web analytics

How Google+ Is Cleaning Up The Internet

Writing garbageIt’s easy to write an article and put it up on the Internet. While that is encouraging for up and coming writers, it’s also a sure-fire way for more garbage to find an audience than can be done via traditional print media. All anyone needs is a computer and web access, and presto! Suddenly, everyone’s a writer! But fear not, o aficionado of non-crappy prose. Google authorship is here to help curtail the flow of trash!

Keeping It Real
By establishing Google authorship, writers link their articles from other sources (such as their blogs) to their Google Plus profile page. This shows Google and online readers that your material comes from a reliable source, an actual author, as opposed to junk articles generated by spammers.

The last thing you want is to be confused with some kind of spambot or other cheesey cookie-cutter content creator (try saying that three times fast!). When people see your name attached to an article, they need to be assured that what they read is genuine, awesome, genuinely awesome, and speaking of which…

Increased Visibility, The Incentive To Do Better
It is said that “character is what you are when no one’s looking”. Well, that’s true. But on the other hand, it can be argued that when everyone’s looking, you get fired up to give your best performance. Really now. Which makes you more eager to hit one out of the park, content-wise? The idea that no one knows (or cares) who you are, and thus no one sees your stuff, or the knowledge that people are following your posts and visiting your site, eagerly awaiting the next installment of deathless prose to emanate from your brain?

Google Plus lets you establish a stronger web presence, and a better showing on search results. By doing that, you’re less inclined to just cough up something and instead really put some time and effort into what you’re posting. The result? Less garbage, more readable content. Because let’s face it; at one time or another we all get lazy.

So, What To Do?
If you don’t have a Google Plus account and home page yet, get one. Fill out the profile, and link your sites to the page, and vice versa.  You can even link your profiles from other social media (e.g. Facebook) to your Google Plus profile. Add other members to your circles, and start getting known! Link your articles and blogs to your page. Here’s a flowchart to walk you through the process.

Everybody Wins
By using the Google Plus model, writers’ content stands out and their reputations are solidified as exposure grows.  This is a crucial part of online reputation management. Readers find their choices of online content narrowed a little more and made more manageable. The articles written by authors with solid reputations will rise to the top of searches while the crap sinks down into the dark depths where it belongs. And, of course, the sites that host your awesome stuff will benefit, since traffic will be driven there thanks to your solid reputation and search engine optimization. So yes, everybody wins.

Get moving, and in time, when people see your name, they’ll think “popular writer of entertaining articles”, and not “sketchy lapdog of spammer overlords”.

John Terra Bio PhotoBio
John Terra has been freelancing since 1985, and his work has appeared in diverse places like Inc Magazine, Computer Shopper, The Nashua Telegraph, and numerous online sites. An uber-geek and old school gamer, he’s also done extensive freelancing for role-playing games systems like Dungeons and Dragons , Star Wars, and others. John lives with his wife and three cats in Nashua NH.

GooglePlus1: “Here’s another batch of quality Internet articles!”

Photo Credit: Photos.com


5 Misconceptions about Blogging

type writer type that say blog

1. I am going to get rich!

Many people think that when they start blogging they will have created an entirely new revenue stream within a few months.  Set up some ads, maybe offer a product for sale, and BOOM! Instant income.

Of course this is not actually true.  Yes, there are the wunderkinds out there who have done just that. If it weren’t for the exceptions we would not have the rule.  They act as inspiration.

The reality is most blogs will never make any real money, and the great majority of bloggers will not make a living off their blogs. Even the most successful among us will tell you to blog because you are passionate, not to make money. Do it because it is something you really want to do.  Then, if you do manage to make money it is a bonus.

2. I am going to get a book!

When I was younger I was a poet. I believed that if I could get enough individual poems published I would prove my worth and get a book deal.  Many publications later, I still had no book.  Blogging is much the same thing.

There are a few bloggers out there who have created enough buzz and popularity that they got a book deal.  Most of us won’t.  Self publishing is an option, though that is not usually what we had in mind.

If you are a writer, blogging is a great tool for honing your craft. It can help create discipline and give you a forum to work through your ideas.  It can even give you a history of writing to show a publisher, which can demonstrate your ability to complete a project (if you are proposing an idea vs. a completed manuscript, the ability to finish a writing project is very important).

So blogging might help you create an opportunity to publish a book, but most likely a deal will not just land in your lap.

3. Everyone will read my blog!

Thanks to Kevin Costner, we all like to believe “If you build it they will come!”  Unfortunately that is not actually how it works.  If you want people to read your blog you have to post consistently. You have to post a lot and publicize it. You have to work the channels to get your blog out in the public eye.  At some point you will generate momentum and you will acquire organic traffic more easily.  But first you have to do the leg work.

