Posts with tag "blogging"

Can I ever be wrong? You betcha….

There seems to be this underlying thought that anyone who writes a blog is some sort of expert in whatever field they have chosen to write about. Sorry but I don’t fit that bill. In days gone by I probably would have fallen into the catch all category or a jack of all trades.

Over my life I have had many different jobs or businesses. I have been a truck driver, hot tar roofer, owned a small country store and for the past 20 years been involved with the computer and software industry. Where once I might have been that jack of all trades I have become what I would call a jack of all information.

If it has to do with technology and the Internet it gets my attention and helps fill my veracious appetite for information. However since I have started blogging full time I have also been able to keep informed about things outside of technology which is great mind wise but it does have a side effect. That effect being that I have no expertise in any one specific area. Instead I find myself looking at things with more of an overview point of view and this affects how I think about technology.

For me technology and the Internet isn’t just about the bits and bytes but about how it affects people and society. I don’t believe you can understand the one without recognizing the impact on the other. Because of this much of what I write is from a non expert point of view and more from my opinions gathered by looking at the larger viewpoint.

Does this mean I am always right? Not a chance.

Does this mean I might be mistaken about some of the things I write about? You betcha.

Does that bother me? Nope – not a chance.

For me writing my opinions and thoughts about things to do with technology and the Internet are only a part of why I do this. The other part which for me is equally important is that I get the chance to start a conversation with smart people. some will maybe agree with what I write which is really cool but even more important is that some won’t and they take the time to tell me why I am wrong. This is the important conversation because as it develops, as more people join in the more we all can learn from each other.

As a side note this is one of the reasons while I was so thrilled to start working for Duncan Riley of The Inquisitr. Several times in podcasts we had done together he challenged my thoughts about some things and logically made me re-evaluate my opinions about those things. For me that was the best part of doing those podcasts and why I am glad to be writing on his blog.

You may not agree with the things I write here and that is great but what is even better is when you take the time to show me how I am wrong. I don’t claim to be the smartest person in the room – far from it; but remember smarts don’t necessarily come from being an expert in any given field. Sometime being someone who has lived a wide and varied life; not to mention a long one, can have something to draw on on than expertise. It’s called life experience and seeing how people and society act over a long period of time.

I love what I am doing and look forward to doing for many many years to come. Hopefully along the way I manage to make you think about something differently and in turn you help me learn or change my opinions. After all isn’t that what conversation and communication is supposed to be all about?

So if you have come here expecting some expert opinion I hate to burst your balloon. What you will find is some 40 odd years of life experience looking at our technological as it rapidly changes and give you his opinions and thoughts – right or wrong.

After all what else is a cranky old fart suppose to do.

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The ‘numbers’ of blog readers are bullshit

Perez Hilton

Image via Wikipedia

The other day Svetlana Gladkova over a Profy had an interesting post that took the flip side of a recently released study when she asked about the 52% of internet users that don’t read blogs. This led the TechWag blog to wonder if the time was here where readers didn’t know if it was a blog they were reading or not.

As interesting as those two related posts might be I’m going to go one step further and suggest that in the larger scheme of the web people couldn’t give a damn if what they are reading is a blog or if it is some mainstream media site.

Seriously, think about it. Does your best friend care what a site owner is calling themselves if the content is interesting and informative? Do kids care if Perez Hilton is a blog or just a really cool site full of gossip that interests them? When your mother or father click on a link do you really think they care if the endpoint is a blog or some newspaper site?

Probably not.

It only seems to the bloggers who seem to have this enormous need to qualify everything they post to the web with “I’m a blogger” instead of just being another writer with some news or information to share with our readers. It is as if we need that badge in order to make sure we differentiate ourselves from that terrible morally corrupt old media; or heritage media as the new term seems to be. The fact is that I think that the line between the two was blurred some time ago but we don’t want to let go of our uniqueness because we are afraid that if we do we will get lost in the noise.

I know from personal experience that the only time I even use the term blogger now is when talking online to people involved with the tech blogosphere. The rest of the time I tell people when they ask what I do – I write about technology and the Internet. It sure saves on trying to answer those quizzicle looks of what are you talking about.

Blogging as a profession may have come of age to a certain extent but that doesn’t mean that people will care. They just want to be able to find the news and information they want and have it presented to them in a professional and responsible way. They don’t care what it is called and really neither should we. Regular web surfers are blind to classifications because they don’t care and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. For them it doesn’t matter if it is a blog, a news site, a reference site or even a search engine just as they can find what they want easily.

