Monthly Archives: August 2011

Getting Others to Talk About You

The biggest part of my new job as Community Manager for PicApp is to find people interested in what the company has built and get them to use it or at least talk about it. This has proven far more difficult than I ever could have imagined.

Even if you have a great product, you have to find ways to cut through the noise to get their attention, and even then, most bloggers are very apprehensive due to the constant battle they need to participate in against spam.

Network

The first piece of advice that just about anyone gets when it comes to promoting anything is to network, but if you are new, or even a reasonably well known person online with a new product to talk about, it can be very difficult to network.

Some might think that I had an easy time promoting PicApp thanks to the contacts I made while blogging full time, but you would be wrong. Most of the people I know aren’t really able to help because their blogs don’t fall within the niches that can really use or discuss PicApp, and so while I did have some help from friends, much of what I had to do was from scratch.

Find Thought Leaders
One of the best things that I have done in my attempts to get people to talk about what I am doing is to focus in on the thought leaders. They might not run the most popular blogs, but they sway the opinion of a group of people, and that is very valuable in building any brand.

To find them, go to blog directories, blog search engines, and top blog lists and look for the top blogs in the niche you want to gain exposure in. For the longest time, I contacted some people that I know well listed higher up in the 45n5.com/top100 list, as they are other blogs in the same niche as this one, and I thought I would have a better chance of them recognizing me, and as such, being easier to approach.

Ask, Don’t Tell
When starting out networking with people, if you want them to look at something, make sure you write in a passive tone, and ask them, rather than telling them. If you write your e-mail, instant message, twitter, or other digital message in a way that doesn’t sound friendly, happy, and interested in their benefit first, then most likely your correspondence will hit their trash bin.

Don’t Spam
Keep track of who you contact, and don’t contact them again. If they didn’t respond, they probably weren’t interested. If you continually contact them, you will just be seen as another spammer, and bloggers will rightfully call you on that in their blog, making you and whatever you are trying to get attention for look bad.

Don’t Pressure
Remember, even if you have the best product in the world, you need their help more than they need whatever it is you want to talk to them about. Bloggers don’t like to feel pressured into anything, and their spam defenses go on overdrive when there is an inkling of urgency or pressure.

Your communications should respect their time, their focus, and their busy schedule. If they are unable to participate, you shouldn’t be making them feel like it would be a mistake, but instead be understanding.

Make Friends

The biggest help that I received early on was from my friends. Even people who ran blogs outside the normal target audience of the PicApp service took up a call to arms for me. Some of them did it out of kindness and friendship, while others I traded with. I used my skills in writing, WordPress, and other things I know to barter with some of my friends, making it more of a mutual deal, rather than me just “using” them.

Nothing Wrong Reciprocation
Some people that I have talked to think that it is kind of rude that people only do things for others when they know they will get something in return, but this helps takes care of those in society who continually leech off the backs of others for their own needs.

To do something helpful for a friend may free up the time they need to do something for you, and it becomes mutually beneficial, especially when they have skills or resources you are lacking and vice versa.

Work Together Towards Mutual Goals
Pretty much anyone publishing content online has a goal. It might be a small one or a very large one, but if you can find ways to work together with friends towards a mutual goal, sometimes that is the sweetest collaborations of all.

I have worked with a friend before on a link bait that would highlight his site, but was published on my site. This gained me traffic, links and exposure, of which was then filtered through to him. It was a great way to help each other out and worked out beautifully.

Attend Events

There are so many conferences and events for pretty much any niche or topic, and participating in one way or another can really drive eyeballs to the work you are trying to do. You don’t have to be a big sponsor to have events pay off dividends in building a brand, but you do need to have some sort of presence at an event to make an impact.

Research Events
It can be really intimidating going to events for the first time, as every event is different. Each conference and event that I have attended has a different dynamic, audience, and sets of groups. Navigating these can become much easier with a little preplanning.

Will you need to bring business material, marketing handouts, technical information, or just some business cards, pens and paper, as well as a smile and a firm handshake? Bring the wrong things and you will be unable to market yourself or your products effectively.

Ask Bloggers in Similar Niches What They are Attending
One issue I realized early on is that there are more events and conferences than you could ever possibly know about, and they aren’t always promoted well, and so asking friends, network connections or even competition which events they are attending will help you build a list of events you might want to attend.

I can’t even list the number of conferences I have found out about thanks to word of mouth through my network connections, and most of them were only told to me once I specifically asked what was available or what they were planning on attending.

Contact Interesting Attendees and Schedule Meetings
To make the most of each and every event you want to attend, make sure to find out the guest list, and try to schedule a few meetings. There will be lots of networking between sessions, in hallways, and afterwards, but it can be hard to get two words in sometimes unless you set some time aside. I make sure to try to do this in a casual way with friends and network connections, but it is something I am still working on myself.

Making sure to set some time aside where the focus is completely on what you wanted to discuss can mean the difference between a memorable meeting and a quick in-the-hall discussion.

Ask

If you don’t ask people, you’ll never open up the possibility that they will say “yes”. There are many bloggers who I barely had a relationship with that I asked to look over PicApp and provide me feedback. Some decided to do it privately via e-mail, and others published about it on their blog. Both responses were very helpful, and were a big part of the upcoming advances in the PicApp platform.

