Blogging is business on steroids

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I remember reading a book on marketing that had the statement “Business is life on steroids”. It was the truest statement I had heard in a long time.

In business, objectives are clear. Stakes are high. Resources are scarce and opportunities are there for the open minded. The main goal of any business is usually to make profit. You make a product, have it in the market, give it some competitive advantage by promoting it and then you can make sales. When the cycle repeats itself successfully you will have some growth in the business. At the beginning of it all, you and your partners will have a meeting and decide what the goal of the firm is. Its pretty obvious what the goal is (to make profit) but you want something beyond that. It’s a backward way of approaching things because inevitably, the other non-commercial goal often takes a back seat when it is deemed to be “unprofitable”.

Blogging is business on steroids. Putting up a blog for your business is a very inexpensive way of communicating the other goal of your business. It is something that the corporate world is lowly taking interest in globally. You have the firm’s site which serves as an online advertising and communication portal and then you have a blog page in it that is supposed to be a daily diary from the firm. The truth is that maintaining the blog is much harder than maintaining the site itself.

A blog is a memoir of your non-materialistic goals. When you start one you have a mission in mind to introduce some idea, philosophy or general perspective that you will share with others. The idea is to share. Not to sell – well at least  not in the commercial sense of the word. So how do you share something freely and use it to buy people’s attention? That’s the tough part.

If you have a firm that deals with kids toys, the non commercial objective could be to help kids grow in a happy environment that allows them to learn quickly. It is your blog’s job to express this objective in as many ways possible. This way it keeps you responsible and in line your objectives. Its easy to sell toys without meeting this very objective. Once the money cashes in, anything goes. Even violent video games will go on promos. A blog can stop this.

When a hobbyist or professional blogger chooses to blog, he probably doesn’t have some firm he wants to link to the blog yet. Because of this blogging can be a much harder task for him than running a business. Sure, it easier to sit and write than to be up and down chasing deals, shipments and clients. But the thoughts that have to go into a blog are much harder to assemble than those that go into selling a product. With blogging

  • Your product is your blog posts
  • Your market is your readers
  • Your marketing channels are search engines and other sites
  • Your revenue is traffic
  • Your profit is your comments (and hopefully later on real money)

So its much tougher to handle a blog. The only difference is that your product quality is on constant surveillance. Your market is extremely volatile to the content’s standards. One poorly done post can cost you a big chunk of your traffic. When your passion for the topic waivers, it shows.

Again, with a business, you only need to sell the same product or small set of products over and over again. With a blog, a new products are created every single time you blog. The more products you make the more your traffic. Because of this, creativity is demanded in three ways. With most businesses, creativity is one dimensional.

About your about page

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Whats an about page for if it won’t tell the world anything about what your about?

The first time I tried creating a self hosted blog I checked our Darren Rowse‘s 31 days to a better blog e-book. Amongst the first thing he covers is the about page (and that’s as far as I went with the guide). He says that the about page should at best capture what you are about with a really short sentence. That in itself is the mark of clarity – a sign that you know exactly why you started your blog. Its like they say – brevity is the soul of wit.

You can know what you are blogging about but fail to know why you are blogging about it. It the same thing everywhere if you look at all the blogs that fail to live up to their expectations. You are better off not knowing what to blog on a given day than not knowing why you want to blog.

So sometimes you come across very gross About pages. Some of them will cover a lot of verbosity and say nothing about what the log is about. For example..

 …..dedicated to the generation, presentation and promotion of innovative contemporary visual arts practice in Kenya. Its artists’ studios, library, programme of exhibitions, artists’ talks, training & mentoring, education and international exchange, aims to provide opportunities for artists to develop new and experimental contemporary artwork within a context of current practice.

Trust me, your readers do not want to read your about page seven times to piece it all together. Tough vocabulary is very uncool on the About page. Its too grey.

And some will be short but pointless such as this one.

My suggestion…

If you want to have a captivating About page, keep it simple.

You need to know exactly how you want to put out your message. Your about page is like that little section at the back part of a book’s cover. It sums it up for everyone. It’s your business card. Its your mission statement. How crucial is that? Yet so many take it for granted and whine about why people don’t read their blog. The reason my first blog failed was because I did not critically look into this fine detail. Ergo I did not streamline my blog to communicate something specific. It taught me a lot and I have used what I learnt to my advantage with new blogs.

