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Having a blogroll on your business blog is very important for a number of reasons. A blogroll is a list of blogs that you read, are in a similar industry to, or are associated with, E.G. clients, distributors, colleagues, B2B (Business to business) connections etc. Blogrolls act as a signpost for site visitors, letting them know what internet content you think is worthwhile, as well as which online communities you partake in.

Blogrolls create links:

In terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), blogrolls link outwards to other sites, so they can be very useful for obtaining valuable incoming links, obtained when other blogs link to your website on their own. This can be done as a form of reciprocity, or the other party may actually be interested in what you have to say because of your common interests. Incoming links are seen as ‘gold’ by Google and the other search engines, because they infer yours is a blog that people are interested in, or whose content people value.

Creating your blogroll from scratch:

You’ve created your blog, but you aren’t linked to anyone, except possibly to other blog articles within your own blog posts. If you’ve ever quoted someone else in the same industry, or linked to his or her business blog because it was relevant to your article, this is the best place to start your blogroll.

Click on the ‘links’ category in your blog’s dashboard and add the URL address of said website. Then put in the title of the blog, as this is what people will actually see on your site. You have the option of writing a short description of the blog, so when people roll their mouse’s cursor over the blog’s name, your summary will be shown and they’ll know what to expect even before clicking.

Don't misspell 'blogroll', or you may find yourself looking through a 'bog roll'.

Don’t misspell ‘blogroll’, or you may find yourself looking through a ‘bog roll’.

Sourcing more blogs to link to:

You may now have a few blogs on your list, but you can be sure there are some great writers out there sharing their wisdom in your business sphere of which you are unaware. Find them and link to them. Use Google and search for very popular words in your field of work.

For example, if you are an optometrist, you would search for terms like ‘near sightedness’, ‘contact lenses’, or of course ‘optometry’. The links with the highest page ranking related to these terms are usually those sites that are most prolific in the field. They write about the topic on a regular basis, and the quality of their content is high. These are blogs you want to link to, and to read, as the more informed you are, the better your own blog articles will be.

Note: Emulating these successful blogs and websites is the key to achieving a high search engine page ranking. It’s no secret good content posted on a regular basis leads to more eyes on your website’s pages.

Use social media networks to find related blog sites

You’ve done your Google searches, you’ve listed businesses you are associated with, now it’s time to use social media to find more quality blogs to read and list in your blogroll. If you join Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg, Delicious, Reddit, and if your blog is using WordPress or Blogspot, you’ve got an array of portals into the blogging world.

All of these social networking platforms (and more) have search functions just like Google that analyse the content of all its associated websites. Search for your industry’s most used phrases and you’ll definitely come across more sources of quality information and opinion.

Creating more business opportunities:

The more depth and variation your blogroll has, the greater chance you have of becoming part of an online community, having a voice in each social network, raising awareness of your brand, and communicating with others leading to business opportunities.

Direct business relationships occur when a potential client or customer communicates after finding you, while indirect business opportunities arise when your blog and its associated articles achieve high page rankings in search engines. If you have a lot of good content, your article links will be those chosen by random people searching for someone in your chosen market.

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If your blogging experience is anything like mine has been, you might also be saying to yourself, ‘How do I really get to meet other bloggers of like-mind who have similar interests? I have found it to be pretty hard searching for blog topics using keywords at Google. The answer to this challenge may come down to an age-old process practiced for millennia: networking. ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ is what my parents always said when it came to business or finding employment. Now I’m learning that it’s the same in the Blogosphere.

I have come across many well-written blogs in my travels. However, quite a large percentage of them remain relatively hidden under the radar, unknown to most of humanity. When blogging, it’s such a great feeling to know that people are reading your thoughts and ideas. It’s even better when they leave comments hoping to start a dialogue. After participating in these ‘relationships’ it can be quite disheartening to have to go through ‘quiet’ periods with little (if any) interaction. So, how do we find people who write about similar topics? From my recent experiences I’d have to say that this desired networking is being done at blogging communities or blogrings, of which I’ve written about previously: ‘Xanga Blogrings: An attempt to find others like you.

