Thanks, Please Join Me

Dear Faithful Readers,

I wanted to write this quickly as a thank you.  I appreciate more than you know all of you who have read and followed my ramblings through this site.  I loved reading your comments and everything you added to the conversations I started.  This is definitely not the end, but a brand new beginning and I would be most honored if you would join me on that journey.

I will no longer be blogging through this address but will actually continue my mental meanderings at www.joeystrawn.com.  Everything I have written and all your comments have been moved to that site so nothing will be lost in the move.

Other than the look and the web address, nothing will change.  If you subscribed to this site, I hope you will subscribe over there and if you enjoyed these posts, I hope you will still enjoy them going forward.

Again, thank you for your dedication and I look forward to talking with you on the new page.

Sincerely,

Joey Strawn

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New Things, New Wings

Hello everybody.  This will not be a long post, but I wanted to thank everyone that read yesterday’s post and everyone that subscribed and is now following my ramblings.

I wanted to write this post to tell you about a few important things that have happened recently and what that means for you guys.

1)  I recently launched my own, self-hosted website and will be blogging there from now on.  If you recently subscribed to this page, thank you, I would suggest subscribing to the new page to receive the new posts.  The address is www.joeystrawn.com.  There will be no other changes and I have already moved all the posts from this page to that one, so you will lose nothing in the switch.

2)  As of right now, my most recent posts are not being displayed on the homepage of joeystrawn.com and can be found under the “Blog” category page.  I plan on having this fixed within the day.

3)  As there is a whole lot of movin’ and shakin’ going on today, I did not write a new postbut did provide my friend Frank Dickinson with a guest post entitled “I, Me, Mine”.  Please jump over there and show him some support (http://bit.ly/dcXgXN).  There will be new posts on joeystrawn.com starting in the next few days.

4) I bought a new car.  That has nothing to do with this blog or your readership, I’m just happy about it.  Yay.  It’s a Kia.

Okay, that’s about it.  If you are still getting this page in your searches, just head on over to http://www.joeystrawn.com and we can continue our conversations there.

Have a great day and I look forward to seeing you soon.

jS

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How Your Audience Is Like The Mogwai

We’ve all seen them: the cuddly heroes from Joe Dante’s 1984 film Gremlins known as the Mogwai.  Gizmo is the most famous (and the only one that doesn’t break the rules and torment the small mid-western town) and is pictured to the left.  The real question is, What can this cute, little guy and his brothers teach us about your social media audience?

When it comes to the Mogwai (and your audience), there are 3 main rules, but a lot we can learn from them.  You must listen to Mr. Wing, now.

It’s A Big Responsibility

Mr. Wing won’t want to sell you the Mogwai.  It’s a BIG responsibility and he has to be sure that you are up to the task.

Anyone can start a blog.  You can go to Blogger, or Typepad, or WordPress and start one right now without even finishing this post if you so choose.  And if you are simply writing for your own creative output, who cares what your audience thinks?  Stop reading this right now because the rest won’t benefit you.

But if you actually care about having an audience (and let’s be honest, if you’re starting a blog, you care; if you didn’t you’d just write in your Moleskin) you need to realize that they come with instructions of care, or rules.

For our purposes, we will use the Mogwai Rules:

1) Do Not Shine Bright Lights or Sunlight At The Mogwai

Too much sunlight will kill a Mogwai, and too much time away from the computer screen will kill your audience.  Oh, sure, your family and friends will read your posts, but you want to build a steady following, right?  Give them a reason to read.

There are so many distractions online and offline that if you are not coming up with clever, compelling reasons for your audience’s eyes to be on your post, don’t bother writing one.  What do you bring to the table that is uniquely you?

Gary Vaynerchuk talks about wine, yet how many magazines and shows are there about wine?  Tons.  You’ve heard of Gary because he is unique.  He totally brings himself into what he produces for his audience.  How can you bring yourself into what you do?

