I Like to Learn but I don’t Like Being Taught

I’m very contrary. I like to learn but I don’t like being taught.

Headlines like: “# Things XYZ Can Teach You About…” make me cringe. Some place in my brain I am thinking, “well, let me teach you a little something…”. Or something like that. I am not very good with authority figures. Not that I am especially rebellious – I just don’t like someone who thinks they know more than I do. At least until they prove they really do.

A lot of people online will write as if they know what they are writing about. Making yourself an authority on the Internet is a marketing scheme – so, of course, they are all rushing to appear authoritative. In reality, they may have only had one site up, one month before they put out their first ebook explaining what a blogging guru they are.

You can’t really be an authority without some history and experience.

Even then, anyone who really considers themselves an authority has an inflated opinion of themselves.

It really is true – that saying about the more you learn, the less you know. There is always more to learn.

No doubt I have trust issues which come into the whole not liking authority thing. But, who hasn’t found a few reasons to mistrust any type of authority by the time they reach some form of adulthood? Those rose coloured glasses come with the protective bubble, make sure you stay in it!

If there is a point to this post it must be about thinking how you communicate with people.

It’s not just how you talk but how others hear and/ or understand what you say.

 

Taking Ebooks Back to Books?

Is bookbinding a dead profession?

I hope not. At the very least I’d like to know there are still people who can repair and restore old books.

But, I’d really like to see bookbinding become popular – taking ebooks to a new level.

I almost never read any ebook I have downloaded. Maybe younger people will change their habits enough to include ebook computer time. I find I want a real book, paperback or hardcover, to take me away from the computer. I love reading in bed. I’ve always got a book in my purse to bring out while I have coffee somewhere, wait for a bus, or just find a time and place to read.

If the ebooks were on paper I might read them. But, I don’t really want more computer time when I am not working on computer/ Internet things. I’d read all those ebooks if they were converted into books. I wonder if something like that will come along some day?

bookbinders

Since 1983 the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild has worked to support the development of the book arts in Canada. This web site is dedicated to that effort. The book arts include bookbinding, artists’ books, papermaking, calligraphy, letterpress printing and typography, wood engraving, paper decorating, restoration, and conservation.

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild

Why Have a Membership Site?

I’ve been thinking of ways to keep my domains active, other than using them as blogs. Keeping a blog is time consuming, every day. I’d like to have a few sites active as blogs (those I can sustain reasonably) and find some other use for the rest. A complimentary use would be smarter than spinning off in another direction.

So, membership sites came up as an idea. Not only could I find another way to use the domains/ sites but they could manage to pull in some money which would make the whole thing a little self sufficient.

However, what sort of membership content would work for me and what would people find useful? This is where I am in my planning. I did find a post which had me thinking…

I’m going to share two different ideas for members only content. The first, value content, appeals to your audience from a learning and business perspective, while the second, insider content, appeals to your audience from a more curious angle. Either approach can be effective. Ideally you find a way to use them both.

Value content is content that will help your readers make money or do something they’re really interested in. It’s especially useful and relevant to your readers.

Insider content gives your audience some insight into you and your work routine or life. Humans are naturally curious and interested in people we admire. Entire TV shows and magazines are dedicated to documenting celebrity life.

Source: 3 membership site ideas

I’m not sold on Members only content. Yes, it likely works for many people. But, it also makes more to keep track of and organize for the site owner. I’d need to schedule more content. Content in addition to my regular posts. Likely, longer posts which would take more time to write. Considering I want to work my way back to daily posting, this type of content is not sustainable for me.

Instead a membership could be for use of a discussion forum which the site owner moderates or live content/ chats. The live chat, podcasts and etc. could be kept available as archives (when the content is a month old, not so fresh that a membership has no real value) for your site readers. But, members get the time spent with you to ask questions, get feedback, etc.

There is also the ebook or newsletter. I’d consider an ebook, but keeping it fairly short. I’m not at all keen on the newsletter idea. I really don’t think anyone still reads those. I don’t.

Of these ideas the discussion forum seems the most sustainable for me. But, is it useful enough for people to want a membership?

Turn Posts and Categories into Faux eBooks

Lorelle on WordPress has created images in her sidebar to link to favourite, popular posts and categories in her blog.

But, she has made the images look like more – I thought they were going to be ebooks she has written. Did you think the same (if you have seen them) too?

Could you do the same? Think about the posts which tend to get the most traffic from your older posts and rewrite the titles as an ebook title. Then create a little image file. Then pull up the posts you wrote and loved, the ones you thought would attract readers but just never took off. Dust off the dust bunnies and give them another chance. Do the same for your prime/ important category or categories.