Though I wrote about these communities a while back, I thought I’d still try and make it on my own. I’ve spent a lot of timing searching for bloggers to relate with, not to mention commenting at other blogs to try and start ‘blog friendships’. It’s been hard. Just like real life, you can’t make someone want to know you. There has to be a point of connection; a reason why you feel like sharing each other’s space. You have to feel like you’re on the same ‘wavelength’. Recently I had a chat with a friend who said that he’d recently joined a blogging community of sorts called Zaadz. I checked out his new site and then did some research on how these communities work. It’s pretty cool and I really think that this has to be one of the main ways in which bloggers are ‘meeting’ each other on the Internet.

At Zaadz, you have to create a profile of yourself. There are several categories including Interests, Heroes, Teachers, Books, Music, and Movies in which you fill out. Your answers automatically become hyper-links. Let’s say that I put one of my interests as being ‘meditation’. After the word ‘meditation’ has become a hyperlink, when I click on it, it will take me to a page of ‘Zaadsters’ photographs who all listed ‘meditation’ as an interest. There you go: It’s an automatic connection. You already know that you have at least one common interest with a whole group of people. Cool. There’s also an awesome photo facility on Zaadz. Check it out, and check out the Zaadz philosophy on their Home page as well as the ‘thinkarete.themanifesto’ written by the site’s CEO, both of which contain inspiring ideas that make this community look worthy.

Recently I was sent an email from someone asking me to join the blogging community at Blogmemes. A while back I joined a website called Mybloglog, but I’d completely forgotten about it. It seems (I assume) that this blogger found my profile there (which has a cool little picture of MiContent on it) when searching for keywords relating to their interests. All I had to do was click on the link in my email and I was part of the community. Unbeknownst to me, Mybloglog has thousands of blogging communities within its one site.

Today I went to my Mybloglog profile after doing a little searching around yesterday of bloggers that I was told had visited my blog, one of which had called themselves an ‘admirer’. Interesting. Today it seems that one of the bloggers I visited called BlogBloke has added me to his community at Techbloke. I don’t think I joined of my own volition. This could be a problem…shouldn’t I be the one to choose who I want to relate to? There’s also a means to ask others to be friends or contacts. If someone whose writing you like also likes your writing/content, they’ll agree to make a connection. I like this reciprocal approach.

This all seems pretty great but I have noticed that some people are part of hundreds of communities, let alone being friends with thousands of individual bloggers. This causes some suspicion on my behalf. What are the intentions of these ‘ultra-networkers’? It’s hard enough having a handful of friends in reality. I seriously doubt that anyone has time to consistently read thousands of blogs. Could this be a case of blog gold-digging or social-climbing? I’d like to communicate with a lot of people about subjects that interest me, but I don’t think I can relate to that many people. Then again, I can talk to just about any type of person when I ride the train.

Jesse S. Somer is going to go deeper into the Blogosphere by joining in blogging communities. Human beings are social creatures. Why did I ever think that my writing alone would create relationships?

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Well, we’ve come to that time again; it now seems like another good time for a questionnaire. A while back I was getting a few comments from visitors to MiContent, but recently things on that front have dried up a bit. Getting comments is one of my most enjoyable aspects of blogging, as it gives me an idea of what other people’s viewpoints are on topics of my interest. I know what I think, but we’ve got to know that others see things differently and that their opinions are just as relevant as our own. I also like the social feeling that I get when commenting back and forth with others…As I work as a Creative Writer I spend much of my time alone, so it’s always good to have human contact of any kind.

So here’s the topic. ‘How do YOU get people to come and visit YOUR blog?’ Ok, I’m going to send this around to some popular bloggers, bloggers I’ve already had some interaction with, as well as some other arbitrary blogs relating to my interests. I’ll list some questions down here, but like the first survey I did (‘So you’re a blogger, why do you do it?’) please feel free to express yourself further if this topic strikes a chord in your heart/spirit/brain. Also feel free to express your opinions on how you’ve felt when people haven’t visited or commented at your blog.

