Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blogging Trick: Adding a Widget at Different Location at Your Blog

By Muhammad Subhan
Special for:

The Internet has changed virtuality into reality and blogging is just a part of it (Abi Najla)
For blog beginners, it's just a fun to have your first blog get published to the rest of the world where you can put anything from your mind into a writing without having a certain level of editing from other parties and hope someone outside there will read it. However as the time goes on, you will find that your blog template is no longer satisfy what you really want on your blog. You become a bit professional now when you have this feeling in your head. Now you need to modify the template such as you want to add some widgets in certain location in your blog but the widget function is not available in that location. You might also want to put them at different locations inside your blog.

How to do that?

If you use Blogger or Blogspot for your blog, these instructions will guide you on how you can add a widget at different location to your blog.
  1. Sign into your Blogger account
  2. Go to the control panel and click the Layout tab
  3. Click on the Edit HTML. This will show you a HTML Edit Template windows
  4. Now, you need to edit your template. But before you do editing, you need to back up your current active template by clicking Download Full Template. This is to secure your current template just in case your editing is failed.
  5. Now, you need to decide where you want to locate your widget in your blog. Basically, a template has some parts: the header, the navigation (normally locate below the header), the content, and the footer. Name of that parts depends on your template creator.
  6. After you identify the widget location you want, now you need to find word "showaddelement='no'" in your template. [Tips: you can use Ctrl+F to find that word in your template]. For example: you want to add a widget below the post. Then you need to locate the word "content" first such as it appears something like: <!-- (Main) --><div class='contentwrapper'><div id='content'> and the word "showaddelement='no'"is located just below that script.
  7. Now you need to change the "no" to "yes" then save the template. If there is nothing notice appears after you click the save button it's meant that you succeed editing your template.
  8. Now, click Page Elements tab and you will see "Add a widget" function just above the post.
  9. Click "Add a widget" and choose type of widget you want to add to your blog.
  10. Repeat the above procedure if you want to add a widget to other locations in your blog
Have a nice try. I hope you could follow my instructions.

Muhammad Subhan
Special for:

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Leading Out of the Downturn

By Rob Norton
The article appears at Business-Strategy

The last 18 months have been the most trying in decades for corporate leaders. The conditions that normally make running a company, a business unit, or a team rewarding — market expansion, revenue growth, rising pay, and incentives — have been absent for most, replaced by the unrelenting tasks of survival, retrenchment, and cost cutting.

What should leaders do in this depressed environment? Strategy+business recently put the question to Steve Zaffron, CEO of the Vanto Group, a global consulting firm. In The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life (Jossey-Bass, 2009), Zaffron and coauthor Dave Logan, who teaches at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, offer a set of simple rules to show how leaders and their companies can prosper, even when the odds are stacked against them. The main task, they argue, is to recognize that people normally have an unconscious, gut-level idea of where they — and their company — are at, and where they’re likely to go. Zaffron and Logan call this “the default future” and show how it is deeply rooted in people’s assumptions, hopes, fears, and past experiences. The first task of leadership, they argue, is to identify the default future, discuss it, and analyze it, and then go about reimagining — and, in effect, rewriting — the future. The book examines a series of management cases at companies around the world where rewriting the future has led to real business transformation. And the lessons are just as applicable to individuals.

S+B: The future has been looking pretty bleak for people in a whole range of industries. How does your framework relate to those who are in a bad situation?
The three laws of performance work in good times as well as bad. Sometimes the good times can be just as challenging, in the sense that people ride the wave of optimism, think things are going to be great, and don’t see the black swan sitting there. But the bad times give us fear and anxiety about what’s going to happen. We get particularly challenged by the extra emotional content.

The type of leadership that’s needed — and it’s extra-critical for the CEO who has to steer the ship, is to get people in communication about the future that they see coming at them. This is what we call the “default future,” and it’s constituted by a lot of complexity that all comes together in a certain way. This default future consists of our expectations, our fears, our hopes, and our predictions, all of which are ultimately based on our prior experience. People make decisions based on things that happened in the past, and they project those decisions into their future. It could be decisions about themselves — who they are, what they can do, what they can’t do — or decisions about the company. And this default future actually generates the level of (or lack of) individual and corporate performance. So if I see fear coming at me, and anxiety, and everything’s bad and horrible and terrible, my actions are going to be correlated to the way that world occurs to me.

S+B: The three laws of performance in your book deal with understanding — and changing — the way people think about that default future. How does following your advice change the way a leader would react in the situation we’re discussing?
Instead of this fear — “I’m cutting my budget and what’s going to happen” and so forth — I could look at the same situation and see that this is a great opportunity to create a new business model, or to cut away things that haven’t worked but that keep going on, and to actually design something new. So two people can look at the same situation and see different realities: They see opportunities or the lack of them, possibilities or the lack of them.


See more at Business-Strategy
Read More......

WSSD – Partnership on Market Access

SourceEU Market Research

The Partnership on Market Access was initiated at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002. The WSSD concluded that agricultural trade is an important prerequisite for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. At the same time, quality requirements in agricultural trade, whether from governments or from companies or civil society organizations tend to become stricter. The Netherlands initiated a partnership on market access, which focuses on capacity building to allow less developed countries meet these stricter quality requirements. Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya took up this partnership challenge.

Public-Private Partnerships and Capacity Building
The WSSD Partnership on Market Access is a partnership in which certain countries and product groups cooperate. This cooperation aims to enhance market access to the Netherlands/The European Union by focusing on quality requirements in agricultural trade. These requirements cover sanitary, veterinary or phytosanitary quality or relate to the environment, public health or social circumstances. The requirements differ per product group. Each country and product group has its own specific network of stakeholders, which is why the organisation of partnerships is different as well. Government, private sector and civil society organization are involved in each of the countries.

More information: Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) of The Netherlands Read More......

Partner Selection Strategy between Malaysia-Indonesia Alliances

By Ahmad Bashawir & Muhammad Subhan


For a long time, international management theory did not place much emphasis on the study of international business cooperation. In most cases, collaborations were viewed as second best solutions, for example, in countries where the investment regulations do not allow the establishment of wholly owned foreign subsidiaries (e.g., Beamish 1988; Franko, 1971; Harrigan, 1986). Moreover, they were perceived to have a negative impact on competitiveness. For example, in his study on the competitive advantage of nations, Porter (1990, p.67) concludes that “alliances appear to be most common among second tier competitors or companies trying to catch up … (while) global leaders rarely if ever rely on a partner for assets and skills essential to competitive advantage.”

In recent years, however, the attention paid to international cooperation has increased, in both international management theory and practice. Perlmutter & Heenan (1986), for example, argue that increased global competition underlines the necessity to achieve worldwide economies of scale and to cope with internationally diversified customers. In their opinion, only firms that cooperate across national borders will be able to meet these new challenges and compete globally. According to a study by Dyer, Kale and Singh (2001), the 500 largest firms in the world have an average of 60 major cooperation agreements each. International alliances are cooperative arrangements, with cross border flows and linkages that utilize resources from autonomous organizations headquartered in separate countries (Parkhe, 1991). International strategic cooperation has at least three distinct purposes (Holtbrugge 2004):

   1. Scale advantages: Cooperation allows the partner firms to achieve scale economies and reduce excess capacity by combining similar resources that belong to the same stages in the value adding process. This motive is particularly relevant in global industries where large standardization and integration advantages exist (Dussauge, Garette & Mitchell, 2000; Park and Russo, 1996; Porter & Fuller, 1986).

