If You’re so Smart, Why are you Pissing Off your Readers?

These are things that REALLY bug me about blogs I go to read for the first (and likely only) time. The irony is, these are polished and professional looking blogs by people who want to give me advice about how to blog. Maybe they should rethink that!

Video posts – I don’t want to wait for them to load. I don’t want to listen to someone talk when I could read about it and take my time to understand what they are saying. Also, since I changed from Windows to Linux I have no sound on my computer. Someday I will fix that. But, I like a silent computer so I’m hardly in any rush. I’m not the only one who can’t see or hear your video for various reasons that may have nothing to do with a disability, being deaf or blind. Some people may be at work, others may be at home with small children napping, there are all kinds of reasons your video posts may be an unfortunate means of expression.

Comment Moderation – Any type of comment moderation that requires me to do anything beyond typing in my name and email (blog link is my choice) bugs me. The more I have to do the more annoyed and angry I get. I DO NOT want to sign up or register for ANYTHING. I won’t give out my email address to any comment service just so I can leave a comment on a blog I am not likely to visit again.

Comment Moderation (Word Verification and CAPTCHAs) – There should be a special place in hell for people who use this nonsense. It is outdated! Spambots have figured out work around and can leave comments on your blog. The only real comment moderation is to do it yourself. Choose the comments you will post and delete the rest. It’s that simple AND I don’t have to try reading some distorted text in order to comment on your blog.

Pop Ups – I know many of you were not around for the war against pop ups years ago. So, I try to take that into consideration. However, I really do get impatient and sometimes quite annoyed when I come to a blog for the first time and I am bombarded with a pop up telling me to subscribe to your blog, buy your ebook, etc BEFORE I have even read a single post on your blog. Back off! Do you really need to look this desperate? Let me find out who you are and what you have to say. How else will I know if I want to hear more?

Flash and other bloated scripts – People who use this must want to drive away readers. Are you assuming everyone buys a new computer each year or that we all want to sit here 10 minutes doing nothing or are you just an evil minion sent here to cause my computer to freeze up? Either way, piss off (to be perfectly blunt).

Doing any one or a combination of these things does not make you look very smart to me.

I do not write this to be nasty but at the time of writing this I am really pissed off with a blog that broke three of these reasons/ rules and caused me to sit here with my computer frozen for 15 minutes while I waited for the script in her pop up window to let me kill her damned video post which opened automatically when I came to her site.

It’s Time to Think of your Foundation Garments

Some of us plan our underwear, some of us even think of it as panties rather than undies. Some of us buy them in sets with matching bras. I, am a boring pantie person, as it turns out. I wear undies that could be compared to the stereotypically challenged Granny panties. But I wear them well and I like them! They fit, they come in cotton and the odd colour other than white.

Yes I would like to be swept off my feet for a romantic interlude which would include sexy lingerie, a weekend at a fancy hotel downtown and maybe something exotic (more exotic than pink champagne – which I’d also like). I’m thinking exotic like a trip to the adult store. I’d wear a disguise.

How would your perfect adult weekend go? Write about it. Include all the romantic and not so romantic details. Then send it to your lover (if you have one). If not, you could post it online with an anonymous/ secret email address and just see what happens, a little experiment. It could be fun!

The Ultimate Pantie Survey from A Slip of a Girl (for inspiration).

RIP at the Social Cemetery

I read Dead Accounts – The Social Cemetery on Derek Haines’ blog. This got me thinking about all the dead social accounts I have. I can think of a couple but I know there are others I joined and have not thought of in years.

We all have dead (inactive) social media sites, somewhere. You may have started one on Twitter, Facebook or any of the endless less well known social media sites. If you haven’t been back to that account in 3 months, a year or even longer, it’s just adding to the number of users the site claims to have. It lets them seem more popular than they really are.

For each of us it may not matter. Just another account you started and forgot about. It does leave your email address and other information hanging around. You might consider closing those old accounts for that reason. How do you know what they do with that information. Having a spam policy doesn’t really mean anything. Did you read the spam policy when you joined?

