3 Blog Tips & Rules

#1: If you are in Fort Wayne, Indiana, join the Social Media fun folks for the monthly Social Media Breakfast Tuesday from 7:30 to 9am. Details are here: http://smbfw006.eventbrite.com/

#2: Realize that there are very few rules. Except stealing other peoples stuff, but that is true in all areas of life.

#3: Have Fun. Fuel Your Blogging shared these ideas recently:

7 Places to Have Fun On Your Blog

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 08:49 PM PDT

Have Fun Blogging

I’m A Bandit Goat Bounty Hunter

Taking yourself too seriously when first starting out as a blogger can be detrimental to the development of your voice and style as a blogger, so instead of trying to fit in with the pros, cut yourself loose from your readers, which probably haven’t populated yet, and have a little fun. Even if you’ve built a bit of a readership, try new things with your blog, express yourself, and see what works … your readership will understand and encourage your direction so long as it’s relevant.

Get started in the following areas of your blog, as they provide the most opportunity for expression and fun:

1. The Header

As one of the first area of your blog a visitor sees, the header is a great place to create a positive first impression. It’s also a great place to have some fun. Whether you feel like switching out your professional looking blog name for a fun alterative or even create a fun name for your blog, this is the place to do it. Obviously, the latter might be more tuned for those just starting their blog, but it’s never too late to add a tagline in effort to further diversify your blog from the others in your niche.

Caution, this happens to be one of the first places search engines see when crawling your blog, so going wild may result in altered rankings.

For those with two main areas in the header (one for the actual logo and the other for advertising or widgets), you could opt to include something fun where you’d place ads or widgets. This is a great place to tell your readers something about your blog or yourself that they might not have a chance to find out if they bounce before visiting your about page — something even the serious bloggers should consider.

2. The Sidebar

Like the header, this area of your blog is one of the first areas the visitor will notice when first visiting your blog. In addition to being the first places visitors go, this is usually accessible no matter where your visitor is on your blog, so providing something fun for your visitors in the sidebar is a sure way to be sure they see it.

A simple message near the top, random facts, or hidden treasures might be a fun way to use the sidebar in effort to make your blog more fun, but it all depends on your niche and style.

Has anyone been experimenting with this — what’s working?

3. The Post Footer

The post footer has become a great place to find out more about the blogger moments after finishing a post, and from what I’ve seen, it’s also where most bloggers inject their voice and humor into their work.

The key here is to surprise the reader by saying something he or she might not expect after reading your post. So if you write a killer post all about social marketing, then reveal you rescue space monkeys in your free time, you might just inspire a giggle from the reader, and thus become more memorable as a blogger.

That said, it’s crucial to be original and awesome … even the example above is a bit on the nose. Get creative and have some fun.

4. Image Captions

While image captions provide a great way to further enhance your search engine optimization, they also enable the blogger to inject something the reader might not expect during the time with your post. It doesn’t have to be funny per se, but rather provide another angle (a more causal voice) regarding your topic.

A great example of this can be seen at TentBlogger — John’s got a good sense of humor and usually provides a little something in the captions that other bloggers might overlook.

5. 404 Page

The 404 page is probably one of the most popular places to have fun, second only to the about page. The 404 page shows whenever your visitor somehow manages to navigate to a url that doesn’t exist.

Creating a custom 404 page is super important, as it can help prevent a visitor from bouncing away in frustration that he or she could find the page desired. There are two routes you can take: create a page that actually helps the user find what he or she was looking for, or a funny page users will remember.

Check out this lot of funny 404 pages if you’re interested in doing something fun … or consider doing something that combines the best of both worlds, like the Copyblogger 404.

6. Contact Page

Have fun on your contact page — the majority are … just boring, including my own at CreativeBlogger. We have the challenge of keeping it helpful and easy for those actually interested in contacting us, yet doing something a little different so the visitor remembers us.

7. About Page

Last but not least, we have the about page. This is where bloggers have the opportunity to really shine with their personality, voice, and style, but it’s all too common for bloggers to model their pages after the major leaguers and miss out on that opportunity to express themselves in a fresh way.

This is where you have to be bold. Convey yourself effectively to your visitors, but remember to include some notes that will diversify you from the rest of the crowd — similar to the post footer. Provide the visitor with something they won’t expect. Talk about what you did before blogging (narwhal wrangler, bandit goat bounty hunter, professional zombie hunter) … just have fun with it!

