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Archive for April, 2007

Well, we’ve come to that time again; it now seems like another good time for a questionnaire. A while back I was getting a few comments from visitors to MiContent, but recently things on that front have dried up a bit. Getting comments is one of my most enjoyable aspects of blogging, as it gives me an idea of what other people’s viewpoints are on topics of my interest. I know what I think, but we’ve got to know that others see things differently and that their opinions are just as relevant as our own. I also like the social feeling that I get when commenting back and forth with others…As I work as a Creative Writer I spend much of my time alone, so it’s always good to have human contact of any kind.

So here’s the topic. ‘How do YOU get people to come and visit YOUR blog?’ Ok, I’m going to send this around to some popular bloggers, bloggers I’ve already had some interaction with, as well as some other arbitrary blogs relating to my interests. I’ll list some questions down here, but like the first survey I did (‘So you’re a blogger, why do you do it?’) please feel free to express yourself further if this topic strikes a chord in your heart/spirit/brain. Also feel free to express your opinions on how you’ve felt when people haven’t visited or commented at your blog.

How I Get People to Come and Visit MY Blog:

By, A. Blogger

  1. Since you created a blog have you done anything with the direct motivation of bringing visitors there? If so, what did you do?
  2. Do you ask other blogs you like to partake in link-exchange so that both of your identities grow?
  3. When you add a blog to your blogroll do you inform the blog’s creator?
  4. Do your friends and family visit your blog, leaving comments?
  5. Do you regularly visit other people’s blogs (especially ones related to your topic), leaving comments in hope that they will visit your blog and relate back to you?
  6. Have you added keywords to your blog’s name so that Search Engines could find you easier?
  7. Has advertising on your blog had any impact on page views?
  8. Have you joined any social networking sites in hope that it will bring you closer to people of like mind to communicate with? If so, has it worked?
  9. What other tactics/means have you used to try and increase traffic to your site?
  10. How does it make you feel when people show a genuine interest in what you’ve got to say on your blog?
  11. If people don’t visit your blog much, how does it make you feel?
  12. Who have you gone to seek help from (if anyone) for information on how to increase traffic?

I look forward to hearing your responses and learning from your perspectives.

It sometimes feels like all of my communication is travelling out one way, with no one responding back to me. Do you have any advice on how to make stronger connections?

Jesse S. Somer loves relating to others in the Blogosphere. It gets lonely sometimes when no one comes to visit or has anything to say.

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You may have caught this astounding story of Internet romance/superstardom/comedy at Wired Magazine’s blog recently in a post called, ‘Love Train: It was a fairy-tale romance, a very nerdy fairy-tale romance.’ Please, you must have a read of this. What blows me away (besides the multi-million dollar repercussions of writing one post at a community blogging/forum site) is how Train Man’s discussions online about what to do in terms of asking the ‘pretty girl’ out became a social/community venture for so many people online.

In listening to his fellow bloggers/forum participants’ advice (‘Get enough sleep, cut your nose hair, have breath mints, charge your cell phone, brush your teeth, take enough money, take a shower, and – in case of an emergency – wash your penis properly.’(Yeah, don’t forget that one buddy…) we can see a new form of human relationship taking place.

‘Remember: She’s only one girl. You have all 2Channel (The Japanese website) on your side!’ People are now putting faith in the opinions of fellow bloggers/humans that they’ve never met. So much so it seems, that we are now asking others-once deemed as ‘strangers’, for advice in the most personal arenas of life. Plus of course, people are generously offering their help and advice. (We aim to please, us humans.)

Amongst all the ensuing commercial chaos around this ‘Geek Love Story’, we are told that a book of the blogging forum’s threads has already sold over 1 million copies. I know Japanese people are a little bit different (not to be judgmental in any way), but could this be a trend for the future of all literature? Popular blogs transformed into books, posts becoming paper pages…Isn’t it strange how technology can flip back in on itself?

Would you read a book of made up of your favorite blog’s archive of posts? Or, can you imagine reading a beloved author’s next novel-online one post at a time? The online serial novel is born! Hmmm…It makes you think.

Could this be ‘Train Man’s future? Or is marriage too big a step for this comic-reading, anime-watching ‘Otaku’?

Jesse S. Somer didn’t meet his girlfriend on a train…it was at a Juice Bar. She made the most incredible Berry Blast Soy Smoothie you could ever imagine.