Creating compelling content can be tricky, but here are some things I like to do:

  • Keep a brainstorming journal – I carry one around with me everywhere and whenever something sparks my imagination I write it down.  You never know when you will get that next great blog post idea.
  • Editorial Calendar – I have a white board (I use Ideapaint) in my office where I keep a pseudo-calendar for posts.  I know that I will post 3-4 times a week, but I keep a running list of ideas and topics so I don’t constantly step on my own toes.
  • Read, Read, Read – Read blog posts you’ve never read before, walk into a bookstore and pick up a random book and buy it, browse through your Evernote and re-read blogs that inspired you in the past.  Make sure you are constantly taking in good, new material.  Good stuff in, good stuff out.

2) Do Not Get Your Mogwai Wet

Every set of rules has one that is meant to be broken.  This is that rule.

When the Mogwai get wet, they sprout new Mogwai.  They cocoon and within a few days you have a whole army a furry little minions waiting for your commands.

Don’t let your audience just sit there.  Throw some water on them, surprise them.  When you ramp up your audiences emotions and get them wet, you’ll be surprised how quickly they multiply.  Overnight, your readership of 12 can sprout to 212, or 2,012.

How much water are you willing to throw?

3) Do Not Feed The Mogwai After Midnight

This is the most important rule of the Mogwai.  By breaking this rule a small mid-western town was destroyed and many people died.  Your blog post will most likely not have the same effect, but it is still an important rule.

Timing is everything.  You hear that phrase from sports, to finance, to real estate, and beyond, but it holds true in blogging for an audience as well.  If you write the best post in the world and post it at 2 AM then leave it alone, how effective do you think it will be?  What if you never mention it again?  Sure, there’s a chance someone will run across it accidentally on Google, the send it to a friend who knows Jimmy Kimmel and you will be famous, but that’s a long shot.

Here are the best steps I have found (timing-wise) to help engage your audience and keep them around:

  • Be consistent – That doesn’t mean post every day (although that helps).  Just keep a steady rhythm to how you post.  People like when they feel like they can figure out a system.  Post Monday, Wed, and Fridays; or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays; or just once a week on Monday.  However works best for you, but be consistent in you posts.
  • Be On Time – I like to post between 9 AM and 11 AM CST.  That way it doesn’t hit before a lot of my readers wake up, but also give me the rest of the day to Tweet the link and for it to make its way around to my audience.  Find a time that works best for you, because there is no right answer for this one.
  • Be Present – This is the worst mistake I see people making.  They will blog heavily for 2 weeks because they are so excited and then “things come up” and they disappear for 2 months.  What do you think happens to the small audience you cultivated during those two weeks?  They aren’t your significant other and waiting for you to finish your jail time.  They will move on to post-ier pastures.  If you’re going to blog, be there.

Your audience can be a fragile thing.  You must take care of it until it has grown enough to sustain itself.  You are it’s owner, it’s protector (so don’t sell out your audience’s emails for marketing purposes, but that’s another blog post).  Love them and they will love you.  Feed them and like a stray cat, they will keep coming back.

I know I’m not perfect and might have missed a few key points, and that’s where you come in, faithful reader.  In the comments leave what you think should be added to this list.  It could be from Gremlins (Don’t let your Mogwai watch Disney movies in a locked theater) or something completely unrelated to 80’s horror-comedy.  I want to hear your thoughts.  Make Mr. Wing proud.


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My Resignation Letter to Mediocrity

To Whom It May Concern:

Today is my last day.  I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how happy it makes me to be able to type that phrase.

I have been with you for many years and have continuously dreamed that one day I would be able to leave.  My dream is finally becoming a reality and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve that without your moderate indifference and disregard for talent; for that I thank you.

To those who managed me during my time here (Fear, Ineptitude, Indifference, and Want), I could thank you enough, and choose not to let words describe any feelings of appreciation towards you.  Your lack of leadership and inability to inspire talent was truly inspiring.

Throughout my tenure, I was given the completely mundane chance to work for faceless and interchangeable supervisors on an endless chain of identical projects that allowed me to shine in no way.  I learned very little, if nothing at all, from the experiences.  Thank you for your “belief in my abilities” and quantifying my benefit to you by ways of “meets expectations.”

