Blogging is a cultural phenomenon, but it retains a consistent subculture across the World’s Web-connected communities. No matter where you go in the world, blog fans expect bloggers to deliver in a few basic ways that outsiders don’t understand. This is a simple truth about blogging: if you don’t deliver the basics, the blogosphere - and the general Web - will ignore you.
Blogging basics break down to four elements: utility, entertainment, writing talent and community. Depending on your audience, one of these elements may be more important than the other. An important professor’s blog may require an elite level of grammar and writing talent. On the other hand, a popular video game blog may focus more on entertainment value. But in any case, you should consider all of these factors to be critical elements.
Utility refers to how useful your blog is to your readers. You should aim for a high utility value, but offering exclusive utility is also important. If your readers can’t get the same information, advice or commentary anywhere else, they have no choice but to depend on you.
Entertainment value is all about how entertaining your content is to your readers. In some ways, this is similar to utility because entertainment can be useful, but entertainment goes well beyond utility. When you move a reader’s emotions - whether it’s with simple laughter or heart-breaking sadness - you and your blog have a much greater chance of being remembered, whether or not the reader hopes to remember you. Utility without emotion, on the other hand, is more easily forgettable.
The value of writing talent is self explanatory, but you might be surprised by the vast number of pro or semi-pro bloggers that assume that writing talent doesn’t matter.
Some hopeful bloggers are accustomed to reading posts by a few successful bloggers with terrible writing styles and horrible grammar habits, and they assume that they can imitate their success by imitating their writing style. The reality is that some bloggers can write poorly simply because they are famous, so their fans will read anything they write. Or they may have access to very exclusive information, so it’s irrelevant how they write. Alternatively, some blogs blew up during the infancy of the blogosphere, so as one of the first to reach the masses, they had few competitors. And today, they continue blogging on the momentum of their early success, celebrity fame or exclusive utility, so unless you’re a part of one of those three groups, writing talent is critical to your readers. Study the best writers and bloggers. Get a decent education, and learn some proper grammar. It makes a difference.
Finally, community is just as important - if not more important - than the other elements of your blog because a blog is useless without a community, not just a community of readers but also a community of bloggers that share, comment and develop larger conversations around your posts. Of course, your community has a direct effect on your pageviews and ad impressions, but it’s also a healthy place to learn. An online community can challenge and/or shape your beliefs and opinions. More importantly, other bloggers can teach you a lot about writing, marketing, SEO, tools, software and creative out-of-the-box strategies. Your community might even introduce you to other communities that can have a significant impact on your blog - and sometimes even your life.
Advice comes from every direction - even when you don’t want it, but a few times in life, a special someone shares a few words of wisdom that will shape your life forever. This is, perhaps, most true for the world’s biggest business leaders, a group that has learned to recognize good advice better than almost anyone else.
This morning, Forbes published an insightful piece that summarizes the best advice that’s shaped the lives of some of the world’s most successful individuals. Our favorite is Beth Comstock’s story.
During a call with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, the call abruptly ended. She called Welch’s assistant to let her know that the call had accidentally disconnected - only to find out that the disconnection was intentional. “He wants you to know that’s what it’s like to be in a meeting with you,” the assistant said. “You’re too abrupt.”
Harsh, but practical. More importantly, it was absurdly useful, and it really helped her climb the corporate ladder at GE.
Martha Stewart and Deepak Chopra share similar tales. Long story short, they cherished the concept that each person is a source of infinite possibilities - a simple nugget of wisdom delivered by their loving parents. In other words, they can do whatever they want in life.
Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.org, describes his experience at an IBM office, where he learned to balance his know-it-all attitude with his above-average sense of humor. His tendency to correct people when they’re wrong - whether or not it mattered - really became a problem with his co-workers, but he was often funny too. By replacing his know-it-all attitude with jokes and stories, he brought back a sense of unity that departed his team a long time ago.
There’s several more stories from a variety of leaders with a variety of backgrounds. The whole piece is worth a read if you have the time.
Good leadership is learned and earned, not inherited. It’s something you have to continuously develop and ponder as the people that surround you change and grow. Find these twelve will qualities inside yourself if you want to become an exceptionally capable leader.
A boss with great leadership skills can really make a difference, not just in the success of the company but also in the quality of her employees’ lives. Unfortunately, too many bosses value ruthless slave driving over wise and compassionate guidance, and they often pay for it with an inefficient and disloyal work force. Below, we list some tips to help you become the best leader you can be, courtesy of Forbes. The whole article is worth a read if you have the extra time, but we break down the basics right here.
+ Never forget that you are your employees’ servant - just as they are yours. When you make their jobs and lives easier, they’ll often return the favor for the rest of their working relationship with you. More importantly, perceive every employee as your equal. In the end, a title is just a title, but loyal relationships last forever, whether or not your company lasts.
+ Don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers. Develop the bravery to point out unethical or shady practices, and don’t be afraid to do what’s right for the company even if it’s a major inconvenience to everyone around you. In the end, everyone respects the “yes man” as much as they respect the guy that doesn’t care, but when it’s time to follow somebody, everyone will be looking to the few individuals with a relentless sense of honesty, honor and drive - regardless of title.
+ Share your experience, and become a mentor. Talented workers, especially younger ones, care about their careers, which means they often have a willingness to learn as much as they can. Leverage their drive for success to boost the performance of your company. Furthermore, you might need your employees as a reference in the future, or perhaps they’ll become bosses or clients of yours. If you take the time to be a career mentor, not just a boss, they’ll be your loyal friends and business partners for life.
+ Don’t neglect your employees’ personal lives. This is how you’ll know when to push them ruthlessly and when to offer compassion, so you can squeeze as much high-quality work out of your work force as possible. If you really value your talent, you’ll want to keep them around for as long as possible, but if you don’t bend your will to the craziness of their everyday lives, they may not stick around for long.
+ Don’t stop learning, and remain open to new ideas. Don’t fear criticism or debate because they are often precursors to the best ideas. More importantly, encourage this quality in your people. They have valuable perspectives - even the youngest hires. Your employees won’t always be right, but it’s your job to absorb as much information as possible and select the best path forward.
+ Trust your employees, and stop micromanaging. You hired your people to take over the steering wheel in their respective departments and roles, so let them do what they need to do because you probably have a full plate yourself.
+ Maintain high standards set by your example. The key is setting the example yourself. Then, slowly nudge your work force to your level. They may not ever catch up to you (that’s why you’re the boss), but they will continue to improve.
+ Find the best qualities in your employees, and learn how to develop and use those qualities for the benefit of the company - even if your employees can’t see it in themselves. Your employees may fail over and over again as you try to push them to achieve things they never knew were possible, but they will eventually get there.
+ Be passionate and encourage passion because talented individuals are attracted to it. They want to be a part of something great or important, and your passion for your work communicates the same ideal.
+ Fairness is critical, and don’t be a hypocrite. It seems like an obvious concept, but it’s not a common quality because it’s easy to lose focus.
+ Consistency is a necessary ingredient for cooking up trust in your work force because it enables your employees to know what’s coming.
+ Recruit talent the smarter way. Find and hire good talent, but also grow and develop these individuals with wisdom, trust, trial, error and compassion. Even if you’re an excellent recruiter, no one wants to work for a slave driver, so slave drivers don’t naturally attract the best people.
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