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I’m not joking.

If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you may have come to a realisation that it’s not quite as easy as you might’ve thought to get people to come and read your opinions, facts, and ideas. No matter how great your content is people first have to know about it. With over 50 million blogs and growing on planet Earth, not to mention all the other incredible aspects of the Internet that can take up one’s time, it’s no wonder that people just don’t know you exist. I like writing about the social and human side of blogging, what blogs can do for our evolution as an intelligent species. However, if you want to know about how to get readers or make even money from your blog, one place to go is Problogger. Now a small team of writers, but once a one person affair (Darren Rowse of Australia), Problogger has made quite a name for itself (Rated 69 on Technorati and growing daily) as the place to go for detailed information on how to get your blog out into the community.

With its tagline as ‘Make Money Online with Problogger Blog Tips’ you can see what part of the market this blog is aimed at, and with its current popularity and respectability it’s not hard to see that it’s been right on target in its mission to help people become popular, money-making bloggers. Darren Rowse makes a living from Problogger so he stands as direct evidence that his tips and beliefs about blogging work well. Most people want to make money, and as blogging is a new place/way of achieving some financial success, a lot of people are interested in hearing ways of ‘making it’ in the Blogosphere.

I can be a sceptic at times, and upon my first visit was actually a bit put off by Problogger’s very forward approach to money-making. A lot of people in this day-and-age want to tell us easy ways to ‘get-rich-quick’…we have to be very wary of con-artists and fraudulent gurus. However, refreshingly, Darren Rowse tells it like it is-making money from blogs is not easy. It will take you a lot of time and hard work, so if you’re not willing to roll up your sleeves and get ‘dirty’, don’t even bother trying to make a living from blogging. Of course my focus on blogging has always been more about the awesome new relationships, connections, interaction, and sharing of ideas and information that blogs have got to offer. To be part of this new social process you don’t need to have a focus on money…or do you? It’s a paradox. The only way people will know you exist is if you stand out from the crowd, attracting traffic, links, and comments. Thus, you have to become popular.

You’ve got to be known to interact with the world, and you’ve got to be known to make money from advertising etc. Therefore, you may as well make popularity your goal for all intensive purposes. Problogger has a huge archive of articles, but just on the front page you can find very useful boxes of popular linked posts in the areas of ‘Introduction Key Articles’ and the ‘Tips and Hints Toolbox’. In the introductory section there’s a great list (Mr. Rowse loves making numbered lists!) entitled ‘Lessons I’ve Learnt’, which is a huge fountain of knowledge derived from all of the Problogger’s previous experiences packed into 18 handy lessons. Read it. I’m not joking.

Another couple of cool links were the ones for ‘Top 20 posts at Problogger’ and from the ‘Tips and hints toolbox’, ‘Writing Content Tips’. Have a read and see if any questions jump out at you. Some of the tips he mentions involve going to a lot of different websites/social networking tools and getting set up at each. For some of us technophobes, this can all sound a little daunting at times. Still, one step at a time, and if your content and style are interesting, I can’t see why so many more of us can’t become ‘Pro Bloggers’. Do you think you can make it ‘Pro’?

Flying through the blue skies, this pro skateboarder is taking his skill to the limit. Can you do the same with your blog?

Jesse S. Somer is an amateur blogger (Darren Rowse had 1,500 posts after 1 year and still considered his blog to be a ‘baby’) who would like to connect more with others of similar interests. Anyone interested in the social effects of blogging?

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If you haven’t heard of Mena Trott, although she’s quite young (28-years-old), she is one of the most influential and innovative people to have taken part in the Blogosphere. As founder of leading blog software company Six Apart (Creators of Typepad, Movable Type, LiveJournal and Vox) there probably isn’t that much that she doesn’t know about blogging. That’s why it came as quite a surprise to me that when she did a TED Talk presentation she chose to focus on the magic of personalised blogs, as opposed to blogs relating to specific topics or communities. I mean, what’s so great about hearing some stranger’s everyday life stories?

