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fmylife.com: and you thought your life was bad?

I’ve taken a bunch of entrepreneurship classes, read a bunch of articles, and heard a lot of people talk about entrepreneurship and they all say that the best ideas are the simplest ones.  They are the ideas that people get as soon as you explain it to them.  Fmylife.com is the perfect example.

Fmylife.com is a blog to post humorous recollections “of everyday anecdotes likely to happen to anyone.”  People post short stories about unfortunate events that happened to them that day.  Here’s an example, “Today, I was walking my husky when she saw a cat and bolted toward it.  I coudn’t let go of the leash because my hand was tangled up.  Forced to run along, I ran into a parked van at full sprint.  I lost my dog, broke two ribs and have to pay for the dent in the van.  FML”

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I can’t tell you how many people have told me about fmylife.com in the past week, it’s unbelievable.  It is especially incredible considering the site was launched in English in January and by March 6, the Wall Street Journal reported that it had one million visitors daily.  As of today, fmylife.com’s site rank is 3,275.

Fmylife.com is a spin off of the French site VieDeMerde.fr.  This site was developed by two French entrepreneurs and launched in January 08.  They have now published a book in France with their VDM stories, have one of the top ten most visited sites in France, and are publishing a book in English with FML stories that is coming out this summer.

Fmylife.com is an incredibly simple site; it is just a blog.  Not only that, but it isn’t even that asthetically pleasing (this site far surpasses it).  Fmylife.com makes money through advertising, through publishing books, and all of their matterial comes from the user.  All fmylife has to do is maintain the site and weed through the stories users submit to find good ones to publish. 

Not only is the cost of running the business low, but contributors are able to laugh at the bad stuff going on in their lives, and readers are able to laugh at their own troubles seeing that they often do not compare to others issues.  What a great business!… or is it?

While much of the content on the website is truely funny, if you haven’t guessed so far from the name of the website, which stands for f*** my life, much of the content is also very crass and vulgar, and this is a question the entrepreneur needs to look at.  Just because there is a great way to legally make a lot of money, does that mean an entrepreneur should do it?   …more on that in weeks to come.

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CoverItLive: The Tip of the Live Blogging Iceburg

blogOne of the best parts of the blogosphere is that, without needing to be submitted for editing, data and opinions can be almost instantaneously shared around the globe. A limitation of traditional blogging is the readers’ need to refresh the page to get the latest content. A website called CoverItLive.com is out the change that. It provides free live-blogging software.

The website provides a form of a chat window that can be embedded into a blog and as the writer updates the site it automatically updates the live blog. The software also allows readers to submit comments and the writer can moderate a debate or a discussion among his readers.

Possibly the best use of this technology is in conjunction with sporting events. Over this past weekend, I had the opportunity to particpate as a reader in a live blog about the Super Bowl [some of the language may be PG-13] on profootballtalk.com. The main contributor to the website, Mike Florio, was in the press area in the stadium during the game. He kept a live blog about his experience, giving his readers a view that has become available only to the privileged few.

Also this weekend, I hosted a live blog and encouraged a few of my friends on campus to contribute so that I could get a feel of what it is like to live blog on the other end.

My experiences were both very positive. The hosting window is very simple with a pane showing reader-submitted comments, one showing the window that is made public and one with very clear organized menus of settings and user statistics. The only complaint I can make about the interface is that there was no way to make hitting ‘enter’ post directly, but you must click ‘submit’ to make a comment go live.

As a reader, the process is very straight-forward and clean. I got zero negative feedback from the people submitting comments to my blog. Having participated in a few fairly large live blogs, I noticed that it sometimes seems that your comments get swallowed up because the host selects comments and the more readers submitting makes it harder to sift through them all. However, that would be expected with any large group.

Some possible uses for this technology would be:

  1. Blogging about televised sporting events
  2. Giving play-by-play for games not all readers can watch
  3. Commenting on an election as the poll results come in

Overall, the use of CoverItLive technology is very positive.

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Hot Sauce for Your Blog Posts, 25 Tips

As a class we came up with these 25 hot sauce tips to give your blog spice. Use with caution.

  1. Write relevant content
  2. Make it interactive (ask for opinions so readers can respond)
  3. Blogging is an accessible way to become an expert
  4. Link out generously. Link with long phrases not short words
  5. People like listshot-sauce
  6. Add multimedia (pictures, videos, podcasts)
  7. PROVOKE people to comment (make it controversial!)
  8. Always provide value
  9. Post often and regularly (the right frequency for your audience)
  10. Be original (new topic that has never been covered or an old topic from a different perspective)
  11. Use keywords in title, content, tags
  12. Make it casual/conversational and easy to read
  13. Focus on a niche
  14. Succinct.
  15. Give it edgy content.
  16. End with a question?
  17. Use whitespace
  18. Write outside the box (non-conformist)
  19. Don’t “add to the noise”
  20. Allows for your customers to interact with you
  21. Be your own expert.
  22. Condense ideas
  23. Relevant to your readers
  24. Authentic passion
  25. Give your blog personality

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Corporate America, join the conversation or you lose.

Recently, I wrote two posts, one on FriendFeed the other on PicLens. Just for kicks I decided to let the companies know that I liked their product/service (…proservductice?) and I had written a post about them. I wasn’t expecting a shoutout on their blog or being added to some list, I just wanted to let them know I liked what they do enough to write a post raving about them.

Instead, what I got were two great examples of how companies should interact with bloggers. Here are their responses…

Great. Thanks, Blake.

Feel free to add your trackback and link to our new blog at blog.cooliris.com.

