Friday, July 31, 2009

7 Ways to Get Your Blog Noticed

It's a jungle out there in the blogosphere. How do you get noticed? How do you get read? I've been trying to figure that out for as long as I've been blogging, so I decided to do some research. It may may look like a lot of work to post, submit, send, register, and so forth in all these places; but if you feel virtually invisible (as I do), here are 7 ways to get your blog out where people may actully read it. What a concept!

1. Submit your blog to blog directories: BlogCatlog (one of the largest on the Internet) and check out Search Engine Journal for the top 20 essential blog directories.

2. Recommend great blogs: copyblogger (more tips than you can implement on blogging), remarkablogger (remarkable blog consulting & coaching), writetodone (about the craft and the art of writin; also known as Zen Habits). They might recommend you back.

3. Check out (simple tools and tactics to grow your business on line), JTPratt's Blogging Mistakes (a virtual online guide to everything) and (a service to update different search engines that your blog has updated).

4. Use TwitterFeed to link your blog posts to twitter.

5. Submit your blog to MyBlogLog (a social network for the blogger community that uses a popular web widget), Bumpmee (for creating your own page at www.habbo .com), (a ping server that automatically notifies subscribers when new content is posted to a website or blog), (a place for people to discover and share content from the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blogs) (major search engine and getting bigger every day), (which helps you discover the best on the web), (lets you instantly save and find any website with one click).

6. Link to (the biggest collection of social bookmarks in the universe).

7. Sign up for an account on Technorati, (an Internet search engine for searching blogs).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lost in the Cloud

I’m beginning to think the more gizmos and applications Apple develops to boost the power of Mac computers, the less I am able to keep up with them. Yesterday was a case in point. I went for my weekly One-to-One training session at the Apple store, spent a dizzying hour exploring the world of MobileMe, and left feeling less than brilliant.

When I bought my new Mac laptop, I paid an additional $99 for 52 private training sessions with a Mac genius. I can ask any question or focus on anything Mac-related and get the undivided attention of a walking, talking, human Mac manual. It’s a great concept, but before I knew it, my year was over. Unfortunately, I was still in Apple la-la land in terms of understanding the secrets hidden in my computer. So, I re-upped for another year.

If I didn’t have a little notebook to keep track of the steps in each process, I would remember nothing. MobileMe is amazing, if you know how to use it. It stores data, photos, movies, and applications. It synchronizes calendars, e-mails, and files on my Mac computers. It makes huge files and photos available to anyone. It has a simple website design application. And it has a purely apple invention: “the cloud.” Somewhere, in Apple's obscure website, it even has a help menu. I keep meaning to bookmark that page.

The cloud—otherwise known as iDisk—is a brilliant invention. It is where everything is stored, like an external hard drive in the sky. I can picture all my little files flying up to the cloud to be safely tucked away or synced with my other files so that I will never lose anything. I was a little disappointed to learn that the cloud is merely Apple’s cyberspace server, where I am essentially renting space, like a storage unit. But I choose not to dwell on that.

I could spend weeks learning about MobileMe, and I probably should. It’s a great tool and probably not half as complicated as I’m making it sound. I think the problem is that I ask how to do some little task and end up going through 17 steps to do it without ever figuring out where it fits in the MobileMe puzzle. I think that’s called inductive thinking, but I am a deductive thinker. I have to start with the big picture —what does MobileMe do? How is it organized? What are its parts? How does each part work?—as opposed to using a magnifying glass on one isolated function.

I think that was what you call an “aha moment.” I have been going at the whole thing backwards, starting with a single element instead of the whole program. I can’t wait to tell my Mac genius what I’ve known forever but just remembered—how I learn new information.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Failure to Communicate

This has been the summer of communication snafus. I seem to be particularly aware of the many ways in which people fail to get their messages across, don’t hear what others are saying to them, or interpret what they have heard in ways the speaker never intended. I have witnessed or been party to so many of the communication breakdowns, big and small, that I have really begun to wonder if humans are capable to engaging in meaningful conversation.

