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Scribnia recently hired David Spinks, a social media guru who will serve as our Community Manager. I wanted t...
A picture can draw the reader in. It provides visual stimulation that can lead into your content. It can serve...
This post is part of the Guest Blog Grand Tour over at Life Without Pants – an epic two-month journey of ove...
We've been thinking about how we'd like to design this blog and how we can keep it simple and effective. ...
There have been a lot of discussions about whether or not blogging is dead. Some great posts to check o...
Posted by: David Spinks - 26 August 2010 / 16:39
We discussed a lot of basic community concepts. You should check out the full interview here.
Here are some of the things we discussed related to Scribnia and our community:
Q: What is the importance of being so vocal on the@Scribnia blog and social media accounts? Should other companies follow that lead?
As a start up, it can be really tough to gain traction in a space… especially one as noisy as the blogosphere. Being active on the blog, on twitter and on other platforms is a way for you to gain loyal users early, and to establish yourself. We also use the @Scribnia blog for community efforts. In the “Behind the Blogs” series, we interview interesting bloggers from the community. It’s just a nice way to promote the bloggers in our community, while creating interesting content.
As I mentioned before, the ability and willingness to help is really important when interacting in online communities. Social media platforms like twitter, like blogging forums, etc… have been a great method for finding people who need help, and helping them.
Should other companies follow that lead? Hard to say on such a broad scale. Chances are, there are potential customers or users interacting online, and seeking information. Creating useful content and being active on SM is the best way to reach them.
Q: What are some tools that a company or person getting into professional blogging can use to be successful (like Scribnia)?
Depending on the resources they have, there are a few options.
The simplest tool would be a tumblr or posterous. They’re built for simplicity so you’re limited on what you can do but many companies have used these tools effectively. The next option is wordpress.com. It’s a bit more professional but it’s still free… which means you’re limited on options.
Most sites are using wordpress.org for their professional blogs these days. You’ll have to pay for hosting, but you have a lot more freedom in how you’d like the blog to look, features you can use, etc….
As far as getting your blog going with readers and comments, you should be using social media tools. Using twitter and facebook to share your content is fine as long as you’re not just sharing your own shit. Also check out tools like @commentluv and @disqus that will enhance the reader’s comment experience.
In the end, starting a successful blog is less about the tools, and more about the content/ how you’re getting it out there.
Q: What are some things that we can expect in the future from @Scribnia? (And how can we keep in touch to find out more).
Glad you asked. We have a lot in store for Scribnia. In the next few months we plan on really improving the overall site design and user experience. We will simplify the site a great deal, to make it really easy for users to get started, and start getting recommendations.
As I said, our goal is to enhance your online reading experience, and we’re working on a number of things to do that. We’ll also be launching a new product in October, that will be free for bloggers. It will provide them with quality story leads and professional opportunities to work with businesses.
You can stay updated on everything we’re working on by following @Scribnia, , subscribing to the blog or just signing up.
Posted by: David Spinks - 7 July 2010 / 9:25
Welcome to Behind the Blogs, where we take a moment to get to know the bloggers in the Scribnia Community on a more personal level. We’ve read their words, but now it’s time to learn a little bit about the person behind the keyboard.
Today’s interview is with Estelle Nagel aka Essie who writes for Loch Ess Monster. Essie is an extremely unique person and writer that I met through the always amazing, 20 Something Bloggers network. She’s 27, and lives on a wine farm in South Africa. Her favorite instrument is the vuvuzela (kidding) and she’s a Marketing Manager for a UK company (not kidding).
She has an amazing story, and it’s bloggers like her that first intrigued into me in the blogosphere.
Well, lets get to know Estelle a little bit better!
1. Where is your favorite place to go to write, read or think?
I live on a wine farm and we have this huge old tree that sings when the wind blows on the property. There is a back story to the tree that I don’t remember, so I enjoy making things up.
2. Why did you start blogging? Why do you blog today?
I found myself hopelessly depressed due to a lot of unfortunate circumstances…I tried writing about the things that were depressing me, but that seemed to make me feel worse. So instead I decided to toss all the Sylvia Plath out of the window and rather find something to laugh about each and every day. And I started to write about that instead. Blogging is my therapy. So I suppose my blog started with Japanese subculture and ended with the zombie apocalypse…as I’ve said, that’s where it’ll ALL end.
