Tag Archives: Blogs

Real Estate, Restaurants and the Delicious ‘Bitter’ — A Reader Shares His Favorite Local Blogs

A reader sent this handy list of Atlanta blogs he reads daily. I liked it so much that I want to share it — and ask you to let me know about other good blogs or social media accounts in and around metro Atlanta, or your own hometown. Shoot an email or leave a comment! Thanks.

Blog Name URL Notes
Curbed Atlanta http://atlanta.curbed.com/ Great real estate general interest site. Syndicate of the national site, but very up on development news and events in the community.
Eater Atlanta http://atlanta.eater.com/ Curbed’s sister site. Very good for restaurant openings, etc. Eater 38 directory is my go-to for restaurant recommendations to friends.
Architecture Tourist http://architecturetourist.blogspot.com/ This is probably my favorite site. He’s a great writer with an excellent eye. While his focus is ostensibly about  buildings and architecture, many times he makes poignant commentary on Atlanta, its history and its challenges and opportunities.
ATL Urbanist http://atlurbanist.tumblr.com/ Always worth a look and I love his commitment to and advocacy of downtown.
Sidewalk Radio http://sidewalkradio.com/ This is a podcast that also has a website cultivated by Gene Kansas, a local developer/broker focused on pedestrian-scale commercial  real estate.
Bitter Southerner http://bittersoutherner.com/ This is an online magazine founded and edited by a friend, Chuck Reece. Great stories about the new/developing/emerging/blossoming South. Really excellent writing.
Creative Loafing – Fresh Loaf http://clatl.com/blogs/freshloaf/ This is Creative Loafing’s news blog. While their slant is a little predictable, their coverage is generally excellent. Thomas Wheatley, their editor, is great – finds time and space for issues that otherwise completely uncovered.
Arts ATL http://www.artsatl.com/ Good arts news and events. I love their local architecture critiques.
Atlanta Reddit Page http://www.reddit.com/r/Atlanta/ Read primarily for the comments – although a little scatter-brained (as you would expect) sometimes the insights into living in Atlanta can make it worth it.
Atlanta Time Machine http://www.atlantatimemachine.com/ Actually I changed my mind, this is my favorite. It’s not update much as he was run over in a tragic accident a few months ago… read more about it on the Atlanta Reddit page. WARNING – BLACK HOLE OF TIME – I could literally spend a whole day on this website.
Midtown Archive http://themidtownarchive.tumblr.com/ Great but rarely updated site. Still, I love what he is able to find.
What Now Atlanta? http://www.whatnowatlanta.com/ Restaurant and retail openings and closings by sassy gay boy. Oh – and failing restaurant inspections!

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11 Ways I’m Terrible at Writing Blog Titles!

53564334Among the key lessons I’ve learned about blogging is the importance of writing a great title. (Or is it a headline? Either one, I guess.)

I’ve written blog posts here that I thought would burn up my page-view counter … and then… crickets.

I can’t say why for sure, of course. But it’s occurred to me that my titles need some work. I looked around the blogosphere for tips, and analyzed what I was doing vs. what worked and didn’t work. Here are 11 tips I’ve found or learned on my own.

If you’re reading this, maybe that means I’m catching on, right? Send me more. I need all the help I can get!

  1. Use numbers in titles. For examples, the one on this post… Content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi says using two numbers is even better. I tried this recently with How 5 Friends Reinvented Themselves, and 6 Resources on How You Can, Too. The results were good, but not great. (What gives, Joe?)
  2. Controversy sells. Maybe, but I’m uncomfortable with being deliberately provocative. Should I have titled this post, 7 Reasons Why You’re Wrong to Focus on Titles? I could have put “suck” in this title, but that’s borderline vulgar, isn’t it? My mother reads this. Damn it.
  3. Use keywords if you can, but don’t be obnoxious about it. Try to optimize for SEO.
  4. Keep it tight and punchy, with bold words and maybe even a little attitude.
  5. Find the right length to maximize on the channels you use to share. Stop at least 10 characters short of Twitter’s 140-character limit so it’s easy for followers to retweet you. “I try to shoot for 70 characters or less in my titles so they don’t get cut off in most emails and search engine results,” says Corey Eridon of hubspot.com.
  6. Some punctuation is OK, like question marks and even exclamation points, which I usually hate! (I double-dipped on this one: Does Exercise Make You More Creative? Go Take a Walk and Let Us Know!) More problematic are special characters like @ and #.
  7. Be topical. I had success with this (‘The Normal Heart’ and How a Story Evolves) because I wrote it the week “The Normal Heart” debuted and was receiving media attention. It wouldn’t have worked months before or later. 
  8. Start with the title in mind and then write to it. This seemed counter-intuitive to me at first. But I caught on pretty quickly, like with this one, 11 Ways to Keep Balance in Your Life.
  9. Be Clear about What You’re Offering. This was one of my best performers: 16 Easy Ways to Write Better.
  10. A blog post is not a newspaper article. I used to write headlines for a living, and I was good at it. But this is not that.
  11. Odd numbers are better than even. So they say…

