Blogging Grows Up

It’s no surprise that I think blogging is the biggest thing since, well, the ezine when it comes to effective, low-cost online marketing. While email newsletters are similar in that they use cheap information publishing to concurrently build relationships and authority for small businesses, the ezine can’t match the power of the blog.

Blogs are truly a huge step forward because of their ease, and because of the blogosphere itself. The interlinked conversation, playing out within the larger framework of the social media environment, is the greatest opportunity ever to build a business without spending money on advertising.

Unfortunately, it’s just a basic reality that many existing small businesses and solo professionals have neither the time nor the inclination to blog themselves. And that creates a huge opportunity for savvy bloggers.

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What’s New in Video Blogging?

“Television is a medium because anything well done is rare.”

I’ve always liked that clever little quote from comedian Fred Allen. As a radio star of the 1930s and 40s, Allen may have been a bit biased, but here we are over half a century later, and many of us wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments about the overall quality of television. And despite the huge amount of buzz about it in 2006, you could likely replace “television” with “online video” and the statement would be even more obvious.

It’s certainly cool to watch those rare talents making great online video entertainment and news shows, such as zefrank, Amanda Congden, Cali Lewis, and of course the Rocketboom folks, just to name a few of the more prominent. And You Tube means anyone can be a star, so everyone’s got to try. Even Paris Hilton.

Of course, there are other uses for online video that have huge potential beyond entertainment. Some have already started using it as a teaching tool, and I personally think that’s where many big opportunities can be had using this powerful communication medium.

Back at my 6 month Copyblogger milestone, I mentioned in passing that I was working on a new project. It’s a video blog, and we’re just about ready to launch it.

(Which is code for ‘there’s so much left to do I don’t see how we’ll ever get it done’)

The site provides video tutorials that teach people how to effectively create, publish, market, and do business online. You can sign up for the feed or for email alerts, and you’ll be the first to receive the initial tutorials when we go live.

Oh yeah… it’s called Tubetorial.

Did I mention it’s free?

5 Signs Your Blog Post Is Going Horribly Wrong

It happens to us all.

Fired up by a great idea, you sit down ready to crank out that killer post. But as you get farther into it, your enthusiasm is replaced by a sense of dread.

Clearly, you’re getting bogged down. You’re not sure what the problem is, but the piece is not coming together the way you thought it would.

You put your head down and keep writing, but the dread intensifies faster than your resolve. You now realize that you’ve got a complete mess of a post on your hands.

OK, let’s relax, take a deep breath and a step back, and run through this quick five-part checklist to see what’s gone wrong.

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Are You a Resourceful Blogger?

If there’s one characteristic that I believe leads to success, it’s resourcefulness. Finding a way to get things done is the skill that makes for an effective person—in business and otherwise—and finding that way without throwing money at the problem is often the most effective answer.

But being a resourceful blogger has a double meaning.

In Viral Copy, I set forth four categories of content that tend to attract links. One of those was providing free resources to your readers.

It’s naturally my favorite of the four.

Dan Zarrella nails it when he simultaneously affirms the value of resources and rejects the “content as filler” philosophy:

Content is dead and resource is king.

Yep.

Titles That Tell a Whole Story

Sometimes, in those rare special cases, you’ll have subject matter so captivating that a simple straight-forward statement of the relevant words is enough.

No formulas, templates, or linguistic trickery is necessary with these types of titles and headlines.

They are stories in and of themselves.

How else can you explain the magic of these four simple words?

Snakes on a Plane

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Why Plato Would Have Blown it as a Blogger

Yep… you read that headline correctly.

Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher who studied under Socrates, mentored Aristotle, and founded the Academy in Athens, would have likely crashed and burned as a business blogger.

Why?

Well, first it’s helpful to talk a bit about those other two guys who came before and after Plato — Socrates and Aristotle.

Socrates pretty much gets credit for laying the foundation of Western philosophy. He devoted his life to teaching, and did so by what became known as the Socratic Method.

Socrates examined moral concepts by answering a student’s question by posing another question in return. In this way, Socrates fueled a continuing dialogue designed to allow his students to discover answers for themselves.

In other words, he was all about the conversation.

In contrast, Aristotle was all about authored content. He knew how to present compelling-structured stories that took the reader from Point A to Point B by engaging the emotions. His philosophy was that one can effectively teach and persuade through the art of rhetoric alone.

Contrary to Socrates, Aristotle might utilize rhetorical questions. His style was to use queries not to illicit an answer from the reader, but rather to make a powerful point.

Plato was the middle child. Because Socrates apparently never wrote down his teachings, much of what we know about him comes from Plato’s writings, which were most often in the form of dialogues.

Early on, these dialogues were structured in true Socratic fashion, and often featured conversations between Plato and his mentor. Later on, these dialogues turned to conversations in format only, and became more about what Plato wanted to emphasize rather than a recording of a true Socratic conversation.

This led to what’s known as the Socratic Problem. How much of what Plato wrote can be viewed as the actual teachings of Socrates, as opposed to a literary device designed to persuade the reader to accept Plato’s point of view?

Plato understood the power of conversation, but his methods made people doubt his authenticity.

In my opinion, you’ve got to provide strong, persuasive content like Aristotle to be an effective business blogger. But you’ve also got to have a healthy dose of Socrates in you, because the conversation is where the true power of blogging is.

As for Plato, well, let me ask you a question.

Given what you know about the swarming pile-on nature of the blogosphere, what do you think might happen if someone is discovered trying to manipulate the conversation through nefarious marketing and public relations techniques?

Whoops, sorry . . . I guess that’s actually a rhetorical question.

But I would like to talk with you more about it. :)

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