Tag Archives: blog

Patreon or Support Your Local Blogger

Thanks to a thirty minute commute to work I spend at least an hour in the car every work day. Over the last several months I’ve started listening to podcasts more than the radio or songs from my phone, and it’s been an enlightening experience. Some of the podcasts I’ve found most interesting have been those that were spawned by a successful blog and that definitely includes Cool Tools, a blog on which people recommend their favorite tools in a variety of areas and describe in detail why they like the tool.

On one of the recent podcasts the guest recommended a service called Patreon, which is most easily described as a Kickstarter-like service for artists. Patreon allows writers, filmmakers, artists, bloggers, etc. to solicit patrons to support their work. Unlike Kickstarter, which is really a fundraising tool for the development of a specific product, Patreon allows its users to solicit funds for a project or a series of projects. So if you’re a filmmaker you can solicit funds for a specific film project or for your ongoing body of work. It’s totally up to you and your patrons how to set it up.

JonBobbleHeadCroppedI decided to test drive Patreon for this blog. Because I don’t have any specific projects in the works I decided to set it up on the monthly support model. If you decide you like the blog and find it of value you can simply go to my Patreon page and make a donation of any amount. As a “Thank You” I’ve set it up so that a donation of any amount will get you a free copy of a 20-page book (PDF format) titled Best of 2014’s Worthless Info, and if you give $25 then I’ll send you something from my library – a book, magazine or something else I’ve found incredibly useful in my accumulation of worthless knowledge.

This ought to be interesting.

The Feedback Machine

Why blog? Why maintain Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. accounts? Obvious answers to these questions would be, “To express myself”, “To keep in touch with friends and family”, “To find interesting people in the world and see what they’re doing” and probably dozens more. One that may not come immediately to mind is, “To build an awesome feedback machine!” From Fred Wilson’s excellent AVC blog:

But blogging is another helpful tool in reminding yourself that you are not all that. Marc Andreessen said as much in his excellent NY Magazine interview which was published yesterday. I loved the whole interview but I particularly loved this bit:

So how do you, Marc Andreessen, make sure that you are hearing honest feedback?

Every morning, I wake up and several dozen people have explained to me in detail how I’m an idiot on Twitter, which is actually fairly helpful.

Do they ever convince you?

They definitely keep me on my toes, and we’ll see if they’re able to convince me. I mean, part of it is, I love arguing.

No, really?

The big thing about Twitter for me is it’s just more people to argue with.

Keeping someone on his or her toes, making them rethink their beliefs, making them argue them, is as Marc says “fairly helpful.” That’s an understatement. It is very very helpful.

That’s the thing I love about the comments here at AVC. I appreciate the folks who call bullshit on me. There are many but Brandon, Andy, and Larry are common naysayers. They may come across as argumentative, but arguing is, as Marc points out, useful.

It’s easy to focus on the toxic elements of online commenting, but Wilson’s approach is far more useful. Sure some comments are so imbecilic that you simply have to ignore them, but for the most part if you pay attention to what people are sharing with you on your various social media platforms you’ll get a pretty good picture of how you’re being perceived.

As the married father of three young adults I don’t lack for sources of honest feedback, but when I stop to think about it I’ve learned a LOT from folks who comment on Facebook or reply to something I’ve written here on the blog or shared on Twitter. You can rest assured that if I have a moment of stupidity, and I often do, that I’ll be called out on it and that’s most helpful. In fact it often prevents me from doing it at home which spares me plenty of grief.

On the Importance of Blogging

John Robinson blogs about teaching his students the important of blogging which I, of course, found blog-worthy:

It was only natural that I would require the 36 students in my “Current Issues in Mass Media” class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill blog for the class. Most of the students were in the journalism and mass communication school. Many majored in journalism or advertising or public relations. And most of them drew back with alarm when I told them I expected them to blog about mass comm issues three times a week. That was a minimum, which would get them a C.

I wanted them to learn to think and write in public. They need that skill. They could learn from each other’s  blogs because I curated their posts on this RebelMouse site. The idea was that they would read each other’s reflections on mass communication and engage with someone other than me. Best of all, by forcing them to search out topics worth writing about, they were keeping up with trends in mass communication.

I wanted them to find their voice.

My advice was simple: I told them the same thing Ed Cone told me when I started blogging 10 years ago – “Have a take and don’t suck.”

FYI, Ed’s advice is good beyond the blogging world too. John goes on to share some of his students’ thoughts on what they learned in the process and it’s definitely worth a read.

End of an Era

I’ve been writing this blog for almost ten years and that entire time it’s been hosted on Typepad. I’d been bugged by at least one friend (Dan) to switch over to WordPress for years, but I’d resisted because it seemed like too much of a hassle. About a year ago I tried to convert but the process didn’t work and I didn’t have time to figure out why.

Last week Typepad experienced a hack-attack and their service went down for days. Considering I had over 3,000 posts that I suddenly couldn’t access – I had some backups but they weren’t real current – I was anxious to get back on their system and generate a current backup. A couple of days ago they came back online and I did get a backup downloaded in minutes. At that point I tried one more time to import all of my posts into WordPress and this time it worked, so I quickly went to my registrar and changed my domain name and pointed it to my little navel-gazing project’s new home.

Other motivators for getting off of Typepad and on to WordPress included:

  • I write regularly for a work blog hosted on WordPress and having just one tool for my writing seemed to make more sense.
  • Saving some bucks since I was paying a monthly fee for Typepad and I could get better functionality on WordPress without the monthly fee.
  • There are more developers on WordPress which means a lot more “stuff” to play with in terms of tools, templates, etc.
  • Typepad was really slow to adapt to the changing social media environment and WordPress tools seem superior for posting from a mobile platform. I’m still not sure about that because I haven’t used it much, but that’s my impression.

This isn’t intended to slam Typepad; it’s a great tool that has served me well but it was time to move on and begin a new era of over sharing.

Blogageddon

In the span of 18 hours I learned that my RSS manager of choice, Google Reader, is going dark as of July 1, 2013 and that the Godfather of Blogging in the Triad is shutting down his blog for a while.  I understand Ed's motivation – I long ago morphed into a leisurely poster here because I just didn't have the time or energy to manage an ongoing dialogue like he has for 12 years – but I'm still really bummed to see him pull the plug. It will be interesting to see if anything fills the online void in Greensboro.

A serious hat tip to Ed for providing a valuable online forum for the Greensboro community. I hope he enjoys the peace and quiet.

Finding Your Voice

Fred Wilson is definitely a top-shelf business blogger, if not the best. He started his blog AVC when he was 42, and he does a great job in this post in explaining how it helped him find his voice for the first time (and how his wife's blog did the same for her). An excerpt is provided below, but I think it's important to point out that you could replace "blog" with "newsletter", or "Facebook profile", "YouTube video",or "LinkedIn post", or any other form of communication and make the same point – the important thing is to find whatever it is that gives your voice an outlet:

Everyone has something to say, something to contribute, everyone can make a difference. And I believe the Internet is making it easier for all of us to find that voice, use it, and make that difference.

I am supporting evidence item number one in this case. I was 42 years old when I started blogging. I'd always had a lot to say. Just ask my mom about that. But I never really found the place and the way to get it all out. AVC became that thing and now I've got a platform to make a difference. I hope I'm using it well.

I have watched so many people find their voice on the Internet over the years and it warms my heart when they nail it. It happens all the time in the blog comments here at AVC. I'm not going to name names but you all know the stories and who they are.