4. I am a good writer, blogging will be easy!

Writing and blogging are not the same thing.  As writers we try to set ourselves goals. We will set aside so much time every day to write, and produce some number of words or pages. Of course, unless you have a publisher breathing down your neck for the next installment, the only person you are accountable to is you. Plus you can write about anything that strikes your fancy.

Blogging is not the same.  First, you have to choose and develop a topic.  You can waver a little bit, but ultimately you have to write within the same general area.  Second, you have to be consistent. If you blog three times a week, then you’d better get your writing done. You have an audience you are responsible to, and if you do not post regularly you will lose that audience

5. I will always have great topics!

The last big hurdle is coming up with regular topics. When you first start blogging you are ripe with ideas. However, as you turn up the volume and start increasing the frequency of your posting you might find it difficult to continuously come up with interesting topics to write about. Or you might find the topics, but are suddenly lacking in opinions on those topics or lacking in anything interesting to say.  This is just another form of writers’ block, but it is more like writers lag.

This is where discipline, focus and persistence come into play. Sometimes you still have to write, even if you think you have nothing to write about. You may throw out a couple of lousy drafts, but just doing it can engage you in the process and the outcome may surprise you.

5 Sources of Inspiration for Bloggers

Comic image of two people talking about finding things to write about

Blogs can be a source for – or a source of – inspiration. Blog writing is something we come to in many different ways. Some people write out of a deep interest in a topic; they have a passion about a subject that they want to share with others.  Others have expertise they want to pass on.  Some people do it out of professional intrigue or professional necessity.  The reasons for blog writing can be as varied the topics covered.

Regardless of the reason for writing, sharing is one of the key elements that unites bloggers. One of the things they most want is for others to read it.  We all want to acquire an audience.

There are various ways to promote our blogs, drive traffic, and build revenue and subscribers.  But before you can focus on these things you have to face some primary technical questions – like how often are you going to post?

How often can you write on your topic?  How frequently can you find sufficient inspiration?

Is once a week enough?  Twice? Three times?  What about daily? Oh my god, daily! Yowza. Let’s not even talk about the nuts who post twice daily (ahem…Chris Brogan)

If your goal is to drive traffic to your site, then Brogan summed it up nicely when he said, “the more you post, the more traffic you get.”

So now you are blogging three times a week, or maybe you have even gone hell bent for leather and are blogging daily. So how do you do it?  How do you find motivation?  How do you find your topics?

  1. Read other people’s blogs!
    This is one of the best ways to find inspiration. See what other people are writing about; perhaps respond to what they have written.
  2. Read the news
    Many of us don’t actually blog about mainstream news, so what is the news in your industry?  You probably have thoughts and opinions on trending topics.  Share your opinion. Stop worrying if people agree with you, or if you are right or wrong.  Put your thoughts out there, and then if the response you get changes your point of view, well then you have another post topic!
  3. Follow Twitter
    Twitter is a beacon of discussion.  What are people talking about?  How are people interacting? Twitter is ripe with inspiration seeded in the conversations.  If you pay attention to what people are talking about you will see what people are interested in…write about that!
  4. Watch a movie
    Sure, it is a great form of procrastination, but if you are feeling stagnated then challenge yourself with a movie.  Watch a great and notable title and see how you can apply your writing to that movie.  Integrate buzz words from your industry into movie liners.  Have fun with it!
  5. Just start writing
    Occasionally we are just blocked. Blocked for words, topics, creativity. Sometimes sitting down and just typing whatever comes to your mind will lead you into something.  Think of it as an active meditation.  Just write what comes, no matter how goofy or nonsensical.  Many times finding inspiration is a matter of discipline, which may means committing to writing even when you can’t think of anything to write.

The more you write the easier it will become. When you first ramp up your frequency it can seem really daunting.  But the old adage is true; the more you write the more you will be able to write.  If you focus, the inspiration will come!

What inspires you? Tell me about it!

Women are bad Entrepreneurs? Speak for yourself! Part 2

Continuation from Women are bad Entrepreneurs? Speak for yourself! Part 1

Women in BusinessI asked Smith College Alumnae to share their thoughts about the article by Penelope Trunk in Techcrunch that claims that women are bad at startup’s because of kids.  The post is inflammatory to say the least.  Here is a continuation of what Smith women had to say about the post.

Cynthia Neil says, “Ms. Trunk has made her own decision for her own reasons. She could have written an excellent article written simply from that premise. Instead she has generalized her decision to all women of a certain age who aren’t running startups — a mistake, in my view. I’d like to know what she means about the biological clock exploding at 35 — are you not supposed to have kids after that? There are women having their first children well after that date (including myself, and including many of the lawyers I know). Not everyone is dating the right person at 25, or 27 — I certainly wasn’t.