In her talk Trott does touch on the positive power of some blogs in the community, referring to the incredibly fast updates people received from big media as well as independents concerning the hurricane situation in New Orleans. She also mentions Interplast, a group of blogging plastic surgeons who work to help disfigured people in developing nations. However, strangely enough she starts out her speech talking about the ‘scary’ power of blogs-using the Kryptonite bicycle lock story (bloggers discovered that a ballpoint pen could open locks, therefore the company was forced to recall their stock), as well as the infamous ‘Rathergate’ scandal where intense political bloggers discovered that falsified documents were used in the coverage of a mainstream media story. Trott seems to think that this invasive power some bloggers now have mightn’t be the best scenario for humankind. What do you think?

Trott takes a more ‘micro’ approach to the world of blogging (at least in this talk). She likes ‘people that just tell stories.’ She looks at personal blogs as a new form of human archive, a place to store our life stories for future generations. ‘Blogs are basically an evolution. They are a record of who you are; your persona.’ She tells stories about a day-to-day diary written by a man whose child was born prematurely, describing the emotional connection she felt to people she’d never really met. When the child was ill she could sympathise with the parents’ pain, and when it ended up being a healthy normal kid, she vicariously experienced the relief and joy that they felt.

As well as writing so that our great-grandchildren can know who we were, Mena emphasises about how blogs can be helpful for ourselves. She takes a photo of herself everyday and posts it on her personal blog which only a few people have access to. (She tells a story about how sometimes you don’t want too many people reading your ‘real’ personal stories. After cheekily complaining that her boyfriend wouldn’t ‘let’ her buy a banjo, she received all kinds of comments that took her words way out of context-some people saying that she should leave the ‘selfish bastard’.) She says the photo as well as the text can let you know exactly what you were doing in a day of your life. Capturing a moment in time, reflecting upon these visual cues, she feels that all kinds of revelations, memories, and new ideas can be born to help us in what we do today.

It’s interesting because at some points she almost seems to contradict herself, saying that blogs don’t have to be attacking and scary, that they can help people to open new dialogues and inspire helpful attitudes. Whereas at other points she says that she doesn’t want too many people reading her stories, preferring to only have close friends and family access her life online. A few questions for you: What do you think about this seemingly paradoxical situation? Do you think there are other reasons personal blogging is good or bad? Do you think topical blogs are more relevant to society’s needs? How many people do you want reading your personal life stories? Are we able to become more ‘open’ and helpful with others if we aren’t willing to let anyone and everyone read and comment on our blog posts? What kind of blogger are you?

If you write a personal blog, how many people would you like to have reading your life story?

Jesse S. Somer thinks when writing about a specific topic, you can integrate aspects of yourself in the story. Maybe there is a middle ground here…

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I was walking down the street today and was approached by a man who wanted to sell me a small ‘book’. He said that he and his cousin were riding their bikes around the world for charity, and would I please help out, as my purchase would help them get the necessary funds to make it over to their next continent by cargo ship? They refuse to take any airplanes. My natural reply was, ‘Do you have a blog about the experiences you’ve had on your journey? Here’s the blog: ‘Free Wheels East’. Have a read; they’ve already had an amazing time cycling across Europe to Russia, down to Indonesia from China, and even on the ice of Antarctica!

So it got me thinking (even before I read of their travels); Here’s a couple of people doing something completely outrageous, courageous, and crazy, plus they’re inspiring others to support a charity (‘Practical Action‘), and they’ve got corporate sponsors who’ve provided them with all of their equipment. Why then do they have to sell small books (actually small excerpts from their online blog) to make it to where they’re going? Well, they assured me that they’ve sold 8,000 copies, and as I paid $5.00 for mine, that is quite helpful, plus they get to meet a lot of interesting people that way (part of the beauty of such a round-the-world experience), but I just had to wonder: Should they have to be doing this with all of their spare time? If people are willing to buy the partial blog in book-form, wouldn’t others (marketers/advertisers) see the potential here?

Therefore, I got my curiosity-sniffing big nose in action and inquired on whether their blog gets many visitors. Their reply was totally optimistic, and for me, actually quite unexpected. 1,500 hits a week and rising exponentially, plus lots of original page-views. Of course people like it! After reading some of the blog I can see why; they’ve really had some exciting times, and even harrowing ones at that…boulders falling off landslides in China, the road they were on being completely swept away…You get the picture. It’s really interesting stuff. Besides being well-written, the content is relevant on so many levels: for adventurers, as well as people interested in different cultures or geographical landscapes.

