Blogging

Blog Carnivals: Why Do Them?

If you are a regular blog reader, you take for granted the phrases “link roundup” and “blog carnival”. I assume everyone knows what I mean when actually, why would you unless you were blogging yourself? Since I explained these to Sean, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to write up why bloggers like myself take part in these bizarre rituals. (Yesterday’s post was about link roundups.)


Blog Carnival
What is it? A blog carnival is like a link roundup managed by someone else. The difference is you can submit a link you want to be a part of it before a deadline. You have no control, however, over how your link will be displayed. It may be an editor’s pick and featured prominently, it may be low on the list and no one clicks on it. Established bloggers take turns hosting them usually. Carnivals are around a common idea like “Carnival or Money Stories” or “Living The Good Life”. You can search carnivals (to either look at or participate in) at www.blogcarnival.com.


Why do bloggers participate?


1. It’s a way to be collegial. A blogger you like hosts a carnival and you participate as a way to put more links on their site (you know, even if it is a link to your site). People see your name on blog carnivals enough and they are more likely to recognize you as a fellow serious blogger.


2. It drives traffic to your site, directly and indirectly. One submission guarantees an outgoing link to the host’s website and an incoming link to your website. And since other bloggers participate and link to it, that is more potential links back to you. The more links, the better your SEO.


3. The possibility of getting new readers. By submitting a good article you’ve written to a link roundup in your niche, you have an increased chance of getting regular readers. People who look at carnivals are usually interested in the topic at hand, so they’ll hopefully like your related material, too.


Rules To Live By With A Blog Carnival:


1. Submit your link on time. Like a late paper, a late email to the carnival host is not appreciated, especially since they are aggregating a gazillion links to get them on their site ASAP.


2. Link back to the carnival. If you don’t link back, you’re considered a bad sport and probably won’t make it on the next blog carnival list.


3. If the host links prominently to you, send a thank you email. Madison at Counting My Pennies listed my post first when she hosted the carnival, doubling traffic to my site. I sent her a thank you email and linked her the next time I shamelessly promoted. She ended up writing me back, telling me to send her posts anytime. A little kindness goes a long way. 


4. Find a balance that works for you. Sometimes participating in too many carnivals can take away from your blog, some people can participate in four a week and do fine. Try them out, monitor your traffic, and find what works for you. As you get to know other bloggers in your niche, you’ll learn whose carnivals will drive traffic your way and which ones don’t do much for you.


There is of course more to it then this and you can check out the blog carnival’s FAQ for more information.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Link Roundups: Why Do Them?

Linkroundupshorpy If you are a regular blog reader, you take for granted the phrases “link roundup” and “blog carnival”. I assume everyone knows what I mean when actually, why would you unless you were blogging yourself? Since I explained these to Sean last night, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to write up why bloggers like myself take part in these bizarre rituals. (I’ll explain link roundups today and blog carnivals tomorrow.)


Link Roundup
What Is It? A collection of links (usually related in some way, legitimately or a little bizarrely. They are links the blogger picks themselves, usually with some commentary to go along. I call mine “Shameless Promotion” because I think it sounds more interesting and that’s kind of what it is.

Why do bloggers do this? Yes, bloggers are hard ones but we’ve got our reasons. . .


1. Sometimes there’s a little “desparado” involved. When you get a little writers block, a link round up can give you something to talk about, even if it is mostly other people’s stuff to talk about.


2. It’s a way to be collegial. You link back to bloggers you like as a way of saying, hey, your stuff is cool. Here’s me supporting your work.


3. It shows you know your stuff. You could be the most amazing person on earth but if you spend your time closed in a little room with your computer, not reading what else is out there, it shows. You get stale, you aren’t learning from others. Citing sources of things you’ve read shows that 1) you read and 2) you understand. People look for blogs as a fun way to get information and link roundups can be a fun way to aggregate and edit it for your blog readers.


4. It drives traffic to your site, directly and indirectly. Sometimes it’s a mention on another blog (a sort of mutual back scratch situation), sometimes it’s just a higher number of outgoing links increasing your search engine optimization (SEO). (If you’re wanting to learn more about this SEO idea, check out the blogging and web/tech sections of this site.)