There are a number of ways to handle an about page

If you are lazy, you can simply write two paragraphs. One can be about you. The other can be about your message.

For instance if your all about freelance photography this could be your about page

I’m Jack. I have loved photography ever since I first put my hands on a camera. I love it more when I put my hands on a high quality camera.Its become my life now in more ways than I had expected it would. It gets me to travel to different countries every year, meet new people everyday, try new experiences and of course make some awesome cash. Now I live everyday looking at the world and hoping to capture it in my perspective.
I didn’t get taught how to shoot photos by anyone in particular. I just fished for online resources and spent a little money on a good camera. You’re probably like me now either starting out or already on the journey of trying to teach yourself photography. You want to take the self taught photographer’s path and you don’t know how exactly. I’m here to take your hand and show you how to make million dollar pics (or maybe hundred at first). It what’s I love so join me as we explore freelance photography. You can start here

It is

A – Simple

B- Personal

C- Exact

D- Leading you to the next page you should go to.

Or maybe you can be lazier but a little more creative and do a video for it.

This can be a simple in-your-bedroom shoot with your face in the middle of the whole video. Or it can be edited to include some bit of film art with different locations and effects. This will obviously take a lot more work but can do wonders for your traffic especially of it goes up on youtube.

Generally, there’s a more personal touch with videos. And readers love it when you get personal.

Instead of video’s you can try pictures with captions. Pictures are worth a thousand words expect they can be consumed in milliseconds. This will be a chance to bring out your creative flair too.

Whatever you do don’t ruin your blog with a lame About page.

Sensible Blogging

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A blog is not like a newspaper. Most blogs are free to read.

It is not like a magazine. Many blogs are run by one person.

When you embark on creating a new blog. You are creating a communication and information portal. In the information age, such an entity is of extreme significance. Information is a vital tool for survival. Think about all the people out there who aren’t educated. Most of them live through each day of their lives wishing they could access some form of useful education to improve their lives. They know quite well that this is the key to their success. Those that do not even know what education is are oblivious to the fruits that spring forth from attaining it. They therefore live their lives in much poorer standards that they have simply adapted to. With education, their lives can be much simpler.

But there is a flipside to it all. Too much information has been known to overwhelm the human mind. It simply goes to waste. That is why the human mind needs a reliable structure that can format it in a way that it meets the most relevant needs of the human soul and body. Fortunately, we have Google to thank for a larger portion of that task.  Google however only does about 40 percent of the job. It merely directs our minds to the many possible doorways where the right answer might lie.

It is thus our duty as bloggers to provide internet search engines just like Google with the right assistance in giving answers to this information hungry world. Whatever you blog about, you need to know it is not merely about disseminating it – it is also about organizing it. Organizing your information is what allows you to communicate it to the world. Without organization, communication is dead.

Organizing a blog post

You don’t have to cover every single idea that a blog topic revolves around. You simply need to look at what you’ve written and make sure its well outlined with headings and whatever else will guide your reader to the answers. Keywords, titles, subtitles, links, pictures and other media all do this job. What’s the point of naming a blog post 100 ways to be successful when you are only intending to outline 100 ways to be successful as an online writer. If you stick with the former title, you should talk about 100 ways that circumvent both the online sphere and the offline sphere of success. Again success doesn’t need to be about money along. It can be about relationships, inner satisfaction,charity, sports, health and so on…
Which kind of success are you talking about?

Bloggers brain

On the internet there are tonnes and tonnes of blogs and websites that are out to promote irrelevant information. There are no laws against that but there surely are negative outcomes. Many people get misled into reading and believing the wrong information. Consequently, they get ripped off their money, get persuaded into participating in immoral or illegal activities and the list goes on. As subtle as it may seem, the internet is quickly becoming a tool for mind control and pursuing purely selfish interests. If you want readers to consistently read your informational resources, you have to ask yourself a few questions.

Am I writing this to communicate to someone?

I haven’t done my research but I have a feeling than more than 50 percent of blogs out there are really not meant (or operated) to communicate to anyone. They are just a self indulgence of some sort if not attention seeking schemes that aim to fortify the writers self esteem.

If so, who?

