5 Tips for Business Blogging While Traveling

This week is BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas and a fair number of bloggers will be in attendance, myself included. Whether you are attending a conference, visiting clients or taking vacation, if you have a well-read B2B blog, you need to develop a plan for the time away. This is much easier to handle if it is just a couple days, but the following tips can be easily scaled if you are going to be away longer. It is possible to announce a vacation, and take some time off from the blog, but if you are writing a business blog for your B2B company, this is less of an option. Your readers and Google are expecting you to publish on your normal schedule, so you should try to keep to it.

1. Write Ahead
This one is the easiest to plan, the most obvious to do and the hardest to accomplish. If you plan to be away for the time that you would publish one or two posts, spend some time one or two weeks before and write an extra post. If your posts are based on current trends and need to be more timely, this would be a good chance to provide an industry overview and put the issues in context. Unless you will be completely off-line, if you write and schedule posts before you go, make sure you can check for and respond to comments.

2. Set Aside Work Time
If you normally blog at a certain time in a certain place (other than sitting at your desk), try to steal that same time away from your trip. If you always write in the morning, get up a half hour early and write at that same time. Since travel is already so disruptive, keeping some of the structure of your normal day helps on its own. If you can get some blog posts out it, all the better.

3. Guest Posts
If you can plan far in advance, solicit guest posts from colleagues or others in your industry. This is easier if it someone who already blogs, as they will better understand the time involved to write a post for you, but anyone with thoughts and opinions on your blog subject matter can create at least one post. While it is always good to have a few guest posts (or posters) lined up for a rainy day, the perfect time to publish these posts is when you are away.

4. Pull Out an Old Draft
A limited amount of time, whether preparing extra posts before you go, or trying find a bit of time while on the road, is the ideal opportunity to look back at your draft file for ideas and half-written posts. You might find some things that didn’t work at the time, but with a fresh eye and a compelling need for content quickly, can easily be turned into a worthwhile post. If you don’t have any posts lying around, either from ideas that you didn’t write or extra things that just didn’t get posted, you need to add some idea time to your process. While many business blogs are driven by an editorial calendar, you will be a more successful blogger if you have more ideas than you can use and can be more selective about which posts get written.

5. Video Posts
Whether you have a pocket video camera, like a Flip Cam or a Kodak ZI-8, or the latest smartphone, you are armed with great video-on-the go device. Capture your thoughts about an industry issue in a quick 2-3 minute video. If you are at a conference, conduct a few short video interviews with industry leaders. It is easier if you plan these ahead of time if there are certain people you want to talk to, but impromptu ones are fine too. Client testimonials work, but the quality of these needs to be a little better, even for a blog. Consider bringing a tabletop tripod, which greatly improves the shot. Make sure you test drive shooting video, uploading it and posting it to the blog. The point of this is to be able to do this from the road, and not wait until you return.

Please share other suggestions for how you have continued to post to your B2B blog while traveling.

My iPad for Business 1 Month Update

When I bought my iPad, I posted a review of Day 1 using an iPad for business. Reader Christine Thompson left a comment this week asking how it has been going and what other challenges I have run into.

Note Taking
I learned on the first day that I needed a program to take meeting notes and I settled on Pages ($9.99), which is Apple’s word processing program. This is a stripped down iPad version. If you are a whiz at Word and use lots of its nifty functionality, which most people don’t, you will be hampered by this programs. It has all the basics, but that’s it.

As I have continued to attend meetings and take notes in Pages, it has become a bit frustrating. If you are someone who takes copious notes at meetings and constantly refers to them, you would be supremely frustrated. If you want your iPad to be your note taking device, as I do, you want to keep your notes on the iPad in an organized fashion. That is not possible. After you create a new document, an image of it is created in the visual list that you can swipe across. The visual list, with large images of each document, is the only way to access the documents. These are shown in the order that they were created. There is no way to change the order or put documents into folders. To rename a document, click on the default name below the image and change it. Make sure you turn the iPad so it is in portrait mode, as that is the only way to bring up the visual list of documents. And don’t try to combine documents from different programs. Each programs’ documents (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) lives within that program.

The way I approach organization in this cumbersome scheme is to create one document for each client or project and add a date to it with each new set of notes. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always sync these documents to your computer using iTunes, or just email yourself and put the documents in folders as you normally would. This creates version control issues, and you can never be sure which version of your notes contains what you are looking for. The benefit of keeping your notes on your iPad is that you have all your notes together from previous meetings. Again, your frustration level with this is based on the volume of notes you take and how much you refer to them.

Others have used Evernote on their iPads, and this automatically syncs their notes across devices. You can also tag those notes for easy organization. What have your note experiences been on your iPad?

Travel
Last week I took a business trip armed with just my iPad. I agonized over not bringing my laptop, for fear that I would not be able to do certain things (like video editing on the plane), but since it was just a one day trip, I figured I would be fine. I had sent the presentation to the conference organizers, so I didn’t think I would need to present from my iPad, but I was ready anyway. I have Keynote ($9.99). I have the $30 iPad to VGA connector. I even uploaded the presentation to Slideshare as a back up.

The hotel lobby had wifi, so it was no problem connecting to email, Twitter, and even Skype to check-in on our perpetual group chat with folks back in the office. I had written several offline blog posts on the flight down, using Pages, and once I was connected, I wanted to publish one of them. This was a problem. It turns out that the WordPress iPad app does not recognize paste. You can only enter text into the post field. Seriously, no paste. I jumped over to my web browser to log in to WordPress and try it from the dashboard. But no luck. The main panel is not scrollable in the iPad version of Safari. I wound up having to get another blogging app (BlogPress $2.99) to post before I gave my presentation.

Even though I did not present from the iPad, it brought some oohs and ahhs from the attendees. They even joked about a drawing to win my iPad, but I rejected that.

On the flight home, I had wifi, so I tried to take advantage of the Netflix movie streaming app, but it was not to be. The service was not consistent enough for streaming. It was great for email and Twitter, so I went with that.

After using an iPad for business for nearly a month, I still like it’s portability and the ease with which you can carry it around, travel with it, and show others things on the screen. I am not really bothered by the lack of multitasking, because when I am using my iPad, I really don’t want programs running in the background to pop up alert of new messages. And no matter what Steve Jobs says, according to the TSA, when traveling with an iPad, it is just like a laptop and you have to put it in its own bin.