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06
Apr
09

If your blog died today… what would it be remembered for?

Darren Rowse
Image by BenSpark via Flickr

Over at ProBlogger.net, Darren Rowse’s “31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge” starts today.  It has been extremely successful in the past couple of years he has done the Challenge which lasts 31 days and almost guarantees improvements in the creative content of your blog if you follow through with the Challenge.  It is so popular among bloggers not only because it apparently really helps bloggers to focus on and achieve their blog goals but because Darren has earned a reputation worldwide for being a bit of a “blog guru” — he has a knack for focusing on the problems that plague us all and presenting exercises that are at once challenging and gratifying (not to mention unique).

For example, one of his most popular blog exercises called “If your blog died today… what would it be remembered for?”  On the surface, it sounds horribly morose but he actually presents the following challenge that forces you to really ask yourself what you want out of your blog, how you’d like it to be perceived and the impact you think it will make versus the impact it is actually making in people’s lives.

In the post, he asks Bloggers to:

Project yourself forward 10 years, imagine that at that point you decide to end your blog having achieved everything that you want to achieve with it and write a short obituary about your blog as you’d like other people to have seen it to that point.  Keep in mind that your blog has been as successful as it can be and you’re ending it at the peak of its game.

The thought of that alone is a bit overwhelming but extremely thought-provoking.  It is also the tip of the iceberg as Darren presents a set of questions (a road map) to help us through the exercise:

  • What do you want people to say about your blog?
  • How do you hope it will have been perceived?
  • What will people miss about it the most?
  • What ground has it broken?
  • What has it achieved?
  • How has it helped people?

This is a timed exercise.  He gives us 10 minutes to answer the above questions and write our Blog Obituary.  It seems like a woefully inadequate amount of time but, then, if you can’t say what your blog is and how you want it to impact the world in ten minutes, then that would indicate a huge problem that needs to be worked through.

That was only the first part of the exercise.  The second part really brings the first part home:

Write an obituary for your blog as it stands TODAY.  Write an obituary for your blog as you think others see it now.

  • What would they say about it?
  • What would people miss about it?
  • What has it achieved?
  • How has it fulfilled a need or service in people’s lives.
  • What ground has it broken?

I have to admit that, for me personally, this exercise is not easy at all.  I read through many of the Comments to his post (77 total) and was not surprised to see others had struggled mightily as well.  It is so easy to open a blog account with a blogging service (as easy as it is to open a box of cereal) that I believe people very seldom put this much thought into what they really want to say with their blogs.  But if we did this work first, imagine how much better our blogs would be!

I’m going to do this exercise tonight.  You can read the original “Blog Obituary” post here.  Is this something that you think would help you?

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31
Mar
09

My Latest Blog Crush

cupid

Yes, it is wholly ridiculous to have a crush on anything other than a human being or a pet.  But blogs… blogs are special.  At their best, they not only inform but they also validate your cause, help you take that next step in your journey and (on that rare and lovely occasion) lead you down an unexpected but exciting new path of thought, discussion or action.

I love finding new blogs that interest me that I can share with other people.  I found two blogs (about blogging) that I think are great tools for anyone with blogs (and let’s face it, there are probably thousands of blogs online proclaiming to be essential help for bloggers).

Rather than run down a list of reasons why I like these two blogs, I’d love to hear if you find them helpfull and bookmark-worthy yourself!

The first blog is BlogPerfume.com. Launched in 2007, Blog Perfume mantra is simple and, like good perfume, very alluring:

We pick the best WordPress themes, plugins and blogging resources.

We love and enjoy blogging as much as you do. We would like to collect all the useful WordPress themes, plugins, and blogging resources for pro-bloggers. Makes Bloggers life a lot easier.

How can you not love that?  The content, the writing and the design of the site are just as clean, straightforward and alluring.

blog-perfume

The second blog is a dedicated to social media and is called, aptly enough, SocializedPR.com.  Socialized PR is an odd little blog that seems to have a lot to say (and, so far, I’m listening).  I also don’t want to post a picture of the blog as it will give away its unique design as well.  That is all I’m going to say about that (just check it out for yourself).

Thoughts?


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31
Mar
09

Over 6,500 Bloggers Register for “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” (start date delayed!)

blogging-challenge1

Hey everyone!  Hope your week is off to a great start.

Over 6,500 bloggers have registered for Darren Rowse‘s free online course (and personal growth challenge) “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” at ProBlogger.net (a practical daily exercise that will be administered over 31 days with the goal of helping you to improve the creative content of your blog)!

