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BlogHerPro 13: Brand and Bloggers Keynote Discussion


 

Last week, I posted details (and a discount) for #BlogHerPro ’13 Conference For Professionally-Minded Bloggers.  This week, I would like to highlight a subject covered at the October 23 discussion, where I will be one of the keynote speakers. The topic is, “Monetization: Brands & Bloggers Keynote Discussion” with some fantastic fellow social media professionals including Ana Picazo of Finding BonggaMom, Jim Lin from Ketchum PR and Busy Dad Blog, and Sarah Penna from Big Frame.

 

When the panelists held our first organizing conference call a few weeks ago to prepare for the conference, the conversation was enthusiastic and covered much ground. We could have talked the whole day about making money from our brands. Here are some of the key concepts I will be covering. Please comment with any thoughts you have on Monetization: Brands & Bloggers!

 

Because I am a believer in plans (per my book “My Parent Plan”), I decided to give my Brands and Blogger tips in the form of a 5 year plan based on my 6 years of blogging, looking over what made money and what could have been done better to monetize. I started blogging from a passion for technology but waited years to assemble a business plan to make money.

 

I believe that anyone considering professional blogging or social media entrepreneurship should create their business plan from the beginning to help them create a monetization structure that supports their business. In social media, there needs to be a balance between creating a community and creating a business. Many parts of creating an online community do not involve monetization, requiring engagement, listening, giving information and sharing perspective. As Guy Kawasaki expressed in his book, Enchantment , you need to “enchant” your customers to have a success business.

 

The key for anyone setting up a social media business is to engage the target community while also building a business, all the way being very clear what social posts are “editorial” and which are “advertorial”.  These rules are important for both FTC disclosure compliance rules as well as keeping an authentic relationship with your audience. Another key part of a business plan includes creating a monetization structure to get paid for “work” (which means not working for FREE). As many social media professionals have learned, that balance can be a challenge.

 

Every business person needs to feel empowered to get paid a relevant wage for their work.  “Relevant” means that the wage should be reasonable when compared to what is being paid in the market for that service, taking into consideration factors such as audience, influence and engagement.  At the same time, there is no magic formula to determine pay in social media so just analyzing numbers or statistics may not show the true influence of that engagement.

 

I chose early on to focus my blogging content on technology because I realized that women are the power consumers of technology and want to participate in that conversation (editorial and advertorial).  As Jennifer Elias wrote in her SV 411 article about BlogHer Pro13:

 

Listed below are TechMama’s recommendations on a 5 year Business  Plan for Professional Bloggers/Social Media Entrepreneurs:

 

 

By Year 1:  Develop your PLAN (incl. working w/brands):

  • CREATE BUSINESS PLAN:
  1. Define business goals, online brand, niche, target audience, social media platforms and tools, media kit, brands to build relationships  with (press &/or paid),  when/if you need to hire help and how you will enchant your customers online.
  2. Define monetization strategy (what are your service & rates) Ask yourself:          

If you are your own “start-up”, then how will you get funding?

 

Are you making a living from social media or another job(s)?  

 

  • CREATE CAREER PLAN:  Types of jobs, work skills & what you need to earn. Define what is “paid” work and what is professional brand building.
  • DEFINE COMMUNITIES FOR OUTREACH (community = engagement)
  • MANAGE RELEVANT LEGAL ISSUES : Learn about (or hire lawyer ) FTC/Disclosure  & contracts (esp.  service, exclusivity, name/likeness)
  • ANALYZE  MARKET TRENDS:  implement tools to keep AHEAD!

 

 

Year 2-5:  Focus, Assess and Revise Plan (no pain, no gain)!

 

  • FOCUS: Refine “business” to focus on specific services (paid) and brands (i.e campaigns, spokesperson). But always put your AUDIENCE first. Keep “press” relationship with brands for editorial content.
  • ASSESS & REVISE:  Assess ROI of your business. Do you need to make changes to your business strategy to reach your business (and financial) goals? IF so – create new business opportunities or pursue another job .

 

PRIORITY CHECK : Always make sure your personal life (family) and medical/financial health are a priority!