How’d I do? Here’s a link to a dozen more resources on writing better titles. Check ‘em out.

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6 Most Popular Blog Posts: What to Learn from the Numbers

Sandi Parker (center), Manager, Creative & Marketing for Jamestown Properties, leads guests through the tour.

This is where the main food court will be inside Ponce City Market

It’s always fun to look at readership numbers for items posted online. It’s also important, since we can consider what “works” and what doesn’t when creating more content and telling more stories.

“If you don’t know what your most popular content is, then how are you going to create more of it?” asks blogging expert Jeff Bullas.

And WordPress, the platform on which I publish this blog, provides helpful stats that show how many page views each piece of content gets.

I’ve been blogging here for six months, so it seems like a good time to look for myself. I won’t bore you with the details, but here are my top six posts.

1. Inside Look: Preview Pictures from Ponce City Market. It’s a big, local story with lots of interest among Atlantans — and I got to take lots of photos when I went on a tour of the mixed-use development project. I posted 13, and each time someone clicked on an individual photo to enlarge it, that added another page view to the tally.

2. Listen Up! An Ex-Reporter Gives 12 Easy Ways to Get More Information from Anyone. I spent very little time on this one. It was just me blabbing, with a silly meme and no photos. Its viral success and the amount of comments I received shocked me, so I tried a sequel — which bombed.

Doug Brooks, Rusty Wolf, Sophie, three kids, gay, gay dads, gay parents, gay family, families, mouths of babes, children of gay, well adjusted, atlanta, georgia

Doug Brooks, left, and Rusty Wolf with their children

3. Short and (Very) Sweet. This is one of the first items I posted and it still gets page views from web searches about gay parents. I couldn’t be happier about that. Go ahead and click here to see what little Sophie has to say when asked a no-nonsense question.

4. A Gay Husband in Georgia Gets a Military ID Card. Attorney and veteran Jeff Cleghorn helped overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. So when I saw his brief Facebook post about the joy he and his husband experienced recently, I had to get more information to share here.

5. What’s His Story: The Run Commuter Gets to Work on Foot. When Atlantan Josh Woiderski started running to work a few years ago, he had no idea where it would take him. His blog, theruncommuter.com, caught on in other cities and other countries, and brought him national media attention and even an income stream. Organic genius.

Nick and Steven Carse of The King of Pops

Nick and Steven Carse of The King of Pops

6. 9 Business & Marketing Tips from Atlanta’s King of Pops. Another popular local story with high interest and plenty of photo opps. Hmm… I’m noticing some themes here…

And what’s not working for me? Wordless Wednesdays, the photo-only feature a blogging friend suggested I try. I enjoy it, but maybe I can save it for when I have something special, huh?

Let me know what you think I should take from this. And if you’re a blogger or web producer and you don’t already know your most popular pieces, find out now and see what you can learn about your  audience. The power of the web is ours only if we use it.

Should You Start Blogging? 7 Questions to Help You Decide

Are you thinking of starting a blog but unsure if you’re writer enough for the job?

I have a friend who’s a brilliant professional, with multiple advanced degrees and an impressive job that make him an expert in his field. He wants to start a blog but has reservations, since he’s not a writer. Here’s a short, multiple-choice quiz to help folks like him get started.

