Category Archives: Blogs and blogging

Here’s Why You Want to Blog

I read 6 reasons startups should consider selling to small businesses, not big enterprises on VentureBeat. I agree with all six reasons, and then some (but that’s a different post; more on that tomorrow). What struck me about this post today is the obvious great example of the value of good blogging. In this case, the eyeballs, and the links. 

VentureBeat on Startups

Consider the picture here, with my highlight on the link. Andrew Gazdecki wrote an excellent post and got VentureBeat to publish it.  VentureBeat is huge, prestigious, and gets a lot of traffic. So for his blog post Andrew got: 

  • The SEO benefits of a link from VentureBeat to his site. 
  • The traffic benefits of that link and people following it. 
  • The eyeballs, including mine. 
  • And this blog post. 

I’d never heard of Biziness Apps. I clicked, I looked, and I filed it away. I’m in the target market. I might follow up.

So that’s a good argument for business blogging. Right? 

Are Tech Conferences Distorting the Business News?

Does friendship affect Journalism? Last month I noticed Dave Winer’s tweet about so-called access journalism:

newspapers

The emphasis there is mine. I care about journalism, was a journalist for years, have a grad degree in that subject, but I had to guess what access journalism is. And that note about  crossing lines and things forbidden by unwritten rules was irresistible. So I clicked the link. This is from Dave’s piece:

In an earlier life, as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, I was good at the access game. I traded ideas and news with reporters, and in return they wrote nice things about me and my product. I’m sure many of them actually liked our products, but the reason they looked at them, or even heard of them, was this exchange of favors.

That’s true. I was there back then, consulting, writing software, and making ends meet by writing for business and computer magazines, and, more than once, interviewing Dave Winer. He wrote some ground breaking software and was combination of entrepreneur and pundit, a great interview. 

But I’m not so sure about his next point:

When you don’t do this, they pretty much ignore you, or worse. I’ve had a fair number of very negative jobs done on me by the press after I gave up the favor-doing. … The people who control access to users through the press play a dirty nasty game. And many of them have business cards that say they’re journalists.

So that, I guessed, was what he’s calling access journalism. And that, for the record, is an issue that started about 100 years before the Internet or social media. Although we didn’t use the phrase access journalism, the friendship relationship between journalist and source was a big issue even back in 1971 when I was in grad school in Journalism and started working with a wire service. And furthermore, it was also a big deal in the late 60s when my generation of college students took on the world, we mistrusted major media as part of the so-called military industrial complex. Big business, major media, oh my. My generation assumed what Dave calls access journalism was the norm, not the exception. 

And honestly, the years that I was full-time journalist in the 1970s, covering business and economy of Mexico for Business Week, I depended on relationships with business and political leaders to keep me on top of the information flow. Access was vital. I couldn’t have done the job without it. 

And time marched on. so now there’s social media, and a new kind of amplified friendship. And the rise of celebrity as power. Are these different issues, or the same thing Is it a different set of issues? These changes certainly make access to sources easier. I had just the phone, and mainly the phone to the receptionist or secretary as gatekeeper. 

Dave’s picture of the dark side of this doesn’t match my memory of those days exactly. Still, I went on to read both of the pieces he links to: First, Margaret Sullivan’s New York Times column questioning the Times’ own Dealbook conference, which featured, she says:

Big Wall Street names, flashy graphics, edgy Global Chill music, weighty discussions of economic challenges, a few good laughs and even some news tidbits. 

But didn’t include: 

A great deal of distance between sources and those who cover them — something traditionally thought to be a bedrock journalistic idea.

Dave also included Felix Salmon’s answer to that, in his column for Reuters:

Sullivan thinks that the conference debases the NYT’s editorial independence: given that you can’t run a conference without boldface names, she says, “the Times’s indebtedness to these sources lurks in the shadows”. To which I would say: quite the opposite. When you’re running a conference and your sources are right out there, in the open, on stage with you, that’s the limelight, not the shadows. The shadows is what we’re given the other 364 days of the year, when innumerable stories are written on the basis of off-the-record conversations with these exact same sources.

I think it’s an interesting debate. I see two sides, and I’m glad Dave covered both sides, by linking to them. What do you think? Is this an issue we should worry about? 

(Image: istockphoto.com)

Do You Think ‘Be Lazy’ ‘Do Less’ and ‘Ignore Trends’ Is Good Advice?

I love the contrarians. Surprise me, please. Puncture the myths, buck the trends, ignore the cliches. Brad Smith goes straight contrarian with these three tips for social media success: 

  1. Be lazy
  2. Do less
  3. Ignore trends

That sparked some interesting comments for the post on Social Media Today.  I bet that doesn’t surprise you. 

But when you look at it, his advice isn’t that contrarian. It’s two-thirds content and one third skepticism.