How I Get People to Come and Visit MY Blog:

By, A. Blogger

  1. Since you created a blog have you done anything with the direct motivation of bringing visitors there? If so, what did you do?
  2. Do you ask other blogs you like to partake in link-exchange so that both of your identities grow?
  3. When you add a blog to your blogroll do you inform the blog’s creator?
  4. Do your friends and family visit your blog, leaving comments?
  5. Do you regularly visit other people’s blogs (especially ones related to your topic), leaving comments in hope that they will visit your blog and relate back to you?
  6. Have you added keywords to your blog’s name so that Search Engines could find you easier?
  7. Has advertising on your blog had any impact on page views?
  8. Have you joined any social networking sites in hope that it will bring you closer to people of like mind to communicate with? If so, has it worked?
  9. What other tactics/means have you used to try and increase traffic to your site?
  10. How does it make you feel when people show a genuine interest in what you’ve got to say on your blog?
  11. If people don’t visit your blog much, how does it make you feel?
  12. Who have you gone to seek help from (if anyone) for information on how to increase traffic?

I look forward to hearing your responses and learning from your perspectives.

It sometimes feels like all of my communication is travelling out one way, with no one responding back to me. Do you have any advice on how to make stronger connections?

Jesse S. Somer loves relating to others in the Blogosphere. It gets lonely sometimes when no one comes to visit or has anything to say.

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You may have caught this astounding story of Internet romance/superstardom/comedy at Wired Magazine’s blog recently in a post called, ‘Love Train: It was a fairy-tale romance, a very nerdy fairy-tale romance.’ Please, you must have a read of this. What blows me away (besides the multi-million dollar repercussions of writing one post at a community blogging/forum site) is how Train Man’s discussions online about what to do in terms of asking the ‘pretty girl’ out became a social/community venture for so many people online.

In listening to his fellow bloggers/forum participants’ advice (‘Get enough sleep, cut your nose hair, have breath mints, charge your cell phone, brush your teeth, take enough money, take a shower, and – in case of an emergency – wash your penis properly.’(Yeah, don’t forget that one buddy…) we can see a new form of human relationship taking place.

‘Remember: She’s only one girl. You have all 2Channel (The Japanese website) on your side!’ People are now putting faith in the opinions of fellow bloggers/humans that they’ve never met. So much so it seems, that we are now asking others-once deemed as ‘strangers’, for advice in the most personal arenas of life. Plus of course, people are generously offering their help and advice. (We aim to please, us humans.)

Amongst all the ensuing commercial chaos around this ‘Geek Love Story’, we are told that a book of the blogging forum’s threads has already sold over 1 million copies. I know Japanese people are a little bit different (not to be judgmental in any way), but could this be a trend for the future of all literature? Popular blogs transformed into books, posts becoming paper pages…Isn’t it strange how technology can flip back in on itself?

Would you read a book of made up of your favorite blog’s archive of posts? Or, can you imagine reading a beloved author’s next novel-online one post at a time? The online serial novel is born! Hmmm…It makes you think.

Could this be ‘Train Man’s future? Or is marriage too big a step for this comic-reading, anime-watching ‘Otaku’?

Jesse S. Somer didn’t meet his girlfriend on a train…it was at a Juice Bar. She made the most incredible Berry Blast Soy Smoothie you could ever imagine.

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I was walking down the street today and was approached by a man who wanted to sell me a small ‘book’. He said that he and his cousin were riding their bikes around the world for charity, and would I please help out, as my purchase would help them get the necessary funds to make it over to their next continent by cargo ship? They refuse to take any airplanes. My natural reply was, ‘Do you have a blog about the experiences you’ve had on your journey? Here’s the blog: ‘Free Wheels East’. Have a read; they’ve already had an amazing time cycling across Europe to Russia, down to Indonesia from China, and even on the ice of Antarctica!