How Are You Having Fun On Your Blog?

And there’s always the actual content of your blog, but you knew that! I’m interested in learning more about your approach to creating a fun environment for your visitors — post a comment with some tips for those interested in having fun on their blog.

image credit: SigNote Cloud

Seth Godin is full of it…

Earlier this month, I had a conversation with a 20 something who thought that Seth Godin was full of himself.

Maybe.

She thought that the things that Seth says are just common sense and people make too big a deal of his words.

Maybe.

But for someone who is old enough to be her Dad, (I’m not), I also understand why he is so appealing.

Some of the stuff he writes about and speaks about is common sense if you were not “brain washed” by your parents to find a good job with a good company that has a good pension plan and stick it out for 40 years.

I recall my Dad offering similar advice but I refused to take it. I was in charge of my own destiny and staying with the same company for too long was the wrong way in my mind.

Seth pushes people further than some feel comfortable.

Maybe.

I subscribe to his blog and Sundays at 6pm feature a Seth Godin blog post. I find it as a way to challenge my thinking for the week ahead.

Others think highly of him too.

I wouldn’t go as far as the genius label that Jim Connolly gives Seth..

Maybe.

The magic of Seth Godin

Posted: 21 May 2011 01:57 PM PDT

It is my honest belief, that Seth Godin is a genius.

Genius?

Without interrupting me, Seth somehow manages to compel me to need to tell you about his work from time to time. Seriously, I feel like I am actually under-serving the community here, if I forget to mention him periodically; in case new readers have not yet discovered him.

Conversely, I am currently being bombarded with sales emails, from a vocal advocate of Seth’s work and permission marketing in general. I gave them permission to email me, but with each additional pushy sales message they send me, I become less and less inclined to want to recommend them. I have never bought a product from them either. Professional curiosity is all that’s keeping me on their list.

When Seth’s blog posts arrive in my inbox each day, they are keenly awaited. Each post delivers value. Seth’s posts are written by him, but for us. The guys sending me the pushy emails also offer valuable blog posts, but they are written by them, for them. It always seems like I am being sold to. I feel like I need to keep my guard up.

If I see a link in one of Seth’s posts, I click it eagerly. I trust him. My guard is down. I believe that the link will offer me value. I’ve been educated to expect something positive. It works beautifully. You know what? Seth has never sold me a book, but I have bought every book he has ever written. In fact, I usually buy a dozen copies of each new book. I keep one and give the others away to people I know, who are ready to read what Seth has to say.

If you want to know what I am talking about, do this:

  1. Go to Seth’s blog.
  2. Subscribe.
  3. Then, take some time to read your way through his posts. Do not just read the latest posts. Bookmark the blog and work your way backwards!

If you do, you may learn how to inspire people to write posts like this, about you and your work.

Photo: Seth Godin

ScLoHo Moving Day


Just a quick note that it is moving day for the 4 ScLoHo Blog sites.

I will continue to use the Google Blogger hosting platform, but each now has their own domain name:

ScLoHo’s Really is moving from ScLoHo1.blogspot.com to ScLoHoReally.com

ScLoHo’s Collective Wisdom is moving from ScLoHoNet.blogspot.com to ScLoHoCollectiveWisdom.com

ScLoHo’s Social Media Adventure is moving from ScLoHoSocial.blogspot.com to ScLoHoSocialMediaAdventure.com

The Not-So-Secret Writings of ScLoHo
is moving from ScLoHonet-TheBook.blogspot.com to ScLoHo.info

I am doing this on a Saturday which typically is the slowest traffic day for the ScLoHo sites because there may be some downtime as the transition occurs. They say it could take 24 to 48 hours for a transfer to complete, but so far, it has been less than an hour.

All of the sites should automatically redirect, however for future reference, I would urge you to save the new domains in your bookmarks.

Thanks for your support.

Does Weird Work?

From the Copyblogger Blog:

image of New Jersey postage stamp

The Jersey Shore is back and up to its old antics again.

My guess — you being a respectable content marketer who finds that sort of display crude, irresponsible and embarrassing — is that you’re not tuning in.

Hey, I hear you. But do you know who isn’t offended by it?

The 8.4 million people who tuned in to the season premiere last month, making it the network’s most-watched series episode ever.

Whether you’re a true fan of Snooki, or you credit her with single-handedly hammering that last nail completing the Decline of Western Civilization, it doesn’t matter.