You might delete your account just to get rid of the reminder emails they send, or the newsletters which will clutter up your email inbox as long as you remain in their database.  It’s also a way to hear first hand about social networks that don’t make it and close up shop.

Hanging on to the account, should something change and you do start using it, is a remote possibility. Social sites seem to make it or not in the first year. Check through your email and go to each site as you find it. See how they have done. Keep those that seem useful. But remove yourself from the rest. Take the time to clear out some clutter and free yourself from dead accounts.

Inspiration from Pinterest

I joined Pinterest. It’s a closed beta so you have to ask for an invitation. I was sent mine within 24 hours so it’s not a long wait. I like the site. I know there are others out there with the same theme, the same plan. But, there is something about Pinterest that makes it stand out for me. For one thing I don’t see a lot of sploggy links. The photos on the boards really are unique and interesting. When I found the site I knew it was going to be one I would be coming back for.

Some common sense rules sent in email (below). I like what they wrote about setting the tone for the community. It’s very true! I don’t think everyone thinks about this when they begin their “shameless self promotion”. I hope Pinterest can keep their community.

A few tips to get the most out of Pinterest:
– Install the bookmarklet. It lets you add a pin from any website with just one click.
– Follow a few more pinboards. After all, Pinterest is as much about discovering new things as it is about sharing.
– Pin carefully! As one of the first members of Pinterest, your pins will help set the tone for the whole community. Use big images, write thoughtful descriptions, and pin things you really love. Also, no nudity 🙂

A good plan for any site or network you belong to:

Pinterest Etiquette: Try to…
Be Nice!
Be Creative. The best pinboards mix products, art, recipes and images from all across the web. Try not to pin everything from a single source.
Give Credit. If you blog about an item you found on Pinterest, it’s nice to credit your fellow pinners by linking back to the original pin.

My account on Pinterest.

How to Ask for What you Want

This is quoted from the John Chow blog:

It’s All About Posture and Control

In the PR business, perception is everything and service will always go to the site or blog that the PR rep perceived as better for the show. If you come across as unsure of yourself or on the verge of begging, you can bet your bottom dollar you won’t be getting an invite. The last thing a PR rep wants to deal with is an inexperienced newbie at her show.

It’s all about posture and control. If you wanted to be treated like a somebody, then you have act like a somebody. While it might seem the best way to go about asking for something is to be really nice about it, in real life, being nice usually puts you in last place. This is not to say that you should be a mean bitch. That would be stupid. What it does mean is you should project an image of good posture and control.

When I want something, I assume the position that I am going to get it. Instead of asking, can you, would you or could you, I like to say I require, send it to, put the following names on the party list. People like to see confidences. It’s a natural magnate. An email that display it will always be put in front of an email that is timid.

I do everything wrong when I ask for something in a professional situation. I start by feeling I am asking for a favour. In fact, anything which gives back promotion is not someone doing you a favour, it’s an exchange of favours. Ignore the scale or how you feel about asking. I have to get better at this myself. I should find something I want and start practicing, especially in a situation where I would not be crushed if I am turned down. When you have less invested in it you can give yourself more room to ask in a better way, you’re already starting with a better mind set than feeling you need to ask nice/ beg for it because you really NEED it or MUST have it.

More posts about asking for what you want:

Get-It-Done-Guy: How to Ask for What you Want

Ask Politely and Be Willing to Hear “No”

When asking for help, do so politely, confidently, and humbly, and let them know they can refuse your request—that way they won’t feel pressured. Don’t expect them to say “yes,” but don’t expect them not to. “Please sir, may I have some more gruel?” asked Oliver Twist. If a scrawny orphan boy can ask, so can you. If they say “no,” thank them and go ask someone else.

In fact, expect people to say “no.” That way, if they say “no,” they’re just doing what you expect. It makes you feel powerful, like you’re already Emperor of the World. If they say “yes,” then you can be pleasantly surprised. Of course, if they say “yes,” they were violating your expectations, and as Emperor, you may have to execute them as an example. But such are the sacrifices that come with great power.

