Guest Posts are Dead, Long Live the Interview

My new idea… (yes, it does need a little intro sort of moment)…

Guest posts have failed but that doesn’t mean we should give up on finding a new way to get ourselves promoted while we mix with other bloggers we want to meet. Instead of offering to write a guest post – offer to interview someone instead. 

First, an interview is flattering. To show enough interest in someone to want to know more about them and to write nice/ good things about them can only go well, in my opinion. Don’t be overly flattering, don’t fawn over them in a sickening way. Just be forthright, tell them why you want to interview them, what you find interesting about the things they are doing, creating or writing about. Be honest. If you can’t be honest then you should be doing research until you have real, honest and sincere answers to the question of why you want to interview the person.

Second, in most cases, the person you interview will mention the interview and link back to your site so that others can read the interview. This is why you don’t write a lame interview. Get good quotes from them – this is much easier when the interview is done through email. It’s very hard to misquote someone when they have typed it in themselves. Make a list of things the person is involved with, projects they are working on, etc. Ask them how the events/ projects are going and if they are any new coming up or any you had not found out about on your own. These are all reasons for them to want other people to read the interview you wrote. Remember, be flattering but not sickening.

Third of all, people will like that this is about them and NOT about you or your sites. This is not a promotional scheme about getting your links on their blog. (Yes, you hope to get a link back). People are more likely to give you a link back out of gratitude for a great interview, out of their own good natures or just because you made the effort to get to know them and you are no longer one of the nameless, faceless masses. Keep in touch with the people you interview. Add them to your Twitter account and whatever social media you tend to watch. This way you might even find yourself getting more interviews with the other people in their social network.

Interviews are not a new idea. But, they have not been given enough credit. Make sure you do some research, put thought into the questions you ask. Have some standard questions, ask more questions than you need and develop a style to the interview as you get good at interviewing. Come up with a theme, or one unique question which you use in every interview. Give yourself some individuality as an interviewer. Most of all, learn something along the way and keep it social and interesting for yourself as well.

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.

Could you be a Copywriter?

The following comes from a real job posting for a copywriter. It gives a lot of detail about the job and what they are expecting. Could you get this job? Or, are there some areas you could brush up on?

Position Outline:

Responsible for writing advertising copy for all English language print advertising in Canada.

Responsibilities:

Writing effective advertising for company flyers, inserts, newspaper ads, point of-purchase signage, brochures, and other special projects.

Proofread copy proofs prior to sending out for printing and/or uploading to the website.

Assist creative department in initiating/refining ad layouts.

Work internally with product managers to develop accurate and effective advertising products.

Ensure campaigns and promotions are in alignment with overall corporate brand image, strategies, market demographics, and partnerships.

Ensure all offers and advertising claims are in alignment with applicable advertising laws at both federal and provincial levels.

Specialized skills are needed to write and conceptualize ideas for all forms of printed advertising, radio and interactive media

Qualifications:

The successful candidate must have at least 3 to 5 years working experience coupled with a College or University degree in Advertising, Marketing or English.

Must be familiar with current Canadian advertising and credit laws and regulations.

Strong organizational and time management skills are required.

Being able to work on multiple projects within tight deadlines in a detail driven environment is crucial.

A proficiency in both PC and Mac operating systems is essential while having knowledge in Promotion Manager is considered an asset.

How to Write a Blog Review

If you’re ready to go forth and fearlessly give an honest review of another blog… you need a list to guide you along the way. It helps to have a plan with points which can guide you through the review. You don’t have to mention each point in your final written review but they keep you on track during the actual review.

Do you want a blog reviewed? Go to UP to the D.L. for a review of your blog by experienced blogging women.

Design

  • Is site navigation simple and natural? Do you have to search for buttons, links or archives?
  • Is there any kind of error, script or advertising that makes the site drag while it loads?
  • Does the site use pop up windows, flash, sound or video files which cause the site to load slowly or freeze up?
  • Is the site cluttered in the posting area, the sidebar or the surrounding space?
  • Is there some whitespace to let the reader’s eye have a break from text and images?
  • If the blog uses a premade theme/ template is it obvious or has the blogger made a few customizations so that it feels unique and interesting?
  • Does the site make use of the footer, include links back to the top of the site, contact information, links to other posts which may be of interest, etc.?
  • Were the comments easy to find and easy to use?
  • Is the overall blog design current (versus outdated looking) engaging, energizing or inviting?
  • Is the title of the site clear and easily read, is it located at the top of the site where people would expect to find it?
  • Is the CSS on the site working or do you see any images or text which are cut off or do not otherwise fit on the screen space or space which they are placed?
  • Do all the links in the navigation bar work and does the blog make good use of a navigation bar under the header or places elsewhere easy found and workable?
  • How many times do you scroll down to reach the bottom of the blog? Is there enough to read or too much?
  • Is there something about the design, the overall look of the blog that you especially like and would comment on in the review?

