Do You Have a Personal Portal Yet?

I have my own portal page. It's at  It's built on a cool tool called

Yesterday, I read about a new personal portal-type of tool called About.Me (hat tip to TechCrunch). I haven't seen the admin area of yet (I did reserve my name and you should too), but I know that flavors is very easy to use. Super simple to build a quick page that can act as several things at once:

  • a single-page, brochure site for "who you are"
    • a brief one- or two- paragraph bio
    • contact info
    • a photo
  • a portal to other places you have on the Internet, be it social or otherwise
    • Social Networks
    • Online Resume
    • Blogs or Wikis
    • sites where you contribute content
    • sites that have you ranked or awarded

I'd try to take a minimalist approach to these types of pages, but you can find various uses for them. I know there are even a few small, rural businesses using this type of page for their web presence.

I believe the trend towards single-page, personal portals is going to grow – especially with "free agency" and "gainfully unemployed" becoming popular job descriptions.

My suggestion is for you go reserve your name at flavors and about (and maybe both) today.

Mike Sansone portal
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Strong-End Summit: Don’t Give Up

Friday afternoons are often a bit more relaxed, but relaxed doesn't mean lazy. The Strong-End Summits are a way to end our week strong and come back refreshed.

Grazi, Jimmy V

Here are two that have been in the area of "give up" but chose a different path:

No matter how hard life hits, don't ever quit

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Have a strong weekend!

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3 Ways to Write List Blog Posts as Easy as A-Z

2278856732_e8de1d4d1d Next time you're in a grocery or book store, notice the headlines on magazines.

Lots of lists.  Numbers of ways, and the A-Z of bests, and even acronyms to spell out stuff.  Go to any page on Alltop and look at the most "Topular" posts of any category.  Always a list or three amongst them.

And as much as you say you hate lists, you love 'em too. Everyone does (both). I always hear about folks saying how they can't stand Barry Manilow — but they know all the words to all the songs.

So here's an easy way to get started on list-writing, blog-posting prowess.

Know what your topic is — let's say it "______ ______ to Better Audience Participation at Your Next Speaking Gig"  Or something like that.

We don't yet know if the list is a Numbered list, an Alpha list, or an acronym.

Get a piece of paper (or open a text doc on your computer). Create a column down, A through Z.  That's the start.

Now, start listing (in a row across from the corresponding letter) the ways or manners to get that "better audience participation."

Maybe you come up with lots of "ways" in the "T" row.  Your blanks above might be the "Crossing Ts to Better Audience…"  Dig?

Perhaps you come up with 18 different items, but they're all over the place in the alpha list.  You've got it — "18 Ideas to Better Audience..."

Still, you might have some letters, but you're short on numbers. Is there an acronym there?  Maybe you can find a synonym to improve the acronym.  You might come up with…"Take a S.T.A.N.D. to Better Audience..."

Now we're cooking, hmm?

What other ideas or cheats do you have for making list posts?

Photo on Flickr by Roger Smith


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0-60 Series: Day Six – Smart Infosumption with Google Reader

Today, we start subscribing to RSS feeds that are relevant to you and your business. Ideally, you did your homework and opened a Google Account, yes?  And you wrote at least one practice post on both Day 4 and Day 5, right?  Excellent because that's where we start here on Day Six – Smart Infosumption with Google Reader.

Objective: To begin receiving a Relevant Signal Stream (RSS) through your RSS feed aggregator. This stream of information will help you:

  • Build relationships with other writers and your readers
  • Capture more signal than noise from all the content and communication being published on the web
  • Provide a storage house for the more valuable information

Tools: Google Reader

Quickly, let's note that the popular definition of RSS is "Really Simple Syndication" – essentially it allows regular folks like you and I to publish our ideas to one place (our blog; Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and by the power of RSS – the content is spread to those who have freely subscribed to the feed.

When you think of syndication, you might think of the comic strips that you find in the newspaper. The comic strip is written, then pushed through a syndication house and out to those papers who have "subscribed" to that comic strip.

