Monday, January 28, 2008

Blog, Blog, Blog, Mediation Blog World!

2008 is the year of the mediation blog, people!

The blogging world is exploding with new ideas, formats, creative uses and money! Mediators, we got to get in now because the popularity and power of blogging is only going to grow.

Why Blog?

Because blogging is one of the most compelling and egalitarian communication tools around. Each mediator has the ability to reach hundreds of thousands with his or her message and get an answer back.

And while it's true that a new blog is created almost every second, according to reports by Technorati and other blog monitors, that doesn't mean your blog will get lost. Create a micro-niche with a very tailored message and your blog will be a magnet for those who need your services, even in a very crowded field.

Why Mediators?

Why not? Our business is about communication, for heavens sake. We have to start talking to our markets. Each blog can be a mini learning center to share the process, experience and potential results with prospective clients.

Within the profession,we have to start talking to each other- mediator-to-mediator more with blogs. Long ago when Diane Levin and I launched the ADR Web Ring, we hoped more mediators would join us in the blogosphere. Many did join in and create thoughtful, useful blogs. ( No better examples than Mediator blah, blah and Settle it Now) There's room for more. I'd love to see our online community reach the volume and variety of blogs and discussion found in the blogging world.

Why Now?

It's the right time for a couple of reasons.

Blogs make money
. Blogging is beginning to get monetized in a serious way. Bloggers like John Chow claim to make upwards of $25K per month. Yeah, I'm a bit skeptical, too, but not so much I won't try to find out more.

Blogging is fun. The tech tools are getting easier to use. The income strategies are pretty creative. Of course, not every technique recommended by online gurus is going to be appropriate for a professional practice like mediation, however, many will be adaptable. Information products and Amazon stores come to mind.

Blogging is low-cost. The most popular platforms and are still free and probably always will be. So, there's no real cost barrier to blogging. However, as blog design and functionality evolves, it'll be harder to be attractive and competitive with a free blog platform. ( I'm planning to shift to Wordpress for just this very reason.)

More to Come on Blog Design and Launch

Yep, this is definitely the year of the blog for mediation. Our Spring Learning Series from March to May will focus exclusively on the how-tos and why's of launch, design and promotion for your blog. It doesn't have to be overwhelming and you don't have to do it alone. Hopefully, I'll have the pleasure of sharing the stories and blogs of a few mediation/ADR bloggers in an interview or two.

I'm excited to see what you all come up with. So, please drop me a comment below to share your blogging plans, especially if you're just starting out.

My new baby boomer blog,, will launch in February (from my mouth to G-d's ear). I'm still kicking around branding, but my tagline will be something like (feel free to kibitz):

This Marriage Thing
Conversations that redefine marriage, boomerhood and what comes next... OR

This Marriage Thing
Conversations for folks who want to be happy and married...

This is a side project that's kind of an experiment in combining the new viral and social media marketing techniques like Stumbleupon and podcasting. Should be fun and I hope you come along for the ride.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wordpress Enthusiasts get Free Ad Design Work

I'm a bargain hunter and damned proud of it.

This is a quick post to introduce those of you interested in starting a blog to Mark Lloyd, web developer and designer. Mark's site,, features articles and blog posts that yield great tools and offers.

Case in point, Mark has agreed to design 125x125 ads for the new Entrecard, blog social network, for interested bloggers who post about him. (I'm hoping to be one of the lucky winners of a free ad). I'm just getting to know Mark and Entrecard, so I'll keep you posted. Hopefully, I'll be able to share a new designer and traffic tool to you soon.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

An Impromptu Blog Review- Theraputic Family Law

Recently B. James Stinson, author of Theraputic Family Law blog, sent a comment and some link love my way. As a small token of thanks, I offered a suggestion or two for improving his site, which has good content but a few design issues.

Here's what I had to say:

    Hey James, thanks for the terrific comment and the 'link love' to

    Last year we did a teleseminar on websites and blogs with Lisa Welles. If I were channeling her now, she might offer suggestions like:

    Ease readability by using a white background instead and increasing the font size. 60 million baby boomers get their info online, but only if they can read it!

    Boost readership by having a publication schedule- bi-weekly, weekly or daily. If your content is valuable (and it looks like it is), people will want to know when to expect the next gem.

