I Need Help Choosing a New Tagline for My Site (and My Business)

Hello, dear readers! I’m going through the process of doing a redesign of my site, including comissioning someone to create a logo for me. I think I’m very close to selecting a winner in my logo contest (I’m trying out 99Designs for my logo creation – I’ll talk more about that after the redesign is completed).

Here’s my question – since the beginning of my business, I’ve used the tagline “Blogging and Social Consulting” under the big “Blogging with Beth” lettering in my logo. I’d like to start using something with a little more pep.  Something that fits my Unique Selling Proposition (USP) a little better.

Most of my work is in the realm of blogging. I do a little social media consulting, but it’s mostly blogging and WordPress work. I build blogs for my clients, then train them on WordPress so that they feel comfortable blogging and getting their message out on their website. I also do one-on-one consulting on blogging and social media. What separates me from other consultants and technology experts is that I am easy-to-understand, patients, able to work with people are scared of technology, and I’m a great teacher.

Here’s another thing to consider – The way it’s been working out for the last few years, the vast majority of my clients are women. That’s who I seem to attract, and I enjoy working with women. I certainly won’t turn men away if they need help, though.

So I’d love to hear ideas from you about what my tagline should be. Here are some possibilities I’m kicking around:

  • Blogging with Beth – Giving People a Voice through Blogging
  • — Fun, easy-to-understand blogging and consulting advice
  • — I Love the Internet, and I Can Help You Love it, Too!

Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. I’d love to hear from you! What do you think the tagline for my blog (and my business) should be? If you come up with the idea I use, I’ll send you a $10 Starbucks gift certificate!

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SEEKING – One Blogging Buddy for Long Term Relationship

Lizard Buddies

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about why you should get a blogging buddy. Today I’ll talk about the qualities that I think a buddy should have… this is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good start.

1. Your potential buddy needs to have her own blog.  This may seem really obvious, but you need to resist the urge to buddy up with another writer friend who doesn’t blog in the hopes that it will work because she understands the writing part. It won’t work. Pick someone who’s got their own blog already – even if it’s someone just starting out, and they just launched their blog last week. If you pair up with another blogger, you know for certain that she’ll understand your language, your challenges, your triumphs and failures. You can work together for mutual blogging successes. It will be all symbiotic and stuff.

2.  Your buddy needs to be willing to communicate with you. If you pick someone who can’t or won’t discuss things with you, the relationship won’t work.

3.  You need a true buddy who will be honest with you. If you haven’t posted in three weeks, she’s the one who’s going to nudge you and say, “Look, blogging buddy, you’ll going to lose all your awesome traffic if you don’t give your readers something new soon” or “That blog post idea may be a little too much for your readers all in one shot – maybe you can break it up into a series?”

4.  You potential buddy should be available. Don’t pick the person who works three jobs and doesn’t sleep more than 3 hours a night. Pick a person who’s willing to get together every now and then over coffee to talk about challenges and brainstorm ideas. Choose someone who will answer your email. Don’t pick the one who says, “I’d love to be your buddy – I can fit you into my calendar seven weeks from this Tuesday – does that work for you?”

5. Pick a person who’s fun.  Whether your buddy is a man or a woman doesn’t really matter, but pick someone you really like and enjoy spending time with. A great sense of humor and the ability to laugh is a BIG plus.

Any other good qualities in a buddy that you think should be on this list?

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Follow the Olympics with Social Media

Are you watching the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver?  I certainly am!  I know I may be a big cheeseball, but I Olympics Ringsfind the Olympic athletes inspiring, and I’m an absolute sucker for those dramatic, voiced-over NBC athlete profiles.

Want to follow the story on blogs and social media? Read on!  Here’s a short list of some bloggers who are writing during these Olympic Games:

  • Rings – the Official New York Times Blog about the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (also includes upcoming schedules and results)
  • Fourth-Place Medal – The Yahoo Sports Olympics blog.
  • Olympics Blog – The LA Times Vancouver Games blog.

And this is a fun one – here’s a list (from NBC) of Olympic athletes on Twitter. You can either follow the whole list, or follow individual athletes.  My favorites include Short Track speedskater Apolo Ohno, women’s hockey player Angela Ruggiero, and Curler Chris Plys.

