What would a “Blog-You-Mentary” look like?

I’ve developed a web domain hording habit.

It’s just another quirk in the day-to-day life of an OCD wanna-be-make-a-difference-in-the-world blogger-dreamer, I suppose.

The wife says she prefers $9.99 domain buying to sitting at a black jack table, and so I’ve embraced the habit with her endorsement. Inevitably, it takes our bank account to the brink each and every month.

For years, my personal email at stevewatkins71@yahoo.com has carried a quotable tagline from anthropologist Margaret Meade I first discovered after watching a Nickelback video titled, “If Everyone Cared.” The video’s last few seconds fade to Meade’s quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It’s become something of a mantra for me because of its simple truth.

A couple of years later, I was further inspired by an award-winning documentary titled: “Playing for Change: Peace through Music,” and another great video that beautifully promoted its cause.

If you do nothing else for yourself today, please give this a watch, and be inspired. Talk about a magnificent collaboration…

Since discovering the blogging world and becoming an active participant a year or so ago, I’ve adopted the following beliefs about its potential:

  • The blogosphere makes the world much smaller.
  • It’s a great place to discover unbelievable talent.
  • Possibilities for world-changing collaboration are everywhere.
  • We’ve yet to conceive just how powerful this tool may become.

Some domains I’ve purchased are simply for future fun: i.e., www.BBQNazi.com; others are for promotion of future creative works: i.e. www.LightWins.com. In the grand scheme, they’re small ideas with which I’ll have a little fun and occupy some creative time.

But what of the bigger picture? There’s not a day goes by when I don’t wonder about a bigger blog impact and how it might be achieved.

I’m convinced the core of the human spirit is relational. Our most divine of inspiration comes from others.

Forget the presidential debates, Justin Beiber‘s last tweet, or the latest-greatest iPhone. Did you happen to catch the most amazing three hours in recent human history yesterday when Felix Baumgartner compelled the world to dream once again? That’s a story worth telling.

***

I have an ever-growing relationship with the support departments at www.godaddy.com and www.wix.com. For the record, they’re two of the most efficient and helpful support departments I’ve encountered. Real professionals, they are.

Last Friday, I called in to buy yet another domain: www.BlogYouMentary.com.

“This is really good. What are you going to do with it?” the support specialist asked as we went through the standard domain-buying gyrations.

“I’m not sure yet,” I responded, “but I like it too.”

So there it is: http://www.BlogYouMentary.com…

I’m wondering:

  • What exactly does a “blogyoumentary” look like?
  • What form does it take?
  • Is it a solo project, or one to be taken on collaboratively with other bloggers who have a desire to change the world … and, if so, who might be interested?
  • How could it be used for the greater good?

Endless possibilities, I think.

Wondering what you think…

What does a “blogyoumentary” look like, and where does it go from here?

I sincerely welcome your comments, questions and thoughts, and even a “reblog,” if you deem the question worthy.

~ steve

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Intentional Blogging in the Magnificent Medium: 7 Tips for Newbies

oscar meyer

This photo, taken just this weekend, captures the essence of two of my cardinal rules for intentional blogging: Always carry a camera, and NEVER take yourself too seriously!

Occasionally, readers will ask how I come up with ideas for blog posts.

For those who write on a regular basis we know the answer to this question. It’s just not easily conveyed in words.

In its purest form, writing is art, and it’s difficult for any artist to explain how they do exactly what they do.

My answer is found somewhere among a few simple philosophies:

  1. Everyone has a story.
  2. People enjoy reading about other people, and taking a look into their lives.
  3. We don’t talk enough about the uncomfortable issues in life.
  4. The world would be a better place if we could all be more transparent.
  5. Down deep in our hearts, we’re all pretty much the same.

My primary blog is relatively diverse. That comes mostly from a background in journalism. I tend to focus on issues of faith, politics, humor and stories about others.

But the idea of intentional blogging, i.e., blogging with purpose, frequency and readership benefit, has a learning curve for any writer. Strange as it sounds, I see life through the blog, and come across dozens of ideas daily that are blog-worthy.

If you’re a blogging newbie, struggling with how you’ll define yourself in this magnificent medium, consider some of the following practices that have helped me along the way.

