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Archives for April 2010

Problogger Book, Now in Second Edition!

I am proud to say the Problogger Book is now in a second edition :)

Well, apparently – Darren and I have yet to see it!

The previous edition was released back in 2008 and this second edition should start rolling out … now! Apparently it will be hitting stores as I write this, and in fact it’s already on Amazon with 34% off.

This is an update of the 1st edition and not a complete rewrite – however there are a few significant updates including:

  • Many many small updates and changes throughout the book. New examples, screenshots, updates of new tools, a few deletions of references to old tools, an update to our stories in the intro etc.
  • A whole chapter on social media and how it impacts and can be used by bloggers – one of the ways things have moved on in the last couple of years!
  • Darren has added a case study chapter that goes through the first 4 years of Digital Photography School (Darren’s main blog – yup, Problogger is NOT his main blog). He goes through how it was launched, how he makes money and how he has grown that massive audience.
  • Bonuses – we’re offering anyone who buys the book a series of bonuses (some interviews with successful bloggers, some extra teaching etc) over time on the Problogger Book site member’s area.

I will update you with news about ebook/Kindle and so on when I have it from Wiley, but the previous edition was available in both digital and print.

Check it out on Amazon, or get more information on the book site now

10 Lessons Comic Books Can Teach Us About Blogging and Content Marketing

comic-books

I nearly called this article “Everything I know about blogging I learned from comic books” but I was afraid too many people would take it literally, ha. In fact, there might be an element of truth to it. My formative reading material was dominated by muscly, spandex-clad guys and gals fighting crime and shooting laser beams out of their eyes. Like most geeks who grew up in the 1980s, I have been heavily influenced by Marvel, 2000AD/Judge Dredd, and to a lesser extend, DC comics.

Other than the odd graphic novel purchase, my interest was put to one side due to time, family, and so on. Recently though, due to the Marvel iPhone app, I have a renewed interest in buying comic books. This has made me look at them with a new perspective and I realised just how much content creators can learn from these publishers, writers and artists. As Stan Lee would say … excelsior!

  1. Excitement & Anticipation – Comics are all about capturing interest, building and maintaining it. When you get to the end of each issue, what is there? That’s right … a cliff-hanger! Want to know what happens next? Look out for the next issue. Fans look forward to the next new comic, they devour it, discuss it, swap it, then look forward to the next. And on and on! Even when re-issuing older archive stuff, like on the iPhone app, they still serialize the content and make you wait. Why? It builds anticipation and means you will buy a piece at a time.Lesson: Build anticipation, tell your audience the great stuff that is coming, drip-feed content, syndicate, and make sure you deliver on those promises.
  2. Visual impact – Half or more of the joy of comics is in the visuals. In fact, you don’t actually need the words a lot of the time to follow the story. Comic book artists are masters at telling a story visually and making everything that much more compelling. Combined with the occasionally really great plot (Dark Knight, Watchmen), this makes the medium really engaging and addictive.Lesson: Don’t rely on a wall of text. Spice up your content with visuals. Rather than try to describe everything, use illustrations and visual guides. This aids learning and consumption, which means your content will be far more successful.
  3. Cross-selling – Comic books are experts at cross-selling. It’s not just in the comic book store or full page ads within the comics, it is actually in the content. One thing lots of people notice when getting more involved in reading comics is buying one series is not enough to get the full story. First there are usually years of back story, inside jokes, plot twists, but then while one plot line is taking place, the rest of the story is unfolding in sister comics, for example “* See Avengers #517?. That is a strong enough pull for many a fan to discover new characters, series, artists, and so-on, but for the truly addicted collector, it never ends.Lesson: Where another piece of content or product is relevant, mention it. Keep adding and creating more relevant content or products while the demand is strong. Predict what people will want, need next and deliver it. Create an environment where a customer can discover more of your great stuff.
  4. Human Drama – The stories in these comics never stay still, and while much of the action is crude (people fighting or spoiling for a fight), they also have the power to move you. We feel involved, we want to know what happens because we care. Although based in science fiction or fantasy, the drama is most importantly human. Peter Parker was a bullied school kid who, yes, got bitten by a radiactive spider, but also had relationship problems, career issues, and suffered loss. The Hulk is profoundly lonely. And so on. The web is now very much social, which is about people. People engage with people, they connect with the person over the brand. Especially important if you are a non-profit, the human-interest story is your key to making connections.Lesson: Bring your content alive, show humanity, connect on a personal level. A lot of the time drama is actually something people in business distance from. We seem to relate drama with emotional instability. But people want and like drama when it is the right kind. Drama might not be your thing, but the point is about discovering ways to lift your content, from adding a simple joke with a surprising punchline through to colorful, lively, engrossing stories.
  5. Longevity – How many characters and storylines can continue decades? Even in Television long-lived stories are rare, but in comics it is pretty much the norm. Superman has been around for generations, in print, radio, TV and film. All the ingredients mentioned here have counted towards that, but in addition they are always moving with the times, changing, evolving, testing, trying new things, but not breaking their core.Lesson: Don’t be afraid to experiment but keep true to what your audience and customers love you for. You will be rewarded with loyalty.
  6. Customer-focus – Following from the last point, these brands still exist because they have the customer in mind with every decision. Yes, there have been times when they have stepped out of line. The fans can be cruel in their vocal reactions sometimes. But these publishers and writers know how to correct their mistakes, know what the audience likes and they give it to them, and because of that are forgiven when their experiments fall flat. Most started out as fans before getting into the industry. They are still fans many of them. Conventions, workshops and meetups allow the industry and fans to get together, plus now more than ever the customers have a voice that can be heard loud and clear.Lesson: Keep in tune with your audience and customers. Know what they are thinking. Let them know you are listening. Deliver what they really want, take chances, and don’t be afraid to surprise your audience (in a good way).
  7. Brand management –  I have mentioned a few times that the comic book publishers really know their audience, but are willing to experiment. A couple of times I also mentioned brands. The characters and series are brands, and they are much-loved (to the point of obsession occasionally) brands at that. This means there is a delicate balance between pushing the boundaries while also staying true.Lesson: Knowing what the brand really means to people is vital, and making sure you stay consistent and do not betray the promises you set up.
  8. Skimming and Sound bites – As well as visuals, these stories are told in sound bites. Unlike a novel, there are very few words used to convey the story, with most of it dialog (even internal dialog). Short, clipped sentences, speech bubbles and information boxes. This means the stories can move fast and get across the information required very briefly. Perfect for distracted, excited, readers. This format also means that it is very repeatable and quotable. Characters develop catch phrases, which means playground word of mouth. Consumption is increased because a reader can get through several comics in one sitting.Lesson: If you want to get your point across quickly and not lose your reader’s interest, make your content into compact and easy to consume. Use lots of quotes, images and sound bites.
  9. Multiple media – As mentioned above, once a character gets a following you can expect to see it everywhere from action figures all the way through to the big screen. The fans watch them, read them and wear them. You can even read the comics on computer, or on your phone.Lesson: Be where your customers are and in the format your customers want. Try video, audio, print, ebooks, long and short formats.
  10. Repurposing – As content owners we often create something then let it rot, even though a lot of what we produce is evergreen. Not so with comics. Initially comics are serialised weekly, fortnightly or monthly, but then there will be collected comics, specials, repeats, graphic novels, re-issues, and as mentioned above, storylines are recycled into other media. You can even subscribe for an all you can eat plan online for $60 a year over at Marvel.com (which I am tempted to do, although I can’t understand why they don’t extend that pricing to the iPhone …).
    Lesson: Be on the look out for how you can repurpose your existing content in new ways. Perhaps republish an article, extract a bonus from a product and sell it, or bundle up content into an ebook?

