Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can blogger newbies sustain and maintain their blog? - a post reflection on Blog Weekend Bootcamp

Last September 21, I delivered a keynote talk on "Bloggers as Digital Influencers" at the Blog Weekend Bootcamp. It was a 3-day live-in conference with intensive hands-on workshop (Blogathon) that delves into the facets of blogging, creative writing, video blogging, photo blogging and social media. The event took place last September 21 to 23 at Malagos Garden Resort Davao City.

With officers of DavaoBloggers.net community.
Photo credit to Andrew Dela Serna.
Congratulations to Davao Bloggers for organizing such a great activity. Kudos to all the hard work the team has poured in. High-five to Georg Kevin Paquet, Olan Fernandez Emboscado, Mark Glenn Cabrera, Karla Stefan Singson, Andrew Dela Serna, Dulce Rose Lada, Renz Bulseco and Anj Nacorda.

Happy to have chit-chat time as well with Chattee Lara, Migs Hipolito, Ria Jose, Kring Elenzano, and to the event participants whom I met that night.

(Shucks, look at the link love above. It feels like the old days of event blogging. Lol.)

I am sure that a lot of newbie bloggers would be envious as to the amazing treat participants got by joining the activity. I wish more of it will be organized in different parts of the country. Hope Davao Bloggers, its organizer, will have a programme posted soon for parties interested in organizing an activity in their area and use the brand name. Of course, blogging groups can take inspiration from it and organize something similar in their area (and use own brand name).

Blogging, I believe, is all about passion. No matter what paid course or workshop you take (such as my Certified Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur Program), if you are not doing it out of passion, it will be hard to sustain. Of course, having income on the side or as a primary resource is great, but most bloggers blog because they love and enjoy it.

The only challenge in joining formal workshop or classes or conferences is some tend to feel the pressure more - in doing better, faster, and achieve some level of popularity or recognition at a short span of time.

I guess in the end, it is all about content. Think about the first 20 articles that you will write about.

What kind of  blogger influencer are you going to be and on what topic or advocacy?

Why people will be interested to engage with you on the subject or topic?

How and on what aspect do you intend to empower others through your blog?

On managing expectations, how much time are you going to allot in blogging per week or per month?

How do you intend to give back to the community and make your presence felt?

Yes there are many things to consider in the area of blogging especially if you want to stand out and be different. It is all about you and putting your best foot forward (invest in building your personal brand for the long term).

Congratulations again to the Blog Weekend Bootcamp and Davao Bloggers. Of course to the co-presenter U.S. Embassy Manila. To the participants, happy blogging and let us keep in touch!

Monday, October 22, 2012

We need more Zamboanga (and Mindanao) bloggers

Last month, I got invited to share my insights as a blog and social media entrepreneur at the 2012 ZamPen ICT Conference (Zamboanga). The event is part of a roadshow series featuring Next Wave Cities in the country. My sincerest thanks to RITECC IX for including me in their programme.

Am happy to be back in the said area as Zamboanga City is a place I frequent in the past whenever I have roadshows in different parts of the country. It is one of the places where I launched my first book and did several talks in collaboration with the National Computer Center.

The task given to me is to share my experience in working with bloggers in Zamboanga. This made me reflect as my work relationship with bloggers in the area were not that many.

We need more political bloggers.
With the coming 2013 elections, finding political bloggers in Mindanao is not that easy. I tried this before and was not successful in recruiting ones for my advocacy then.

Apart from the election, I was looking for content and reaction as well in the past about the Mindanao power crisis, Reproductive Health Bill, Freedom of Information Bill, local ordinances and politics (such as the need for another congressional district in Davao), Mindanao's potential as an ICT destination, K12 education roll-out, among others.

Of course, you now also have the Bangsamoro State signing. Apart from the usual news reports, I was hoping to read about how local bloggers feel about it.

They can also be tapped to cover local events and write about it. For instance, it will be great if there were write-ups from bloggers about the recent 2012 ZamPen ICT Conference noting what they learned and provide feedback too.

More than the lifestyle, food, and tourism related content, bloggers can help reflect the local community pulse especially if a lot of folks are sharing their perspectives.

I believe that if more bloggers will do such, its local community (business, leaders, movers) will feel the presence of their bloggers more and the insight they provide - reflecting what's going on in their area.

We need more professional / commercial / personal bloggers
Running a blog network requires having a constant stream of new bloggers that can be tapped for campaigns. It is not easy to find bloggers from Mindanao who meet the requirements. It's either their blog is filled with only paid post or not blogging consistently enough. Am on the lookout for those having more personal post than commercial or paid ones.

I guess you need to find a balance somewhere and hope more schools in the area will encourage their students to blog - develop their writing and publishing skills.

Blog and social media talk at STI College
The next day, I also gave a blog and social media entrepreneurship talk to STI College students. STI, as of the schools where I studied in the past, will always have a special spot in my heart. Students and professionals gathered at the said event and take part in the discussion.

I am very thankful to Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, RITECC IX, Maureen Bello, Zamboanga ICT Council, DOST-ICTO, and STI College - Zamboanga for the opportunity of visiting this city again.

Also great connecting with Yolynne Media, Jerome Locson, Grace Sojor, Louie (RU_9 - we should chat more next time!), and Mozilla Zamboanga.

Will visit Zamboanga City again soon
I made a commitment that Zamboanga City will be a definite roadshow destination for the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit and it will be great to have aspiring influencers in the area to become part of the community.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Politics of Blogging: Lifestyle Media vs. Lifestyle Bloggers

Last September 28, I talked about the politics of blogging at the Laguna Blogging Summit. It is a straight talk on surrounding issues in the blogosphere based on experience. My big hugs and congratulations to the organizers (high-five to Grace Boncad-Nicolas), speakers, and volunteers who all contributed time, effort, and resource to support that event. I will not forget my 6-hour road travel from Paniqui, Tarlac (11am) to Sta. Cruz, Laguna (5pm) all for the love of blogging.

