Archive for the 'Why Blog?' Category


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


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 (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 (free) and give yourself this week to familiarize yourself with the various technical elements of (posting content, the dashboard, etc.).  If you’re not sure how to open a 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!



A Deceased Soldier Blogs His Goodbye


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) (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 ( 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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Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Blog

Blogging Readiness
Image by cambodia4kidsorg via Flickr

We all have our reasons for doing it (or wanting to do it).  But very seldom do we conciously think about why we blog.  And for those people who have never blogged and have no desire to do so the question is, “Why should I blog?”

According to Technorati‘s State of the Blogosphere 2008 (an annual report on the changing landscape of blogging) where they interviewed over 1,000 bloggers on why they blog, the main reason most people blog is as a form of self-expression and to share information, followed by networking and getting a foot in the door in traditional old media.  Other reasons people blog included:

  • activism
  • book publicity
  • personal satisfaction
  • self-promotion
  • share my passion
  • to become known as an expert and
  • “to bake half-baked ideas

Here are the numbers from Technorati’s research reflecting why bloggers said they blog:

Why Do You Blog?


Reading The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, I came across their Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Blog:

To Blog or Not to Blog:  Top Ten Reasons Why You Should

  1. To build a reputation as a wise, thoughtful expert on family values.
  2. To destroy someone else’s reputation as a wise, thoughtful expert on family values with one drunken photo from the all-nude male caberet.
  3. To entertain the fantasy that a baby-model scout is looking at photos of your child in a too-cute Burberry two-piece toddler swimsuit ($55).
  4. Pure exhibitionism.
  5. To vent about your halitosis-plagued boss and boneheaded corporate policies.
  6. To establish cred for a new career after being fired by your halitosis-plagued boss and bone-headed HR minions.
  7. To let the world know that your babysitter is trying to extort $1.5 million from you.
  8. To stop a rumor that you sexually harassed said babysitter.
  9. Grandma gently suggests that you share your rants about (pick one) the last election, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the need for a border fense, or the “Klintoons” with someone other than her.
  10. For the opportunity to make an additional $1.65 per week through Google AdWords or the Amazon Associates program.

Did Technorati or Huffington Post miss anything?  Do tell.

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Dean Meyers Presentation on Blogging

Moo cards for blogging workshop
Image by Mexicanwave via Flickr

We were very lucky to have Dean Meyers (visual problem solver) come speak with us at the last Meetup on March 14th.  He shared a wealth of knowledge and really illuminating some things about blogging that stumps most people!

Dean has generously forwarded me his slideshare presentation from our meetup for you review.  While you’re at it, take a look at Deans post from earlier today on how to overcome blogger‘s (writer’s) block.

You can follow Dean on Twitter at @deanmeistr.  His website is


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more about “Blog Academy Slideshare“, posted with vodpod


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Reid Hoffman: Take risks now!

TechCrunch posted an awesome and inspiring interview with Reid Hoffman.  Reid is the CEO and co-founder of and an investor in web companies (over 60 companies to date including Facebook and Digg).  He is also considered the most connected person in Silicon Valley.  In other words, he is an entrepreneur guru!

Charlie Rose discusses social media, the faltering economy and how Americans can dig themselves out of this deep financial hole (among other things).  Reid believes (as do I) that this will be an incredible opportunity for ordinary Americans who have never considered being entrepreneurs (the millions of people who were laid off of comfortable corporate jobs that will no longer be there when the recession is gone) to find their true voice and solve some of our most pressing problems through entrepreneur endeavors (which is usually the case in recessions).

Here is a snippet from his interview that caught my attention.  In it Reid discusses why he believes we are all entrepreneurs and how we will dig ourselves out of this crippling recession:

So I now think part of what’s been happening over the last couple of decades is I actually think every individual is now an entrepreneur, whether they recognize it or not. Because it used to be that you got a job at one company and you were there 20, 30, 40, years. That’s been dead for decades. That’s even dying in Japan. The salary man no longer even exists in Japan.

You are the entrepreneur of your own small business. How do you get to your next gig? How do you do your career progression? All these things now fall on the individual shoulders. And so, they’re essentially an entrepreneur. Now, they’re not an entrepreneur a la, I’ll go create, you know, Google, LinkedIn, a business. They’re entrepreneurs in terms of the business of themselves and how they drive that. So it’s how they get, like, their next job opportunity, how they get a promotion. All of that stuff comes from how they manage the network around them. Which is, by the
way, what gave me the idea for LinkedIn.

But I think that one of the key things — the reason why I think risk tolerance is important is because what happens is people delude themselves they’re not taking risks. They say, oh, I’m going to get a job at, you know, Hewlett-Packard or I’m going to get a job — and that’s not risky. Well, look at current economic climates. Everything in life has some risk, and what you have to actually learn to do is how to navigate it. And people who take risk intelligently can usually actually make a lot more progress than people who don’t.

I especially agree with his statement that we are all entrepreneurs constantly selling our thoughts, our ideas and ourselves on a daily basis.  We’re all natural entrepreneurs.  We all have something to say — and there are people in this world who will listen to you.