As is traditional, I stopped at #10 🙂 Were or are you a comics fan? Which? What have I missed? Do you agree or disagree with any items? Does this give you any ideas? Please share your thoughts in the comments …

And the winner is …

It’s time to announce the winner of the Social Media Success Summit 2010 competition! We had hundreds of people enter, and there was an enormous amount of excitement and buzz around the competition. I hope you enjoyed it. To everyone who did not win, well there is always next year! (The competition was viewed 5,764 […]

What do you want to know?

I was interviewed late last night for an American radio show where I was asked where I get my product ideas from.

My answer was that I am not any kind of bright spark when it comes to this stuff, so I do the easiest thing, which is to ask. I ask my community what they need help with.

  • The Authority Blogger Course came from coaching clients struggling to get known and attract an engaged audience of people who wanted to buy from them.
  • My Guest Posting Guide came from clients wanting to know the quickest, easiest and most effective way to get quality links, traffic and exposure.
  • The Mojo Marketing Action Plan live course came directly out of client’s pressing needs and frustrations, and our talking to clients about what would help them get unstuck.
  • A lot of my most recent social media thinking has come out of the work I have been doing with the GOSO folks and their world of auto dealerships.
  • We surveyed our audiences to build the Social Media Success Summit lineup, plus you will see in my Social Media Success Summit competition I come straight out and ask what your biggest challenge is as your competition entry!

It’s as simple as that, if you want to know what you can help your community with, the simplest way is to ask them.

So … this is a long way of getting to the point … what do you need to know? Is there something I do that you would like to know?

Are there things you are struggling with in your business?

If I could write, build or present something that would help you get unstuck or boost your progress, what would that thing look like?

Please let me know, in the comments, email or contact form.

PS.

If you haven’t already entered the Social Media Success Summit competition you will want to get on that quick, plus remember if you buy a ticket before Thursday you get 50% off. Remember you can buy your ticket now and still enter the competition as prize winners can opt to either get their ticket refunded or give their spare to someone else, even as a their own competition prize.

Defeating Business Performance Anxiety

Melani wrote a great post called “Happily Delusional or a Few Things to Make You Feel Better about Your Marketing Stats“. In it she talks about how people feel about their business numbers and it has some strong messages for any business. A lot of my friends, clients and contacts look at their results and […]

Win a Ticket to Social Media Success Summit 2010

Want to win a free ticket to the biggest online social media event of the year? Of course you do! After the success of last years competition, Mike Stelzner (the event founder) and I put our heads together to come up with something fun and interesting for you to get involved in. I think it […]

Shocking Statistic

During our free preview call for the Mojo Marketing Action Plan the other day, I asked the following question. Have a guess what the result turned out to be. I wonder if you will be as shocked as I was … Have you ever had a successful launch? There were only two possible answers, yes […]