The fact is that each member of The Jersey Shore cast has gone on to create a recognizable and profitable personal brand in the 14 months the show has been on the air.

Not too shabby. And tucked inside the show’s success are personal branding lessons that any marketer can benefit from. Even if you’re not spray-tanned to a disturbing shade of orange.

Get a pen and paper because personal branding school is in session, Jersey Shore style.

Lesson 1: Own your oddities

If there’s one marketing principle reinforced by The Jersey Shore it’s that your oddities are what make you watchable.

Five minutes into checking out what’s going on in Seaside Heights this season and you’ll notice that most of the Jersey Shore cast barely looks human. They’re walking Halloween costumes, tanned, oiled and gym’d to the max.

And it’s their oddness that makes them interesting and what drives millions of people to tune in each week.

In an earlier Copyblogger post on branding and belly dancing, I spoke about the importance of creating a character — one that allows you to show off a heightened version of yourself to attract the right people to what you’re selling.

You’re probably not 4’9″ and God knows the world doesn’t need another Snooki, but what’s kooky and stand-out about you?

Figure out what it is and how you can make it work to your advantage.

Identify it. Use it. Become it.

Lesson 2: Polarization is a good thing

It doesn’t matter if you’re big, little or fall somewhere in between. Most of us are afraid to be a polarizing figure by taking a hard stance.

Just look at what happened to Groupon after the Super Bowl.

We hold back from going too far left, too far right or too far in our own direction in fear that we’ll be isolating our audience. And I get that – because you very often will be. But that’s not a bad thing.

The Jersey Shore kids are good examples of that. You’re either appalled by their train wreck or you’re mesmerized by it. And that’s why it works.

A post on the OK Cupid blog last month touched on the same concept, bringing up the mathematics of beauty. Specifically, it showed how playing up what some people don’t like about you allows you to attract the people who will.

It’s why edgy Meaghan Fox is more attractive than wholesome Kristen Bell, or why guys with tattoos are rated better looking than the average prepster.

If you want to be memorable, create a contrast. Going the safe route and trying to be everything to everyone won’t win you fans, it’ll only bring in people who don’t have an opinion about you either way.

Those people aren’t going to buy your stuff, and they won’t remember your name in the morning.

Lesson 3: People want a little drama

Season 3 of The Jersey Shore came with one promise -– that it would be the most drama-filled season to date.

So far, it’s lived up to the hype, with cast members getting into scary physical altercations, getting arrested, and with sudden character exits. The drama keeps people hooked because everyone wants to see what’s going to happen next and who is going to do what to whom.

If you’re working to build your personal brand, I wouldn’t recommend going out and getting arrested tomorrow, but do look for ways to create a little spice.

Maybe it’s Groupon releasing controversial commercials or you deciding to take an unpopular stance on your blog.

Associating your brand with a splash of excitement will help keep it top of mind and always relevant.

Lesson 4: You’ve got to build your platform

It’s easy to hate on The Jersey Shore kids for what they represent, but at the end of the day, they’ve created a platform that extends far past the show.

Snooki is a New York Times Bestselling author (wrap your head around that).

“The Situation” is said to have made $5 million from appearances and products (including his own vodka line and garment bags).

Jenny aka “JWOWW” has a book and bronzer, Ronnie endorses a popular weight loss drug, Angelina has a music single, Sammi has a perfume, and Vinny and Pauly D both have clothing lines.

Not bad for 14 months in the spotlight.

Sure, it’s ridiculous, but they created it.

The personal brand you create means nothing if you don’t have a business model. If you’re spending an hour a day on Twitter talking to people without finding a way to bring them back to your site or direct them somewhere else to do something, you’re leaving money on the table and you’re wasting your time.

Decide what you want these channels to give you and then create a plan for how you’ll be accomplishing that.

While The Jersey Shore certainly isn’t doing our younger generations any cultural favors, they are giving smart marketers some branding lessons worth tuning in for.

And now you have an excuse for the next time you’re caught watching …

About the Author: Lisa Barone has the totally pompous title of Chief Branding Officer at SEO consulting firm Outspoken Media. She tries to make up for the title by blogging Important Stuff on the Outspoken Media blog and being amusing on Twitter @lisabarone.

So You Want to Go Social?

From ScLoHo’s Social Media Adventure, with a couple of adaptions for this site:

Last year, a few folks suggested I write more about Social Media.

