How to Get Rich and Crazy on
the Internet

image of paris hilton

Remember in the old cartoons, when Bugs Bunny fell off a 90-story building and then emerged shaking his head with a funny little rattle?

That’s kind of what I feel like. :)

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Pink Hair Blogging

pink_hair
Those of you who saw me at South by Southwest this year know that I’ve dyed my hair pink. *

Along with What do you do?, I find Why did you dye your hair pink? an unanswerable question. But if I can’t answer it. I might be able to address it.

(By the way, if you’re newish here, the babe in the photo is not me. She sure is cute, though, isn’t she?)

Making the break

The simplest answer is that a head of pink hair signals to any and all that I don’t work for a Real Company.

No cubicle. No 401K. No HR department. No chain of command. No receptionist. No big-name agency to work with. No meetings. No set schedule.

Some of those things are good and some bad, and most a mixed bag. I had a lot of good years working with companies, and I’m not knocking it. But pink hair is a very visible signal that I’m not doing that right now.

Freedom from pointless rules

There’s a huge category of things you can’t do in a Real Company because it Wouldn’t Be Professional.

Some of these make sense, like No Getting Smashed at Lunch, or No Sexually Harassing Adorable Eddie in Accounting, Even Though He Is Admittedly Extremely Cute.

Some of them don’t really have any logical underpinning at all. Like No Having Pink Hair.

Of course, I’d be allowed to have pink hair if I just told people it was an incompetent dye job. That I was trying for red hair, but my hairdresser is an idiot.

I could probably get away with that for years, explaining to new managers as they came in, “Oh, no, it’s not pink. It doesn’t look pink to you, does it? It’s red.”

So I could have pink hair if it wasn’t my intention to have pink hair.

This is getting at the reason(s) why I don’t want to work for Real Companies any more.

Embracing my inner muppet

This is the real reason: I like having pink hair because pink hair is bright and pretty and special. It makes my little boy especially happy. It’s our own little bit of Sesame Street right at home.

Pink is a pretty color and now I get to have it all the time. And if I feel like a change of pace, when the pink wears off I can have turquoise, or sky blue, or violet.

Does any of this have anything at all to do with writing, blogging, or communication?

Of course it does, silly!

If you can’t dye your hair pink at the moment, you can still write like someone who does.

  • Sing with your own voice.
  • Break as many stupid rules as you can get away with.
  • Do what makes you feel shiny and happy.
  • Define yourself. When you let other people do it, they just mess it up.
  • Try something (that’s ethical and doesn’t hurt anyone, of course) that invites a lot of pointless judgment. It reminds you not to be pointlessly judgmental of other people.

Love you all

Sorry to go dark like that for ages and ages here on Remarkable Communication. I was, let’s just say, insanely busy with the Marketing for Nice People course.

(Which is going AMAZINGLY. Tip: when you define your customers as nice people, that’s what you get. Our students are a giant stack of awesome.)

But the major huge chunk of work is done and I’ll be around more regularly, at least until the next insanity rolls along. I miss you guys so much when I don’t hang out with you here.

Footnote: * Actually, it’s more accurate to say that I’m dyeing it pink, as no one seems to sell permanent pink hair dye. Which is sort of fun as I can try out different variations of pink and find the one I like best. Right now I’m sporting a sort of cherry coke color with hot pink highlights. Most enjoyable.

Flickr Creative Commons image by kalandrakas

How to Beat a Terrible, Horrible, No Good,
Very Bad Mood (in About an Hour)

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking bad moods.

Sometimes you just want to go ahead and let yourself feel foul. There’s no law that says we have to be Cheery Mary Sunshine every day, and who would want to be?

But when you’ve got stuff to do, a crummy mood doesn’t help. It burns up all your energy and it ties up your mental bandwidth. You spend all your focus on the injustices you’ve been subjected to, and none of it doing your Big Magnificent Project.

When I had a day job, I had the luxury of cultivating my crappy moods. I could nurse a funk for days or weeks, keeping little lists of how screwed up They were and how deliciously righteous and correct I was.

But when someone else isn’t paying for that, it just gets in my way. Mama’s got work to do, and that ain’t helping.