1. What are you writing about?
a)     Your profession
b)    Customers
c)     A hobby
d)    Anything you feel like at any time, so that no one will ever know what to expect from you

2.  Why are you blogging?
a)     To market yourself
b)    To express yourself
c)     To connect with other people who like what you like
d)    To become a rich and famous writer

3. Who’s your audience?
a)     Family & friends
b)    Colleagues
c)     Potential clients
d)    Your international fan club

4. What’s holding you back?
a)     Fear that you’ll be bad
b)    The ghost of your 10th grade composition teacher
c)     Nothing – you’ve written the first sentence 15, 16 times… without getting to the second sentence.
d)    You forgot your answers to the first three questions

5.  Write like you’re…
a)     Scared to death
b)    Going to be a while
c)     Smarty McSmartypants
d)    Talking to a friend or an interested peer who doesn’t have all day

6.     What do you have that Shakespeare, Hemingway and even Gwyneth Paltrow couldn’t ever have?
a)     Your experiences
b)    Your opinions
c)     Your voice
d)    Your original AOL email address

7.     Blogging is a great way for new writers to start because…?
a)     The only pressure is from yourself
b)    Posts can be short, unconventional, interactive
c)     Blogging encourages you to write often
d)    You can communicate easily with other bloggers, readers and people on social media

The short answer to all your questions: If you want to write, just do it.

Was this helpful? Reply at top with feedback or your own tips.

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A #Twitter Tale, with Tips: How One Newbie Went from Zero to 5,000 Followers in Just a Few Months

This is an encouraging story about a) how to gain Twitter followers and b) the pleasant social aspects of social media that come up when we actually engage with each other. On Saturday, I saw a tweet from Sushant Misra (@treptalks) that shared his excitement about amassing 5,000 followers. I tweeted my congratulations, noting that, as a (more or less) newcomer to the Twitter scene, I’m still short of one-tenth of that amount. Sunday, Sushant sent me a direct message saying that I had inspired him to write an entry on his blog, which focuses on digital entrepreneurship. I’m reblogging it here. It’s full of useful information and perspective and contagious enthusiasm about his Twitter growthAnd I love how this illustrates the “social” aspect of “social media” — Sushant and I have never met or exchanged any comments before this. Enjoy! And, thanks, Sushant.

FOCUS + How I got 5k Twitter followers (real world case study)…

Sushant Misra, blog, treptalks.com, trep, talks, entrepreneur, blogging, twitter, 5000 followers, followers, newbie

Sushant Misra

Last night I reached 5000 followers on Twitter. Not a huge accomplishment but still I sent out a little celebratory tweet.

After a little bit, I received a DM (direct message) on Twitter from a fellow tweeter….I have obscured the identity for privacy purposes: “That’s great about the 5,000 followers. I’m struggling to top 500. Can’t even imagine 10X that many! Congrats.”

And this really got me thinking.

When I started Trep Talks a few months ago, I had no background in social media (I mean zero, none whatsoever). Previous to this, I thought it to be a waste of time. Obviously, now I know that was an error in thinking.

But really when I started 5-6 months ago, social media just seemed like a foreign language to me. And I had the EXACT same thinking as the fellow tweeter above. I used to be in awe and wonder of how some people (especially people like Gary Vaynerchuk) are able to engage so many people and create huge followings. They surely must have some special gifts and talents.

But now I am much more comfortable with the language of Twitter and how it works. When I read that message last night, I thought to myself, I can show this person a thing or two that would allow him to gain targeted followers quickly.

The difference that made the difference was that I decided to FOCUS. (Before I go on any further, I must mention that I am still a newbie when it comes to Facebook and Google Plus but now that I am much more comfortable with Twitter and getting results on it, I am beginning to focus on Facebook and learn the platform now.)

I knew I was starting from ZERO so I decided to choose 1 platform (Twitter) and decided to Focus. The results did not come right away, in fact I think I probably gained 70% of my followers in the last couple of months.

I had to try different things to see what works and what doesn’t. For a couple of months I was joining Twitter Chats 3-4 hours per weeks and asking questions from other influencers. Paid attention to what kinds of tweets got the most favourites and retweets (for example, I noticed that when I mentioned revenue numbers of the guests I was interviewing, that got a lot of favourites and retweets).

I discovered things like “5 daily suggested tweets” by Buffer that usually tend to get a tons of engagement and you can schedule them with one click. In fact that is the first things I do everyday.