Asking for Help Makes the Relationship Stronger

We’re trained to think that asking for help is “using up a silver bullet.” Is it? Unless you constantly ask and abuse someone’s generosity, you’re giving someone the gift of doing you a favor. Think of the times you’ve helped someone else. It feels pretty good. The only time it’s unpleasant to ask for something is when someone says “yes” when they mean “no.” That’s why it’s important to let people know they can say “no” in the first place. You don’t want them to feel pressured.

Your relationship will get stronger when the people you ask for help become interested in helping you and you in turn show appreciation and gratitude for their help. Which brings us to the last step, which is sending a hand-written thank you card.

When you want something, ask. Be polite, and be willing to hear “no” for an answer. Don’t hold it against them if they say “no”, and write a hand-written thank you when they say “yes.”

Respect Rx: Do you Ask for What you Want?

Ask yourself for all those juicy little things you ever wanted. Ask for full-blown permission to be yourself. Ask for all those giganctico dreams you want to live out. Ask yourself to love your body and whole entire you. ASK. And say YES.

Then please do branch out from there to asking for what you want (by way of support or changing your life and world for the better) from your loves, family, employer, Congresswoman, and fellow (wo)man…And if you ask, and the answer is No, go around the corner and ask someone else.

Even better, just say YES to yourself. The results/goodies/rewards/love/acknowledgement/respect you want will show up if your request is from the heart and harmless to others. In other words, you can sprinkle your own magic fairy dust on yourself. Just say Yes and ride off into the sunset already.

Asking for what I want has never failed me. But I have, at times, failed to ask.

WITI: How to Ask for What you Want

How to Become a Better Asker

Here are five tools and techniques to increase your asking acumen:

1. Write down what you want

Here is one technique that can help in situations where you are not clear about what you want. While several other techniques also exist for gaining clarity, many require enlisting the perspective of another objective individual who can guide you through the discovery process, whereas this is a technique you can try all on your own. I have personally witnessed its power many times as I observed the following unusual phenomenon in my coaching practice: When I first have a complimentary introductory phone call with a perspective client and I ask them what they want to accomplish through coaching they verbally describe one set of objectives. If they subsequently sign up as a coaching client I email them a “Welcome Package” that asks them to write down the three short-term and three long-term objectives they want to achieve in our coaching – and what I frequently get back is a significantly different list! This happens not 10% or 20% of the time; it happens over 80% of the time. There is something profound that happens when people take the time and energy to think things through enough to commit them to writing – and the level of clarity is greatly enhanced. So next time you find yourself feeling vague about what you want to ask for, try writing it down first. Even if you subsequently decide to “say it in words” the very process of addressing it first in writing will likely lead to greater specificity and ease in your communications.

2. Get an outside perspective

I you are being held back by your own limited perspective of what you see as possible or of how others will react to you, then seek out someone who can help you see things from another viewpoint, brainstorm options, and role play possible interactions.

3. Stop hoping for “mind readers”

If you believe “You shouldn’t have to ask,” or if your requests are “indirect” and overly subtle, then realize that what you are doing is putting your future in the hands of “mind readers.” You are acting as if those around you can figure out what you want and then supply an appropriate response. By taking such an approach you relinquish your ability to control your own destiny and significantly lessen your chances of getting what you really want.

4. Re-think the concept of “respect”

Believing that asking for what you want is “selfish” is a reasoning distortion often born of a lack of respect for yourself and others. It seems fairly obvious that a lack of self respect can make you feel unworthy or less important than others and cause you to subordinate your own needs and “not ask.” What is less obvious is that not being comfortable asking for what you want can also arise from a lack of respect for others. More specifically, not asking can occur when you don’t respect others enough to share your honest thoughts and desires with them, or you don’t respect their ability to say “No” to you when they want to, or stick up for themselves in the situation. Rather than setting yourself up as the ultimate authority over who’s needs are the most important, or who can handle what in an interchange, try adopting the perspective that each person has the right and responsibly to honesty and straightforwardly express their needs and desires and negotiate an equitable solution.

