Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blogging is Slowing Down? I am Just Getting Started.

It is interesting to notice that whilst I have been, in a fashion, blogging for 2 years now, I have not really understood the whole idea of the Blogosphere and the sense of community that exists between bloggers. I have MyBlogLog largely to thank for the change because despite having registered my blog on a variety of blog directories, until I joined MyBlogLog I didn't really get into any communications with other bloggers.

One reason I have started spending a lot of time working on learning how to promote my own blogs better is because I am in the process of setting up a new social enterprise with the goal of helping people in the voluntary and community sector and small business owners to use blogging and other Web 2.0 tools. I recently discovered when introducing blogging as a promoting tool on a course that most people in my home city of Hull over 30 don't even know what a blog is. Oh they have heard the term on the TV or from their kids - but just don't get what blogging is all about at all.

Then a couple of days ago I read a post on Build a Better Blog about the Gartner research suggesting that blogging may plateau in 2007 because there are now 200,000 ex bloggers, and that things will slow down. Strange I thought - everyone I speak to has not even figured it out yet - but the early adopters are already looking for the next big/new thing.

The reality is I think that, certainly in the UK, Blogging has only just started. A few months ago David Cameron the young leader of the Conservative Party launched a video blog because he understands that to reach the 18-30 voters he has to use this technology, but he is well ahead of the game. IE7 has only just started to make people aware of the idea of subscribing to blogs and although I have been using it for a year I have only just recognised the significance of FeedBlitz in allowing people to subscribe to blogs by email. The hardest thing I find to explain to technophobes is RSS and feed aggregators and I saw some statistics suggesting that less than 20% of people understand it.

Finally I have just come across the great idea from Mack Collier at Viral Garden for helping to give some air time to good "Z-List" blogs that deserve a mention and at the same time lift our rankings in Technorati. It's an easy idea - Copy the list of blogs below - and add a few that you love to the list. Lots of grateful bloggers will come along to read your blog and you should see your traffic increase. If you want to know more about the idea - pop over to Viral Garden for the latest update.

I have added a few blogs I have come to like a lot over the past week - especially Charlemagne Stavanger's Custom Templates which has provided me with two great three column blogger templates that will keep me very busy upgrading from old blogger to new over the next couple of days.

Custom Templates
Blogging to Fame
Small Business Branding
Build a Better Blog
Creative Think
Movie Marketing Madness
Blog Till You Drop!
Get Shouty!
One Reader at a Time
Critical Fluff
The New PR
Own Your Brand!
Work, in Plain English
Buzz Canuck
New Millenium PR
Pardon My French
Troy Worman's Blog
The Instigator Blog
Diva Marketing
Marketing Hipster
The Marketing Minute
Funny Business
The Frager Factor
Open The Dialogue
Word Sell
Note to CMO:
That's Great Marketing!
Shotgun Marketing Blog
Customers Rock!
Being Peter Kim
Pow! Right Between The Eyes! Andy Nulman’s Blog About Surprise
Billions With Zero Knowledge
Working at Home on the Internet
MapleLeaf 2.0
Two Hat Marketing

The Engaging Brand
The Branding Blog
Drew's Marketing Minute
Golden Practices
Tell Ten Friends
Flooring the Consumer
Kinetic Ideas
Unconventional Thinking
Conversation Agent
The Copywriting Maven
Hee-Haw Marketing
Scott Burkett's Pothole on the Infobahn
Multi-Cult Classics
Logic + Emotion
Branding & Marketing
Popcorn n Roses
On Influence & Automation
Servant of Chaos
Presentation Zen
Dmitry Linkov
John Wagner
Nick Rice
CKs Blog
Design Sojourn
Frozen Puck
The Sartorialist
Small Surfaces
Africa Unchained
Marketing Nirvana
Bob Sutton
¡Hola! Oi! Hi!
Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid!
Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together
Community Guy
Social Media on the fly
Jeremy Latham’s Blog
SMogger Social Media Blog

Rikki Arundel
Motivational Speaker
Speaking and Marketing Tips
The GenderShift Blog

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Some Brilliant Tools to Promote a Blog

I set this blog up nearly 2 years ago and to be honest I have not really done much to promote it - in fact I have often struggled to keep posting regularly - but as I am about to start trying to help people in Hull learn how to blog - I have been spending a little more time researching this and have discovered a huge amount help available resulting in me spending much of this week exploring and installing some new tools on my blog.

First if you are looking for ideas to promote your blog there is one site I was referred to someone in the Everywoman network. I have only just started working through Yaro Starak's Blog Traffic School Pre-Launch Blog which is packed with ideas to get traffic to your blog. After following just couple of tips and already I can already see the results.