    Make thing simple by adding categories or search function. An avid reader or a newbie will want to search quickly to find the post they need.

    Last, consider turning relevant website section, which is very robust and valuable, intoa resource guide that you can exchange for email addresses or sell to create a small revenue stream.

    Generally, I share this level of insights with my coaching clients on a Breakthrough Call. I had so much fun writiing this comment I think I'll turn it into a full post.

Have a look
and share your feedback here with James. The more, the merrier. (Special thanks to Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger who runs a community blog critique that inspired this post. Darren is a real pro.)

Want your blog critiqued?

Let's try an experiment. I'll review and offer insights and resources for three mediation blogs for free. I'll select the winners based on the useful, insightful, encouaging comments you leave for James. Specifically, please help James think about:

  1. How to make the blog more user-friendly?

  2. What should be added or removed from the site?

  3. What niche should he target?

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Consulting that Builds Mediation Businesses

To paraphrase former President Clinton, it's a business, silly. Not a hobby, a cause or charity. Mediation practice is a business.

That's the message that most mediators need to grasp as they grow from new mediator to competent, confident business owner. Mediation practices are businesses just like medical, dentistry or law practices. Being in the helping professions doesn't mean we're exempt from making sure the bottom line is healthy. Knowing how to run a business requires advice so here are a couple of suggestions for affordable assistance.

Getting Help to Get Started

I was woefully naive when I started my first training practice, Odyssey Seminar, way back in the 90's. I had no idea about pricing, business analysis and only a vague idea about marketing. Certainly, I've learned a thing or two over the past 17 years that lead to a successful business, but it could've been a heck of a lot easier.

That's why I strongly suggest that you find help to get started. What kind of help? Consulting that will enable you to understand what your practice needs, what you're capable of doing, and when to outsource. Who doesn't need that sounding board or nudge in the right direction that saves time and aggravation. I know I do, and I bet the same is true for you.

But isn't that stuff expensive, I hear you asking? Well, that's a relative question. I have saved tons of money doing my own research to find free or low cost consulting. On the other hand ,I probably spent my most valuable asset, my time, unwisely. The longer it takes me to find an answer, resource, tool, the more asking an expert (or at least someone more knowledgeable than me) seems like a bargain.

First Stop for Free Stuff

Into online resources? Check out sites like and Listen to the business podcasts on iTunes and These resources allow you to quickly, easily find what you need and digest it in a convenient way. Also consider joining an online group like Ladies Who Launch or the Entrpreneurs Organization to interact with other service providers who have similar challenges and goals.

Want to talk to someone? No problem. There are numerous non-profits devoted to helping all flavors of entrepreneurs. I eventually landed at the Center for Women and Enterprise in Boston, founded by Andrea Silbert, a staunch advocate for ending poverty by entrepreneurship. Their 'turbo' class reshaped my thinking; I grew a bigger vision. Best of all, I remain friends with the women I met in my peer coaching group and we meet each summer for a reunion.

Lately, I'm considering visiting my local Small Business Development Center. Linked with a local college or university, these centers offer consulting and services at low or no cost to emerging business owners. I'm launching a new blog,, and want some help evaluating my market and deciding on what services to pursue. Coursework covers topics like understanding financial reports to deciding on business entity to getting financing and beyond. Find the nearest center to you by visiting

A comes before Z

Don't skip this step if you want to make real progress. I realize that recommending this course of action is tricky. For those of you who suffer from analysis paralysis, seeing a consultant can feel like permission to research endlessly without taking any real action. Resist the urge and demand that the consultant help you create and be accountable for an action plan.

For those of you who feel ready to jump right in, seeing a consultant is a reasonable way to test your theories and plans before you invest money or time in them. It's great to be passionate about your services/niche, but don't be mislead by those feelings. Get some constructive critique from someone whose been there before. That's one of the best perks of the Practice Builder community- we share ideas and get feedback that's useful and action-oriented.

Remember, you can't help anyone if you're not in business anymore, and the more your practice sucessfully grows the more people you can reach.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


PS I'm doing a mediation marketing talk for NYSDRA members on Thursday 1/17 at 1 p.m. EST. For more information and to register, visit or contact Emily Menn of NYSDRA.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Your Plans for 2008- Start NOW!