I found myself in just such a mood last weekend, when I needed to be planning my world domination work week. I didn’t have a lot of time to indulge the horribles, so here’s how I kicked them to the curb.

Write it out

Let’s face it, you’re in a crappy mood for a reason.

Probably not the reason you think, but a reason.

So before you try to fix anything, break out some paper and your favorite pen and start complaining.

Write about why you think you’re feeling so foul. Write about what pulled your bad mood trigger. Write about what made you angry. Write about what hurt your feelings. Write about what’s got you frustrated. Write about who you hate even though you’re supposed to love (or at least like) them.

The most important instruction is Don’t be reasonable. You do enough of that already. Hush the voice in your head that tells you to quit being a crybaby. Go ahead and whine the blues.

Take it a little over the top if you want to. Or a lot over the top. Compare your bad haircut to nuclear holocaust. No one can see you, so wallow as much as you want to.

(P.S., remember, none of this works if there’s any chance in the universe that someone will see your ranting and raving. So be sure you keep your journal 100% secure from other eyes. Burn the pages if you have to.)

You can read more about the fine art of journal writing/tantrums right here.

Get moving

I won’t call it exercise, in case that’s a bad word for you.

But get your body moving. Get your heart beating a little bit faster than it usually does.

You can do this with the door stop exercise machine in the basement. If the weather’s ok where you are, you could just take a nice walk around the block. Go for a bike ride. Dance to silly music. Do Taebo kicks. Practice your pole dancing. Whatever.

Don’t think about all the advice about how exercise is good for your heart and lungs and skin and prevents Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure and reduces the incidence of virtually every kind of disease by about half. Even though that is true, it’s just going to make you feel worse.

Get moving because it feels good. If it’s not feeling great, maybe you’re pushing it a little too hard. Slow down. Notice the way the blood feels when it’s racing around in your body. Notice that your legs and butt actually like moving around. Enjoy.

If you can manage it, try not to think about anything other than what it feels like to move.

You don’t have to do this forever. Maybe 15 or 20 minutes. If that’s scary, you could make it 10.

Listen to silly music that makes you happy

Whether it’s the Jonas Brothers or ABBA or The Chipmunks, I won’t tell.

Listen to something that made you really happy when you were 10. Or to something that makes you feel like you’re 10 now. Anything that puts a goofy smile on your face will work. It doesn’t have to be dumb, but you get a few bonus points if it is.

Conveniently, you can do this while you’re moving around. It makes the time go really fast.

You might even be inclined to move around for 5 more minutes. If you really want to, go ahead. If you’re just doing it to be virtuous or to shrink your gigantic thighs, though, don’t.

Making your inner toddler happy

All this is about taking care of the part of yourself that still has tantrums, even though you’ve learned to call them something else.

The journaling part is about putting your feelings into language. Some of us got good at that when we were children; most of us didn’t. When we can’t express our feelings, they back up on us and gunk everything up. So express.

(Maybe language isn’t your main way of expressing yourself. It might be paint or tattoo ink or interpretive dance. If you’re not a writer, use the medium that works for you.)

The movement part is about being a physical creature. You evolved to move while you were processing thoughts and feelings, and your brain works better when your body’s doing something. Plus shaking your booty produces endorphins and all that, which just feels good.

No one’s asking you to be Lance Armstrong here. Don’t kill yourself. In fact, a nice slow walk works fine.

The music part is about playing and being silly and making a joyful noise. Whether it’s Aretha or the Wiggles that make you happy, music can take you to another place.

(I’m partial to classic disco. It’s hard to feel bad when It’s Raining Men, at least for me.)

Bonus ideas if you want them

  • Figure out the next action you need to take to start making the bad situation better. If this sounds like Crazy Moon Language, try the Complete Flake’s Guide to Getting Things Done.
  • Give away some money to someone who’s having a shitty life and not just a shitty day. Even $20 will help you feel better. I like these guys, and they’re low on donations since the economy melted down, but pick a group that rings your bells.
  • Get on Twitter or Facebook or your blog or (last resort) something primitive like your kitchen table or the telephone, and tell someone they’re awesome. I know it’s Pollyannaish, but it works. And detached cynicism is so 2005.