The two thirds content is (first) suggesting that providing good content allows you to be lazy because instead of pursuing people, you offer content, and they pursue you. And (second) that doing less is creating content instead of lots of updates. Both points seem valid to me; neither point is surprising, 

And on that last third, ignoring trends, Brad has an interesting example. He says Pinterest is all the rage, but businesses will find Pinterest traffic isn’t necessarily their target market. I suppose that’s true, but he goes on to suggest that following trends is the opposite of working on marketing fundamentals. I don’t think that’s really true.

Still, there are some interesting ideas there. And twisting the unexpected, with what sounds like bad advice but turned on its side, is fun. Nice post.

Why Every Website Needs a Search Engine

Very useful suggestions Friday with Why Every Website Needs a Search Engine on Small Business Technology. I like the practical advice:

Convert visitors into business. Research firm MarketingSherpa released results of a study that found that visitors who used site search were three times more likely to convert than those who didn’t. Their research also showed 43% of site visitors went directly to the search box when visiting a website.

Gather data on visitors. By using the right tool, site search can provide valuable insight into your visitors. You can use these search terms to determine what information your visitors are seeking, which can help redirect your future marketing efforts.

Increase retention. Research shows the average visitor spends eight seconds on a site before clicking away. A search engine allows them to get where they are going quickly, increasing the chance they’ll find what they’re looking for before they leave.

The post, written by Stephanie Farries, specifically recommends SLI Systems for this. I also did this google search to get a list of free and not-so-free website search engines.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Bad

Whether you like it or not, silly or not, superficial or not, it’s sillier and more superficial to just ignore these obvious grammar goofs and think people who see them are just nitpicking. It’s about respecting your readers. That’s my opinion.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
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This list and graphic is from CopyBlogger. You can click on the graphic to see the original.

3 Tech Benefits and 1 Threat for Guru Businesses

By guru business I mean the expert business, and particularly the one-person expert business. I mean consultant, coach, adviser, researcher, business hired gun, life coach, trainer, and so on.  I mean a person who makes a living by selling (real or imagined) expertise, experience, and knowledge.

magnifying glassI was a business planning consultant for most of the 1980s and early 1990s, working almost always alone, just myself, no company. So that’s an example of an expert business. And I’ve been thinking lately about how much social media has changed that business model for the better. In this case – but with one notable exception – change is good.

Benefit 1: Marketing your expertise is way easier

There is a new way of marketing that is so much better than the old way. Call it the Web, social media, blogs, Twitter, or the combination; it means way more reach, automatically, if you do it right.

Consider the comparison, now vs. then: I lit out on my own as a business planning and market research expert in 1983. I had my credentials, of course, including academic degrees and a fancy title with a brand-name consulting company, plus some published works. But how did I make myself known? Word of mouth from clients who’d worked with me as an employee, yes. But from there it was a struggle to get my articles into magazines, my self onto the podium at the big trade shows (such as Comdex), and to finish a couple of published books on my main subject matter.

Today, in comparison, successful experts build their business by a combination of useful blog posts, active mini-blogging on Twitter, ebooks, and work with Facebook and LinkedIn. Do you see the pattern there? The gatekeepers are gone.

Where it used to be important to validate your expertise by getting through the gatekeepers in corporate branding and publishing, nowadays can’t you validate your expertise by making good sense on your blog? Believe me, that’s so much easier than the old way of publishing, speaking, and giving seminars.

Benefit 2: Acceptance is based on expertise more than setting

I posted this related thought on this blog Tuesday, about how clients can get better value from a one-person business with no overhead. Who does the work? The client is much more likely today, compared to 20 years ago, to accept and even approve of the fact that you’re on your own. Not having a company around you is no longer cause to wonder what’s wrong with you.

Benefit 3: With gatekeepers devalued, it’s the work that matters

And then there’s this last thought, which I hope is true: today we judge experts by their work, meaning their writing and speaking (and tweeting), much more than we used to. Today an expert’s work is more immediately available, and with less distortion through gatekeeper filters, than ever before. Isn’t it?

How do you evaluate a guru ahead of time? Usually the about page and the content of the blog. There’s less interference there. Back when I started, it took getting through magazine editors to get published, or event managers to get a podium, or joining or creating a company.

Do you frown on an ebook because it wasn’t published by a name-brand publisher? Do you mistrust a blog because it isn’t in a major business publication? Not so much. Am I right?

And the warning?

The bad news is the other side of the good news: It’s the work that matters. Today you have to either do good work or settle for clients you can fool. It was easier back then to hide mediocre work with a company around you, or an editor of a magazine to rewrite it. Today, if you claim to be an expert, you’d better create some content to back that up. Transparency is cool when it’s a bright and beautiful looking glass that highlights and spotlights you. It’s not so nice when it’s a magnifying glass that’s going to burn you like an ant in the backyard on a hot summer day.

(Image: Freshpaint/Shutterstock)