And only 1 year of marriage sans children? Girl needs to get a life — or may value her husband primarily as a sperm donor, which is too bad, because although men are definitely different from women I usually enjoy being around my husband, and we certainly enjoyed life together before our child arrived (which was four years into our marriage).

I also find it amusing that she thinks she’s “a magnet for high-powered women with stay-at-home husbands”, but it’s really the women running the household too, because the men just don’t pay enough attention. AND they’re running startups as well. Really? Methinks perhaps she’s a magnet for control freaks who fail to see the value of their spouses… not necessarily for high-powered women.

I’m sure she makes good points about the nature of startups — that they demand 100-hour weeks, that they are like having a child, that it’s very difficult to have a personal life of any magnitude while you are involved in a startup. That’s fine. The startup as a specific kind of business may not be what women with young children need. My mother runs a business out of her home — granted, she’s not in that age range and doesn’t have small children at home, but she COULD be in that situation and she’d still be fine doing what she’s doing. It’s a very flexible situation and she’s making a great deal of money. It’s not a “startup” in the sense that Penelope uses the word, or really in any sense — she’s been running it in one form or another since I went to college — but it would be a feasible business for a new/young mother.

I think it’s doable for young women with the right kind of knowhow and dedication to run their own new business while they get their personal lives going. They will need to remain more flexible than Ms. Trunk has.

I also wish that Ms. Trunk hadn’t generalized her experience to the entire female population. What about the women who met their mate when they were in college? Or the ones who don’t until they’re 35? She has a very narrow definition of the female personal/career path. She’s right that our personal choices affect our career choices — duh, it’s your career, so it’s personal too. But to generalize all of those choices to all of her readers is silly. Why not write it as “this is my decision and why I’m making it”?”

Kennie Desine wrote, “[The post] reminded me of a pivotal law suit, decades ago, charging Sears (it may have been Sears & Roebuck at the time) with discrimination against a female employee who vied with male employees for a significant departmental promotion. Sears stated that women didn’t perform well in management, as they were more interested in “makinig friends” on the job, while men approached management as if it were a jungle. The finding was against the female Plaintiff.”

Tish Gier wrote, “Trunk is an a$%&*#@ who is reporting her own anecdotal experience and someone should smack her right in the head. The issue is very complicated–and 20-30 something men are often prejudice against 40-something women(who are often in the “entrepreneurial phase” of their lives) because they see women only as either those who are marriagabel and those who are not. Yes, women have biological clocks, but when those clocks slow down, or if they decide (for many a good reason) not to have children, and they want to develop something, it’s men’s own biological clocks that cause us to be left out.” (@tishgrier, read her blog)

Annie Pedersen writes, “The author has a point. In my business, I see married couples with children and both spouses work. Many times the mother is the parent making the doctor’s appointments, driving the soccer taxi, and making dinner. There are plenty of exceptions, too; however, where the father takes over those tasks. Anecdotely, it appears the parent with the lower paying job seems to be the one who takes on more of the home-based work.” (read Annie’s other post on finding success here, email her,  or visit her website)

To-Do/To-Don’t: Tackling the To-do list

Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed with all the projects I am giving myself.  I say giving myself because they are not anything that I am being hired to do. These are things that I need to do for my business development, for myself, or to just organize my mind.  I tend to over commit.  For instance, I am reading about 6 book right now and taking two classes. One class is for web design and the other is Spanish.  Do I really need to be reading all these books? No, probably not. But I enjoy it. I have my books organized by situation. I have my bathtub books. My waiting for people book. My business book and my brain candy fun fiction. I have books in different parts of the house, so if I am waiting I can read something different upstairs than downstairs.  Of course this means that it takes me a lot longer to finish any one book, but I enjoy the variations in stimulation.

As much fun as this is with my literature, this does not work so well in business. In business we would call that spreading yourself too thin. This is when you have to prioritize, reorganize, outsource, insource and drop.

First: Prioritize

Figure out what is the most pressing. What do you NEED to get done. The best way to do that is do what makes you money first.  Always take care of your clients before anything else. Then move onto your business development.  What needs to be done to grow your business or meet your professional goals?

Second: Reorganize

So now you know what needs to be done, it is time to organize it effectively.  For instance, I have a big project that I need to get started on. It will be very important to my business development.  However, I have a bit of project block.  Every time I try to sit down and work on the project I find myself doing other things on my to-to list instead.  My mind is being pulled in too many directions.  So here is where I reorganize. I have tried to focus and not think about these other things, but it is not working.  So I make a decision to just get them done and out of my head.  So I decided to work ahead, banking blog posts so I would have a bunch ready to publish.  That way I could stop worrying about what my next blog would be, I can write something new or post one that I have already written. By doing this I am freeing my mind to work on the big project that I truly need to focus on.

So what is keeping you from doing what needs to be done?