If you like this post, please link to, Tweet or Stumble it!

The quote at the beginning of the post is from Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Image from I Can Has Cheezburger?

Obey Me or Fail

yodagami
Are you trying to do something hard and complicated? Maybe it’s lose weight or build a business online or improve your Star Wars origami skills.

Along the way, you might have sought out some advice. It could be advice from someone you know, free advice from blogs or the library, or a paid “how to” product.

If your Hard Thing has enough pieces that need to get put together, and you don’t quite know how all of those pieces work, the thing is probably giving you a giant headache.

Advice is swirling around you like a sandstorm. Each guru is competing for your attention and action. Everyone has a surefire system for you.

Your head gets more and more jammed up with conflicting information, even as the gurus are trying to get you unjammed by giving you a single path to take. They use their authority and a mountain of case studies to grab your attention and try to get you focused.

“Obey me or fail. It’s your choice.”

If you don’t learn how to navigate all this well-meaning advice, you risk getting too exhausted to go on before you’ve reached your goal.

Here are some tips I’ve found useful for finding a path through the wilderness:

Find one or two voices you trust

There are many paths up the mountain, but if you try to put a foot on every one, you’re not going to get very far.

(If anyone knows the source of that paraphrased quote, will you let me know in the comments?)

For almost every complex endeavor, there’s a limited number of things you need to do, but lots of different ways you might do them.

Whatever path you’re on, you’re going to get to a rocky, annoyingly difficult spot and think to yourself, “This can’t really be the path. This isn’t a path at all. Is that giant boulder really supposed to be right there in the middle of it?”

Sorry. There’s a giant boulder in the middle of all the paths. You can get a good map and a really spiffy compass, but you’re the one who has to scramble over the boulder. With very few exceptions, a new and better map will just take you a few miles out of your way to circle back to the same damned rock.

Find a map-maker you trust and follow her map to the end goal. It’s generally a good idea to make sure that someone else has used this map to get to where you’d like to go.

Starting over with a new map is hardly ever quicker, even though it’s always tempting.

Create cycles of action and learning

Learning and taking action are two very different modes. If you’re going to do your Hard Thing, you want to honor them both.

Action without learning is usually fruitless. It’s too likely to leave you wandering around without direction or purpose.

Learning without action is definitely fruitless, assuming you actually want to do your Hard Thing. Sometimes the dream and the mental challenge can make you feel good, which might be enough. If that’s why you’re doing it, go ahead and be honest with yourself about it.

Assuming you want to take the action route, you need to consciously plan out that moment of transition. If you’ve picked up some advice, whether it’s a paid information product or a blog or a free email course, take a separate step to translate the advice into activities. Go through each lesson and figure out what next action you should be taking, then figure out when you plan to take that action. Create a worksheet for yourself and fill it out.

I can’t tell you how much I learned from Teaching Sells in the process of creating worksheets and next actions for other students to take. When you sit down and take the time to map out how you’re going to translate learning to action, you’ll find yourself much less overwhelmed.

If there are lots of individual components you need to master, you may need to string together different pieces of advice. You don’t necessarily need to get a Big Overarching Map from anyone else, but if the system you’re using doesn’t have one, be sure to create one for yourself.

Understand what the pieces are (even if you’re completely clueless about how to do them) and scribble out some rough ideas about how you might put them together.

Plan out your cycles of learning and doing. They’ll both seem to be taking too long to produce any results. That’s ok. If you’re consistently alternating between learning and doing, and if you’re following a decent map, you’ll get there.

When you’re in the middle of it, it always feels like you’ll never get to the end of the path. That’s how you know it’s a path worth being on.

Be your own guru

I was talking with Havi the other night about her frustration with gurus. She’s spent a lot of time getting clients unstuck who aren’t moving forward with their businesses because they can’t complete some seemingly necessary step like creating a USP or developing their personal brand.

Her advice is often to just keep moving past the stuck spot.

Sometimes there are spots on the map that you won’t be able to use. They’re not suited to your project, or your personality, or the resources you bring. Sometimes you need to blaze a few pieces of your own trail.

