Archive for September, 2010
There is a reason why niche blogging is such a hot topic.Â I include an entire minibook about niche blogging in my book, Blogging All-in-One For Dummies, because it’s a topic that bloggers hear all the time but don’t fully understand.
The Internet is a very cluttered place, but you can stand out from all that clutter by establishing your niche and offering amazing, shareworthy content and conversations related to that niche on your blog.Â In simplest terms, a niche is a very specific area of focus. Believe it or not, the concept of using very focused blogging to give yourself an edge against the competition is not a new one.Â In fact, there is an entire area of marketing and branding that is dedicated to this very concept.Â It’s called brand positioning and by establishing your niche in the blogosphere, you’re positioning your blog brand against all the other sites and information available online.
Branding theory teaches marketers that a highly focused brand is more powerful than a broad brand.Â The same is true for your blog.Â The more focused it is, the easier it is for you to carve out your niche in the crowded online space and become the go-to person for your blog’s specific topic.
In other words, by choosing your focused niche, you can position your blog as different from others and offering some form of added value that other blogs are not delivering.Â For example, if you write a blog about gadgets, are you writing about every kind of gadget known to man?Â If so, you have a lot of big, popular sites to compete with.Â However, if you narrow your focus and contract your brand to position your blog as the source for information and commentary about iPhone apps or another more specific topic than the generic gadgets topic, you’ll be better able to compete in the online space and set your blog apart from all the other blogs and websites out there, particularly those with deeper pockets and more manpower.
The key is defining your niche and patiently and persistently establishing your position in that niche so there is no confusion among the online audience about your blog’s purpose and what they can expect to find there.Â A key part of building a brand is meeting consumers’ expectations for that brand with every branded experience or interaction.Â That rule applies to your blog just as much as it does for any other brand in the world.Â Create those expectations and then deliver on them consistently to build loyalty and your own band of brand advocates across the Web.
Up next in the Blog Marketing How-To Guide – Linking Your Branded Online Destinations.Â Stay tuned!
Read previous lessons in the Blog Marketing How-to Guide:
Imagine sitting down to your computer one morning and opening up your blog. However, instead of finding your homepage your admin panel staring back at you, you instead see a bright red warning screen telling you that malware has been detected on the site and you are advised not to enter.
The realization quickly sinks in that, if you are seeing that error, so is everyone else trying to visit your site. You begin to hurry and try to figure out what happened but quickly realize that your site has been compromised and, if you’re even able to log in, you have a very big mess to clean up. Worst of all, when you’re done, you have to apply for reconsideration with Google and other security companies and then wait 12 hours or more for the warning to clear off.
It’s a painful process and, in the best of circumstances it can ruin an entire day and, in the worst, it can destroy an otherwise healthy site.
Still, it is an all-too-common occurrence on the Web. Bloggers learn too late that their sites are vulnerable and are left to clean up the mess an attacker leaves behind. That mess could be as simple as adding malware to the site, inserting spam links into the theme or defacing the site but in some extreme cases, it can go as far as to delete everything the blogger has done.
To help keep you, your visitors and your site safe(r) from hackers, you need to make sure your server is secure. Fortunately, it isn’t very complicated but failure to spend the time and energy today can be very costly tomorrow. Read More
Unless you are a super geek who is able to roll their own code, most bloggers (bothÂ amateursÂ and professionals) depend upon software (like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.) or a platform (like Blogger, Typepad, OnSugar,etc.) in order to communicate their thoughts to the world.
Although you can problog upon any platform (yes, even upon Tumblr folks!), probloggers should always pick a software or service that is “recession proof” or one that has the potential to survive a recession (or even a great depression).
Regardless of whether you have been blogging using a specific platform for years or are just starting out on a new one afresh, you should always ask these questions before you type your first letter on your future digital home. Read More
Blogging’s Therapeutic Properties
Some bloggers write to make money. Others blog for the love of the game. Whatever your motive, there are other underlying reasons why people live to blog – and some blog to live.