Third: Outsource

Sometimes we thwart our own efforts by trying to do too much. Just because you can do something does not mean that you should.  You have to look at what you need to do yourself and what you can give to someone else.  Do you have to do your own proofreading?  Web design? Accounting?

I find myself doing things that I am not great at because I have convinced myself that it is better to do it myself.  WRONG!  If someone else is better at it, let them do it.  A lot of times spending $25 having someone proof your writing, or inputting those 10 invoices you have, will save you hours of time.  If they cost $35/hr, but it only takes them an hour to do what would have taken you 5, then you are saving yourself money. More importantly you are saving yourself time.

What if you can’t afford to pay anyone?  Try trading services.  What are you really good at?  What do you need done.  There are a lot of people out there that need service and are willing to barter.  This will not only free you up to do what you are best at, but can help you develop some really great business relationships.

Fourth: Insource

I have had people helping me that honestly did an ok job, but took forever to get it done. I would find myself emailing or calling to find out when it was done. They would tell me I would have it by 10 and then I would get it by 4.  For me, this caused me more stress than it relieved.  I would base my day around receiving certain projects and then have my day disrupted because I did not get it when promised.  Do not be afraid to fire your vendors.  Outsourcing will relieve a lot of your stress and free up time, but if it is not then maybe it is better to do it yourself.

Evaluate your business relationships and make sure that they are actually helping.

Fifth: Drop

A lot of times we commit ourselves to projects that really do not need to be done.  Do you really have to go through all of your files and create a whole new filing system? Do you really have to answer every email the second it comes to your inbox?  It is important to look at your work load and evaluate what you have to do.  I get ideas and then I add them to my to-do list.  Sure they seem great at the time, and maybe if I did reorganize my entire filing system it would be easier to navigate.  But with everything else I have to do, is it really necessary?  Is it going to grow my business? Is it going to make me money?  It is going to give me better peace of mind? or free up so much time that I have substantially increased my efficiency?  No! then get rid of it!

If you are feeling overwhelmed than take a moment and figure out what is a to-do or a to-don’t.

Build it and they still may not come: You “liked” my blog but did you read it?

Blogging is one of the best ways to speak in depth about your area of expertise.  It is a way your audience can get to know you and your brilliance!  But if no one is reading your blog then your brilliance is wasted. Marketing is only successful if you are able to reach your audience.  A blog written in the woods with no one to read it makes no sound.

This is the first of the “Build it and they still may not come” blog series.  Our guest blogger, Marina is the President of Miia Communications, a company that professionally writes for people and business.  She understands that good communication is just as important as a good product.

You “liked” my blog but did you read it?

By, Marina (www.MiiaWeb.com, @MiiaWeb)

People are lazy when it comes to reading, and that’s a fact. Trying to get someone to read a paragraph of information is like trying to feed your child broccoli and Brussels sprouts. They might, or might not eat it. If you have a blog that has long entries, big, fancy words, there is a chance that people won’t read it.

I have been always told to write at a 6th grade level. Which means that people should be able to understand your writing at a middle school grade level.

Here are five (5) tips on how to make sure your blog is read:

1.Write brief entries
If your blog entries run on for half a page, chances are your readers will give up reading half way through. You want to state your main point at the beginning of the paragraph and then move on to explanation. If anything, at least the readers will get a gist of what you’re trying to say. Blog entries should be just a few paragraphs long.

2.Use plain English
Avoid using words such as “comprehend”, instead say “understand”. Instead of saying “consume”, say “use”. This will help the reader follow the text better without stopping to define the words first. Remember the tip that I mentioned earlier about writing at a 6th grade level? Yeah, that’s what I mean. If you have ever taken Shakespeare in high school, you know how frustrating it can be to read words that you’re not familiar with. Just think of that next time you blog.

3.Video blogs

A video blog will have a greater impact than a written one. Again, people don’t like to read, either because they don’t have the patience or the time, or both! Having a video blog makes it more interactive. Plus, your readers can view your blog and see the “face” behind the written text, which is always a good thing – makes your blog more credible. Video blogging is a great way to get your reader’s attention; people would rather watch a video than READ! Do a search online and you will find quite a few video blogging services.

4.Use numbers
People like to see stats; they like to see numbers. Instead of saying “How to build a website”, you can say “Top 20 tips on getting your site up”. Use statistics where you can, saying “10 million jobs were lost”, or “There are 20 million videos uploaded to YouTube”. You get the idea…

5.Offer something for free
We all like freebies, right? You don’t always have to write your blog articles about business topics. Sometimes it’s fun to get creative and step out of the “formal business” zone. Depending on your company, think of giving away something free. You can have sweepstakes and giveaways and let readers participate for a chance to win. For example, you can tell readers that if they share your blog link with 10 friends, they will be entered for a chance to win so and so, just be creative.

Happy blogging!

Follow me on Twitter @laurencubed and on Facebook
SM Cubed Logo