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Fulfill Your Dream to Blog
in 11 Steps

Fulfill Your Dream to Blog in 11 Steps
By Chris Abraham



So “blogging” is on your to do list this year. Good for you. My goal is to guide you well past the first 28-days and into habituation. Starting blogging is not going to be easy for you. You’ll be all hot and ready at first but you’ll probably never make it — at least not without my help. More people give up on blogging — and writing in general — than give up on  going to the gym in order to lose weight and get fit.

Blog wasn’t built in a day.

Mark my words.

A majority of my revenue is generated from blogger outreach, namely long-tail and deep-dive outreach that extends all the way into the thousands of bloggers. As part of the client service work I do, I have engaged with many thousands of bloggers over the last decade.

Let’s see if I can help you get through the first push-off.

1) What is your agenda for starting a blog?

There is no right or wrong answer here. What do you want out of your new commitment (or re-commitment) to blogging? Are you blogging to get the job of your dreams? You can, you know. Are you blogging to ward off boredom as you raise someone from a Zygote? Do you have aspirations of getting free stuff in the mail that you’ll then review on your blog? Fair enough — completely possible, even probable if you can prove your mettle. Are you committed?

Agencies don’t sent out Hermès Kelly Bags or let you borrow S-Class sedans to just anyone. You’ll really need to commit to making it into the A-list of your topic or category of choice before you’ll start being treated like royalty. When it comes to even receiving cheap swag or tchotchkes, you’ll need to have blogged well and long enough to be a known entity with a passable reputation and Klout score.

Oftentimes, if your aspiration is to be a tech guy or fashionista, you’ll need to underwrite your own gadgets and gear yourself. At least until someone fancies you to be just the right person who has the reputation, voice, access, and reach that resonates with each unique promotion. Good news: once you’re on board, you’ll probably be a go to guy/gal for as long as you’re positive, responsive, and professional. It’s simple: commit to treating your blog much less than a journal or diary and more like a profession, a job.

That’s not to say you need to become square or reporterly. Objective is not what anyone wants. People want you, they need you. They should, down the road, know and enjoy your wit, your mind, your world, your experience, and even where you are in the world — with your family, kids, friends, city, state, personal passions, hobbies, and all of that. People want the whole package, and that package is you, Mr. or Ms. Blogger.

2) Only start a blog if you love writing and have something to say:

Here’s secret number one about blogging: blogs don’t write themselves. Secret number two: blogs, and the associated marketing, promoting, connecting, pitching, connecting, relating, commenting, and responding, and then blogging some more: short pieces, response pieces, shill pieces, longer pieces. Guess what: lots of writing. Don’t worry, passion-player: if you don’t like writing, maybe video blogging on YouTube is for you.

Ugly? Maybe SoundCloud or an audio podcast on Stitcher. Terrible, nasally, voice? Well, it’s OK. Nerdy, nasally, awful voices are the new trend when it comes to podcasting. There are virtually zero velvety dulcet tones going on anywhere in Podcast-land. Still ugly? Well, maybe ugly means you’re more authentic — go ahead and give YouTube a try. Start a YouTube Channel today. But don’t worry. You can become as much — or more — of a sensation on YouTube as you can on a blog. YouTube is how Justin Beiber was discovered, right? And, YouTube is the second most popular search engine right under Google Search.

And, if you’re really committed, try out all the platforms in order to build your personal brands: YouTube, Soundcloud, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, Tumblr, as well as your blog. It’s as much about you, blogger, as it is about each particular, discrete, post you birth into the world-o-sphere.

3) Blogging is a lifetime commitment:

Like immuno-suppressant drugs after heart transplant surgery, once you start blogging you can never stop — or terrible things will happen. One will kill your body, the other will kill everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish. To paraphrase the quote about Rome, your blog wasn’t built in a day, but it burned in one. What takes you months — years — to build can go away in weeks.

4) Nothing’s really going to happen for the first six months:

Once you consummate your marriage (with your blog), you need to realize that no matter what you do, unless you already have a well developed brand, a multinational company, or are between A to C-list celebrity, then you’re going to have to work like a banshee and maybe — just maybe — you’ll start getting some SEO and popularity traction by month six. More likely, however, you’ll have your ups and downs over the course of a year based mostly on the quality, popularity, trendiness, and luck. If you start seeing more consistent readership and deeper popularity as manifest my consistently increased social sharing (by people other than you and your best friends) then you’ll start seeing your metrics move more reliably.