We can take surveys until the cows come home but in the end whatever numbers they try and come up with for blog popularity don’t mean anything because the readers couldn’t care less about the name. They just care about the quality – and we should do the same.

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A fellow blogger who keeps me seeing the human side

I read a lot of blogs throughout the day but there is one blogger I always look forward to reading each and every day and while he is involved in technology his blog usually has little to do with it. In fact I almost look with every refresh of my feeds for his usual daily post and that isn’t something that I can say about the majority of blogs I read.

Sure it’s nice to read all those posts but very few of them consistently make me feel good about life the way than Brett Nordquist does on his.

Now I don’t normally get all warm and fuzzy like here but this is a rare occasion because I just wanted to share this gem of a blog with you. Brett sometimes writes about technology but usually when he does it is still from his personal point view about his work within the sector; and the people he works with, rather than about technology itself. What he does share with use freely is the love he has for his family and how they make him a better man, father and maybe employee.

I relish the posts he writes about the times he spend with his children as it brings back fond memories of when my girls where growing up. I chuckle along with him as he shares the funny things they do. I feel for him when he tries to make his way through the daily chores of being a father and a husband.

His sharing helps keep me grounded in a world that can sometimes seem to be too much because it gives me a moment to sit back and smile knowing that in the end things can work out. It is through stories like this one from today where you can feel human again in a world that sometimes seems to be moving too fast

I finished volunteering in Lincoln’s class just in time to help Luca’s class carve pumpkins. As I walked through the door to her classroom, several students approached me. One little girl said, “We’ve been expecting you”. I looked across the room and saw a table full of carved pumpkins as Luca grabbed my hand, leaned into my leg and said, “I thought you were going to help me carve my pumpkin”.

I picked her up and held her tight as the tears streamed down her face and onto her new glasses. The teacher approached and apologized for writing down the wrong time. But it didn’t matter to Luca. She’d told everyone in her class that her dad was going to carve the best pumpkin ever. I asked her to show me the pumpkin she carved. It looked fantastic. She had taped purple strands of yarn along the top to give it hair. “I’ve never seen a pumpkin with purple eyebrows”, I told her in my lame attempt to entice a smile.

That afternoon I picked her up from school and drove to our favorite hang out joint: Starbucks. Luca ordered a small hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and a plain bagel. She showed me how hot chocolate connoisseurs use three stirring straws instead of one. “Just make sure it’s not hot before you do this” she warned me.

We relaxed on a big purple chair with giant comfy cushions. Just the two of us. Side by side.

She told me bagels are her favorite food. Except for pizza. And potatoes with melted cheese.

I could listen to her talk for hours. I wish I could make time stand still. But moments like these come in unexpected short bursts. One can’t force them. That’s what makes them special.

So if you want to be able to have even just one minute in your busy day where you can sit back and smile one of those little smiles then I can’t suggest anything better than subscribing to Brett’s blog.

Thank you Brett (and your family) from the bottom of my heart.

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So You Want To Be A Rich And Famous Blogger Eh

The Inescapable Need To Blog Even If Everyone Else Is Doing ItBefore any real serious discussion about being a rich and (or) famous blogger takes place it has to be made clear that unlike any other media before it there are many different types of bloggers and blogs. For the largest majority of people who write on their blogs fame or fortune doesn’t even come into the equation. They are more than happy if the only people who read their writings are family and friends.

This post isn’t about them and if you are one of those types of bloggers then the best bet is to carry on with your reading elsewhere because this won’t be of any interest.

Now, in between this first level and the next is a curious bunch of bloggers. They aren’t really in it for any money that could be earned from their blog since they don’t carry any advertising. In fact it will be this segment who are most adamant that advertising doesn’t really belong on blogs in the first place.

For them any potential income comes from sources outside of their blogs. It maybe through speaking engagements or consulting jobs because of the knowledge they have gained by writing their blogs. Probably the best known of these types of bloggers would have to be Louis Gray. At one time Robert Scoble would have been the king of the pile but recently, through his hiring at FastCompany he has started running ads on his blog.

The next level of blogger would probably be the person looking to either supplement their day job incomes; with a possible eye to doing the blogging thing full time. For them advertising is an intregal ingredient to their blogs. Some might take on work for the larger blog networks again either as a part time type deal or as a full time job with the eye to build up their recognition factor in the business and promotion of their own personal blogs.

In this segment I would as far as the tech blogs are concerned point to MG Siegler, Cyndy Aleo-Carreria and Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins as prime examples of working bloggers with an eye to future opportunities but still putting food on the table working for larger networks.

