Dec 142012
 

One of  the tasks I dedicate some time to each month, is handing out some +K on Klout to the HLB Members who I’ve recognized as excellent content creators.  The way I see it, spreading the Klout is one small way that I can pay it forward.

[if you’re not familiar with Klout, check out this comprehensive Klout post from Renee.]

What I didn’t realize until recently, is that each user is now responsible for the the influential topics linked to their account.  For example, I always love to read Ashley’s posts and often find myself sharing them to the Healthy Living Blogs community through our Twitter account or Facebook page

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It’s clear that Ashley is an influential content creator in our community about A LOT of topics, and one topic I find her especially helpful in is running.  So off to her Klout page I went to give her a +K in Running.

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Her top three topics are Pizza, Veganism, and Cameras.  So I clicked on “See More” to find Running, but running was not listed.  So I got to Googling, trying to find the answer to the problem: How do I give +K to someone in a topic that is not yet listed on their Klout page?

The answer I found?  You can update your own topics when you are logged into your account. 

Of course, I got curious and decided to give my own topics a look…

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Community, Kitchen, Ellen Page, Pizza, Facebook, Albany, Cameras, Shopping, Health, Harry Potter, Podcasts, Starbucks, Movies, Apple, Money, Games, Politics, Fundraising, Nutrition, and Public Relations. 

Some of these make sense.  [I do talk about podcasts an awful lot, after all.] Others baffle me. [Ellen Page!?]

So, I logged out of the HLB account, logged in as THS, and got to work updating my topics.  Here are the questions I asked myself when choosing what topics to declare myself influential:

  1. What topics do I blog, tweet, and share about most often?
  2. When I am asked for advice by readers and/or blends, what topic does the advice fall under?
  3. What topics best align with the THS brand?

Then I took my list and started deleting and adding the appropriate topics to my account.

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To delete a topic from your list:

  • Go to your Klout profile.
  • On the left hand column, see the “Your Topics” section. 
  • Select “See More”
  • Hover over the topic you want to delete until a close-out X appears in the upper right hand corner of that topic box. 

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  • Click the close-out X to remove the topic.
  • Confirm you want to remove the topic by selecting Okay.

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Now, once I removed a few of the topics that I didn’t think were a good fit for my Then Heather Said Klout account, more topics auto filled from Klout. [though sometimes I had to click out of the list and click back into the “see more topics” link to see what Klout automatically added.]

I continued to sort through and X out of the not-relevant to me topics until I had a list I thought was a much better fit.

Because I now had less than 20 topics on my list, it was time to add some topics determined by the three questions I asked earlier.

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To add a topic to your list:

  • Note: you can only add topics when your list contains less than 20 topics.
  • Go to your Klout profile.
  • On the left hand column, see the “Your Topics” section.
  • Select “See More”
  • Select “Add a topic.”

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  • Type in the search box until your choice topic appears.
  • Click on the Topic of choice and select add.


This organizational task only took a few minutes and could help me to gain +K from the communities I am in.  Evaluate the feedback you receive to determine which topics you are the most influential in.  Think about what posts get the most comments, which tweets get replies, favorited and retweeted, which statuses get liked, and the topics of the emails you receive from readers.  [and if you leave me a comment telling me you’ve done so, I may just be compelled to go give it a look and spread some +K love your way ;) ]

Mar 172012
 

At HealthyLivingBlogs.com [HLB], we’re on a mission to share valuable content we find among our members.  It’s something I, personally, have been passionate about for a long time, and I am thankful that through HLB, I’m able to spend time searching for content and sharing that content.  Why do I think it’s so important?

Well, first off, as the administrator of a community of bloggers who act with health in mind, I feel it is part of my responsibility to the community.  A responsibility that I truly love to fulfill.

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But mostly, we want to do so because we appreciate bloggers and the time and energy put into blogs.  As bloggers ourselves, we know what it feels like to be proud of the content we produce.  We also know what it feels like to get a spike in traffic, find out our posts have been pinned or stumbled, get an email from an old time reader, or a comment from a brand new one.