   2. Resource advantages: Cooperation may also be aimed at combining complementary resources, skills and strengths that belong to different stages in the value adding process. Resource advantages are especially important for partnerships between firms from developed and developing or transformational countries where the former provide management know how, financial resources, and technological capabilities, while the latter contribute access to local customers, suppliers, and government officials (Beamish & Killing, 1997; Holbrugge, 1995; Sim & Ali, 1998).

   3. Learning advantages: Cooperation can also be a means for learning and internalizing new skills. This motive is particularly relevant in high tech industries where the ability to acquire and apply knowledge is a key success factor (Kale, Singh & Perlmutter, 2000; Simonin, 1999; Stuart, 2000).

For Dunning (1997), the implications of international strategic cooperation go even beyond the firm level. According to him, a transition of the entire economic system from market capitalism to “alliance capitalism” can be observed, wherein large multinational corporations are interconnected with small and medium sized firms in a dense network of joint ventures, licensing agreements and other forms of equity and non equity cooperation. The paradigm shift in international management that can be omitted with this transition may be illustrated by the following cases of Malaysian firms, which represent different motives and different forms of international strategic cooperation. Strategic alliances are a common strategy for entering new countries. This entry strategy has some peculiarities of its own. On the one hand, having a local partner may reduce the entry risk faced by the company as well as its level of committed resources. This offers an advantage when country risk is high and when the familiarity with the host country is low (Hill, Hwand and Kim, 1990). On the other hand, partnerships are difficult to manage, especially when there are significant cultural differences between the partners (Perlmutter and Heenan, 1986).

Direct investment in Indonesia involves a relatively high risk and benefit for Malaysian companies. First, investing in Indonesia involves significant country risk, mainly because of political instability, lack of infrastructure, lack of laws governing and protecting business interests and difficulties in obtaining supplies and raw materials (McCarthy, Puffer and Sommonds 1993, Hitt et al. 2000, Tresno, 2003). Second, the cultural, political and economic differences between Malaysia and Indonesia are considerable (Rosten, 1991). Patrick and Luthans (1995) suggested that even countries that are geographically proximal could be economically, politically and culturally distant in significant ways. When investing in Indonesia for the first time, Malaysian companies are unfamiliar with the peculiarities of this country; this makes partnerships an attractive alternative for entering the Indonesian market. Finally, although Malaysian economy has grown at a stronger pace than most developing country economies, many of the businesses in Malaysia are young or recently privatized (Hamid et al. 2005), and their resource endowments are unlikely to be strong. Thus, Malaysian firms may use alliances as a means of acquiring tangible and intangible resources to develop their capability to compete in their domestic and global markets with multinational firms from other countries particularly Indonesia. Firms from Malaysia tend to have richer resource endowments, but they nevertheless also search for partners with specific resources, tangible and intangible, to complement their own resource bases.

Although the use of partnerships reduces entry risks, managing these partnerships entails difficulties. Even if a local partner may compensate for the lack of country knowledge, cooperating with a culturally different partner as Indonesian companies are to Malaysian companies engenders difficulties. Under these circumstances, partner selection and the initial steps toward managing the new relationship become critical factors for successful entry. At the partnership creation stage, the balance between the contributions each company will bring to the partnership and the difficulties they will face in managing their relationship need to be considered. As the relationship unfolds, social processes gain importance. The level of inter-partner trust or “perceived likelihood of the other not behaving in a self interested manner” (Madhok, 1995) influences the performance of the partnership (Gill and Butler, 1996). This study explores (1) the criteria used by Malaysian companies to select their partner, both task related and partner related criteria; (2) the contributions that Malaysian and Indonesian companies bring to the partnership; and (3) management of the inter partner relationship, including the difficulties encountered, how the relationship management varies with the characteristics of the Malaysian partner, and the resulting effects on the process of trust building.


Research on partnerships between Malaysian and Indonesian companies has not focused on partner selection and the management of the first steps in the relationship. Thus, given the state of knowledge in this area, theory building goals, research design and data collection methods were selected accordingly in an exploratory manner (Parkhe 1993; Steven White 2002).

The methodology used was qualitative analysis of data collected mainly from semi-structured interviews. This information from Malaysian offices was complemented by interviews of managers conducted in Malaysia as well as by reports provided by the same managers describing company operations in Indonesia. This study is part of a broader research project on how Malaysian companies approach their investments in Indonesia, jointly undertaken by three Malaysian and two Indonesian researchers.

Sample selection   

From an initial set of twelve Malaysian companies with investments in Indonesia, we selected eight companies identified as having used partnerships as a key means of entry in their investments in Indonesia. The companies were selected according to the following criteria: industrial sector, size and access to key players in the company. We tried to have as much variation as possible. Because of time and financial constraints, we focused our selection on companies involved in agriculture, telecommunication, manufacturing, banking and industrial sector. As for the industrial sector, we covered a broad range of economic sectors; industrial products, consumer goods and services. We tried to include companies that varied in size, anticipating that the nature of the difficulties faced would be influenced by the companies’ resource endowment (Welch, 1993). Access was facilitated by the business contacts of professors from business schools in Indonesia. The availability of the Malaysian affiliates, as a means to compare and contrast Indonesian perspectives, was the last factor in our sample selection.

These efforts resulted in a sample of eight companies. Four were in the industrial products industry, two in consumer goods and two in services. We used number of employees as the size criterion; companies with fewer than fifty employees were classified as small, while companies with mote than 500 people were classified as large. Hence, two of the companies were classified as small, three as medium sized and four as large.

Data collection and analysis

Data were collected mainly by means of semi-structured interviews with open ended questions. The questions were identified by reviewing relevant literature on partnerships and identifying key issues in partnership management; criteria used in partner selection (Geringer, 1991), evolution and management of the inter partner relationship (Ring and Van de Ven, 1994), and interpartner trust (Madhok, 1995). Three pretest interviews helped ensure face validity. A representative from one of the selected companies; a Malaysian manager of a Malaysian joint venture and a Malaysian consultant with years of experience advising Malaysian companies on entry into Indonesia were used for this pretest. The final questions are listed in the appendix to this paper.

The interviews were carried out between January and March 2005. The interview questions were faxed in advance to all interviewees so that they could have time to think about them before the interview. In most cases, one representative from the headquarters of each company was interviewed; in a few cases, we were able to hold interviews with more than one manager. In all but one case, interviewees held senior executive positions (CEO, vice president for international or eastern operations, head of international investments, etc.) The exception was an area manager for Malaysian operations. At least two of the researchers participated in each interview. Interviews lasted between two and three hours. After each meeting, we reviewed our notes for completeness and accuracy. The opportunity to interview managers in charge of Malaysian operations in Indonesia reduced the need to contact the headquarters interviewees to resolve doubts about the accuracy of the data initially collected. Interview information was complemented with archival data obtained during our visits to the companies’ premises and with press clippings whenever available. The archival data were mainly annual reports and reports about Malaysian offices and operations.

Analysis was done using tools and techniques for qualitative data analysis suggested by Miles and Huberman (1984). The procedures these authors suggest involve the use of descriptive and analytical matrices designed ad hoc by the researchers to facilitate data reduction, data display and conclusion drawing and verification.

Partner Selection

Geringer (1991) opines that partner selection criteria may be grouped into task related and partner related criteria. While task related criteria refer to the complementary capabilities the partner may offer, partner related criteria are closer to the notion of ability to work with the partner. According to the data, the most prominent criteria Malaysian companies look at when searching for a potential partner fell into the categories suggested by Geringer (1991). Task related criteria include knowledge of the market conditions, knowledge of the environment and political influence. Partner related criteria include reputation, potential to maintain a continuing and stable relationship, position within the industry, professionalism, honesty and seriousness, fit and enthusiasm for the project.

