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8 Blog Posts Worth Your Time

Category : writing

9

I thought it was time to dig through my del.icio.us account and highlight some of the many posts and articles I’ve bookmarked recently. Here are some of my favorites:

  • 12 WordPress Editors you can choose: Want to try something else besides the boring old WordPress editor? I’m looking forward to getting some time to try some of these out.
  • Landing Page Testing: How Much Is Too Much?: I really like this post from Jon Miller at Marketo. He points out that not every site has the same amount of conversion traffic and you should take that into consideration when testing.

That should keep you reading for awhile! Hope you find something you like.


What’s Black and White and Read Online

Category : social marketing, writing

6

Man Reading NewspaperAn article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune caught my eye yesterday and I wanted to discuss it from a couple different angles. It’s not exactly small business marketing, but hits the social media topic about which I often write. In case the site requires registration, the title of the article was “Former Star Tribune publisher to launch online news site”.

Let me go on record as saying…I hope print newspapers stick around for awhile. Does that sound odd coming from me? I author a blog and spend most of my life using online tools or writing about online topics and trends. But, I love baseball box scores in the sports page, stock prices in the business page, and picking up the local newspaper in a different city. Tom Murphy from Murphy’s Law also agrees with that take on newspapers.

With that said, I’m very interested to see how MinnPost.com does. MinnPost.com is the news site being launched by former Star Tribune Publisher, Joel Kramer. From the article:

The site, with $1.1 million in funding, promises news and blog-like posts distributed online and via a printed newsletter distributed at high-traffic locations over the lunch hour, says the man behind the nonprofit venture, Joel Kramer. It will rely on advertising and donations, akin to Minnesota Public Radio.

The article also mentions that MinnPost.com joins Minnesota Monitor and Twin Cities Daily Planet as sources for Minnesota news. The Star Tribune also indicated they have big plans for expanding their online presence as well.

Wow, that’s alot of Minnesota news sources. The Star Tribune has the brand name behind them so I’ll be curious what the other sites will do to drive traffic and take the lead in online news. I think the future of news lies in social media platforms such as this, but with all the online news sources out there, it won’t be easy to separate themselves.

Will they reach out to local bloggers such as me to drive traffic or solicit content? Will they look into taking on local correspondents from each city and town to report on local events?

Where do you see news coverage in 10 years? 20 years?


Junta42: Search Engine About Content Marketing

Category : blogging, writing

10

What is Junta42, you might ask? From their website:

Junta42 (pronounced juhn-tah or hoon-tah) is defined as “a small group ruling a country immediately after a coup d’état and before a legally constituted government has been instituted.” That’s where we are in today’s marketing environment. It’s the Wild, Wild West, baby. A marketing revolution is taking place. Junta42 is just here to bring a little organization to town.

I like that description! The official “brochure”-type definition of Junta42 explains the service to be an expert and user-generated search engine about content marketing. Searching by category or keyword, you’re given the chance to find relevant content and/or promote the content you like best.

So far, my initial impressions are very positive. I have yet to post an article, but using their search engine to find content has proven to provide good results. Searching on Junta42 yields two different results portions on the results page. The top half brings up results from their own database of submitted content. You can see in the screen shot below from my search on “blogging”, the article, a description, an email option, a link to the full piece as well as the Promote (voting) button appear for each result.

juntatop.jpg

Towards the bottom of this results page are Google Targeted Results. You can see the screen shot of this below. The FAQ spells this feature out pretty nicely:

We all know Google, but these results are different. In order to give Junta42 the best possible results at all time, we have included Google Targeted Results. Junta42 works with Google to search only a specific group of Web sites we feel are relevant to content marketing. So, you get the Junta42 results first, and the best possible Google search results possible at the same time (under the human expert results).

juntabottom.jpg

I really do feel like I’m getting highly target, organized results. It is up to Junta42 on who they submit to be a Google Targeted Result website, but as the service grows I think the users will have more say in that. I wonder if sites submitted more often for inclusion will have a higher weight in the search rankings? Might be an interesting feature.

There is one aspect of Junta42′s business plan to watch. They’re making their money by displaying Google Adsense ads on their site. That makes sense. But, they have a program called My42 Revenue which rewards very active contributors with a share of their Google Adsense revenue. Members who contribute over 42 articles a month qualify to receive a share of the revenues. I’ll be curious to see how that plays out. Will people contribute anything to get to the 42? Junta42 has a review process in place for approval of submitted articles so hopefully that will be a solid gatekeeper.

Update: See comments below from Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 stating that it is NOT 42 posts per month, but rather 42 TOTAL posts. I misunderstood that.

