Jane Wishes Her Readers a Happy Holiday
Jane Markets to Women Who Shop Online

(Extra) Smart Man Online: Paul Chaney

We feel extraordinarily lucky to bring this outstanding interview to you today, dear readers. Jane has been so busy with business planning, client needs, and holiday plans, our interview day crept up on us unawares. We contacted our scheduled interviewee...but, he, too, must be off celebrating and tending to other things as he has not returned our emails, yet. This led us to ask a very good friend, someone we have come to admire, and who writes an excellent blog of his own, Paul Chaney of Radiant Marketing Group, if he would step up to the plate.

What joy when he happily agreed to participate. And...what wonderful information he brings on our favorite method of communication these days...blogging, itself! We invite you to sit back, get comfy, and read on...

Lip-sticking: We feel a close bond to Radiant Marketing, since we, too, only started blogging earlier this year. You've been very open to your readers about your attraction to blogging, and how it's changed your professional world. One word you've used is 'addictive'. We agree, blogging can take over your life...so, why do YOU think blogging is so addictive?

Paul: I have an addictive personality. No, that's not really it. :-) Two reasons come to mind. I've always had a bent toward writing, yet found most writing assignments to be too labor intensive, requiring lots of research and mastery of the English language. The writing style was typically more formal in tone too.

I'm more of a shoot from the hip commentator, yet getting a regular column where I had opportunity to express my views unabated was next to impossible. In other words, I didn't like having to write in a more formal tone, and getting my stuff published was always a bit of a challenge.

Blogging opened up an entirely new world for me. It gave me the ability to write in a style that suited me, allowing me to talk about things that ignited my passions. And, it gave me the ability to self-publish. No longer did I have to pitch my articles to editors. I found the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it. Add to that the ego-gratification that came from the occasional comments and feedback I would get along with a small, but growing readership.

Blogging has helped me hone my writing skills, and really zone in on where my passions and interests lay.

Lip-sticking: One of the things Jane likes most about your blog, Radiant Marketing Group, is its colors. When we read your posts, we always feel like it's a sunny day outside. Do you have any advice to new bloggers on color; scheme or blog layout? Perhaps you would share your thoughts on your new blogging tool...Squarespace.

Paul: Early in my web design days I became a devotee of the brilliant designer Roger Black. His mantra was that everything should be black and white with red as the highlight color. Practically everything I did used that color scheme, or variations on it. When I decided on the company name (I had an epiphany actually) and the logo which used a sunrise icon, red seemed too strong a color. I read that orange was becoming an in-vogue color, and I liked the look of Seth Godin's blog, which made use of orange. So, I used it as my color du jour. I think the choice of color is a very personal one.

From a practical standpoint I think it needs to reflect the content. For example, if you're writing a politically-inspired blog, perhaps patriotic colors make sense. If your blog is oriented to the fashion industry, then a color scheme that might be in vogue in the fashion world would be a good choice.

One designer I know suggested that observing nature the world around you - looking for color combinations is a good idea. Also, I think its a good idea to find a color scheme software program that uses websafe colors and suggests color combinations. One online version that's free to use is Color Schemer

Anthony Casalena, the 22 year-old wonder boy CEO of SquareSpace had begun reading my blog posts and liking them. He was about to start a SquareSpace blog and wanted to reach the business community, particularly small business readers.

He invited me to write for his blog, the one caveat being that I transition to his platform. I gladly obliged and am now engaged in that process. I'm finding it largely an easy thing to do, but have run up on a couple of technology hoops I've not been able to overcome. Anthony is helping me through those. In the long run it will be helpful to him as well, as he needed to rethink some of the setup process, in my opinion.

I like SquareSpace because it's not just a blog platform. You can build your entire website in it with the blog taking a lead role as the index page, or as a sidebar item.

Lip-sticking: In your December 18th post, you cited the future of advertising. Could you share that with our readers as we find it quite insightful?

Paul: Don't credit me. I was only citing notes from a talk Pheedo.com's Chief Marketing Officer Bill Flitter gave at a recent blogging conference. Basically, the consumer is in the driver's seat.

With the advent of technologies like Tivo and podcasting, people can time-shift the consumpton of information to fit their schedule. And, they can do so without the disruption caused by commercial messages.

To reflect on what the Cluetrain gang said, if markets are conversations, then we have to get people talking. Good old word-of-mouth has been and always will be the best form of advertising. People buy a product because their neighbor recommended it. They attend a church or synagogue because a friend invited them. They choose a piano teacher based on the advice of a co-worker, and on and on.

Enter Social Networking applications like blogs, wikis, and online communities. They enable conversation and give it global scale.

As Bill mentioned, with RSS (the next killer app of the web) rather than hunting and gathering for information, we bring the web to us, organized in a way that is both manageable and palatable.

Any business that doesn't see this is living in the dark ages, much like the blacksmith at the turn of the 20th century who paid little attention to the horseless carriage.

Lip-sticking: We know you're interested in forming a Blog Chamber of Commerce, or a Bloggers Professional Organization. First, can you give readers more of a background on these ideas, and second, can you explain their differences?

Paul: The idea of a Business Blogging Chamber of Commerce originated with Wayne Hurlbert. I had a similar idea brewing at the same time, a Business Bloggers Association.

More recently, my focus has narrowed to what I'm calling the Professional Bloggers Association. It would be targeted to two groups of bloggers. The first group being busines blog consultants, who work with businesses helping them incorporate blogs into their marketing communications.

The second group represent what I consider to be a burgeoning career path, that being the professional blog writer. That's someone, either a freelancer or company employee, who receives a sizable portion of their income from blogging. Christine Halverson at Stonyfield Farms is a perfect example of this. Jeremy Wright, who auctioned his services on Ebay is another prime example.

