Monday, 28 November 2011

I Want To Make A Private Blog

How To Create a Private Blog or Invite Only Blog
There are a lot of reasons why you might like to make a private blog (that the general public can't find). Situations arise everyday - grief, trauma, unwanted diagnoses, accidents - in which we find ourselves screaming at the world. Having a private blog where you can go and vent your frustrations is not only therapeutic, it also acts as a diary of your progress. You can go back and read just how far you have come since that first day when you embarked on your journey.

Blogger blogs make having a personal and invisible blog very easy but I'm going to walk you through it...just in case.

I recently got a message from my step sister asking me how to create a blog but one that nobody else could read, unless they were invited. It took a message from her - a mother of two, awaiting a biopsy of a tumour in her lower abdomen the size of a sports bottle - to make me realise that she's not the only one - we all have a story to tell, but not all of us want to publicise that story to the world.

BEFORE YOU CREATE YOUR NEW BLOG
You are currently reading a Blogger blog. These are blogs are free to create and are hosted by Google for free. You can't lose. No, I'm not getting paid to say that. Creating a Blogger blog is a 3 Step process. Sign In or Up to Google. Name you new blog. And choose a template.

Before you get too carried away, I always suggest taking a moment to think about how you want your blog to feel. How do you want to present your blog, what is its purpose? Do you want to inspire or educate people, or write to (or on behalf of) a loved one? Will it be a Dear Diary of the latest news? Perhaps your blog will have a very raw or primal feel to it? Somewhere you can go & vent your true feelings.

It may seem irrelevant at the moment if you want your blog to be invisible to the world...but never say never. One day you may decide to let someone special in there to read about your life.

Thinking about the feel of your blog will also help you to decide on the name of your blog, the URL (the website address), the style of writing you use and the themes, pictures and fonts that you choose. Just give it a passing thought before you start. And then click here to Create a Blogger Blog. I'm going to walk you through the creation of your new blog. =)

SIGN IN OR UP
You'll need a Google account. If you don't already have one, follow the links to create one. If you do, then Sign In.

NAMING YOUR NEW BLOG
A URL is fancy talk for the full web address of your blog. NOTE: you can only choose the URL ONCE. So choose wisely. Never choose a URL that has more that 15-20 letters (or characters...you may use numbers too). You will want to choose something short and catchy, memorable, relevant & something that you don't mind rewriting hundreds of times.

The blog "title" however can be changed as required and it does not have to match the URL. For example:

Blog Title: John Smiths Journey to the Ends of the Earth
Blog Address/URL: http://johnsjourney.blogspot.com

You may need to try a few variations of "JohnsJourney" before you find a URL that hasn't already been taken. 

CHOOSING A TEMPLATE
Blogger provides a number of templates to choose from - you won't have to worry about choosing the colour of your text or the size of your title. The templates come in a number of colours and themes - all of which can be customised later on.

This is something that professional bloggers and web masters even struggle with. It's very easy to find yourself side-tracked by the overwhelming options for the layout and theme of your blog. Don't worry about it! This is a private blog, for your eyes only, nobody else is going to visit any time soon so choose something that is pleasant and later on, once you know you're way around the dashboard, you can go back and make it look amazing. I won't spend more than 5 minutes having a look through different templates & adjusting them slightly to my needs or tastes. And that's plenty, I can go back to tweak later on.

MAKING A BLOGGER BLOG PRIVATE
Last year, the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) had over 20 trillion web pages in their indexes. Over 1 trillion websites. The odds of somebody you know finding your blog is astronomical. However, you can change the privacy settings of Blogger blogs to make them invisible. Without getting to techy, the search engines will not index your blog - it's like having a private phone number that can't be found in the phone book. 

If you decide to hand out your phone number (or your URL) to just one person, or if you like the idea of Caller ID (where friends/family can become members to your blog and cannot access it without being logged in)...then Blogger blogs can accommodate your needs. They are very flexible, so lets get you over there.

1) If you are viewing your blog, in the top right corner click on the DESIGN option. The Design option used to be called Dashboard, because that is where it will take you.
2) Using the updated (the white) Dashboard, there are a number of options on the left of your screen. Later, you will use these option to create Posts, make Pages for Photo's or Video's, change your Template, or your Layout. Take your time to get familiar with your Dashboard.
3) Select the option called SETTINGS - you will automatically find yourself on the BASIC settings page, but there are also other options that allow you to change the timezones, language, comments, etc
4) Click on PRIVACY - if you answer No for both questions, you're blog will not be added to "the phone book" (the search engines will not let people find you)
5) SAVE CHANGES after you make them
6) Scroll down to BLOG READERS (and save changes if you make them)

Here you have a few options. If you select the ONLY THESE READERS option, you will be given the chance to email an invitation to some guests. These guests (your family or friends) will need to accept that invitation and sign in to visit your blog. 

ANOTHER PRIVACY FEATURE
In the event that you do choose to list your blog in the search engines, you may find that you come across that occasional spammy or offensive comment. You can moderate these comment, delete them or restrict who is allowed to post comments to start with.

On your SETTINGS page in your Dashboard, there is an option called POSTS AND COMMENTS.

