Social Timing is Everything

Have you heard the saying, “Timing is everything” and while on some level you understand but the explanation is not quite clear. Today, this saying could not be more true and applicable with how we operate our business in the demanding digital world. Capturing your audience is even more important where the message has to be clear, concise, to the point and timed just right. Continue reading “Social Timing is Everything”

When Blogging Jobs Don’t Go According To Plan

Sometimes as bloggers we get jobs in that just hiccup from the moment we get it.  Recently, that happened to me and so I sat and thought about what I would do if I were the one in charge of PR.  The first thing I did was email the PR company to let them know what I did to fix the issue (The store was out of product).

I took my photo and based my post on the fact that the product was flying off the shelves and to get yours while you could.   I basically made the best out of a bad situation.  I emailed the PR Company who told me to go with what I had because they felt the link to the company was most important.

My point is there are so many times as bloggers that we must improvise and we need to think out of the box.  When in doubt email the person in charge of the campaign.  You’re not bothering them and that is their job.  I used to always be hesitant because I don’t like bothering people but in doing so I didn’t help myself any.

Get a bad product in the mail for review?  Give it to a friend or family member to try.  They may love it and you may get a whole new spin on the subject.  As bloggers we there is so much we can do to come off positive and with out lying.  Don’t get me wrong there are those circumstances that we must leave a bad review or unfavorable responses but sometimes we can avoid them.

Tips For New Bloggers

 

 

There is a whole host of things that irritate me when it comes to veteran bloggers speaking down to new bloggers.  People forget they were once new too.  Some of the things I’ve seen/heard can be summed up below with of course my thoughtful opinion of it.

 

1.  If you have 500 Facebook followers and you have a reach of 50 you’re obviously doing something wrong.

This is not true.  It takes a bit of experience and a bit of practice to get those numbers up.  A few tips?  Don’t just post your reviews, giveaways, and articles, share other bloggers posts too.  Don’t be afraid to post on your page something that you’re not posting on your blog.  Post something fun or funny.  It’s going to take time to build your audience and sometimes people are just pricks.

 

2.  I’m not going to help you because no one helped me when I was starting out.

Gee someone sounds like a poor sport and a jerk.  Obviously the people that fall into this category are not the “love thy neighbor type”.  If you need help keep asking in Facebook groups or via personal email.  Someone will be kind enough to help.  Sometimes bloggers don’t have the time but that doesn’t mean they have to be rude.

 

3.  I’m not going to help anyone because it increases competition in the blogging world.  

What these people are REALLY saying is I’m not helping anyone else because I don’t have faith in my blog and writing abilities and I’m afraid you’ll leave me in your dust.  These are usually the people whose blog is here today and gone tomorrow.

 

4.  I have SO my pitches in my email that I can’t keep up with them.

Uhhhh, no they don’t.  This is just another bragging comment set up to say, “I’m a veteran blogger and you’re a newbie.”  Don’t sweat it.  Yes we get pitches, but we don’t get 100 a day.  Obviously the people complaining about so many pitches haven’t checked their email in ages.

 

5.  Newbie bloggers are hurting the blogging world.

NO, NO, NO!  This is not true.  We were all new once and some of the best writers and best reviewers I’ve met are new.  What is hurting the blogging world are veteran bloggers that learned to use the system and are dishonest, cheating and NOT actually doing their job.  A giveaway or review doesn’t end at a post.  No, you have to follow through and continually hit up companies and pr that haven’t sent product.  We are working for both sponsors and the entrants.

 

These are just a few that grind my nerves and make me want to reach through the screen and shake people.  There is no reason to be mean to people that are new.  Each of us has a unique blog and bring something different to the table.  No one is going to corner all of the traffic online, because as individuals different things interest us.

Joie

Starting A Business Is Never Easy

 

 

Starting a business is never easy and I should know.  I have what I consider evolved or what others consider ADD.  My first internet business was selling books.  I love books, the smell, feel etc.  My first job was to liquidate an estate of leather bound books that were all collectibles.  There were over 2,000 of them.  It was amazing and I was doing what I loved.  I enjoyed selling each one, telling customers about them and I learned a lot, but then the Kindle & iPad and other readers came about and the bottom fell out of the book market.