Many people are prognosticating that 2005 will indeed be the Year of the Blog. That being the case, a group like this is well-timed. It can promote the cause of professional blogging to the business world, helping give the industry more visibility and prominence.

Lip-sticking: We think our readers should know that you're a true gentleman. You came through for us in a pinch...even called us damsels in distress (which we were)...so, blush, blush, where does your inherent charm come from?

Paul: Quite simply, my mama raised me right! :-) I was taught to be courteous and considerate of others. Plus, I'm from the south, so a little bit of southern hospitality and genteel manner shows through every now and again.

Lip-sticking: Can you bottle it for us to pass around...we have a good friend who needs a knight in shining armor.

Paul: Ummm. . .I've heard researchers are still experimenting with human cloning. Yuck, yuck.

Lip-sticking: It's holiday time. Blogs all over the net, including yours, are displaying holiday graphics and happy greetings. This leads us to ask, are you aware of the stats coming out that show online shopping is up 30% from last year, and may go higher before the season is out? All of which leads us to one of our favorite questions...do you shop online? If so, what kinds of things do you buy online? And why?

Paul: I have read those numbers, and am happy to see them. I do purchase items online, mostly books from Amazon.com, but occasionally I'll buy flowers or a gift item. I've done no Christmas shopping at this point though, so the online route will be out of the question for me at this late date I imagine.

Lip-sticking: Back to blogging...see, we agree it's addictive!...the talk all over the Web is that blogging is either the greatest new marketing/sales/communication tool since HTML, or that it's just a flash in the pan and who cares anyway. When folks ask you WHAT blogging is...what do you say? Then, when they ask WHY they should blog, what do you say?

Paul: What I DON'T tell them is that blogs are an online journal or personal diary. I can't stand that overly-used, banal definition. (hear, hear!)

Since my approach to blogging is from a business perspective, I focus first on the technical aspects. I tell people that a blog is a technology tool that allows anyone to publish to the web instantly and easily. It is a content management system in essence. As such it can become whatever the blogger wants it to be from a content standpoint. It can as easily be a tool to update news and information about a company as it is to express the CEO's point of view.

I do tell them that, traditionally, blogs have been used by those wishing to express their personal opinions - usually strong ones - about a given topic, and that bloggers tend to be people who are very passionate about the topic on which they write.

As to why they should blog, there are a panoply of reasons, not the least of which is that Google loves blogs and will often rank them highly in search engine returns. I continue to be amazed at how high my own blog ranks for a number of keyword phrases.

Blogs also belie the notion that the writer is an expert in his field, even a thought leader, whether or not that's the truth! Nevertheless, blogs position the writer as an industry leader.

Blogs put a human face on communications. Think about it, when you think of McDonald's Corporation, who comes to mind? If you're old enough to remember, perhaps the name Ray Kroc does. Most likely, however, the first person you think of is Ronald McDonald!

Maybe Ronald needs to start blogging, but maybe so does the CEO of the company.

Lip-sticking: How many blogs do you follow? (we won't say 'read' because that's a relative term...it's possible to follow 200 blogs and only read 50 at a time...wouldn't you agree?). Do you read blogs that are out of your professional realm...in other words, do you read or follow any of the purely journalistic blogs?

Paul: I read a number of them, but not in the triple digits. Because time is such a precious commodity nowadays, I tend to focus on those that relate directly or indirectly to my industry. While that might make Paul a dull boy, it's really all I have time for at the moment.

Lip-sticking: The Blog Business Summit is next month. We know you're a sponsor. Tell our readers about it.

Paul: The Blog Business Summit, in my opinion, is THE blog conference for 2005 and beyond. It has the potential to have a cataclysmic and profound effect on the future of business blogging. Unlike the all-too-esoteric and useless Bloggercon, they are dealing with the subject of blogging from a practical, no-nonsense perspective. A-list bloggers are featured speakers and the sessions won't waste anyone's time.

Having said that, one conference is not going to cut it. They will have to take the show on the road to reach as many interested parties as possible. At this stage of the game, conferences like that are going to appeal to warm prospects, people for whom blogging has become more than just a curiosity (for the most part anyway).

It's a conference of early adopters informing early majority businesspeople of the advantages of blogging.

It should have broad-based appeal too, not just to IT guys. Anyone who attends should be able to go back home and implement a blogging strategy in their company with little problem. I mention early adopters and early majority. That's where we are right now, in my opinion, at the juncture of where the baton is is being passed from one to the other. When early majority folks embrace it, blogging will become mainstream.

Lip-sticking: What parting words do you have for 2004, re: blogging; marketing and/or doing business on the web?

Pchaney

Paul: In a post earlier this year I said that 2004 was the Year of the Blog. Upon reflection, that conjecture was a bit premature. (Of course, it's better than the guy who said 2003 was the year.)

2004 was a transitional year for blogging. The most often requested definition for the Mirriam-Webster online dictionary was the word blog. That indicates a growing awareness, but still general lack of understanding of the medium. Circa 2005, that will change.

The fact that Time Magazine awarded a new honor, Blog of the Year, is further evidence the tipping point is nearing.

All-in-all, I'd say 2004 was kind to bloggers. I know it was to me, because I've met so many new friends through it, including you!

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In a nutshell, dear reader, Paul has it right. Business blogging is NOT journaling...it's communicating, networking, and putting a personal face on your business.

What's not to like about that?

Comments

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Toby

Thanks Yvonne for bringing us another great interview...with one of the smart, "gentlemen" of the blog world.

Wayne Hurlbert

Another great interview with a another A-list person, which is more important than any other A-list, in my opinion.

I recommend Paul's blog to everyone. It's a great business blog by any standard.

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