Task related criteria

The main deficiency of Malaysian companies when investing in Indonesia is their lack of market knowledge in terms of business conditions, products and clients. When searching for a partner, the first condition Malaysian company look at is whether the potential partner will be able to provide that knowledge. In one extreme case, one of the Malaysian banks felt no Indonesian bank would be able to provide this knowledge, given the lack of commercial banking activities with a market orientation in the recent past. This was one reason for this Malaysian bank to partner with another foreign bank with operations in Indonesia already, instead of joining an Indonesian one. Knowledge of the environment economic trends and the regulatory system edge of the environment-economic trends and the regulatory system and the capacity to have an influence on politicians were also appreciated by some of the companies. Interestingly, only the two banks in the sample did not find the latter a significant factor in partner selection. Because of the merger development of the Indonesian banking system and the reduced number of local entities, foreign banks did not value local partners as a source of key political and business connections.

Partner related criteria

According to one of the interviewees, the choice of a partner is more important than funding; “If you don’t have funds, you don’t undertake the project, and that’s it; but if the partner isn’t a good one, then you’re in trouble.”

This remark reveals the importance of knowing who the partner is. It is difficult, though, for Malaysian companies to discern which companies are good ones. This is why reputation is important. Malaysian companies look for a good reputation in the business sense, not in the political one. They explicitly stated that they avoid involving politicians although having a partner with some political influence was considered very important in an untested and fluid legal environment for some tasks, such as obtaining approval to set up a new office or in registration, custodial and settlement procedures. In order to have a sense of the potential partner’s reputation in business, Malaysian companies wanted to know what a potential partner had done in the past and what it was doing currently. Interestingly, banks and industrial companies with one exception attributed a great deal of importance to reputation in the core or related business area of activity. In contrast, the consumer goods companies did not mention reputation as a characteristic to look for in a potential partner.

Most of the Malaysian companies in our sample acknowledged that they were in Indonesia in hopes of long run future benefits, rather than taking the kind of “hit and run” or “one night stand” position that seemed to characterize some of the early entrants. Thus, these Malaysian companies needed a partner with a certain degree of stability and the capability to stay with them in a continuing manner. The quest for stability seems to be closely related to the search for reputation. Most of the companies that had looked for a partner with a good reputation also acknowledged they had looked for a continuous relationship. Again, the companies in the consumer goods industry did not mention stability as a desirable condition in a potential partner. This is not to say that these companies do not appreciate their partner’s reputation or continuity in the relationship, but that these Malaysian companies either took these conditions for granted or attach greater importance to other conditions.

Also related to the partner’s reputation is its position within the industry. This feature was stressed by the banks, one of the engineering services companies, and the consumer products companies. One of the banks participated in a consortium involving a number of banks from other countries as well as two Malaysian banks. All of the partners were leading banks in their respective countries. As already mentioned, the other bank had decided not o have a local partner in Indonesia because they did not think they could find a local bank that could bring to the partnership either experience in local private banking or funding in the local currency. According to the consumer products companies, a partner’s sound position in the industry may help in a number of ways, for instance, saving start-up costs if the partner’s facilities can be easily accommodated to the western practices, or providing connections with local companies.

Professionalism is also appreciated in a potential partner. Indonesian companies with managers that already have a professional mentality and managerial skills are scarce but very much appreciated. Yet, a significant number of Malaysian managers believed they will have to wait for the next generation of young people with a professional mentality, given the impossibility as one manager stated of older people adapting their mindset to rapidly changing conditions. However, Malaysian companies’ expectations for young Indonesian people with minds open to professional influence were very high. They expected the younger generation to play a key role in future managerial responsibility within the local affiliates. The process of replacing expatriates as local managers gradually assumes the former’s positions had begun in all companies interviewed. In one case, the Indonesian general manager of a joint venture, with a majority stake by the Malaysian company, had been employed by the Indonesian partner before.

Malaysian companies looked for honesty and seriousness in their partners. Obviously, these characteristics are valued in any context. The difficulties Malaysian companies have in ascertaining their presence in Indonesian companies have to do with the fact that these words may have different connotations in the two cultures. What is considered ethical or unethical behavior by Malaysians and by the Indonesians may not be the same (Puffer and McCarthy, 1995). As a consequence, what Malaysian companies look for is common ground in this area.

Fit between the companies was also mentioned by two of our interviewees. One of the consumer products companies said they had looked for a company about the same size as their own; in fact, they partnered with the largest Indonesian producer of their own product line. One of the industrial companies also talked about fit. Product complementarity had made it easy for the Indonesian company to restructure its manufacturing facilities to adapt them to the new joint product. Some Malaysian companies thought enthusiasm for the project on the Indonesian partner’s side was important. Such willingness to succeed was perceived as a signal of commitment to the partnership, a necessary condition for success. By now, it should be clear that task related criteria are closely connected with the contributions each company will make to the partnership and that partner related criteria will affect the process of managing the relationship.   

Contributions to the partnership

In previous decades, partnerships particularly joint ventures were used as an entry mode to new countries out of necessity. Frequently, a local partner was needed to fulfill governmental requirements, but no important contributions were expected from this passive partner. More recently, the contributions from local partners are at least as important as those from the foreign company. More and more, the partners are interdependent and each needs contributions from the other (Nohria and Garcia Pont, 1991).

The contributions from both Malaysian and Indonesian companies to the partnership are closely connected with the task related criteria for selecting a partner. Thus, we may expect the contributions from Indonesian companies to be related to their knowledge of the local conditions and those from Malaysian companies to be related to their business skills.

Contributions from Indonesian companies

Apart from the banks, the main contributions from the Indonesian companies in the sample were their industrial facilities and production capacity as well as their market access. Local facilities provide a basis to start with, even if they require renovations. In one case, the Indonesian partner contributed its sound position in a related area, and in this way it provided access to key raw materials. One of the consumer products companies saw the labor force as one of the contributions of its Indonesian partner. Another company saw this kind of contribution as a negative one; in that the ratio of production to staff personnel was comparatively low.

Market access was another important contribution in some cases, and so was the Indonesian companies’ ability to manage their own people. The latter was also acknowledged by one of the banks.

Some additional contributions from Indonesian companies include the search for a good location and ability to manage the process of securing regulatory approvals. When the latter is done by the local partner or by a specialized local institute, the process speeds up because of the locals’ knowledge of regulation and procedures and personal contacts.

Contributions from Malaysian companies

The main contributions from Malaysian companies are knowledge transfer and financial resources. Knowledge transfer takes place at several levels; technical know how, marketing skills and management systems. Not only manufacturing companies but also banks transfer technical know-how. Given the primary stages of the banking system in Indonesia, knowledge about new technologies had to be transferred by the Malaysian telecom and bank joint venturing with an Indonesian one.

The need for the transfer of marketing skills is a natural consequence of previous market conditions in Indonesia. The lack of competition in the Indonesian economic system of the recent past engendered no need for marketing related skills and capabilities. The production standards were set by the government and companies just had to meet them, knowing that their products would find a demand. As an anecdote, one of the interviewees said that their Indonesian partner was proud not to have their brand in the market, which shows a mentality totally at odds with a western one. In some cases, not just the marketing skills but also the brand and the product image had been transferred to the partnership.