 

When Networking Witches was started it flew up in stats and took right off.  I’m very thankful that it did but along the way were a lot of bumps and bruises that most everyone never saw.  However, we (Rose) listened to other bloggers and created our site with love and care.  We didn’t start it with dollar signs in our eyes, though both of us were in need of money.  We saw this more as a way to provide items we needed for our family.  Along the way we made friends with both sweepers and bloggers.  Some friends as always turned out better than others.

 

With our failure at some things we learned.  I wouldn’t trade those failures for anything because it kept us working hard and pushing ourselves to make the best blog we could.  To create a blog we could be proud of.  We once spent a whole night using Google Cache to put our blog back up when it was ass-i-dently deleted.  We worked with friends to learn to use our dashboard, and still now I have to ask for help at times.

 

While I still love Networking Witches and it will always be a labor of love, starting Networking Perks was a whole ‘nother beast.  I love working with other bloggers but most bloggers are moms and home has to come first.  Then business, and as a business owner working with moms we must learn to work together.  Learn to work side by side instead of against one another.

 

For those of you starting your blogs I want to say….. No it isn’t easy, there is much to learn but it is worth it.  Especially, if you’re a mom staying home with the kids.  There will be days you can’t create a post or review because your brain is clogged or with your family but that’s ok, it will pass.  If you continue and work at it steadily you will succeed.  Lean on other bloggers and join groups.  Don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes.  Mistakes are not a sign of imperfection but rather a struggle to reach perfection.

3 Tips on Proper Use of Images and Photos

free photo, using photos from net, creative commons, flickr, free photos

The other day while minding my own business at my desk I overheard a fascinating conversation. One of the leaders in our organization was looking to utilize a highly recognizable trademarked and copyright protected image and logo. I could hear the uncertainty in his voice as he was curious to the proper use of the photo. He was asking another department head regarding his experience in use of this material. I heard more uncertainty in both of the parties discussion, one was a coordinator for programming and the other is a web designer, marketer. Of the two, I would have thought they would have erred on the side of caution when wanting to use this image for a blog post. Their decision was anything if not scary; they opted to use the photo because they indicated our organization was “too small to be considered for a lawsuit.” Suddenly my adrenaline was pumping with anxiety at their lack of caution to the proper use of images, photos and pictures in blog posts, public material and advertising.

Google images has made seeking out photo’s one of the easiest tools we can use today. Google, no less, has  replaced encyclopedia’s, basic knowledge and higher learning. However, the evolution of Google and the easy access to various images posted on the web does not give anyone and everyone carte blanche to utilize photos so readily and easily for Facebook posts, blog posts and other media shares. These photos belong to someone, some company and or organization that owns the intellectual rights.

Imagine if someone hacked your hard-drive or decided to help themselves to your Facebook photos, took those photos and shared them as marketing material to make money. Imagine your fury that someone took your family photos and used them as a black and white still for a picture frame cover in a large box store. All the while, you are not reaping the rewards for rights to the photo. You would consider this theft.

Even though large corporations, organizations and conglomerations exist to have an endless supply of money, resources and they might never miss the photo, the principle of the fact remains that improper use could be considered theft. Even if you think your blog is small, unnoticed and imaginary in the sea of sites, blogs and landing pages in the world, someone, somewhere might notice. Are you willing to risk being sued for improper use and attribution for a photo?

attribution, creative commonsHere are some tips to keep in mind when using photos from the web:

  • Did you create the graphic and or take the photo?

If you did, then make sure that you protect your works and credits. Slap on a copyright for your works. The process is far from difficult and most photo services when you upload your works (like Google Picasa, Flickr, etc) have an attribution option where you can add notations such as a copyright. Photo editing software such as PhotoShop and GIMP also offer watermark options where you can place your copyright. While this is not a guaranteed protection, this does ensure you did your due diligence to protect your works, especially when you register them as such.