Of course, this is a crude example and to save time, just know that as a writer – RSS allows your word(s) to spread lickety split and far. But the real power, in my opinion, is the RSS benefits as a reader. Because of RSS I've become smarter, quicker.  And if Time is Money and Knowledge is Power

Out goal today is simply getting you into the habit of subscribing to RSS feeds

I'm sure you've seen the RSS icon in some variation or another:



It's usually on a sidebar of a site (though many mainstream or stuck-in-2000-AOL publishers hide these icons at the bottom of the scroll). You can also find an icon in the address bar of most browsers:


The first time you click on the icon (I'd check and try to use the sidebar feed icon first, you'll want to choose to "subscribe via Google Reader."  You may see a screen like this (in which case, you just choose +Google)


Any of these will quickly get you to your Google Reader "Add Subscription" screen.  From there we'll be able to choose a folder (though we'll do that in a few days) and organize your information smartly.

There is one more way to subscribe to a RSS feed Though I don't use it often anymore, it will help if you have an old browser or if you are subscribing to a search result. It's an easy four-step process:

  1. Right Click(CTRL + Click for MACs)
  2. Copy Link (aka Shortcut)
  3. Go to Google Reader an Add a Subscription (Under the Google Reader logo top left)
  4. Subscribe

Easy, no? Repeat after me (out loud):

Right Click – Copy LinkAdd a SubscriptionSubscribe

Okay, ready to get started? Let's go to your site and find your practice posts.

Subscribe to your own RSS feed (remember, if there's no icon – look up at your browser address bar). Got it?  Now go to my site and subscribe to the ConverStations RSS feed.

We'll go over a few more feed-reading techniques within the next few days. What I'd like you do to is find a few sites you might think are worthy of your eyeballs. Remember, don't bookmark or favorite them – subscribe to the RSS feed.

Here are just a few (business-centric) sites I'd suggest:

When we gather again, we'll go over some of the Skim, Scan, Save muscles you'll be building.

The Series:

You can get the 0-60 Series emailed to you in a gradual release format (one-a-day) for only $150 $89

If you really want to go super-deep into RSS reading, with one-on-one coaching, try the TNT program for RSS ($225):

Here's some of what you'll learn in the RSS Feeds set:

  • Google Reader vs Google Alerts
  • Search Once and Subscribe
  • Why Using Personal Pronouns is Imperative
  • Using RSS as a Relevant Signal Stream
  • Is Your RSS Radar Up
  • Monitoring Your Name, Brand, and Content
  • Smarter Infosumption
  • Pruning Down Your Feeds
  • How Feeds Can Create Your Credibility Customer Loyalty
  • Skim, Scan, Save…and Share
  • RSS as a Content Producer and Publisher
  • Filtering through the Echo Chamber
  • Using Feeds for the Fringe
  • Privatizing RSS Feeds for Premium Content
  • ….much*16 more!!
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“Hello, Social Media Experts” A Video Tribute to the Meme

Coffee Tables are Conversation Stations. Libraries are Big Cubicles

Coffee Conversations Folks know I invest a lot of time at Panera Bread. Rather than pay rent on an office space, I've found for my work – Panera works better (and it's a few dollars less each month).

I often suggest to new "free agents" to find a public place – one that invites conversations – and visit there two or three times each week to work and network.

Even if you're new in town or you're not accustomed to starting conversations, by visiting the establishment a few days (try to find a consistent time frame), you'll become familiar with the regulars — and you may even make a business connection (or 12).

I'm not against Libraries – in fact, I love – love – love libraries.  I get my best work done in them. I work in peace and focus, and if I lose that focus, I "walk the stacks."  But it's a difficult place to make connection and conversation ("ssshhh")

Many libraries have Coffee Shops right there (so there ya go).  But get out of the house.  Be on display. Make yourself findable and available.  You'll find that your business improves and your work gets done.