“Who are your readers?” is an interesting question I see posed on many blogging guides out there. Frankly not many people can answer that question. Why? Because you do not dictate who reads your blog or who doesn’t. You would rather state whom you wish your readers could be. And the answer is not that short and exact. You could be running a humour blog but you want it to go a certain kind of demographic. Maybe people who are into dirty humour, with a strong sober message beneath it. It could even be an emotional description. Like, people who have lost their mothers or people who have just entered a new romantic relationship. Don’t just settle for any description for your intended readers. Don’t just say I am writing this for people in school. There are many sorts of people in school. Which ones?

Writing for everyone is the number one step to not communicating. The reality is you cannot connect to everyone because not everyone will agree with your ideas and set of values. You will wind up a flailing leaf with no self conviction once you jump around from opinion to opinion with no particular stand. And no one likes to read flailing leaf literature.

What exactly do I want them to know?

So now that you know who your readers ought to be, you need to craft a message that you will communicate. That was the initial point of starting the blog anyway. Chances are you have it laid out very clearly in your mind. You just need to believe in it so badly you would host a large scale conference to speak about it. And the blog really is your large scale conference. Its accessible to the entire world.

Just like a sub headline leads your reader to well grouped ideas, categories will package your message in a way that is easy to follow. Pages will perform the same function. The difference between a page and a category is that a page is static in nature. It doesn’t change,. A category will lead you to a web page whose content is refreshed with every relevant post you publish.

The About page is a static page that described the underlying principle of all this bloggery and sometimes also described you as a person. The About page should answer the question, “So what is the bottomline?” Its where any new readers can get a brief run through on what you’re blog is about. From there it is important to guide your reader to square 1,2… etc of the message of yourblog. That is if there is a particular order to your statement.

Why do I need them to know this?

This is even more important than the message itself. Embarking on a journey to nowhere in particular can be adventurous but then it can cost you a lot of time and money. If you are blogging purely for fun, then you might not need to seriously consider your cause. If this is more than just fun for you, the you have to know exactly where all this is leading to. Why the hell are you blogging in the first place? Answering this will help you orient and limit your blog post to cover specific elements for your message. It will help you blog/communicate for results and not merely traffic numbers. Not knowing the end product of your blog is the reason a lot of blogs lose their momentum and wither off into the back end of search engine relevance.

How will this help me, them or the rest of the world for that matter?

So now that you know why you are communicating and what the readers will do after they read your blog you also need to ask what the benefit is. So you got 1000 hits a month. You know where they are from and you know what they mostly read about. You got them to sign up for a newsletter and you got some of them to buy your e-book or cd or other relevant product. Is that where it ends? Is the money all you were after? Surely there are a dozen other ways in which you could have made that money? Why did you choose the blog? Beyond the money there are other values that make the blog a better choice for communication. Did it change their lives? Will it make them laugh and brighten up their day every single day? Will it help you connect to certain people you are seeking to connect with (and if so why?). There are certain intangible values in a blog that keep the spirit of the blogger going. Strive to connect to those values everyday and let them guide your efforts. This way you will actually be running a blog that matters.
While you are contemplating all this you might also want to check out Corbett Barrs blog “How to start a blog that matters

You are what you blog

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The beauty of a blog lies in the eyes of the blogger. If you are a blogger you stand to be the greatest beneficiary of your blog. You will consume it everyday as you try to find ways of improving it. You produce it every time you write. And in my opinion anyone can blog. Everyone has his/her own biological blog on auto-run all the time and its called the mind. Each sequence of thoughts always revolves around a particular subject or a particular mood and hence results in an unpublished blog post. And in the same way in which they say you are what you think, you are also what you blog. So, in how many ways can a blog represent real life?

You are what you blog

Spiritual bloggers

A blog can be your spiritual haven if it reflects your true self and your greatest beliefs. Each word you wrote but didn’t believe presents a deeper meaning. Maybe it shows the conflicts you are going through with your own self about the subject. Again you can also discuss the metaphysical and come up with your own concepts of spiritual actualization. I have seen many a blog that did not hesitate to include a post or two about their religious views. I have been guilty of this myself in a former blog. I think the freedom to do this without limitations is something that endears more people to their blogs than to other online stations such as social media profiles.

Political bloggers

Again it can be political as soon as you gain positions of authority from it. Think of all the specialist niche bloggers out there. Some rant about photography, some rant about web design, technology, making money online, lifestyle… the list is endless. Somehow as people start to respect your knowledge in these fields you are seen as a leader and thus the politics begins. As we all know politics is all about influencing others more these days more than it is about leading. Bloggers everywhere are in a constant race to occupy your mind with their customized ideas concerning the niche you have given them authority over. There will be offers to join their tribes of niche enthusiasts on each blog page you click on.