Rules To Live By With A Link Roundup:

1. Don’t promote your own stuff all the time. Those people are annoying. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with a little self love but there is some awesome stuff out there besides yours. Might as well admit it!



2. If you link a blogger, don’t expect anything in return. The links I include just happen to be posts I like (and by bloggers I like) related to a topic I want to address. I don’t expect them to link back to me. People can smell an ulterrior motive from a mile away so don’t be that guy. Some people like me haven’t yet figured out how to search out links back to their blog.



3. Try to make the link round up fun. If you’re going to do it, include some commentary. Make things tie together in a logical way. Otherwise, it becomes a little boring for your readers (and yourself) to have this  list of seemingly unrelated stuff. My “shamless promotion” posts always take longer then my usual ones, which seems perfectly normal. I want it to be an easy read that’s not at all boring.


A well written article about these ideas can be seen here. (via BlogBusinessWorld)


Photo: Rounding up some help to build a Buick circa 1924. Via www.shorpy.com.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Maine Blog Network

I know more and more bloggers who live in Maine or blog about Maine (or both). I’ve also noticed a trend online toward blog networks lately, especially in my own personal finance niche. They make sense; there is a lot of crap out there in terms of blogs and some very short-lived blogs that just disappear. A blog network can help motivate people, boost traffic, and serve as a great resource in whatever niche you blog about.


I subscribe to Google blog searches for the word “Maine” and I’ve learned a few things reading a variety of posts about Maine by residents or visitors:
1) People think Maine is relaxing. Tourists talk about heading to Maine like they are headed to a Caribbean island. Whether it’s the coast or a lake or a woods hike, people are excited about getting to and being in Maine.
2) People enjoy the Maine lifestyle. It seems as if the slogan “The Way Life Should Be” has been collectively agreed upon. Full and part-time residents talk about this culture in concious and subconcious ways on their blogs.
3) People love reading online information about Maine. Whether we grew up here and moved away or have never left a day in our lives, ears perk up with news about Maine if you have any connection to it.
4) Maine is a that is small enough to feel very interconnected and big enough to be quite diverse.
 
I’ve been wondering lately: why isn’t there a Maine blog network that people can join? There certainly seem to be enough community for it. So I’ve decided to create The Maine Blog Network.


I don’t want to make something exclusive so much as a place were people can come to find quality content (links to great Maine blogs). They’ll be some minimum criteria to join (like being in Maine or blogging about Maine as well as having a blog of a certain age) but overall will serve as a showcase for good content and a way for Maine bloggers to band together.
 
I’ve just purchased the domain name maineblognetwork.com but before I get really excited about this, I’m wondering, are other people interested in this? Does anyone want to work with me on setting this up, probably after summer winds down and it gets a little colder?
 
Anyway, you can email me or comment on this post and let me know:
1) if you’re interested in being kept in the loop and want to be a part of it when it’s launched
or 2) If you’re interested in investing some time in developing this.
 
And I ask you to forward this to all your Maine blogging friends. I want people to feel included in this process!


I’ll start an email list of those of you interested in updates and those of you interested in becoming involved in a more hands-on way and update you accordingly.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

An All-Business Approach To Blogging- Part 2 of 2

This peice was originally published in the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce newsletter.


The first post in this series outlined blogging as a general trend and discussed examples of how a blog could be used on a business web site. Blogs increase web traffic by adding the content customers are searching for to your site (mainly solutions to their problems). Blogs also increase web traffic by giving a reason for customers to visit your web site more often. More importantly than increasing traffic to your web site, blogs can enhance relationships with customers for minimal effort on the blogger’s part. 


A blog allows for commenting, which gives a customer a chance to ask questions and give feedback to a business. By being honest with customers, listening to their concerns, and responding timely in a public forum, bloggers can not only reach the one customer who commented but hundreds of potential customers as well. For example, if your blog discussed your business’s current renovations and apologized for order delays, a customer is more likely to be understanding. A blog puts a human face on your business in a way that’s hard to do online or even at a storefront. Customer comments also allow you to understand what the public likes and doesn’t like about your business, giving you a chance to improve.