The transfer of the technical know-how and of marketing skills is necessarily accompanied by the transfer of management systems. This requires training the people involved. Malaysian companies provide extensive training programs, at both the managerial and the technical level. Often these programs take place in Indonesia as well as in Malaysia. Financial resources are also a main contribution from the Malaysian companies. Their up front investment serves as a guarantee or as a signal of commitment fro financial institutions to provide the remaining necessary funds.

Other contributions from Malaysian companies include experience and credibility and the initiative to undertake the project. Interestingly, the bank that had no hope for an Indonesian partner chose a foreign bank because of the political connections it had established while operating in Indonesia prior to this partnership.

... see more at The Global Studies Journal Read More......

Job Prospects for Tech, Finance Pros Looking (Somewhat) Better

By Matthew Boyle

Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings, the parent of tech-focused job site, came by our offices this morning to discuss the job market. The takeaway? Things are less bad, but by no means good. “Overall things are better,” he said. “Confidence is there again, and there are opportunities out there.”

One opportunity he’s seeing in the tech sector is so-called “virtualization,” a cost-saving process where the servers in corporate data centers are made to run more efficiently. (Software maker VMWare, majority owned by EMC, is a leader here.) Melland noted that the unemployment rate in the tech sector is just 5.7%, well below the near 10% we’re seeing nationally. So while recruitment is certainly down from peak levels, there is still a good amount of “churn,” or job-hopping, going on - at least in the highly-skilled technology arena.

Dice also handles finance jobs through its 2006 acquisition of John Benson, the amiable Brit who runs that site, says while job postings are down by half overall on the site, there are opportunities at smaller, boutique firms and in Asia. Some finance workers, though, are looking to leave the industry entirely, at least temporarily, and Benson noted that Britain’s National Health Service and even Buckingham Palace are looking to hire disgruntled finance pros.

Melland says he expects hiring to lag the economic recovery by three to six months, and even when hiring picks up, much of it will be temporary contract employment as companies gauge how real the turnaround is. Such an environment makes for a buyer’s market for talent, which means jobseekers will have to deftly position themselves as the perfect candidate. While there are more tools out there for jobseekers than ever before thanks to the growth of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, Melland advises jobseekers to manage and police their online personas to ensure that they enhance, rather than impede, their job prospects.
What do you think of the job market right now?

Source: Businessweek Read More......

Follow A Proven System to Make Income Online

By Yaro Starak
(The article published at Entrepreneur-Journey)

(Part 2)  Click here to read Part 1 of this article!

If you don’t have capital to invest, or you prefer to learn a system from scratch yourself, and you’re prepared to spend time studying and implementing, following someone else’s proven system is a good option.There are literally thousands of ebooks, courses, membership sites, other information products and mentoring programs you can purchase that all propose to teach you a system for making money online. Here are some example business models to choose from…
  • You might learn how to set up mini sites to tap into small but lucrative niches using the power of long tail search engine optimization and then make money with advertising and/or affiliate and CPA offers
  • You can master Pay Per Click and then arbitrage your traffic budget to sell affiliate products or CPA offers to the point where every dollar you spend buying traffic returns more than a dollar in revenue, or sell your own products
  • You can enter the multi-million dollar marketplace that is eBay and carve out your own niche there
  • You could give e-commerce a shot and set up your own online store
  • Perhaps e-books is the best model for you
  • Or of course, you can enter the blogosphere and attempt to become a professional blogger
All these systems are taught by various people who, in most cases, have already figured out how to make money using a certain technology or method or system, and now offer to teach that same system to others.
Unfortunately, most people who take training programs that teach how to make money, don’t. I’ve gone into detail regarding why this is in many posts, but for the sake of simplicity it’s safe to say the biggest problem is not the system, but the person who’s trying to use it.

It might look like lack of tech skills, or tough competition, or poor execution, or any number of on-the-surface reasons why people fail, but in the end most challenges can be overcome, most people just don’t try hard enough.

If you look deeper, the reason why most people don’t try hard enough could be all kinds of things, but usually it’s simply a mindset issue. Motivation, a willingness to learn new things, take action and never give up stem from how you think, so if you can get on top of that you’ve won the biggest battle. The rest of the equation is simply a process of testing and tweaking until you find out what really “floats your boat” creatively and gives you rewards intrinsically.

But I digress, this is not meant to be a motivational piece on mindset (or maybe it is…). If you want help in that area, read this – How To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up, and this How To Become Comfortable With Yourself.

The fact is, there are systems out there that have proven to work and there are people who explain how these systems work. The information is available, all you need to do is commit to a plan of action to execute the system.

It can take some work to spot the frauds, especially because they often have the best marketing, but since you’re reading my blog you’ve already been guided to a handful of resources that are run by people who walk their talk and are actually teaching what works. There are no guarantees, and ultimately you won’t know until you try, but I do guarantee that taking action will always benefit you in some way, even if you never make a cent. Each system that doesn’t work for you takes you closer to one that does.

My advice is to do three things first if you’re looking to start a new online business with the goal of developing a stable online income stream -
  1. Do some research into the programs available that propose to teach you how to make money online
  2. Pick the program that best matches you in terms of what you want to learn how to do, how it is taught, who is teaching it and of course, listen to your intuition too (make decisions based on the people involved, the teacher for sure, but also past students – you should be able to find lots of commentary online if the program is any good)
  3. Commit yourself to learning and executing what is taught over a period of at least three months, preferably more time – even up to a year
And as a fourth step, presuming the first three steps work, you can then outsource the implementation of the system to others, who either maintain and grow what you have done already, or replicate it in other niches.
I do recommend you go through a new system once yourself before outsourcing it entirely as it helps to really know how something works before you have others do it for you. Outsourcing is a great way to make a business much less labor intensive and create truly passive or very near passive income streams, but for most people this is a process of learning, then doing it yourself, then handing it over to others.

There’s a key point of distinction that needs to be made here when comparing say starting a consulting client-based type business and then hiring people to take it over, verses buying a training program and then having other people take it over. The training program you choose to implement will be a much better business model when it comes to making it hands off for you.

All the systems I listed above have the potential to become very hands-off, whether it’s because they take very little time to manage (like spending a couple of hours a day writing a blog post), or can be given to others to do (for example having assistants do market research and set up websites and write articles in niches for you).

Consulting and service based businesses often depend on a specialized skill that can’t be outsourced, are very time consuming to do or have very little potential for leverage. If you choose the right online business model then you will have a much greater potential to make a lot more money and work a lot less.

While the promise of quick riches is usually a ploy for scammers to get you to part with your money, there are some great training resources online, many of which cost under $50, that will teach you some fundamental skills that can, in time, make you a very significant amount of money, which can even become passive income if you follow through long enough.

Here’s a few resources you might want to begin your research with -
And when you’re ready to begin outsourcing and systematizing your business…

Some Additional Options If You’re Really Creative

If you’re not in a position to purchase a website asset and you don’t like the idea of following someone else’s system, then you can always go it alone and attempt to create a business from scratch by yourself. There are many stories of successful online entrepreneurs who figured it out without buying any training programs or doing any formal study. In most cases the reason why these people succeed is passion. They’re prepared to keep throwing things out there again and again until something sticks. Along the way they learn a lot and assuming they eventually come across a winner with the right business model, can become financially independent.

There are a lot of traps along the way with this path – and trust me on this one as I’ve walked this path for most of my business life too. Only in the more recent years was I wise enough to invest some money into training programs. The consequences of this is a much longer learning curve, often plenty of wasted time and some failed projects. The plus side is, when you do find what works, you can become a true expert as you’ve done your time and lived the experience, rather than just studied what someone else did.