Navigation

  • Does the blog use breadcrumbs so you can select the category to see related posts or skip to the home page, etc.?
  • Can you get from one post to the next without returning to the home page each time?
  • Do the links, on at least the most recent posts, all work?
  • Does the blog redirect to another site?
  • Is there a link back to the home page in the footer and at the top of the blog which is easily found on any page being viewed?
  • Are categories and/ or tags used well?

Focus

  • Is the focus/ purpose of the site easily understood before you go looking for more information or even read a post?
  • Does the site seem to reach it’s intended audience, is it appealing to the target readers?
  • Does it have relevant and current posts and information on the topic?
  • Does the blog use a subtitle and does it make sense with the content and style of the blog.

Content

  • Do the blog posts attract comments/ reader response?
  • Does the content of the site stand out enough from the rest of the site?
  • Is it easy to read the blog posts, do the colours and fonts work?
  • As you begin reading posts is there a post that you especially enjoy or find useful?
  • Does the writer have a voice or style?
  • How is the site for standard spelling, grammar and punctuation?
  • Does the writer need to spend more time proofreading to catch typos?
  • Are the blog posts proactive, give the reader something to think about or come back for?
  • Does the site bring old posts up or related posts which can be read by readers once they finish the current post?
  • Does the site have any broken image files?
  • When graphics are used in a post are they effective, do they go with the post, make sense in their use?
  • Does the blogger tackle a large topic or idea and push it all into one post? Could they use this as a series or a post continued instead?
  • Does the blogger have enough space between paragraphs and ideas in their posts or when you look at a post is it a solid wall of text and not reader friendly?
  • Is the blog sticking to it’s focus or wandering too far off? Are there niche areas which could be used or have been underexplored so far?
  • Knowing many readers will skim posts, are the posts written in the pyramid/ news format?
  • Does the site mix up the format of posts, do they have some lists, some bullet points, some quotes, a bold line to highlight a point or a subheader, maybe even some coloured text or highlighted text in a post?
  • Do the headlines grab reader attention while also letting the reader know what the post will be about?

Site Admin.

  • Is there an About page which clearly explains the purpose and/ or niche of the site?
  • Does the About page explain why the blogger is an authority on the topic with their experience and interests listed?
  • Can you find the site archive and is it easy to navigate?
  • Is there at least one way to contact the blogger, other than leaving a comment on a blog post?
  • Is the blog software up to date or a security risk?
  • Does the site use Creative Commons or some form of copyrights on the blog?
  • Is there too much comment moderation, possibly limiting comments being made?
  • Is there a way to search the site for specific content, using a Search or through categories, tags or an index of content?
  • Does the site use meta tags for title, keywords, description, etc.?
  • When images are used do they belong to the blogger or is credit given when they belong to someone else?
  • Does the blogger give link backs/ proper credit to content they cut and paste from other sites/ sources?
  • If guest posts are used or if the site is looking for writers to contribute are there clear guidelines to what is expected and what the writer will get back from it?
  • Does the blogger have an author resource box at the end of each post, introducing the blogger and the site (a good thing when a post is linked from another blog)?
  • Does the blogger have a posting schedule and is it one which they are able to stick to?
  • Is there a blogroll (list of links), if so, is there some order to the links so readers could know what to expect when they click them?

Social Media/ Networking

  • Are you able to connect to the blogger through social media links like Facebook, StumbleUpon and Twitter?
  • Does the site syndicate, use an RSS feed?
  • Does the writer interact with readers in the blog comments?
  • Does the site use other media to interact or connect with readers: forum, podcast, etc.?
  • If the blogger has other sites, activities like contests or regular events like a weekly podcast are these links and promotions found on the site? Do the links work?

Branding

  • Is there a theme with the blog that carries through to different elements and any social media sites the blogger uses?
  • Would you know this was the same blogger if you found them on Twitter or another social media site or network? Does the site use an avatar in comments or elsewhere?

Finally…

  • Did you learn anything while doing the review?
  • Maybe you found a new site, a new plugin or social media?
  • Would you recommend this blog, link to them or follow them on Twitter?
  • Does the blog feel fresh, like it is still growing and evolving or does it fall a bit flat or feel stagnant even?