 

Along with creating a business plan, social media entrepreneurs should also spend time to understand the different types of relationships they can have with brands. Here are the ways I define my relationships with brands:

 

EDITORIAL: First and foremost I value the press/editorial relationships I have with brands because it allows me to obtain information that I can then share over my social media channels to my audience.  If community = engagement, then engagement = editorial sharing. I find that my audience wants to hear my editorial perspective on the topics I cover and share their perspectives with me. I feel that type of conversation is the most important to have in social media. It is also good to look at working with brands for editorial purposes as also building a (mutually respectful) professional relationship. Although this type of relationship with brands does not involve any sponsorship, it may at a future time (with proper disclosure).

 

ADVERTORIAL (SPONSORED): This type of relationship with brands that involves either sponsored posts, advertising, ambassador, spokesperson or other paid projects. Before working with brands in this manner I always suggest to have a media kit to provide clear information on what services you offer and what rates you charge. To understand what are the relevant rates to charge, it is helpful to have an understanding of are market rates for specific services or if  you have special factors for charging a premium. I feel it is important to feel empowered to get paid for work and look at your ROI (return on investment) for the amount of time you spend on a project versus what you are being paid. In the 5 year plan “focus” phase, this is especially the time to review ROI and say “no” for projects that don’t meet your criteria.  I also feel it is important to always keep an authentic voice when working on advertorial posts.

 

This is also a phase where understanding contracts (or as I said hiring a lawyer to help) is very important. For example, I focus close attention on sections in my contracts such as exclusivity, services, name/likeness, compensation and ownership. But each contract is different and I learn new things every time. Luckily I had a great lawyer help me understand contracts for the first few years (and still use them on occasion).  The FTC Disclosure rules are also something very important to comply with for all advertorial posts.

 

PERSONAL BRAND BUILDING:

Another type of relationship with brands is what I call “personal brand building”. For those starting out, it may be mutually beneficial to work with brands (non sponsored) in your niche to build up experience and meet new communities.

 

As I mentioned before, it is always important in any phase of your business to share an authentic voice with your audience and give “goodwill” back to social media communities you participate in.

 

Please share your tips for interacting with brands and what type of business plan you found helpful for your social media business.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. My words are my own.

 

GoDaddy launched a new brand strategy last month that revolves around small businesses. ‘It’s go time’ is a comprehensive company-wide messaging transformation supported by a refined GoDaddy user-experience and reinvigorated products sharply focused on helping small business owners.  Check out this article by The New York Times.

 

 

 

 

#BlogHerPro ’13 Conference For Professionally-Minded Bloggers

*GIVEAWAY IS OVER – BUT PLEASE FEEL FREE TO USE FRIENDS DISCOUNT SHARED BELOW!.

BlogHer as been a big part of the most “important” reason why I got involved in social media: Community! I joined in 2006 because I had pivoted from a career in a top consulting firm to starting my own business. Over the years I have gained the value of not only meeting a great community of social media entrepreneurs but also learning so much  from BlogHer and the BlogHer conferences. That is why I am especially excited to attend BlogHer Pro 2013 as one of the Keynote Speakers on the  Monetization: Brands & Bloggers Keynote Discussion with some fantastic fellow social media professionals including Ana Picazo of Finding BonggaMom, Jim Lin from Ketchum PR and Busy Dad Blog, and Sarah Penna from Big Frame.. BEST YET – I have a discount code and am giving away TWO BlogHerPro13 conference passes! Can you tell that I am excited to be sharing the fun with others?

 

Just check out the other BlogHer Pro 2013  panels and speakers that include content management, mobile and business intensive workshops. Here is a link for where to  register for BlogHer Pro 2013 and more details: “BlogHer PRO is a multi-track conference for professionally-minded bloggers looking to take their business, marketing, and technical skills to the next level. Improve your knowledge and hone your skills on everything from personal brand to personal finance to personal privacy.” Honestly, this conference is also for anyone in business that wants to learn more about the powerful medium of blogging and social media for business.

 

DISCOUNT CODE: First of all I have a friends discount code to share (because my readers are my friends of course!Use Friends Discount code, PRO13FF, for 30% off registrationRegister today!

 

GIVEAWAY:  Second, I am giving away ONE CONFERENCE PASS to BlogHer Pro 2013 for TWO WINNERS (one conference pass will be given to each winner – 2 winners total).

TO ENTER: Please comment on this blog post (by Oct. 11, 12pm PST) and then share on Twitter that you have entered this contest.