  • Is the photo copyright protected? Is the photo public domain? Is the photo protected under attribution license?

While this is a lot to take in, the larger photo sites (Flickr, Picasa, Wikimedia Commons) fully detail and explain the differences in all these types of available photos. As mentioned in my scenario above, my co-workers were looking to use a Marvel Avengers logo. This was a huge NO NO without proper consent, permission and attribution. I sent them an email and advised them that in order to use the logo and trademark of Marvel Comics for the logo they would need to contact the organization to ask for use, credit and attribute the photo that they have permission from Marvel for use. By not doing so creates the opportunity for unnecessary risks and lawsuits that could have been avoided if handled properly.

  • Do you need to use a specific photo or can you get your message across with a free domain photo?

Sometimes we purely want to use the photo because of aesthetics, but really we can say the same thing or put across the same message with a photo that requires no attribution. If you have the funds in your budget to purchase a photo, do so and be sure you use the same attribution and crediting process as outlined in the purchase agreement. Purchasing photos from organizations like ShutterStock allow you use of royalty free photos that reduce your risk by just taking photos directly from Google images. Right click and save through Google images can open a can of worms for lawsuits and DMCA notices. Know what the symbols means with each photo, see where the photo originated and who owns the rights if any.

Images are a great way to portray our image, our brand and to tell a story. We all want that advantage when marketing ourselves, our brand, our blog. We take great pride in the effort and work we put into the fruits of our labor; all artists feel this way and should be respected as such. When putting forth that effort take the extra time to do the job right. Protect your investment and your asset. Protect your images, your blog and your reputation. Respect the rights of others who also share in the same endeavor.

Next time you are thinking of using a photo and one you fell in love with on Google images, think about the artist and owner of that image and or work. Think about the proper use of their image and if you have the right to reproduce that work even if you think your blog is only a speck in the pixelated world of the internet. Do your research, be respectful, and understand how using photos can greatly impact your reputational risk and or infringe on someone’s intellectual rights as an artist.

*Written by Karie Herring, Owner and Author of The Five Fish.

You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter as Kariewithak.

Most Bloggers Are Honest And Working To Provide For Their Family

 

 

 

I want to say with all the hub bub that is going on about dishonesty in blogging (some of which has been posted here), that cheating is in the minority.  I also want to state that 99% of the time that the blogs participating in Blogger Opps where a person is accused of cheating (which may or may not be true) that the associated blogs know nothing of it.  Sign ups and entry widgets (Giveaway Tools, Rafflecopter, etc) are not accessible to those participating or co-hosting.

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As bloggers and it doesn’t matter what type you are ie. deal, life style, giveaway, cooking etc., you are expected by your advertisers and sponsors to keep your site stats and social media up.  If we don’t keep these stats up we can’t offer nicer products to you for giveaway, we can’t offer honest reviews or how to videos.  Unfortunately, our blogs cost money to keep up AND we also have to help to contribute to our family.

 

When a blogger cheats it calls attention to our own selves and blogs and is not good publicity but we do it to keep others from being duped.  To keep our entrants and readers from wasting their time and effort because we appreciate our readers and respect them.  We depend on our readers as much as we depend on our sponsors.  When the internet blows up it’s so easy to think that “everyone” is playing unfair when in reality it is a small fraction of people.  Individual bloggers are put into a bad position at times trying to work with other bloggers whether required by a sponsor or whether working to boost stats and bring readers the best giveaways or information.

 

Entrants too try to cheat at times and bloggers are in a situation of fielding comments, emails and checking to be sure that the entries are legitimate.  Then there is the issue of making sure giveaway winners do get their prizes, and that means contacting sponsors and pr for more information, sometimes tracking numbers, and getting back to the entrants, as well as providing content to our blogs.  Then there is timing, we have schedules to keep up with for sponsors.  Many times we are required to report the stats of the post and giveaway to the sponsor as well.

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So to sum this up, MOST bloggers the majority of bloggers are honest and don’t have time to figure out how to be dishonest because we’re putting the effort into doing the right thing by everyone involved.  It’s important that bloggers, sponsors, pr, entrants and readers all remember this.