Sometimes you’ve actually completed the step already, but it doesn’t look like you thought it would, so you wait around trying to figure out what comes next.

If you spend more than two weeks feeling stuck about a particular step on your map, try moving forward without it. If you skip it and things start working again, that step might not be one you need. Or it may be a piece you can fill in later, when you know more.

Learning matters, but when it keeps you from doing, that’s a red flag. While you don’t want to bounce from map to map, it’s also not helpful to use a map that’s inscribed in stone. (Too damned heavy, for one thing.)

At the end of the day, any map is really a model for you to write your own map on top of it.

So what Hard Thing are you working on? How’s it going? Are you stuck or are you rocking and rolling? Let us know about it in the comments.

If you like this post, please link to or Stumble it!

Flickr Creative Commons image by PhillipWest

What’s Going On?

I miss you guys so much! The problem with producing one post a week is that if you miss a couple, you go dark for an awfully long time.

This is just a quickie to let you know where the heck I’ve been. I’ve got some nifty post ideas, so you’ll start hearing from me again very soon.

Teaching Sells

I became a partner in Brian Clark’s wonderful Teaching Sells, which I originally joined as a member in 2007, about 45 seconds after it first opened.

If you don’t know about Teaching Sells, it’s an online course that shows you how to create the next generation of information products. Beyond ebooks and teleseminars, the Teaching Sells model shows you how to create interactive learning environments, so you can teach anything from weight loss to cold-weather koi pond gardening, in a way that lets you serve your customer/learners with much richer, more useful education.

I’ve been helping to expand the original course content and make it even more user-friendly, including creating audio recordings of the original articles, and worksheets to get folks moving through the content and taking action.

It’s fun, fun work, and it’s very time consuming. One of the cool side-effects, though, is that I’m learning the Teaching Sells methods in much more depth. (If you’ve bought an information product yourself and you’re not quite using it, try teaching it to someone else! It’s a fantastic exercise.)

Personal stuff

One upside is that this partnership has allowed me to completely transition out of the corporate world. (Translation: I quit my day job.) I can’t even tell you the flood of energy and creativity this has given me. And it’s given me the bandwidth to say yes to a bunch of great client projects, which always gives new perspective.

The downside is what I am not-so-fondly calling “launch strep,” brought on by too many late nights. Everyone in my house got it, so we’ve been a very pleasant bunch to be around. We’ve all taken our meds and seem to be well again, fortunately. Three cheers for modern medicine.

Yanik Silver’s Underground Conference

I’m giving a talk on blogging this weekend (actually it was yesterday, and it was so much fun) to Yanik Silver’s Underground conference.

It’s been a long time since I went to a conference and didn’t see any familiar faces. (The only two I recognized on sight were Perry Belcher, who’s got an amazing story about how he became The Twitter Guy, and Facebook goddess Mari Smith.) This crowd is great, though, and so receptive to learning about how social media and Internet marketing can go hand in hand.

Maybe I’m just a starry-eyed optimist (ok, I definitely am), but I think the Internet Marketing crowd is coming around to the “quality content” point of view. There will always be some who slap together mediocre content to try to seduce the search engines, but the case for genuinely remarkable writing is becoming stronger and clearer. Which just makes me so happy I could giggle.

OK, I can’t let myself ramble on, as I want to get to Yanik’s young entrepreneur’s lunch (as a Tired Old Lady entrepreneur, I suppose my role will be to give advice and encouragement). I just didn’t want to go another day without letting you know how much I miss you guys, and writing for Remarkable Communication. I’ll be back soon, so keep the faith.

xoxoxox

The Mad Ninja Skill for Getting
Anything Done

I’ve found it: the magic bullet. The bass-o-matic technique that solves all problems, cures all ills, makes its own sauce, whitens and freshens your teeth (and laundry) while you sleep.

I’m going to share my super ninja secret for moving forward when I’m stuck (it works even better when combined with Havi’s destuckifier), finding focus, lighting up the escape route when the cabin starts to fill with smoke, and giving me the ninja strength to punch my way through obstacles and make things happen.

This is the equivalent of Beatrix Kiddo’s Five Point Exploding Palm Technique. It’s so powerful and dangerous that you might want to burn your computer after reading this blog post. Or at least, I don’t know, clear your browser cache.