Economic bloggers

The economic element of a blog is obviously by far the more explored and tested area. Most bloggers out there have a secret desire (and sometimes not so secret desire) to make a killing off the information their reveal on their blogs. Because of this, the whole idea of profitable blogging has been turned into a science. There are myriads of online schools which train you on how to turn a blog into a business or, at the least, revenue centres.  Funny enough, the people behind these schools ventured into profitable blogging as an art – experimenting with things people may value. They eventually realized that they knew exactly how the game is played. Produce content (offer), get traffic (market), create product and sell it to your readers (now clients). It’s the sell out model of niche blogging. The best part about using a blog as an income earning tool is that you become proficient at whatever it is you’re offering. Every time you write you will be forced to create the best value out of your blog post because A. Competition is in plenty and B. No one trusts anyone online unless you give them sufficient reason to. Trust is earned by quality. Consequently, you will find yourself immersed in the world of such and such a topic which, in the real world, with make you twice the expert you are 0nline.

What many blogs will tell you about making money online

Social bloggers

A blog is also a social hub. I like to think of the blogosphere as an untethered social media network. The rules are self made however. You get to decide how your profile will look like and so on. You can leap from blog to blog and discuss stuff in a much broader perspective. Again you dont have to send friend requests to get chatting. You just need to connect on some level. Some conversational levels regardless of the means used. It could be a comment on a post, a backlink, a photo tag, an entire blog post with mentions …..  Bloggers are the most socially accesible people online. Thy expose their thoughts in the most open way and allow like minded people to indulge in the same. I know for a fact that more then 80 percent of bloggers out are more than grateful for each single comment that lands on any post they’ve published.

Blogging can expand your social circles to help you meet people within your spheres of interest

There are bloggers out there given the variety of dimensions a blog can take on spend more than half their days in their blogging communities. In my opinion, I think the connections and leverage that blogging gives anyone should be used as a bridge to constructing one’s life outside the computer screen and not necessarily to keep one away from the real world. So whenever you struggle to come up with blog posts, you should ask yourself “Which part of me is missing on this post?” Every post needs to cut out the B.S that seeps from the cracks and crevices your writer’s block and truly dig in to what you want to say. Everything else i.e, SEO, keyword research, multimedia, post-publishing edits, backlinks, inbound links and the rest should only come in to compliment your real say. In short, be your blog.

Consider Yourself Followed

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People I will follow anyday (on twitter or wordpress or otherwise)

Outrageous thinkers such as M_dblogger

Funny peeps like Milonare

Introspective folks like me and Wiselar

The modern day philosophers such as Seth Godin

Any outgoing digital nomad (as if there are any non-outgoing ones) Thinking within the lines of Colin Wright

Minimalists

Ambitious and tech savvy chics,

And last but not least .. hot bloggers like person below. 🙂

Maren Kate

Maren Kate of escapingthe9to5.com

People I will not (meaning never!) follow..

Lady Gaga.

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Love your blog

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Love your blog or abandon ship. That’s the rule of the game. The secret commandment of the blogosphere. It’s the rule of anything we do in life. If your passion ain’t in it then its somewhere else. How many bloggers do you come across who publish posts in random spurts over some long period. I must admit I have been guilty of this myself. I have started a number of blogs which fizzled out. This is actually my fourth blog. Two of my previous blogs simply died because either I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted to appear on the blog or I lost interest in what I had started. The latter is a sadder way of ending things but it happens to a lot of us. Fortunately, I don’t plan on having the same happen to this one. Besides, what’s stopping me from writing till eternity?

At the end of the day whether you’re a blogger, author, journalist, scriptwriter or poet whatever you write must reflect you. You have to put yourself in there. Sometimes I write stuff that sounds a bit complex hoping that some complex mind out there will read it. Sometimes they do, sometimes they do not. For me its the ones that do that count.