Sure you have 376 Facebook friends, but when you close your eyes at night and think about those that you love and care for, you can probably count them on your hands (if you’re lucky!) Despite hyper-connectivity, many people still feel alone. Blogging helps solve that problem. You might not make a BFF, but your words do not go into a void; they are read by real, live human beings. Web analytics and comments let us know that we are not alone, and that makes us all warm and fuzzy inside – whether we admit it or not. It might not take a village, but a sense of community can go a long way.
Purge Your Emotions
Confronting an issue is often the best way to resolve our tangled emotions. But in reality, that’s not always a desirable option. In fact, sometimes it’s simply not feasible. Writing can soothe the most savage beast, giving you a positive outlet to release your feelings. Think happy little trees! Read More
Everybody loves small pandas, and everybody loves WordPress. Seriously, if you find someone who doesn’t like both, bring them to me.
The most common WordPress complaint I hear has to do with the installation process. Sure the gang at WP have made it as easy as possible, but for tech novices – and those who don’t have the time to engage – the installation process can be a deterrent.
Thanks to BlogMe, WordPress is made easy. For under $4 you can set up a premium WordPress site and have your site hosted and setup. This means you’ll have access to a gazillion plugins and the latest version of WordPress. Read More
Guest Bio: Logan Lenz is the founder of Endagon Enterprises, a web and music agency in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
I have the extreme burden of juggling my own blogs and managing all of the clients that I represent everyday. In order to stay active on my blogs, something has to give. The client work that I have is just too taxing and demanding for me to be able to keep a blog schedule for my own sites.
Because of this, I have employed the power of some tricks that enable me to write posts whenever I want, and essentially wherever I want. Even if I’m inspired while at the grocery store, I have given myself the ability to blog right then and there. Read More
MediaPass is service that allows bloggers to choose price points and subscription terms for their content. Taking only mere minutes to implement and helpful support staff available to assist, I decided I needed to get more information from MediaPass CEO Matt Mitchell.
Q: Many bloggers discover that selling banners and links is not the best way to generate revenue. What type of blogger is the best fit to cash in on the MediaPass business model?
A: This may sound odd but the answer is most. Yes, some blogs (e.g. finance, parenting, cooking, medical, science, health, fitness etcâ€¦) convert better than others but even the lower converting blogâ€™s subscription pages still far out monetize purely ad-based sites. Take for instance a blog that converts 0.5% of their users that arrive on one of their subscription pages. Our average subscriber spends about $60 with renewals. That means that the effective CPM on those pages is $300, many fold over the ad rates any blog is getting. Read More
Khalid J Hosein is a blogger, computer consultant and Internet junkie. He is a co-founder of the gadget blog Gizmos for Geeks, and probably spends way too much time hacking his WordPress installs instead of blogging. You can also follow him on Friendfeed @kjhosein.
Every blogger wants their material to get shared around the Net and one popular way to encourage that behavior is to give their readers the ability to quickly click a button and save their article to a social bookmarking site. Social bookmarking (SB) sites (and their ilk) such as Delicious, digg, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and so on are extremely popular and can help take a website and/or blog from obscurity to instant fame in a flash.
In this article, I’ll take a look at a large list of WordPress plugins that you can install to instantly add numerous social bookmarking buttons to your blog.
Here are the top things that I look for when I’m evaluating SB WordPress plugins:
- It should ‘work’ right out of the box. This includes having a default set of popular services already enabled when you activate it.
- Since Twitter is too popular to ignore now, it should include Twitter options. For example, modifying the text that appears before/after a tweet; and specifying the URL shortening service.
- You can specify what SB services you would like to appear on your site.
- You can re-order the buttons.
- Ability to dictate what page types the buttons will appear on (pages, single posts, archives, etc.)
For this list, I also paid close attention to when these plugins were last updated, as many do not include support for Google Buzz (which was released in Feb 2010).
