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Your Blog is You

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Recently a blogger asked me to review their blog and requested some advice on how she could make it great. I am no expert, and I was flattered beyond belief that she would ask me. So, I took a crack at it. I gave her some technical advice, more along the lines of some of the things I had done. Nothing earth shattering but certainly helpful.However, the question of a great blog has been bouncing in my head since then. (There have been a few other very weird things bouncing in my head lately, so I’m a bit groggy at times). I’ve been asking myself what makes a blog great, brings visitors and results in business. After all, we’re all in this to make money (I’m the greedy mortgage broker Hillary is after).

In essence, what makes a blog great is a loaded question. Over the past two weeks I’ve been taking mental notes of why I visit some of the blogs I visit. I also went back to some of the blogs I don’t like to visit. During this time a theme has begun to emerge. And it’s not quite what I thought it would be and is quite contrary to the technical advice I gave the inquisitive blogger.

What has emerged is that for me it’s about the person behind the blog. For example, when I come across a new blog, I first browse through the content, then read about the person and then once I get a feel for whether or not it’s someone I want to “talk” to I subscribe or bookmark the blog. However, to make me want to come back on a regular basis I need to see a little bit of a fire in their belly. I like to know what makes them tick. Are they passionate about their work? Do they believe in what they are doing? Will they help me become more successful in what I”m doing? How will they reflect on me if my readers followed a link to their blog?

Things that easily turn me off and away from a blog is the issue of character. Character counts in my book and if I see disingenuous writing of any kind, I simply move on. Also as much as strong views count, strong logical construct with factual “real world” applications is equally important- because as history has shown, you can be passionately wrong about something (see Karl Marx and Mao Zedong).

That may seem like a lot to ask from a blog, but its exactly the kind of evaluation we make in any off-line situation. When we meet a stranger off-line we are instinctively seeking to like them, understand their thought process, their character, their business philosophy, how they treat others and their passion. So, I don’t think its unfair to extend that same thinking to the online world. Plus the blogs I visit on a regular basis have the right mix of the quality I mention above so I know it’s not an unattainable precept.

What’s my point you ask. What I’m saying is your personality and passion must shine through in your blog. When people see you for the kind of professional you are they will naturally either connect with you or never come back. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but I don’t think its a coincidence that in the past three months I have received detailed “essays” from my readers. These multi-page “essays” are loaded with details of their financial and personal situation from top to bottom. It has everything from how much they make to why they divorced their spouses, and their kid’s day care experiences – way too much information in my opinion and certainly not needed for me to help them with their mortgage needs.

It’s mind boggling to me that someone would be so open with me in our very first meeting. I am an unknown blogger and really a complete stranger to them. But they feel connected to me and “know” me through my blog. So, it’s no coincidence that my online encounters are similar to my off-line ones. Plus if the steady rise in traffic means anything I should get used to reading these long, utterly honest and vulnerable e-mails asking for my professional services!

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Ginger Wilcox

    February 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    People are clearly connecting to you. Your personality does shine through in your blog, and in your responses to comments and readers. Character does count. I am tired of a lot of the negativity I see in some blogs. I also find that my offline encounters mimic real life – people attract like minded, like kind, so I do think that is important that the personality does shine through.

  2. Benn Rosales

    February 21, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Shailesh, this is a fantastic mirror for everyone to apply. It might be a worthy suggestion to have an honest spouse, neighbor, friend, co-worker read your blog and give you the honest truth- do you convey in your writing?

    It might also be a worthy idea to ask strangers how you convey. The truth will certainly lie in the middle but I bet a once a quarter or every other quarter could save you from writing from bottom of a bad mood and running your audience away- burn out reads clearly in a lot of writers right now, even in comments.

    I really really enjoyed this post.

  3. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    February 21, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Shailesh, I think it’s critical that you’ve taken the time to honestly analyze what brings you to certain blogs and turns you off of others and I think many people feel the same way. There are many authors that I read simply because I like *them.* I’m learning the hard way to minimize the noise and simply unsubscribe when I can’t personally connect with someone.

  4. Shailes Ghimire

    February 22, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Benn – I’m glad you really enjoyed it. I never thought of what you said. I’m going to try to do that. My main thing is I just want to be myself on my blog – not try to be anyone else or anything else. You know.

  5. Vicki Moore

    February 23, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I have to add my two cents. I also really enjoyed this post. I think you have hit upon the true heart of blogging.

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.

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Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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