This is the third year Darren Rowse (known as a blog guru)  is doing his wildly popular blogger challenge and, by far, this is the biggest blogger registration he’s had to date (which should tell us all a lot about the validity of his excercises in helping bloggers improve their craft and the increased desire of people to polish their online brand).

So far, five people from Blog Academy are partaking in the challenge (including Dean Meyers, Kelly Fraser, Sarah Cooley, Ravi Gupta and, of course, yours truly!).  It’s going to be great to hear how everyone’s blogs progress.

For those of you who are still contemplating registering, there are a few important updates I wanted to share with you.

  • DELAYED ONE WEEK – The initial start-date was April 1st (this Wednesday).  However, as Darren Rowse explains on his blog, he will be launching 31 Days to Build a Better Blog on April 6th instead.  That gives us all one additional week of preparation!
  • This time around, Darren is adding a Special Forum on his site solely for those who register for the challenge which will allow us all to share our experiences and get helpful tips as well as meet other bloggers (there are over 6,500 in the challenge!).
  • You must register for the challenge here in order to participate (submit your name and a valid email address — the daily instructions will be sent via email).  Registration and participation are free.

If you are planning to participate, drop me an email and let me know.

If you don’t have a blog yet and want to participate, get a new blog account at WordPress.com (free) and give yourself this week to familiarize yourself with the various technical elements of WordPress.com (posting content, the dashboard, etc.).  If you’re not sure how to open a WordPress.com account (or how to manage the WordPress dashboard once you get an account), take a look at these video tutorials I posted on our blog.

Good luck!

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23
Mar
09

Catching Up with Blog Academy Members Blogs

Hi everyone!   I hope everyone is doing and well and that all of your blogging dreams are coming to fruition! A few of our members have actually started their blogs and are well underway to being blogging badasses.  Here is an update:

Constantine Markides took the big leap and bought a hosting plan at GoDaddy.com and migrated his extensive library of essays from his now defunct blog at WordPress.com to his new and improved, self-hosted, blog Fourth Night at WordPress.org. Now he is literally the master of his domain! The blog looks great and his essays are so thought-provoking and entertaining (for example, his post called The One Man Tent will grip you like a good novel – it’s refreshing to see this kind of quality writing on a blog!).  Constantine describes his professional skills in the “About” page as “Archaeological proficiency in the archaic newspaper and literary practices of late-twentieth century antiquity” (in other words, a journalist). With his creative fiction, photos (that he’s takes himself) and a fierce eye for beauty (I’ve seen his photos, he does have an eye for beauty) I honestly can’t wait to see his blog develop as time marches on.  You can find his blog here.  It’s an indulgence.

Steve Alleyne took the blogger plunge and launched his self-hosted blog at StevenAllyene.com on WordPress.org.  He uploaded his first blog post Dating on the north side of 40 following a very long-term relationship which is very funny and heartfelt (I mentioned in our first meeting how much I enjoy Steve’s writing – you will too – trust me!).  He describes himself in the following way on his “About Steve” page:  “I’m not quite old yet not as young as I used to be. However, I AM short. I’m dealing with it. [Shrug]” (that’s just the tip of Steve’s iceberg)

Steve shared with everyone in our first meetup that he had procrastinated with launching his blog for a couple of months and, now, he has a blog and a couple of posts up. Steve is a rock star. He admitted how tough it was (like giving birth) but he worked through it and gave his great writing a place to call blog-home.  You can find bits of Steve’s wisdom and humor on his blog at here.  Steve will be doing a guest post for the New York Blog Academy blog about his experience launching his site in the coming week!

Hermann Mazard just launched his blog (Thoughts of a Confused Enthusiast) this past weekend. Hermann has a lot to get off of his chest about the condition of America, how our government is handling our economic crisis and whether we can or will ever recover. He doesn’t mince words and thank god for that. His honestly and bluntness are refreshing and absolutely necessary (medicine isn’t supposed to taste good and sweet!).  Being a college professor, Hermann is very skilled at using the power of the pen to make a point that (though it may be sharp and cutting) is always wrapped in a well-researched, thoughtful essay. His very first post is Why Good Mortgages Goes Bad (warning: he spares no one (dead or alive) in this analysis of what really led to America’s the mortgage crisis and who is to blame). Great read and food for thought!

