My 7 Links – An interesting blogging idea

The other day I got an email from one of our commenters, Peter (from Computer How to Guide) in which he said that I had been nominated to continue his ‘7 Links Challenge‘.

After reading Peter’s article, I did a bit of digging and managed to find out what the 7 Link Challenge is, and who started it off.

The 7 Link Challenge (or My 7 Links as it is called by its founder) is where a blogger writes about seven articles they have written, and then nominates other (usually five) bloggers to do the same.

It is an interesting idea with three obvious intentions: firstly to create awareness of ‘posts gone by’ (old posts which have sunk into the archives); secondly to create a flow of PageRank, or ‘link juice’ between a whole host of different blogs, ultimately pushing everyone up the rankings – in theory; and thirdly to drive more traffic to different sites, by bloggers raising awareness of other blogs that they read or contribute for.

The goal of the challenge is

“To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.”

I think Technology Bloggers could benefit from such a post, and I would like to dig back into the archives and find my seven articles, so I am going to give it a shot!

The seven categories bloggers are suppose to find an article for are: your most beautiful post; your most popular post; your most controversial post; your most helpful post; a post whose success surprised you; a post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved; and the post that you are most proud of. I am only going to do this for my posts, so other authors with sufficient posts can do this too 🙂

My 7 LinksOkay, here goes…

My most ‘beautiful’ post

A bit of an odd name, but I guess this means a post you feel is brilliantly crafted/well written.

The thing is, if I don’t think an article is brilliant, I won’t post it, therefore I love all my posts almost equally. How can I choose my favourite? I don’t think I can, so I am not going to – no one post stands out for me. Check out all my posts in my writer archive to see which ones I like 🙂

My most popular post

This one was an easy one to pick, I just had to see which posts had been read the most, and which had the most comments.

That post was: Is your computer damaging your eyes? The post has had hundreds of views, 37 comments to date, and users spend on average over four minutes on the page, making it the overall most popular post that I have written.

My most controversial post

I hate to sound like I am chickening out again, but I am really not sure what to pick! I try to make sure that most of my posts stir up a bit of a debate, but again, no one really stands out for me. Do you think I have a most controversial post?

My most helpful post

I like to think that all my posts are helpful, either by updating you on the latest tech news, by reviewing a product, or by telling you how to do something.

The post that should be crowned my most helpful post really depends on who you are. If you are a blog owner who wanted to find out how to claim your blog with Technorati then that article was probably the most useful to you, again, if you were interested in new radiotelescopes, The world’s most powerful radio telescope is now functioning! is probably of more use to you. What do you think my most helpful article is?

The post which I was surprised by its success

There are a few posts which I was surprised with, either because they didn’t really get the response I thought they would, or because I was pleasantly surprised by the response.

I have chosen an article which pleasantly surprised me, as I shouted out to the community, and the community responded! That post was: Why would you turn comments off? you can read the follow up post here: Why you would turn off comments.

The post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

At the beginning of last month I posted an article entitled Are you doing your bit for the blog? and I really hoped that it would receive similar community attention to what the ‘Why would you turn comments off?’ article did, but it didn’t, and that somewhat disappointed me 🙁

The post that I am most proud of

Looking through all my old posts, this one jumped out at me straight away, as I remember how stunned and please I was when I wrote it. There was no other post that I could be more proud of (yet) than this one.

What was it? This: Look what WE have achieved! after just two weeks the blog was doing so well, and I was just so pleased and proud of my creation 🙂

My nominations

Okay, time for me to challenge some people to find their seven articles. My nominations are:

  • Jonny – One of our fantastic authors
  • James – One of our friends from Windows Talk
  • Ari – Someone whose blog I have been following for many years now
  • Chadrack – A good friend of mine in the blogosphere
  • Lillie – Someone who has provided me with encouragement on many projects
  • You – If you have a blog, I challenge you too!

If you want to find out more about My 7 Links, click the link and it will take you to what I believe to site of the founder of the challenge.

The State of the Blogosphere

Technocrati.com have recently published their State of the Bolgosphere 2011 report and it raises some interesting questions. The report is based upon a survey of 4114 bloggers around the world, and presents various statistics in easily readable graph format explaining who blogs and their stated reasons why and purposes.
A chalkboard expression of what a blog might be
I am one of the 30% over 44 year olds, with the majority being considerably younger than me and much more experienced. A small percentage treat blogging as their job, make an income from their posts or run a blog for their own business or employer. The vast majority do it as a hobby, in the main to express their expertise or interests. A major sector say that they just blog in order to speak their mind freely.
I am most interested in the professional category, and I in fact find myself somewhere within that group. I am not however paid to promote something, but to provoke discussion about the ethical implications and responsibility issues brought about by technological development, and one of my tools is blogging. My employer is also a non-profit research foundation, so the aim of making money is out of the equation.

Blogging is generally perceived as a pier to pier action, and the report cited above demonstrates that people trust blogs and bloggers, in many cases more that they trust other publishers. But what if we find people publishing reviews about services or products that they have a vested interest in? If I am paid by a company to review or promote their products can I be really honest in my views? And what about the breech of trust implied?

