Friday, February 25, 2011

White House Gone Motown!

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 20:  Motown Records founder ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Last night, Michelle and President Barak Obama took a well deserved break from their daily chores of tending to: the unrest in the Middle East, the death of 4 American sailors, two wars, closing Gitmo, moving terrorist trials to New York City, suing Arizona, supporting Gay marriage rights, and more, by hosting "The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House".

This lavish gala was a tribute to Motown founder Berry Gordy and the early performers who shattered the color barriers of the day and became superstars of our culture. As this year's Black History Month comes to a close, the "Peoples House", as it is now called, was opened to a select audience that included young music students from across the country.

In the video below, First Lady Michelle Obama begins the event by welcoming Smokey Robinson, John Legend, Berry Gordy and others to the White House crowd in attendance.

According to Mail Online the event was held in the East Room and funded by the taxpayers. Included in the diverse set of performers and audience were a variety of previous campaign contributors. The official video of the performance will be aired on March 1st on PBS.

To avoid the harsh conservative criticism that the Obama's Super Bowl party received, last night's menu was not published to the public. However, since yesterday was also National Chili Day, we're sure that varieties of chili were served along with health portions of carrots and celery sticks.

We applaud the First Family for recognizing these early music pioneers at a time the world is in turmoil. It is often important to take a break. We look forward to viewing the edited version of the performance on TV and are pleased to see where our tax dollars are going.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Get More Followers with the BlogFrog

Find Me On BlogFrog!
For the past 3 months, I've become more involved with the BlogFrog. This is a social media site that links bloggers together in a number of ways. First, it provides you with the ability to broadcast your blog posts and Twitter tweets to all other members. Second, it gives you the ability to create your own Community and to join communities of others. These are organized by topic, which means that your discussions are targeted to others with similar interests. Third, it helps to bring you traffic by recommending your site to other members.

To me, however, the most important benefit of the BlogFrog is that it provides a free advertising vehicle by which I've gained more Google Friend Connect Followers. Since January 2011, my followers have increased by over 25%. I started the month with 98 followers, and now have 126.

This increase in followers was easy for me to achieve. I log into the site nearly every day and review all of my followers. When I see someone new, I visit their blog and become a Friend Connect follower. Most of these members reciprocate and follow me back.

To help members attract more BlogFrog internal followers, the site suggests a handful of members. I simply click on the "follow buttons" and that's it. Within days, my newly acquired friends become followers of my blog as well.

The BlogFrog was founded by Rustin Banks and Holly Hamann in 2009. I joined shortly after it was launched and have witnessed its explosive growth. Today, the site has thousands of members from all over the country. It's membership base appears to be predominantly based in the United States, which is also my primary target audience.

Compared to Adgitize or CMFads, the BlogFrog community contains a wide range of "affiliate marketing" members. Many are trying to sell something, so having free access to a geographically diverse audience is an important plus. Because the remainder of the membership is female dominated, the entire network is clean and family orientated.

From a technology aspect, the BlogFrog requires a java plug in. It continually displays an updated feed of the latest member posts which helps to spark internal dialogues. However, this capability consumes a great deal of CPU. Navigation between the various sectors is often frustrating because it is slow and often ignored. Therefore, I would only recommend this site to those who have high speed Internet connections which has a lot of bandwidth.

One of the other benefits that the BlogFrog advertises is that it can help monetize your blog. I have yet to experience this benefit and believe it is only offered to the most select of members. Thus, new members should minimize their expectation of receiving any income from them.

On the whole, however, I believe the BlogFrog is an important social networking site that everyone should join. It provides free access to a huge membership base. And, I truly believe that you can get more followers with the BlogFrog.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Openness is Key to Establishing Trust Successful Bloggers Learned

Like most novice bloggers, my initial objective of this blog was to simply help fellow bloggers learn how to monetize their newly launched online presence. However, I quickly realized that this type of information was extremely shallow and commonly available.  "Why would anyone follow my advice?" I questioned. To the serious reader, one could take one cursory glance at my early posts and realize that they were primarily filled with affiliate links and written by one without a long term credible reputation. (A common mistake to ruining your reputation).