The whole idea of paying contributors has popped up recently with some very good discussions being started by Lewis, Mack, and Ryan. Some of the talk has been around blog monetization and rewarding contributors with part of the earned blog revenues. If you haven’t seen the discussion – you should definitely check it out. Obviously, Junta 42 is a little different than a blog, but the theme of paying contributors is the same.

Okay, back to Junta42 as a content search engine for marketers. Check it out and let me know what you think. I’d be curious to hear what you have to say.


A Quality Book and a Donation to Charity

Category : writing

3

aoc_lulu.jpgI’ve written a few times about the Age of Conversation book, but wanted to pass on one more post letting you that the book is available for sale. Its been available for about a week and sales are way ahead of what was expected. The book has gotten a tremendous amount of press and is even popping up on various top seller lists. Wow!

What really is awesome out of all of this is that all proceeds go to charity. You can learn more about that on the official Age of Conversation website.

The book contains a chapter from the Lonely Marketer as well as about 100 other authors. Here’s a list of who contributed:

Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
CK
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Sacrum
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Luc Debaisieux
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Robert Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Kris Hoet
G.Kofi Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Polinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman
S. Neil Vineberg

Hope You Didn’t Miss These….

Category : writing

12

Well, I thought the Minnesota Twins were back on track, but they’re being derailed by the Brewers tonight. Looks like I’ll have to provide some excitement of my own and highlight some great posts from this last week.

  • The Problem with Feedback: I liked the topic that Valeria threw out. She says of feedback, “…we rarely know how to give it, and seldom learn how to take it. Why is that?”. Very thought provoking post!
  • One site I’m reading often is Matt Dickman’s Techno//Marketer. Check out his Buzz Friday feature where he offers links to great content and also video commentary of recent tech news. Awesome stuff!
  • The (bloggin’) times they are a changin’…: Mack highlights his company blog series (also worth checking out!) and how companies are more and more responsive to his posts. I’m also noticing that companies are eager to join the conversation when they hear their name talked about on blogs.
  • Does Punctuation Matter to Google or SEO?: Michael Jensen talks about punctuation and its play in the game of SEO. He also includes a link to a similar post he did about capitalization and what role it plays. These were some topics I thought were great to cover!

Wow – alot of great writing this week! Thanks to all of you on the list who put so much effort into the quality information.

Until next week….


Writing Lessons From Building Blocks

Category : writing

2

I was playing with our little boy this last weekend. We were playing with one of those toys where you try to fit a square block in a square hole, a triangle block in a triangle hole and on and on. I kept saying to him, “that’s the square and it goes into the square hole” or “that’s the circle and it goes into the circle hole”. After a few repetitions, he was getting the idea. You could see the light turn on in his face and the proud smile came out. He was learning quickly and he was excited to be learning.blocks.jpg

Then it hit me – I’m missing an opportunity to teach him more! What was a I thinking? He was absorbing so quickly and yet I wasn’t taking advantage of the moment. All the blocks were different colors. Why wasn’t I saying, “that’s the RED square block that fits in the square hole”. So simple and yet I was so focused on one lesson that I missed another.

How often do we do that in our writing? Whether you’re writing promotional material, ad copy, content for websites, or for Google, simple text descriptions can make the difference. When the customer is ready to absorb your messege, are you ready to give that customer all the information they need to learn and make an educated choice about doing business with you? For small business marketers, this small detail can separate you from your larger competitors.

I went back and looked at a website landing page I did recently. Wow, was I surprised! I assumed my audience knew too much. By plugging in some additional descriptors, I bet my bounce rate would have been lower and my conversions higher (yes, I’ve made the changes so we’ll see if that happens).

Here are some additional sites and posts about writing that you might want to check out:

Who knew some toy blocks could affect my next day at work?! If you’ve come across any other good writing posts or blogs or have one of your own, please let me know and I’ll add it to the post.


Find Out Your Blogging Gender

Category : writing

4

gender.jpgOkay, another trip outside of the small business marketing realm. But, this is kind of fun so I figured I would pass it on. I came across the Gender Genie while doing some research for an upcoming post on writing styles. The Gender Genie will tell you if you sound like a male or female when you blog. You simply paste in the content of a recent post, select a genre, and the Genie will predict your gender.

I tried out my recent “What Happens If I Stop Doing This” post to see what the Genie would say. Here was my score:

Female Score: 342
Male Score: 426

So, I’m barely male. Not sure what to think of that. But, maybe this means I appeal to both genders with my writing! :)

Check it out and let’s see how accurate the Genie is. Anyone come up with some crazy results?