The top-seekrit, ultra dangerous, uber-ninja skill that will set you free

Start writing stuff down.

(From this point forward I’m going to get all bossy and tell you what I do. Feel free to slavishly follow my model or to ignore it and make your own.)

I’m not talking about making lists, although that works too. I’m talking about journaling.

(Normally I despise the practice of making nouns into verbs, but journaling is just different for me from writing or writing in a journal. Feel free to throw rotten apples at me, I understand.)

Journaling is the act of getting all the gunk out of your brain and onto paper.

Journaling isn’t really writing. Writing involves editing and shaping and making careful word choices.

Journaling is more of a purge. We all have a lot of crap rattling around in our heads. Unworthy thoughts. Petty obsessions. Stupid fears.

Everyone. The Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, everybody. Murky, ugly mental gunk is part of being a human being. Most of us walk along desperately hoping that no one ever finds out what awful people we truly are.

Don’t worry. The nicest people you know are secretly even more horrible than you. (Hard to believe, I know.)

Journaling lets some air in. Getting the gunk on paper makes it suddenly look not all that bad after all. And writing down all the horribleness robs it of its power. Which leaves you free and clear to master the universe.

The main technique

Use physical pen and paper. Yes, even if your handwriting is atrocious. Yes, even if you hate to write by hand. If you are physically able to write by hand, do.

When you write with a pen on a piece of paper, you can’t go back and change a word because “gee, I didn’t really mean I hate my little brother.” You’re stuck with what’s there. It’s a tiny commitment to get the true first thing out of your mind and onto the page.

If you need to use a keyboard and screen, turn the monitor off. You want to remove your ability to go back and edit. Journaling is all about uncensoring yourself and freeing up your need to be “nice” or “appropriate” or even “sane.”

You don’t have to get all fancy and use a Moleskine or whatever the cool kids are using. You could use a fountain pen, which is what I like (this is a good beginner’s pen), or a .19 Bic. Doesn’t matter. But do use something that’s as comfortable as possible and lets you write quickly. Think flow.

Write without stopping. When you’re journaling, keep the pen moving. Even if you have to write this is stupid this is stupid this is stupid this is stupid this is stupid until you come up with something to say.

Journaling is not about consideration. It’s about moving too fast for your Inner Grown-Up to keep up.

Embrace the horrible. You’re de-gunking, remember? There’s going to be yukky stuff in there. Racist, homophobic, heterophobic, boring, immature, petty, mean-spirited, cruel, violent, bitter, self-pitying. downright evil. Name any quality you don’t want to have, it’s gonna come out.

What you find out when you do this is that you can write the words

I wish a nuclear bomb would destroy all life on earth so my assbag neighbor would melt and die

and nothing bad happens. No nuclear bombs. No destruction. No lightning bolt smiting you dead.

Plus, the feeling goes away. Or at least it eases up a little. You may find yourself starting to laugh about how out of proportion it all is.

You air it out. And when you air it out, the demon loses its ability to slow you down and confuse you. Life works better when you’re not slowed down and confused.

How often do you do it?

Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way recommends three “morning pages” of freewriting every day for a month. I’ve done that a bunch of times, and it’s a great exercise, very freeing.

I usually journal when I’m feeling blocked up. There’s a particular sense in my gut when I’m not moving freely and I’m unfocused and crabby. That’s when I know I’ve got some gunk to clear out.

Sometimes I need to journal every day. Other times, I might go a month or two without needing it.

Journaling and goals

Lately I’ve had enough big projects to juggle that I’ve had to get a little more focused about goals. Plus I gained about 15 pounds that, for some reason, don’t look all that good on me.

So I’m doing Dave Navarro’s Damn Serious New Year’s process for some goals. Every day I journal a page (or two, if I feel like it) on progress and stuck places and looking for potential gunk. It keeps my attention on my goals and reminds me why I want them.

And it helps me see that I am getting traction and the wheels are moving, even if the movement is subtle. Which is huge. I don’t know anyone strong enough to keep taking action on goals if they don’t think that action will bear fruit. Journaling lets you see the little baby steps of progress, and those will build momentum if you let them.