5. Learn the skills for asking in a way that others can hear non-defensively

If you find yourself fearing how others will respond to what you ask for, or accumulating a history of receiving bad reactions to your requests, then most likely you are missing some key phrasing skills that will allow you to ask questions in a way that doesn’t push other people’s buttons. The good news is that these skills are learnable. For example, a simple but effective way to ask someone to do what you want in a neutral non-offensive way even in a potentially controversial area (e.g., to stop smoking or drinking in your presence or to stop making hurtful comments about your weight) is to simply say, “I ask that you…” – followed by what you want to ask for. Find an “effective communication” class, book or coach to help you grow your communication toolkit and your ability to ask for what you want will expand enormously.

The Bottom Line

Being able to ask for what you want, and to ask in an effective way that increases the chances you will get it, is a crucial life skill. It requires that you know what you want, are comfortable articulating what you want, and have the communication skills necessary to do so. If you don’t take control to say what you want you will be left at the mercy of others who will likely be more than happy to tell you what you need and what is best for you.

Women’s Health: Get What you Want: How to Make the Big Ask

Here are a few things I’ve learned about asking: The minute you’re afraid to ask for something is when you should do it. It’s nice to offer something in return, even if it’s just a compliment or a kind gesture. It also helps to take a few deep breaths and imagine the worst possible outcome. Usually, it’s simply getting a no, which is not exactly life threatening. Whether the result is life changing or disappointing, asking is always a significant accomplishment. Because if you ask me, it’s the questions in life—not the answers—that really count.

Psychology Today: Wander Woman: Strong, Smart Women: Ask for What you Want at Work

Friend Friday and Blogging Rules of Engagement

This is my post for Blogging A to Z, E for Engagement. I’m a bit behind on the A to Z. Will catch myself up tomorrow.

I found Friend Friday on Feminine Bravery. The topic of the week, for April 1st, were the rules of engagement/ etiquette for bloggers. You can take the questions and answer them on your own site. Or, read answers from Feminine Bravery, Modly Chic (the origin of the Friend Friday questions) and the others who took part.

1. Guest posts are a good way to gain new exposure. What do you think is the appropriate way to go about securing a guest spot?

2. Leaving comments is essential to growing your blog. But how can you leave a comment without coming across as ‘Follow Me. Follow Me!’?

3. We’ve all gotten a mass email at one time or another asking for blog exposure, a link exchange, etc… But the mass emails don’t work. How do you make your email stand out from the crowd?

4. In interacting with other bloggers where do you draw the line between seeking support and begging for exposure?

5. What’s one rule of engagement error you made and how have you remedied that?

Agatha Christie was in my Email

I’m cleaning up in my inbox. Quite a big chore. I’ve had this Gmail account since the year Google began Gmail. There are thousands of emails in it. Some sorted and many unsorted. A lot of them have never been read. I found this in a post from an email list I once belonged to. They were sent by the list owner, a few years ago.

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainty that just to be alive is a grand thing.” – Agatha Christie

“Most successes are unhappy. That’s why they are successes – they have to reassure themselves about themselves by achieving something that the world will notice.” -Agatha Christie

DIY Blog Book Tour

A blog book tour is usually hosted by a book author, one blogger or a tour service and consists of several bloggers making scheduled posts on their blogs, networking with social media, in order to promote the book for the author.

Tours are held for a new book release but could be used as promotion for a book already available. Blog book tours use word of mouth and buzz. Book authors will see their keywords bring stronger results as they are used in various blogs on the tour with the link to the author and his or her book.

As the host for the tour you will work with the author and make arrangements for bloggers to become involved. If you are doing it yourself you are both host and book author, you’re going to be busy!

Before you Contact any Bloggers:

Check your own site and links for the book. Make sure everything is in working order. Check the link where your book is available to be purchased, make sure you can access everything right down to making a purchase. If you don’t have a site, set one up along with social media accounts which can be used to promote the book tour, the book itself and keep in contact with everyone involved in the book tour. You also want to promote the book tour itself, let everyone know your plans for the event, post the tour schedule of posts and link to each blogger participating. This is your time to shine with networking while you have something to tell people about.