SMB Marketer Tip of the Week: Add Hyperlinks to Your eBooks

Category : print advertising, strategy, writing

2

I’m going to step out of online marketing (kind of) for a day and throw out a tip for small business marketers who create documentation. We produce a ton of brochures and product data sheets that we use at trade shows and for sending to interested customers. Whenever we produce one of these pieces, we get a bunch printed up, but we also promote the document via email and make it available online for download.

Ever wish those customers who download the PDF or eBook document would have an easy way to get back to the site from which they took the PDF? Well, consider your wish granted. Using Adobe Acrobat Professional Edition, you can embed hyperlinks on important pieces of text or images within your PDF. (I’m kind of sounding like a commercial here :) ) Before you jump up and down and think you can start doing that immediately, know that the free Adobe Reader does not have this capability. You have to purchase the Professional Edition to make it work, but I think you’ll find the purchase worthwhile. Adobe Acrobat has tons of functionality worth checking out.

Here’s a quick look at how it works. You first need to open up the Advanced Editing toolbar – it will look like this:

aptoolbar2.jpg

After clicking on the Link Tool icon, you’ll be able to draw a rectangle or square around the image or block of text you’d like to hyperlink. The “Create Link” box will appear and you’ll have multiple options for your link. Go to web page, open file, or another page view within the document are all options. For this example, I’ve chosen to open a web page. The top of the Create Link box contains formatting options for your hyperlink.

aplink.jpg

After selecting your options, hit Next. A simple box comes up that allows you to type or paste in your URL. Very easy! Hit okay and you’re done. Acrobat also allows you to change text so I typically will color my hyperlinked text blue to indicate to the reader that they can click and be taken to the web.

aplinkfinal.jpg

This is a very simple and easy way to drive traffic to your website. As eBooks, White Papers, etc. become more popular as downloadable PDFs, including hyperlinks will become a must. If you want to dig in and give it a try, here are a few tips:

  • Make it obvious that text is hyperlinked. Most people are not used to being able to click on a document and open a web page. Maybe indicate with a side note on the page that images and highlighted text are linked to web sites.
  • Turn hyperlinked text into a blue colored font to indicate a link
  • If your document contains your company logo, be sure to link that up to your home page.
  • Have a catalog you distribute on CD? An interactive PDF can be a great way to give the user navigation – thus making it easier to locate information.

I also did a quick search for some additional resources on the web to learn more about using Acrobat and similar programs:

Any other suggestions on how to use hyperlinks and related functions in PDFs?


Age of Conversation eBook is Getting Closer

Category : writing

5

ageconversation.pngYou may recall seeing the logo to the left on various blogs over the last few weeks. That was the call-for-authors logo that Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan used to gain interest in writing a chapter for the Age of Conversation eBook. Well, the author list has been set and chapters are due in about a week. I’m happy to say I’m part of the project and have my chapter in the works.

More importantly, all proceeds from the book will be donated to Variety, the Children’s Charity. Check out their website – I’m very excited to be a part of a project that will benefit this organization!

Here’s the roundup of authors who will be contributing to the book:

Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
CK
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Sacrum
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Mindblob (Luc)
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Bob Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Mitch Joel
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Krishna De
Kris Hoet
Kofl Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Pollinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman


The Conversation Age eBook Has Been Started!

Category : social marketing, writing

7

Recently Michael Jensen wrote a post about the Top 5 Useful and Free SEO e-Books and he mentioned how he wanted the story to be about the top ten but he couldn’t find enough worthwhile e-books about which to write. Well Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan have come up with an idea to help with that and I’m happy to say I have the opportunity to be involved. Their idea is to create an e-book discussing this new era of communications that we’re entering (or already entered). The book will be titled The Conversation Age.

Many businesses – large and small – are scrambling to figure out these new mediums of discussion such as blogs, podcasts and wikis in which their target audiences are now participating. These businesses are trying to harness the power of these methods to continue and create new, meaningful discussions that lead to long-term sales and business relationship with their target markets. This new e-book should have plenty of answers for businesses of any size.
Hats off to Gavin and Drew for the unique, fun, and useful idea. Plus, what’s even better, they’re going to charge a small fee for the book and donate 100% of the proceeds to the Variety the Children’s Charity — which serves children across the entire globe. Nice work guys and thank you for the chance to participate!

They’ve gathered over 100 authors for the book. I don’t have the list of final authors, but below is a snapshot of some of the first people to get involved – as you can see there are some very talented writers already committed. (I added me to the bottom, but the ‘talented’ tag is meant for everyone above me!)

Look out for follow-up posts as the book becomes available. With 100 authors I’m sure there will be some incredible writing and original content!