Please remember, however, that blogging is primarily about connecting with your goals. If your goals are to attract the attention of an employer or a brand or agency, then metrics aren’t everything. However, if your goal is to make a living through advertising and affiliate marketing, then yes, you’ll surely need to care about traffic and numbers: the more the better. But don’t let raw numbers drive your concept of success or failure. Remember, all you need to do is attract the attention of employers, colleagues, reporters, agency reps, and brands.

5) Writing is only a quarter of what it takes to be a blogger:

Writing takes a lot of work. And you’ll need to do a lot of it. But the blogging is only a quarter of the time you’ll need to put in. In addition to that work, you’ll need to maintain your blog website, you’ll need to sort out site moderation, become somewhat of an expert in WordPress, Drupal, Xoomla, Movable Type, Typepad, Tumblr, Squarespace, Blogger, or whatever you choose (choose WordPress).

You need to jump in, feet first, into social media, including your own personal Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ profile. Quite possibly a Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ professional brand profile page are in order. Maybe Pinterest even. Quite a few bloggers also maintain newsletters, email lists, and email subscription lists.

Then, you’ll need to meet all the other people in your blogging space. You’ll need to keep track of social media mentions about your blog posts, you’ll need to monitor comments and respond in a timely manner. You’ll need to delete spam and moderate abusive comments.

I am sure I have just scratched the surface. Domain name registration, email monitoring (for that fateful email that’ll get you that Mercedes Benz S550 test drive or your very own Kelly Bag), and all sorts of other technical issues you’ve never thought of: downtime, a broken template, a corrupted database. You will have become an entrepreneur, publisher, reporter, media mogul, and technologist all in one fell swoop.

6) Your content is more important than your domain name or funny title:

Some of the most important bloggers are using using free or inexpensive blog hosting sites. The king of all blogs is Seth Godin and he uses TypePad as his blog hosting site, sethgodin.typepad.com. So, even though I tend to lead with clever domain names and sassy titles, you really don’t need them. Sometimes, if you’re really good at content and are reliable and professional, sites like WordPress.com, Blogger/Blogspot, and Tumblr will oftentimes be able to help promote you online. So, don’t spend most of your time fussing around with tech, domain names, web hosting — write, write, write; blog, blog, blog.

7) Hold off on the advertising and contextual ads for a little while:

Ads, advertising, contextual ads, Google AdWords and AdSense ads, and affiliate links demand huge amounts of traffic to be profitable in any way more profound than a little bit of beer money. And, cluttering up your blogs and websites prematurely — before you’re cooking with gas — can really turn of your nascent readership as well. Drive them away, distract them from your well written, completely thought out explorations in text, insight, and brilliance. Put aside the advertising until down the road. Woo them deep into your lair, spin them in your web first, and then you can monetize.

“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” — James Allen

8) Engage your community both on your blogs and on social media:

As I said above, you need to not only write, but you surely need to spend quite a lot of time becoming — and being — neighborly. Become a known entity. Maybe extend your blogging experience some over at The Huffington Post. Try guest blogging for your colleagues or friends (but don’t just use your friends to help promote your own site, bloggers hate that). And maybe it’s time to really start treating all of the places you tend to use for recreation into platforms for your business. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are powerful tools for branding — much more powerful and effective than RSS, circa 2014. However, that said, tools like Digg Reader and Feedly are still powerful and useful drivers for your readership.

9) Social media has become an essential part of the blogging life:

I can’t say this enough. You have been warned.

10) Make sure people can easily contact you:

In your insane and irrational attempt to stop each and every piece of spam, you very well may have made it too difficult for us agency and publicity types to easily get a hold of you, then we won’t. I need to know your name and an email address that you actually check. Personally, I won’t jump through the hoops of filling out web forms or Captchas, or links to LinkedIn, Facebook, some sort of gatekeeper, or via Twitter. I also use GroupHigh and they scrape blogs on a daily basis in order to discover blog name, blogger name, and email address. You obfuscate your contact info by replacing your textual email address with a GIF, PNG, or JPG graphic. Suck up a certain number of spam emails — and go through all of your spam in your spam box — and make yourself as available and as accessible as possible if you want to actually build a connection with the advertising, PR, promotional, publicity, and brand world.