Kind regards,
#### & The PicLens Team

——————————-

Hi Blake,

Thanks for the email, and for taking the time to write a post about us!

– ### (FriendFeed)

——————————-

This is exactly what companies need to do. Engage and participate in the conversation. How easy is it for a company to give a simple thanks to a blogger who liked their prod/serv. enough to spend time writing a post about them?

Honest, impartial and critical, are what makes the posts we do here so much more trustworthy than a sponsored review. They can be much more valuable to a company than something they hired someone to write. The company essentially gets free advertising and legit promotion. It is the least they can do to give a simple thanks, yet most companies are so removed they miss out on some great opportunities to encourage discussion of their offering.

Recently Megan wrote a great post on PageOnce. Shortly after, someone from the company posted thanking her for writing the post and gave a link to access the private beta test.Plug Your Ears

A while ago I wrote a post on a great online storage solution, Humyo. I told the company about the post and they asked if they could forward it to their PR department and said they would hook me up with premium features to test. For a while, I was on page 1 of Google for “Humyo” and almost first for “Humyo Online Storage”. If I had written about how bad the service was, that could have had a serious impact on their company. If one of the first few results on Google for you is negative you’ve got a problem! Yah think?

Now it may be easy and necessary for these solely internet based companies to keep tabs on what is being said about them on the net, but what about companies primarily offline? I think that they too need to join the conversation or risk losing a significant opportunity. It is not hard to setup a Google alert for your name and see what people are saying (good and more importantly bad) about your company (or you).

Two lessons here:

  1. Bloggers (words) have power both to build a companies reputation and destroy it.
  2. Companies need to participate in the conversation online and not be silent.

What examples (good and bad) have you seen of companies joining/ignoring the conversation?

Update: Shortly after I posted this, PageOnce visited again (evidenced in the MyBlogLog widget in the sidebar) it shows what a close watch they keep on what is being said about their company. Props guys!

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Twitter – At a Glance

I’m taking a look today at Twitter, a popular online service similar to the “status box” implemented by Facebook. Twitter gives users the opportunity to post small updates on their life via a personal RSS feed.

Here’s the basics. Once you’ve signed up for a twitter account you’ve got your own personal little twitter feed. Anytime you want you can go to your twitter home page and type in a little blurb, 140 characters or less. Whatever you’ve entered will then show up in your feed for people to read.

There’s a few different ways folks can read your twitter updates, popularly called “tweets.” For one, they can go to your profile on the twitter website. This will display your last several tweets and give them an option to scroll through older ones. Also, if they have an account with twitter themselves they will also be able to subscribe to your twitter feed through the website. Referred to as “following” your tweets will now show up on their homepage when they log into twitter. You can also directly subscribe to the RSS feed of anyone’s tweets using any standard reader. Twitter is also easy to integrate with your personal website so that you can display your feed anywhere you like.

Created as a simple status updating service, twitter is rapidly evolving to encompass more uses. For one thing, it’s being used by many as a chat system, something akin to the “shoutbox” you’ll see on the occasional forum only a little more personal. If you’re following someone and they make a comment that you have some sort of response to, you can post a little reply in your twitter feed. If they’re following you as well, they’re going to see it. In fact, this way to chat got popular enough that twitter caught on and made adjustments to accomodate it. The standard way to let somone know that you’re responding to something they said is to start you response with the symbol ‘@’ and the person’s username on twitter. Once they picked up on this, twitter changed the coding on their site so that the ‘@’ symbol would automatically cause the following username to show up as a link to that users profile page.

So why should we care about twitter from a business perspective? I mean it’s neat, people have this great little tool they can use to communicate with their friends and even form a sort of community, but what does that mean for me? Can I find a profitable use for this tool? I ran into alot of questions about the possibility of twitter for business use while I was checking the service out, and I came across one viable idea that’s worth taking a look at.

I’m gonna segway for a minute to one of my personal favourite websites. It’s a webcomic called MegaTokyo that’s been around for quite some time now. The site has seen enormous amounts of success even to the point of several published collections of the comic being released and available in almost any large bookstore. Now there’s one thing that the author of the comic does that has caught my attention several times. He has a spot for his own personal twitter feed on the site, but also includes a second twitter feed that relates specifically to the comic. You’ll see updates there on the status of the next strip. Things like “drawings done, working on inking,” or “almost finished, should be up by 3:00.”

This is an excellent move in my opinion. Using a twitter feed this way is giving the site two advantages. First off, it’s a way for readers to feel a little more connected with the project. They feel more intimately involved in the process of the comic if they know what’s going on every step of the way. It’s that sort of connection that converts casual visitors to fans.

Secondly, it adds yet another little bit of dynamic content to the site. Most content-based websites require fresh new content to arrive periodically in order to be successful. Megatokyo, on a regular basis, updates with a new comic strip every monday wednesday and friday. However, it’s not always possible for the artist to keep to that schedule. People have lives and sometimes they get in the way of writing and drawing a comic strip. When a fan of the comic visits the site and sees no knew content, they’re dissapointed. With the addition of the Megatokyo twitter feed, however, they are at least able to check out what the progress is on the strip, how soon it will be up, why it got delayed, etc. Along with fostering a greater feeling of connection to the project, it provides something ‘new’ for the reader to be checking up on, one more little reason to come back to the site… and that goes a long way.

Twitter is more than a trendy little service. It’s an excellent business and networking tool the potential of which has yet to be tapped. Anyone with an interest in social networking, blogging, online communities, internet entreprenuership or even just a desire to keep their finger on the pulse of the web needs to get in on this.

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