Give yourself time to do the work for the book tour. Set a reasonable time limit that gives you working time and yet isn’t so far into the future that the bloggers forget or lose interest in the project. Give yourself time for planning, shipping books out to be reviewed and read by the bloggers too. There is a lot of planning and organizing, it is reasonable to expect you will need a month or more.

Choosing Bloggers:

Pick bloggers who are in your niche. If you are writing fiction you will need to look at a lot of book review blogs, but see if you can get something a bit outside the box. How about a related topic to your genre? If you are a non-fiction writer you should have a lot of blogs to choose from but, be picky. Look at the content already published in the blog, what does it say about the blogger, their style and the level of content versus advertising. Does this blogger care about their image, their reputation as a source of information in the niche and how will their blog reflect on your own image and reputation? Find bloggers with ethics to match your own standard/ style.

Don’t restrict yourself to just looking at blogs in order to find bloggers to join the tour. Use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to find bloggers and as a method of contacting them. Don’t rely strictly on email as a way to communicate, not everyone reads every email and yours might be one which gets lumped in by their email spam catcher.

When you have found a blogger who works well with you, keep track of them. Keep in touch and ask them to be part of your next blog tour or give you an author interview on their blog in between tours. You could also write guest posts for them in their niche topic, with your link in the author profile to be used with the guest post.

Have a look at anyone who has a podcast which is relevant to your book. Be creative and use the new media.

Contacting Bloggers:

When contacting the bloggers make sure you give them all the information about the book (name, author, a blurb about the book and links to find it online) as well as your own contact information and everything they need to know to plan their own involvement in the book tour. Use the blogger’s name and blog title in any email or tweet you send them. Keep a list handy so you don’t get a name wrong or send a “Dear Sir” to anyone.

Set out Rules for your Bloggers to Follow:

How long should posts be? How many (and which) links must be included in the post? What about keywords? Do you want book reviews to be favourable or do they have leeway to write what they really think and feel? (If you want this you really should just get friends to do reviews for you or offer to pay for the posts). What types of media can the bloggers use: video, photographs, plain text? Do you want each blogger to make a post to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media to announce the book tour before and when the post goes live? What happens if they miss their date on the posting schedule?  Write out expectations so everything is clear up front.

Your Own To-Do List:

As you get bloggers interested and involved in the book tour write up a blurb about each of them, introduce them to each other and your readers. Be friendly and complimentary. Take some time to read their blog, the about page on their blog too. Put some time into it and talk about why you chose them to be part of the book tour, what you value about them and the blog they have built.

Send out your business card and a thank you note with the review copy of your book.

Be creative with your interviews and guest posts. You are setting the standard for the others to follow by the effort you make yourself. Come up with something that individually suits the blog the content is appearing on. This will also make it easier to be unique each time, even if you write a dozen posts for the same book. Of course, don’t forget to sell your book. Come up with something that sells your book to the readers of each blog, find something you have in common with the blogger or a recent post they made in the niche they write about.

Make a point of going to each blog in the tour, reading their posts and leaving relevant comments before the tour begins even. Establish contact, keep in contact and keep them from losing track of the event and their place in it.

Another option for content is an excerpt from your book or a fictional interview with a character in a fiction genre book. If a blogger really runs dry on something to post see if they can draw, cartoon or sketch something to run as a post. You can offer a free copy of the book to be given away to one of the readers of a tour blog. Pick the winner by the person who left the best comment, or some other criteria in tune with the book itself if possible.

Need Something Simpler?

If running a book tour yourself seems like taking on too much give yourself a smaller scale book tour. Go to blogs, forums and networks which have discussions about your book topic and participate. Link to yourself whenever possible, you can even use a direct link to a blog post which promotes your book. Generate your own buzz by talking about yourself and your book. Don’t go overboard. Keep your comments and posts relevant to the ongoing discussion. Even if you don’t mention your book you still get to add your link to the comments and posts you make. If you seem intelligent people will be interested enough to find out who you are and what you are working on.

There are a lot of sites which focus on reviewing books. Contact them, send your information and links, ask to have your book reviewed. Give them a blurb about the book along with your pitch.