So it got me thinking (even before I read of their travels); Here’s a couple of people doing something completely outrageous, courageous, and crazy, plus they’re inspiring others to support a charity (‘Practical Action‘), and they’ve got corporate sponsors who’ve provided them with all of their equipment. Why then do they have to sell small books (actually small excerpts from their online blog) to make it to where they’re going? Well, they assured me that they’ve sold 8,000 copies, and as I paid $5.00 for mine, that is quite helpful, plus they get to meet a lot of interesting people that way (part of the beauty of such a round-the-world experience), but I just had to wonder: Should they have to be doing this with all of their spare time? If people are willing to buy the partial blog in book-form, wouldn’t others (marketers/advertisers) see the potential here?

Therefore, I got my curiosity-sniffing big nose in action and inquired on whether their blog gets many visitors. Their reply was totally optimistic, and for me, actually quite unexpected. 1,500 hits a week and rising exponentially, plus lots of original page-views. Of course people like it! After reading some of the blog I can see why; they’ve really had some exciting times, and even harrowing ones at that…boulders falling off landslides in China, the road they were on being completely swept away…You get the picture. It’s really interesting stuff. Besides being well-written, the content is relevant on so many levels: for adventurers, as well as people interested in different cultures or geographical landscapes.

So I wondered, ‘These sponsors give you equipment and supplies…have you tried to get some paid advertising? Hmmm, it seems the mad bicyclers hadn’t thought of that. Now, I’m not super-knowledgeable about business etc., but I’ve read on several occasions about how bloggers have made some fairly good money after they’d built up considerable traffic to their sites. It sounded like the obvious step for these wearied but bright and happy ‘wheel wanderers’. Could they have created a ‘micro niche’ for themselves? Remember, 0.1% of a billion Internet users are one million people. Could there be a million people interested in riding bikes around the world, helping people through charity, and being adventurers?

You see, these bloggers unwittingly have great content. Just being who they are and doing what they do is so removed from most of humanity’s normal everyday sphere of reality that they don’t even have to try and write about interesting topics-It just flows naturally! The only issue here is that obviously they might be a bit too caught up in what they’re doing to realise all of the opportunities that they’ve now given themselves. Well, after reading the blog you’ll see that this isn’t totally true…They’ve had all kinds of interest from TV documentary-makers in different countries, magazines, newspapers etc. They’ve probably even been overwhelmed by all of the choices that they’ve been offered, some most-probably by fast-talkers and all-talk-no-action types.

I don’t exactly know how to put this plan into action, but I really think these guys’ next move should be to call up some of their sponsors and ask them if they want some ‘real’ ads on the site. Start out by telling them the numbers of how many people are coming to the blog each month, I mean these are all potential customers. A lot of bicycle riders are going to be hanging around there-why not get some big, even moving (Flash/video) advertising to sell some bikes?

So, come on all of you business people. Am I on the ball? How many site visitors does one need to attract corporate advertising? How do you get their attention-by calling them up on the phone, sending them an email, going into their offices-kind of hard when you’re presently out riding across deserts? What do you think? I’ll do some research and get back to you about it.

Jesse S. Somer wants to know what it takes to create a popular blog…I bet you want to know too.

I don’t know how much snow these guys have ridden through yet; hopefully they won’t have to deal with a day like this…Then again, it might be fun, just as long as there’s some thick underwear packed and ready.

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Most probably you know TED…I’m often the last person to find out about something or someone new and/or cool, so I just spent my whole afternoon getting to know TED. For those of you who don’t know of TED already, first let me let you in on a little secret. TED isn’t a person. TED is a group of people…A group of people that changes every year; a group of people (extremely talented and intelligent people-Why not?) who get together and discuss any and all topics that humanity sees as being ‘fresh and important’.

TED stands for ‘Technology, Entertainment, and Design’, but as the ‘About TED’ page will tell you, no relevant subject evades these passionately focussed minds that are so keen to learn and share knowledge with one another. The Arts, Business, and the Sciences aren’t left out-you can read, listen to podcasts, and watch video talks from some of the most renown and scholarly individuals on the globe…plus they throw in a few healthy comedians to keep things light (as they should be).

The ‘Tedblog‘ keeps you up to date with all that’s being said, and normally I like to focus on the written word (as opposed to videoblogs and podcasts), but in this case I was completely captivated by the video links found on the ‘TED Talks’ web page (linked to from the main TED site). These are ‘talks’ or oral presentations, usually around 18 minutes in length, but which can be as short as 3 minutes, although the length definitely doesn’t limit the potential for impact. I haven’t witnessed a boring talk as of yet.

