— 31 January 2005 —

Blog, Blog, Blog, & Wiki

Summary: Blog talk aplenty. So much so we need to start calling it something else now, please. The Blog Business Summit is over til the next time. Following is an all-out summary of my two days at the summit, beginning here with day one.

As I said in the previous post, the summit was good. There were aspects that I thought were pointless, but then I look at it from the point of view of someone new to all this blog stuff and I think it was all right on target. I think the only gripe that I have was there seemed to be too much emphasis on what you can do as an individual; one who is responsible only to oneself. This view was shared by others who attended as well.

Much of what was presented didn’t map specifically to what an established business might do to harness a blog or wiki; only 3.5 sessions did that explicitly. It almost all mapped to what you can do as an entrepreneur. Given that it was the Blog Business Summit, I expected to see more “what you can do now” talk directed toward business. Being an entrepreneur is a business, yes. Perhaps my gripe and those that share it was just about different expectations.

Day One — Jet-lag & Crumpets… It’s good to be here.

Robert Scoble‘s keynote was interesting. He kept it very conceptual and I think that is a good thing. He talked about building relationships online, and the “death of distance.” I have read a number of things about Robert. “…most powerful person in Redmond,” is something I see a lot. But, so what if he is. More important, I feel, is that he is really nice. He seems to understand the power of his words, and uses them to help people. I don’t read his blog, so I didn’t have any impressions of him besides what other people have said. I know this is odd, but in a, dare-I-say, industry where ego is what keeps bringing you back to the keyboard, Robert seems like a balanced ego guy.

The session by Chirs Pirillo and Marc Canter on Blog Business Models: What Strategies Make Money was marginally interesting to me. This site won’t have ads. Ever. Some of the sites we run do have ads. But then I just rely on our Big Money Tips and Paul’s adroit advice, and I am good. Both Chris and Marc very much know what they are talking about. They know how to make money as an entrepreneur in blogland. Their advice was solid, but again I didn’t feel like much of what they discussed mapped to the business world. I think many business sites, especially those that have brick-and-mortar counterparts, are not going to race to put Google Ads up. Well, they might but I think that would be a mistake.

Molly Holzschlag gave a talk on Building Traffic: Posting Isn’t Enough which covered some of the ins and outs of getting people to notice your site. Taking advantage of Trackback, commenting on other peoples’ sites, titling your posts properly for search engine goodness… All great advice. I think Molly would agree though that having actual good content to keep people coming back is something best to focus on.

Stepping outside the session rundown for a minute… If you go to this summit the next time it happens, go to all of the sessions. The thing is, all of this is connected. DL Byron’s and Keith Robinson’s talk on good design, Molly’s talk, Halley Suitt’s and Stowe Boyd’s talk on good writing all needs to be absorbed. Good blogging isn’t just posting, like Molly’s session got at. It’s everything on how you present yourself to and interact with those that visit your site whether by URL or RSS.

Next was lunch. One comment. While vegetarians often enjoy salad, they also enjoy choices. That’s all. Also during lunch was a podcast conversation between Robert Scoble, Stowe Boyd, and Greg Narain (MP3).

Next up was Glen Fleishman and Steve Broback talking about The Entrepreneurial Blog: Monetizing Your Interests (here’s Glenn’s movie/podcast version). This was a session with some great advice on how to analyze potential areas of the web to focus your marketing. Google’s AdWords was heavily featured. Basically Glenn talked about all the ways he makes money writing online and Steve got geeky with Excel and AdWord’s data. Glenn mentioned Om Malik getting 350k pageviews a month from his 7 blogs. If you include all the sites under our umbrella, up til Paul sold the Vault, we squeaked by with 1 million page views a month. Apparently if we monetized all that we could make some serious cash. ;)

Molly then got back on stage with DL Byron to talk about Picking a Platform: Blogging Engines Compared. Molly, Byron, my apologies for missing most of your talk. This was one of the sessions that was more directed at business. Especially since those of us in the audience already won over by blogging know about the engines. People coming from the business angle would need to know this info and from the looks they got plenty. And that’s another point. I was surprised to see so many people coming from a business angle. I’d guess about 1/3 of the audience based on two hand-raising polls fell into that category, which is a lot for a first time conference and for a new-to-business topic.

Halley Suitt and Stowe Boyd talked about True Voice: The Art and Science of Blog Writing. (Stowe’s part, Halley’s Part) I thought both Halley and Stowe had many good points on what it takes to write well for a blog. However, I thought the presentation itself lacked interest. Apparently it’s just me though. I heard one person say it was good and I read Debbie Weil’s run down of Halley’s part of the talk. Basically, Stowe, Halley, and us all have good ideas when it comes to what it takes to write well for a blog.

And that was basically the end of day one. There was a reception that night, but I was soooo jet-lagged that I couldn’t stay long and stay conscious. So I went back to my hotel and crashed. Day two run-down and final thoughts tomorrow. I’d have put this altogether for today, but Sagan has been sick the past few days and that plus catching up on the backlog of email is taking my attention.

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