Q: How do I get started blogging and using Twitter? Are there classes I can take?

Great questions. Blogging and tweeting can be terrific ways to do the "engage" and "love" steps of the "Get R.E.A.L." fundraising process! Here are some tips to get you started.

Blogging is simply a matter of writing what you're passionate about. I find it easier to blog in my own voice than trying to take on the voice of a nonprofit. So you might want to start a personal blog first, before doing an organizational blog. If you're just blogging for yourself, you can determine if you like long posts or shorter posts. If you're blogging for business, it's best to err on the side of shorter.

  • You can use a free tool like www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com.
  • If you have a website of your own, it's fairly easy to load WordPress on to it. You can find that at www.WordPress.org.
  • Once it's up and running, you might want to find a Blog Carnival that fits your cause. These are ways of getting exposure for your blog while discovering other blogs too. You can even volunteer to host the carnival if you'd like.
  • It's also a great idea to start reading other people's blogs and leaving comments. One way to find blogs is by using a site like alltop.com. Check out their list of fundraising blogs and nonprofit blogs. I like having all my blogs feed into Google Reader www.google.com/reader.
  • Be sure to upload an image to Gravatar too. That way you'll have your nice face on the comments you post on other people's blogs. www.gravatar.com.
  • Also, depending on your goals, you might find it helpful to use a site like www.ezinearticles.com to republish some of your better blog posts. It helps with links to your site and gives people permission to repost them with you getting all the credit.

As for Twitter, I love Twitter!

  • It's best to set up a profile including a picture and brief bio. Put keywords that are important to you in your bio. People will find you based on these words.
  • Start following as many interesting people as you can. There's nothing worse than not seeing any tweets in your Twitter stream. You can use a site like www.twellow.com (the self-proclaimed "yellow pages of Twitter") to find people with similar interests. Feel free to follow me too! I'm at http://twitter.com/marcapitman
  • You can also use something like www.twitterfeed.com to make it automatically tweet when you've published a new blog post.

For any social media, be sure to be social. It's good to have a focus, but you don't want to be always broadcasting your own stuff. That would be like going to a networking event, standing at the door, and shouting to everyone all the things you're doing as you throw business cards at people. Not cool.

So be yourself. Be conversational. And be generous by sharing other people's stuff too.

Here are a few resources for more information:

Social Media Events

SOBcon: Many of my friends swear by SOBCon. I hope to attend next year.
http://www.sobevent.com/

PODCAMP: These are inexpensive "un-conferences" that share all sorts of social media expertise
http://podcamp.pbworks.com/

140 CHARACTER CONFERENCES: Based on the 140 characters allowed in tweets, this is a fast moving conference that covers all sorts of social media.
http://140conf.com/

Social Media Books

The Secret to Writing a Successful and Outstanding Blog by Liz Strauss

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith [affiliate link]

Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan [affiliate link]

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin [affiliate link]

Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin [affiliate link]

Social Media Blog Posts

How to position yourself as an expert
http://www.smallbizsurvival.com/2006/06/blogging-how-to-position-yourself-as.html

2 easy blogging tricks to learn HTML quickly
http://successcreeations.com/207/2-easy-blogging-tricks-to-learn-basic-html-quickly/

Getting started with social media
https://fundraisingcoach.com/2010/09/08/getting-started-with-social-media/

Twitter 101: Basic tips and advanced techniques for using Twitter
https://fundraisingcoach.com/2009/08/31/twitter-101-basic-tips-and-advanced-techniques-for-using-twitter/

Twitter 101: Finding interesting people to follow
https://fundraisingcoach.com/2009/09/02/twitter-101-finding-interesting-people-to-follow/

Twitter 101: What's the deal with hashtags and why should I care?
https://fundraisingcoach.com/2009/09/04/twitter-101-whats-the-deal-with-hashtags-and-why-should-i-care/

Those are my tips and a few resources, what would you add?

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