Beyond Inspiration: 5 Ideas for a Successful Blog

I started blogging haphazardly last year in Blogger simply because I thought it was something I needed to experience hands-on. I wanted to capture my thoughts on merging content development and online marketing for a previous employer, and realized blogging was one way to do it. This was something completely new and intimidating for me (while I have no trouble speaking in front of a large audience blogging seems overwhelming – I think it’s the permanence and competition out there). I haven’t blogged as much as I hoped, but did manage to put my domain to use and gather some rudimentary WordPress skills (with help). Not a bad start.

Since then I have come across many inspiring bloggers that I try to regularly follow. After some news about SEO Smarty becoming an SEO Mom hit Twitter, I came across her blog post on advice that helped her when starting out.

1. Turn your weak points into the strong ones. Ann Smarty blogs in a foreign language, so as a result, she writes short posts, provides lists and specific action items. This has become her selling point, and as a result has been published in many newsletters. I struggle with finding a) time and b) the challenge of providing something useful in the realm of experts. Because of this I am diligent to learn, and have overcome the anxiety of asking questions in fear of losing face. Through networking and organizing myself, I can provide insight and resources that can give back. Which transitions well to the next thought …

2. Organize yourself, your work process and your resources. I use delicious to organize posts, tools and resources to refer to on a regular basis. I certainly could improve my blogging process, become more diligent, post to Sphinn and YouMoz, outline steps to syndicate my own content (in other words, take my own advice). But for me, this is a work in progress. I have a creative background, and if the process gets to rigid, it’s likely I’d lose interest. Ann has her own method of organization. Find what works for you, and stick with it. It could be a combination of methods, but it needs to fit your work-style.

3. Openly share all your knowledge. As SEO Smarty states, “It is dumb to think that once you share some piece of knowledge, someone can turn it against you or become your competitor.” There’s a good chance it won’t happen. The blogging, SEO and internet marketing communities are a generous bunch. They will share what they know, provide help when they can, and hold you accountable. I have learned more from networking and hands-on experience in the past 6 months than I could have sitting at a trade show conference. It is only fair to give back, and provide feedback when you can. I’m actually a believer in this method, and it has been successful for me.

I’ve also added a few more ideas to added to SEO Smarty’s list:

4. Be transparent. Nobody wants to read about how awesome you are, or how you never say or do the wrong thing. Share what you can, be honest, and ask for help when you need it. I’ve mentioned this before, and have admitted openly that my CSS skills are lacking. In fact, if it weren’t for Dan Freeman, another Mainer who I only know through Twitter, this blog would still look like a mess of code.

5. Participate and comment in other blog discussions. I try to find one blog post or article to comment on each day. Just one. Obviously this builds links back to your blog, but it also forces me to think constructively on a topic or theme that I may not know much about. It also provides another way to give back when I can contribute a tool or resource to add to the conversation.

I would like to hear more how people are inspired and motivated to blog. What drives you to start writing?

“Don’t Vote” Tag 5 Friends Video Meme

I was recently tagged by Todd Friesen (who just recently moved to the U.S. from Canada) in Google’s “Don’t Vote” meme to get people to register to vote. Matt Cutts got the ball rolling initially – the idea is to tag 5 people to get them to register, and then pass it along. So I’m tagging 5 people, and they better do the same.

Shannon Bryan: because he likes the word “meme”, has a crush on Obama, and moved to Portland recently so not sure if she’s registered.

Tim Wright: because he should really post this on the Coast site. And start Twittering already.

Vicki Frost: because she’s related to a good portion of Ohio.

Eric Lander: because, well, he seems popular. And likes waffles. And Zima (possibly).

Casey Yandle: because the guy is always on Twitter, and will get the word out (if he hasn’t already).

I can think of dozens of more people, and it’s not that I don’t love you. I just need to follow directions and go with 5.

So don’t be a moron. Go vote, this is our chance to make the world a better place. With the chaos that’s happening these days, you really cannot afford to lose this opportunity. And it is an opportunity, there are thousands of people in this country who can’t vote. Everyone has an opinion and a stake in this election, so get informed, and go vote.

Yes it’s Under Construction

Yes I _do_ have a clue and am not happy with the layout. This blog is still under construction while I finish making the transition from Blogger to WordPress. Once I make the rest of the site look lovely I’ll make an announcement.  Otherwise feel free to say hi, I’ll get back to you. Thanks for stopping by!

The Technical Struggle of Converting to WordPress

I was reading SEOBook’s post on how to migrate blogs from Blogger to WordPress , excited to see a step-by-step process for something I really need to get on since WordPress provides a lot more flexibility and customization. But once I saw the first step, I started to panic:

Step 1: Download and install WordPress (also requires setting up a MySQL database).

Umm, I don’t have a clue on how to set up a MySQL database. Or hack CSS by hand, or create conditional php statements, or rewrite .htaccess files. So how am I supposed to take advantage of the SEO benefits WordPress provides when I’m technically lost?

I consider myself technically-savvy, many colleagues and friends can attest to that. But after I read that blog post I started thinking of the value of marketing vs. technology. Where does search marketing really fall? If I had the best, most up-to-date technology, will search follow? It’ll help I’m sure, but unless I create value, fill a need, and engage with community, does it really matter?

So I’m still considering WordPress because it really is better. But what I may just do is just provide a static link back to Blogger. That sounds nasty, it won’t be well-optimized, but I just don’t have time to learn php. I could always just stick with Blogger and forget about WordPress altogether. Unless someone out there feels generous and wants to help – I’ll be happy to reciprocate.