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Cheat Sheet for Marketing Mentor Coffee Break on Blogging

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Thanks again to everyone for participating in Peleg and Ilise’s first Marketing Mentor Coffee Break. Notes are going up a bit late because—I kid you not—my G5 decided to take a header into Nowheresville early Friday morning. See? Computer malfunctions happen even to blogging geniuses (said with tongue FIRMLY in cheek).

Anyway, here’s a roundup of some of the resources we talked about during the call, as well as answers to a few additional questions that came in over the transom…

BLOG HOSTS

We talked about two ways to go: the DIY route, where you host your
blog on your own server space, or buy hosting that comes with the
blogging software built in.

Popular DIY solutions:

WordPress

is open-source (i.e., free!) software. Lots of templates to use, which
you can modify to your taste. You need to be a little comfortable with
computer-y stuff, or willing to learn. No paid support, but an active
community very willing to assist.

Movable Type  — paid content management system (CMS), with paid support available.

Popular hosted solutions:

TypePad — the hosted version
of Movable Type. Feature-rich, lots of templates, a range of pricing
structures depending on how much flexibility you want with design, etc.
Great for small business users. This blog, the Marketing Mix, is hosted
by TypePad.

WordPress.com

the free, hosted version of WordPress. It lacks some of the features
and flexibility of WordPress installed on your own server, but
ridiculously easy to use, with good template choices. Consider ponying
up the extra $15 for your own domain name.

Blogger

— free blog host owned by Google. Again, limited template choices and
feature set, but still more than sufficient for lots of people. Same
deal with paying a little extra for your own URL.

BLOGGING TOOLS

Feedburner is a service that
makes it easier for people to subscribe to your blog, either via RSS
(really simple syndication) or email. Mildly easy to do with any
blogging software; TypePad makes it stupid-easy.

Technorati is kind of like the
Google of blogs. You register your blog here, along with a summary and
descriptive keywords. When people want to search blogs for stuff, they
often come here. Also fun to follow your ranking!

RSS readers make it easy to track the blogs you want to follow without actually going there. Lots of people use Google Reader, because it integrates with their Google account; I like Bloglines. Both of these are free, and online readers, not desktop, which means they’re accessible from any computer.

SAMPLE BLOGS WE DISCUSSED

The Aquent blog – smallish creative recruiting company, very loose style

Marketing Catalyst
– Blogger Bruce Allen handles the marketing for a large law firm, and
his blog is a great example of maintaining a personal voice that’s
still professional.

Seth Godin’s blog – fantastic thinker, fantastic blogger.

Hello, My Name is Blog
– Speaker Scott "The Nametag Guy" Ginsberg wears a nametag 24/7. He
also maintains a terrific blog, full of great content, and his branding
is consistent across vehicles.

Swiss Miss – Designer Tina Roth Eisenberg’s blog, which Ilise mentioned.

UPDATE: Amazingly, I forgot to mention two of my favorite blogs. Which would be…

Peleg’s cooking-school blog, The Top Kitchen

and my own, communicatrix.

OTHER RESOURCES

Maya, of Maya & Marketability, has a good post up at her blog about how to figure out if blogging would good for your business.

She also has a blogging for business checklist (formatted as a Word document) you can download that walks you through a thought process before you start blogging.

Finally, a few questions we didn’t have time to answer:

"What
does [Colleen] think about blogger Perez Hilton (a guilty pleasure of mine?.  I’m
particularly interested in him because I want to have advertising on my blog
and develop it as a substantive source of revenue."

Oh, sure. That’s why you’re interested in Perez Hilton :-)

I do think that blogs with a laser-like focus stand the best chance
of generating revenue, and gossip blogs are a great example: they
deliver a specific audience that marketers want to reach. Another
example on the other end of the topic spectrum is Steve Pavlina’s very
successful self-improvement blog, with great content targeted to people interested in self-development.

Steve has a great post on how to make money w/ your blog here.

You might also want to check out Darren Rowse, aka ProBlogger, for more tips.

What about having others write regular contributions for your blog (in addition to your own voice)—as you would have in a newsletter?

Perfectly fine. Lots of bloggers do it. Depending on your software, you can sometimes set up a guest account, with some privileges (e.g., drafting and posting). This is one of the advantages of TypePad (although you may have to go w/ a more expensive package).

How complicated is it to take care of graphics on your own? Is it as simple as software and using a digital camera?

Most CMS make it really easy to upload your own images, including your own photos. Depending on how much manipulating you want to do, you may want or need some kind of photo manipulation software.

You can also use images you find from Flickr that are released under certain Creative Commons licenses. (Be sure to read about Creative Commons licensing first.)

Two things are very important: do NOT use copyrighted content without first obtaining permission. If you grab images off of Google image search, you’re technically stealing. A lot of people don’t mind but some people really do, so make sure you have the right to use whatever image you’re using.

Also, always host the image on your blog. That means downloading it from your source on the web, then uploading it to your blog where it will be hosted on your server space. To do otherwise is known as "hotlinking" and can lead to some really ugly, embarrassing stuff if you’re busted, even if you do it inadvertently.

I have a friend who has a newsletter, website, and blog. She feels like each serves a different purpose—for instance that she can track the number of people who open the newsletter. However, based on today’s conversation, it seems as though there are metrics available to measure blog traffic as well.

Hmm…a "friend", eh?

First, as Ilise mentioned, different methods of marketing do serve different purposes. For some people, a blog might replace a newsletter, but for most, probably it will augment it.

That said, there are a jillion (technical term) terrific metrics tools for blogs. My two faves are sitemeter and Google Analytics, both of which are free. Google serves up so much data so many ways, I have no idea what half of it is. But it’s cool!

Colleen, how much time do you actually spend a week on the blogs you write? And on reading blogs? Is it 2 hours, 10, 30? Since I’ve been struggling with my enews, maybe it would be easier for me to post smaller messages more regularly.

I spend between 30 minutes and roughly two hours per week on Marketing Mix, which I both administer and write for. Ilise also spends time writing, though, since it’s a group blog, and we have an occasional guest blogger.

I spend between two and five hours per week on my blog, but I write looooooong posts, which is atypical and not particularly recommended. Most people like reading short bits on the web, and the most successful bloggers seem to deliver their content that way, too. (With exceptions, of course—this post, for example, is really long, but covers a lot of desirable ground for the people who are coming here specifically to read it.)

In the beginning, I’d allot an hour per day. It’s going to take you some time to get used to the form, and to get used to your software, etc. There is a learning curve for pretty much every aspect of blogging. But eventually, you get used to writing off the top of your head, and it goes much faster.

As for reading blogs, currently, I spend about 1/2 per day at it. Some days, I don’t read or blog at all. But I love blogging, including reading blogs, and it’s gone up to as much as 20 hours/week or more. Please don’t take this as an example! Hopefully, your mileage will vary, and by a lot!

* * *

I think that about covers it. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments. You know how to do it, right?

The post Cheat Sheet for Marketing Mentor Coffee Break on Blogging appeared first on The Marketing Mix.


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