Some wanted me to teach Social Media.

Others wanted me to justify Social Media.

That last one was a doozy.

So after giving it some thought, I started preparing another website that would share some of what I have learned over the past few years along with some guest posts from others.

Not every one of the previous 35 posts are note worthy, but some are worth checking out again, or if you didn’t see them the first time, you can scan thru the list and see what captures your interest:

Here’s a video that shows why we should care about Social Media. Pass this on to the skeptics. Click here.


Click here for an Illustrated guide to setting up a blog.

I also presented a weeks worth of Twitter information including this Illustrated guide to setting up your Twitter account, click here

Also regarding Twitter, click here for some Twitter Terms you should know.

And click here to see the application I use and recommend for managing LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

ScLoHo’s Social Media Adventure is updated every weekday at noon.

That’s Monday through Friday, eastern time.

You can subscribe via email, or RSS feed and it won’t cost you a dime or a dollar.

We call that Free in Indiana. Click here to go there.

Passing along the Mouse Ears

This Website, ScLoHo’s Collective Wisdom is dedicated to all of those wise folks around us who share their knowledge and wisdom so the rest of us, can learn from their successes and failures.

One such person I feature on a regular basis is Drew McLellan, and Drew draws from the wisdom of other too:

Walt Disney’s marketing tips

Posted: 24 Jan 2011 05:59 AM PST

Picture 6My greatest teacher when it comes to all things marketing was not a professor or professional mentor.

It was Walt Disney.

Somehow, in the midst of ROI, measurability, counting clicks and studies that can track a person’s eye movements to see what part of an ad captures their attention first — we have forgotten that marketing and branding is ultimately about wooing and winning someone’s heart.

But Walt never did.

At MMG, we talk a lot about creating a love affair with your customer… but Walt knocked it out of the park and his cast members continue to do it today, with every guest interaction and every new story told.

A few years ago, in the midst of one of our annual pilgrimages to the Mouse, I wrote a series of blog posts that later became an e-book spotlighting some of the many ways that Walt Disney demonstrated his marketing chops.

These are tips that any business — B2B or B2C — can employ. I’d love to share it with you and have you share it with others.

Download it by clicking on the link: Walt Disney’s marketing tips

A hat tip and a hug to CK for being the one who said… “you know, this would make an awesome ebook” way back when.

Blog Basics for Business

I believe in Blogging for Business, if you really do it. Piddle around, do it half-way and you might as well forget it.

Or start following some of these ideas from Drew:

The training wheels of business blogging

Posted: 20 Dec 2010 06:39 AM PST

97751822 We’ve just started working with a client who launched his own blog about 6 months ago. We’ve re-designed his website (with the blog on the home page) and are just about to go live.

As one of the last things on the To Do list, I was taking his old blog posts from his original effort and moving them to the new site.

God love him….but yikes! As I was preparing a document for him on business blogging basics, it occurred to me I should share it here too.

These are by no means all inclusive, but they are the cornerstones that we preach at MMG. (with a nod to Mike Sansone, who taught me all of them when I started blogging back in the stone age!)

Short and Sweet: A blog post should hover around the 300 word mark. Yes, you can occasionally go much longer or shorter, but in general, people have the tolerance for a good 3 minute read. Which means you must stick to…

One and only one message: Lots of reasons for this but if you’re going to stick to the word count and put some meat on the bone, you can only dig into one topic. So stay focused. And, it makes the post easier to read and remember. It also helps you to…

Write often: Our client was posting about once a month. At that rate, you might as well not bother. Business blogs are chock full of perks (SEO, define your expertise, attract new customers, etc) but only if you write on a regular basis. 3-4 per week is really what you should shoot for, if you want to build a legitimate blog. Now if you want actual readers…

Go out and find your readers: This is not a “build it and they will come” sort of deal. You have to be willing to step away from your own blog and go talk to the readers you want. Where are they? Odds are — at other people’s blogs. Go comment, share, and get elbow deep into conversations on blogs that parallel yours in terms of topic. If you’re smart or interesting there, they’ll come visit your blog as well. Another way to draw attention…

Link out: When you’re writing about a specific topic or person — link out to them. Especially bloggers who track their links like bloodhounds. You should try to include at least one link out in every post. Not sure where to find relevant writing? Use a free tool like Zemanta to help.

Of course, there’s much more, but these are the training wheels of blogging! From your experience either as a blogger or reader — what would you add?