So early on I decided to expand my reach by discussing things I learned as a website and blog owner. I dropped the "in-post" affiliate links and concentrated on describing my first hand experiences and personal learnings. I talked about new features released in Blogger, other broadcasting tools such as Zemanta, hacking attempts on my site, etc. After a while, I realized that being an experienced author helped to establish and maintain a limited but dedicated following.

More recently, I've begun to include stories of my own personal living experiences as well. I wasn't sure why, but I felt that it was important to interject a personal touch to create a bond with my readership.

Then listening to my favorite radio talk show host, Michael Savage,  this week, I learned why personal stories were important to my blog. It's because:

Openness Creates Trust.

Savage explained that one reason for his radio success is that his listeners trust his opinions and advice. This didn't happen overnight. Instead, it took him 16 years to gain the following he now has.

While his message is primarily political conservatism, he mixes his show with stories of his dog, wife, boat, children, dining and shopping experiences, and more. People trust him because they understand who he is, and he's not a stranger.

Without knowing it, I too began establishing a trustful bond with my readers by sharing some of my Christmas disasters, thoughts about raising children, and political viewpoint. It's not important that readers agree with my message. But, it is important for my readers to understand who I am.

Trust Takes Time

Establishing a trustful dialog with your readers does not occur immediately. Think about the fact that: The internet is full of scam artists who are trying to steal your content, identity, or money. Why should anyone trust a complete stranger?

Whether you are just a beginner or a seasoned veteran in the online world, its important to continually ask yourself:

Why would readers trust my advice?

Once you believe you have the answer, you will find that: Openness was the key to establishing your own online trust.

Friday, February 4, 2011

End of Audi Lease Means Hello Subaru Outback

Audi A4 DTM EditionImage via Wikipedia
Since 1998, we have had three Audi A4's which we used as our primary family car. These were beautiful automobiles with exceptional handling. And, the all-wheel drive feature has been especially important to us living in northeast New Jersey during the winters.

But, like all good things, our lease is about to end in the next two months. While we love these cars, we have decided not to get another one for a variety of reasons.

We purchased our first A4 Avant in 1998. It drove and handled wonderfully. But, after the 4 year warranty ended, we began to experience a number of problems. First, the tires continually wore out. We checked the alignment and balance over and over, but that was rarely a problem. We spoke to other Audi owners and they complained about the same thing. Second, we started to smell a burning odor when inside the car. The dealer said we had to repair the head gasket, so we did. Then, within 3 months, the same odor reappeared. That time, the dealer replaced the head gasket again but it was free of charge. Everything was fine for the next year until the antifreeze warning started going on. We added new antifreeze and within a week, the light appeared again. So we added more fluid. We took it back to the dealer, but they didn't find anything wrong. However, they did agree we were losing fluid somewhere. Finally, they said the antifreeze was leaking into the engine and that would be an expensive repair.

So, that was it. With only 68,000 miles, we decided to turn it in and get a new Audi. But that time, we decided to lease the car. We figured that the lease would be up in 3 and a half years, so any repairs would be covered under warranty. The week before we returned it, we smelled the same burning odor in the car. We knew what that meant and were glad to begin a new lease.

This third Audi will now be going back in a little less that 2 months, but this time we will not replace it with another Audi.  Instead, we want to drive an auto that is maintenance free. This car has less than 24,000 miles. Just last month, I returned home from work and saw a large fluid puddle around the drivers side tire. It didn't smell like oil or antifreeze. So, we had the car towed to the dealer and they found that all the transmission fluid leaked out. Apparently, some gasket broke which caused the problem. Then, three days ago, the drivers side windshield wiper fell apart. Luckily, the warranty covered these repairs.

This current Audi will be returned with a small dent in one of the doors. We were going to have that fixed, but received instructions from Audi stating that any dent less than 2 inches in diameter are considered normal wear and tear and will be free of charge.

Subaru Outback IV 2.0D AWD ActiveImage via Wikipedia

Our next new car will be a Subaru Outback. We owned one of these during the Audi years and had it for 10 years. That car required no maintenance during the 170,000 plus miles that we drove it.

The Outback is 4 wheel drive as well, so we know it will handle well in the snow.  While this car is not as elegant as the Audi, we're looking forward to owning a maintenance free automobile once again.

After all these years, we feel a little sad because the end of this Audi lease means hello Subaru Outback.
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