Share your ninja prowess

Do you ever journal? What tools do you like to use? Paper or pixels? Fancy notebook or scrap paper? Do you journal every day? Do you keep your journals or destroy them?

Let us know your ninja journaling techniques in the comments!

The Sweeney Todd Guide to Blogging

Halloween doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s a great holiday to tweak your thinking and consider unconventional tactics. As we try on new identities and new ways to coerce strangers into giving us candy, maybe it’s time to dust off some of our outdated ideas.

Today, I thought I’d take a look at what the legendary character Sweeney Todd can teach us about blogging, marketing and communication.

Always be on the lookout for more ways to extract value from your readers

A little out-of-the-box thinking let Sweeney Todd establish multiple streams of income.

First, he challenged outdated assumptions about pricing. Instead of toiling day after day to make a few shillings for a shave and a haircut, he cut his customers’ throats, and was able to take all the money they might have in their pockets. This simple move was able to increase his average transaction size by 500-1000%.

But Sweeney Todd wasn’t just an early challenger to stale ideas about pricing and value. His business partner Mrs. Lovett developed a truly creative add-on. She turned a liability (dead bodies to be disposed of) into an asset, by cutting the victims up and making them into meat pies, generating a collateral source of revenue. Sadly, we don’t have the precise numbers for this bold lateral move, but some estimates put the increased ROI at as much as 150%.

Perfect your system

Sweeney Todd didn’t just chase his victims down in an alley and ambush them. These would have been amateurish moves, unworthy of his creative intelligence.

Instead, he offered something of real value (a shave and/or haircut) that his market was looking for. He was able to keep his price point extremely attractive, given his assertive commitment to the back end, which allowed him to recoup those costs as the customer moved through the funnel (or trap door, as the case may be).

Marketers call this kind of attractive loss leader an “ethical bribe,” although you probably don’t get to call it ethical if you in fact murder your customer afterwards.

Potential downsides

Before you try the Sweeney Todd method yourself, remember the significant downside: cost of acquisition of new readers. Since repeat business (never mind word of mouth) is impossible when your customers are all dead, the Sweeney Todd method requires marketing at the top of its game to bring new readers in the door.

For a blogger, this might translate into Google AdWords, banner ads, or you might even consider moving offline into direct mail. Guest posting strategies are probably not in the cards, as most bloggers are uncomfortable with aggressive strategies like murder and cannibalism.

However, Twitter may be an option. Just be sure you mix up your Tweets with interesting personal comments. A steady diet of “oops, just slaughtered another reader” gets tiresome, and you’ll lose followers quickly.

Happy Halloween!

Two Cool Things

Two quick notes before you get the second installation of the “7 Dumb Things.”

The Age of Conversation is Here!

The Age of Conversation is an insane project managed by Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton, in which 237 cats bloggers and marketing pros from 16 countries were herded brought together on a collaborative project about this new social media conversation thing we’re all part of.

The first Age of Conversation book was a compilation from 100 authors. It was published last year, and raised nearly $15,000 for Variety, the international children’s charity. This year’s successor, creatively named Age of Conversation 2, goes on sale today. All proceeds (less printing and shipping) will again go to Variety, the children’s charity.

Here’s a little snippet from my chapter. I’m going to pick up a couple of copies, they’ll make great pass-arounds for some colleagues who need a rapid-fire introduction to the new world of content marketing and social media conversation.

The new corporate message doesn’t flow smoothly from PR agency to journalist to media consumer, or from advertiser to the compliant masses. The new message gets passed around by amateurs. It has to be tougher, smarter, more resilient.

Here’s a test for you: If you get into a cab anywhere in the world and tell your organization’s message to the cab driver, will he get it? Would he repeat it?

(Note, I don’t get any royalties or anything from this one. We’re making sure as much revenue as possible gets to Variety.)

Click here to order Age of Conversation 2

Great Blogs, No Readers

Chuck Westbrook has a great project going to get more exposure for blogs that have terrific content but no readers. This one is dear to my heart, as I know exactly what it’s like to work hard on content and then have eight people actually reading it.