Jade Dressler (PR expert) sent me her two blogs and I’m so glad she did! The first blog (Jade Dressler) is her perspective on culture and the arts and what a truly unique perspective it is (I kid you not – and I worked in arts and entertainment!). It isn’t often that a blog can get you to see the ordinary in our surroundings in an extraordinary way (Jade does this with such ease I’m almost jealous!).  Her second blog (ITI Phone Home) is a hysterical and bizarre look at pop culture and celebrity from the perspective of someone who clearly is an alien in this strange land. In her “About Me” page she says of herself, unapologetically, “I know what I am and I’ve decided to out myself.”  Thank goodness.  Just blog every minute of it for us please.   Thank you.  Her latest post is “I HEART MAN BOOBS” and it is an ode to man-mammary that will crack you up!

Look for blogs soon from the delightful John Windsor-Cunningham who is in the process of launching his blog which will be a web video blog that will take a weekly comedic look at USA from a Brit p.o.v. (LOVE IT!!)

Also launching soon is Anat Fanti. As she explained in our first meetup, Anat is interested in helping people who are in dark and difficult situations (during these economically dire times) find the light in their situation and move towards it.  Indeed, Anat is a beautiful light herself who inspires people every day in ordinary conversation. One could only imagine how awesome and inspirational her blog is going to be!

As soon as John and Anat give me the word, I’ll share their blogs with all of you! Until then, let’s send them much support and positive blogging vibes! : )

CONGRATULATIONS to our members who launched blogs this past week.  Rock stars.  Each of you!

congratulations

Please check out their blogs, subscribe to them and let them know what you think of their writing in the Comments sections of their blogs.

Blogging is not a destination — it’s a journey.

Warmth and good cheer,

Charlie : )
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23
Mar
09

A Deceased Soldier Blogs His Goodbye

andrew-olmsted

It would be, without a doubt, the hardest blog post that anyone would have to write in their entire lives.  It makes our struggles to blog about the mundane things in our lives (while they, too, have their special meaning and purpose in life) seem small and irrelevant in comparison.

Major Andrew Olmstead began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army.  His writings were posted at four blogs:

(1) AndrewOlmstead.com (2) Obsidian Wings (3) Winds of Change and (4) his local newspaper The Rocky Mountain News (Colorado Springs) where he blogged a column called From the Front Lines (his perspective from the front lines in Iraq).

He also blogged constantly throughout his service in Iraq (no matter what the circumstances).  He outlines eloquently his reasons for blogging on the “About Me” section of his personal blog.  I’ve reposted it below:

This is a vanity site that gives me the opportunity to comment on current events, or anything that catches my eye. What I post here is intended to put my thoughts on particular issues up for discussion; I do not pretend to be infallible or anything close to that. When I post something, it is what I believe, but it may be based on inaccurate information or faulty analysis. Where that occurs, I look to my readers to help me find the facts and improve my analytical abilities. As this is a vanity site, I have no regular publication schedule, (although I generally post daily), nor do I receive any editorial guidance. But thanks to the magic of the Internet and the kind souls who’ve gone to the trouble of linking here it does provide me the opportunity to contribute in some small manner to the philosophical and political questions of the day.

Major Olmstead took the time to write what would be the last blog post he would ever write in his life — his final thoughts about his life, people, love and… yes, the war.  He then instructed a friend to upload it to his blog (AndrewOlmstead.com) if he were killed in combat in Iraq.

On January 3rd, 2008, Major Andrew Olmstead was killed in an enemy ambush in Iraq.  His final post was uploaded to his site shortly thereafter.  I won’t say anything about the post.  I believe that, if you choose to read it, you will certainly come to your own conclusions (which I welcome discussions on).  I will say that Major Olmstead’s selfless service to his country and people reminds me that there are no excuses for not doing what you really want to do in life (even blogging).

Major Andrew Olmstead’s Final Blog Post to the world can be found here.

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23
Mar
09

Jobs for Bloggers

help-wanted3

It may not be a glamorous job, and you won’t retire wealthy with the meager salaries bloggers get paid, but if you love the craft and want to expand your blogging horizons, you might want to look into getting a full or part-time gig as a blogger (paid).  Whatever your interests are, there are blogs out there looking for people to write on the subject from their unique perspective.  Here’s one fact that gets overlooked about online content: there actually ISN’T ENOUGH OF IT (not quality content that is on par with journalists at newspapers).  That’s where YOU come in.

For those bloggers who find creating content on a regular basis to be difficult, you might want to try writing for a blog that features content you are interested in.  By working as a professional blogger (even just part time) you’ll be creating multiple opportunities for yourself and your brand including:

  • exercising your writing muscle and disciplining yourself to write regularly (especially when having to answer to a supervisor for your content);
  • you’ll get editorial feedback on your writing which will improve your craft and help you to define your voice;
  • building your blogging portfolio with diverse content;
  • building a reputation for yourself as a serious blogger in the industry (thereby making you an “expert”);
  • building an audience for your personal blog (which would be in your bio on any site you decided to work for);
  • establishing new contacts with people who can help you grow your personal blog; and
  • extra cash in your pocket.