Put a selection of the images in the sidebar, together. Keep them uniform in size and colour, etc. So they look like a set and will all seem to be something you did intentionally rather than random links to other sites or ads.

I bet you will get more clicks on them. I clicked on them in Lorelle’s blog sidebar because I thought they would be an interesting ebook to download and read.

I Think Jon Morrow Hasn’t Got it Right Quite Yet

I’m tired of blogging advice, no matter how well meant it may be. It’s an endless, bottomless pit and most people think blogging for a few months makes them an expert. If you want to learn about blogging only listen to the people who really are successful at it. (However you measure success, not everyone thinks it involves money).

I listened to a webinar by Jon Morrow today. I didn’t hear anything new really. Nothing I hadn’t picked up from reading blogs online or listening to Jon Morrow’s other video posts about guest blogging. The almighty great secrets of great blogging are not so hard to find, if you listen and think for yourself.

I’ve been writing online and publishing my own blogs for more than ten years. I’m not a popular blogger, mostly because I’m just not that socially committed. I like being a hermit for 20 of the 24 hours. I like the quiet, I like having my own thoughts and not having to consider how other people will perceive my every hand gesture, facial expression or fashion sense. I’m an introvert and proud.

So, why do I still have some silly longing for fame and popularity? I think I just want some kind of recognition or approval. (I have Father issues which I won’t get into). I want people to know who I am and think I’m a somebody. Not for a long time. I want to crawl back under my rock when it suits me. Anyway… for those who want some quick insight here are my current thoughts abut blogging for fame and fortune.

First – Stop thinking so much about link building, SEO and viral marketing. None of that will work if nobody likes you. You have to start with a base of popularity before people will be interested in linking to you. You have to be recognized as worthy before the search engines will boost your site. You also have to be someone people think is important before they are going to pass around your post links.

So, you need to look at connecting with others, networking. Jon Morrow suggests you start at the top. I think you should start with yourself instead.

Look at the bloggers in your niche or related niches. There are always good blogs which aren’t getting much notice. Approach them, invite them to link build with you. You can build yourself into an authority, a popular blogger in your niche by becoming someone who other bloggers go to. Draw more bloggers to you. You get readers, you get links and you become the blogger everyone knows.

Then we come to the plan of action. Conversion is the term Jon Morrow gave it and he rates it as the last thing in his three step plan. I’d put it first. I think of it as incentive and bribery and giving people a reason to notice you once they get there. It’s also a chance for you to do some backwards promotion while gathering supporters and converting browsers into subscribers and fans of your site. You think that’s a lot to ask for?

Here is the scenario I dreamed up… Ask a print author for a review copy of their book. Review the book on your site. But, don’t stop there. Run an event around the author and his/ her book. Draw people in with a contest, winner gets the book. Your cost is mailing out the book and your own time. That’s all. But, you’ve got people interested in your site, you’ve given an author free promotion for their book, you’ve run a contest/ event AND you’ve given people a reason to come back to your blog for your next event.

It’s nice if other bloggers will link to you and promote your event. But, don’t make it a necessity. After all, you’re already holding out the carrot (the book to the contest winner). Let that lure them in. Also, let the author of the book get in on promoting the event and promoting their book through you. Run an interview with them at the very least. Quite likely they will also run a link to your event, it’s about them and their book after all.

I think you need to have your plan for this conversion in place before you begin focusing on networking with popular bloggers and getting them interested in you. You want the readers attracted this way to find something once they get to your site. It’s not enough to attract visitors and traffic – you want to keep them.

When you do approach popular bloggers think of something you can do for them. Check out their site, click on links and give it a general test drive. It’s not a big challenge to find an error, a broken link, a typo, etc. I send people notes about stuff like this on Twitter. I almost always get a thank you reply back. This is a decent opening you can use to start up a conversation. You’ve done something to help them, even something small like this is something real.

Read their posts and the comments they make. With your unique kills and knowledge and ingenuity… see if you can offer them a solution to a problem. Or, give them a fresh idea, fresh input. Someone who comes up with a solution to a problem is someone who will get noticed and be remembered.

Once you have your foot in the door, ask them a question. Ask something about a post they wrote. Ask them about an ebook they promote on their site. People like to talk about themselves. Just don’t ask a stupid question. There are stupid questions. Don’t ask where you can get their ebook if the link is on the front page of their site. Be real, sincere and interested in them.

When it comes to social media, go back to being social. Don’t try to force more keywords into your posts. Don’t try to come up with headlines that might go viral because they are dramatic or shocking or just plain rude and obnoxious. Talk to people, as if they are actually people you would talk to. Like me, people are getting tired of blogging advice, marketing advice and all the rest. Stop being a marketer for awhile and see how just being social, like someone part of a community, works for you.