Spring Means Less Time Online For Everyone

 

 

I like many others have been swamped and pushed for time.  Spring has spring and everyone has projects, events, and wants to be out in the fresh air.  Which leads me to….. we as bloggers are going to see less traffic.  I have spoken to a few bloggers ready to throw in the towel but “slow and steady” wins the race.

 

Now is a great time to keep a notebook in your car, purse or diaper bag and take notes.  Maybe while you’re out you’ll find inspiration for content posts to add to your daily blogging posts.  Post that people will read on their phone or tablet while they’re out and about.

 

This is also a great time to boost your media.  Become more engaging with Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  All of us have taken a hit via Facebook and their new rules and how we can’t even keep a simple “like” any more.  Build your content and work on engaging your readers.  When many of us are in the car pool line, at the park or beach we’re also checking our Facebook, favoriting a photo on Instagram, or seeing what our favorite blogs are up to on Twitter!

 

 

The Importance Of Owning Your Own Site

 

 

When I first started to blog the biggest question we had is what blogging platform to go with.  Blogger, WordPress, or then Xanga.  Since 2009 I have seen a lot of changes in the online world take place, Xanga which I loved is gone, but they promoted bloggers and blogging content and I had several of my articles featured.

 

Blogger/Blogspot, owned by Google is rather unfriendly to blog with.  At first my partner and I really liked that we could both be logged into Blogger or Blogspot at the same time and working with out issue.  We also liked the fact that we could change templates, themes etc on a regular basis with little effect on us as individuals.  In reality Blogger much like Google doesn’t work with all blogs and hasn’t stayed up to date with times.  That said even though, as bloggers we’re judged by Google, I think Google looks down upon bloggers of all types.  While they pushed and shoved to be the top search engine/everything internet, they kind of picked the wrong partners to sleep with so to speak.  Which is why the slow and steady Yahoo, is starting to re-emerge on top (But I digress and that is for another post!).

 

I fought for WordPress.  At the time blogging wasn’t the big deal it is today, 6 years later.  Wordpress just seemed more programming friendly.  It also was supported by many of the hosting companies we checked out.  Sadly we started with the free version of WordPress and then within months were struggling to transfer everything over to the self-hosted WordPress.

 

Lately, I’ve noticed many PR companies and clients asking me if I own my own site.  If I am self hosted, and which blogging platform I use.  I always knew that WordPress  was well liked and that it offered widgets that helped improve blogging for us all, as individuals.  Now more than ever I think it’s important to have your own .com or .net to show that you are a serious blogger.  People using the free platforms are not supposed to accept paid opportunities and many who have skirted the issue have had their blogs deleted.

 

With all the work that goes into creating your blog and blog content you need to take charge of its destiny and not allow yourself to fall victim of terms of use that you may have been unaware of.

 

 

 

 

Anti Social Media

A friend of mine posted the other day about how Facebook has turned into a feed of others posting videos they have seen and no longer a forum for conversation. His comment was profound to say the least.

“Do people still actually post things here or is just a forum to share videos you found on the internet?”

Our social media venues have become more of the anti social media as we fail to engage one another. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) seem to have transformed into venues of mental masturbation to help pass the minutes as we exercise, exercise bowel movements and or exercise our lack of effort into our careers and selves.

Many a late nights I used to delve into Twitter and Facebook. Twitter especially, as I engaged on many a conversations, albeit some superficial “mom talk,” as my twins were much younger and I found an online community of other women who had the same subscription of life. Bantering, high level disagreements and even some catty non-sense. However, the result was all the same. Conversation.

Today I see Twitter as a monologue, at best. Almost like a telemarketing convention where all of the sellers are dialing out to potential consumers with their tweets in hopes someone will buy their sales pitch. I was saddened to see my own church guilty of the same actions. Services were provided with a hashtag to “join the conversation.” Really? Who would we be conversing with? Other members I suppose, but I found that to be very anti social as well with other members tweeting, never actually engaging in a dialogue.