Check this little 3 minute talk about ‘Why people succeed’ by Richard St. John and you’ll know what I mean. I also watched an incredible 14-year-old concert pianist named Jennifer Lin whose skills will simply blow your mind. Wait until the end and watch her improvise with 5 random notes chosen from a member (You’ll probably recognise her too) of the crowd.

Closer to home and relating to some of my recent posts here at MiContent, this talk by Sasa Vucinic about venture capitalists helping to fund independent media in developing countries (where most media is controlled and censored) was quite inspirational. In my last post (‘Some ‘real’ journalists don’t think bloggers can write’ I discussed the opinions of some mainstream media (newspaper) journalists who felt that blogs were destroying some of the information sharing process. This video talk touched on some interesting points relating to the need for more independent newspapers in the world…at least blogs generally don’t seem to have much problem with outside interests filtering content. Or do they?

Another awesome, enlightening, and even humorous presentation I saw (a must see) was from a Swedish professor named Hans Rosling (founder of ‘Gap Minder‘), which was based on the changing health and wealth in our world. A while back I wrote about a book I read that discussed how humanity could change our behaviours to make the world into a better place (‘Can you change the world?’). Well, this fellow pretty much proves that our planet is now already much better off than it ever has been!

I also had a good couple of laughs with this comedian Ze Frank, and another quick 3 minute performance by the poet/spoken word specialist who calls himself Rives. Check out the Tedblog and some of the other talks and tell me about any that grabbed your attention and why. I think it’s about time we all got to know a bit about what TED is all about.

Jesse S. Somer may never be invited or be able to afford a ticket to see TED, but just watching TED’s work has been uplifting in itself.

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Hearing about Moblogs a fair way back, I just assumed they were another small-time fad where super-techno-geeks sent text messages as blog posts to their blogs online. Moblogs or mobile blogs (some call them ‘mob blogs’) when I think it about it further and after reading about their newfound popularity, seem like a pretty cool adaptation of modern technologies.

Picture yourself: You’re walking down the street and you happen across a street performer playing some amazing music. Ok, now pull out your mobile phone/PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)/Palm Computer/Smart Phone. Within seconds you’re taking photos and sending them to be posted on your blog. Hmmm, why not take a short video ala ‘Vlog’? You can also record the sound and call it in as a podcasting file. Then you could record your own voice afterwards describing in spontaneous detail how the music affected you. Or, you could be ‘old-fashioned’ (like I would be) and write about the experience…on the phone’s mini-keyboard or handwriting detector (using those little plastic pens on the touch-screen.

Wow, I’m starting to sound like a super-techno-nerd. Still, I think moblogging will come in really handy, especially when it comes to travel on public transport. Instead of thinking and writing notes in your diary about what you want to blog about when you get back to your computer (or carry your heavy laptop everywhere), you can write it and post it on the move. We’re talking about maximising efficiency, as time is often limited in our busy lifestyles. Why read a low-grade newspaper on the train home when you can stay productive?

At the moment however, the main use for this technology is based around the photo-sharing capability of Moblogs. ‘Buzznet‘ is an example of a new site dedicated to phone photography. As soon as anything happens, photos are streamed onto the site by passers-by standing at the ready with their camera phones.

In this LA Times article entitled ‘Phoning it in‘ there was some concern about freedom of privacy, as essentially anyone can now become a sneaky little paparazzi. However, they also emphasise the fact that this is just another way in which people are coming together to form small communities via social software. What do you think about it?

Check out Wikipedia’s page for Moblogs and its links at the end if you want to know more about the Moblog phenomenon.

One day soon I hope to be hi-tech enough to write my blog and post to the Internet while on the move. This train seems to fit the futuristic picture, but it’s not science fiction. This is modern reality.

Jesse S. Somer is slowly becoming ‘nerdier’, and admiring ‘geeky’ types with all those innovative ideas. Just keep your phone out of my bedroom.

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