That’s the core reason why my blog is successful and in some cases, this might be the best path for you. If you want to read my own story regarding why my blog is successful and what ingredients you need if you want success building something yourself, read this – Sometimes You Have To Reinvent The Wheel.
To end with, here are some ideas you can go after if you decide you want to build something yourself -
  • Like the case with my friends who I had the meeting with, they posses strong programming skills and definitely some entrepreneurial motivation, which leads to constantly coming up with ideas for scripts and community sites. The challenge is picking the right ideas to chase, especially if you’ve never started a software based company before. If it works, it can be very lucrative as an online business start-up (the truly big ideas like Facebook, eBay and Twitter all start as ideas for clever software services in the mind of some entrepreneur).
  • You can attempt to leverage existing or emerging trends. For example, in recent months the market for iPhone applications has been huge. All it takes is one good idea and the drive to turn it into reality and you can be in quickly as a new emerging technology or trend takes hold.
  • You could have a great idea for a service or script or community site, and you even have the know-how to put it together, but you lack audience. This is the number one start-up killer, as many people are full of clever ideas but have no marketing acumen whatsoever. Ideas are great, but if you don’t have distribution, you won’t make money, so you need a way to get in front of people. One way to do so, is partner with people who have an audience. For example, if you have a great idea for a software application for stock investors you can look for people who currently market to them, and then partner with them. They bring distribution (access to people), you bring the idea.

Failure As A Path To Success

I’ve never liked the word “failure” as I perceive a strong negative association with that word, like it’s a bad thing. I’ve always looked at any experience, whether you achieved your ultimate goal or not, as a good thing. You have to believe this or you will give up long before you reach your destination.

If you don’t consider every “wrong” step a process to go through until you find the right path, then you will not enjoy that wonderful moment when you realize you reached the goal you were striving for. Although, when you get there, it probably won’t feel even close to how you expected it to feel because of what you went through on the way. That’s okay of course, it’s meant to be like that. That’s how we grow and if you expect your awareness to remain static then you’re in for a shock.

You may realize what you wanted back then from your business, or from your life in general, is quite different once you’ve spent some time chasing the dreams. Dreams evolve too, because as a consequence of finally living something you previously desired, it changes – you change. What you want is never the same when you have it. That’s why it always seems rosier on the other side of the fence right up until the point you jump over.

Understand this as it relates to your goals for passive income. If I was to stop and talk to the person I was before I built my business to what it is today I’d say to my previous self that what’s important is to be motivated by the journey more than anything else. Yes, the dream of passive income, lifestyle freedom and never doing a job you hate is important – it will keep you motivated – but it’s not really the endgame you think it is now. Every path walked leads to another selection of doors to open.

Remember to spend some time today and tomorrow and the day after that moving towards what you want and eventually you will have it, it just might not look and taste how you expect it to. In the case of building your own online passive income streams, take the motivation you had to finish reading this article from top to bottom and continue moving forwards. Pick a strategy, a next cause of action and follow through on it.
You might decide to transform what you do now into something more passive by changing the model or hiring people. You might start researching the possibility of investing your capital into online properties and buy into new income streams, or perhaps you will begin the process of finding someone else’s system to follow to build new revenue sources. Maybe creating something completely fresh from scratch is more desirable for you, or it could be that you’re ready to look into outsourcing and building systems as the path to more money for less work.

Whatever the case, I wish you good luck. I love it when people taste the freedom that being able to choose how they spend their time on this planet brings.

Yaro Starak

Click here to read Part 1 of this article!

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How Can You Make Passive Income Online?

By Yaro Starak
(The article published at Entrepreneur-Journey)

(Part 1)  

I had a meeting with a friend and his business partner last week. The request was to “pick my brain” on the best way to move forward to generate some passive income streams online.These two particular people are like a lot of people I know. They’ve got tech skills, they know the Internet well and they have lots of ideas for cool Internet business applications and websites.

Unfortunately they’ve managed to dig themselves into a situation where they spend all their time working on client jobs, running what you might call a “consulting” tech firm, completing various programming and web development projects for other people’s businesses. The money in this business model can be good, but it has some serious downsides too, namely -
  • You have to deal with clients, usually one-on-one, a very low leverage interaction and often just painful as you have to work you way through lots of annoying clients to find the good ones
  • You work very long hours, which my two friends could certainly testament to
  • You know a lot about a lot, yet have difficulty specializing in anything
  • You’re in competition with every other jack-of-all trades web development firm out there, which means you unfortunately end up competing on price, and it’s certainly not nice to have to undercut yourself simply to work with bad clients
Those points aren’t necessarily true across the board, but I’m pretty sure any person who has ever consulted or done any kind of web development work for clients will know what I’m talking about.My friends are smart enough to realize the path they are on is not going to lead them to where they want to go, so they’re looking to make some changes.

The goal is to develop some form of income stream, or several, that could replace the need to take on client work. As always, the relationship between time, money and freedom of choice is heavily integrated here, as my friends are looking to make more money without drastically increasing their workload and eventually freeing up their time so they can do what they want to, rather than what they have to.

Let’s Not Be Strict About Passive Definitions

I’m about to reveal what I talked about during our meeting with my two friends. In terms of what I suggest you do if you are looking to make some passive income online, I don’t want people to get too caught up on the idea of “pure” passive income.

The methods I’m about to talk about are not pure passive income sources, however they have the potential to be low work, high return income sources that can potentially become very close to pure passive longer term. The fact is, it takes time to develop these income streams, but we all love the phrase passive income so I’ve decided to use it here in the title of my post.

So to clarify, what we are looking to do is start up completely new projects that have the potential to become good sources of near-passive and possibly pure passive income, it just might take some time to get there.

First, Understand Your Unique Opportunities

One of the first things I discussed with my friends was taking their present situation and turning it into something that’s less work for them. Sometimes the “lowest hanging fruit” is just a simple adjustment to the business model you are following now, transforming your core skill from labor intensive, to hands-off delivery, or at least much less work.

Here’s some examples of how you might do this -

  • If you’re currently a consultant or deliver a service of any kind personally, one of the best ways to transition away from the paid-per-hour or paid-per-project client trap, is to either transform or supplement what you do now with information products. Take what you are good at and have done for other people (which make great case studies as proof) and create training resources to do what you do.
  • If creating training products doesn’t quite fit, you might do better developing software, or a system that you can sell based on how your business currently delivers value. Sell the “magic” instead of delivering the magic yourself.
  • Chunking down a very dynamic service into structured packages can help. This serves to focus your offer, which will mean you say no to certain clients you can’t help, but have a very tailored solution for clients who fit right. This is the difference between being a run-of-the-mill web developer who makes websites for virtually anyone, compared to a company that sells three tiers of conversion improvement packages focused on a combination of SEO, PPC and split testing of existing pages. One has focus, with set prices and set deliverables, making it easier to deliver and more profitable, the other way is ambiguous, often blows out of proportion as the client changes their mind, and results in you making a very low hourly rate of pay. If that’s still confusing you, here’s another example: Think of it as the difference between a general website developer versus a developer who only makes blogs for real estate agents. Don’t be an everyman, specialize (read this for more advice – The Core Reason Why Your Business Lacks Momentum)
  • Hire people. This is the path of most businesses that have a strong growth curve because they require more resources to keep delivering. A consulting style company can transform into an independent machine that no longer requires the owners participation, or at least the owner’s role is not “in” the business and instead is a more strategic role “on” the business. The problem with this option is that the transition period, which can be very long, often drains even more time from you as you not only continue to deliver to clients, but also attempt to hire and train people. This usually means you get the opposite of what you want, at least until you have a team and systems in place.