Add that understanding to my belief that sharing your posts worth sharing is so much more valuable to you than my little old comment that says “I agree!” or “great post!”  Because if I truly believe your blog is worth reading, I want to share that information with other people who may also find that information valuable.  We want to help be the bridge between what you create and what you take in.

How do we do this on Healthy Living Blogs?  A few different ways…

Twitter.

Pinterest. Boards where we share posts we find valuable discussing topics in both Healthy Living and Blogging & Social Media.  

Facebook Featured Posts – a suggestion from a few of our own members, who spoke up when we asked “What do you want here?” We’re starting to share stand-out posts covering topics in nutrition, fitness, wellness, social media, and blogging via our Facebook wall.  We encourage you to do the same! Come visit the HLB page to share which posts you’re loving this week, too.

Occasionally we come across a post so awesome we ask if you will share it directly on HLB. This most often happens with our Blog Tip Thursday posts, but we’ve been known to feature posts on other subjects in the past as well.  [by the by – if you have a post in your archives you think would be a perfect fit for a BTT post – send us the link! healthylivingblogs@gmail.com! ]

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What you can do to help get your great content out there:

1. Include a photo in your post. And not just because it makes the reading, often times, more enjoyable. We want to see a photo in your posts because we want to be able to PIN the post on Pinterest. [If you don’t know what I mean by this, check out this VERY INFORMATIVE BTT Post: Pinteresting.]  And without an image, it’s often impossible.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read through a post, thought it would be perfect for our Healthy Living board or our Blogging Tips and Tricks board but couldn’t add the post to the collection because there was no image to collect from the site.  Once, the only opinion for our pinning image was a FoodBuzz ad.

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2. If you’re not someone to add images to every post, consider this:  Jen from Prior Fat Girl has a standing image at the end of each blog post.  Though many of her posts are other-image-free, having this standard image in the post allows her content to get pinned.

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3. Speaking of Pinterest, recently I was taking a look at the number of time our original pins [that is, links we pinned directly from the website, not “repined” from the Pinterest site] had been “liked” or “repined.”  Because Pinterest is a very visual/image driven social media site,  the posts we pinned that had the farthest reach, were images which the blogger had edited with words over the image – describing what the post was about.  One person who is an ALL STAR at getting that job done, is our friend Tina Reale.

The truth is, not every person on Pinterest is a blogger, obviously – and the idea that I take the time to pin articles could be thought of as silly to a lot of people.  Not everyone reads the captions on the Pins, where I usually include the name of the post and or a short description of what it covers.  When you take time to WRITE IT OUT on a pinnable image, your reach goes farther. 

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4. let’s talk Mindcasting vs Lifecasting. Lost? Read this post.  Typically, the information worth sharing to the community is MINDCASTING, right?  As Rachel puts it at HollaBackHealth – “Mindcasting is sharing ideas. For us, it might be recipes, articles, links, or really just any commentary. I also think of mindcasting as instruction or information; an entire post on, say, fiber, or horseback riding.”

A Mindcast post can often also be labeled as educational.  If you post teaches SOMETHING, it is probably on the “share-worthy” list.

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5. So what’s the best way to catch our attention with a high-quality mindcasting post worth sharing?  It’s all in the TITLE. With over 1500 member sites we browse through, we don’t always catch that your post is worthy to be shared if it’s buried in the deep.

If you have a recipe for Healthy Creamy Spinach Dip – tell us in the title of your post.   If your post includes a list of suggestions of office work-out breaks – tell us in the title.  We are much more likely to notice your post has valuable information if you tell us in bold letters, right at the top.

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6. Don’t be afraid to tweet AT US – but consider best practices.

Tweet at @bloghealthy with a link to a valuable post when the link fits these qualifications
A) the link does not go to your site, but to another site you read, enjoy, support, and learn from B) it’s not a link you found via, well, US.
c) You include a brief description in the tweet, telling us what we’re looking at
because I, personally, will not touch a link from any source – trusted or not – that I am not 99% sure isn’t going to give my computer some sort of tech-flu. Ya, know?