Jon Morrow thinks guest posting is the way to go. I’m cynical on that. I’ve had too many awful requests from people who want to write guest posts. I don’t take any of them seriously now.

I do think you can still make your own fame and fortune without relying on just guest posting. But, I’ve been known to write a few and I still write for network sites – which is almost the same as guest posting, you just get paid for it.

Think about the blogs you read, the Twitter posts you are most likely to forward… then apply those feelings to yourself and the way you blog. Would you read your own content? Is it flat? Read about copy writing, find tips that make your blog posts more readable – easier on the eyes and memorable too.

So there’s my grand advice on the adventure of blogging. Subject to change without notice. The technology changes, the plans evolve but so far, there are always more people hoping to find fame and fortune writing at their keyboard.

Good luck… or best wishes, to us all.

Ask a Question a Day

Pick a time frame, a month, a week, 2 weeks… and ask yourself a question each day. Post it to your blog and see what your readers will answer as well.

I’m going to write a self questionnaire and leave it here for anyone to add their own answers.

  1. What would you choose for your first name if you could choose anything to replace the name you were given?
  2. Do you believe there really is a Lost City of Atlantis, a Loch Ness Monster or life on other planets?
  3. If you were a shapeshifter, what type of animal would you choose to become and what would you do while you were that animal?
  4. What do you really want for Christmas this year? Don’t give the world peace type of answer, be selfish.
  5. What book (of all those you can remember reading) have you never forgotten?
  6. What legendary character (pirate, ghost, vampire, old world explorer, mad scientist…?) would you be if you could be in the pages of a good book?
  7. Which is your favourite season and why?

Here are my own answers:

  1. As a kid I thought I would like a different name but I really do like my name now and wouldn’t change it to anything else.
  2. I do believe in Atlantis, Nessie, Bigfoot, aliens and almost all the rest. Is it ironic that I don’t believe in the more accepted things like heaven and hell?
  3. I’d like to be a crow or some type of raptor bird that can fly very high and see the world from above. I’d like to explore places no human usually sees, the high floors of old buildings, tops of bridges and so on. I’d also like to be a shark and explore old shipwrecks too.
  4. Usually there isn’t anything I really want other than to be slimmer or something like that. This year my brother may be getting me an ebook reader/ Kindle and I’ve started getting interested in that. I’m thinking I will also look at a handheld scanner after Christmas when the Boxing Day sales start.
  5. “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson.
  6. It’s hard to pick one but I think a witch combines most of the things that interest me.
  7. Winter because Summer is too hot and I like walking through the snow on a day when it all sparkles in the sunlight.

Promoting Criminal Acts is Not Acceptable

I am not printing the name of the book (an ebook) or the name of the online retailer who has the book for sale. Both have been given plenty of viral publicity in the past couple of days. I first read about it on TechCrunch and I won’t link to them in this post either. I choose not to promote the book instead I am going to speak out about the issue and the fact that people still need to be responsible for their actions. Giving rights and freedoms does not mean we should become permissive, allowing everything and anything rather than using common sense and our own censorship.

We live in a great big world, with a lot of people. Some feel different about issues than we do ourselves. Some are smokers and some are non-smokers. Some are abusive to others and some are too kind. Some believe in sexual freedom and some believe there is too much promiscuity. Some are fond of violence and horror as entertainment and some prefer to give up everything, even their own lives, in order to keep peace in the world.

There must be some lines drawn. We need to protect ourselves, from ourselves. Absolute power corrupts and absolute freedom does about the same. For each issue there is another side. For each right and freedom given there is another taken away or restricted in some way. Everyone can not have everything they want all the time.

The government has put some rules into place. We push the government to make these decisions about morality, what is wrong and what is right. Then it us up to everyone to support the laws created by government. We can protest them, ask for changes. But, mainly, it is the government which must make these decisions for all of us. It is their responsibility.

In turn the media, the businesses and everyone putting information out into the public is responsible for the message they give, sell or promote. Outside of their own personal/ commercial interests must be the standards set by our community via the government.

In the end, we are each responsible for the issues we promote and the standards we maintain. For an online retailer to take standards into their own hands and promote something against the laws of the country they reside in, is not acceptable and should never be acceptable. There is a group of people who do not deserve to be made victims to the rights and freedoms of another group of people who are stepping outside of the government written laws.

I think the online retailer in this case is thinking about their sales, the promotion of their site and not thinking at all about the victims to this activity being promoted by the book they are selling. They fluff off their responsibility by claiming freedom of expression, the rights of those committing criminal activities. This is dangerous. The needs of our community must take precedence over the needs of viral marketing, sales and even freedom of expression.