Facebook has transformed itself into much of the same fashion…coupled with the sisterhood of Instagram. Timelines are littered with selfies and no longer original and or beautiful content. I have watched these two venues turn into a cesspool of narcissism interlaced into being “social.” Social would be how many likes you received for your newest photo and nothing really ever of a conversation.

Have we let our new technology and new forms of communication dilute, if not totally eliminate, any true forms of communication or dialogue? Or is this the way we communicate now these days with pictures, videos, selfies and emoticons? How do we begin to converse with one another again?

With advancements of technology and forms of communication have we catapulted ourselves into the age of anti social media? Recalling an email I received from my dad about 10 years ago, he provided me his new phone number when he was living in Iowa and said, “text me if you want to talk.” I replied and guffawed at such a request, “I don’t text Dad.” Was I flippant, naive, optimistic that communication would remain status-quo? Maybe a combination of all three, never in my wildest dreams would I consider communicating with my parents, let alone my friends in such a fashion. Never would I have imagined creating a blog when just six months pregnant to detail the chronology of my twins in utero, their lives thereafter, our lives in their entirety as a collective over the past eight years.

I suppose since our lives are so busy, social media helps to keep us abreast of all of friends goings-on. Maybe we help show them our interests with the different shares and social likes through Facebook and Twitter. Social media has helped us connect with one another instantly and receive updates on breaking events in the blink of an eye as opposed to waiting for the following day or the late evening newscast. Yet, we seem to be more anti social because we have updates so frequently, so immediate that we can even sever friendships with the click of a button, block the information we receive, filter our lives to seem, feel and look perfect.

Have these “social” venues created an opportunity of anti social behavior?

Social media has allowed us to avoid having meaningful and legitimate dialogues with the click of a button, removing people from our lives when conversations become crucial. While we can connect immediately, we can disconnect just as easily. As opposed to having a healthy dialogue, we just shut the conversation down with block, delete, un-follow, unlike. We can avoid sharing how our lives are imperfect by sharing some of the best photos of the day when the picture behind the camera would suggest normal humanity, beautifully broken. Suddenly we have keyboard muscles that we exert as our form of exercise, because to exercise our mental capacity to accept diversity that something is less than perfect or a comment is less than favorable we remove the threat. Our behavior on social media is dramatically different that in person, acting as if we lack any inhibition to hurting another because we may not actually have real life interaction with people.

Have you found yourself in the vortex of anti social media? Have you found you are only sharing videos and other posts and never really engaging in real, healthy conversations or dialogues? Has your social media become a monologue and not a dialogue?

Share The Good, Bad and The Funny

As a blogger it’s important to show the good, the bad and the funny.  So many times as bloggers we’re wrapped up in showing the good in products we decide not to share the bad.  This doesn’t mean it’s open season but it does mean that sometimes there are things about products we’re not fond of.    For instance, when reviewing Argan Oil, which I love, sometimes it doesn’t smell so great.  While it does what it says and is all natural, the scent isn’t to my liking.  Once absorbed into the skin the scent disappears but this is important to share.  It doesn’t mean it’s a bad review, it shows that it’s an honest review.

 

Just because you didn’t receive a product you love or hate for the purpose of review on your website doesn’t mean you can’t share it.  Sometimes it’s important to share things just because it’s who we are and what we love.  It helps form our personality on our blogs.  Helps show our personality so to speak.  When PR and other companies are investigating your blog it helps you show who you are and that you’re honest.

 

Have something humorous going on in your house?  Your kids or pets doing something funny.  Share it.  It doesn’t mean you have to share photos or videos of them, that is your choice.  Do be sure though that if you are sharing things about your family that you don’t post things that violate their privacy.  I see people post about Johnny pooping his pants at 9 and they show photos and a full name.  That’s very inappropriate.  I have seen moms not think about the rights of their children and post about drug addictions and such.  Remember what we drill into our kids, once posted on the internet it can’t be retracted.

 

Post things that are funny, fun and uplifting about your family.  Posts they’ll be proud of today and in the years to come.  Videos that show your family growing and will entertain anyone that comes to visit your blog.