This list does not include related plugins/applications such as Mingle, or specific applications created by the likes of Facebook, Google, digg, Twitter, etc. solely for their sites.
Due to the number of plugins covered, I’ve distilled the amount of information provided here to what I considered their main essence, otherwise this could have easily been a 25-page article!
The Top Social Bookmarking Plugins
I’ll start with the plugin that I decided to personally use on my blogs, AddToAny, which is a drop-down menu styled SB app. With over 1 million downloads from the WordPress plugin repository alone, this is not only very popular, but very customizable down to colors and CSS. AddToAny is regularly updated and even has an API and statistics tracking.
Another very popular service, ShareThis is one of the founding members of the genre. Also highly customizable, it also has an API and click tracking & analytics. The ShareThis icon is also highly recognized and I applaud their open-sourcing of the icon.
Sociable has a few cool features included print and PDF buttons and they recently updated their plugin to include Google Buzz. Sociable includes drag-and-drop re-ordering and the ability to include the sharing icons in your RSS feed as well.
Another very customizable plugin, AddThis includes support for a staggering 290+ services. Although the orange ‘+’ icon is their brand, they let you replace it if you’d like. AddThis is a DHTML pop-up menu that includes a nice searchable interface with dynamic results.
SexyBookmarks is a very slick plugin that includes icons that animate up out of their ‘semi-hidden’ state when you mouseover. The plugin’s admin page has drag-and-drop re-ordering and you can modify the call-to-action text ("Share and Enjoy" in our screenshot). It also includes extensive Twitter options.
6. Share and Follow
What’s notable about Share and Follow, and why it is so named, is that it also includes a "Follow" tab, so you can have a cool looking floating tab that includes links to your social profiles. S&F allows you to select the size of the icons (24x24px pictured), tweak the CSS, and includes a few Twittering options.
It also includes the ability to specify the image to be associated with an article which is really useful in the case of sharing on a service such as Facebook.
As you can see in the screenshot, Socialize includes call-to-action text in a box at the content’s foot that encourages the user to sign up for your newsletter and/or subscribe to your RSS feed. Socialize also gives you 2 options, one of which is the vertically floated SB icons to the left or right of your article’s content. Many sites use this option to present Tweetmeme and Facebook Sharing buttons.
8. Digg Digg
Digg Digg may be a bit of a misnomer, because it certainly supports more than just digg. Digg Digg includes support for 18 services, and lets you position buttons either before, after or floated to the left or right of the article. Its unique feature is the ability to select what they call "lazy loading" which aims to speed up pages by delaying the loading of the SB icons by 5 seconds.
Digg Digg also includes the AJAX floated SB icons, popularized by Mashable, which looks like the buttons on the left of the article are floating no matter how much you scroll.
9. Light Social
Light Social is very light indeed. It only has 3 options, one of which is whether it’s enabled or not. The main point of this plugin is not to slow down your WordPress site with a ‘heavy’ plugin. You can not select which SB sites are included or re-order them.
Somewhat aimed at marketers, OnlyWire allows you and your visitors to submit to multiple SB sites at once; but you must sign up for account in order to customize the plugin. OnlyWire is pretty self-promotional and in some cases this can hurt the user experience. For example, when your visitors click a bookmarking link, it pauses for a few seconds (which can seem like an eternity) before it redirects them to the target SB site.
11. Instant Highlighter
It also includes an optional vertical floating tab, similar to the Follow tab in the Share and Follow plugin.
This next set of social bookmarking plugins have their fair share of supporters, but they are not quite as well-developed and feature-rich as most of the ones above. However, if you like the look of any, they may be worth keeping an eye on as their developers continue to improve them.
12. Bookmark Me
Be careful, there are at least 3 plugins called "Bookmark Me". This is primarily a widget, and does not have a WordPress options page. So you may have issues if your theme does not natively support inserting widgets into posts, or you will have to manually edit your theme’s template to include the code.