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7. When you are starting a challenge or hosting an event or fundraiser, we REALLY want to know about it. The posts you write to introduce a no-junk food challenge, promoting a race recap round up, explaining why you’re planning a blogger bake sale, or creating a blogger book club are the posts we want YOU to tell us about.

These posts are ultra-valuable to our community as well – but more because of the COMMUNITY, and less because of a mindcasting, teaching, content-driven post worth sharing.  We want to share the things you are doing with your blog, readers, and blends on our Monday Announcements posts to help encourage participation in all the different things going on, on all the various HLBs we’ve got out there.

Simply write us an email, with “Monday Announcement” in the subject line. [healthylivingblogs@gmail.com] Write exactly what you’d like to appear in the announcements list, including links, in the email.  Attach a photo if you’d like.  Send it our way. Easy Peezy.

Mar 122012
 

One thing I had to learn the hard way in the past six months, it’s that a majority of you think I’m a major phony for standing up and shouting about which brands I love, and even more so, enjoy working with.  and I’m okay with that.

A while back, after some GOMI-induced blog-soul searching, I started a THS Reader Survey. [You can read more about the survey, including instructions on how to take it yourself in the Tell Me post.]  The results showed pretty clearly that at least half of my readers were displeased with my posting product reviews, several stating that I had become a "sellout" for doing so.  And, as a reader of blogs myself, I totally get it.

In the weeks prior to the survey, I had done a bunch of “disclaimer-necessary posts [DNP].”  By this, I mean posts containing reviews, sponsored content, giveaways – any content I should add a disclaimer statement to,  telling readers I am being compensated in one way or another.  I had published several of these DNP back to back to back to back on THS.

A few were reviews, through BlogHer, my ad network. I was compensated for my time in reviewing and sharing my opinion with my readers.  A few were product reviews in which I shared my opinion on products that were sent to me, free of charge, to try myself.  I’ve done several reviews I set up myself, asking for an opportunity to review in exchange for my post about the product on THS.  [I did this a lot during the Creative Spotlight subseries of Handmade Christmas 2010.]

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To add fuel to the fire of sell-out-haters, at the same time I also did a bit of blog-overload traveling.  First, Healthy Living Summit in Philly.  Reading about HLS can be completely annoying on any number of levels.  If you aren’t a healthy living blogger or active community member/reader yourself, you typically couldn’t care a lick about the summit.  If you are in the community, you have probably read 79 blogs that already told you every little thing I am about to tell you. And if you are at HLS yourself, you are only skimming through my post to see if there are any cute pictures of you hiding between my rambles. [Meghann has the most flattering picture of my life on one of her recaps! A reader actually saw the photo on Meals and Miles, and sent me an email to congratulate me on my weight loss. Sweetest thing ever!]

A week and a half later, I took a trip to Gettysburg as a Musselman’s ambassador.  That part REALLY upset a handful of people and one survey responder in particular, who said that my posts about Gettysburg made her seriously consider “quitting my blog” [my words, not hers. She wrote like an adult, not a 15-year old school girl like I do].  That part kind of shocked me, because Gettysburg basically SCREAMS "Then Heather Said."

I basically regret not fully explaining what I was doing while I was doing it back then.  Because I think if you sit down and chat with me about Musselman’s, you can tell that I am REALLY, TRULY, a fan of the company, their processes, and their products.  But I never really said that much about Musselman’s before going on that trip.  And I think, perhaps, that had a lot to do with pissing people off.

I love doing paid reviews on THS, honestly.  I aim to include MORE of a story to my reviews, other than simply "I was sent this product" [Break Up Beauty].  Maybe this has something to do with Hippie Heather and her ability to relate every minuscule detail of her day to some deep meaning in her life. Even more than that, I try to always point out what it is about the product that I don’t like, too. Because, at least in my life, there is rarely a product or service in my life that I can’t dream up some sort of improvement for before too long. 

