FTC Wants US Bloggers

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is getting interested in US bloggers who accept freebies. I think this is just the soft side. In the background it’s an attempt to get things organized so the IRS (tax collectors) can report on blogger income and collect a share.

A lot of people are mentioning using Disclosure Policy, the site that sets you up with a disclosure policy once you answer a few questions. I don’t think this is really what you need. But, if you’re worried about it, you have the option.

Petty Revenge for Annoying Word Verification

I really don’t like word verification, in case you didn’t already know this about me. So, just this afternoon I have come up with a plan!

I wrote a comment to a blog which uses word verification. At the end of my comment I typed:

Your word verification is scoff. Just letting you know since you have the thing turned on.

It really was scoff, ironically enough. But, that gave me the idea of telling every blogger what their word verification says. If they want to inflict the thing upon me I will give them updates about how it is working. You could even write up a prepared speech of a hundred words and just attach it to every comment you make which forces word verification or any of that annoying useless stuff on you. My comment note above was not nasty or demanding, just an additional note. But I thought of lots of less nice things to say and edited myself down to what I quoted above.

Will you do it too? Next time you are at a blog which makes you do word verification tricks in order to give them a comment, will you let them know their word verification is on?

Evangelist Marketing: Using the Buzz!

I stumbled on the term evangelist used in a job description. It was a first for me. I went on to read more and look it up as a career option too. I did find a job which wanted someone to create buzz for their company using all the social media and other online options. I also read about how some companies embrace the buzz about their products/ services and others intentionally ignore and downgrade it even. (I think they must be stuck in the mud). I also read more about the idea itself, evangelist marketing theory.

From Wikipedia: How to Create customer evangelists?

In their book, Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba outline six steps to creating customer evangelists:

  1. Customer plus-delta (Continuously gather customer feedback)
  2. Napsterize knowledge (Freely share your knowledge)
  3. Build the buzz (Create intelligent word-of-mouth networks)
  4. Create community (Encourage communities of customers to meet and share)
  5. Make bite-size chunks (Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite)
  6. Create a cause (Focus on making the world, or your industry, better)

WebProNews: The Power of Customer Evangelist Marketing

AimClear: The Respectable Social Media Marketing Evangelist

FastCompany: Buzz without Bucks

For that job.. The company wanted someone to run the corporate blog (including creating podcasts), keep an eye out for any mention of the company and it’s products in any kind of web media and then play it up, cater to it. You would be involved in customer feedback and beta testing offline as well.

The right candidate:
• Has a deep knowledge of and passion for technology
• Is one of those “connectors” that makes other people want to follow them
• Has experience with, and passion for, creating and consuming new content types: websites, blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc.
• Is an active blogger (This is a must! – be prepared to show me your stuff)
• Will be the go-to person when it comes to what’s hot and what’s not on the Web.
• Is a self-starter with the willingness, and desire, to “roll up your sleeves” and get the job done
• Has masterful interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills with a juicy Web 2.0 style
• Has the ability to work collaboratively in a team environment
• Might have past experience as technology evangelist- this is a plus!

Word of Mouth Marketing Association

Your Blog Should Fit You

I wrote a comment in a thread on the CMF Ads forum in reply to Erin who is feeling she is not cut out to be a blogger. First of all, I don’t think it should be seen as some exclusive club. If you post to a blog, you are a blogger. If you stick with it, you’re a better blogger. Anyway, for your consideration on the topic of not being cut out for blogging…

You need to make your blog more your own creation again. I think one problem for new bloggers is that they try to play to the reader so much that the blog stops being their own. If you direct too much to the reader you are giving away power and then it does feel flat.

Do something new with it. What are you interested in? What hobby do you love? What topic are you really interested in or what have you really wanted to spend some time finding out more about? Maybe you have always wanted to learn to draw or take better photos? Maybe you collect teacups? Maybe you just need to write for yourself again, free writing.

Take a week off to break away from the old plan and then start again with the new version. Give your blog a total revamp, start from scratch, change your colours or just a new header. Whatever it takes.

I don’t think you are not cut out for blogging, just that your blog has stopped being a good fit for you.

Demonstrating the One Question Interview

Question – If you could hire a professional writer for your blog, would you choose to do so or keep writing your own content for yourself?

Canucklehead – I would continue to write myself. Visitors of Canucklehead have come to expect and in an odd way enjoy the mindless, barely legible way I write and I’m afraid writing that was in any way professional would frighten and/or confuse them. (NOTE: I would however spend the money on beer – hence the whole mindless and barely legible thing. CHEERS!)

Texas RV Travel Blog – I have been a professional writer and editor for almost 30 years.

PictureFlick.net – My current site is a picture blog, so there’s not much to be written in it. But in the past I’ve had writing blogs, and I would continue to write for them myself as long as the sites stayed informal. If I was running a tech/business blog or something similar that needed a bit more formality, I’d most likely hire someone.