I discovered Triberr which is great platform to build relationships with fellow influencers and for one-click sharing great ready-made content.

I also discovered some very effective third party tools like Hootsuite and Just Unfollow that allow you to schedule tweets and gain targeted followers.

And I also discovered that none of the above will work if you are NOT bringing your personality, heart, and true self to the table and really have a desire to connect with your audience.

What seemed like a mystery a few months ago, is no longer a mystery because I decided to focus, try different things, and learn along the way.

I am now beginning to do the same for Facebook….hopefully, I will have some lessons to share in a few months. I am currently doing the same things with newsletters (including this one), trying out different things to see what works and what doesn’t. It is not easy but it is possible if you are willing to pay your dues.

— See more at treptalks.com

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Why We Should Remember the Blinking Twelve

VCR, old VCR, blinking 12, blinking 12:00, blinking twelve

Old VCRs: always 12 o’clock

The early VCRs were so difficult to program that, for years, many living rooms had an illuminated “12:00” flashing from the new toy atop the TV. And ever since the Internet started revolutionizing media and communications, I’ve kept that image in mind. I don’t ever want to be so befuddled by helpful new technology that I end up like, well… like a whole generation of American dads circa 1980.

So I considered naming this blog TheBlinkingTwelve or some variation. I thought I was being clever.

Ha. Good thing I Googled it first. Turns out it’s such a good metaphor that it’s entered the lexicon. There’s even a Wikipedia page:

The blinking twelve problem is a term used in Software Design. It usually refers to features in software which are unusable due to the complexity of the user interface to use them. … The usage emanates from the ‘clock’ feature provided on many VCR‘s … found complicated by most users.

And from urbandictionary.com:

blinking 12 generation

The typically 50+ year old individuals who have a blinking 12:00 on their VCR. These people frequently have difficulty understanding and using anything electronic or computer related. If they do use such devices, it will normally be only for exactly their use, no more.

Wait – what’s that, you ask? What’s a “VCR,” anyway…?

Funny, as flummoxed as my late father was by the VCR, my mother is right on board with the Apple generation 30 years later – iPhone, iPad, iTunes, the whole thing. I love that she loves it all.  There’s no “blinking twelve” in her house.

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Pin It… Pin It Good: Making the Most of Pinterest

This is my first reblog — a helpful piece on how Pinterest can be useful to bloggers.

The Daily Post

We’ve talked Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. But for many blogs, the biggest source of traffic from a social network isn’t any of those: it’s Pinterest.

If you’ve eschewed Pinterest because you don’t care about ombre cakes or repurposing wooden pallets for home decor use, you might be missing out on a huge audience for your blog (and some delicious cake). Today, we’ll push past the inspirational quotes with beautiful typography, turn left at the green smoothies, and explore whether Pinterest is a good match for your blog.

View original post 953 more words

Tell ‘Em a Story, Give ‘Em Good Content

“Storytelling” and “content” are buzzwords in business communications, with a lot of articles and studies flooding the blogosphere. Some of it seems obvious (people are more engaged by stories, information with emotional content and resonance, rather than by mere facts or reasoning). Some of it seems a bit mushy – “content” might mean one thing to a marketer, another to someone in employee comms and several other things to people who produce or manage it.

Just today, my Twitter feed brought up two articles making a connection between storytelling and brain function.

As presenters we want people to pay attention, be engaged and remember the message. The key to doing that? Science now says it involves storytelling: Stories stimulate emotions, which may be the key to better learning, attention, memory and decision making.

That’s from an article headlined The Science Behind Storytelling — and Why It Matters on slideshare.  A Forbes article touts the cognitive benefits of reading long-form narrative, like novels.

And this headline/subhead combination from the WSJ brought it home: To Persuade People, Tell Them a Story; Narrative Is a Powerful Way to Get a Message Across.

Finally, Search Engine Journal offers this intriguing post: Leading Experts Predict The Content Marketing Trends for 2014.

We all want to persuade audiences, and storytelling and content will continue to be more important in business in 2014.  Effective storytelling needs good storytellers, who know what a good story is (and isn’t), who can gather information, break it down and present it again in ways that  matter to selected audiences. To have a good story, you need good content, yes — but you also have to know how to present it, to whom and why.

Fun stuff to think about and to tackle in our work, whatever kind of stories we tell.

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