Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is your blog missing these 2 critical personal branding features?

branding iron 3Image by robalicious via FlickrBlogging has become ubiquitous. Sites like & make it easy for anyone to start blogging. And there's no shortage of pros telling you how to do it better.

But before you embark on a journey of self-education, you'll want to fix two things that many bloggers get horribly, terribly wrong. Two simple things. Two simple things that you've overlooked for a long time. You can thank me later.

Pull your blog up in a fresh browser window or tab. DO NOT follow any links. Just sit there... and look at it. Hopefully with fresh eyes.

Forget who you are. Forget what you are trying to achieve. Forget the template you have (or have not) customized to your liking.

Just look for these two things:

  1. What is the name of the person writing this blog? Your first name isn't sufficient, unless you happen to be named Madonna. I want your name. Your full name that you are branding. Don't make me guess. Don't try and be cute and/or aloof. Your name, please.

  2. Is there an obvious contact method? And no, listing out the 19 different social media sites you frequent doesn't count. I'm talking about normal ways people thing to contact other people. Email. Phone. These items need not be front and center, but an obvious path to these items must be visible.

Do you have these two things, these two very simple and painfully obvious things, "above the fold" (visible without scrolling) on your blog? If not, then you're not ready for the "advanced" lessons you'll find in all the other tips. Get those two critical elements on your blog. Now. It is the single most important personal branding thing you can do for your blog today.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Asperger's for the social networking crowd?

quito street preacherImage by august allen via FlickrTime for me to make up a new word:

Sociatize (soh-shit-IZE): verb, transitive. The act of converting any event into a social networking opportunity.

Let's say you found out members of your book club were going to a movie you didn't want to see. You wouldn't go along with them, sitting and reading your book in the corner with a flashlight, right?

Let's say you found out that members of your knitting circle were going out to eat sushi. You're not a fan of sushi, but you wouldn't show up at the restaurant and knit while others were eating.

Let's say a drinking buddy of yours goes to church every Sunday. You would never show up at his church and offer him a beer.

Commonly accepted rules of human interaction dictate that you not behave in the above manners. You're at the movies. Watch the movie. You're at a restaurant. Eat. You're at church. Don't drink. Sure, you can hang out and chat while you are there (well, not so much at the movies or church, but you get the idea), but you primary function at the event is to participate in the event.

Some social networking enthusiasts forget this.

There are plenty of events for SM people to be very social. To be very chatty. #evfn is an event like this. The primary purpose is to hang out with people and talk. That's it. Oh, and to have a drink or two if you are so inclined. There are legions of events like these. I love to attend them.

But I also like to attend non-social networking events. And if my social networking friends are also in attendance, I'd like them to be participating in the event, too. Watch the event. Listen to the event. Be in the moment of the event. Resist the temptation to sociatize the event. And if the event isn't your cup of tea; don't go. Missing one more chance to interact with your social media circle isn't going to harm anyone. Better yet, it gives you one more thing to ask us about when you see us at the next social event.

I'm off to make up more words. You sit there and wonder if I'm talking about you. Don't make me get the duct tape.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

The fine line between false praise and encouragement

one. ugly. monkey.Image by berbercarpet via FlickrThere exists a fine line between false praise and encouragement.

Encouragement is necessary. It provides a positive support while someone is either exploring their creativity of improving their craft. No one is instantly good at anything, so we all naturally go through a development process in anything that we do.

But unlike encouragement, false praise halts development. It incorrectly leads people to believe that they are at the top of their game, and that no further improvements are necessary.

I see this happen all to often in the new media sphere. It's as if some special pass is given. Some bar has been lowered. A general understanding that is simply can't be as good as "traditional" media. And since it can't, then we should have our own devalued sense of quality.

To speak frankly for a moment: fuck that.

I don't think new media has anything to prove to anyone. I think there is plenty of room for huge variations in quality. And I fully understand that we're often examining qualitative aspects. And yes, there is plenty of low quality stuff on the radio, TV, movies, theaters and more. New media shouldn't strive to be traditional media.

In fact, we need to lose those labels for moment. Let's talk about media. And let's use the same scales.

Was the last podcast you were on "one of the finest you've ever been on", or was it simply good? Was that last free book you listened to "better than anything I can buy at the store", or just a good yarn? Was there nothing worthy of fixing? Did they nail it on all points? And are you being honest?

I hereby dub 2009 The Year of Honest Criticism. Wanna join me? Note that this doesn't mean I'll be trashing everything I dislike. I'm not that big of a new media douchebag. But will be giving honest feedback when it's asked for, and I'll moderate my own enthusiasm for things, relying less on superlatives and hyperbole. Reality. Whoa.

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