DETAILS:  PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS POST BY OCT 11, 12PM PST. To enter, please comment on this post then tweet out “I entered @TechMama’s #BlogHerPRO ’13  giveaway  http://bit.ly/GDRZf4”.  For the comment please share what type of questions you have about being a social media professional? Do you have legal, SEO, content, questions about interacting with brands or general questions about how this all works? Or I would love to hear your story on how you use social media professionally.

 

WINNER CHOSEN AT RANDOM: The winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org and will be notified by Oct. 11 at 2pm pst. Winner must respond with confirmation by October 14 2pm pst.

 

Rules: 1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited by geography to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final. 7. All Federal, State and Local taxes and travel expenses associated with receipt of prize is the sole responsibility of the winner. 8. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action.

 

 

Disclosure: As a speaker on the Keynote Panel discussion for BlogHer Pro 13, I was assigned conference passes that I decided to share with my readers. All of my words are my own. The idea for this giveaway was also my own.

 

Sharing Family Memories with Microsoft SkyDrive and Skype

 
Time goes by so fast, and as a Mom and the family historian I want to make sure I am keeping track and sharing family memories. The first step in this effort was learning to copy all digital pictures from numerous cameras to my PC in a timely manner. Next was the challenge of sharing photos and movies with family and friends. A big time-saver in this content management exercise, with multiple devices taking pictures and offering quick connection with cell or WiFi access, is to send pictures directly to the cloud. I store my digital photos and documents all in one place in the cloud using SkyDrive, which allows me to send a link to these great memories if I want to share. I not only have SkyDrive on my PC, but also have the SkyDrive app on my phone to enable photo loading to the cloud no matter where I am!

 

Check out my video where I shared my trip to Montana with Grandmom using Skype and SkyDrive.

 

 

 

 

 

Skype compliments SkyDrive in family archiving. Video calls with family and friends are just a click away, and if I want to give them a peek at the kids’ homework, art work or class projects, Skype easily allows screen sharing.

 

 

Both sets of Grandparents know that the only way they will be able to keep up on what is going on in our busy lives is with regular Skype chats while viewing our family SkyDrive digital photo albums at the same time. Our Office 365 Home Premium subscription also makes it more economical for our family to chat with friends and family all over the world because it comes with 60 Skype minutes each month.

 

How do you share your pictures with friends and family?
 

 

Social Is The Future of Search And SEO


One key topic discussed at social media conferences is SEO, search and influence. At the recent BlogHer Pro conference in San Francisco, the lunchtime keynote subject was  Growing Your Audience and Influence with Social + Search with speakers Duane Forrester of Bing, Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes and Elisa Camahort of BlogHer.  While Elise Bauer explained that she focusses on good content rather than over analyzing if her posts are SEO friendly, she also revealed that over 80% of her traffic comes from search engines. Many conversations about the content on her SimplyRecipes.com site, including recipe questions, happen on social networks such as Facebook. Duane Forrester predicted that in the future, social will be the most important part of search. He also mentioned that each social network platform has value in sharing content and conversations, but you need to determine which platform provides the best value for your brand.  Elisa Camahort added, “Twitter is good for brand awareness, Facebook is good for influence because it consists of your friends.” Everyone also discussed how Pinterest can generate lots of traffic because it is a visual platform that benefits posting content with pictures.

 

I have personally witnessed the power of social when it comes to sharing content. I use multiple social media platforms including Twitter to share my blogging content and when that content is “retweeted” it magnifies my reach. I also find more and more content on the web via the social streams of my friends. This confirms what Forrester said, that social is becoming the most important part of search on the web. Forrester also mentioned the new Bing Social Sidebar.

 

I also had the opportunity to talk with Kari Dilloo from Bing (who also presented on the BlogHer Pro panel “Growing Your Reputation: Working with PR and Media Professionals as Part of the New PR Food Chain“) about Bing Social. She explained that Bing Social Search has the advantage of pulling information from across social networks (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Klout and Quora) when doing a search. Dilloo explained that Bing is looking at reinventing search and seeing where search is going to make it easy for people to find info they are looking for.

