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Stauffer’s latest tech offering continues successful series

When Apple released the pioneering iMac in the late 1990s, Todd Stauffer found a problem. The new computer from the innovative Cupertino, Calif. company offered a plethora of exciting features and functions, so many, in fact, that users could become bewildered and perhaps not use the machine to its fullest potential.

So, Stauffer approached publisher McGraw-Hill with the idea of writing a how-to guide on the iMac. And by every measure, his “How to Do Everything with Your iMac,” now in its fourth edition, has been a success. In fact, it prompted McGraw-Hill to launch a “How to Do Everything” series. Other Stauffer titles in the series include “How to Do Everything with Your iBook,” “How to Do Everything with Your Digital Video Camcorder” and “How to Do Everything with iTunes for Macintosh and Windows.” And the series continues as Stauffer has penned yet another “How to Do Everything” book.

Blog power

Stauffer’s latest book in the series, “How to Do Everything with Your Web 2.0 Blog,” is now available. Just as with his original book on the iMac, the 460-page “How to Do Everything with Your Web 2.0 Blog,” which went on sale in October, aims to give readers an easy-to-understand guide on harnessing the power of the new Web technology.

“I think that pretty much any new technology goes through a desktop publishing phase,” Stauffer says. “Now, anyone can put 20 different fonts in their Christmas newsletter. The general trend is that it is less and less expensive in the creation of media, and that is very powerful.”

“How to Do Everything with Your Web 2.0 Blog” looks to cut through the clutter, giving readers information on choosing the most effective blogging tools such as Blogger, TypePad, WordPress and ExpressionEngine and mastering the basics of blog design and template manipulation. It gives the ABC’s of how to add Web 2.0 services to blogs, including images, video, audio, forums, tags, wikis as well as money-making features.

The book’s 10 chapters include “Plan Your Web 2.0 Blog,” “Choose Your Blog Tool,” “Blog Design and Template Editing” and “Multimedia and Your Blog.”

The book’s final chapter, “Grow and Maintain Your Blog Index,” wraps up the book, and gives readers advice on yet another aspect of blogging many need – how to make money. Stauffer says blogs offer a number of revenue-generating opportunities such as donations and online ads. Once again, the challenge is to find what works, how it works, and then investigate ways the technology can make money for the blogger.

Since it was just recently released, Stauffer did not have a feel for how the book would sell at press time. But if the book is marketed strongly, Stauffer hopes it will find a ready audience as blogs continue to grow in number and popularity.

Techie turns publisher

Stauffer has now written or co-written more than three-dozen books focused on new technology, a career that began with his first job out of college. A native of Dallas, Stauffer earned a degree from Texas A&M University before hiring on with CompUSA.

There, Stauffer’s was handed the job of taking new technology, playing with it, then writing up his findings. He says he learned a valuable lesson while in that position.

“There is an art to being a technology writer,” he says. “You don’t have to know everything about the technology.” He says the important thing is to take the engineer’s report and put it in plain English so others could digest it and, most importantly, apply it.

Stauffer’s “How to do Everything” books vary in the time they take to write. Stauffer has written books in as little as 10 days. However, “How to Do Everything With Your Web 2.0 Blog” took approximately a year to complete and get published. Thus, Stauffer says he is now semi-retired as an author.

Today, he spends most of his time on yet another business idea that has been successful beyond original expectations. In 2002, Stauffer, along with Donna Ladd and Stephen Barnette, established the weekly alternative newspaper the Jackson Free Press. Stauffer says, with a laugh, that when they founded the paper, he was not sure it would be a full-time job.

However, the Jackson Free Press has proven profitable and continues to gain readers. The newspaper has experienced a minimum of 25% revenue growth since its founding, and Stauffer, Ladd, Barnette and their team are hard at work to grow the publication even more, including a major retooling of the paper’s Web site (www.jacksonfreepress.com). The Jackson Free Press currently employs eight full-time staff members, five part-timers as well as free lance talent.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

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