So I wondered, ‘These sponsors give you equipment and supplies…have you tried to get some paid advertising? Hmmm, it seems the mad bicyclers hadn’t thought of that. Now, I’m not super-knowledgeable about business etc., but I’ve read on several occasions about how bloggers have made some fairly good money after they’d built up considerable traffic to their sites. It sounded like the obvious step for these wearied but bright and happy ‘wheel wanderers’. Could they have created a ‘micro niche’ for themselves? Remember, 0.1% of a billion Internet users are one million people. Could there be a million people interested in riding bikes around the world, helping people through charity, and being adventurers?

You see, these bloggers unwittingly have great content. Just being who they are and doing what they do is so removed from most of humanity’s normal everyday sphere of reality that they don’t even have to try and write about interesting topics-It just flows naturally! The only issue here is that obviously they might be a bit too caught up in what they’re doing to realise all of the opportunities that they’ve now given themselves. Well, after reading the blog you’ll see that this isn’t totally true…They’ve had all kinds of interest from TV documentary-makers in different countries, magazines, newspapers etc. They’ve probably even been overwhelmed by all of the choices that they’ve been offered, some most-probably by fast-talkers and all-talk-no-action types.

I don’t exactly know how to put this plan into action, but I really think these guys’ next move should be to call up some of their sponsors and ask them if they want some ‘real’ ads on the site. Start out by telling them the numbers of how many people are coming to the blog each month, I mean these are all potential customers. A lot of bicycle riders are going to be hanging around there-why not get some big, even moving (Flash/video) advertising to sell some bikes?

So, come on all of you business people. Am I on the ball? How many site visitors does one need to attract corporate advertising? How do you get their attention-by calling them up on the phone, sending them an email, going into their offices-kind of hard when you’re presently out riding across deserts? What do you think? I’ll do some research and get back to you about it.

Jesse S. Somer wants to know what it takes to create a popular blog…I bet you want to know too.

I don’t know how much snow these guys have ridden through yet; hopefully they won’t have to deal with a day like this…Then again, it might be fun, just as long as there’s some thick underwear packed and ready.

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Most probably you know TED…I’m often the last person to find out about something or someone new and/or cool, so I just spent my whole afternoon getting to know TED. For those of you who don’t know of TED already, first let me let you in on a little secret. TED isn’t a person. TED is a group of people…A group of people that changes every year; a group of people (extremely talented and intelligent people-Why not?) who get together and discuss any and all topics that humanity sees as being ‘fresh and important’.

TED stands for ‘Technology, Entertainment, and Design’, but as the ‘About TED’ page will tell you, no relevant subject evades these passionately focussed minds that are so keen to learn and share knowledge with one another. The Arts, Business, and the Sciences aren’t left out-you can read, listen to podcasts, and watch video talks from some of the most renown and scholarly individuals on the globe…plus they throw in a few healthy comedians to keep things light (as they should be).

The ‘Tedblog‘ keeps you up to date with all that’s being said, and normally I like to focus on the written word (as opposed to videoblogs and podcasts), but in this case I was completely captivated by the video links found on the ‘TED Talks’ web page (linked to from the main TED site). These are ‘talks’ or oral presentations, usually around 18 minutes in length, but which can be as short as 3 minutes, although the length definitely doesn’t limit the potential for impact. I haven’t witnessed a boring talk as of yet.

Check this little 3 minute talk about ‘Why people succeed’ by Richard St. John and you’ll know what I mean. I also watched an incredible 14-year-old concert pianist named Jennifer Lin whose skills will simply blow your mind. Wait until the end and watch her improvise with 5 random notes chosen from a member (You’ll probably recognise her too) of the crowd.

Closer to home and relating to some of my recent posts here at MiContent, this talk by Sasa Vucinic about venture capitalists helping to fund independent media in developing countries (where most media is controlled and censored) was quite inspirational. In my last post (‘Some ‘real’ journalists don’t think bloggers can write’ I discussed the opinions of some mainstream media (newspaper) journalists who felt that blogs were destroying some of the information sharing process. This video talk touched on some interesting points relating to the need for more independent newspapers in the world…at least blogs generally don’t seem to have much problem with outside interests filtering content. Or do they?

