Category Archives: Blogs and blogging

Some Recent Blog Posts Elsewhere

Because you might be interested in these … 

I posted How to project expenses for a new business overnight on the SBA (small business administration) Industry Word blog. It’s a step-by-step how-to piece on exactly what it says in the title. 

Yesterday and today I posted two different posts on James Altucher’s Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Starting a Business, posted on TechCrunch over the weekend. The first was good advice, bad advice, land mines on the path to heaven, on gust.com, yesterday. The second was James Altucher On How and How Not to Look Professional Raising Investment Money on Up and Running. 

Obviously I liked his “cheat sheet” post.

 

 

Compare And Contrast These 2 Blog Pub Strategies

Yesterday my email stream included two starkly contrasting approaches to getting links and mentions from bloggers. 

email blog link bait

One offered me free guest posts, supposedly good quality posts on relevant business topics. The email had links to examples. It’s author said…

Having graduated in International Business and Journalism a few years ago, Ive covered everything from global politics to local news, economics, sustainability issues and a lot in between.

Sounds good, right? But what about this:

I work on behalf of one of my business clients, and as long as I am able to link to them within the content (in a related and subtle manner) 

Ouch. No thanks. I’m not an attorney so I don’t know, but I thought the FTC had issued guidelines for bloggers that rule out that practice. If it isn’t illegal it’s still sleazy. 

And in contrast to that, yesterday I also received an email from somebody at onlineMBA.com suggesting I should link to that site’s video titled Why Women Make Better Business Leaders. I don’t know that organization, I don’t endorse it, but I do like the fact that they generate good (in my opinion) content and make it available. They don’t offer to pay me. They just do good stuff. 

So I posted about the video, and it included it embedded, earlier today on our companion blog Up and Running. And tagged onlineMBA.com on both posts. 

And — let me make this clear — I have no deal, no incentive, no financial interest. I just liked the content they offered. And it’s not the first time. I think this is what that organization is doing to win some links. 

Content is king? Yes, I think it’s pretty important. And self-serving links (in a related and subtle manner) are not. 

The Difference Between a Journalist and a Blogger

What’s the difference between a journalist and a blogger? I see this from both sides because I was mainstream journalist for 10 years in the 1970s, then entrepreneur and consultant, software guy, and lately I blog a lot. 

A real journalist tries to tell the objective truth, reports facts fairly, strives for balance, and discloses bias. Technology hasn’t changed the fundamentals. 

Real journalists have opinions. Editorial writers and columnists are also journalists, not just reporters. But if it’s real journalism, opinions are framed as opinions, declared openly, and not masked as facts. 

So I say lots of bloggers are journalists. And a lot of people writing for or appearing on mainstream news media are not. 

Earlier today I posted Are Tech Conferences Distorting the Business News? over on smbplans.com. I linked there to a trio of posts debating the ethics of the New York Times Dealbook conference, which brought tech company leaders together with opinion leaders and journalists. 

Dave calls this “access journalism.” He makes it seem sinister. He quotes the New York Times’  own columnist Margaret Sullivan writing, in her column, that the event made her “a little queasy. It didn’t include …

…A great deal of distance between sources and those who cover them — something traditionally thought to be a bedrock journalistic idea.

Dave links back to the early days of Silicon Valley in the 1980s and some run-ins he had with journalists and the dark side of popularity, plugs, and mixing business relationships with news reporting. 

And I say that’s been going on forever.  There are some very practical natural phenomena related to what Dave Winer is calling “access journalism:” 1.) Good journalism wants to quote legitimate sources to turn opinions into reporting. 2.) You can’t quote people you can’t reach. 3.) Good quotable experts and well-positioned people are good to know; access to those people is good to have.

In fact, tech conferences notwithstanding, What I love about these days in reporting and journalism is that access is orders of magnitude easier today than it was when I was doing it in the 1970s. We depended on phone calls to gatekeepers (assistants, receptionists, etc.) and treasured relationships that have us a direct telephone number, which was as good as it got. Journalists these days, who can easily use email and Twitter, have no idea how good they have it (in comparison to then). 

The ethics haven’t changed. Accessibility has.

Blogging in “A Tornado Full of Shrieking Trolls.”

Do you care about writing? Do you do it often? Do you do it related to business?

Oh, wait, I’m sorry: I should call it content, as in content marketing. It’s not just writing, or blogging; it’s content creation. Or, in a delightful post on the oatmeal.com, simply Making Things.

There’s a lot there, on that one post. It scrolls a long way, panel after panel. Here is one of my favorites. I recognize this feeling. Do you?

