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Blog Out Loud's 10 Favorite Reasons To Blog
2009 Wrap Up

When we thought of the idea for Blog Out Loud, we really didn't know how it would go. Our goal - let's do one event to inspire creative people and see if people enjoy it. Six months, four offline events, a blog, webisodes, a network, workshops and many new e-friends and real friends, we are thrilled to see this community grow! As the 2010 is arriving (yay!), I wanted to share my ten favorite reasons to blog that I learned and appreciated in 2009.

1 :: connecting to community
One of my favorite things about blogging is the community. The blogosphere is a real thing that is fluid and constantly evolving and people just want to connect to each other and share similar values and experiences.

2 :: reflecting and rethinking how I look at my own brand
I always love living in small space and blogging about them has actually allowed me to see certain ideas, resources and solutions in a new light. I also can now define certain design styles that I love but hadn't really realized before I started blogging about them often.

3 :: meeting amazing like-minded people online and in real life
Like connecting online, blogging has allowed me to meet amazing new friends offline. Through Blog Out Loud events, I've had the pleasure of meeting tons of new friends, all whom love blogging, are creative and like design.

4 :: appreciating my physical space more
It's easy to get stuck online, blogging, reading other blogs, reading more blogs. When I turn my computer off and get out to ride my bike, flip through a magazine, hang out with friends, I actually appreciate this physical time.

5 :: touching the lives of other people in a small way
When I got into blogging, I just wanted to write and express my love of design + small spaces. What ended up happening was much more then that. I started receiving emails and comments from the sweetest people telling me that they enjoyed my blog, also lived in small spaces or thank you for writing about small spaces. Wow!! I didn't realize at the time how global the blogosphere is and how my little blog could be read my my family and people around the world!

6 :: expressing myself in a creative outlet
As I reflected on my love of design, I soon learned that blogging was a wonderful outlet to express myself. I soon understood the addictive quality to blogging.

7 :: getting it out of my system
And like my writing, I also soon learned that blogging about design the best way to get my love of new products out of my system and adopted the ideas of if you can't buy it, blog it!

8 :: look and observe the world in a new way
I have my camera with me all the time and really observe the world in a new way. Anything and everything could be inspiration for a potential post, even dining out. :)

9 :: documenting my life
Even though I blog about small space living, my blog is kind of a lifestyle blog. Two years and over 600 posts later, I can read back through my blog and remember what I was doing and enjoying at the time. It's been an incredible way to document my life. Well a blog is an online journey, after all.

10 :: because I love it!
I blog because I love it and I love it for all the reasons listed!

HAPPY 2010!

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BLOG OUT LOUD .12 "Rewards From Blogging"
Event 4

We just finished getting a few webisodes ready for you from the 4th Blog Out Loud event that was in November and hosted by DWR | Tools For Living. Our lovely panel covered a range of topics about blogging, social media tools, authenticity, creating original content, time management and, today's webisode, rewards from blogging.

And check out more webisodes from past Blog Out Loud events >>

Episode .11 "Building The Advertising Blog Community >> Event 3"

Episode .10 "Hi, I Have A Blog >> Event 2"

Episode .9 "Blogging Helps To Build A Brand"

Episode .8 "Building A Community"

Episode .7 "Hi, I Have A Blog >> Event 1"

Episode .6 "Borrowing Content"

Episode .5 "Do I Need A Background In Writing To Blog?"

Episode .4 "Inspiration Behind Blog Out Loud"

Episode .1 "Defining Your Voice"

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Blog Out Loud Interview:
Emi Hofmeister of DivineCaroline

I am excited to share our latest and greatest Blog Out Loud interview from the lovely Emi Hofmeister of DivineCaroline, a publishing network with all the content written by...you! I love the tag line "life in your words" and also that the site is a "reflection of it's Members". The concept of the website truly encompasses and empowers the "every woman" while providing a broad platform for engaging and interesting content. As you get your own blog up and running, joining DivineCaroline's free site is just another opportunity to connect with like-minded readers and extend your online presence even further. Let's hear from Emi has to say.

Real Girls Media is an online community that provides a platform for women to express themselves. What steps have you taken to create such an amazing community? How have you seen the community grow and evolve?

When Real Girls Media was founded, there were few opportunities for women to share their stories and connect with others in a meaningful way. Independent blogs provided a place to write, but lacked a community feel. DivineCaroline offered an alternative, offering a place for women to both share their personal experiences and learn from others.

Creating and engaging a community is an ongoing process we initiated before DivineCaroline even launched. When we were developing the site, we recruited a host of prominent bloggers to serve as an advisory board. These women provided invaluable insight about online communities. Their advice helped us shape DivineCaroline. After the site launched, we invited these bloggers and other relevant web site owners to join our community as content partners. By publishing articles on DivineCaroline, they receive exposure to our audience and increased traffic to their sites. In return, each of these partners share information about DivineCaroline with their audiences, spreading word about a unique place online, where people read and write about everything that matters.