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Get Your Blog Coaching via Skype Conference Call

I have a few spots open for Blog Coaching calls via Skype:

Reserve your spot for a one-on-one series of Skype Coaching calls.

You receive four, one-hour calls where we define your strategy and tactics to extending your reach and increasing your bottom line.

You also get a "thin-slice" report of your blog site prior to our calls, along with a review two weeks after the series. 

All this for only $250

There is a limited number of spots open, so reserve your spot today.

If you know of a small business owner or independent who might be able to take advantage of this offer, let them know.  When you make your payment, we'll schedule the calls via email. We're open 24/7, so we'll find times convenient for you.

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Iowa Social Media Small Biz Workshops w/ Suzanne Hull

Suzanne Hull I'm excited for some of the things happening in Iowa and the Social Media "stuff" that's being made available by some of the voices worth hearing here.

One of those people is the dynamic and energetic Suzanne Hull, a generous and contagious teacher of Social Media for Small Business. I've had the good fortune of working with and hearing her talk with
customers — and she not only "gets it" – she "gets it done."

On Tuesday (09/07/10), Suzanne starts another series of Social Media Workshops, with the intro at the affordable price of "free" – and followed up with a series of session for only $25 each.

Here's the schedule of Fall Lineup of Social Media for Small Business Workshops that Suzanne is leading (class descriptions by Suzanne):

*FREE* Social Media for Small Business Workshop Overview, 7-Sep

In this FREE workshop, learn why it’s important to engage in social media as a small business owner and how best to engage in which platforms to get the most out of your time. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshop - Overview in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite


Create a WordPress Website/Blog Session I, 14-Sep – $25

Bring your laptop and we’ll create a basic website/blog for your business using WordPress. WordPress allows you to develop a website/blog for free. If your business does not currently have a website or blog, this is a great start. We’ll create a few critical pages for your site and focus on the techniques of blogging. Prerequisite: General computer skills. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshops - Create a WordPress Website/Blog Session I in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite


Create a WordPress Website/Blog Session II, 21-Sep – $25

This is a continuation of the first session which took place on 14-Sep. Bring your laptop and we’ll continue to create a basic website/blog for your business using WordPress. In addition to the pages we created in Session I, we’ll create a few side-bar widgets. We’ll take a look at the blog posts people wrote for homework and critique. Prerequisite: General computer skills. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshops - Create a WordPress Website/Blog Session II in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite


Create a Twitter Account for Your Business, 28-Sep – $25

Bring your laptop and as a group, we’ll go through the steps required to set up a Twitter account and profile for your business. You’ll learn Twitter etiquette and how to engage Followers on the platform. If you attended the fist two sessions in this series and developed a website, I’ll show you how to create a link on your website to your Twitter account. When you leave, you will have a firm grasp on how to find and follow people and how to create relationships that will help you in your business. Prerequisite: General computer skills. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshops - Create a Twitter Account for Your Business in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite


Create a Facebook FanPage for Your Business, 5-Oct – $25

Bring your laptop and as a group, we’ll go through the steps required to set up a Facebook FanPage for your business. We’ll talk about the tabs and Facebook Ads, edit the Bio section, upload your business’ logo and add some content to the Wall so you can begin inviting your friends to become FANS of your FanPage. If you attended the fist two sessions in this series and developed a website, I’ll show you how to create a link on your website to your Facebook FanPage. Prerequisite: General computer skills and a personal Facebook page. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshops - Create a Facebook FanPage for Your Business in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite


Create a LinkedIn Profile and Company Page, 12-Oct – $25

Bring your laptop and as a group, we’ll create personal LinkedIn Profiles and Company Pages for your business. We’ll spend most of our time on the profile, but we will also talk about how to search for people you can build relationships with to help you in your business as either a customer or connector. If you attended the fist two sessions in this series and developed a website, I’ll show you how to create a link on your website to your LinkedIn presence. Prerequisite: General computer skills. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshops - Create a LinkedIn Profile and Company Page in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite


E-Newsletter Creation using MailChimp, 18-Oct – $25

Having an e-newsletter for your business is a great way to stay in touch with customers – especially when they’re not quite ready to buy. We’ll set up an e-newsletter template using MailChimp (free for up to 500 email addresses) and you’ll leave with a firm grasp on how to draft your first e-newsletter and send it to your email database. If you attended the fist two sessions in this series and developed a website, I’ll show you how to create a newsletter subscription link on your website. Prerequisite: General computer skills. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshops - E-Newsletter Creation using MailChimp in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite


Content Creation and Management Tools, 26-Oct – $25

I consistently hear from those not engaged with or new to social media: “I don’t have the time to do this” and “I don’t really have anything to say”. Bring your laptop and we’ll download TweetDeck to make it easier to manage your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and we’ll set up your GoogleReader so you can subscribe to blogs and searches relevant to your industry as RSS feeds. Prerequisite: General computer skills. Register for Social Media for Small Business Workshops - Content Creation and Management Tools in Des Moines, IA on Eventbrite

All workshops in the series will take place on the dates above from 6-8pm in the Conference Room of the Worldwide Amplified Studio located on the Skywalk Level of the Partnership Building at 700 Locust Street in Downtown Des Moines.

It is my hope that if you own a small business, or you're an independent, or you know of one who is either of those, that these workshops will be filled with an SRO crowd.

By the way, I've seen the conference room at Worldwide Amplified. It's a top-flight venue. When you're there, ask Suzanne how you can hold your own classes there.

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64 Different Kinds of Blog Posts to Keep Your Writing Fresh

There are probably more (and chime in with your favorites), but here are 64 different types of business blog posts you can use to keep your blog, your writing, and your imagination fresh:

Acronyms – Even if you don’t like acronyms, know that most readers do like them. They’re great for teaching and learning – and remembering.

Advice – Many blog posts are really advice pieces, but you can tweak a customer conversation into an “Ask Me” type of advisory post. Your answer will satisfy the many who didn’t ask — but have the question or problem

Alphabetical Lists – An “A-Z guide” or even “The ABC’s of…” are great ways to get your writing juices stirred. Even if you don’t get all 26, you can turn it into a numbered list. (This post started as an alpha)

Announcements – Maybe your book is soon to debut, or you’ve switched jobs, or maybe you’re moving to Portland.  A blog post is a great place to share the news.

Archives – A reflection of posts from the past week, month, or even years. It makes it easy for new readers to catch your best. This is especially good when you get a spike in traffic and therefore new visitors.

Automated – There are plugins or apps for delicious and twitter that allow you to automate a day’s activity into a post — while you sleep!

Backstory – You know the features on the back end of a DVD? People love these! Do likewise with some of your business, whether it be that back of the store (few people get to see that stuff) or a history of the company.

Badges & Honors – Consider your field of expertise and give out “badges” to others in your field. Two examples are Liz Strauss’ SOB badges, and most recently, Jade Handy’s Language Hacker Awards are shining examples.

Book Review – It’s a great way to suggest books, and publishers will keep you supplied with new titles. By using a tool like GetGlue, you can also link reviews to your Amazon affiliate (movies too)

Brain Stew – This goumaloush or potpourri of thoughts…separated by elipses…was made popular in the 80s in Larry King’s USA Today column.

Case Studies – A bit more work, but when done right – they fly around the blogosphere. You can also keep these as PDFs and offer them free to those who subscribe to your feed.

Carnival – A great way to build community and traffic around a topic. These are often a collaborative affair where each participant posts their submission on their site, then the host gathers those and posts the whole on their site. Then they take turns hosting.  There are numerous ways to do blog carnivals.

Cartoon – There are many online tools to choose from, often with a three-panel or six-panel set.  And you don’t even need to be able to draw.

Collaborative – Collaborate with a colleague or someone from a different field. This give-and-take can point back to each other’s post. You can possibly do a Pro vs Con type of post.

