Probably the most interesting person I met at Blog World Expo 2010 was “Grammar Girl”. Her real name is Mignon Fogarty. I first met her and a couple others at lunch on Friday.
Since July 2006, Mignon has been doing a weekly podcast that is about 5–10 minutes long about common grammar questions called Grammar Girl – Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. It is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network, which she owns.
Although we only had brief conversations, Mignon is clearly a friendly and humble person. She was a pleasure to speak with and we struck up a few brief conversations about podcasting and content after a couple of sessions.
She also was on a panel called “Expirable vs Evergreen Content”. She and Jeffrey Powers explained the benefits of creating podcast content that can last (evergreen) and not be date sensitive (expirable).
They both made some great points. The one fact I found most interesting is that after four years, Grammar Girl’s archived shows make for over 70% of incoming traffic. Creating and archiving content that is not date-dependant is something definitely worth thinking about.
As I continue to work out the details of my plans for content in 2011, I’m hoping I can talk Mignon into having a brief phone conversation with me to discuss them. She’s clearly an intelligent, yet humble person.
Oh, and just in case Mignon is reading this, I appologize in advance for any spelling or grammar mistakes on this post (and any others)!
Over the past few months, I keep seeing the name Steve Garfield (of www.SteveGarfield.com).
I just finished enjoying his book “Get Seen” which was a fantastic run-down of the tips and tricks of online video. (It’s a great book if you’re thinking of getting involved in doing video and posting it online.)
During this year’s Blog World Expo, I happened to bump into him a few times and even got the chance to thank him for the hard work he must have put into writing the book.
He also gave a session entitled Video Blogging 101 that I attended.
He also gave some nice tips on video equipment. He recommended the Zi8 Kodak camera, the Photojodo wide angle lens for iPhone, the LED simalight, and the Sennheiser shotgun mic. All of these are nice products for producing quick videos as bloggers.
He also mentioned Music Alley for finding music that you can use in your videos.
Steve, if you’re reading this… Thanks for the tips… and for your book.
If you are not Steve, please go buy his book. You won’t regret it.
Friday evening at the 2010 Blog World Expo included an interesting interview with the famous Brittish television producer Mark Burnett. Mark is known for creating and/or producing several popular shows such as Survivor, The Apprentice, and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.
Mark talked about some interesting stuff. He explained why he feels Survivor has been such a huge hit since it began in 2000. He detailed how the basic concept of death and rebirth is renewed in each and every show. Interestingly, he also talked about the use of the color of fire and how it (along with cobalt blue) is used in the show to represent death and life.
Also, the constant unknown of if your favorite character may be asked to leave is a huge draw for audiences. This style is used in his shows (such as Survivor and Apprentice), but also in shows such as American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. Previously, a main character would be in every show of a season. But with shows such as these, the viewer needs to keep watching to see if they will be in the next one or not.
THE BIG TAKEAWAY:
But the one thing that struck me from the interview was something he did not say (at least not directly).
With such incredible success over the past ten years or so, Mark still seems to have a real humble side to him. Several times in the conversation, he admited that he does not really understand social media and new media.
At one point, he stated that “I am a mental midget of social media”. He also stated “social media makes me feel stupid”. He says that he finds it both exciting and terrifying.
Think about that. Here is a modern genius of story-telling. He has been at the very top level of content creation. Content that gets incredible discussions on a weekly basis on blogs, tweets, forums, facebook posts, etc.
He CREATES the content that others talk about on social media and elsewhere. Yet, he readily admits that he does not really know that type of media.
He drives social media. Yet, he barely uses it.
My big takeaway? Be the story teller. Be creative. Social media will take care of itself. Be aware that it exists and do what’s appropriate. But don’t obsess over it.
Thanks Mr. Burnett. It was a great interview.
This is my last session. My goal is to have an online community running next year, so the tips from this session will likely be very valuable.
Patrick O’Keefe (author of “Managing Online Forums”)
Chris Garrett (of Problogger)
Lara Kulpa (community manger at Problogger)
(Jeremy Wright is moderating.)
Some initial tips included:
Be a member on communities first to see how they work.
Don’t make a big list of things you can’t do. Just say “be nice”.
Do make a basic list of guidelines.
Providing a paid membership makes for higher quality conversation and less spam, even if you just charge $1 per month!
In a community, be sure to lead from the front. Act the way you want others to act and they will follow.
Looking at communities in a math or ratio level is bad. It is more important to look toward if the community is of value. Don’t get caught up in the numbers, fill a need.
Sending a weekly email newsletter to community members that want it can get the members coming back.
The most challenging situation that Patrick deals with is long-time members that go against the guidelines.
Patrick chooses moderators from among the model citizens within the community.