Another awesome, enlightening, and even humorous presentation I saw (a must see) was from a Swedish professor named Hans Rosling (founder of ‘Gap Minder‘), which was based on the changing health and wealth in our world. A while back I wrote about a book I read that discussed how humanity could change our behaviours to make the world into a better place (‘Can you change the world?’). Well, this fellow pretty much proves that our planet is now already much better off than it ever has been!

I also had a good couple of laughs with this comedian Ze Frank, and another quick 3 minute performance by the poet/spoken word specialist who calls himself Rives. Check out the Tedblog and some of the other talks and tell me about any that grabbed your attention and why. I think it’s about time we all got to know a bit about what TED is all about.

Jesse S. Somer may never be invited or be able to afford a ticket to see TED, but just watching TED’s work has been uplifting in itself.

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All of a sudden, after approximately 100,000 years on Earth, Homo sapiens or ‘human beings’ as we know ourselves to be called, have a means to communicate with the world: Blogs. Each and every one of us can now voice an opinion or even discuss facts, theories, laws, and hypotheses. You might think this is a great step forward in social and communicative evolution. The funny thing is, unless you’ve got a blog of your own, or you comment on others’, I’ll probably never have known that you even had an opinion. Some would say that this is a good thing. As a matter of fact, according to some pretty reputable media sources, blogs are doing a lot more bad than good when it comes to the sharing of information.

After reading this article at ‘Webpronews‘ entitled, ‘WSJ Takes Issue With Blogs’ and its link to the damning Wall Street Journal post in question (excerpt here from ‘Free Republic’, ‘The Blog Mob: Written by fools to be read by imbeciles’ one can’t help but get the slight feeling that not everyone feels so positive about the sudden rise in media prominence of the Blogosphere.

If you can read the Wall Street Journal article, (Those ‘top-of-the-food-chain’ mainstream media people can be pretty verbose (Oh my God!)-Could they be trying to prove their mastery of language is equal to being from a higher echelon of human wisdom and intelligence?) You will see that the author Joseph Rago doesn’t see much validity in blogging. For Rago’s world of writing and sharing of information ‘we’ve allowed decay to be passed for progress.’ Decay? Are blogs taking us backwards towards the dark caves of ignorance from whence we came? Were those caves actually filled with sparkling rays of illuminating creative light, and we’ve actually been devolving ever since we exited?

Although Rago’s rant is mainly focussed on political blogs (admittedly it is one of the most popular blogging topics) and judges them from multiple angles of attack, one idea that he expressed caught my attention, and that is the spontaneity of blog writing. He boldly remarks (Could he just be trying to create controversy?) that ‘the reason for a blog’s being is: Here’s my opinion, right now.’ He goes on to infer that in this instantaneous reactive style of writing ‘we rarely encounter sustained or systematic blog thought–instead, panics and manias; endless rehearsings of arguments put forward elsewhere; and a tendency to substitute ideology for cognition.’ (Note: Is ‘rehearsals’ the word he was looking for? Not to be pedantic…)

I don’t know about you, and political blogs aren’t really my scene (I agree with Rago that politics can be incredibly boring), but could all of the 55 million blogs in the world be poorly written? Are we all writing from a state of mind that hasn’t incorporated preceding moments of reflection and/or intelligent analysis? Is mainstream media’s writing so different from that of the Blogosphere? I am aware that many blogs write from a ‘personal diary’ type of approach, but I’ve also recently gotten the feeling that this trend is changing.

People are concentrating on more specific topics, and in doing so, are writing at levels that are so in-depth, I would have to put forward the notion that mainstream media is now often being left floating at only the bare surface of our social consciousness. We are now looking to blogs for the real details. Rago creatively remarked that ‘bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM (Mainstream media) like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.’

From my perspective, I picture mainstream media as being driftwood bobbing up and down on the surface of a river. This stream only leads towards the delta of detailed information lying in wait at the entrance to a deep blogging ocean whose water levels are rapidly increasing by the second. The really good blogs are deep-sea vents of volcanic activity…the same places where arguably life began: Individual amoeba and individual human beings’ actions creating futures they themselves could never have imagined.

You may think that Jesse S. Somer is simply defending his chosen mode of communication as well as his choice of blog topic: Blogs. Just remember, if it weren’t for blogs, you probably wouldn’t be hearing this voice at all.

A pen and a pencil meet in the night, two writers relating, hoping to see the light.

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