That’s just two panels of more than a dozen. The piece goes on, getting even better as you scroll down. Near the bottom it gets to this …

… which is an interesting statement. In context it comes right below the next one here, which explains the  the proverbial “where he’s coming from:”

By the time I’d read this I wanted to know who the author is. The site doesn’t really say. I’ve been aware of The Oatmeal and posted excerpts before. He makes such earthshaking topics as 10 words you need to stop misspelling and how to use an apostrophe actually grab a reader and stick to your innards. Really good work. Great style, fun, but important.

The site doesn’t say, but I found it on Wikipedia. His name is Matthew Inman. He makes a lot of money, Wikipedia says. I’m glad. He deserves it.

Obvious Trite Advice is Just More Clutter

I just read Five Pieces of Blogging Advice I Wish You’d Stop Giving on problogservice. How about this one? Post author Erik Deckers writes, as his number one piece of bad advice:

Write good content: Blah, blah, blah! People say this like it’s The Most Important Advice Ever. It’s stupid, vile, and utterly useless, because everyone a) knows it, and b) thinks they do it. 

The comments there are Erik’s not mine, but I agree completely.

Obvious advice is just clutter. And it interferes with useful advice.

Here’s another one:  

Grow your social network: Really? I thought having my brother and a couple friends from work following me on a Twitter account I rarely use was a guaranteed step toward social media rock stardom. 

Yep. More obvious and trite advice. Point taken. And this one:

Find your niche/passion: Okay, this one might not be such a Duh! piece of advice, but I’m tired of it. Anyone who has a barely detectable pulse has heard this one before, so it’s nothing new. Combine this with item #1 — write passionately about your content — and Tony Robbins will personally punch you in the nose.

Erik goes on and the post stays good. I agree. 

A Nice Top 10 List on Bad Blogs

Once again, I love the way the negative lists are more interesting than the positive lists. I mean lists of what not to do, as blog posts, get more traffic than lists of what to do. Mistakes are more interesting than tips or keys to success. Go figure.

It works for me too. So I clicked on Sian Phillips’ 10 Ways To Create A Bad Blog. The title got to me. And — hooray — the list made a lot of sense. 

(Aside: Plus a chuckle: Sian’s list contains only nine points, not 10. Does that bother you? I think it’s just amusing. And it goes with common blogger wisdom, to the effect that 10 points are better than 11 or 9. Magic numbers are 3, 5, or 10. Or so I’m told.)

I like the list: 

  1. Bad spelling and poor grammar
  2. Too much sales speak
  3. Bad formatting
  4. Too much tech speak or boring content
  5. Bad links
  6. Infrequent publishing
  7. Hard to leave a comment
  8. Keep your Social Media links secret
  9. Don’t tell anyone about your post

I like Sian’s priorities. I completely agree with her first three points, and in that order.

I was particularly glad to see grammar and spelling on top. That’s reassuring to me because I care about that. And some of the smartest people I know don’t. But I  can’t help it, I hate it when a published blog has glaring errors. (I have to forgive small errors and obvious typos because of pots and kettles). 

Points like bad formatting, bad links, and hard to make a comment are good points, and common errors. 

Her point 4 bothers me a bit. Boring content should be number one, except that our world and our interests have splintered into so many diverse subsets that I wonder if it isn’t a matter of not being boring, but rather, finding the people who are not bored by what you’re writing. Sian uses tech speak as an example but tech people like tech speak, so that’s not a great example. 

12 Ways Best Blogging Practices Aren’t

I like Blogger Brad Shorr‘s list of 12 Most Horrible Pieces of Blogging Advice. It’s a good list, well worth reading, good food for thought. More important, in my opinion, is that it’s also an eloquent reminder of the essential case-by-case rule that applies not only to business blogging but also to all of small business, beyond blogging.

Here’s Brad’s list of 12 pieces of bad advice:

  1. Keep posts under 300 words
  2. Stick to a rigid publishing schedule
  3. Blogs are an SEO shortcut
  4. Bloggers need to be edgy
  5. Images aren’t important
  6. Blogs should be monetized
  7. All it takes to succeed is quality content
  8. Cultivate reciprocal links
  9. You must use a custom design
  10. Blogging has been replaced by social media
  11. Corporate blog content can be outsourced
  12. It’s all about subscribers.

In most of these cases, Brad takes a commonly accepted best practice or general rule and points out the exceptions. He sums up most of this with his very first item, for which he explains:

Beware of absolutes. This advice stems from the generalization that all blog readers are in a hurry. However, if your blog’s purpose is to provide information or analysis, and you’re good at it, people will be willing to read five times that word count.