What are some important guidelines?
1. Be nice
2. My house, my rules
Patrick says that he offers a vision statement for the community and also specific guidelines. They are alive and can change. They get adapted as you go. They change for each community. They vary.
What components are in a thriving community?
1. If you are not there, is still thrives.
2. If an online community wants to meet in person.
Lara says: When you see people collaborating and connecting.
Patrick says: When two people meet and get married. (AWww… ) He also says that it is different for each community. Yet, he agrees with the above. He adds that when you can hire people from within the community to run the community, that is a good sign.
How do you get members?
Chris says: Syphon offer people from other communities (ethically). Participating in a community well and putting your link in the signature works. Blogs are an enormous opportunity. If people are already communicating to each other within your blog comments, that is a good time to create a community.
To avoid the situation where the same people are asking questions all the time, ask for questions in advance. That way no one person dominates the discussion. However, the same people asking the same questions is not necessarily a problem, if the questions are good.
The best situation is when a new person asks great questions.
If few people are talking in your private forum, you can have some friends as “beta testers” to start asking questions. It’s the empty restaurant syndrome. Even if you have a great chef, if no one is there, no one else will jump in. However, once you get the first few, others will start lining up.
It’s Saturday morning, October 16, 2010 at Blog World Expo. The morning keynote was fantastic and I’ll try to share some of that info later.
But now I’m now in a presentation named “The Web Browser is Dead, The Apps are Taking Over”. (Catchy title, even if it is a bit extreme.) Interestingly, the room is totally full, likely because the keynote speakers yesterday were speaking very highly about the future of apps.
Why are people using Apps?
Customized to a need
Customized to an audience
Better at delivering content
Why build an App?
Keep your audience
Attract new readers
Go beyond web page interaction
It’s the future!
Things apps can do that web pages can’t
Protect your content
Better Mobile Ad Revenue
Paying is Normal
NOTE: Apple App Store names are like domain names. Now is time to “claim your name”. Get your 1.0 name out there. You can always make newer versions.
Content ideas for apps
Articles (RSS Blog Feed)
Utility that matches content
and much more…
SIDE NOTE: He’s now showing examples of various apps, which is fairly interesting. However, the guy behind me just fell asleep and woke himself up snoring. What a riot! Now back to our program…
The presenter is showing his current app named MacMost. He’s got some pretty good stuff in there. I like the way it works and will need to check it out.
Options for Building an App
Program it yourself
Hire a programmer
Use an App builder
How to find a developer
Local networking (Try Meetup.com)
Look for apps like yours, contact the developer
Ask your audience
How to develop an app strategy? Ask your audience. Ask them what they want and what would they like to see on it. Ask them what their favorite apps are. Tweet about it, send a survey, etc.
MY COMMENTS: Apps are absolutely HUGE! Throughout the conference, everyone is talking about the potential and power of having your own app and driving people toward them.
This is the final keynote of today. It’s the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. The title is “The Future of Web Video”. The panel is impressive. They represent three major industries.
Jim Louderback – CEO of Revision 3 (TECHNOLOGY)
Dick Glover – CEO of FunnyorDie.com (COMEDY)
Dermot McCormack – VP of digital businesses at MTV (MUSIC)
Susan Bratton – CEO of Personal Life Media is moderating.
Jim was in magazines in the early 90s. The reason he got involved in video on the web is because he saw that was the direction things were going.
Dermot mentions that the audience has changed. They have started to talk to each other and they talk back.
At Rev 3, there is no social media expert. All hosts are involved and having conversations with their fans. All the social media and electronic connections makes the face to face even more important. The community of togetherness is important.
Dick Glover mentions that quality content is the key. We put together a group of people that we felt would know what funny is. If they think it is funny, the audience typically does too. Timeliness, surprise, discovery, & celebrity are all important factors to successful video, especially for comedy.
Dick is producing content that can be distributed in many places. While the Internet and short form video are their specialty, they also do other things such as photos, etc that can be used online. Three minute videos can be combined to make a half hour show.
Half hour TV shows cost about $600,000. Their short clips cost about $2,500. The budget is not that important. You can create very good video very cheap now.
Every panelist agreed to invest in good quality mics, not video cameras. Jim mentions that his audience has really complained about a little reverb and echo. Yet, the major video redesigns got little talk or attention. Focus on the audio.
What things are they thinking the most about with regard to the future of video on the web?
Dick explains that he thinks a lot about how to repackage content to be on different screens. How can online content further the video content that has been on mainstream? How can video be monetized?
Dermot admits that he thinks a lot about mobile and how it can play a meaningful role in Video. He wants to know how they can play a role
Jim says Web TV is going to a TV near you. People are buying televisions with Internet on them. There are new, great ways to consume content. They are all app based. The browser is not necessarily the best way to consume content. If you are a media content creator, you need to think about apps and how to market them. We need to be watching how Google TV works. It is the future.