1.  CULTIVATE RELATIONSHIPS INSIDE THE BLOGOSPHERE: I may never meet many of the bloggers with whom I’ve communicated over time, but they are relationships I treasure, and many of us carry a mutual admiration for the others’ work. Thank people for their “likes” and “follows.” Read their work and compliment them when you’re impressed. Just yesterday, a former PGA Tour professional followed my blog after reading a random post about a weekend round of golf. That follow was an honor for me. I sent him a “thank you” note of sincere appreciation and wished him luck on his pursuit on the Senior Tour. I appreciated his reading, and I bet he appreciated my thank you, and I bet we’ll talk again somewhere down the line. See Ian Hardie’s fine blog here: www.golfhabits.com

2. MAKE NOTE OF YOUR IDEAS: Writing ideas come at the most inconvenient of moments. Mine come while I’m driving, in meetings, or in the middle of an important conversation. Make a quick mental note, and at the first opportunity, take

Teva shoes

NOTES ON A SHOEBOX: I really do stuff like this, and it works for me.

your idea and WRITE IT DOWN. I’ve learned that moments matter, and moments lost, are not easily recaptured. Throughout the day, I jot my ideas down on paper, napkins or whatever is handy, and at the end of the day, a rough title is entered onto my dashboard.  That way, I have an ongoing resource of posts. The post I’m writing now comes literally from notes I took on the top of a shoe box.

3. ALWAYS CARRY A CAMERA: There’s no substitute for great writing, but it’s the visual elements that draw readers into your site. People love looking at photos of other people. Anyone who goes on a road trip with me knows there will be several unscheduled stops along the way. I vowed months ago that whenever I saw a photo worth taking, I’d stop and take it. Many of those photos become blog topics, and most readers enjoy them.

4. KEEP A JOURNALISTS‘ MINDSET, BECAUSE IF YOU BLOG, YOU ARE A JOURNALIST: You don’t need a degree on your wall to be a journalist. The trick is learning to think like a journalist. Because I’m a news junkie, I’ll often take national news stories, localize them in some fashion, and provide commentary on the general topic. This previous post is just one example. It addresses the very real topic of why the cost of beef will skyrocket in the next two months: http://wp.me/p2bjEC-xR

My blog posts come in two forms: OBJECTIVE and OPINION. Important blog post topics call for objectivity – presenting both, or all sides, of an issue. Fair comment and criticism also has its place, and is a great way to generate activity on your blog.

5. FEAR NOTHING: Some of the greatest bloggers I read, examine the most controversial of topics and pour transparency into their work. You may be in the midst of the most tumultuous time of your life, or be witness to a horrible injustice. Here’s my advice: WRITE ABOUT IT. If you don’t, who will? And what good will come if the topic is never addressed? As a blogger, you can make a difference in the world, one blog post at a time.

6. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF: If you’ve ever had this thought: (my petty little blog will never make a difference) STOP IT. You are now part of a magnificent medium – a collective community of unparalleled talent. You’ve chosen to be here, and there’s a reason. You have a purpose.

AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP OF ALL

7. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY: You may be nominated for awards across the blog-spectrum; you may be Freshly Pressed; you may be re-tweeted by Rick Warren; and paid opportunities may flock your way. But NEVER take yourself too seriously. Keep your ego in check. Stay humble. Never stop learning. Be thankful for every follower … and blog on, baby.

(Steve Watkins is a former newspaper journalist and magazine editor with more than 15,000 interviews to his credit. He is the author of a developing series of non-fiction books: The Trilogy of Light, and he currently serves as a freelance writing and blogging coach. For more information, inquire @ stevewatkins71@yahoo.com)

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Celebrating Blogging and 10 Reasons I Just Do It

Countries where I’ve had hits since the inception of http://www.stevenwwatkins just four months ago. I love looking at this and thinking about the vastness of the world, but just how close we can really be.

“Writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia.” ~ E.L. Doctorow

Yesterday was a milestone of sorts at www.stevenwwatkins.com

As my primary blog established back in February of this year the total hits surpassed 5,000 with readers in 39 countries across the world.