And of course you can also follow the conversation about the Olympics by doing a Twitter search for #olympics.  Twitter search is a fun way to find other people who are interested in the same things you are.  Make sure to bookmark that search page, it’s really useful.

Want to follow the Olympics on Facebook?  Check out the Olympics Fan Page! You’ll find contests, photos, and uploaded fan photos from the event, and even find links to photo streams uploaded from athletes.  You’ll likely have to be logged into Facebook in order to see the fan pages or that photo stream page.

Any other online resources for Olympics fans? Feel free to share them here!

Happy watching!

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Fun links and books for February

It’s the beginning of February!  Here are some things I think are just great:

1.  The Eight Principles of Fun.  Are you having enough fun in your life and work??  Visit this great little video from the folks over at Box of Crayons. Isn’t that the greatest name for a blog, EVER?  Their little video will make you want to jump off the couch, put that computer down and do something amazing!

2.  The Whuffie Factor.  Tara’s Hunt terrific book about the power of social media is the book I’m going to recommend to all of my clients in 2010.  She has a fun writing style – very readable –  and the whole book is filled with stories and case studies of how to use social media for good (and not evil).  Excellent reading for anyone wanting to get into using social media for marketing…or if you’ve already using social media, you can use it to make your efforts more effective.

3.  Meetways.  Have a friend who lives in another city (or heck, another state!) that you want to meet for coffee?  Use this awesome service to find a halfway point.  You just enter your address, your friend’s (or client’s) address, and whether you’d like to meet a pizza place, coffee shop, or some other fun place, and it will spit out a list of potential meeting spots!  It even gives you a map!  I love the Internet!

What cool tools, sites, services or books are you enjoying in February?  Leave me a comment below and let me know your current favorites…

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Can I Create a Regular Website with Blogging Tools?

When I’m teaching in my classes, private consulting sessions and teleseminars, one of the most common questions I get is, “”Can I build a regular website with blogging tools?”

And the answer is – absolutely, positively YES.  In fact, I think it’s a terrific idea to do just that – especially if you don’t currently have a website and want to build a web presence!  There are many examples of sites that look like “traditional” HTML sites, but are in fact built using blog software.

I recently built a Web site for financial coach Whitney Wogan using WordPress, a popular blogging tool. Here’s a screenshot of the finished site:

Women with Money Moxie Screenshot

Looks like a regular website, doesn’t it?

Instead of using the regular “reverse chronological” format that blogs usually follow, Whitney used static content for most of the pages of her site (she turns off the built-in timestamp mechanism for these pages).  The reader can then navigate through her easy-to-follow website, and her readers wouldn’t necessarily know they were looking at a WordPress site.  She also added a traditional blog (you can find a link to the blog in her navigation bar, right under the banner).  To take a look at the the full “Women with Money Moxie” Web site, click here.

Blog software and content management systems are very sophisticated these days, and many of them allow you to create both traditional blog posts AND regular, static “Pages”.  I used WordPress pages to create all the main sections of Whitney’s site as well as the navigation, then created a blog section so she could update her site with regular postings.

Please note that not ALL Web sites are perfectly suited to the blog software format.  If you need your site to be available to people to book hotel reservations, or if your site requires some other kind of heavy database functionality, blogging tools may not be the choice for you!

However, most content-based sites would be quite suitable for this type of set-up.  And best of all, everything you build with blog software is easy to manage and update without having to use HTML.  That’s a BIG bonus in tight economic times like these, when no business owner wants to be paying a high-priced designer or developer every time she wants to make a change to her web presence.

For more information about building your website using blogging tools like Typepad and WordPress, contact me for a free consultation!  Blogging with Beth now offers custom WordPress site development and training packages.

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In Praise of Trying New Things

I've been cooking more these days.  Since mid-2008, I had fallen into a major fast-food, white-flour, completely blah diet rut, and my health hasn't been that great.  So I decided that I'm going to learn to cook WELL, using great ingredients, being inspired by all the terrific food bloggers out there.

