All posts in Personal

  • Tribute to Wayne Hurlbert, Business Blogging’s Goodwill Ambassador

    Wayne HurlbertIt was with great sadness that I learned of Wayne Hurlbert’s sudden passing earlier this week.

    In the event you aren’t familiar with Wayne, he was one of the most unassuming men I’ve ever known. He never called attention to himself. In fact, in the 10 years that I’ve known him, I’ve only seen one photo (the one pictured here).

    Yet, to say I “knew” him would be erroneous. My relationship with Wayne revolved completely around business blogging and social media. I knew almost nothing about his personal life.

    My History with Wayne

    I first met Wayne in 2004 via the blogosphere. Like me, he started blogging in 2003, but unlike me, kept a consistent flow of posts coming on his understated Blog Business World site. (A site that never once ever saw a design change in its 10 year run.)

    Not only that, his was the longest-running show among the thousands hosted at Blog Talk Radio. He interviewed dozens of business leaders, entrepreneurs, authors and notables. (His first show aired in 2006 where he interviewed another of my dear friends, Toby Bloomberg.) I was given the opportunity to be interviewed by Wayne on two separate occasions, one of which followed the publication of my book The Digital Handshake.

    Blog Chamber of Commerce

    I often referred to Wayne as business blogging’s “goodwill ambassador,” for that what he was.

    In 2004, he floated the idea of a Blog Chamber of Commerce, which would serve as an association for business and economic bloggers.

    To cite Wayne, “The purpose of the Blog Chamber of Commerce would be to help organize business, marketing, public relations, economics, human resources, employment, and other related blogs into a mutual assistance and promotional organization.”

    His belief was that by working together to help one another the Blog Chamber of Commerce could provide a valuable service through the advocacy of blogging.

    But Wayne had no intention of starting such an organization himself. That wasn’t his style, nor was it his calling. It was left for someone else to do, so I picked up the mantle and formed the Professional Bloggers Association.

    (The PBA was a good idea – or so I thought then – but it never went to market. Still, the credit for what good may have come of it belongs to Wayne, not to me.)

    What Made Wayne Great

    Wayne’s passing has caused me to assess what made the man the truly great person he was. It wasn’t bravado or his ability to self-promote. Instead, it was Wayne’s impeccable character, gracious manner, gentle spirit, professional demeanor and, most of all, his genuine humility – all characteristics I hope I can learn to emulate.

    The world is a poorer place today because Wayne Hurlbert is no longer in it. We are all benefactors of his impressive legacy and members of his tribe. I hope you will take some time to avail yourself of the rich resources he left us in his blog and radio show.

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  • Reinventing Myself Yet Again

    metamorphosisEvery few years I have to reinvent myself, at least where my business is concerned.

    For example, when I started doing online marketing in 1996 my focus was on web design, so I called myself a web designer. Later, I added email marketing, affiliate marketing and SEO to my skill set and adopted the title online marketer.

    In 2004, having become enamored with blogging and its marketing potential, I became a business blog consultant. Then, in 2006, in an effort to stay current and relevant, changed my title to social media consultant.

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  • Is Freelancing the Future of Digital Publishing?

    Freelance journalism

    A term that continues to appear in front of my reading glass adorned eyes is “freelance.” I don’t know if the universe is trying to tell me something, but, as a soloentrepreneur, it’s a term to which I feel a need to pay attention.

    Take, for example, this quote from Mary Kettl, a freelance writer for “Freelancing seems to be part of the future, however, and as companies continue to hold off on hiring full-time employees, I predict a return to the itinerant peddler and trade guild model of the Middle Ages.”

    The Freelance Opportunity

    Perhaps the current state of the economy is the chief antagonist of those who wish to build a full-time career, but whatever the reason it seems that freelancing is a viable option. That certainly appears to be the case where publishing is concerned, which is why I was excited to come across a site called

    According to its “About“ page Contently’s sole purpose is to empower and connect freelancers with publishers.

    “We created Contently because we saw the world of publishing changing around us. In the midst of the disruption of traditional journalism, digital advertising and social media, the world economy was in a slump, causing throngs of talented journalists and creative storytellers to strike out on their own as freelancers – and not necessarily by choice.

    “At the same time, nontraditional publishers are rising – brands, nonprofits, and lean new media companies – all of which need talent and efficient ways to manage, measure, and achieve business results with content.”

    Even more to the point is its manifesto, which contains this equally impressive declaration:

    “The future of content on the web – content that gets discovered, creates value, and builds audiences – is not cheap text cranked out by content farms. It’s high quality, editorial and entertainment created by experienced journalists and passionate bloggers. The future is a social media world, where humans are the arbiters of quality, and search algorithms reward sharing and human readability.”

    One could surmise that all Contently intends to do is help out of work journalists find jobs, which is certainly a noble purpose. However, I see something even nobler; I see opportunity.

    This quote from a post at Bazaarvoice sums it up best: “Brands are starting to realize that their writers and content creators aren’t necessarily their best marketers. If the aim is to create better, more engaging content, many companies are looking outside their walls and hiring established experts that bring with them skills, an audience, and established cachet.”

