July 25, 2011
When people ask me, "what do you do?" I usually reply: Give advice.
Does that mean I'm a consultant, speaker, author or blogger? Fundamentally, I would say that I'm an idea author that does a great deal of research. Even though I've been writing this blog for almost five years, giving a piece of advice every post, I would NOT describe myself as a blogger. That's why I post about two times or so a week, and never on a schedule per se. It's not my job.
Blogs are just a tool for me to share, promote and develop ideas for my customers. That's why I blog when I can, and not on a rigourous schedule that impedes my ability to do my work. What makes a person a blogger, then? GaryV is a blogger because his wine blog is the engine of his business growth (directly for Wine Library and indirectly as a driver of his profile - which fuels his 'social media expertise' and street cred.) Seth Godin is a blogger, because his postings create a profile that sells his books and enables him to drive The Domino Project via his audience. Chris Brogan is a blogger because his blog drives his Human Works business as well as the sale of his books. PereZ Hilton directly makes money on his blog via ads and paid-links. Take the blogs away and all four of them will see a noticeable drop in their earning power.
For many of my friends, such as Marcus Buckingham or Mark Sanborn, blogging is just a way of promoting or sharing. Like me. Sure, I've picked up a speaking gig or two via someone reading a blog post, but it's not how I make my money.
Blogs then, should be included along with Facebooking, Tweeting, Newsletter writing and other online promotional tools - and not an albatross that hangs over our head every working day (have you blogged yet???). For bloggers, daily publication makes sense. For myself, and maybe for you, it's a matter of your schedule. Let this liberate you immediately, along with my pronouncement that you must OWN your social media tools and not let them falsely own you.
In a previous post (You Don't Need A Social Media Strategy) I argue that we must have a central business or brand strategy and leverage all social tools (including blogging) to work within that framework. Tech is the tail, not the dog. For most of you, your blog is a tool, not the tool kit. If you put too much time into it, and not enough into your core - you'll shrink your business as each new publishing innovation demands your adoption.
Ten years ago, before there were blogs, we wrote newsletters to promote, share and build out business. But for most, it wasn't our engine of economic value. Ten years from now, who knows what publishing tech will offer us the same opportunity or requirement.
October 13, 2010
Face it; your emails are part of a snow storm blowing into someone's Crack berry or smart phone. Instead of carefully reading through the items in your inbox, your recipients scroll them like spinning a roulette wheel. I see it every day on the road.
They open a few, answer even less, and your carefully written action-required email is ignored.
If you want to jump out of the e-noise and improve your readership with your email buddies, you need to hone your skills at writing good subject lines. Think about newspapers, their MVPs are the people that come up wit eye-grabbing headlines. We've been trained our whole life to scan for must-reads. Same goes with emails or blog titles. Good headlines drive click through.
The basics are:
* Vague is bad
* Hey! is not a real subject line
* RE: RE: FW: FW: is not attractive and will not be read right away
When I know someone well, I will make a call to action in the subject line if my email is intended to get someone to do something. If I need to change a call, I put it in the subject line. If I need you to send me a file, I put it in the subject. You'd be amazed how your response rates jumps.
When I am in a less intimate business relationship, I work on a three to five word subject that zeros in on why I'm sending the email. If we are working on an event together I'll put "About the sales conference" in the subject.
When you reply, feel free to start a new subject (too often we just reply and the subject line stays the same, except now with a RE: before it.) Let the new subject line redefine where the email thread is going. This not only helps to focus the email exchange on a real outcome, it keeps the conversation going. This is especially true if many of your email buddies are usually mobile. They scroll through subjects and make their choices almost on impulse.
Now let's talk blog posts or FB Notes: Banal titles don't drive click thrus or retweeets. You need to grab them with either a provocative statement or a relevant promise (my approach, usually). If you improve your headlining to gather attention, you'll see your statistics jump like you did when you learned or outsourced search engine optimization. Don't be lazy here, you've done a great deal of work on that great post you want everyone to read.
To sharpen your headline skills, visit Daily Beast or Huffington Post and study the relationship between clever headlines and retweets or comments. Do the same over at Yahoo sports. Don't bother with visually driven sites like TMZ as the gossip is the draw.
This is one of the ideas I teach over at my Email Training Website. Email is the vast majority of your knowledge output, so consider yourself a publisher that need to focus as much on form as content.
September 22, 2010
For the last few months, I must admit, I've been a bad blogger.
I went from four posts a week to twice a week to give myself time to complete my new book (Today We Are Rich). Writing that book was an experiment in total concentration - where I let everything else take back burner. The book deserved my pretty-much undivided attention.
Often, we try and complete projects around each other, and most of the times that process produces an average-medium quality product. This is becoming a problem for our multi-tasking culture, where social media's made us all publishers with daily/hourly deadlines. We are taking on more creative work than we can handle - and putting out the weakest work ever.
With my new book, I wanted to pour all of myself into it, so I gave up many of my extra-curricular activities. Giving keynote speeches or serving my consulting clients continued. But even then, I turned down business, especially towards the end of the process. Blogging, having networking lunches, goofing, watching sports on weekends, etc. all went 'on hold.' I worked on one thing, the book, 8-12 hours at a whack. (Note: I used a Facebook public page and my Twitter account to road-test ideas and crowd source content solutions. But that was directly connected to the writing process.)
Which then begs the question, is blogging my job? Could I call myself a 'blogger'? Nope. Not a real blogger like Seth Godin or Chris Brogan. Both of them have a business model for it, a huge congregation to feed daily and a real job doing what they do. For the rest of us, it's really a marginal call. I'll do well to make $1000.00 annually on Amazon affiliate fees and I don't have enough traffic for an ad model. So the point of it is to 'get my name out there' from a business standpoint. That's not a very compelling business case for a few hours a day.
Here's what I'm taking away from my short hiatus from blogging: If it's not driving your business, it's an extra-curricular like having long lunches with 'potential business partners'. Sometimes, you'll get work out of it, otherwise you get retweets, likes and other 'psychic income' (thanks Clay Shirkey).
If you, like me, determine that social media content posting is a nice-to-have component to your bizlife, then follow this rule of time management: Invest only the time you are willing to lose with social media. Consider it one of your give-back services, where you offer advice or inspiration like a mentor does to his/her mentee. With that rule in mind, you'll be able to consider taking a break from blogging, tweeting or Facebook to get 'some seriously important wow work' done (and done very very well).
PS - This rule works really well when you are playing the tables in Vegas or pink sheets on Wall Street too: Invest what you are willing to lose.
August 27, 2009
Today, I'm playing around with my fave new Mac App (Peak LE). It allows me to record audio, edit and deliver via my Mac with no external devices required.