13. Social Bookmarks/Social Bookmarking Reloaded
Social Bookmarks contains practically no options and none of the services are selected by default. It also does not include Google Buzz.
Social Bookmarking Reloaded looks very much like the Social Bookmarks plugin with a handful of additional options. Again, none of the services are selected by default, and Google Buzz is not included.
14. I Love Social Bookmarking
I Love Social Bookmarking does not include Google Buzz and only includes 13 SB sites.
15. Social Dropdown
Social Dropdown does not include Google Buzz and it also unfortunately had issues with the drag-and-drop not working when tested for this review.
16. Tell A Friend
Tell A Friend appears to have been created mainly for the purpose of promoting another website, but still looks pretty clear if limited in ability.
Author Bio: Khalid J Hosein is a blogger, computer consultant and Internet junkie. He is a co-founder of the gadget blog Gizmos for Geeks, and probably spends way too much time hacking his WordPress installs instead of blogging. You can also follow him on Friendfeed @kjhosein.
In Lesson 1 of the Blog Marketing How-To Guide, you learned what marketing is and why it should matter to you as a blogger.Â Lesson 2 teaches you how to get started with building an online presence and developing a brand that can benefit you in the long-term and help you reach your blogging goals.
One of the most important common features among powerful brands is their focus on creating branded experiences that surround consumers with opportunities to self-select how they want to experience that brand.Â You can do that with your own brand online thanks to the many tools of the social web.Â The trick is creating a core branded destination to act as the central hub for all of your activities.Â In other words, your goal in all of your social media activities should always be to gently nudge your audience back to your central hub.Â Think of it this way:
All roads lead back to your core branded destination.
I talk about this extensively in my upcoming book, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing.Â In fact, the graphic shown below is taken from that book and gives you an idea of how a business (and if you’re using your blog to either make money or grow your company or career, then that blog is a business venture) could set up its own core branded destination in the form of a blog with all other branded destinations leading back to that central hub.
While your conversations and content across the social web might vary (and it should in order to effectively communicate with different segments of your audience who are likely to want to hear very different messages from you), your audience should be able to easily find your core branded destination where they can discover all of the additional information about you that they might want.
In other words, don’t re-tell your story everywhere and anywhere.Â Instead, tell a snippet through your content and conversations on other sites (including your own secondary branded destinations), but always make it easy for the audience to travel over to your core branded destination.Â This allows you not only to build more meaningful relationships with audience members, but it also allows you to have more control over conversations.
Building relationships with your audience is essential to blogging success.Â Relationship brands are the most powerful brands in the world, because when people feel connected to a brand emotionally, they will vocally advocate it and defend it, which gives you an amazing amount of word-of-mouth marketing for your brand, blog and other branded destinations.
In other words, an integrated marketing and branding strategy is critical if you want to grow over the long-term.Â Don’t allow your audience to get confused.Â Instead, allow them to create expectations for you and your brand through consistent communications and an easy path to your core branded destination where the party can really get started!
Keep in mind, your core branded destination doesn’t have to be your blog (although for most bloggers it will be).Â It’s up to you to choose which of your online profiles or destinations you want to set up as your central hub.Â Just remember, that core branded destination should be the place online where you can tell your complete story, continually add value to the online conversation, build relationships, and share your messages.
Stay tuned for Lesson 3 in the Blog Marketing How-To Guide Where I’ll talk about positioning your blog against all of the other online destinations that people can choose to visit each day.
For years already the tradition is that Technorati analyses the State of The Blogosphere and comes with valuable info around the size of the blogosphere, cost and revenue. This year though our colleagues over at The Blog Herald went ahead and analysed many different details about the actual blogosphere, such as size, demographical spread, revenue, largest blogs and blogging platforms and most popular languages. The result was another amazing infographic created by the team of Infographiclabs.
Below a teaser image for you, click through to view the complete State of The Blogosphere in 2010 infographic.