At that talk, I shared my own idea, based on observation, on how newbie bloggers evolve to the more active ones today.

The steps can include:
photo credit: Grace Boncad-Nicolas
1. Blogger starts to blog and network (posting comments in other blogs, join contest, participate in community discussion, attend open-to-all-bloggers events)

2. Blogger meets other bloggers and interact more as they meet regularly.

3. Blogger joins an informal group or block of bloggers.

4. Blogger block start getting into politics (and gossip) about other blogging blocks. Competition set-in. More senior blogging blocks began complaining about new blogging blocks (for one reason or another - valid or not). This makes the group closer and may even form own community in the process.

5. Blogger block will start having politics on its own as some won't begin seeing each other eye to eye or some block members growing faster that they can't pull their block members along. Resulting to some sort of jealousy due to expectations ("I was tagging you along in my gig in the past.").

6. Blogger bolts out of block or block gets dissolved.

7. Blogger goes out on one's own (solo) or joins a new block or create own.

Through the years, I consider the above as a normal phase and fights among bloggers (from blogging practice, events conduct, personalities, competition, beliefs) are not new at all.

Lifestyle media versus lifestyle bloggers
However, there is another form of politics happening that concerns the blogosphere that seems to erupt from time to time. This is the media versus bloggers.

As of yesterday, I am referring to this as the lifestyle media versus the lifestyle blogger. When I mention lifestyle for the context of this blog post, I am referring to travel, beauty, home and living, recreation, food, health, fashion, etc..

What makes this segment interesting is it is sensory and a bit of status symbol. Often only to be afforded in real life by people with money to spend. If you belong to a prominent publication or blog, sample sets and expensive freebies are common.

(I recall having a mid-range watch brand manager friend who shared giving lifestyle editors a watch worth nearly P30k each at a product launch. Most of course, gave the watch a story feature.)

Then came bloggers who set themselves up in the field of lifestyle. They start writing about stuff usually from personal experience and later on participate in events. Some also get freebies.

The kicker here for me is when these lifestyle section writers start gossiping about bloggers, in blind item style, based on rumors they heard and often unvalidated. Which they don't take an effort in correcting the news later on either if found untrue. Some even dare to question a blogger's way of doing his or her business as unethical or illegal.

As most blogger attack are done without mentioning names, blind item style, the news item start appearing as generic and casting a bad image on bloggers in that beat.

I think that even before lifestyle writers start attacking bloggers and compare practices from their own perceived "highly ethical" personal standard, please, look at your industry peers first and write about them.

As I said in one article who questions a blogger for selling give-aways received, "In my observation, most bloggers don't get salaries from newspaper outlets to cover events. They have to find a way to compensate for the time and effort they spent. I'm sure if the blogger has more income than usual, that person would not sell those items. Kaya sana yung mga taga-media na may suweldo or binabayaran sa bawa't artikulong naisusulat nila kahit na halos product promotion na rin ang dating, huwag tayo basta na lang mang-husga ng kapwa."

Are we going to tolerate blind item attacks on bloggers?
So to my fellow bloggers, whether the attacks being hurled at our peers are true or not, whether we agree to it or not, it is important that we don't allow our peers to be attacked in a blind item style by these media folks for it also affect us as a whole. It is also about asking these people to take accountability to what they say and not see their newspaper columns or space as a weapon against us. Furthermore, to give the blogger, whoever is under attack, the "right to reply and defend themselves".

Note that this is not the first time this has happened. But it will keep on happening, bloggers being bullied by the media through their publication space (worst they even get paid for writing about it), if we will tolerate it.

I will not tolerate it and that is why I am speaking up.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pochology by Pocholo Gonzales

Last October 8, I spoke at the Marketing Crossover event organized by the San Beda College Junior Marketing Association and Immaculate Concepcion Junior Marketing Association. More than 100 students attended the said activity.

My fellow speaker in that morning event was my former DigitalFilipino Podcast partner and director Pocholo Gonzales. Got my hands into podcasting after doing an interview with him for one of their podcast programs in early 2006.

Our podcast ran for one series and produced up to 14 episodes (April 6, 2006 to January 2, 2007). It was also supported by advertisement and was the first to have ads then. Took a break afterward as I was trying to figure out on how it can be done better resulting to higher participation, engagement, among others.

Pocholo talked about "Personal Branding" at the said event and kicked off his talk by showing a video that gave an introduction on who he is and what he has accomplished.

He then followed it by showcasing his voice talent as he "voice out" the various characters he has done.

He gave some tips too on how can the students improve their personal branding online.

He shared his passions and what drives him and encourages the students to document their youth for that will pass by very quickly in life (and I totally agree with that).

He will also be launching a book soon sharing his experience as the "voice master".

Pocholo and I agreed to embark on another podcast project soon. I guess we will announce it once the first episode is out.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Is personal blogging dead?

As a blog marketer, part of my task is to look for bloggers who I can run my campaigns with. Criteria of qualified bloggers would include:

  1. No less than 4 to 8 blog post a month for 3 consecutive months. (majority personal blog post)
  2. Facebook fan page for blog
  3. Blogger has social media presence in Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
  4. Maintain a ratio of 2 to 3:1 personal blog post to commercial post (events, products, and paid post).
I must admit that when campaigns are done in a hurry, #4 gets compromised. But as client needs become more targeted with the kind of bloggers they want to work with, finding bloggers is not as easy it used to be.