If I hadn’t asked them, then I would not have had the information that PicApp needed and wouldn’t have been as effective in my job.

It never really hurts to ask, as the worst thing they can say or do is nothing. Even negative press through contacting people you don’t know well can be handled, and might point out things that friends and network contacts were too polite to say.

Conclusion

Getting people to talk about PicApp and the great things they are doing is definitely much harder than coming up with blog posts ever was, and while I think it is only getting harder and harder to stand out from the noise and get messages out their to the people and audiences you hope to inspire and connect with, I still believe that with patience, persistence, and planning, anyone can get their message heard.

Blogging Annoyance: Rant About Newsletters

Why would I subscribe to your e-mail newsletter that is just your RSS feed and here and there some special notes sent to my e-mail inbox when I already subscribe to your RSS feed? Sure, it makes your subscriber count go up, but it doesn’t really help me in any major way.

Sure, it gives you an opportunity to up sell me on some affiliate products or services you might have, but those things rarely help me with my blogging goals.

You should be happy that I subscribe to your RSS feed rather than punish me by making me get the same information two different ways so that you look like you have twice as many subscribers.

The race for subscribers is silly, and if anything, you are making people deal with both information overload and saturation sickness, which then causes them to unsubscribe to all things that they decide are no longer necessary.

Add value to my life, add value to my blogging, and stop trying to spam me with your content over a variety of different services so that you appear to have more unique subscribers than you really have.

Writing Your First Blog Post

Ask any writer and they’ll tell you the same thing — the beginning is always the hardest part of any written piece. You may have the most detailed picture of what you want to say in your head but putting down those first words on paper (or on MS Word) could be like pulling teeth. The problem is only compounded with the short, encapsulated nature of blog posts. What do you really write about on your first post in your blog?

Fortunately, there are some good suggestions and ideas that you can glean from the blogs of other people. The most common start would be to just a small greeting or introduction. This probably one of the most popular ways of starting a blog. A simple “hi, this is my blog!” post is one of the most common you’ll see on the internet. It’s a no-nonsense way of kicking off a blog. But some bloggers may not want to start off their blogs in this manner. Fortunately, there are also “fancier” ways of starting a blog.

You can start a blog by introducing yourself. Since most blogs are personal in nature, giving a backgrounder on yourself will give your readers a fair idea of why you have a particular perspective about certain topics that you’ll eventually discuss in your blog. You don’t need an exhaustive biography, just touch on the important facts that will help readers get to know you more.

You can also decide to give the raison d’etre of your blog. Write about why you started it, and what motivated you to do so. Personally, I think this is the best way of starting a blog. It gives the readers the lay of the land, so to speak. They’ll already know beforehand what to expect from your blog, which could pull in more like-minded readers. For example, if you say that your blog will be about your perspective as non-US citizen on the Obama Administration’s policies, it will surely attract people who are looking to read about what your thoughts will be on future issues.

An ingenious way of starting a blog is picking out one of those memes that are all over the net. Try to find a meme that is related to the topic of your blog, this will be a great way of giving a bird’s eye view of your views and also what to expect in future blog posts.

Writing Articles for a Living

People are under the belief that being self-employed is a great way to make a living. There are many ways to make a living as a self-employed person but if you expect it to be easy, you are mistaken. Any job takes work and when you are self-employed you must be strict with yourself. You are your own boss and you will have to be able to get motivated every day to do your job.

Some people write articles for websites. Some make a good living at this while others struggle. The same is true of people who do website host review for a living. They must push themselves every day to get up and plan a long day. It is true you can set your own hours but it you want to make a living at it you are going to have to put in long hours. This is especially true when you are starting out. When you write blogs in the beginning you will have problems finding steady work. As you get better you will get more work.

You may have to settle for lower pay when you first start writing for someone. People who do cheap web hosting have the same problem. Once they get a name for themselves they will be able to charge more for their hosting. The same is true of writers. They must start off with lower pay and build a good reputation.

Why Write Anonymously or Under a Pseudonym

As a writer do you write anonymously? Or would you like to? What are the reasons for writing under another name or anonymously?

First, The author might want the public not to who he was. This might be because of the content or because of the time. There was a time when women had to use the name of a man just to publish their work. There are also male authors who use female names to mask who they are – for example when writ8ing Romance Literature.

There are of course other circumstances that fall under this league.

If it is a confession article or post that reveals what is happening in a company, within a group or inside a government agency then the reason the author remaining unknown is obvious: he does not want his cover blown or compromomise his safety. Although not a writer – the now famous Deep Throat of Woodward and Bernstein comes to mind.

The author might just want to keep his privacy.

Second, The author might want to distance himself from work. It could be different genres or it could be a test balloon when submitting works.

Third, Some do it as a precaution when they start to criticize or even attack an issue or even a person. There is a certain shield of protection when writing under a pseudonym. It emboldens the writer to write or say things he or she would normally write about. The repercussions are somewhat not felt.

But not anymore as can be seen in the case of Google, the model and the anonynmous blogger.