11) Don’t lead with a price sheet or a rate card:

I know what you’ve learned from BlogHer and all the other of Podcamps, webinars, conferences, or books you may have read. You can’t go from zero to big bucks in one fell swoop. Surely, there are blogs, properties, and platforms that are interesting enough for people to want to pay you to post content, reviews, and press releases on your blog.

However, many of these people don’t really care about the quality of the post, the quality of your voice, your insights, wit, or creativity — all they care about is textual links for the benefits of SEO. If and when you get pitched by a PR agency, a brand, a company, or publicist and you really like and love the product, say yes, even if it’s for free.

It all depends on your goals, your intention, your end game. Are you interested in building your own brand or getting the job of your dreams? Do you want to build up a reputation in a new field? Do you want to have subject mastery, to be known professionally for something that has heretofore only been a hobby and something you’ve done in your spare time? If you do it for free, as a favor, and in service of building up your reputation, your expertise, and your experience, in service of a longer game goal, you’ll soon develop a reputation of someone who is generous, kind, passionate, responsive, and friendly — an ally, a brand ambassador, a friend-of-the-company. Rather than being an extortionist, a mercenary, a pirate (yeah, maybe that’s not fair, but remember, there is always someone else who is nicer and easier to work with).

Try to be the blogger who is positive, is helpful, and who says yes rather than the blogger who starts at no and then is willing to play hardball over dollars and cents. It really just depends on what you want in the end.

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Chris Abraham

Principal Consultant at Gerri Corp.
Chris Abraham is a leading expert in digital, including online reputation management (ORM), Internet privacy, social media marketing and digital PR with a focus on blogger outreach, blogger engagement and Internet crisis response.
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Your Social Campaign Needs 1000x Followers

Your Social Campaign Needs 1000x Followers
By Chris Abraham



Very few people hang on your every word. Everything that comes out of Ellen’s mouth is duly noted. Same thing with Bieber, Gaga, and Katy. But if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ll need to speak up, maybe repeat yourself, and be more persistent than the Earth’s top celebs or our most hallowed social media motivational speakers.

Yes, we might be heroes to a few people in our lives — our moms, namely, and maybe our dads, partners, children, if we’re lucky, and maybe a couple few people who either have deep crushes or are gunning for our jobs.

Don’t worry.

Just because you were BMOC or BWOC in high school or college doesn’t much matter in social. Actually, being a big muckety muck right now, no matter how much you’re worth or how much your local paper adores you, doesn’t guarantee social media celebrity.

So, there are three strategies that you’ll need to pursue if you’re interested in harvesting some ROI from your social media marketing campaign, be it in the form of content marketing, digital PR, or using social as part of a multichannel sales strategy — and I will only go into two of them in this post. If you don’t have any followers, speaking about activation and conversion is stupid: convert who, right?
 

 
You need more followers

You need more followers!

The more followers you have, the more likely that there will be someone paying attention to your messaging when you share your content, your announcement, your promotion.

It also heightens the probability of someone sharing, re-sharing, or actually clicking through to your content or your brand. A secondary benefit is that people respect numbers, no matter how authentic or real or true these followers are.

It’s a sad truth.

And finally, you can’t build a following unless you have a following. It’s very difficult to grow your followership with only the right people if you’re also not willing to collect everyone else. I am not going into how to do this right now (we’ll save that for another article), but you need more followers by hook or by crook — even, alas, if you need to buy them (if it comes to that). It’s easier to get rid of spammy followers than it is to develop a real following. I call it a social media bootcamp.

You need to work on things that are kind of inconsquential, but seem to be important to people: follower numbers (be it Twitter or Facebook) and your Klout score. The too cool for school crowd is preparing hateful comments right now, but it’s true: Klout scores and pure number of followers matter.

I mean, according to SocialBaker’s Fake Followers app, my President, Barack Obama, only has 46% “real” followers on Twitter. 35% of his followers are “fake” and 19% are what are called “inactive.” All that follower buying and yet the President of the US is still the number four most followed Twitter handle on the planet, right?

So, even though follow back schemes, Twitter’s promoted “who to follow” list, and full on buying hundred, thousands, hundred of thousands, or even millions of Twitter followers, cash-on-the-barrel. You need to start somewhere.

I guess when it comes to Twitter at least, and also Facebook and Pinterest, fake it ’til you make it seems to be a pretty great way to kickstart your Twitter empire. How else can you explain the shadow-obsession with applications like TweetAdder and Twiends?