Holding back your writing voice, is the quickest way to killing your blog. I recall a time when I would cancel an entire blog post just because I was afraid what people might think. You don’t wanna do that unless you’re Stephen King or J.K Rowling. At that point, you’re probably in a better position to judge what flies and what doesn’t. When you start out and you are trying to build your audience any feedback is good feedback. So any writing is good writing as long as it captures your talent and showcases the best you could have put into the post. If there isn’t any feedback, then the feedback is that you are not really giving it your best shot. That’s what you need to focus on. Rewrite something, try something new like a photo post, an interview or even a poem, connect with other bloggers…

Artists crave attention. Sometimes its your own attention that you might enjoy. Reading through a recently published post can tell you a lot about your writing. As they say, you are your own best critic. Eventually, it could become boring and redundant to write for your own pleasure only. You want to express yourself to others and not just yourself. That’s where relationships come in. How can you relate to what people want to know. What’s your take on it? There is always an angle. Could be you don’t have any stand on a matter. That’s a stand. Write about it. Why don’t you have a stand on something. I have personally always wanted to write about how reclusive most tech blogs can be. Controversial? Maybe, but if you have a very objective way of laying out your opinion, you’re more likely to win the audience.

At the end of the day, successful blogs are a result of passion. With passion, you do it coz it’s what you WANT to do. Without it, you do it coz it’s what you MUST do, which leaves out a lot of useful activity.

The Art of Work (for Works of Art)

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Don’t you sometimes wish you had a button on your spine that you could hit anytime you needed to focus and get something done. There are so many situations where we all find ourselves facing that lazy Monday attitude that keeps us from getting started on a task. Recently, I did a post on effectiveness and its importance but I never really got into how to maintain an effective character. I therefore hope this post will help drive in some momentum on the matter.

I talked about excuses in my last post. Excuses are always useless if they don’t encourage improvement. That’s the true and candid bottom line. Most of the time we’ll end up dabbling back and forth with questions like “Why must I do it?” or  “Why must I do it now?” or ” Is it really worth it?” and “Then what?” The truth is if we asked ourselves these questions about everything we would probably never do anything in life. But how do we evade these questions?

Most of the things we do in life without thinking twice about are things we don’t reflect about later in these terms so the questions really are meaningless. You want to go play video games, you wont ask, ‘then what?’ Its really about the fun experience. Fortunately when we do manage to do the tougher stuff there’s that sense of accomplishment that makes you feel much stronger, much greater than you were. It lets you think ” Wow, that wasn’t even tough at all.” You slowly evolve into a pro. The real questions we should thus be asking is “How quickly can I do this?” and “How much do I want to get done today?” We should also ask “How perfectly can I hack that?” Quantity, Quality.

So maybe that;’s the start button we need. The feeling of accomplishment. Just seeing how far you can go can make it count. You don’t want to write that letter. Maybe what you really want to do is prove that you CAN write that letter. You cant contact that client. Maybe what you really wanna do is find out how well you can deal with clients. Or what’s even more fun is finding out how bad you are with clients, pastors, doctors, respected personalities, hot babes. The list is endless. What we really want to do is find a new adventure in life. Just like the video, be in it for the fun experience. People who laugh about the misfortunes of life experience the best of it. Go somewhere you have never been before. If you are unhappy with your current lifestyle, its simply because you have never attempted going beyond it. Have you ever imagined what life would be if you were a billionaire? You would probably need to meet with big CEOs everyday. If having a meeting with one today totally creeps the life out of you, then you have a journey to begin. Step one – meet big people. You might get to hear stuff you have never been told before.

Shadow cityAnd what if you fail? Well, It might entertain someone later on when you tell the story. But more importantly, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, the only reason we always drag ourselves to do certain tasks is because they aren’t so easy to do successfully. We haven’t figured out how to do them like pros. So again its a learning opportunity. Or maybe we haven’t found which part of doing them we like the most. Discover the art behind that task. If you are not familiar with the art, discover it. Maybe there are better ways of making a web page. Invent it. Make art.

On the other hand somethings are simply mundane. There is simply nothing arty about them. Errands, like paying bills or doing laundry. True. These are probably the best tasks. They require little to no thought at all which means you don’t have to put your mind in it. And that’s where automation comes in. A computer program could probably be invented to do them. And there are computers and machines that let you do them. Washing machines are there to do your laundry, consider getting one. Nowadays, you don’t really have to cue to pay bills. There are online systems for that. Alternatively get someone who enjoys doing stuff that involves minimal thinking to do it.

Henry Ford once said that thinking is the toughest job there is. In our day and age, it could as well be the best job there is if we put a bit of art into it.