Where is your app focus? Apps are the next big thing. All are working on it. Tablets are going to go crazy. The younger people are drawn toward the tablets and apps. It is time to move from HTML and start using apps to present information and video in a better method.
Do you see the video industry being disrupted by web? Advertising, content and technologies are all changing. But Dick does not think it will be disrupted. Good companies will adapt or fade. MTV now has a Twitter DJ. She is constantly interacting and interviewing. It is important to adapt.
The key is content, then distribution, distribution, distribution. That’s what it’s all about. Getting on new platforms early (or first) works well. Good distribution is not easy. Take the deals you can get. Work it, and work hard.
I then asked a question. What is the biggest differences in audiences is in the past few years, especially with regard to the younger generation? What’s different now? The panelists said that the audience talking to each other is a huge change. Young people do it more than others. Also, Jim mentioned that “ADD type” attitudes are prevalent. Things need to happen very quick. You need to capture attention VERY quickly as soon as you content begins.
What would they like to see change?
Dick said that the one thing he would like to see change is disintermediation. He feels there are too many people between him and the advertisers and brands.
Jim would like to see advertisers understand the difference in new media. He wishes advertisers would understand that there is a deeper experience on Internet video when it is done well. It’s not just about impressions. It needs to be looked at differently and sold differently.
Jim does not believe that the future is for people to click on things during content and buy them. He feels that online content should encourage people to use the advertisers products after the content is over when the timing is right.
This morning the keynote was done by a couple of advisors to politicians. They had some slightly interesting points, but mostly it turned into them complaining about the other political party.
So I left. A lot of people did.
But now I’m in with a very interesting group of podcasters learning from Tom Webster. He is a New Media guy that is able to share some statistics and information on podcasting.
In 2006, a lot of people entered podcasting. They thought it was the next big thing. A lot of the businesses back then that supported podcasting are now gone.
About 45% of people now know the term podcasting. (Only 85% of americans are online.) About 23% of these people have listened to a podcast, 20% have watched a video podcast. Therefore, overall 11% and 12% of Americans have listened or watched a audio or video podcast.
Initially, people listened to podcasts because it is unique content. Now it is because it is convenient and easy.
In 2006, a large percentage of podcast listeners were in the 12 to 17 age group. Now, no particular age group is dominating. It is becoming more rounded out.
Teens, Tweens, and Young Adults are fragmenting. They are not going to any one source for their media. But they will re-aggregate around new norms. There is an incredible opportunity to cater toward that age group. They are searching and will gather again if you build it. This age group in particular is a huge wide open growth opportunity.
Podcasting has now “jumped the chasm”. When reviewing the statistics, you see that podcasts are now being watched by many that are not “early adopters”.
Another huge opportunity is podcasting for local. Daily newspapers are failing across the country. Many average size cities only have one. These same cities may have a few tv networks. Most have many, many radio stations. Those stations are mostly public radio that is not serving the local community. A lot of local radio stations will probably fail. People are moving very fast toward Pandora. Good local news has plummeted. Local media cannot afford quality content. People are leaving.
You have just as much right to provide local content. Traditional media is rapidly abandoning “local”. Think big. Fill the gaps. Local is a huge opportunity. This may even be picked up by local stations.
The mass appeal and long tail both exist in podcasting. However, there is a lot of mid-range that is still available to be taken. Niches are for SEO. Go after a larger audience, when podcasting.
More and more people are consuming audio and video content online as opposed to downloading it. Podcast consumption is happening more and more at the desktop (as a percentage). Perhaps more people are downloading, but even more people are watching at the desktop. Also, more and more are probably watching on iPads throughout the house, such as in the kitchen or while doing laundry. Try catering to that opportunity.
Tom also mentioned that mainstream people may not fully understand exactly what feeds are. People simply want to watch (or listen) “now” or “later”. Try to make it simple for people like that.
People that listen to podcasts are much more active in social media. Don’t just send your feed to iTunes. Get active and market your show.
There was a whole ton of statistics from Tom Webster. I’m hoping to get those slides to review the statistics. They were amazing.
Now here is another topic that is close to my heart. Once again, I’m in the session by Darren Rowse of Problogger fame. This time he is talking about Monetization of a blog. He has a extensive mind map on the screen. Below are the options as he sees them.
(Virtual e-books and online courses seem to be the best right now.)