I hate to say it here, but when it comes to celebrity, the more popular you become the more popular you are, and the more popular you become. When it comes to celebrity however, you cannot choose who adores you. Who even knows how much of all that is real grass root obsession or is the combined simulacrum of a dozen agencies and publicists?

Me? I think over the course of the last seven years that I have been on Twitter, I have tried loads of things. I am sure I bought Twitter followers at a time when I found a good source through my team whenever my team bought Twitter followers for clients and all that.

That said, I am lean: of all my followers on Twitter, only 1% are fake, 1% are inactive, and 98% are good — but it isn’t always that way. I spend a lot of time trimming, mowing, and pruning my own Twitter lawn. Tweetscaping, I guess I would call it.

OK, now that I have burnt all of my bridges and told you a little too much, and now that I will probably be drummed out of the Twitterati by everyone except possibly Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki (my shameless Patron Saints of Twitter), let me continue.

You need the right followers

I guarantee you that you’re much more likely to attract the right people once you have a certain amount of gravitas, and online that gravitas is defined by: who you are, of course; who you work for; what you’ve done; what you say; who you’re associated with (those are the old reliable); but also how many followers you have, the ratio of number of followers to number you follow (you need way more people following you than you follow to be a cool kid), your Klout score, and simple things like your bio, if you have a profile photo, if you have a nice background image, or if you’ve been on Twitter for a long time.

We people are a little like chickens: if a couple hens are really into a particular rooster, then all the hens will be into him.

And, if you spend all the hard work in finding the right people to follow, you can’t make any of these “right people” follow you back, can you? You can surely ask, implore, and demand, but you cannot make them.

I guess, at the end of the day, we’re simple creatures — and very superficial at that.

You need to be interesting, popular, successful, relevant, powerful, connected or influential enough to make that follow back worthwhile, especially when people want to keep their ratio as “cool” as possible by only following back high Klout, high influence, and high caste individuals (thereby benefiting from the friend and Klout association — what a racket).

To quote Tony Montana: “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.” And, the corollary, “On social media, first you get the followers, then you get the influence, then you get the business.”

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Chris Abraham

Principal Consultant at Gerri Corp.
Chris Abraham is a leading expert in digital, including online reputation management (ORM), Internet privacy, social media marketing and digital PR with a focus on blogger outreach, blogger engagement and Internet crisis response.
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Social Media Madness: Marketing Lessons from College Basketball’s Biggest Coaches

Social Media Madness: Marketing Lessons from College Basketball’s Biggest Coaches
By Eric Vidal

 

March Madness is here again—and that means from Chapel Hill to San Diego, college basketball fans are brushing up on bracketology and trying to figure out which schools will be dancing long into March (well, actually April).This year, however, there is a new debate raging on the college basketball scene that marketers will find interesting—social media is in the spotlight as some of the biggest names in college basketball have been weighing in on whether it should be allowed.
 

 
For some, like Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo of Michigan State, social media is toxic. “I think technology is a great thing in many instances,” Pitino said recently, “and I think it’s poison in others, and for people in sports especially.”  He bans his players from tweeting.

Not everyone agrees. Kentucky’s Jon Calipari believes social media can be a great tool for increasing fans’ visibility into college basketball life during March Madness and throughout the season.  “I’m not going to hold my team back from Twitter or Facebook,” he said, “but I’m going to teach them.”  He’s convinced social platforms can provide unique insight, establish loyalty and help build a greater fan base.

Lessons for Marketers

Social media appears to be a no-brainer for companies now, as 65 percent of marketers claimed to have increased social media marketing budgets in 2013. Ultimately it comes down to what you post on social media that really counts.

Social media, if used properly, can be one of the most effective marketing strategies for an individual or an organization. The sound strategy is to go forth and spread your message across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but to do it in a smart way.

Educate employees on proper protocol and establish guidelines as to what is acceptable to post. Make sure there is a clear understanding of brand image so that before an employee tweets or posts, they understand the implications of the messages that they are sending.

Calipari summed it up, “What we are trying to tell those kids [is], ‘Hey you build your brand or you break your brand down.’ For anyone to say [about social media] ‘Don’t do it…it’s crazy.’ I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The net-net:  Smart social marketing isn’t madness—it’s marketing that marches to the beat of your buyer.

Eric Vidal, Director of Product Marketing at InterCall, has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services.