It wasn’t really my intention to have a slew of DNP go up in a short amount of time. I applied for a handful of opportunities within various blogging networks over several months time.  It just so happened every single program I was selected for and contract I signed all ended up being due to go live within a few short weeks of one another.  Which just so happened to be the same time as HLS and Gettysburg.  I realize it wasn’t the smartest arrangement I’d ever gotten myself into, but also it was simply a lesson I had to learn myself.

Which explains why I took the yelling “SELL-OUT!!” from the roof tops feedback from the survey as a "lessoned learned" kind of situation.  I’ve made some suggested guidelines [at first I was calling them "rules" but Hippie Heather didn’t like that much] for any sort of DNP in the future.

Considerations for DNP on THS:

  • Keep this in mind: What are you offering your readers, especially when it comes to giveaways?  A giveaway for a packet of $2.99 granola bars, which you can enter to win from 97 other blogs in your reader may not be worth it to me.   Reviewing an intriguing video game in order to give away a WII to one of my readers? TOTALLY WORTH IT.

  • To go along with that, I’ve started asking the PR reps and companies I work with this question: How many other bloggers [especially those within my genre/reader crossover] are doing this promotion/giveaway/review? This especially made the list with the popularity of FitFluential growing rapidly in my social media communities.

    As an HLB Admin, I read HUNDREDS of blogs a week, looking for valuable information to tweet and pin from the HLB accounts, keeping up to date on events happening in the community to highlight and share, and searching for Blog Tip Thursday posts and ideas.  After reading a similar pitch for X, Y, and Z from who-knows how many blogs in three days time, I realized a driving force behind blog community leaders. 

    The posts which I slowed to read approached the subject in fresh, unique, and personable ways that grabbed my attention, hooking me into wanting to know more.  The remainder of the posts just blended together in a mushy pile of invaluable content.

    I don’t want to be someone that is saying the same thing that everyone else is always saying. [there isn’t much value in that, in my opinion.] Therefore, I want to aim to agree to DNP when I can do so WELL, and in my own voice, in my own way.  I don’t want to be left behind in the mushy pile.

  • Which leads to, Where can additional creativity fit into the way I approach this DNP? This is the most abstract of the guidelines, and therefore the hardest to gauge improvement. I definitely haven’t mastered this and feel like I will be striving towards more forever and ever.
  • I will consider DNP from the following…
    a) opportunities from BlogHer.  I honestly believe in everything they’ve done thus far, and support them for doing it. I trust their leadership and don’t have even ONE complaint about my time in the network.
    b) opportunities I seek out myself which I believe my readers will find value in my sharing. 
    c) opportunities to work with small/local businesses I support and want to help promote.
  • I will always be honest. still. and again. and even more so, if that’s even possible.

Speaking of…

If I’m truly stepping out from behind the curtain and getting all “inside the blogger’s studio” with you: GOMI messed me up.  It stung fast and hard and it lasted a bit of time.  I had the wind knocked out of me and it left me feeling exhausted by the very idea of being a part of this great blogging community I cherish so much. But, as we saw in Act II, it’s not at all bad.  It forced me to step back and really look at what I was doing and why I was doing it.  And then, eventually, IN TIME [it was so NOT immediate] it helped me to see that I need to be in this, ALL OF THIS, for me.  And that I can’t CARE what everyone else says or wants.  This is Then HEATHER Said, after all.

What I mean is I should care, and I shouldn’t care.  I should care enough to take the constructive criticism, and look at things objectively and take suggestions to heart, and make changes for growth and improvement.  But I shouldn’t care about needing a make-over or being called crazy.  I shouldn’t question my blogger friendships because someone I don’t know sees my life portrayed as "the chubby girl who used to suck up to the popular kids to try and score invites to parties.”  I should care no more for what someone who has never met me thinks of me, than what I care for someone trying to convince me of their completely uninformed political opinion.

GOMI and the reader survey also helped me to remember that when I am the most genuine, the most vulnerable, and the most myself… when I just write my blog like I’m writing an almost-polished email to a trio of old friends – that things go much more smoothly on THS. People don’t bitch nearly as much. and I like when people don’t bitch.