You can accept comments from anybody, or only those from members of you blog (those guests that invited via email). Choose whichever options please you and don't forget to SAVE CHANGES if you make them.

And there you have it...
A brand spanking new blog, which nobody will ever find - unless you invite them to - ready and waiting for your very first post. 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Promoting a Band

TungXsten - in the finals of Battle of the Bands.
Of all the things that I've promoted in the past, all the websites, the blogs, the PPC campaigns, the video's, the works...it's been an absolute privilege to help a dear friend promote his band known as TungXsten. When these guys got together and formed a band, they also created a brand. Recognizing that this is a brand like any other makes it easier to promote. All the regular rules on Internet Marketing apply.

It's been quite an experience working with TungXsten. Promoting a band really is something else. I think the modern equivalent of a demo tape these days is having a solid online presence. So it involves having a huge number of websites (and backlinks to those websites) working together to get your name and you sound out there.

So to cover a few basics, here are some great places to start:

Reverbnation.com is a website dedicated to helping bands get their sound out there - they have access to mailing lists and heaps of other cool tools that will help budding musicians. Make use of those tools. When you build a mailing list, make sure you keep in regular touch with fans - let them know where they can find you or that you have an empty schedule next Saturday if they want to book you.

YouTube: A few years ago, nobody over the age of 20 knew the name Beiber. This kid had been winning over tens of thousands of young fans via YouTube and adults just didn't know him. He was a nobody in the mainstream industry, but a god to teenagers everywhere.

The marketer in me would tell you to add as many tags as you can think of - as long as they are relevant. If you have a website, blog, a page at Reverbnation then make sure that you leave a link to it in the first sentence of your video's description. Don't forget about the option to make video replies. For example, if your band sounds like Kings of Leon, then upload your music video as a reply to one of their songs.

Some marketers will actually pay (per month!) to have their URL in the descriptions of high profile video's that see thousands of visits each day. You can ask friends & family to put your URL in their descriptions, even if it's down the bottom of the description; it will still count as a backlink and you just never know...

Facebook: Is not actually my strong point, but I've learned so much about my own fan Pages as I've been promoting the TungXsten fan Page. The trick is to think of your Fb Page as a secular website; that means regular content, music, video's and pictures, a landing page...and backlinks.

It took me a little longer than it should have done to realise that you should promote your Fb Page outside of Facebook (common sense really, we see the "Find us on Facebook" summons everywhere these days). That means that every web page you have access to, you need to link back to your Fb Page - your YouTube vid's, Twitter, mailing lists, etc. But this is something that you can also promote offline too; something that you can tell your workmates about, or mention between songs when your onstage.

Make regular status updates on Facebook. You don't have to bombard your followers but you do need to remind them that you're here, let them know when you've got a next gig or where they can find you how they can contact you.

Reverbnation, MySpace and CD Baby also have apps that are similar to the Facebook Music Player. Have a look around and familiarise yourself with the different options.

Twitter: The same principles that apply to Facebook also apply to Twitter. Twitter is a great tool to get your message straight into the pockets of your fans. Let them know where you're playing or how to get in touch with you, which sites they can visit for more details.

And that's just for starters...
These are just a few sites that will help you build a fan base and establish a presence online but ideally you'll want your band to have its own website too.

Think of each site like your business card - not a sales pitch, but a way of providing information about your comings and goings, your next gig, your entry into competitions or online contents.


Some things to watch out for...
One thing you want to think about is the way you present yourselves, how you want to be known. Your professional persona.

But more important than that, are some basic rules of internet marketing:

Backlinks - these are links that you leave around the internet that take people to your website (or Facebook, Reverbnation pages, etc) These are absolutely critical to getting your web pages found by Google. Build enough backlinks and when people search for bands in your area they will find you. Backlinks should be from as many different websites as possible, they should be one way links (which means you don't link back to that site) and ideally, they should come from high profile websites.

Keywords - these are the words that people type into the search engines. The name of your band is a keyword but you might also want to think about the type of people who would be searching for your music...and the way they would talk. What would they be searching for? Eg "rock bands in [the name of your city]" or "best rock bands from [the name of your state]"

A marketer will choose two or three keywords...and repeat them. A lot. You'll find those keywords in the names of articles and titles for webpages, in descriptions for YouTube video's. The marketer will associate their brand with these keywords. Your keywords tell the search engines like Google what your web page is all about so that when somebody searches for that keyword, the Google algorithm's will match your web page with their search.

Linking Your Sites - all of your sites need to be linked in some way to another. Each time you open an account somewhere on behalf on your band, you'll need to include your primary website in your bio or description along with any summons Find Us On Facebook to Follow us on Twitter. You will need to update you links and your descriptions from time to time.

Any questions?? I know I sure have some! One of the most difficult things to grasp about promoting your band online is that you will be entering the world of Internet Marketing - marketing is an ever changing world. There will always be new platforms to use. There will always be new opportunities to jump on. The good news is, that you have probably grown up in front of shopfronts, tv's and radios...you are already familiar with the concepts of marketing. Whether you are online or offline, the same principles apply, it's just a matter of having a go.

Good luck guys, I will be talking some more about promoting bands in the future, so stay tuned!