How About Completely New Income Streams?

I’ve covered what you can look at without drastically changing the market you are presently in. The other option is diving into something completely different from what you do now. You can choose a different business model, in a different industry and a completely new path, or even start several different little businesses and see what takes off.

This option will likely be more difficult to implement because everything will be new, but sometimes it necessary to start from scratch if you what you are currently doing is not working and you want a clean break. This obviously is the only option if you don’t have a business at all, so if you’re new to making money online, listen up – this will be helpful.

Buy A Web Business

This is perhaps the easiest method to find yourself the owner of a profitable website business, but there are serious downsides – it costs money to buy assets and if things go terrible you could lose everything you invested, though that is very unlikely.

After my blog started to generate dependable income I decided to take that money and reinvest it into buying as close to passive income returning websites as I could find.

I won’t go into too much detail regarding how I did this, as I explained my strategy already in some depth in this article –
How To Invest In Websites In Your Spare Time

At the end of that article are links to other articles from this blog that will teach you more details about buying and selling websites, so it’s worth a bookmark if this interests you.The great thing about this strategy is if you have enough money you can be the proud owner of a dependable online income stream in a matter of weeks.

Speaking very generally, for every $10,000 you have to invest in websites, you should be able to acquire at least a $1,000 a month revenue stream. If you’re clever about what types of websites you buy, you can easily improve your return in a matter of months.

It’s important when investing in websites that you…
  • Know how the website makes money
  • Understand how the website gets traffic/customers
  • Feel comfortable taking it over (don’t go in blind)
  • Start small so you only run the risk of failing small to begin with
The best scenario is to pick a model that you “get”. If you know software, find an online business or website that deals in software, like for example you might seek out a website that sells a script in a coding language you understand so you can improve and maintain it. If you know blogs and how they make money, invest in blogs. If you like ebooks, find profitable ebook businesses and buy them.

The less ambiguity in your mind the better. If you know the market, the product and can see yourself running the website, that’s a good buy. If you lack experience, then pick small websites so you can become familiar with how things work before investing thousands of dollars.

A good place to start your initial research into website buying and see what is for sale is
Outside of established websites, you can also buy domain names, which are very easy to maintain and can often be passive income sources if you pick up some good ones.

A person who deals in domains is called a “domainer” and generally, besides profiting from buying and selling of domains, income is generated from type-in traffic. Type-in traffic is people opening up a browser and directly typing in a domain name. The domain name itself might not have much of a website in place, but if you have enough type-in traffic simply displaying a few ads on a basic page could be enough to generate some nice passive income.

Building up a portfolio of domains is a strategy you can pursue, just remember due to the ease of which you can get into buying domains, competition is fierce, so like with real estate, do your research before investing.

A good place to start domain trading research is DNForum, however look around as there are many other communities discussing this money making method.If you have some serious capital to invest buying fully established online businesses is an option. With $50K to $100K to spend there’s no reason why you can’t buy yourself into a nice full time income stream in one hit, or diversify and purchase several websites that in total result in a full time income stream. The challenge is maintenance, as running a large e-commerce site or many smaller sites can be a lot of work.

I sold my proofreading business to a couple, who, assuming they didn’t break everything, were essentially buying a solid income stream in exchange for a lump some of capital. The business was reasonably automated when I was in control, although the new owner had to familiarize with how the ship worked, it pretty much sailed itself.


Click here for Part 2
Read More......

The Art of Blogging: Business or Pleasure?

By Alan Johnson
(This article appears at CopyBlogger)

Nowadays, everyone seems to think that making money as a blogger is a piece of cake. A lot of people make the mistake of starting out by picking a niche they are not exactly passionate about simply because it pays well.

In other words, they are just in it for the money and somehow consider this a sound business model. It’s easy to show up day after day if the pay is good, right?

No Pleasure, No Gain

Sorry to burst your bubble there, but you couldn’t be more wrong. If you don’t like what you’re doing, your writing will reflect that, no matter how hard you try and this especially applies to blogging.

Sure, if you just launch a static website which will depend on traffic from the search engines then, why not, you could simply hire a few writers, optimize your website and there you have it. Even in that case, maximizing results will prove to be a challenge (let’s face it, you are always more productive when working on a project you are passionate about) but you could get away with it.

When it comes to blogging on the other hand, things definitely stand quite a bit differently. As a blogger, you are establishing a bond with each and every reader. And how will you be doing that? Exactly, you will be establishing a relationship or building upon an already existing one through each and every post.

Readers Think, Readers Judge, Readers Decide

No matter how well you try to hide something from readers, they are quickly able to determine if you are passionate about what you’re doing or not based on your writing style. You can try as hard as you want to, but the fact remains: if you don’t like what you are doing and if you are treating it as a chore then readers can and will pick up on that.

As a result, convincing them that your blog is worth following on a regular basis will prove to be next to impossible. The same way, building a community around your blog (yet another aspect which makes blogging special in the first place) will also be out of the question.

If you are not genuinely passionate about your work, your writing style will reflect just that and you can rest assured that readers will not exactly be thrilled about returning or about commenting and being active members of the community.

Business or Pleasure? Why Not Both?

People often associate the idea of making money as a blogger with a person who works and works, but is only in it for the money. The same way, more than a few folks associate the idea of blogging for pleasure with a person who is having fun, but not earning anything. Why people tend to see things in black and white is beyond me.

Mixing business with pleasure is not only possible, but it is also recommended. Yes, you can make money by doing something you love and, even more so, you will also see your personal productivity skyrocket if that is the case. If not, then let’s just say that maximizing results will prove to be quite a challenge.

Take advantage of the opportunity to make money as a blogger, of the opportunity to earn a living online by doing something you are passionate about. It won’t be easy and there will be a lot of work involved, but if you manage to mix business with pleasure, you will enjoy every minute of it.

About the Author: Alan Johnson is the author of The Online Business Handbook.

Source: Read More......

The Art of Blogging - The Great Ganesha' Version

(All credits of this article should be addressed to The Great Ganesha at Blogcritics)

For the last half-decade or so, a slow but steady transition has been taking place as web pages on the Internet move from the confines of the static page to a dynamic, interactive medium. Blogging has been at the forefront of these changes. Bloggers catalogue the changes and blogs showcase them as they venture into a heretofore unknown medium.

Blogging is in its embryonic stages and has not completely defined itself. It is also the case that it is several things all at once and so defies categorization. Its etymological roots are easy to explain — it is short for weblog. Some early bloggers split the word ‘weblog’ unconventionally into ‘we blog’, and a new word entered into the English language lexicon — a word, incidentally, that was Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2004. So by definition, a blog is an online log, a diary, a catalogue of one’s thoughts. Not unlike our thoughts, the types of blogs run the gamut from the political to the poetic; from the perverse to the picturesque.

Andrew Sullivan – a now-famous political blogger and journalist for Time magazine – describes a blog as “somewhere between writing a column and talk radio.” A blog could be as base as daytime television or as stimulating as an in-depth PBS documentary. A blog is a journalistic report of an event, a well-thought-out opinion piece, the errant ramblings of an old man, or the dull journaling of a teenager’s daily activities.
While it is easy to label blogs as extensions of newspaper or other journalistic media, this falls prey to shaping the unknown into what is familiar. Yes, there are several similarities, but there are more differences. This categorization also partly follows from the fact that it is mainly the political blogs which have ascended from the underground into the mainstream media. But it is the ones that go unnoticed by the mainstream that are the most intriguing.