I really wanted to cook a fabulous soup.  I love soup.  So I did a quick search on one of my all-time favorite blogs, Gluten-Free Girl, to see if she had any soup recipes.  And I found this post about cream of asparagus soup cooked up by her husband the chef.  You simply MUST click on the link simply because the picture is so fabulous.  It will make your mouth water.  I mean, what soup have you ever eaten that's been THAT COLOR?  Go ahead, go look.  🙂

The Gluten-Free Girl didn't offer a recipe for that particular dish – she usually does, by the way, and every single one of the recipes I've tried from her site and her book have been INCREDIBLE – so I found one in a book and fired up the stove.  And I created a big batch of the most gorgeous, luscious green soup you ever did see.   I peeled and chopped and seasoned and simmered.  And it was only when I was peering into the pot of finished soup, checking out the fabulous color I had created, that I paused and thought, "You know….I don't even know if I like cream of asparagus soup."  I had never tasted it before.  It just sounded and looked so good on Shauna's website that I had to try.  But I had no idea if I'd even like it.  "Well," I thought, "There's only one way to find out."  And I grabbed a spooned, dipped it in green, and slurped down a big spoonful. 

And my goodness, do I ever like cream of asparagus soup.  There was an explosion of asparagus flavor right at the front, followed by layer after layer of cream, spices (nutmeg), a touch of garlic, and more asparagus.  The flavor actually shifted in my mouth the longer I lingered.  Good god, was that delicious.   

So try something new today, whether in your online life or your "real" one.   And don't be afraid to buy all the ingredients and do all the chopping and simmering and blending and stirring before you know what the end result will be.

Because you never know what you're gonna LOVE. 

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A Word of Caution about Being Inauthentic

I recently had an emotionally jarring experience by reading a memoir (yes, I get pretty into books, so this is possible).  The book itself was fantastic.  It was written by a young woman who was raised in the foster child system in California.  A string of foster parents eventually led her to a placement in South Central Los Angeles – the center of gang activity in LA.  Her foster home was smack in the middle of Blood territory.  The woman grew up with guns and drugs and murders and poverty and hopelessness.  She had two foster brothers who ended up in jail, one of her best friends was gunned down on the street, and she was forced to care for two younger foster sisters with nothing but food stamps and her own wits. 

I really love books.  I plowed through this one in about two days, feeling very satisfied with the ending (the young woman managed to escape the neighborhood, went to college, and started working with an organization to end gang violence).  I closed the book, breathed a mental “Ahhhhh” at the satisfaction I’d received from reading it, and then reached for Google.  I wanted to look the author up, see if she had a blog, and find out more about what she’d been up to in the past year or so since the book was published.

I Googled her name and immediately found a string of articles about her:

Author Admits “Gang-Life” Memoir was All Fiction

Gang Memoir, Turning Page, is Pure Fiction

Memoir “Love and Consequences” Revealed as Fiction

I was absolutely stunned.  This was a fantastic story – well told, great characters, completelely believable as far as I was concerned.  Granted, I grew up with cornfields in my backyard, not crackhouses, so what did I know?  Nonetheless, I sat there, completely bummed and feeling betrayed by the author I’d just followed through her meaningful, powerful “journey”.  How could she?

But what it made me think about was the fact that the truth eventually does come to light.  This author was about to start her book tour when HER OWN SISTER called the publisher and let them know the whole thing was made up.  Someone will always know the truth, and it does catch up to you.

So when you’re writing blog posts, make sure you’re being authentic. If you’re a company, don’t write a fake blog authored by a gung-ho Walmart family that is meant strictly as a promotional tool.

If you’re an individual, don’t write as if you’re the prime minister of India, like this guy.  Yes, I realize this a pardody.  It still bugs me.

Either way – if you’re a business or an individual, follow common sense.  Check your facts.  Be yourself.  For heaven’s sake, don’t lie consciously.  When you find errors after you’ve already published something, print a correction (and an apology, if it’s appropriate). 

In the blog world, as in the print world, you won’t be able to get away with being inauthentic for long.  Someone will find you out and shut you down.  And there will be a disappointed reader, sitting in her living room, looking unhappily at Google results that leave her feeling foolish and sad.