Extra Resources:

Blog Book Tours – Some posts about blog book tours. They also host Yahoo Groups for blog tour discussions and a blog tour class/ workshop.

Pump Your Book – Extra information on this blog for bloggers, book tour hosts and writers.

Let’s Talk Virtual Book Tours – Authors talk about book tours they have done and results they have gotten.

Book Market – Links to online promotion and book tour resources.

Grow Your Own Writing Business – A post about virtual book tours in co-ordination with  others or on your own.

The Dabbling Mum – A post about hosting your own blog tour event.

The Boss of You – An example of how to write an introduction to each of the bloggers participating in the blog book tour. A little compliment and friendliness goes a long way.

KidzBookBuzz – An example of the information set up and made easy to use for bloggers in the book tour.

Blog Tour Services Looking for People to Host Tours:

Pump Up Your Book

TLC Book Tours

Not a Follower Nor a Leader Be

I don’t like following someone just because they succeeded, doing it their way. – Me.

After reading (trying to) the discussion for #BlogChat on Twitter, joined by @ProBlogger I felt I had just attended a religious gathering. I didn’t like it.

My overall impression was of information I already know from reading ProBlogger, CopyBlogger and etc. Mostly information I know from my own common sense and experience.

What I realized, at some point, was that mostly everyone there was a follower. Maybe there were a few who kept quiet rather than post the same party line over and over again. I don’t like that feeling of everyone agreeing with someone just because they are seen as an authority, or someone with power. There should be more individual thought than that. I wish.

It’s not that the information about blogging was wrong. It’s just that no one said anything new and most important, no one said anything different. There was no difference of opinion. There was no discussion of other ideas, other options. It felt too much like ProBlogger was god. That bugged me. I posted some disagreement but it was swallowed up. I couldn’t become a total rebel and post something guaranteed to start a disturbance. I’m still a nice Canadian grrl after all. I did post that email newsletters were dinosaurs when ProBlogger posted his link to a post about the great usefulness of email newsletters. He agreed that he finds them only preferable to RSS feeds. (When did you last read an RSS feed or an email newsletter?)

Anyway, at some point in my reading, listening, thinking and clicking the quote that started this post came into my brain. It is true. Very much how I feel. Someone accomplished, successful could be doing things right and well. But, that doesn’t mean everyone should jump into the boat and follow along as if that were the one right way. Maybe in get-rich-quick types this is what they latch onto because they just want to get money and then move on. They build nothing that matters and they care not what they leave behind. Also, they don’t really want to think for themselves, not really. They just want to follow something that worked for someone else and they expect to get the same results. Isn’t that a sign of insanity?

I like my thoughts about this. I want to keep them. To remind myself that I don’t want to be a follower, even if that means I don’t get the success, fame or fortune I’d kind of like to have.

No Reply At All

One more small thing that annoys me… people who put out an email asking me a question (like why I’m not using their network/ service) and then use a noreply@whatever.com as an email address.

Do you see the problem with this? Have you experienced this yourself? Doesn’t this feel like an irritating sales call you’d be happy to hang up on?

Please, if you are asking someone to give you a response, let them give you a response. Or, just don’t ask in the first place!

Today I had a reminder email from an online service which offers to store your computer files on the web (basically). I had to register on the site in order to find out more about it. (I would have rejected it right there but it was a link a friend had sent me). I could not see any real use for the service, plus they wanted me to download software in order to use the service. I didn’t want to download anything. I don’t know what it is they are having me download or understand the need for a download to use an online service. That was a week ago.

Today the reminder email came. They told me what they can do for me and gave me another link to the download for their software. I began to send a reply email, telling them I don’t have a need for their service, then I noticed the address my reply would be sent to: no-reply@xxxx.com. So my time sending them an email would be wasted. They don’t want to hear anything from me, just get me to download their stuff.

Would you trust them at this point? Pretty one way relationship they are setting up, I give and they take. Would you trust your files to a company that works this way? I’d explain to them why I have set their email address into my spam file, but… why bother?