    Like I said, a genuine opportunity exists for brands in particular to employ freelance writers, journalists and bloggers to enhance and strengthen their content marketing efforts.

    My Personal Writing Journey

    From my college days, I’ve always been interested in journalism. The first two years of my post high school education was spent at a community college (they were called “junior colleges” in those days), where I served on the newspaper staff and received the “most promising journalism student” award. Moving on to “senior” college, I served as editor of “The Cobbler,” the school newspaper.

    Instead of pursuing a journalism degree, however, I opted for a career in music education, and later entered the ministry. In my 40s, I embarked upon a career in Internet marketing, a field in which I’ve worked for the past 16 years.

    In all that time the love of writing has never left. It’s why, for years, I’ve written or blogged for online publications like Practical Ecommerce, Weblogs Inc, AllBusiness.comMarketingProfs, and Social Commerce Today, among others. It’s also why I’ve authored or co-authored four books on the topics of business blogging, social media marketing and social commerce. And the writing bug remains with me to this day!

    It’s for that reason I’ve thrown my hat in Contently’s ring in hopes of landing some freelance writing assignments. If I’m honest, I would cherish the opportunity to contribute to publications such as Forbes or Entrepreneur, but would also enjoy the challenge of editing a digital publication focused on social media or social commerce.

    On my desk is a gift given to me by my son, Alan, after completing my book The Digital Handshake. It’s a pen and pencil holder (or should I say “writing instrument” holder) inscribed with a quote from Ernest Hemingway, which says, “A writer must write what he has to say. Not speak it.”

    If I’m anything, it’s a writer. It took a long time to reach that conclusion, but there it is.

    Social media and social commerce are the topics that drive my passion, and digital media is the tabula rasa upon which any words related to those topics are to be penned. Now, I look to the universe to afford even more opportunities to ply that trade.

  • Successful Business Endeavors Require Vision

    Business vision

    Do you have a vision for your business?

    My friend John Munsell does. His vision for Bizzuka, the company he founded and serves as CEO, is to become a leading content management software provider for small to medium-sized companies. So does my wife, Amie. A woman brimming with entrepreneurial spirit, her vision is to build Home Staging by Amie into the premier home staging company in south Louisiana and the greater Houston market.

    I have to admit that, until recently, I lacked a strong vision for my own business. Frankly, it took my wife challenging me in that regard for me to begin the process of casting a vision for what the Paul Chaney brand could become. Together, we are working through the One Page Business Plan to not only determine a vision, but turn it into reality.

    That’s not been an easy process either. As a somewhat creative person I have lots of ideas, but, up to now have yet to hone my vision to focus on what ignites my passion and drives me to succeed.

    In Habakkuk 2:2 the Bible says, “Write the vision down and make it plain.” That’s what we’re in the process of doing and I would suggest that it’s a task any small business owner should perform.

    So I ask again. Do you have a vision for your business? If not, craft one starting today.

  • Using Social Media for Social Good

    Screen shot 2010-07-13 at 3.07.20 PM
    The use of social media to produce social good has long been a theme of mine, yet one that's been on the back-burner for quite a while. 

    In the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, I basically devoted my blog to sharing news and information about where resources could be found. I've promoted other charitable efforts from time to time as well. 

    Lately, with the BP oil spill happening so close to where I live, this emphasis on using social media for social good has gained greater importance once again. 

    The work that Geoff Livingston and CitizenGulf has done, for example, touched my heart deeply. I'm so appreciative that he would not only devote space on his blog, but invest time to come down to the Gulf region on a fact-finding missions, and report on his findings using social media channels shows how well it can be used to produce positive change. 

    Most recently, I agree to assist Andy Sernovitz with his campaign to raise $50,000 to provide clean water wells for developing countries through the non-profit charity: water

    My Motivation

    I guess I should explain why this is important. To be honest, it's because of my faith. 

    In 1996, I was given the opportunity to go to Haiti on a church-related mission trip with an organization called New Missions. Like charity: water, among other things they also dug wells in rural villages. These wells provided clean water that made the difference between health and sickness, and possibly even life and death.

    I drank from those wells alongside the villagers. I shared the simple fare of rice and fish provided by the villagers out of their meager coffers (it was the only meal most of them had in a day). For a brief, blessed period of time, I was granted the opportunity to walk in their shoes and am forever changed as a result. 

    Not too long ago I had a shot at becoming the social media manager for a large non-profit focused on helping children in developing nations. However, it would have required a major move, something I was not prepared to do at the time. Still, it was incredibly tempting to vie for the position. (BTW, I'm not sure if they have filled that position. If it's something you'd be interested in, email me and I'll point you in the right direction.)

    To further my investment in the use of social media to achieve social good, as soon as I get the challenge with Andy accomplished, I'm going to assist Denise Wakeman with hers. She is attempting to raise $10,000 for Kiva, the organization that provides micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, and she is well on her way to achieve that goal.

    When I'm gone, I don't want my epitaph to read "He made a lot of money using social media for marketing." I'd much rather it read, "He made a difference." 

    How about you? If you agree, please consider helping me raise $5,000 for charity: water. Not only is Andy counting on me, but more importantly so are the people whose health and well-begin depend on clean water.