To my fellow co-workers, I knew many of you very well during my time here and would like to take this opportunity for some personal goodbyes.

To Doubt, I cannot say that working with you was a pleasure.  I’m not sure I felt much of anything at all and whatever I had felt was constantly brought into question.  I wish you a backbone and the personal strength you so desperately lack.

To Gossip, you should really learn to keep your mouth shut, I’ll even provide the stapler, if necessary.  Your countless hours of distraction are something I could never pay back, as I gained nothing from them.  I leave you nothing, which I’m sure you will tell everyone about.

To Laziness, you always had ways to make me not write my blog posts.  Your constant jibes of “Why are you reading Permission Marketing?  Here look, a Garfield comic.” truly increased my ability at underproduction.  I’m sure you will do fine without me.  I’m sure you won’t do much at all.

To Greed, I truly enjoyed watching you take credit for many of my colleagues actions, raising yourself up onto a platform you did not deserve.  My actions while under your supervision were truly demoralizing and I hope one day you have the chance to apologize for the things you took.

To the Executives of Selfishness, despite your claims of unsatisfactory workmanship from my co-workers and myself, I tend to think you were really unsatisfied with yourself.  Your unethical behavior, jealousy and cronyism were a pure joy to work around each day, despite my inner desire to succeed.

There are many people I care about being left behind in your service.  They toil for you not because of any false love or admiration for what you stand for, but simply are stuck under the supervision of the previously stated managers.  I hope you find the will to embrace them and let them go for your own good.

So, in parting, I would like to pass on a word of advice to whomever might take my place in this position.  It would behoove you to take note of what you see surrounding you each day.  Note the atmosphere at determined stagnated progress and ask yourself, “How could I do more?”  The faster you learn to think for yourself, the faster you will find a new position.

I leave you with little more than I came in with those many years ago.  I hope you continue with your relentless pursuit of averageness and are able to employ many more nonentities to complete your tasks.  Don’t bother trying to reply to this as I am more than likely doing something productive with my life and wouldn’t be able to slow down if you paid me (because that’s what you used to do).

Insincerely,

Joey Strawn

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The Nose Knows: Does Your Blog Pass The Stink Test?

Nothing smells as sweet as a flower in the desert.

(Image Credit: danykomio)

The phrase above might as well end with “…even if it smells like shit.”  If you are the only flower in the desert of course you smell good, if only because you are surrounded by decrepitude and death.  Unfortunately, we do not blog in a desert, or a bubble, or a box.  We blog on an internationally connected network of computers.  So yours better not stink.

So how do you tell if your blog stinks?  I’m sure that you don’t think it sucks the big crapoosky, but what if everyone you know is just being too nice?  (BTW, If you do think your own blog sucks and are still writing it the same way, we need to have another discussion.)

Here are some things to consider to see if your blog passes “The Stink Test”:

1) Would You Read It?

Who are you writing for?  If you are trying to fit into some arbitrary style that you think people want so you can get a guest post on Chris Brogan‘s blog, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.  I’m not saying that writing to the best of your ability and being asked to guest post for Mr. Brogan wouldn’t be exemplary, but don’t be someone who’s not you.  If you wouldn’t read your post, why should I?  Believe it or not, people can actually tell if you care about what you write.

2) Yeah, But What’s Your Answer

Okay, we know there are lots of issues out there: What’s the best SEO technique?  How can you get people to read and comment on your blog?  Why don’t I have followers on Twitter?  I don’t give two shakes of a zedonk‘s tail about your blog if you only list what I already know.  Even if they aren’t not perfect, give your solutions.  People want answers, not more problems.

3) Top [Insert Number Here] Lists Are Stupid

…except for this one and any others I might have posted.

I’m not saying don’t use them, but don’t make every post sound like Gary Vaynerchuk‘s impression of David Letterman.

4) Too Much Dick and Jane, Not Enough Tale of Two Cities

We all like pictures.  They are neat and can really get your point across.  Eventually it’s time to grow up and actually put down some content that is useful to the people that you are reaching out to.  I can use “tips to improve my online marketing strategy”, your video of a kitten riding a turtle….not so much.