3. What was your life like growing up?
I grew up in the 80s in South Africa, which was a pretty violent and confusing time for a child. Seeing riots and protests and petrol bombs wasn’t out of the ordinary, but other than that I had a “normal” uneventful childhood. We were a tight-knit, bluecollar family and still pretty close. I remember the old apartheid flag go down and the new South African flag go up. People were crying in protest. All of a sudden I was exposed to all these new languages and cultures and ideas. Even our history lessons swung around dramatically – we had gone from the good guys to the bad guys in less than a week. We had been sheltered from all that before.
4. How do you continue to find inspiration and ideas for blog posts?
I don’t know. I have a twisted sense of humour and tend to see things differently than most people. Part of it was growing up religious and brainwashed in apartheid South Africa and then having been forced to see it from a different angle. Plus the Internet’s dark nooks and corners are awesome. I occasionally just do some “mad libs” browsing where I type random phrases into Google and see what pops up.
5. Who are your biggest inspirations in life?
My sweetheart Matt. He doesn’t let me feel sorry for myself. He’s survived horrible child abuse, two divorces, losing 3 kids, losing custody of two more, drugs, alcohol, homelessness, jail and then turned his life around 360 degrees. He reminds me daily that you can change your life. You can be happier than you are.
6. How do you define success?
Definitely not in monetary terms or titles. My mother is the most successful person I know – she was a housewife but she’s learnt to be spiritual, happy, balanced and loving. I don’t admire Donald Trump – he’s got money, bad hair and no life. I admire my mother.
7. Have you ever faced a challenge that helped define who you are today?
Plenty. I joined an extremist religious sect when I was 18. It consumed my life and finances and alienated me from my family, and it was exhausting. There was plenty of abuse on the inside. It took me six years to leave and I had no way of adjusting to the real world. I also found myself stuck in an unhappy church-sanctioned marriage I had to get rid of. Hard as it was, ultimately it taught me that I am responsible for my own happiness and that you shouldn’t give up your rights and freedom to others willy-nilly.
8. How has music impacted your life?
Well I married a professional drummer, so it meant I’ve wasted countless weekends sitting in smoke-filled backstage rooms. Music is not glamorous for me, it’s not a passion.
9. What do you have in stock for the future of your blog?
I will keep doing it until it stops being enjoyable for people. That’s about as far as plans go. I don’t want to do it for money or fame. I like making people snicker and that’s how I want it to stay.
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Essie. Keep up the great work.
If you know of an interesting blogger/author that we should interview for the Behind the Blogs series, or if YOU are that blogger, send me an email at David [at] Scribnia.com
Posted by: David Spinks - 2 June 2010 / 0:19
Yesterday, WordPress.com announced a new feature that will allow you to “Like” blog posts, and “reblog” them on your own blog.
For those of you who use tumblr, you already know how this works.
The reblog is one of the functions that makes tumblr extra social. If someone posts something that you really like, you can repost it on your own feed, automatically giving credit to the originator, and allowing you to add your own comments.
The WordPress feature looks pretty similar.
As you can see in the image below, it gives you the option to change the title and add your own comments, without changing the original content. If you maintain multiple blogs, you can also choose which one you’d like the post to go to.
It will also automatically add the tags that the original poster placed on the post, but you do have the option to change them.
The like function is also new. By clicking “like”, the post will be added to a list of “Posts I Like“.
Some things to note:
- No, this won’t work with the facebook like button, or any other social platform…at least not yet.
- You have to like a post in order to reblog it.
- You have to be looking at an individual post page (rather than the home page) in order to like/reblog it.
- Once you like a post, you can reblog it from the list of “Posts I Like” at any time.
- You can search through all the posts you’ve liked.
- You can’t edit the original content when you reblog it, but if you go in and edit that post after you post it, you can edit everything.
If you want to see what the reblogged posts look like, I added one on my personal blog here. Essentially, it puts the content from the original post in the usual quote format, and adds a link at the bottom.
What do you think of the new features? Will it just add more noise? Or reduce the amount of content theft in the blogosphere?
In a clear move to replicate the tumblr experience, is wordpress getting away from their core function?
Share your thoughts…
These new features are only available for the free WordPress.com platform, not the self hosted WordPress.org.
All photos in this post are from the wordpress.com blog.
Posted by: David Spinks - 14 April 2010 / 10:04
Welcome to the brand spankin new Scribnia!
Where have we been? Well, for the past year or so, our team has been working around the clock, revamping the entire site and making it better. Aside from a whole new look and feel, we’ve added some sweet new features.