In the US the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) made a ruling in 2009 determining that bloggers have to state if they are paid for posts by an interested third party. If a blogger in the US does not state that they either receive the product to keep or are paid by someone to write the review they risk an 11000 dollar fine. In the UK the Office of Fair Trading also has extensive blogging disclosure rules. All well and good, but the report above states however that only 60% of people that find themselves in this position actually adhere to the rules, and the statistics are very likely to be skewed, as when a person is asked if they have respected the rules that almost always say yes.

How could this problem be addressed? The Technology Bloggers site refuses to publish anything that may be deemed promotion, the author guidelines are clear. But would it be possible for all blogs make this statement and enforce it, and if it were possible would they do it? The implications for trust and the spreading of reliable information are obvious.

Another issue I wish to raise involves advertising. The report offers various statistics about how many blogs have advertisement placings, before going on to analyze the reasons given either for not carrying or carrying advertising, the issue of control over who advertises and the possible financial rewards.

Here again we step into the issue of trust. If a blog has a reputation as offering reliable and quality information this reflects upon the company advertising. The placing is a two way endorsement. If advertising is not offered (as some may feel that it affects independent status or may not reflect the blogger’s ideals), how can a blog not only make money (if that is the aim) or even cover its expenses? Most bloggers sink their own money into setting up and running their blog, and if you add up the time spent in maintenance (and the administrators are undoubtedly experts in their field) each blog should be seen as a real investment in terms of many different forms of capital. You pay $120 an hour for such expertise in other fields!

How to start a career in social media

Social media has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry and opportunities to build a career around it are becoming increasingly common.

If you’re looking to start a career in the competitive world of social media and digital marketing, setting up a blog is a great place to start.

A blog not only allows you to express your personality and offer your opinions, but also gives future employers an insight into your knowledge, skills and experience. Pick a subject that you are passionate about and blog regularly to attract readers and establish your credibility. Aim to be a unique voice in the ‘blogosphere’.

There are a variety of free online services available that can help you with the technology side of setting up a blog. Then it’s a case of attracting followers by creating interesting content, updating it regularly and promoting it through other social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter's LogoPursuing a career in social media however is not just about knowing how to send a tweet, post a blog or set up a Facebook page. At the end of the day all businesses are looking at the impact social media has on their customer relations, business strategy, marketing and product positioning.

Demonstrate that you are serious by enrolling in a diploma in digital marketing and social media such as the one offered by the University of Middlesex. The postgraduate course combines theory and marketing practices to teach students how social media is contributing to entrepreneurship and innovation in modern businesses. Students attend guest lectures by professionals from some of the major organisations in web and social media including Google, Twitter and Groupon.

To have a competitive edge in social media, keep up to date with the latest developments. Understand the importance of monitoring, evaluation and analytics. You need to be familiar with the main social media sites but also the less popular ones as well which may have the advantage of providing a more targeted audience for the services or products you are promoting. You need to be able to spot trends and differentiate between up and coming sites and ones that won’t last the distance.

More than likely when you enter a career in social media you will be expected to be a good all-rounder and take responsibility for all areas of digital marketing. Job roles include social media officer, digital marketing manager or even director of social media. However larger organisations may allow you to specialise, so you could find yourself with a job title such as blog editor, analytics manager, designer, social media developer or content manager.

Blog Commenting – Making the Most Out of It

Since sites that are rich with relevant inbound links are rated favourably by search engines, link building is of vital importance in SEO.

By virtue of its ease, commenting on blogs has become a convenient and popular tactic for link building. Regularly scanning blogs by experts, reading news posts and adding comments that link back to the commenter’s website, seems be the quickest way out.

However blog commenting offers many more benefits; and you should aim to get much more returns from your comments. Here are some simple tips help you achieve this.

Technology Bloggers comment form

Showcase your awareness

Promoting yourself needn’t be equated with dramatic sales talk. In fact using blog commenting space for sales promotion is taboo.

On the other hand, simply adding a line of appreciation just to earn a link is not the right way either. Rather, invest some time in reading and comprehending the entire post and only then adding an insightful comment – comprising a minimum of three sentences – to enrich the conversation.

In this manner, blog commenting offers a good platform to showcase your awareness and experience and thus grow your brand.

Engage with the blogger

Some blogs make for extremely insightful and enjoyable reading. Why not try and develop a connect with those bloggers?

Following them on Twitter and other social media increases the exposure of their writings. Once they see you enriching the quality of their blog with well-thought of comments, they will be attracted to read and endorse your blog too.

Foster relations with the community

It’s quite likely that visitors of a particular blog, where you regularly submit comments on aren’t reading your blog as yet. The good news is that commenting on blogs is a great way to share your experiences and opinions, and establish yourself amongst a completely new set of readers.

Further, if you are a regular contributor of interesting and relevant comments, it could mean more opportunities for your blog. Replying directly to the comments of blog readers and initiating a conversation or debate on a specific subject, is great way to be recognized too. Replying to the first 4-5 comments enhances visibility within the community.

Finally, remember to be proactive on your blog too. While there aren’t many SEO advantages, blog commenting is a great tool for networking and building brand awareness.

Monitor your blog on a daily basis; always allow comments on your blog; and be sure to reply to those who have queries after reading your posts.

Do note that a lot of individuals commenting on blogs are bloggers too and there are benefits to be gained from having a good reputation among your peers.