Besides learning more from customers, blogs can help you promote what is going on in your business. You can use your business blog to talk about upcoming special events and promotions. A guest author coming to visit your bookstore, for example, may give the opportunity to not only talk about the upcoming visit but to review the author’s books or to talk about other recommended authors that you carry in your store.


The best thing about a blog is that whether you are techno savvy or not, you can maintain it. You don’t have to know about web design to have a blog; there are many free blogging services like Blogger and Wordpress or you can have your webmaster design a blog to go with your business site. A blog is as easy as writing an email and you can add pictures and links like with email. The difference is you only have to write a blog once for many people to see it.


So consider blogging as a way to personalize your online presence and build relationships with customers. Check out the web sites of other businesses and see how they are using blogging. Talk to your webmaster about setting up a blog. If you decide to try one, commit to setting aside time at least once or twice a week to update it and do so religiously. The content you post should be easy to skim and free of grammar and spelling errors. Bold important words for easy skimming, include helpful links or ideas in bulleted lists, and write in an honest and polite manner. Take time to respond to comments personally. Tell everyone about your new blog. Over the course of six months, did your blog increase overall traffic to your web site? Did your sales increase? Have people been talking about it? These are all signs that blogging is working. You’ll only know if blogging is effective for your business if you try it. Whether you decide to continue it after the trial period or not, you’ll have learned a lot about the internet, your customers, and your business.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

An All-Business Approach To Blogging- Part 1 of 2

This piece was originally published in the Ellsworth Chamber Of Commerce newsletter.


Blogging has come a long way from computer savvy types writing their personal lives for all to read online. In the past few years, blogging has become a force itself, gaining credibility as it becomes mainstream and breaks some major news stories before traditional media. Some bloggers are now considered experts, intellectuals, and even celebrities.


A blog, which is short for “weblog” is a type of web site where entries are listed in order of date. Entries are used to share ideas, thoughts, and web site links. All entries (called posts) are archived and searchable by date and keyword, making information easy to find. They can be categorized by type of weblog (a photo blog is a photolog for example) or by genre (such as political, personal, or business). Blogs can be found through a search engine like Google or blog directories like Technorati. Between 27-45 % of Americans currently read blogs and this number continues to grow. Worldwide, bloggers (people who write blogs) number over 112 million. More information about blogs and how they work can be seen in this short video: http://www.commoncraft.com/blogs. The best way to understand the purpose of blogs, however, is to read a few; many of your favorite authors or journalists as well as larger companies have their own blogs.


Blogging may seem to be a frivolous way to spend precious business resources of time and personnel. There are ways, however, that your business can benefit from a blog. The first part of this series will discuss how blogging increases your web presence. The second part of the series will explain how blogging can enhance relationships with your customers as well as ways to start a blog for your business.


It may not be news for you to think of your business web site as a publication. To move your web site beyond general information, however, you must consider how you use the internet. You probably don’t use the internet to search for new businesses or ways to spend money but instead, you search for answers to questions. If your business web site provides this information, your web site is more likely to come up in a web search and people are more likely to visit it. Also, updating your web site regularly with information will keep customers coming back to your site to see what else is new. According to some studies, blog readers spend longer on a web page and often have more disposable income than other web users, making them exactly who you want to attract to your site.


Blogs can help with the age-old questions small businesses struggle with: how to get people to their web site and how to keep people coming back. Your business blog could be used answer some frequently asked questions, highlight new products and upcoming events, or instruct people on how to do something with a product you sell. These strategies will no doubt increase your web presence and, more importantly, your web traffic. 



Next Post: How blogging can enhance customer relations and how to get started blogging for your business.




Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Budgets Are Sexy!

I forgot to mention this morning my crosspost at Budgets Are Sexy. The guy who writes it totally cracks me up so it was fun that I got to put something on his site while he's marrying/honeymooning with Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy. Enjoy!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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