While our content partners play a crucial role in the DivineCaroline community, we depend on the commitment and loyalty of our users. As the number of contributors and readers on the site continues to grow, we regularly respond to evolving needs with new publishing tools (such as slideshow and video capabilities), a message center to connect with friends, and a rating system for most liked stories. As a result, the quality and quantity of story submissions continues to climb and we are confident that many women have found a trusted home online.

A lot of creative people are busy with their own business and haven't found the time to start a blog for their company. What advice would you give to a new blogger to encourage them to get in to the blogging ring?

For all those hesitant to enter the blogging ring, remember that an online presence is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Blogging is free marketing. It’s an opportunity to share information about yourself, your company, and your products with consumers. Your competitors are already in the social media space and you should be too. That said, I would caution against hastily jumping into the blogosphere. Before you launch a blog, take time to develop a social media plan that meets the needs of your consumers and fits with your brand persona.

· Spend time researching your industry and competitors. What are people saying about your company? Your industry? What are people worried and excited about? Think about specific issues and/or accomplishments to address on your blog.

· Set specific goals for how social media can help your company; develop content relevant to those goals. Are you seeking to drive new traffic? Increase awareness for products? Keep people informed about the industry? Create personal relationships between your brand and your consumers? The answer can be “all of the above” but pick a solid approach first. If you present yourself as an expert on a particular topic and can convey information in an interesting and relevant way, others will begin to seek your expertise.

· Promote. Promote. Promote. Make sure that consumers know the blog exists. Include it on your traditional advertising vehicles, make notes on your Facebook wall, and tell other members of your company to pass the link to friends. Once you have a few readers, you’ll feel more responsible for creating good content on a regular basis.

Divine Caroline, your first "vibrant community" of Real Girls Media is such an expansive and resourceful community. Can you share some blogging success stories or blogging inspiration stories from some of your members? (hoping this will encourage and empower new bloggers to join)

At DivineCaroline, we give everyone a voice by creating a place where they feel comfortable sharing stories, experiences, and talking to others. Our readers and contributors continually inspire us with their articles, but there is one writer who stands out for her success.

A regular reader of DivineCaroline, this particular woman found her voice during the election. As a bleeding heart liberal living in the middle of a red state, she needed a place to vent, to be excited, and connect with others that shared her views. She began writing, not just about politics, but about her family, friends, and the trials of motherhood. Her eloquent style attracted many DivineCaroline readers, who became loyal followers and eagerly commented on every new article submission. Encouraged by DivineCaroline editors and seven faithful readers, she launched her own blog. Her tagline reads “I have a voice. Who knew?” She openly credits DivineCaroline for giving her the opportunity to share her words and find that voice.

Divine Caroline has a clear, defined voice. We encourage new bloggers to really consider and define their own. What advice can you give for finding your voice?

Finding your voice is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a blog. It can also be the most fun. Committing time and energy to your blog will be much easier if you write on a topic that not only interests you, but stokes your imagination and ingenuity. Think about what you talk about with friends. Is it fashion? Kids? The hilarity of cats wearing hats? Truly, a blog can be about any topic, it just needs to be a focus or a theme that will continue to excite you after the first few posts. This does not mean that you will be pigeonholed and must write about one thing forever, but initially, it will help you launch a site with purpose.

Thanks, Emi!! Click here to read and join DivineCaroline and follow Emi on Twitter @EmiHof

Check out more awesome interviews from Blog Out Loud right here.

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Americans are literally eating the web!

A new report was released that American's "eat" 34 gigabytes of information a day! a day!! While most of this is from tv watching, a lot of it is from the web. So what does this mean to you? People are literally craving interesting and appealing editorial and video content. They want to read what you have to say. Consider this as you are beginning or continuing your blog and make your content worthwhile and relevant to the blog voice that you have defined. If you are at a loss for words, try this exercise. If you need a boost of inspiration, read other people's blogs and engage in the conversation. Read more about the study released
a few days ago right here.
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Give your readers incentive to read your blog

I was reading Ecorazzi, a neat green site, and noticed that they have a sidebar image of their weekly Twitter giveaway. Yep, every Thursday at 3pm they give away a green item. Very cool! Letting your readers know that you are thinking of them will really drive them to continue to read and support your blog. Depending on your niche, contact stores and brands and ask them to supply you with a giveaway item. In return, you are doing a little free advertising for them. It's a win-win for everyone!
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creative company? consider a creative blog template

not all blogs are editorial-based. many bloggers want to showcase more visual notes then writing and their blog may consist of photos and images. Here are a few to consider if you want to show more photos.

I was recently turned onto Indexhibit, a creative blogging template that allows you to showcase your content in a more creative exhibit fashion. I love the look of these templates - a weblog style with great textures and design.

A basic micro-site that rolls along to showcase all photos and design. Simple layouts allow the photos to be the star.

Another great creative publishing site that offers interesting ways to show imagery while including a bit of content as well. This company charges a monthly fee but it may be worth the few bucks for the templates.
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