Whether you’re a blogger, columnist, an online reader, or a company looking for the best writers in your niche, Scribnia can help.
So what’s new at Scribnia? Aside from a brand new design and interface….
1. Improved: Find the Niche Writers for You
Browsing is still the best way to find writers on Scribnia since it allows you to filter using our context ratings. Looking for a great liberal politics writer? Or maybe you’re looking for a wine blogger that focuses on international wines? You can browse using these different contexts for every category. See on the right of the following image, the context ratings for marketing and media writers:
We’ve also improved our search functionality. You can now search by keyword, writer name, publication name, or user name.
2. Integrate Scribnia with your Blog
So…we’ve added a few new widgets. We added a “Bloggeroll” widget that automatically shows the writers you’re reading. We’ve also added an “I love these writers” and “I hate these writers” which is a blogroll of sorts, that automatically shows the writers that you love or hate, based on the reviews that you write.
The biggest new widget, our pride and joy, is the “Review” widget. This widget allows your readers to read and write reviews of you right from your blog. They don’t even have to leave your site! This widget will give new readers that come to your blog a chance to hear the opinions of your most loyal readers. It will also encourage your readers to review you, which will help your ranking in Scribnia, and will in turn drive more traffic back to your site. Try it out!
k. moving on…
3. Earn Badges for Being Sweet
You can now earn badges to show your accomplishments on the site. When you write great reviews, add new writers to the site, recommend great writers to your friends and more…you can earn badges. Why? …uhm… because social equity is more valuable than cash… Here’s what a few of them look like (you can view all the badges here):
4. Bring Your Crew…
Everything is more fun when your friends are doing it too. You can now integrate Scribnia with your other networks (twitter, facebook, etc…), find out which of your friends are already here, and invite the ones that aren’t. Oh wait…we didn’t update that feature yet…crap. Come back in a week.
5. Recommend Writers to Friends
Just click on the “recommend to a friend” button on any writer page, choose the user you’d like to recommend the writer to, and Voila! The writer will appear in that user’s recommendations page. It’s easier than ever to share and support the writers you love.
6. The Scribnia60… Coming soon (=
Only the greatest writers will make it to the Scribnia60…and like pretty much everything else on Scribnia, it will be 100% reader generated. Hint: You need to get a lot of reviews to qualify for the Scribnia60.
If you’re new to Scribnia, welcome. If you’re returning after trying the beta, welcome back. Check it out, we hope you enjoy your stay, and of course if you have any feedback, you can still find the feedback button at the bottom right corner of your browser window.
Marc, Saad and David
The Scribnia Team
Posted by: David Spinks - 27 November 2009 / 8:08
This post is part of the Guest Blog Grand Tour over at Life Without Pants – an epic two-month journey of over 50 guest posts. Want to learn more about Matt Cheuvront and see how far the rabbit hole goes? Subscribe to the Life Without Pants RSS feed and keep in touch!
When it came to reading, as a kid, I always looked for the easy way out. Every time we had assigned reading – the first thing to do was to go check the local video store in hopes that someone else hadn’t already rented the movie. I must have watched the 1998 adaptation of Great Expectations starring Ethan Hawke & Gwyneth Paltrow (which in hindsight had very few similarities to the Dickens classic) at least 10 times throughout high school.
Call me lazy – because that’s exactly what I was.
Blogging has allowed those kids who were always looking for the easy way out when it came to reading the ability to digest information in small bites. We no longer have to read an 800 page Dickens novel at a time, with our lovely Google Reader, we can read about 50 completely different topics with the click of a mouse – then comment, discuss, and interact with other like-minded readers.
But here comes video – doing what it can to bring us back to those lazy childhood days; although this time, it might not be such a bad thing.
Video blogging is on the rise. From the top down, video is being used as THE new way to share thoughts and ideas. If you take a look through the Archives of Life Without Pants, you’ll see I’ve done a lot with video over the past several months. The question is, does video ENHANCE traditional
blogging, or will it be responsible for its slow and painful demise?
I asked that question to some folks in my Twitter community, and got some interesting responses. The general consensus? Video lowers barriers, allows for the targeting of wider audiences, easy sharing, and can act to thoroughly enhance a blogging experience. But video blogging is not without its obstacles.
So I turn the question to you. What obstacles and challenges do you see with “vlogging”? How do you use video on your own blog or website? Do you think video will be responsible for the death of traditional blogging?