The same is true of ads on your blog.  I LOVE making money, but when there are more ads on your page than copy something needs to change.

5) Spellcheck, MotherF*&#$r

Srue, its tru we all can figur out waht you maent to say, butt tak the tyme too cehck for grmamtical mitsakes.

We’d all appreciate it.  I’m not saying be perfect, but it eventually becomes evident and your trustworthiness wanes.

6) No Blog Is An Island

There’s this wonderful thing called the “Internet.”  It’s been around for a little while, you might have heard of it.  Connect to it.  Your ideas came from somewhere, so give credit where credit is due.  If you talk about someone or something on your blog, link to them.

Also, don’t filch content: 1) because people will figure it out and 2) because it’s a douchey thing to do.

Another component of this is self-promotion.  If you spend time and energy writing this blog and then do nothing to promote it, you have no one to blame for poor readership but yourself.  If you’re serious, get out there; if you’re not serious, get out of my way.

Okay, there’s your Stink Test.  I’d suggest running one every few months to see how you are doing.  If you notice, I didn’t mention anything about reader numbers and RT’s because building a readership takes time and effort and it’s easy to get distracted when numbers are your main focus.

You may never be a Chris Brogan or Seth Godin, but you can be you; and that’s all we can ask of you.

What would you add to the Stink Test?  What would you take off?  Why?  Let me hear your thoughts.

I’m all ears.

P.S. I found the video of the kitten riding the turtle AFTER I wrote this post and just typed in the most ridiculously cute thing I could think of.  Finding it was a fluke.  I love the Internet.

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They Call Me….The Viper

A student in Columbia, TN has recently been reported as dressing up as a super hero and patrolling the town square at night, Kick-Ass style.  He goes by the the name The Viper (side-kick pending).  Read and watch the story here, I’m not making this up (Viper *not* pictured).

Now, I’m an avid reader of Christopher Penn’s blog “Awaken Your Superhero” but I’m not sure that’s what he is talking about.  His feeling is that we have all have the power to intake  unlimited streams of information from across the globe that generations before us only dreamed about being able to do, and it is our task to awaken our superhero and understand our powers and place within that ability.  You can see why I love to read it, but maybe this is another side to that coin.  What kind of person takes their passion and creates a superhero?  What kind of inner drive propels a man to do that?  Are you that type of person?

Should you be?

Leaps Tall Blogs In A Single Bound

What’s the one question you get asked all the time by your clients/friends/co-workers/etc.?  Have you started a business venture or blog around that idea or need?

Why not?  You could be a lot of people’s superhero.

Inspiration doesn’t strike everyone.  It’s very possible you will be uncomfortable when you do it.  You’re friends will look at you strange and ask too many dumb questions.  But you’ll understand.  Have the confidence to look a little silly, especially if it’s going to help people.

Create your superhero.

Faster Than A Speeding RSS

When’s the best time to create your superhero?  Why not now?  What’s stopping you?

For most of us it’s fear.  Fear of the unknown, of not making money, of not being able to provide for your family, of not knowing if you will succeed for fail miserably.

What if I could assure you that everything would work out?  Would you start today?

You might, but it wouldn’t mean much.  Superheroes don’t know the outcome.  No one told Bruce Wayne whether or not the Joker would fail, he had to make it happen.  There wasn’t a single fortune-teller to assure Superman that Lex Luthor wouldn’t take over Metropolis because if there had been, Superman probably would have just stayed at home.

You have to act, and you have to act fast.  That brilliant idea you have is probably already being thought of by someone else.  Start today.

Create your superhero.

It’s A Byte, It’s A Bit-Plane…

…no, it’s you and your superhero.  Let’s narrow down how to arrive at your superhero:

  • What would your name be?
  • What powers would you have?
  • How would be your greatest enemy?
  • How would you travel?

