Friday, September 29, 2006

The Future of Blogs: Your Content and Your Business
Matt Ambrose

Anybody who has seen my main website will know that I might have jumped the gun a bit when I pigeon holed myself as a professional business blogger. It’s been not so much a case of jumping on the blogging bandwagon as jumping too early with nowhere to land.
So whilst I wait for the pro-blogger gravy train to arrive, I thought I might look into my crystal ball and see what other predictions I can try and foresee in the mists of time.
We are still only really at the start of the ambiguous ‘Web 2.0’ with marketers and PR professionals all rushing to find the best ways of utilising the new tools at their disposal. The gold-rush is on to find the best way of gaining exposure and mining the rapidly growing online marketplace.
It has never been easier or cheaper to reach a global audience in a very short space of time.
Web 2.0 has also been synonymous with the growth of the bedroom publisher. Anybody with a PC and Internet connection can now run their own blog or website, and potentially reach millions around the world. This has created a torrent of content flooding onto the Internet on a daily basis.
So much content is being produced that it is virtually impossible to keep track of all the latest updates on all but the smallest of niches. Over 50 million blogs are now being tracked by Technorati with 1.6 million new posts hitting the web everyday! Google and Microsoft are also hell-bent on adding all the greatest literary works known to man by scanning whole libraries onto the Internet. I don’t, however, expect to see Shakespeare or Dickens topping Digg anytime soon.
There is going to have to be a rethink on how we find and distribute content and information. After all, we can’t go on fighting over the top few search engine spots forever!
Once RSS penetrates the mass market, and awareness spreads, people will start using RSS to bookmark their sites of interest. Why waste time trawling through all your browser bookmarks when you can have all the updates delivered straight to your homepage?
But relying on RSS website feeds and topic keyword feeds will only have a limited lifespan. With more and more blogs appearing on every topic under the sun your aggregator will eventually reach saturation point, overloaded with content.
I already spend most of the morning reading through all my RSS feeds - and I only started using RSS a few months ago! If I don’t want this to creep into my afternoons I’m going to have to sleep less, learn to read quicker or limit my daily intake. As I subscribe to more and more blogs this is going to mean missing potentially mission critical information simply due to the constraints of time.
My prediction is that aggregators are going to have to become a lot smarter in the future. Obediently following your instructions and delivering content from all your subscribed sites will simply lead to info overload. They are going to have to almost develop artificial intelligence and be able to predict what content you want, and the most relevant, on a daily basis.
Aggregators are going to have to behave like researchers and reporters. Assessing what sites and content you read and then going out and to find the latest, best and most relevant info available. Your homepage will be your own fully customised magazine with news, video and audio all handpicked to match your interests.
With the proliferation of laptops, smartphones and electronic paper people will have more devices than ever before for consuming content. Thus feeding the demand for yet more blogs and distributed news catering to the tastes of an increasingly widening cross-section of people.
Being able to get your content delivered to people’s homepage will be critical if you want to sell a product or service. At present a lot of people rely on sites such as dealtime and kelkoo to find the best products and prices. Once they start integrating this with reading blogs you will want to ensure that this starts them on a path to your site.
Once aggregators start analysing what web pages you read they will be able to predict and recommend relevant product sites. Knowing how to get your product and service content distributed around the web, linked to on other blogs and delivered to people’s homepages will be crucial in the future online world.
I started this year as a web copywriter and then swiftly jumped on the blogging bandwagon when I saw what direction the Internet was heading in. I write standard web copy, but now also promote the use of blogs to UK businesses for marketing products and services.
Please visit 'thewritewords.me.uk' for more information about my business blogging services and the answer to all your web content needs.
Thanks for reading,
Matt.
Matt@thewritewords.me.uk
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blogging Takes Time: Ten Blogging Time Management Tips
Angela Booth

Have you started a blog? Millions of blogs have been created, but most bloggers abandon their blogs after a few entries. Of course, these are bloggers who have no blogging goal: they start a blog, but because there's no lure (like money) to encourage them, they stop blogging.
If you'd like to get more organized so that you can blog consistently, here are ten blogging time management tips.
1. Create a file called Blog Ideas
There's nothing more intimidating than a blank computer screen. Create a file and call it Blog Ideas. Write down any stray thoughts you have about blogging.
Do you have questions about your blogging topic? Your questions can start with: Who, What, How, When, Where and Why - just make a note of the questions. In your Blog Ideas file, these are triggers to get you thinking.
Read other blogs. Reading other blogs will stimulate your own thinking. Agree with a blogger? Why? Can you expand on a point made in another blog?
Carry a small notebook and jot down ideas which come to you at work. When you're driving, place a digital or microcassette recorder on the passenger seat beside you to record any sudden inspirations.
2. Write five to ten blog posts at a time
Carve out time to blog on the weekends - a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon, perhaps. In that time, study your Blog Ideas file, and write a series of posts. These don't have to be polished posts, just draft them quickly. They'll be ready for you to post during the following week.
3. Audio blog
If you're carrying a digital recorder, record some blog posts. This works well for business bloggers. Interview people at your company. Interview your boss, or a couple of your customers.
4. Ask for contributions from other bloggers
Bloggers help bloggers. As you leave comments on others' blogs, and get known in the blogosphere, you can ask other bloggers to "guest blog" for you. Ask them to write just one entry, or to write five.
You'll get lots of takers, because blogging for someone else is added exposure for bloggers, and many will take you up on the offer. Of course, you'll need to reciprocate, and write the occasional entry for others.
5. Out-source - hire a blogger
You can hire bloggers at out-sourcing venues like Elance. This is a good solution for those weeks when your schedule is crammed with other work.
6. Get over perfectionism
When you're blogging, you're not writing a bestseller, nor are you expected to be perfect. If you read any blog, you'll find typos, spelling errors, errors of syntax - part of the charm of reading blogs is their "home made" appeal. Even if you're writing for a business audience, no one expects you to be perfect.
7. Think about your audience. What challenges do they have?
You're writing for an audience, and that audience has challenges that you can help them to solve. Write about the problems that your audience faces. Whatever your topic, this ensures that you never run out of material.
8. Research blogging - get up to speed on blogging
A lot of blogging procrastination is just lack of information. Research blogging. Take a course. You more you know, the easier you'll find blogging.
9. Schedule blogging
Schedule blogging into your day, just as you'd schedule anything else that you have to do.
10. Write product reviews
Whatever your blog's subject area, people are trying to sell products. Review some of the products. Reviews get visitors. Buyers are always looking for product reviews in the search engines, so writing reviews is a way of guaranteeing an audience, and it gives you something to write about.
Angela Booth is a veteran copywriter and blogger. Her ebook, Blogging For Dollars: How to become a career blogger -- in your PJs, if you want, is available at
http://www.abmagic.com/Blog/blogging.html You can visit the book's blog at http://www.dollars2blog.com/blog/ Angela will show you how to turn a humble blog into a great career, or a lucrative business.
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Monday, September 25, 2006