Stop and ask yourself: what's the one thing I'd like to accomplish this year?

Are You Full of It?

It's a tough question. Answering requires courage, vision, and most of all discipline. Discipline is where most of us, including me, get stuck.

Like most entrepreneurs I'm full of it--good ideas, that is. I'm a fountain of great business and marketing ideas but what really matters is what actually gets done.

Because, unless you have priorities in place, your good ideas will go to waste. Narrow your focus until you have one good, possibly great idea, then give it all you got.

At her blog, Jan Marie Dore, executive business coach for professional women, posts a list of questions that I thought I'd share with you as a first step:

    Q: What were your greatest accomplishments in 2007?

    Q: What were your biggest challenges of 2007, and how did you overcome them?

    Q: Where did you hold yourself back last year or play smaller than you could have?

    Q: What was your biggest learning or insight last year and how are you implementing what you learned?

    Q: What did you not do that you wish you would have done?

    Q: How can you use this information to make 2008 your best year ever?

A terrific list to which I would add:

Q:How can you create systems that automate your work and give you time for reflection?

Q:What are the unique ways in which you can reach and serve your market?

I'll be very curious about the answers so feel free to use the comment area!

By the way, Jan is also an expert on leveraging what you know to create passive income. You, yes, you have knowledge that can help someone and your bottom line! Join Jan and I as we discuss how on Thursday, Jan 10th at 10 PST/1 EST
You can register here

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Blogging Plan for 2008

Taking time off does wonderful things for me. I get a chance to 'wander' around the internet and be inspired by the remarkable talents of other bloggers like British blogger Alex Bainbridge who blogs about travel ecommerce.

A Blog Plan

You never know where a good idea will come from so I read everything. (I have about 30 blogs in my RSS reader of which I read about 10 pretty religiously.) What I gleaned from Alex's fascinating blog, along with some really subtle ways to monetize a blog, is the idea of a blogging plan. You know, a plan for what you want to talk about or achieve via your blog for the next year. Sounds useful, doesn't it?

Why Bother with a Plan

By now, of course, you've grown weary of me harping at you to get a blog and actually have one up. (If not now, WHEN people?) In your blog you're discussing issues, ideas and resources that you think will be helpful to your target market, but how do you actually know readers find your site useful? Simple. Say it with me, "Research and Tracking"

Using key indicators to track the development/growth of your blog is a little like having ESP. You have a vague impression of what might happen in the future. It's not rock solid data but it's better than outright guessing. Last year I tracked key indicators for and was surprised at some of the results (turns out August was the best month for sales, even though I consider it a 'dead' summer month because of vacations). This year I'll consider August a 'planning' month and provide resources that help members get ready to go 'back to work'.

What to Put in Your Blogging Plan

What you track really depends on what you want to achieve and how much time you're willing to devote to capturing, analyzing and strategizing. When Mensch launched in 2005 I was delighted just to have an outlet to talk to other mediators, forget any strategy or analysis. The blogosphere has taught me so much I'm eager to put some of it to use here.

Here are some relatively simple things I plan to follow this year:

  1. Readership- how many unique visitors come to Mediation Mensch daily or weekly.

  2. Subscribership- how many people sign up to be alerted to new posts either by RSS feed or by email opt-in. (This stat is different than readership as I have 4 times the number of subscribers as I do daily readers)

  3. Most Popular Posts/Comments- what really engages or interests my readers.

Sure, there are other things I could, and probably should track, like incoming links from other blogs or trackbacks to specific posts one my blog. However, my goal for Mensch this year is to triple my subscribers.

Why? Because broadening my reader base let's me encourage more mediators to market more and hopefully increases the conversion rate from blog readers to Practicebuilder members.


There are so many tracking/analysis tools on the net the hardest part is picking one that suits you. Google Analytics is a standard among website users including bloggers. I have it but find that it a bit tricky. I've heard that Perry Marshall has a terrific tutorial or you can read the free wikipedia information. does a great job of graphically showing you the growth of your subscribers. Do a google search on blog analytics and see what you turn up.

What else should bloggers be tracking? I'm sure there's more so feel feel to use the comments. Hey- maybe Tammi Lenski of Tech Mediator will share her thoughts with us?

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!

Stop Trading $$$ for Time- Jan. 10th