Chuck’s gathering a group of bloggers to add a new blog to their reader every two weeks. No commitment to link, comment, promote, or anything else unless you feel moved to do so. We’re just checking in on a promising new blog and seeing what they have to say. Two weeks down the line, we move on to another blog.

If this sounds like a cool idea to you, check out Chuck’s post for more details. (And spread the word!)

(P.S. If your own blog needs a little boost, this is a terrific way to lend a hand to a fellow blogger and expand your own network.)

Linky Thursday, September 18, 2008

b.schrade’s anemone & bee from Flickr Creative Commons

I haven’t done one of these in way too long. Here’s a collection of tasty links I’ve found that I think you will enjoy. I’m hoping to reach out more in the blog over the coming months, so look for more of these!

  • Naomi at Ittybiz has announced that she’s going to bring down her amazing Marketing School posts. Grab ‘em now while they’re still free. I have mine copied into a Word doc as my own do-it-yourself Marketing School ebook.
  • Joanna Young at Confident Writing has a fascinating post about how to handle a change in direction in your blog. When your audience (or customers) feel they have a real stake in what you do, you’ve won a battle–but taken on a whole new set of responsibilities.
  • Michael Martine at Remarkablogger is running a series called the Remarkablogger Manifesto to explore your core values as a communicator and a businessperson. The concepts all apply whether you have a blog or not–they’re really about examining what drives you and where you want to go next. This post has been my favorite, but they’re all very solid.
  • This video by the Grandmaster of Grump, Dan Kennedy, is part of a pitch for a new product of his. But I want you to pay special attention to his story about the chiropractor who let his family define him as “not too successful,” to the point of making it a moral issue. Kennedy would tell you that this kind of self-limitation is completely optional on your part, and I agree.
  • Chris Brogan’s epic post on 50 Ways to Take Your Blog to the Next Level has been bookmarked 689 times (so far) on Delicious, for good reason. He uses five different perspectives to look closely at what’s keeping you from moving forward, and how to break through. This is a much more thoughtful, meaty post than the usual linkbait list. Highly recommended.
  • Havi Brooks did a great series this week on “How to Annoy the People You Want to Help.” This was my favorite post, on speaking the language of the person you want to make a connection with.
  • If writing is torture for you, check out my Copyblogger post this week on growing a blog post. This is the system I use to write content, and I’ve really found it makes the process less painful and more productive. Hope you find it useful!

Happy Birthday To Me

sweetgirl

Please join me in wishing Remarkable Communication a happy birthday! I started the blog exactly a year ago, on August 11, 2007.

You’ll get a real post later this week, but today I hope you’ll indulge me as I look back over the year. I’m not one whose blog rocketed out of the ground–I’ve build traffic slowly and steadily, and I’m just now rounding the bend of 1,000 subscribers. (Welcome and thank you to all!)

Growth online is rarely linear, and I have some ambitious expectations for the year to come. (Along those lines, I want to start posting somewhat more frequently again as soon as my mysterious project X is completed. I’m thinking Septemberish, but stay tuned.)

Early days

On August 15, I wrote a post called Setting the Table, in which I said “It’s been kind of eerie in here as I’m working on providing a reasonable baseline of content before I try to drive any traffic in. It’s a little like setting the table before a big party. Who’s going to show up? Will everyone get along and have a fabulous time? How drunk are they going to get?”

The next day, Seth Godin was my first commenter, on a post called The Joys of Eclectic Blogging. I will confess that this cheered me up quite a bit.

(By the way, Seth, if you’d like to make that an annual tradition and say howdy in the comments, that would be just fantastic. Let’s see, how can I set some bait that might make that happen . . . umm, Triiibes, otaku, permission, Squidoo and Little MissMatched. OK, it’s a cheap trick, but it’s done with love.)

On September 6, Brian Clark showed up in the comments on a post called Make Something for Its Own Sake, getting me all flustered and pleased. Copyblogger linked to that post on the 9th, which was even nicer.

Since Brian was nice enough to link to me, I thought the least I could do was to follow his advice and try to think of at least one decent headline. So I wrote a post called 5 Editor’s Secrets to Help You Write Like a Pro, which was the first post I wrote to get any significant StumbleUpon traffic (it still does).