Then of course we have the poster child bloggers of success that everyone likes to point to as the pinnacles of blogger fame and fortune. Whether it be TechCrunch, GigaOM, Gawker Media or even Johns Wu we hear about the million dollar deals and all those paid for conferences that add more money to their coffers and some bloggers want it so bad they can taste it. The allure of being able to work when you want and how you want while making all that money is our generation’s dream job.

I was reading a post today by Mark Cuban where he was talking about what it takes to become rich and I started thinking about what he was saying in relation to blogging; and the business of being a blogger. What follows is a few conclusions I have come to over the three years I’ve been doing this and reading Mark’s post. The thing is that some of them go against the current malarkey that a lot of famous and rich bloggers post about how to get there.

Deciding which type of blogger you are

Before doing anything you first have to get straight in your own head which type of blogger you want to be.

If you only want to write for yourself and friends then head off to WordPress.org and set yourself up with a nice template and have at it. This is the simplest form of blogging and in many ways it can be the most rewarding because there are no expectations – you are doing it because you just want to have a way to express your thoughts about stuff.

To blog or not to blog or how to blog or.....If you are the type that wants to be looked to as a knowledge source for something and are more concerned with your future income coming from that knowledge rather than the monetization of what you are writing about, then I figure you would fall into the Louis Gray category. In this case I would still recommend that you get yourself your own domain to run your blog on; preferably a domain that has your name in it because after all it is your name you will be selling.

For the last two types having your own domain is a requirement that you can’t get away from but even here you can’t be cheap. Many bloggers who buy their own domain will then need somewhere to host it and this is where they often make their first mistake (I’m still living with this one). They will more than often go with the cheapest hosting package they can which is generally something called Shared Hosting.

Well, when you see that run far far away from it because if you go that route that decision will come back to bite you right on the ass. Don’t go for the most expensive hosting package of course, but make sure that you have a good solid upgrade path that can be done with the flip of a cyber switch.

It is important to remember that if you are looking to a future where blogging is your primary source of income; especially if you are blogging on your own, then you have to make sure that you invest properly in the infrastructure of your business. In this way blogging is no different than starting and running any other type of business. If the foundation of your business is weak in any fashion your business has a much greater chance of failing.

Deciding what you want to blog about

This part won’t apply at all to the first two types of bloggers mentioned in this post but it does directly apply to the last two types. It doesn’t matter where you turn in the blogosphere the one consistent thing you will hear from people trying to tell you how to be a successful blogger is that you must write about the things you are passionate about.

Bullshit.

Remember this is a business decision you are making here. You are in the business of making a good living writing about something. As with any business the key is being able to find a market that isn’t being covered; or isn’t being covered very well, and getting in there before anyone else does. Blogging for an income is no different. I’m not suggesting that you can’t; or shouldn’t, be passionate about the area you end up writing about.

After all you may come across that under served segment because of your passion but don’t think that passion isn’t something that can’t grow because of what you end up writing about. Making money can sometimes prove to be a great fertilizer to help grow your passion.

I know given my past three years of blogging that if I was to start all this over again I would seriously consider where and what I blogged about before even buying that first domain name. I also know I would really think twice about blogging in the tech area because it is so saturated with bloggers of all types; which makes it even harder to stand out. That is the key for any successful business – you need to stand out from the rest and it is no different with blogging.

So as with any smart business plan make sure you are going into business in an area that – yes interests you – maybe it is even a passion – but always make sure you have a plan for standing out – for getting those eyeballs looking your way. Passion alone won’t do that. Smart business decisions just might.

Advertising isn’t the gold at the end of the rainbow

Anyone who thinks that they are going to be able to set up a blog and live off of any advertising income is an idiot – plain and simple. It might have been the case at some point in the history of blogging but that train has left the station.

Unless you are one of the big blog networks like Mashable, ReadWriteWeb or TechCrunch the chances of you making enough money from advertising is about the same as winning one of those hundred million dollar lotteries. Hell you probably have a better chance at winning one than paying your rent from ads on a blog.

Of course there are exceptions but again this comes down to a combination of luck and having picked the right area to blog about. While people like John Chow or other make money online type of bloggers like to post their income on a regular basis the fact is they are a very small minority of the blogging world and chances are they already have the top spots taken leaving the breadcrumbs for everyone else to chase. As Mark said in his post

There are no shortcuts. NONE. With all of this craziness in the stock and financial markets, there will be scams popping up left and right. The less money you have, the more likely someone will come at you with some scheme . The schemes will guarantee returns, use multi level marketing, or be something crazy that is now “backed by the US Government”. Please ignore them. Always remember this. If a deal is a great deal, they aren’t going to share it with you.