What do those questions have to do with anything, you ask?  What would you name your endeavor (be it a book, business, or screenplay)?  What special niche do you fill that can solve your audience’s needs?  What problem are you trying to solve for your clients?  What media would you rely on to effectively reach your market?

The End?

I know I didn’t provide a lot of answers in this post, but is that really what you want?  Your superhero is uniquely yours.  No one is allowed to know the secret identity of a superhero, even the ones that hero protects.  How you arrive at your destination is your own journey, I’m just here to encourage you to do so.

We all have a superhero hiding inside us, waiting to help those in need.  It’s our job to put on those green tights and patrol Columbia, TN (or wherever your patrons roam) and get out there.  It may seem silly to some, but they aren’t under the mask.  They aren’t the hero of this story.

Create your superhero.

What are your thoughts?  What have you found that has helped you along the way that you think can help others?  What’s stopping you from donning the red cape of glory and hitting the streets?

I’m all ears.

Image Credit: Getty Images


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But To Read Is Devine

This past week I participated in an experiment put forth by Justin Kownacki and Ian M Rountree called #ReadItAll Week.  I’m not going to completely restate how it works, but feel free to read Justin’s explanation here.  The gist of it is this: take the time to read every single post that comes into your Reader (Google Reader for me) this week and analyze how long it takes you in order to re-assess if what you read is 1) helpful 2) unique 3) educational, or 4) worth your time.

Here’s what I got out of it:

My Reading Analysis

Over the course of the 5 days I had 432 articles or posts come into my Reader by way of my 42 subscriptions or posts being shared.

It took me a total of 7 hours and 30 minutes to read everything that came in. (Mind you, one of my RSS feeds is to my LinkedIn account and there isn’t much reading involved in those updates)

I shared 24 items.

I deleted 8 blog streams.

I added 3 blogs.

So, What Did I Learn?

  1. My first big revelation was that I read too much.  7 hours may not seem like a lot of time when spread out through the week, but I always found myself itching to see if anything new had been added to my Reader.  That 7 hours also doesn’t include the time I read other things like business books (which I finished one last week) and fun books (started another).  Is reading too much really a problem?  I don’t know.  As of right now I haven’t seen it disrupt my work progress, so until I see that, I’ll leave things how they are, because…
  2. I love to read.  That’s another thing I realized.  Most people would cringe at the thought of reading for 7 hours.  I found myself wishing I had more time to soak up more information and stories.  It’s been a pattern all my life.  I was always the kid in school that had a book to read and talking about them (I probably read through the entire Goosebumps series 2 or 3 times).
  3. I put more stock into things I choose than things that are shared with me.  Of all the articles that were shared with me (about 215), I found myself skimming through and re-reading only if I found worth.  The streams I chose to add myself I read each and every article.  I’m not sure what that says of me.  Maybe I’m a narcissist (hey, I’m on Twitter aren’t I?), maybe I have trust issues, maybe I just like the blogs I like.  Who knows?
  4. I read a lot of the same types of things. My Reader consists of 70% social media blogs, 20% movie blogs and 10% random friends’ blogs and general business.  Most of my information comes from the social media sect.  I have tried to include a lot of differing viewpoints within that group, but that fact remains, I read what I care about.
  5. Planning helps. The first half of the week I approached my Google Reader like I always had: throughout the day I would routinely check in whenever I saw something new come up and read it.  That was getting to be time-consuming, so on Wednesday I applied a new approach:  I set aside 30 minute increments (if necessary) 3 times a day where I would go and read.  I found that by planning and scheduling my time I was in a better mindset and took in more information.

Epilogue

All in all it was an eye-opening week.  It’s interesting what you find when you really sit down and take a look at how you spend your time and even more eye-opening when you try to figure out why you do it the way you do.

I’d like to thank both Justin and Ian for this idea and I’ll be looking for new areas in my life I can apply a tactic like this to.  Hey, maybe they are onto something here.  May be I can be better organized…….

…maybe.

Did you partake in Read It All Week?  What were your thoughts?  Maybe you didn’t but are interested now.  Whatever it may be, leave your thoughts in the comments, I love to read them.




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