Why I Don’t Follow Twitter Sploggers

Are you frustrated because you don’t have the amount of followers on Twitter that you would like or think you should have? Maybe it’s not a social media problem, maybe it’s you!

What did you last post to Twitter? Have a look at your own Twitter profile. What do you see? Are there a lot of retweets (RTs) from other people on Twitter? Are there no original tweets from you in weeks, or longer? Are there no Twitter posts, other than links to your own blog posts? Do you use Twitter as a link farm rather than a social system, a way to communicate with other people?

Likely that’s the reason you don’t have followers, or more real followers.

People, like myself, don’t want to follow someone on Twitter to read a lot of rehash, repetitive stuff. I tend to follow people who use Twitter to post ideas, share thoughts, or the odd link they find along the way. I don’t follow people (or discontinue following people) who have nothing original to say.

I don’t need to follow someone to read their blog. So why follow them if they only post links to their most recent blog post? It’s just duplicate content and a waste of time and space for me.

I lose interest in following someone who only retweets other people’s posts. Why not go right to the source and follow that person instead? Skip to the point of origin rather than wading through the clutter.

If you really want to have followers, stop trying to get them. Yes, just STOP!

Be yourself. Be sincere. Give people a chance to find out who you are, become interested and then choose to follow you, just because they want to. You can’t buy or spam your way to real, sincere followers who have a real interest in following you. You just have to let them find you.

Participation is the Key to Social Media

The secret to using social media for networking and building traffic is participation.

Joining an online network (like CMF Ads, 9Rules or a particular group on Yahoo Groups)  or social media (like Twitter or Tumblr) site is not enough. You can stick up a profile, add your links, write a bio with some likes and dislikes (some don’t bother with even that much). But, if you just leave it there it will be worth almost nothing. It gathers dust and is not even a decent backlink.

I am not suggesting you stop using social media and network sites. I am telling you to carefully choose those you will use. Select sites and media which appeal to you, which are easy for you to use (to navigate and understand technically) and which have an active community which you really want to become a part of and remain a part of over time. Online communities, networks and social media sites get a lot of new members but only a handful become active participants.

Some groups go out of their way to welcome new members, some just put up an automatic list of those who newly join. Others don’t even do that much any longer, they have learned the value of a new member is fleeting. The real place to put your time and energy is with the members who stay, who return and participate.

The people who stay and keep your community or network active are the ones to be valued. They bring life and communication and networking to what would be a dried up shell otherwise. The owner/ moderator can not keep a community vital all on their own. People who participate are gold!

Whatever your motive for joining a community or network or using a form of social media you need to become a part of the regular group who talk and get to know each other in order to get any benefit from being a member of the community. An abandoned profile is a waste of time and space for yourself as well as the community.

You may join many networks and communities and take a look around, see what there is to interest you. But, it will only be those you actively and regularly participate in that bring a real return on your time and effort. Only the active profiles get attention from the other active members in the community. It’s a return investment, cause they are looking for connections too, active connections to real people versus someone who came once or twice and then disappeared.

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.

Be Silent About This, Please

I just can’t be silent about this. I hope you won’t either.

As good or important as a cause may be I am getting tired of people who constantly push causes. I don’t have the resources to help every cause and I have to admit I don’t have the interest in doing so either.

Do you also get a little annoyed when you see another post to Facebook or another show on Oprah or Ellen or etc with some cause they want people to champion? It’s fine for celebrities to take up a cause, they have staff, bags of money and people who listen to them. I don’t have much of any of those and I’m tired of being asked to give and give and give.

The quote above came from a post to Facebook by the Ellen Show, about bullying. You are supposed to drop everything and watch a video and then do something I’m sure. I didn’t watch the video. I just felt annoyed. For one thing, unless you go and watch the video you don’t even have one clue what the cause is! That is annoying. Why does the Ellen Show think so little of me that they want to lead me around this way? Someone else did watch the video and happened to post that the cause was bullying. Why did the Ellen Show make this post about marketing as much as about the cause itself? Why push more advertising, marketing hype at me. Are they really interested in the cause or are they just finding new venue to advertise their show and display their power in the media?

It’s not about the cause. Yes, bullying, cancer and etc are bad. But, I am doing my part. I’m not a bully, for one. I feel like I am being bullied, told to give more than I have to give by people who have a lot more to give and aren’t really giving all that much. Who are supporting causes for subtle, underhanded reasons of their own.

Anyway, that is the soap box rant for today. What do you think? Are you feeling over burdened by people who want too much? Are you tired of celebrities with causes?