 

Bing social search

Photo Credit: Bing Search Blog

 

 

When doing a search on Bing, the left hand side is the web search. In the middle is a snapshot view that includes visual maps, pictures and even links to sites such as Wikipedia. The far right hand side displays a social search column with results from friends and other social networks that recently discussed the topic being queried. For example, a search for a Mexican restaurant will result in a listing on the left hand side bar of local restaurants with links to menus and phone numbers. These businesses will also be identified on the map in the middle column. The far right hand side bar displays a list of restaurants being discussed by those in the searcher’s various social networks. This allows a true social experience when performing a search on Bing, including who blogged or tweeted about the topic. The cross platform result provides new opportunities for those creating social media content on particular subjects to have their content discovered in searches by others interested in the same topic.

 

 

Bing social search

 

 

When I searched on Bing  for “gadget gifts”, I saw that my friend Jennifer Comet Wagner shared a post from her blog titled “Tech Gadget Gifts for Teens and Tweens“. Because I trust her opinion, I was more influenced by her post then by the general web search posts.  I review technology so my kids are used to seeing all the gadgets I have tested. For their holiday gifts, I needed a fresh perspective. On Jennifer’s post that I found from Bing, I discovered two fun tween/teen gift items I had not heard of and were perfect for my son: an ePillow for when he reads eBooks on his tablet and OWI Robotic Arm Edge for some Robotics fun. As a blogger, I realize now more then ever that social is an important part of how my posts will be found.

 

But more then that, as Kari Dilloo shared in the “How to Build Your Reputation” panel, research is very important part of building the right reputation. She explained “My advice is to do your research and make every conversation count. Whether it’s small talk at conferences or over twitter, etc, seek out the people and/or companies you admire and be armed with ideas that could spark a mutual brainstorm.” Social search can also benefit this type of research not only to find what is on the web, but also what your friends and social networks have to say on the topic.

 

Are you more influenced by what your friends share on social networks or from search engine results?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

Building Success: Using Bing Webmaster Tools

 

As part of my preparation for BlogHer PRO, I had the opportunity to speak to Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager with Bing’s Webmaster Program. He will be leading the lunch Keynote titled, “Lunch, and Keynote Brought to You by Bing — Growing Your Audience and Influence with Social + Search”.  Forrester explained to me the details of his personal journey: to share with others how to build success and how to leverage your business assets to become successful. He also believes that to deliver a quality product you need to have customer interaction.  His two books, “Turn Clicks Into Customers: Proven Marketing Techniques for Converting Online Traffic into Revenue” and “How to Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Reference Guide for Building, Optimizing, and Monetizing Your Blog” detail how a business can increase customers and generate revenue with blogs.

 

We discussed many different topics related to blogging and one was of particular interest. Forrester discussed the new features of the Bing Webmaster tools including the “Link Explorer, SEO Analyzer/SEO Reports, and updates to current tools such as our Keyword Research Tool (beta), and our URL Removal Tool.” Bing Webmaster tools (available to anyone) detail standard info including queries, your site’s ranking and where you were shown. The tools also send alerts and when combined with Bing crawler you can proactively manage bandwidth by time of day. Another option is to set controls that someone else manages for your website. With Link Explorer you can not only see who is linking to you, but also who is linking to your competitors. BingBot offers the ability to have a crawler fetch your blog’s URL then have a search engine assess the code on the page and come back with a status. For example, you can watch out for signs of hacks in your websites such as really long links. Forrester shared important advice for all bloggers: we should get to know what “normal” code looks like on our website so we can spot when it has been hacked.

 

In addition to all of these tools, Bing is now the first search engines to provide SEO advice to users. This is accomplished with SEO Analyzer, which scans a URL then shares what SEO work needs to be done.This tool helps you know what SEO work needs to be done now, helps you learn more about SEO from a trusted source and can help you test fresh areas of your site quickly.
When I checked out the Bing Webmaster Tools online, I was happy to see blog posts from the Bing Webmaster blog that explains key product areas. For those who want to find out more, there are Bing Webmaster Guidelines blog posts and  free recorded webinars . The Bing Webmaster Getting Started Checklist is a great place for the user to start outlining the process and tools to build workflow. This checklist covers areas such as how to configure your site reports and data, Webmaster diagnostic tools and SEO Analyzer.

 

Here are some of the blog posts that are great resources not only for Bing Webmaster tools but also for SEO and reporting:

 

For more information, check the BlogHer Pro live blogs.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.