Posted by: David Spinks - 7 October 2009 / 10:05
If you haven’t already read up on the new FTC guidelines, you can find the official announcement here. This line from the announcement explains the guidelines in a nutshell:
“…advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.”
If you don’t disclose such an arrangement, you can be fined up to $11,000.
Chuck Hemann of Dix & Eaton, Sonny Gill and I have collaborated on this post to take a look at the possible effects of these new guidelines.
Will the new guidelines be effective?
- “Goal is to Educate” sounds like we don’t know how to stop you, but we want you to know it’s wrong. The guilt factor will only go so far. Everyone already knows it’s wrong…some just don’t care and this probably won’t change anything.
- Likely to set an example. Once/if a prominent blogger is fined by the FTC for non-disclosure, it will resonate deeply within the blogosphere and others will be sure not to be caught in that situation. Though, if making an example of a few didn’t work for preventing music pirating, will it work for this?
- “[and] if somebody reports violations then we might look at individual cases…” So even if someone reports a blogger, the may or may not look into it.
If it is effective, what are the pros?
- Lend credibility to the industry. It will not entirely eliminate “blogola,” but when a blogger discloses a material connection with a company or its products it allows the consumer to interpret the information with all of the facts in hand.
- Blogging will become reliable. Removing the bloggers that aren’t honest will build more respect for blogging as a whole, and bloggers will be considered more reliable.
- Social media as a whole will become more reliable. These guidelines apply to facebook and twitter as well.
- Some oversight is good. Anybody that’s been around the block will tell you that too much regulation stifles growth while not enough leads to corruption. The FTC is searching for the appropriate balance that will help all.
- Adds transparency. Social media prides itself on transparency, yet there is the very real possibility that we (the readers) are unaware of material connections. This helps eliminate that “wall.”
What are the cons?
- Unclear and unreasonable outside of blogging. The guidelines are now said to include both facebook and twitter. For blogs, disclosing is easy, but how do you disclose sponsorship when you become a fan of a brand on facebook?
- Focus on education. This leaves a very a blurry line for bloggers who get reported for non-disclosure, giving them a case for just a slap on the hand because of the lack specifics & guidelines and ‘education phase’.
- Admittance that enforcement is not possible – even for 1,000 blogs. Bloggers who know that they’re not being watched by the FTC may continue to push the envelope, regardless of this ruling.
What do you think? Will the new guidelines be effective and what will their impact be?
UPDATE: The FTC responded to some blogger complaints, and clarified that there is in fact NO $11,000 fine for failure to disclose. The FTC is targeting the brands that are initiating the sponsorships and placing a focus on education rather than enforcement.
Chuck Hemann is the Manager of Research and Online Reputation at Dix & Eaton, a communications consultancy with specialized expertise in social media strategies and tools. You can connect with Chuck on Twitter or at his blog on PR measurement.
Sonny Gill is an experienced online marketing professional with a focus in Social Media with a background in building effective social media & community strategies, brand monitoring/management, blogging and content creation. You can connect with Sonny on Twitter or at his blog.
Posted by: David Spinks - 6 July 2009 / 11:40
I don’t think blogging is dead, I think that there is less focus on the actual blog content and more focus on the blogger. Hearing the blogger’s voice is no longer enough. We now want to read, see, and understand the blogger. Many are turning to the new upcoming trend in “lifestreaming” where in concept, you are sharing your life, “streaming” your experiences and thoughts online.
Blogging is still an integral aspect of content sharing on the internet…it’s just being tied in with other content forms.
There are a number of ways for one to express themselves online. Some will choose to stick to blogging, some to video, some to microblogging, some to photo, etc… Blogging seemed to be the most popular in the past. Now it’s just sharing the spotlight.
The value of a blogger or author transcends that of their blog or book. This is one of the main reasons for the creation of Scribnia. Taking a look at the author, rather than the content. Of course the perception of a blogger is often focused on the content that they produce, but in my experience here I’ve found something very interesting…
When users rate authors on Scribnia, they often rate them on a lot more than their content. Reviews often mention how well the blogger engages with their community, their value on twitter and other tools, their personal experiences with the author…their content, actions, personality, and more are all taken into account.
It seems…we care more about who’s behind the blog than the blog itself (A big inspiration for the “behind the blog” series we recently started).
The blog is the content. We used to focus on the content. Now we are more concerned with the content-creator…and you can’t have a content-creator without content.
There will be a place for blogging for years to come.