Collection -This can be a list of blog posts from other sites, a collection of comments you’ve made elsewhere, or a listing of tweets that made their mark. Whistle Stops is one example.

Contrasts & Comparisons – These types of posts are often enhanced by a two-column, tale-of-the-tape comparison. Think of the end-of-year IN vs OUT pieces.

Controversy – I don’t recommend these often, I write them even less often.  But they can work sometimes (know your audience).

Cornerstones – There are few times I applaud the 2,000 word post. However, they can be valuable as cornerstones of your methodology and a way to build out more posts.

Customer Stories – This is the “Listen to Your Day” type post, where you share real-life stories (be careful, you may want to change gender or other specifics). These are different than Testimonials.

Diary – A reflection of your own learning or planning from the day.

Drawings – Sketching or storyboarding an idea is another way of articulating you message. Think Back of the Napkin.

Embedding – Embed a YouTube video or Slideshare presentation that your folks would find value from – and thank you for being the resource.

Events – Promote an event (yours or not). Try to include a widget or link that makes it easy for your readers to register.  Remember, if there is a code or affiliate to disclose that.

Fictional – Use your imagination with fables or short stories. In a blog post of this type, there are two stories: a Blog Post story & a Life Story. This could even become a series.

Gratitude – Share gratitude to someone who has crossed your path in someway, either offline or online. Could be a customer, a reader, a former mentor or teacher – anyone.

Guest Posts – Offer up your real estate to others, either in a guest post format or a team of semi-regular  contributors (as Jason Falls recently did at Social Media Explorer)

Holiday – You might want to stay ahead of the curve here, but really any calendar-driven event works here: From Saint Patricks’ Day to Super Bowl Sunday, there’s always a holiday or reason for celebration.

How-To – Giving your readers the “how-to” doesn’t always mean they’ll DIY you out of a gig. In many cases, it will give them reason to outsource the project to you. Either way, these posts get read and share a lot.

Hypothetical - These “perhaps-stories” can be popular and ignite some lively, breakthrough conversations.

Infographic – These poster-sized, time lines and data-driven images have burst onto the scene and have become quite popular. Has anyone done something in your field? This has become so popular, Alltop has a category for just for these crafty items.  Mindmapping might also fit here.

Informational – Sometimes a post as an FYI can alert someone in your audience of just the tool they need, at just the right time. Just because a lot of others have already shared it, doesn’t always mean that your audience has seen it. Remember, if it has value…

Inspirational – A feel good, Chicken Soup-type of post. Ideally, you’ll be able to tell this and still bring it back around to your business.

Interview – A good example of this online is Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog. The interview serves as instructional and link-loving. It can also be very low-maintenance if you craft a core collection of questions that work in every field or discipline.

Lists of Links -These could be your favorite blogs, a listing of valuable resources, or any number of things.  The main idea here is to provide value to your reader — though it doesn’t hurt to be generously linking outwards.

Meme – These are more organic than the old “game-of-tag’ type of posts. Frankly, you don’t need permission to carry on a meme, just link back to the motivation for your carry-on work.

Metaphorical – Analogy, Simile, whatever. Take yo
ur business idea, story or post.  And turn it into a story everyone can relate to - Blog Posts are Inventory is an example

Mini Saga – Rajesh Setty is one who does this superbly on his site. Mini Sagas are stories told in exactly 50 words. Not 49 or 51 but exactly 50. I’ve done a few here and they are both fun and productive in how they hone a writer’s thinking. Give it a try.

Motivational – A bit more kick-in-seat than an inspirational post. Can’t you just hear Rob Schneider now? “You Can Do Eeeeyt”

Movie Clips – I use these as motivational tips or to drive home a point from previous posts.  In fact, there is a site called Movie Clips that I use quite often.

News – Every field has there industry magazine or association, be it Agri-biz or Show-biz and every discipline out there. An occasional here’s what’s new or news (and your two-bits on it) helps your positioning in your biz.