The now-infamous Naomi Dunford found Remarkable Communication right around the middle of September and showed up for the first time in my comments. She proceeded to start a little blog on home business marketing that instantly trounced mine for traffic and subscribers, but I love her anyway.

On September 20, without making any effort to do so, I wrote my first post that got any significant amount of Google traffic, called How to Tell a Story. This one still ranks very nicely for “how to tell a story” on Google, and still sees traffic every day from that search.

On October 5, Seth Godin linked to a post that I had written to try to attract his attention, so I guess that worked pretty well. It was called Transparency and the Meatball Sundae and it brought me a nice whomp of traffic and picked up a few hundred subscribers for remarkable communication.

I’d walk you through the rest of the year, but I’m fairly sure that violates the Geneva Convention’s rules on torture. Here are just a few more highlights:

Slow and steady growth

A post called We Are Not Powerless revealed to the world just how big a bleeding heart I actually am. Helping kids who are in bad situations is a big part of what drives me, and it actually provides me with a lot of fuel to grow my business. I try to keep the do-goodery to a minimum here, but I’m kind of leaning toward creating a post along these lines every September 17 to keep it real and remember what I’m doing it for.

My relationship marketing series has slowly grown a nice following. This post, written in November, was the first: Create a Human Connection.

The Ten Commandments of New Social Media was pure social media bait, and it worked–I got a great flow of Stumble traffic for this, as well some nice links. I also happen to think it was a pretty decent post.

Life since Copyblogger

In March, I screwed up my courage and sent Brian Clark a tweet to ask if he might maybe some day, if he got sick or broke his fingers or something, maybe want a guest post? To my happy shock, he asked me if I’d be willing to write for Copyblogger regularly. More cheer. My first post there was 3 Sure-Fire Steps for Beating the Boring Content Blues. Writing for 40,000 readers was lots of fun.

I’ve done a post every week for Copyblogger since then; you can see the whole collection at Copyblogger.com/Author/Sonia. Sadly, it also introduced the era of “1-2 posts a week for remarkable communication, if you’re lucky.” I’m hoping to improve on that later this year.

I wrote What a Toddler Easter Egg Hunt Can Teach You About Success shortly after I got back from SOBCon, inspired by communicatrix’s advice to go ahead and get a little more personal with the blog. It got great traffic and lots of love, so I guess she was right. She’s pretty smart about these things. That advice, combined with taking some extra care to produce the best I could do, since I wasn’t posting as often as I’d like, led directly to posts like How to Take a Punch, The Nice Guy’s Guide to Authority, and The Complete Flake’s Guide to Getting Things Done.

Probably my biggest linkbait of the year was 50 Things Your Customers Wish You Knew, which was inspired by Copyblogger’s Cosmo Headline technique. (I think the Cosmo original was something like 50 Things Guys Wish You Knew.) Lots of folks loved that post and shared that love with their friends. I actually re-read it myself every once in awhile, it’s the kind of advice we know but keep forgetting.

So what’s up next?

There it is, your guide to a year of remarkable communication. For the second year, as I said, I’m going to try to post somewhat more frequently, but my first priority is to keep up post quality, rather than posting a lot of fluff or filler. Since my posts in the past months have been doing well with traffic, social media referrals and comments, I’m going to assume that’s still what you want!

I also want to start making better connections with the hundreds of amazing blogs and bloggers that I haven’t been making time for lately. So look for more links and pointers to the amazing variety of terrific stories on the Web (and not just at Seth’s site).

And I’d love to create a survey for my peeps here, to get a better idea of who you are and the stuff that interests you.

Thank you to the three people who are still reading this post. You are a dear for indulging my reminiscences. I’ve got a “real” post cooking for you that I think you will like–with a little luck, I’ll get that for you later this week.

Thank you to every one of my fantastic readers, you are an amazing bunch and you have taught me so much. Let’s go kick another ten miles of ass together in the next year, ok? I think that remarkable communication is going to see some pretty cool stuff in the next few months.

And if you don’t subscribe now, go ahead and do that. I only post about once a week, you don’t want to miss it!