Cost Per Impression
CPA – Lead Generation
CPC – Cost Per Click
Sponsorships – Fixed length
Pay Per Post
Job Boards / Classifieds
SELLING / FLIPPING BLOGS
Software / Plugins / Apps
OTHER INDIRECT METHODS
Growing Online Business
Finding a Job
Each blogger will have a different spread of what works for them. Affiliate marketing works very well with Darren because of his high trust value with his readers. Genuine recommendations and personal endorsements within posts work very well for him.
He also creates “best seller” lists of what his readers are buying. He looks through Amazon reports to see what their readers are buying via affiliate links.
To promote an e-book, below is a sequence he used…
(Much of this was done in one day.)
Launch Post – Overview of product, fast action special
Social Media Promotions
Interview with Product Creator
End of Promotion Post
How do you get good advertisers? Build a good blog. Let them find you. Be contactable. Build an advertiser page and/or pdf media kit. Explain what type of readers you have. List other opportunities such as Twitter account & Facebook accounts. Offer a package deal. Know your metrics. Know how well your ads convert.
Start with small advertisers. When Darren was starting out, he contacted local camera stores and they paid $30 per month. Over time, larger advertisers and more money can be obtained.
Find other bloggers in your niche and offer advertising across all these sites. (More exposure and opportunity for the advertiser.)
Interestingly, Darren used to work as a minister in Australia. He mentions that building a good online community is not that different than offline. It’s about caring, listening, and relationship skills. This session on how to make a good community is basically about being a good human being.
Adding community and user engagement makes your site more useful and provides social proof. It also creates increased page views, which can assist with advertising income. When you have a community, your readers become advocates. Your users generate content, which adds value.
When you begin, you have a very small community. You should email them directly and try to stay engaged with them individually. The next stage is that your readers become advocates that start bringing in other readers. At this point, the community become self-sustaining. You can actually take a step back.
Early on, it’s important to BE the community. People will follow your lead. If you are positive, people will be positive. If you are snarky, they will follow your lead. Ask questions, invite interaction. Early on, ask questions to people in person. Ask them to comment on your posts.
To help build community, Darren often asks readers if they have a blog. He will create a post that asks them to leave a link to their blog in the comments. He asks readers to give advice or tips on subjects. This gets readers involved. Recently, on his photo blog, he had someone ask if they should take pictures of a person that is about to die or at a funeral if asked. He turned it around and asked his community. Many people had similar experiences and offered their advice.
Start offsite community areas. Darren started a Flickr community, which led to a forum. He got regular commenters to start the forum before launching it to everyone else. He also uses Twitter and Facebook and sends traffic to those areas and back again. He keeps people moving between them. This builds social proof.
Write in a personal and engaging tone, yet relative to your audience. He has had guest bloggers talk about personal things as it relates to his audience. He has also created videos that show him with his newborn child, for example. He often talks to his blog readers as “you”. Yet, in his newsletters, he uses the word “us” and “we”.
He encourages creating a page that explains how to “join” the community. He uses RSS, RSS to email, email newsletter, Facebook, & Twitter. List all these methods on one page so they can choose the one they like best.
Darren has asked his readers to create educational YouTube videos. Those that did had their videos posted on the blog. He occasionally gives them homework like this. He also involves readers before making changes to the site. He also asks advanced readers that are not happy with beginner posts to help others by guest posting.
Darren uses Ustream to answer questions live on a weekly basis. This limits questions from being asked so frequently via email.
Don’t respond to trolls and haters. (This seems to be a common theme today.) To the contrary, be sure to reward good behavior. If someone leaves a really good comment, email them directly. You can also turn a good comment into it’s own post.
After the keynote address, I went into a couple different sessions and walked out. It seems as if today is mostly about social media as opposed to creating content. Both sessions were pretty weak.
HOWEVER, I eventually ended up in the Problogger series that Darren Rowse is taking the lead in. His content has been fantastic.
He stated early on that a successful blog basically tends to find the sweet spot between four areas – Content, Finding Readers, Building Community, and Monetization.
Here are some quick notes from the session on FINDING READERS…
Take the time to identify who your target audience is. Create a reader profile with picture and include demographics, needs/challenges, how they use the web, motivations for reading, experience level, dreams, and financial situation. Improve these profiles (personnas) by surveying your new subscribers. Set an auto-responder that will ask subscribers three months after subscribing “what have you not found that you wanted”?
Give your readers a reason to subscribe. Anticipation works very well. One of the best things he has done is letting people know that a series of posts is coming. They should subscribe to not miss any.
Darren encourages creating a page that links to the deeper content on your site. He calls this a “sneeze” page. He then puts this page as an option in the primary navigation.
Regarding increasing readership, Darren also discussed some of the primary drivers, including controversy, social proof, and event-based content.
Lastly, he encourages linking to specific posts in your email signature and even your link in your twitter profile. Speak specifically to those that came from there.