Just like with Twitter, the beauty of a blog is the interaction. Unless you’re going for the really, really long tail, my guess is that there’s already some other blogs on the topic you’re going to be writing on. So when those bloggers come up with a great post, don’t be hesitate to mention it on your blog.

Also, you can’t worry about people navigating away from your site. If you have good content and a clear purpose, they’ll be back. When you link out and point to other relevant content you don’t lose readers, you gain trust. No blog is an island.


So there’s a few ideas from me. What do you think?

Also, if you’re still having trouble with your new blog or want to talk about getting started, feel free to email me at MattJMcD [at] gmail dot com.

Something To Think About

Recently, Technorati has started releasing parts of their State of the Blogosphere 2008. They make a point to show that a big chunk of bloggers are “the kids” as in “Oh, it’s just what the kids are doing nowadays!”. But as Geoff Livingston points out, more than 50% of US bloggers are 35+. That’s a pretty substantial population, by my account.

So while there’s a lot of talk about the “net-generation” and “digital natives”, at the end of the day, the “older” crowd is still just as important. The beauty of the internet is that it’s the great equalizer. Any random person with a blog can become as important/relevant as anyone on CNN. It also means that any 47 year-old soccer mom could be the most important person in your blogger outreach.

The moral of the story is: We can’t afford to leave anyone out.

Stuck On Repeat

Does anyone else feel like the same things are said over and over again in the blogosphere?

I understand that a key part of blogging is self-expression and that everyone is entitled to their opinion and view on a topic, but sometimes it just feels like the same old, same old.

I think if you look at some of the most popular and highest quality (notice the separation – the most popular aren’t always the best) blogs out there, the one thing they do exceptionally well is create new content that adds value to peoples lives. Why does someone love icanhascheezeburger.com? Because people love animals, and people love laughing, and on top of that, ICHC delivers new content, albeit in the same form, constantly.

It seems, to me at least, that too many people have interpreted the sage advice of “have a consistent message” to mean “have the exact same message consistently” and that’s not a good sign. I know it’s incredibly difficult to come up with great new stuff, especially if you’ve got a lot else going on. I used to post at least 3 times a week and it’s become 1-2 now if I’m lucky. So I feel your pain on that one. But please, don’t just rehash old ideas and content.

I think the blogosphere needs a new motto, how about, “If you can’t say something new, don’t say anything at all.”