Tycoon Blogger – I have several blogs and some I am not as anal about so for those I would allow a hired writer to create the content. On my flagship blog, Tycoon Blogger, I enjoy writing on the topic of blogging and social media so much that I would continue to write even if I had the option not to.

Old Red Pen – I do a comic. I’d always want to be the primary illustrator, but I’d be happy to feature guest artists if I enjoy their work.

The Thin Red Line – I will definitely always do my own writing. I’m not a professional writer per se, yet I have and do make money by putting words together.

Thirty Something Blog – I would continue to write my own content. I do enjoy posting a guest post by someone else every now and then, but it’s MY blog and it wouldn’t feel right having someone else writing the content. I do this as a hobby, for fun. Hiring someone would defeat the purpose.

Ken Writing – My blog is my writing and my writing is my blog. If someone else were to do it, it wouldn’t be mine.

Cromely’s World – I have had a couple of guest posters, but I wouldn’t hire a writer. I blog specifically because I need to write. The act of writing keeps from brain from falling apart due to work related concerns.

Jane Bradbury and Paint Shop Pro – I will always write the majority of my content. I’m a perfectionist and couldn’t bear to farm it out, and like Ken, it wouldn’t then be mine. The mistakes I make now are my own mistakes; if no one likes my blog then it’s my own fault. I can’t shift the blame to someone else, or use them as an excuse. I do fancy some guest posts though

New Scribbles – I would continue writing for myself, it is part of the fun for me, I like my blogs to have a little bit of me in them, my humour etc. Plus I am a writer and love to scribble

I asked this on the forums at CMF Ads. I was glad to get a good variation of answers. As you read the answers which hold your interest, which of them are you likely to follow up to see their own sites? When you give an interview it is important to have the information being asked but, don’t forget this is self promotion too. Use your interview to engage your reader, even when it is a short interview which isn’t appearing on your own site. You never know who will be reading and possibly dropping by to visit you.

One Question Interviews

ProBlogger posted about making a linking post. In his list of styles of link posts was One Question Interviews.

One Question Interviews – this one takes a little co-ordination and advanced planning but is when you shoot a question out to another blogger (or bloggers) to get their perspective on a topic relevant to your readers. I find these most effective when you email the same question to 5 or so other bloggers in your niche and then compile all the answers into one post side by side so your readers can see different perspectives.

I really like this idea. You can come up with a question, not too complex, and get a lot of feedback and link to each person. If you work on getting a wide variety of blogging types you could end up creating a ton of new ideas.

Annoyingly Subject to Word Verification

I can’t read your word verification. Likely this comment won’t get posted which is annoying after I took the time to type it.

How many people do you annoy by using word verification (of any kind) on your blog readers? How many comments have not even been made just because you demand they type an annoying code they can’t read, or choose not to bother with?

In my case, I don’t use anything but moderation. That means I approve comments before they are posted. It’s a simple thing and it works. What really does tick me off are sites where I am expected to use the word verification and they moderate comments too. One or the other should be sufficient. Why am I wasting my time and patience typing in word verification if you (the blogger/ site owner) are still holding it back to approve anyway?

You may think word verification isn’t a big deal, but I hate it. I usually will not leave a comment when it is being used.

New Idea for Uncluttering

The next thing someone needs to invent is a sidebar or widget that lets you list all your webrings, blogrolls and other groups you have joined in one widget which you stick on your sidebar instead of all those individual blogrolls, webrings, widgets and graphic linkbacks. I see it being something like the widget for Wink. But, instead of links to your profiles on Yahoo, Blogger and etc it would be a link to all those widgets which usually clutter up our sidebars.

It could even take you to a secondary page on the blog where all those widgets and such are listed in full. But the widget on your main page would not have all that mass of clutter. If you have seen Wink you might get a better idea of what I am thinking of.

Now it just needs some code type person to come along and do it. Any time now… don’t all rush at once.

Traffic Through Blog Commenting

The best way to build blog traffic is not through link exchanges or begging and demanding other bloggers become your instant friends and link back to you.

Instead be sincere, take some time and post comments to the blogs you like to read. Choose blogs based on how readable they are, not just on things like PageRank and Technorati ratings. Don’t make the mistake of judging a blog by social site rankings. It is phony and if you put out phoniness you won’t get back the genuine readership you are looking for.

It takes time to make real comments but they don’t have to be thunderously long. If you do have a story to share go ahead and type it in. More is better. But, if you just want to leave a stray thought in passing that is ok. The key is to come up with something that has some meaning. Something more than “me too”. It isn’t a huge stretch to type “I’ve felt that way, hope you have a better day tomorrow” instead. Pick your words to suit the post, of course.

Don’t forget spelling, punctuation and grammar. Perfection isn’t necessary but aim high. Sloppy looking comments aren’t going to impress anyone.

An extra plus from leaving a comment is that you get to add your link to the blog too. But an insincere comment or spammy comment can be deleted at the discretion of the blogger. If that happens don’t complain about it. Read another post and leave another comment. Try again.