There are photo blogs, on which amateur photographers post some of the most beautiful images; there are audio blogs where people post audio (also known as podcasts); there are blogs in which people who can barely speak English write the most lyrical prose, in English no less; and there are blogs focused on particular topics, usually started by people who are experts (sometimes real, at other times, self-imagined) in the field. The only universal statement that one can make about blogs is about their format: dated entries which are reverse-chronologically ordered and have a space for readers to comment on them.

At its best, blogging is an art. And just like any work of art, be it Nabokov’s Lolita or Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment, it can be subtle and expressive at once. A good blog post can stir up anger, elation, and grief. It appeals to everyone and can incite passionate discussion. Blogs can create trends or destroy them. Like art, a blog post has its roots in the banalities of everyday existence.

A good blogger can elevate the mundane, or debase the divine. A good blogger creates his own personal villains, orchestrates conflict, thus creating drama. A good blog post can be fiction, non-fiction, or somewhere in between, like a well-written op-ed piece, but written in less time and with less thought. No, that’s not a typo - less thinking is one of the things that sets blogging apart from any of the traditional media. The technology-enabled facility of quick publishing gives blog posts (and their responses) what can be loosely described as a stream of consciousness style. The immediacy creates a sense of intimacy with the audience, and motivates them to interact with the blogger.

This interactive aspect of a blog is what separates it from traditional writing. A blog post is incomplete without its comments - they are an integral part of it. Comments allow a blogger to clarify, argue, converse or just observe his audience. Unlike traditional works of art, comments enable a blogger to look inside his audience’s minds and digest and internalize what they are saying. This knowledge will, in turn, show up in the subsequent posts, where readers can comment again, and the cycle continues. This interaction makes blogging a largely synergistic activity and makes blogger and audience explicitly interdependent on one another. Of course, there is always interaction between artist and audience, but it is not nearly as intimate, and it is not incorporated into the artist’s work as quickly as with a blog.

By giving people the freedom to write about what they want, when they want, along with a more-or-less automatic readership, countless souls (including myself) have found their ‘inner writer’. Blogging is allowing people to create a new style of writing, with its own set of rules. As more and more people join the blogging bandwagon, it is increasingly difficult to ignore. As it gains more exposure, it is also difficult to ignore the fact that blogging, at its best, is indeed a unique art form.

(All credits of this article should be addressed to The Great Ganesha at Blogcritics)
Source: Read More......

The Art of Blogging - George Siemens' Version

(All credits of this article should be addressed to George Simens at Elearnspace

Innovations build on existing perceptions and structures - at least until the new ideas are fully manifested. Then, the innovation discards the shackles of the old model and stands on its own merits and strengths. The development of video is often used to support this phenomenon. Video was initially used only to tape existing live stage performances - a new concept built on the perceptional structure of the existing. True innovation in this medium did not occur until someone recognized the uniqueness of video, and the limitations of live stage shows. Through utilizing the characteristics of the new media, new approaches to entertainment and communication were realized. One dimensional stage presentations were replaced with rich multi-angle, close up, edited, polished video enhanced through the use of special effects.

The Internet is still in the embryonic stages of standing on its own characteristics. Communication and content presentation strategies still mirror existing models, particularly newspaper and magazine publishing. Email, for example, is merely an extension of existing mail systems. As such, it is about bending a new medium to an existing process. 

Blogging is using a new medium for what it is good for - connecting and interacting. Blogging is a first generation tool built on, and taking advantage of, the unique attributes of the Internet. It has been dismissed as a self-centered passing fad...and as the new model of interactive journalism, communication, and learning. This article explores the the uses, benefits, implications, and art of blogging.

What is blogging?
Blogging, as with any new (or in transition) concept, is difficult to define - it has not yet fully become what it will be. Here are some attempts to define blogging:

  • "If we look beneath the content of weblogs, we can observe the common ground all bloggers share -- the format. The weblog format provides a framework for our universal blog experiences, enabling the social interactions we associate with blogging...These tools spit out our varied content in the same format -- archives, permalinks, time stamps, and date headers." (Meg Hourihan)
  • Dave Winer defines weblogs as being: personal, on the web, published, and part of communities.
  • Halley Suitt details multiple characteristics, including: last place on earth to tell the truth, watching brains at work, a love letter, a diary, an open head - for the reader's convenience.
  • "But what bloggers do is completely new - and cannot be replicated on any other medium. It's somewhere in between writing a column and talk radio. It's genuinely new. And it harnesses the web's real genius - its ability to empower anyone to do what only a few in the past could genuinely pull off. In that sense, blogging is the first journalistic model that actually harnesses rather than merely exploits the true democratic nature of the web. It's a new medium finally finding a unique voice." (Andrew Sullivan)
  • "The best description I’ve read regarding blogging is that “it’s somewhere between writing a column and talk radio.”" (Cass McNutt)
  • "A blog is defined as a Website with dated entries, usually by a single author, often accompanied by links to other blogs that the site’s editor visits on a regular basis. Think of a blog as one person’s public diary or suggestion list. Early blogs were started by Web enthusiasts who would post links to cool stuff that they found on the Internet. They added commentary. They began posting daily. They read one another’s blogs. A community culture took hold." (Jay Cross)
Blogging, as detailed above, is a format constant (archives, links, time stamps, chronological listing of thoughts and links), personalized, community-linked, social, interactive, democratic, new model innovation built on the unique attributes of the Internet.

Uses for blogging
As an emerging tool, blogging uses have still not been completely explored. Some current uses:

Most common uses for blogging are personal and, considering its origins as a personal web publishing forum, this makes sense. Emerging uses promise opportunities in corporations and education. Further application will also be realized as existing uses (communication, learning, knowledge management, interactive journalism, etc.) are adopted by various industries - notably entertainment, health care, government.

Benefits of blogging are numerous (which explains its rapid growth!). An overriding benefit is the democratization of information. In classic models, knowledge flow was "stopped" and administered by news sources (paper, magazines, TV). Ideas in keeping with current zeitgeist or political agendas received top billing, while unpopular (though necessary for innovation and social transformation) ideas were ignored. Many of the benefits of blogging are listed above in "Uses for Blogging"...other benefits include:

  • Fostering the fringe - ideas are evaluated based on merit - not on source of origin.
  • Filtering - ideas with merit are filtered through various blogs. Significant thoughts or posts receive multiple-links and spread viral-like across the blogosphere.
  • Multiple perspectives - one-sided perspectives of newspapers are replaced by passionate debates exploring virtually every facet of an idea or concept.
  • Barrier elimination - society is about barriers - actual or unspoken. For example, I don't run in the same circle as Bill Gates - a socio-economic barrier (at the absolute minimum!). In society, this generally means that I do not have the benefit of Mr. Gates' wisdom...blogging, however changes that. Opportunities now exist to hear regular thoughts from people like Ray Ozzie, Mitch Kapor, and Larry Lesig.
  • Free flow - any idea can be expressed...and accessed by any one. The process of blogging separates good ideas from poor ideas. The process itself has built in quality control - try that in traditional media!
  • Real time - discussions and interactions happen right NOW. Waiting for tomorrow's newspaper or radio program seems like an eternity compared to real time blogging.
  • Links and connections - the complexity of an information heavy society requires specialization. Yet specialization is futile if a process is not created to link specialties. Blogging serves this purpose extremely well. Disparate fields of interest and thought are brought together (and dissected) in the machinations of bloggers.
As a disruptive technology, blogging is altering (or perhaps responding to?) many aspects of information/content creation and use. These changes are not without impact. What are some of the implications of a tool that functions at the same speed as the medium it serves? Here's a few:

  • Content creation and consumption on the Internet has finally caught up with the Internet itself. Traditional suppliers of content (publishers, media, news organizations) will face substantial pressures to respond appropriately, or cease being relevant.
  • Decentralization of content and distribution. This is a trend well underway on the Internet as a whole. Napster capitalized on it...and blogging is the "canary in a mine" reacting to (and reflecting) it.
  • The user is in control. The end user (or audience) of a service or product has acquired a central (rather than previous fringe) role. Disagree with a blogger? Tell him/her via "comments links", and initiate a dialogue with not only the author, but other readers as well. Disagree with a newspaper columnist? Throw out the newspaper...
  • Conversation vs. lecture...I have a mind...I have an opinion. It counts. Just like yours.
  • The pipe is more important than the content. By various estimates, bloggers number between 750,000 and 1 million. The ecosystem of blogging is more important than the content being generated. The content has a life (i.e. new technology becomes obsolete)...but the process for content acquisition (blogging) stays continually fresh.
  • Shared meaning and understandings. Knowledge is acquired and shaped as a social process - resulting in spiraling: I say something, you comment on it, I evaluate it, comment and present a new perspective, you take it to the next level...and the process repeats until a concept has been thoroughly explored.
  • Ideas are presented as the starting point for dialogue, not the ending point.

Getting Started
The best way to learn to blog is to blog. Fortunately, getting started is fairly simple. Three main options exist: hosted, remote server, and desktop. 

A hosted service is the easiest and quickest way to start. Services like Blogger allow new users to set up an account (for free or a premium version for $35 per year) and begin posting literally in a matter of minutes. Blogger can host the blog, or the user can post to his/her own site.

A remotely installed blog is perhaps the most involved to setup. Movabletype allows users to install on a server (free for non-commercial, $150 for commercial). Some technical skills are required to configure the blog and database. Documentation, however, is excellent for Movabletype. Installation is also offered for a fee.
Desktop blog programs are installed on a user's computer, and posts are then uploaded to a host. Radio Userland is a desktop program for $35.95, which includes hosting and upgrades for a year. Start up process for desktop blogs is almost as simple as hosted services like Blogger.

Blogger, Movabletype, and Radio Userland are only a sampling of available blog programs. Webcrimson, greymatter, Drupal, and Tinderbox are also available. For a complete listing of blog resources, visit Blogroots.
Once your blog has been setup, you're ready to start blogging! Getting your blog noticed takes some time...but linking to other bloggers, posting comments on their sites, engaging in dialogue, and "pinging" (an option available on most blogs) sites like Weblogs help to increase recognition. How to Publicize Your Blog offers some great concepts for increasing readership. Interesting, provocative writing, however, is the best way to get noticed.

Reading other blogs is an excellent way to learn - not only about the content being blogged, but about the process of blogging. Selecting a variety of blogs and writing styles affords a broad perspective of how to use the medium. Some bloggers of note:

This sampling of blogs reveals an important issue: blogs are used as a tool (replacement?) for virtually every type of traditional media, communication, and interaction. Blogs have infiltrated broad areas of the Internet and appear to be poised for significant, "overnight" success and adoption. Where the Internet is about availability of information, blogging is about making information creation available to anyone.

How to blog
Writing effective blogs is similar to effective writing for traditional media. While sentence construction, basic grammar, and spelling are important, bloggers are often more concerned about communicating concepts. Writing rules are employed (and broken) to the degree that they support effective communication of a message.

However, some differences do exist. Traditional writing is audience focused. Bloggers often write primarily for themselves or for a small group - as a way of organizing thoughts, sharing information, or creating a personal resource of links (as compared to a monolithic "Favorites" folder). The Internet is also more dynamic and media-rich than traditional media. Bloggers can incorporate audio, video, animations, and pictures...hyperlinks are also used to create connections between information and ideas.
The following is a list of guidelines for beginning bloggers:
  1. Start. As stated earlier, blogging is best learned by blogging...and by reading other bloggers. So...start.
  2. Know your motivation. Why are you blogging? What do you hope to achieve?
  3. Link. The heart of blogging is linking...linking and commenting. Connecting and communicating - the purpose of the Internet.
  4. Experiment. Developing a writing style is an evolutionary process. Try different approaches and formats until you find one that fits your message, audience, and personal motivations.
  5. Use life and your experiences as your "idea generation" file.
  6. Get an opinion. Then express it.
  7. Express your personality...let your humour, your perspective on life, and your values shine in your writing.
  8. Post regularly. This is important - readers drop off/lose interest with irregular blogs (syndication and aggregators allow blog readers to stay in touch with infrequently updated blogs - more on that in the section "Extending Blogs").
  9. Keep writing clear and concise. Avoid jargon...but utilize the unique aspects of the medium (visual, links, sound). Focus on communication (function) before form.
  10. Write for a reason, not recognition. Most bloggers have small audiences. Satisfaction is derived from the writing process, not the audience response.
Additional resources: How to Write a Better Weblog and How to Blog

Tools & Resources for Blogging
As you progress in blogging, you may find increased interest in additional tools to enhance your blog. Many resources are available...and the list is expanding continually. Here's a few resources to consider:

Extending Blogs - Aggregating
A few days (or even hours!) of searching the blogosphere can overwhelm newcomers. The amount of information is incredible. How can a user keep track of various blogs? It seems impossible to stay in touch with more than a hand full of bloggers each day. Fortunately, a solution exists to simplify the process of reading large numbers of blogs: RSS (rich (or RDF) site summary).
Some articles detailing RSS/syndication and aggregators:
"RSS is a way of creating a broadcast version of a blog or news page. Anyone who has frequently updated content and is willing to let others republish it can create the RSS file. Typically called syndication, the RSS file is an XML formatted file that can be used at other sites or by other intermediary software such as news aggregators. The original incarnation was to use RSS to include several headlines on a personalized portal page. But an RSS feed can also be easily pulled into other functions, such as an aggregator." The Blog Realm: RSS, Aggregators, and Reading the Blog Fantastic
"Content developers make their RSS files available by placing them on their web server. In this way, RSS “aggregators” are able to read the RSS files and therefore to collect data about the website. These aggregators place the site information into a larger database and use this database to allow for structured searches of a large number of content providers.
Because the data is in XML, and not a display language like HTML, RSS information can be flowed into a large number of devices. In addition to being used to create news summary web pages, RSS can be fed into stand-alone news browsers or headline viewers, PDAs, cell phones, email ticklers and even voice updates.
The strength of RSS is its simplicity. It is exceptionally easy to syndicate website content using RSS. It is also very easy to use RSS headline feeds, either by viewing a news summary web page or by downloading one of many free headline viewers. Though most RSS feeds list web based resources, several feeds link to audio files, video files and other multimedia." An Introduction to RSS for Educational Designers
Portals, Blogs, & RSS: why they are your future - a thorough, link rich exploration of portals, blogs (history, software) and RSS.
Through the use of RSS, bloggers can keep up to date with a large number of blogs. The link to the RSS file can simply be added to an aggregator (for example: Amphetadesk or Aggie). The aggregator then searches the RSS files and generates a page listing posts and topics since the last visit. A user can view large amounts of news/information in a very short period of time.

The simplest innovations are often the most effective in responding to ground swells of trends and change. The potency of the blog phenomenon is two fold: perfect match for its medium and ease of use.

(All credits of this article should be addressed to George Simens at Elearnspace


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