This same thing applies to things like affiliate marketing and make money online – unless you get in on the ground floor of things like this you will never be the top earners. The fact is that advertising dollars; while they can be a nice bonus or a good foundation for growth at some point, won’t bring in the dollars that 99% of bloggers are expecting – or hoping for.

So where’s all the money?

While advertising; especially if you can hooked into one of the major ad networks like Federated Media, can provide a backbone for your blogging business this isn’t where all the money is. Many bloggers think that blogging is all about sitting behind their computer reading feeds and taking part in all the social media nonsense going on. Well this is only part of the blogging business but it is not where you will make the majority of your money.

Show me the greenAnyone who is looking at blogging as being their primary income source needs to understand that all that reading – all that networking – is done in order to help make you an authority that other people will come to. As you become more well known opportunities to speak at conferences will start to pop up, opportunities to write books might surface or possibly you might have the chance to run your own conferences.

The fact is that much of the serious money in the blogging world isn’t made from behind the keyboard. The knowledge and contacts you make from behind it are where you make your money.

There is one other way that smart bloggers have found to translate their business into big bucks. The buy-out. While this has primarily been in the realm of the bigger blogger networks being bought up by old media companies there has been a growing number of smaller blogs commanding multi-million dollar purchases. The most recent of course was the purchase of the one man blog Bankaholic for an immediate $12.5 million with an additional $2.5 million after a year.

In this case any smart business minded blogger would realize that by concentrating on make their blog an authoritative voice in any space could potentially make them an attractive purchase. Along with that as we saw with Bankaholic it wasn’t all about the page view numbers that everyone thinks it is. As Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins pointed out in his post on the sale

After poking around in the comments at ProBlogger and elsewhere, I think I found the answer. Izea’s Ted Murphy pointed to an interview Robert Scoble did with MoneyAisle’s CEO Mukesh Chatter. From the interview:

“Just in last three years alone, the prices for some of the bids have gone up 200% to 300%” said Chatter. As an example from Google, to be one of the top three advertisers for”high yield savings,” you have to pay $13.20 for a click. With a 1% conversion, it costs you $1,300 to acquire a customer.

Ted Murphy brings the quote around to the context of the Bankaholic acquisition: Those are the numbers behind this sale – essentially, it’s lead generation.

Smart business planning with a clear set of objectives and goals can sometimes lead to a much bigger pot at the end of the rainbow than just relying on the typical idea of advertising.

But I’ll have it made if I get on all these social media sites

Ya.

Okay.

Whatever.

Let me know how it works out for you.

The fact is that spending all your time on social media type network sites will get you well known – on social media networking type sites. If you are in this as a business the sooner you learn how much of a time sink these place are the better.

None of the top bloggers became famous; or made a really good living, believing that social media was the end all be all for blogger marketing. Ask Perez Hilton, or the Ars Technica team, or any number of top level bloggers just how much social media has added to their bottom line.

Sure social media can be a handy tool and many of the top bloggers use it just as that – a tool. For them it is an easy way to announce new posts across an ever widening readership base. I would wager than other than using automatic methods to announce new posts the majority aren’t involved beyond a bare minimum of time needed.

This isn’t to say that time spent on things like FriendFeed, Twitter or Facebook aren’t valuable but unless your area of expertise is intended to be the Social Media or Web 2.0 field you have to find your ROI for time spent on them. After all if you are spending all your time on Twitter or chatting with friends on FriendFeed or getting wrapped up in Facebook how much time is being spent on your business of writing.

Wrapping this diatribe up

I know I will never get rich or become famous writing here at WinExtra. As much as I might like to think otherwise the facts speak for themselves. I write about technology and social media which probably has more bloggers rehashing the same limited amount news that any other segment.

I don’t write 10 or 20 cut and paste type posts each and every day. I don’t write in the most positive way about our use of technology and that doesn’t resonate well with other bloggers who you need to help promote yourself.

And don’t ever think that this isn’t a business that doesn’t involve a large amount of promotion. You need to be willing to promote other bloggers via links or post content just as they need to be willing to do the same. so if you are the type of person who likes his or her technology with a splash of reality be prepared to find the road forward a tad on the difficult side.

I do love what I am doing but no matter how passionate I might be about how I feel about technology that won’t translate into a nice retirement fund. However I wouldn’t have it any other way and I just want anyone thinking about this thing called blogging as a paying business to keep just that in mind – it’s a business. This means that every move you make forward has to be the same sort of sound business decisions you would make anywhere else.

But then maybe you just want to do this for fun and if that is the case all the more power to you and you can ignore everything I said.

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