First you may have noticed the widget in the sidebar listing the last five people who read my blog. I was so impressed when I saw that one someone's blog I just had to investigate and discovered which I can totally recommend. If you have a blog get over there right away and sign up. MyBlogLog is a Blog community - a chance to search and find other blogs of interest and by reading other blogs make yourself known to other bloggers, many of whom will in turn come and read yours - Traffic to my blog as more than doubled this week and I get that brilliant widget on the side bar shown me who has visited. All of a sudden instead of being alone blogger - I feel part of a community - real people are reading my blog wow!!

Next you will also see another addition to the side bar called GoodBlogs. That widget displays details of other blogs and in return my blog gets displayed on other blogs - This week already that has resulted in 10 visits and in addition 15 people who visited my blog have visited blogs I have promoted - nice synergy.

Then I was visiting John Jantsch's Duct Tape Marketing Blog - which if you are reading this blog is one you should also visit - and running my cursor over a link, a preview of the page leapt out at me. Wow - "How did he do that?" I thought and off I went to Snap to pick up that tool. If you want to see it in action simply point your cursor at any link on this page.

Finally I visited the blog of a professional speaker friend David McQueen and noticed two things on his side panel - First field allowing visitors to subscribe to an email notification if the blog is updated - and second lots of tags (called labels) which were all linked to his various posts - Wow - "How did he do that?"

Well the first I discovered is a site called FeedBlitz - which I have already signed up and added to my Personal Blog - I will be adding it here but the addition of Tags I discovered is a new feature in the latest version of Blogger and that is going to take a bit of work to install - I have already started and again that is already included in my Personal Blog and will be here over Christmas.

What it means is that customising your blog is now much much easier and as it is out of Beta is not going to give you any technical problems. So if you are looking for something to do to get away from the Christmas chaos - there is enough here to keep you busy for the rest for the week.

Rikki Arundel
Motivational Speaker
Speaking and Marketing Tips
The GenderShift Blog

Friday, December 01, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 looks set to change the world

I stopped using internet explorer nearly 2 years ago when I discovered tabbed browsing and live bookmarks in Firefox. On the occasions when I have had to revert to IE it has been like travelling back in time. Of course IE still dominates the browser market even if that is because most people don't make a choice so much as use the browser that is available.

However I have to say that IE7 is a massive improvement and in some ways seems to have even jumped ahead of Firefox particularly in look and feel although I still prefer the scope in Firefox to add extensions. What is important in IE7 is the fact that subscription to live feeds is built into the browser and whilst this will be lost on most people - in a few years this development will I predict have been responsible for accelerating a major transformation in the use of the web.

I have recently discovered that a significant majority of the community certainly in Hull, do not even know what a blog is let alone how to add an RSS or live feed into a feed reader, so the new IE7 feature that enables users to subscribe to feeds will take a while to become common practice. But the fact that it is there and so easy to use is going to mean that people will start subscribing to blogs without even knowing what they are doing.

In IE7 the new menu is entirely visual including the international feed icon - a small orange symbol like this:

The default for this image is greyed out - however if you visit a page that contains a live feed, such as a blog - the image turns orange and clicking on it will enable you to "subscribe." What that means is that the page is added to a new favourites list, called Feeds, where every time the page is updated, you will be notified. This is important with web sites that provide regularly updated information such as news sites and blogs.

The problems with SPAM means that most of us are increasingly reluctant to sign up for newsletters and even if we do spam filters tend to junk them. Blogs are a far better way to manage newsletters because the recipient has full control. We decide when to read and a good feed reader enables us to quickly scan the articles in a feed to determine which are worth reading. I have about 30 subscriptions which I check every week or so. I have a file in my email folder containing over 10,000 unread newsletters that I doubt will ever be read and when I have time I will unsubscribe from them. If I want to unsubscribe from a blog of course it is as simple matter of deleting it from my list.

Over the next year or so, two things will happen - More and more people will understand the value of blogs and start writing them - More and more people will learn about subscribing to feeds and start using them. The net effect will be that newsletters will become less and less used. The growth of blogs as a primary communication tool has been waiting for this development from Microsoft. If you have not yet downloaded IE7 you can do so from although I understand that if you have automatic upgrades enabled you should soon be notified that IE7 is available, and it is certainly one upgrade I strongly recommend you download soon.

Rikki Arundel
Motivational Speaker
Speaking and Marketing Tips
The GenderShift Blog

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