Numbered Lists – Top Tens; 27 Ways; this post … just look at the magazine racks at the bookstore or grocer.  These headlines sell (and get clicked or shared often).

Offers – Maybe you have a webinar coming up, an event, a discount on teleconference calls. Maybe offer your readers a special discount if they mention a code.

Parody – A humorous take on someone else’s work. These make for a good intro into a more serious discussion (or a close-up of one gone on too long).

Pictorial – Remember Perceptions of Bloggers? A picture (or seven) tells lots of story in a different way. Katie Ketelsen’s Garden Grunt has lots of good examples too.

Personal – Every once in awhile, it’s good to show a personal side.   A prized memory from childhood, a fond memory of fammily, or just an inner thought that might also resonate with a few of your customers or readers.

Poetry – I’ve done quite a bit of rhyme here on ConverStations (too much say you? hey, it’s part of what I do)

Polls and Poll Results -There are so many tools to take polls and then post results.  Make sure you have a business reason (either your business or something to do with what you do).

Predictions – We see a lot of these for end-of-year, but if your industry or location is undergoing changes, a prediction come true might add a lot of juice to your words in the future.  Just a prediction of mine.

Presentation – Embed a presentation deck or video from a recent speaking gig.

Procedural – These instructional step-by-step guides (in photos and text) are winners. If you need some ideas, check out the Instructables site.

Profiles – Write up a profile of a hero, colleague or customer. I used to a Dialing 8 feature occasionally and it was well-read and well-received by those profiled.

Quotes – Everybody loves a good quote now and again. One of the most popular here is my Quotes n Notes series, where I have a quote that kicks off a blog post centered around its point. Another unique way of doing this is a single, large image with a quote inside it (like a PowerPoint slide).

Rant – Like controversial posts, these are as likely to do damage to your reputation as the ones you’re writing against, if you’re not careful. If you do rant about a problem, also offer a solution in a positive, respectful manner.

Recipe – And it doesn’t always have to be cooking. A recipe for success in social media might look like 30 minutes of writing, 20 minutes of reading, a dash of tweeting and 2 cups of coffee. Let simmer for a day, then publish.

Resources – Wikis, Code-cheats, Free photo sites, Cool tools.  If you find a resource, share it!

Satire – A poignant post poking puns can always be one that travels.

SCAMPER – One of my favorite creative-thinking tools is a good SCAMPER.  Here’s one idea, tweak someone else’s idea. I took a John C. Maxwell outline and SCAMPER’d it for blogging.

Script – A script can be a hypothetical conversation between two characters or an actual one you have in your own mind (or with your blog)

Series – These types of posts can end up being an e-book or incentive to subscribe. An example would be our 0-60 Series to kick start small business social media engagement.

Song Lyrics – Either to drive home a point (like my I Hear the Train a Comin’ post) or rewording the song and noting “as sung to the tune of…” (as in my Resume Buffet bit)

Statistics – Doing some research and gathering data is a great way to punctuate your point(s).

Testimonial – Gather customer testimonials, videos or text, and post them on your blog.

Trend Spotting – If you’re seeing a trend in your industry, elaborate on the observation and how to apply what you’ve learned

Video – Videos of you, your business, or even things just on the fringe of what you do are winners. I look at Dan Pink’s Travel Tips as great fodder for this type of post. Short. Valuable.

I’m probably missing 7 or 18 other kinds of blog posts, but I don’t know if I can count that high. Do share.

One other thing to keep in mind: Some of your foundational methods or missions can be delivered in different ways. Can you use several of these “types” to say the same thing in a different manner?

Tell a Friend: Make Money Just By Talking

My buddy Brett Rogers at Worldwide Amplified has a unique business opportunity – and a great referral fee, just for spreading the news.

You can make $4,000 (or even $400) – easy-peasy.


This business model can be a fantastic opportunity in the right hands – and it's possibilities are worldwide.