In other cases, advice that used to be good advice has gone stale. For his #8, on reciprocal links, he explains:

This is an outdated SEO tactic that can now do more harm than good if you have links coming in from bad sources. For audience building only, reciprocal linking is OK, but only when you are selective in terms of the relevance and quality of your link partners.

And that, aside from blogging specifics, is the real nugget in this particular post. Attractive as advice and guidelines are, out here in the real world everything is case by case. The only rule is that there are no rules. Best practices only work when applied carefully with a lot of respect for the specifics of context and a lot of flexibility to use not as directed.

I’m sure that applies for small business too, not just blogging. And maybe for life in general too? What do you think?

Slow and Steady Decline of Trust

This trend really bothers me. Even after the FCC rules on blogging and disclosure, I still get regular offers like this one that was in my email this morning. It was a nicely worded email, with some flattery, but here’s the meat:dollars

I’d love to put together a high-quality article written specifically for the site. There is absolutely no charge for this and no strings attached;  the only thing I would ask in return is that I’m able to include two do follow links to the sites of my choosing within the article – nothing shady or unethical, just one of the professional businesses I freelance for …

What do you think? Is this bad business ethics? Working links into editorial content, for money? Wouldn’t the FCC rules require disclosure? (By the way, that grammar errr

I think it’s sad how pervasive these practices are. This morning I was about to write a post about some software I like, but I stopped, worried that you’d think I’m on the take.

I wonder how much of this is going on, all the time, without disclosure.

For the record, I do get frequent emails offering me guest posts for this blog. In 1,500 posts I’ve had two guest posts that I remember. Occasionally I pass one of those emails on to the marketing team at Palo Alto Software, where some have resulted in good posts on Up and Running. But I consider this blog mine. On the days that I don’t post, I don’t look for a guest post.

(Image: bigstockphoto.com)

 

Curation is the New Creation

I think it was inevitable. First, the web, then blogs. Content is king. Then Facebook, and then Twitter, and social media is real. Long live the king. The king is dead. We’re gagging on all the content. We need curation. We need to gather and collect — call that curate — our favorite content. The new collection of content is content.

Megans_Pinterest.jpg

Damn, I don’t need another social media platform. I love Twitter, tolerate Facebook, dabble with Google+, keep up with LinkedIn. I like the ones that let me sign in with Twitter or Facebook. But who needs another one?

But those are all so last year. Now it’s the curation and collection functions driving content. Collect all those tweets, those updates, the links you like, the pictures you like. You put them up on your new curated content site.

Small wonder that Tumblr, Pinterest, Paper.li and others like them are taking off like crazy. For now and 2012, we’re generating so much content everywhere that we’re driving ourselves crazy. I don’t want to estimate how much of my time I spend clipping and linking and gathering and collecting. And everybody’s doing it. Collect and post.

2012’s going to be the year of content collection, and curating.

(Image: click it. You’ll see. That’s Pinterest)

Friday Fun with Stupid Comments Turns Out to Be Not Much Fun

What the heck, I said this morning, it’s Friday, the last Friday before a holiday week next week, so let’s have some fun. I set out to explore the creativity embedded in blog comments that are distributed en-masse but disguised to look like they’re actually individual comments for individual posts.

I see patterns. Comments like this…

Good stuff… Just killing some time browsing searches and found your post. Great looking website. I’ll have to save the page to come back. Cheers

…look reasonable at first glance. But then you discover they’re posted in excruciating mass repetition on multiple posts on multiple blogs, to embed links and gain artificial search engine advantage. That exact same comment, word for word, was posted on four different posts on two different blogs by four different people at almost exactly the same time.

I thought I’d seen some that reminded me of the Mexican comedian Cantinflas, master of double talk. Or of the Dilbert mission statement generator. But not really. These just aren’t that good. Here are other examples:

I do trust all of the ideas you have presented on your post. They’re very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for starters. Could you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

Good point. I i never thought of it this way before.Very very informative. We have learned alot through your blog many thanks. Ill put your advice to work. Thanks!

Hey man! I completely agree with your thoughts. I really appreciate what you’re providing here.

I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

Each of these appeared on multiple posts on multiple blogs. Clever?

No, actually. Not that clever at all. I just went through ten pages of this crap without one of them clever enough to merit a post. Dammit. I thought I’d seen some Cantinflas-like doubletalk as the spam comments scrolled by, but actually, no. Not clever, just annoying.

So much for Friday fun. Damn you spammers.