If you look at the big picture—international diplomacy—attempts to talk across cultural, language, and political barriers seem nearly impossible. Even if both parties speak the same language, their version of the language is filtered through centuries of history and culture. Further complicate such dialog by having it transmitted through an interpreter, and there is yet another opportunity for misunderstanding,

Most of us aren’t trying to talk to others in diplomatic settings. We aren’t speaking from prepared text. And we don’t have someone between us trying to clarify what the other person just said. In most cases, we are speaking English to another native English speaker. We are talking about familiar subjects, often to people we know well or at the very least are acquainted with.

Despite all those factors, communication often breaks down in myriad ways. The most common one is simply this: I say something to you. I think what I said and what I meant were perfectly clear. There is no way you wouldn’t understand. But for some reason, the message you receive is not the message I sent. You hear something else entirely. How could that happen? It was a simple statement. How could you fail to get it?

Here are some of the possibilities:

  • You didn’t hear what I said.
  • You weren’t really listening. Your mind was elsewhere, preoccupied with some other thought.
  • You didn’t really understand what I was saying. My message was unclear.
  • Certain words had a different meaning to you than they had to me.
  • Most important, that message went through a number filters before it reached you. By the time you got it, it had been interpreted through your senses, your emotions, your grasp of the language, your understanding of the subject, and your life experiences.

Is it any wonder you missed my point? Unless we were on exactly the same wavelength, it was unlikely you could have received precisely what I sent. What’s worse is that neither one of us realizes the message was lost in translation. I don’t ask you to tell me repeat what I said in your own words, and you don’t feed the message back to me.

So, in that simple straightforward interaction communication breaks down and we don’t even realize it. Think of the implications of that microcosmic event in terms of the billions of conversations of varying degrees of importance that are taking place every minute in every part of the world.

If really want peace in our time (at home or on the planet), it might be worth our effort to tackle this problem: how to ensure that the message sent is the message received. That should keep our scientists, philosophers, linguists, and politicians busy for quite a while.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Hitting the Wall: Remedies for Writers Block

To tell the truth, this hasn’t happened to me in so long I’ve forgotten that I’m just as susceptible to writer’s block as anyone else. In fact, I didn’t even notice that I had come to a complete standstill — writing-wise — until someone asked me if I had “retired.” Well, in truth, writer’s block is like retirement, only with guilt. Lots of guilt, especially when this is how you earn your living. What to do? Here are some things I have tried and will now pass along to you, just in case you ever need them.

  1. Clean up your office, top to bottom. File or pitch every piece of paper. Use Windex or Mr. Clean or Pledge on all surfaces. Vacuum or sweep or wash and wax the floor. Wash your keyboard. OK. Your universe is clean. Now, you can get to work.

  1. No, not yet? The next trick is to remove distractions, which include all the things you have to do that are keeping you from doing what your really have to do, which is write. If it’s paying bills, pay them. If it’s laundry, do it all. If it’s calling your mother or designing a flyer or checking every piece of e-mail, get it all out of the way. After all, who can work with a mind that looks like a messy to-do list?

  1. Still not ready? Acknowledge it, accept it, forget it. Unplug the computer. Take at least 24 hours off. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Take a nap. Take a bath. Meditate. Go to a movie. Read a trashy novel. Call your best friend. Work out. Go dancing. Eat ice cream or whatever you consider really sinful. But do not think about work.

  1. Refreshed and ready to go yet? No? Enough of this nonsense. It’s time to get tough with yourself. This isn't a game, my friend; this is what you do. You’re a pro. You don’t wait for inspiration; you do what has to be done, when it has to be done. So, as the saying goes, just do it. Put on your most comfortable writing clothes; fix yourself a cup of coffee; turn off the phone; flex your fingers; and put them on the keys.

  1. Now, write.