It might be challenging to find the time to do it all (even just part time) but think of it as blogging boot camp with many benefits (including a pay check).  Worth taking a look!

I found a couple of great, reliable and respected online sources for bloggers looking for employment blogging for sites.  The first bogger job board is ProBlogger.net.  This job board is clean and too-the-point (which I would expect from ProBlogger – the founder of this site, Darren Rowse, has one of the most popular and authoritative sites about blogging online – marketing genius).  Here is a clip of their job board:

problogger-job-site

Each listing on the board has the date of the entry, the specifics of the position (i.e., “Music Gadgets Blogger Wanted”) and the blog category (corporate blog, blog network, etc.).  The individual posts are very detailed and leaves nothing to the imagination.  One job post for a “TV Show Blogger” for Hero World Media reads:

TV SHOW BLOGGER NEEDED

We are looking for a freelance writer/blogger that can generate, on average, 10 articles per week (200-450 words each)

The subject matter is television related. You must be knowledgeable about popular TV shows such as Lost, Heroes, Desperate Housewives, 24 etc, and current TV show news.

COMPENSATION:
You will be an independent contractor and initially you will be paid on a per published post basis (ranges from US $3 to US $6). The basic compensation level will based on your experience and the type of content you generate (micro posts vs. standard articles vs. features).

REQUIRMENTS:

* Be able to commit to 10 articles per week
* Be creative, critical, and articulate
* Have strong research/analysis skills. Check facts well.
* Be familiar with writing for the web and for impatient online audiences.
* Be familiar with using WordPress.
* Must be located in the US or Canada.

WRITING TOPICS:
You should be comfortable with writing on a variety of tv related topics.

ARTICLE REQUIREMENTS:
* The article must be posted in WordPress.
* Include at least one image in each article.
* Intelligent linking of post content to related subject matter and/or to related posts in the same blog
* Assign one primary and a few sub-categories to each post
* Tag all posts

How to apply

Please email samples of your work to kvnfleming(at)gmail.com

Posted on: 03/16

Darren Rowse crosses out jobs that have been filled so anything that is on this job board is an OPEN POSITION unless noted otherwise (including the above position!).  You can find ProBlogger’s job board here.

The second blogger job site that I found to be very well managed with interesting blogging jobs that are updated regularly is BloggerJobs.biz.

bloggerjobs-biz-siteIt describes itself as being “The inside track to a blogging career“.  Unlike ProBlogger (which is a site about blogging in general that features a job board).  BloggerJobs.biz dedicated entirely to the search for blogging jobs.  It is also, appropriately, a blog about blog jobs.  So while you’ll definitely find job listings on the site, it contains much more to support bloggers looking to sustain careers as professional bloggers including directing them to other resources, offering great tips and being an open forum for discussion on blogging assignments.  To underscore my point, here is a list of the categories on the site:

Pretty extensive and varied!  What I like about this site is that, true to blog form, their job posts are not listed with job requirements being itemized like a grocery list.  Instead, a detailed post is done for each job in a more conversational tone.  They also give a bit more background info on the company, location, etc.  For example:

Two Blogging jobs from Splashpress Job Boards

One opening for a Metal/Rock outfit was posted by PureGrainAudio.com, which is an established online magazine who needs bloggers/writers for expansion. They need self-motivated people who are die hard metal/rock fans who can work independently posting on; news, interviews(formal and informal ones), album reviews plus a whole lot more. Current ranks are from Canada and the US and expansion to obtaining writers from overseas and anywhere else as a matter of fact. They need people who can properly manage time that would allow regular contributions, and also contribute to the growth of the site as well with suggestions and proper work ethics.

Definitely worth the click!  You never know what you’ll find and what kind of opportunities will come out of opening yourself up to working for and with other blogs!  No blogger is an island (okay, maybe a few are but that doesn’t mean you have to be).

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23
Mar
09

Your Blog – How to make a great first impression

First impressions are crucial

Good first impressions are crucial

We all know that first impressions are short and precious.  We make up our minds about another person within seconds of meeting them and, if the impression on our brains tells us the person is a schmuck, they may never recover from our judgement or be given a second chance.

The same holds true for blog posts (even more so actually, since we are far quicker to click away from a blog know there are no consequences for the rejection than we are to turn away from someone in person).

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net has reposted one of his most popular blog posts where he offers great tips on how to make a great first impression on people who are visiting our blog for the very first time.  Here is the original video clip:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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