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Making Money with Your Blog Teleseminar

BillKeyboardThis one’s going to be PACKED with information!  You’ll discover ten ways to make money with your blog, including ad networks, guest blogging,
affiliate relationships and more.

We’ll cover the big questions – How do you pick an advertising network?  How do you decide what businesses you’d like to be an affiliate for, and how you’d like to promote products on your site in a way that’s not offensive to your reader?  How do navigate the maze of potential advertising networks, and decide which one is best for you?

You’ll get great PDF handouts with lists of ideas for making money with your
blog, as well as increasing your traffic so you can get the most out of
your money-making efforts.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
3 PM Pacific, 4 PM Mountain, 5 PM Central, 6 PM Eastern 

The class will be 75 minutes long.

Just $27 for the call, MP3 recording, and PDF handouts.

*If you can’t make the call, you can sign up anyway – and listen to the MP3 recording any time you like!

Register now using your credit card or Paypal!

Registernow

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Portfolio

Sites I’ve developed:

Werner Paddles Blog (developed in conjuction with TONIC Marketing)

All Things Private Practice

Women with Money Moxie

Working Knowledge Blog

Student Coach

Jessica McCrea

Dr. Jack Rogers

Bruce Barcott

Ronald C. White

Life Connected


A Short List of Some of My Star Blogging Clients:

Original Impulse

ArtBizBlog

Thoughts on Translation

Divorce Busting Blog

Head in the Clouds

Straight Spouse Connection

Debbie Mihal

This Lively Earth


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Want More Comments? Try Changing Comment Settings in Blogger

        Have you ever tried to comment on a Blogger blog and been perplexed by the fact that the blog makes you sign in with a mysterious ID or login or some sort before you can leave your two cents?  You may have seen a screen that looks like this (right).  BloggerComment
With this setup, you need either a Google or Blogger account or what's called an "OpenID" in order to comment, which I think is a bummer.  Every blog author should be encouraging good, thoughtful comments, so it's best not to put any roadblocks in the way of your readers.  NOTE:  Let it be said, however, that I am a fan of the "word verification" function often used to prevent comment spam. This is sometimes called a "captcha". 

        The reason this Google/OpenID problem is so prevalent is that this particular comment mode is the default option for any new Blogger blog, which means unless the blog author changes their comment settings in their Blogger account, this is what their readers will be faced with when they want to comment.  Of course, Google makes this the default because they want more people to sign up for Google accounts.  I understand that Google needs ways of getting more people to sign up for Google accounts  – everyone's got to make a living, even Larry Page and Sergey Brin – but I think this method of "encouragement" is a little insidious, especially because most new bloggers don't even realize this default setting is stopping their readers from commenting. 

The good news is that the comment settings in Blogger are easy to change.  If you're the blog author and you've got a Blogger blog, I highly encourage you to change these options and make it possible for anyone to comment! 

Here's how to go about it:

When you log into your Blogger account, go to the Settings tab, then click on "Comments".  Your screen will look something like this: 

BloggerCommentFix

In this screen, make sure that you've checked  "Anyone – Includes Anonymous Users" in answer to the question "Who Can Comment?".  Once you make this change, scroll all the way to bottom of this page and hit "Save Settings".  Check your blog again (you'll probably need to hit you refresh button) and make sure the change took effect by trying to comment on your own blog and seeing what happens.  It's always good to put yourself in your reader's shoes, so this is a great exercise anyway.

If you're a frustrated reader who would like to see this change on someone ELSE'S blog, write 'em an email note if they have their email address posted on the site, and send them this link so they know how and why to make this important change.

After you try this, drop me a line here and let me know how it went for you, and whether you've seen an increase in the number of comments you receive! 

Quick update (Sept.11) – A colleague of mine point out that some bloggers might not want anonymous commenters to be able to post on their sites, but unfortunately there's only one way to get Blogger blogs out of "Google-account-only" mode, and that's to open up comments to "Anyone".   Once you've set your comment option so that anyone can comment, people can either post anonomously or by listing their name and URL.  Most people will leave you a name (and a URL hot link back to their own blog, if they're smart about marketing), so I wouldn't worry too much!

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