Blogging For Sales
Loretta Miller

Whether you are an affiliate marketer, or have a website or an online store, blogs can be a fantastic way to draw traffic and people interested in your product. Blogs that are updated on a regular basis with informative content are spidered by the search engines more frequently. If the search engines like the content on your blog, your page rank will increase. As your page rank increases, the likelihood of your site being at the top of the search results also increase. The higher you are listed in the search engines, the easier your site or blog easier to find which means more traffic.
The search engines spiders love new, unique and informative content. If your site is updated regularly, the site will be visited more often by the search engine spiders. Sites that have content that is informative and full of pertinent information will obtain a higher position in the search engine results and these sites are usually indexed much faster. Since blogs are content driven, the search engines will send more traffic to them. This traffic can produce more sales and sales produce greater profits.
One of the great things about a blog is that it is very easy to use. There is no more converting text to HTML and no more uploading to a server. With a blog, you can post new content with a few clicks of your mouse. If you can cut and paste, you can blog. This makes it easy to keep your content new and fresh for the search engine spiders to enjoy. What's more, there are a lot of blogging sites on the internet that are free. You can't beat free traffic being driven to your blog or website.
To keep your content unique and fresh, you can write your own articles, write reviews on affiliate products or programs, or you can use outsourced content. Which ever you decide to use, make sure it is high quality and informative. By regularly adding new content to your blog that is unique and informative, you make your site far more "sticky" increasing the likelihood of it being visited by return visitors. That return traffic means more potential sales for you.
There are many ways you can use your blog. You can use your blog to direct traffic to a website or an online store. You can even direct your visitor to an eBay auction or eBay store. You can have your visitor sign up for email announcements of when you add new content to your blog. If you are an affiliate, you can also have them sign up for announcements of new products that they might be interested in.
Always keep your content in mind. They say content in king, but unique and informative content is KING.
Loretta Miller has a site where the goal is to help people increase traffic to their website.
http://increasesalesinfo.com/
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Sunday, September 24, 2006

B-Blogs and Customer Connectivity
Scott Lindsay

Do you have a business blog? Do you have a goal in mind for what you’d like to accomplish with your blog? Do you have topics you won’t discuss in your blog?
Sometimes referred to as b-blogs, a business weblog can be a vital link to existing customers and prospective clients.
Many of the best b-blogs provide visitors with a look at the…
1. Company represented.
2. Individual heading that company.
3. News that affects the company and its customers.
4. Links that may be beneficial to the customers
5. Personality behind the logo.
The genius behind blogging is that the posts are at the discretion of the business owner and are designed to be informal. This allows visitors to gain a sense for the type of person you are and the type of company you own.
Because the format is informal you need to make sure you have a laser-like focus for your blog. Deviating from a pre-set course for your blog could alienate visitors who have come to expect a singular focus. In some cases bloggers have found themselves in legal trouble because they made a libelous remark about someone on their blog.
By keeping your goal firmly fixed, you may find that more than your customers may look to your blog as a trusted resource. Many successful b-blogs are routinely visited by competitors, which should be viewed as a significant source of flattery. This scenario is a strong indication your success is being noticed.
One of the primary reasons b-blogs are a successful means of conveying information to your customers is they are non-invasive. There are no emails to download and no newsletters to process. In the end, those who visit the blog are there because they chose to be there. They come back because they enjoy the connection.
By becoming a trusted source for information in an informal atmosphere, a b-blog can help move a customer to action through a level of trust you have built through your blog.
Some b-bloggers find that when they post at least daily the growth of their visitors increases rapidly. Some will return for the information while others return because they find your personality a source of interest.
Blogs have been used successfully for personal and instructional use. The advent of a business blog is simply another step in the growth of this tool readily adaptable for customer connectivity.
Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of HighPowerSites and many other web projects. HighPowerSites is the easiest do-it-yourself website builder on the web. No programming or design skill required.
http://www.highpowersites.com
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