It’s a great interview.  Enjoy! : )

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Mena Trott: How Blogs are building a friendlier world

Scrolling through (the conference video site) the other day, I came across a TED Talk given by none other than Mena Trott in 2006 (I so love TED’s archives — a treasure trove I tell you!).
Mena Trott is considered by many to be the founding mother of blogging.  After launching in 2001 (the blog that would put her on the internet map which she still maintains to this day),  Mena and her husband spent the next several years launching companies that built blogging platforms and tools that have helped millions of people and companies worldwide to create, manage and monetize blogs.  Their companies (and acquisitions) include:  Moveable Type, Vox, Typepad and Six Apart.
One of the things that I found funny about her talk is her absolute honesty about who she is as a person (“I am not that caring.  I am a blogger.  I talk about… myself.”).  A big part of being able to reach people (whether through blogs, tv, old media journalism or otherwise) is to be honest with who you are which is not always easy to do when you’re addressing, potentionally, thousands of strangers (many of whom would destroy your ego with a few choice words and click of a mouse).  She also mentions starting a blog because she was “unfullfilled” in her daily 9-5 job.
She then (after realizing she was probably not going to be famous to the entire world) set one goal for herself to accomplish with her blog:  to win the South by Southwest Web Blog Award.  That’s it.  One blog.  One goal. One award.  And from that, she built  companies.
After listening to Mena I asked myself (and I ask you):
What is your blog?      What is your one goal?     What will be your reward?

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What is Blog Academy?

We all (each and every one of us) have something to say — something that we are aching to express to the world (even if we don’t know exactly what that “something” is).

With so many people unemployed and disoriented from a crippled economy that shows no signs of recovering any time soon, and so many aspects of our everyday life changing drastically to adapt to the new, stifling, economic climate, many people are seeking to express themselves in ways they never considered before — more substantive ways that allows them to bears witness to these times that are so difficult to comprehend (and maybe even make sense of it all).  With little to lose, more recently unemployed people will strike out on their own and become first-time entrepreneurs (realizing the cushy, stable, corporate careers they had are, like the George Bush legacy, history).  Without a doubt, most of those people will be blogging (some for the very first time).


We realized years ago that blogs can be powerful and effective tool of self-expression to the world.  But we also realized that, while blogging looks easy, in reality it isn’t necessarily (not if you plan on having a steady and loyal audience and monetizing your content).

According to Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere 2008”, out of the 133 million blogs the site tracks, roughly 125.6 million of those blogs are abandoned (meaning that as of the publishing of the report, only 7.4 million blogs had been updated within the last 120 days).  (I confess that I also have an abandoned blog from two years ago that sits idly on the internet like an old dilapidated house– a footprint leading nowhere — my footprint).

Still, the blogosphere has matured considerably since its early days.  Blogs have grown into big business and big business (the old guys in suits at 100 year old companies) has finally and fully embraced blogs as the preferred way to communicate and pander to their customers.  Blogs are referenced in old media and given more authority and credibility today than ever before.  We now know how to monetize and socialize a blog — how to link it, tweet it, Facebook it, SEO it, market it, you name it.  Blogs are serious business.  People are now “branded” by their blogs.  We are our content.

I noticed, however, that for all of the blogs and books out there on how to create and manage your own blog there is very little on how to create engaging blog content that reflects the uniqueness of your character while keeping the user constantly engaged and entertained.  Why are so many blogs abandoned and so few books written guiding us in the art of writing great blog content?

Because writing original content is HARD.  Whether it’s a 250-page novel or a few paragraphs on a blog, it is not easy to create (especially on a consistent basis).  Blogging is misleading.  Those small posts that are a mere several paragraphs long on some of our favorite blogs can’t possibly be hard to write.  Right?  Wrong.  If it were so easy to produce consistently engaging content and, in turn, draw a loyal audience, then everyone would have a beautifully written, well-monetized blog with great traffic stats and there wouldn’t be 125.6 million ghost-blogs decaying on the internet.

I’d like this Meetup group to meet this challenge (and conquer) it head on.  Blogging (like any other writing any other medium) is a process of self-discover (for the blogger and their audience).  Having sat in “writers’ rooms” on tv shows and indie films through the creative process for more writers than I can count, I truly believe that when it comes to the creative process, there’s a time for solitude and then there’s “strength in numbers”.  Support, discussion and thoughtful critique does wonders.  That is what Blog Academy is about.  A support and discussion group for new (or novice) bloggers who are still trying to find their voice.

In addition to the core focus of finding our creative blogging voice, some of the other points of blog creation and maintenance we’ll be discussing is: (1) technology tools (2) monetization (4) marketing and pr (5) social media and microblogging and (5) time management.

For the more technical aspects of blogging, I will defer to experts in web development and blogging to come in and share a bit of their knowledge and experience with us.  I look forward to introducing the group to some very smart and talented people in the blogosphere (people I both admire professionally and know personally).

Finally, I don’t claim to be an expert at creating or managing blogs.  I believe in some instances, experts present a bit of a disadvantage — they are far removed from the struggle of the beginner/novice.  I am, instead, with you in the trenches trying to create engaging content on a consistent basis as well (a perpetual exercise in creativity and discipline).  Last November I had the pleasure of creating a blog for a web video project I produced called “Women Respond to Sarah Palin Webathon” that was featured on Huffington Post and many popular blogs on the internet.  It was a wonderful (and incredibly frustrating) learning experience.  I look forward to learning from each of you as well.

I will be getting suggestions from the group on topics to discuss and welcome any and all feedback.  If you come across something interesting regarding blogging, please share it with me and I will post it for the entire group.

Looking forward to seeing where this takes us!  Woot!


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