Honestly, it’s a little embarrassing to put that number out there as a milestone. I read of bloggers who get 10’s of thousands of visits a month. I long to know your secret. Oh, how I long to be Freshly Pressed at www.wordpress.com. Maybe one day…

A graphic list of the countries where I’ve been “hit.” This is something I track every day.

Five thousand is a small number for the all-star bloggers across www.wordpress.com but nevertheless I counted it as a personal achievement.

So much so that I launched a second blog allowing more specific focus on another project adventure in which I’m currently engaged … and you can view the new blog here at http://wp.me/P2tJ80-2

www.stevenwwatkins has evolved into a simple, relatively unfocused blog that allows me to share opinions and ideas and thoughts about any number of topics on any given day.

It got me thinking on a basic level about the reasons why blogging is an important piece of my life’s puzzle and a cornerstone of my life every day.

So without paper handy, a used napkin worked just fine, and I jotted down the Top 10 Reasons I Blog. Oftentimes asking certain questions of myself helps me better understand who I am … and I suppose that notion’s at the heart of why I’m a blogger.

10 Reasons I Blog:

1. TIME: There’s no schedule to my sleep pattern. Consistently I go to bed around 8:30 p.m., watch a little “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and then fall off. But waking is a different story. It may be 2 a.m. It may be 6 a.m. There’s only so much CMT, HGTV and Discovery Channel a guy can watch. Because my best thinking comes early in the morning, it’s a good time to think and write and simply fill the void of time.

2. EGO: If you’re a reader, I’ll admit this up front. I have an ego. If you’re a blogger, please go ahead and acknowledge you have an ego too. YOU KNOW YOU DO!!! It’s a thrill to post your work and put it out there for the world to see. www.wordpress.com puts us out there, literally all over the world. When I go to my stats page and see that someone in Gibraltar or Tunisia or Morocco has read my blog, well, it’s the cheapest, most natural and legal high I can get.

3. TRANSPARENCY: It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to us all. Personally, I’m transparent to a fault. (I just told you I have an ego, right?) And the blogosphere is a great place to be transparent regardless of your extraverted or introverted personality. Saying certain things on a keyboard is oftentimes easier than saying them in a more personal or intimate situation.

4. RELATIONSHIPS: I’m moving upwards to a hundred followers now and I follow almost equally as many. Blogging has been a great tool to help develop relationships here at home and across the world. I once thought the art of writing was a dying art, and perhaps it is to some degree, but there are some absolutely brilliant and wonderful writers and thinkers out there in the B-Sphere. God designed us for relationships, and I’ve encountered some good ones at WordPress.

5. I’M OPINIONATED: …interestingly about some of the most controversial topics. I love writing about religion and politics. Those topics have probably generated the highest number of hits on my blog. When you have a certain type personality and that personality is highly opinionated, you really need somewhere to put it out there. The B-Sphere is a great place to do just that.

6. TO MAKE YOU THINK: There’s something about causing people to stop and think. If you’ve had a profound experience with something such as death, divorce, charity or loss or success of any kind, there’s a great reward in sharing that with others, so at some point they may stop for a brief moment and consider a change of heart in their thinking. For me, the highest reward is a blog comment that tells me my post caused them to do just that, and take action to do something differently and work to be better.

7. TO HONE MY WRITING SKILLS: That’s a given, right. On average, I blog 4-5 times weekly. I’m not caught up in the notion as some are, that I have something important to say every day. Blogging is great practice for other means of writing or similar communication. Simply said, blogging makes me a better writer.

8. TESTING AND MEASURING: Some of my posts are designed as tests. When I have an idea for a significant writing project, I’ll often test the notion in the B-Sphere. It’s a cheap method for testing, there’s feedback at your fingertips and it’s a great way to see that even what you view as a brilliant idea – well it can fall flat on its face in the marketplace.

9. BOOK PROMOTION AND IDEA GATHERING: I’m now about 5 months into writing my first book manuscript and many of my posts tease concepts of the book so I can get a reaction. For most of you this is a no-brainer, but a blog is essential to your social media platform in promoting and selling books.

10. TO SIMPLY LEARN: While I follow a hundred or so bloggers, there are a handful I always read. With the right approach everyone in the blogging world makes everyone else better at what they do. It’s win-win.