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Posts Tagged ‘Content Writer’

In the online realm, we as businesses want to know if people are reading our website text and articles. A lot of us are using tools like Google Analytics to see how many visitors we have, how long they are staying on the website, and what pages they are reading. However, I’ve always wondered if this is a truly accurate way of knowing how much of your articles are being read. Are people reading the first few lines and then speed-reading through the remaining paragraphs? Or, are they reading the first line and then skipping all the way to the conclusion?

Today I read an article (from start to finish – I don’t like to cut corners) at the Huffington Post entitled, ‘Scoopinion Tracks What You Read, Not What You Click (Yes, This Is A Test)’. It’s about a new Finnish start-up company that is attempting to create heat maps based on which content is being read on a website page. As a writer, this is a very interesting concept. There is now a chance we may be able to ascertain which parts of our writing are most effective; is it the quote at the end of the piece, the witty caption on the included image, or the controversial statement written to incite a reaction?

Man Reading MiContent Surrey Hills Content Writer

Human beings can become very engrossed in what they are reading. What kind of writing will attract the ‘right’ people to your website?

Admittedly, when I’m scanning the internet’s many blogs and News sources, there are a number of article types I don’t read through properly. But when it comes to our own businesses, we want to know what content is connecting with people on an intellectual or emotional level. If we can figure out the styles of writing our website visitors read most, we can then evolve our content further in order to maximise interaction and relevance.

Did you read through this entire post, or did you only read a few lines?

By Jesse S. Somer

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Thanks to applejan for the image!

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Recently I sent out a survey to some popular bloggers. One that commented back to me was a woman from a small Latin-American country called Guyana. Have you heard of it? She calls herself Guyana-Gyal and her bio says she’s a writer and an artisan. So, what makes this a good blog?  It is quite good. It’s not the format, nothing fancy there, just a very basic template you get for free at Blogger. There’s no cool photos or videos on the front page…Well, what do you think it is that sets this blog apart from the hundreds or possibly thousands that I’ve visited on my research trails? It’s simple: The writing.

‘I gon tell you stories, true, true stories. Like me gran’pa and me nanee and cha cha used to do, and they ancestors too. Take half, leave half, cry or laff. Enjoy the gyaff, what you learn is up to you.’

This is the bit of tagline that she shares with the world and you can see that it’s flavoured with all kinds of Caribbean spices (It’s actually located in the North-Atlantic Ocean in between Venezuela and Suriname). Read some of her posts. They seem to be a mixture of daily reflection and an ongoing story-type of narrative (these are the parts that really ‘grab’ you). The style of writing gives insight into the type of English dialect that has evolved in a country mainly inhabited by people of African slave ancestry, as well as Hindu East Indian agricultural workers brought over by the British colonials long ago.

This is a country that has seen the ravages of AIDS, drug trafficking, political instability, as well as people smuggling. It’s not the best of places for a young woman to grow up, but the literacy rate is high and Guyana Gyal tells us how it is. Her stories are not all sad and they draw a strong mental picture of what daily life might be like if we were to have grown up there. November 28th’s post entitled ‘Spare the Rod’ based on corporal punishment in schools is a post inspired by a present-day Newspaper article that causes the author to slip back into a reminiscence about her own ‘bashings’ in school. It ends with some real wit…she’s definitely not a defeatist.

A post called ‘Sweat like a cow’ tells a funny little tale about a woman who tries to kill her husband by putting too much Epsom salts in his bath!

Beware, oh men, beware. Be careful. If your scratchety, naggy, vexy wife or gyal-friend offer to do something for you, take that offer with a pinch o’ salt…cooking salt, that is. Absolutely no other kind.’

Jesse S. Somer be sayin’ that dis blog be worth a penny or two more dan de price of a dang pawpaw.

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Still touring the ‘Bloggies‘ blogging awards website I came across a blog that has successfully won the ‘Best European Weblog’ category for both 2005 and 2006. This blog is humorously titled ‘My Boyfriend is a Twat’ (great titles are so important for attracting attention). For the conservatives out there, the final word in the title is definitely being used in a comical context as opposed to one of vulgarity, which might be found in some pornographic material. When you come to this blog there isn’t anything that immediately jumps out at you to inform of its quality. It seems as though it’s simply one of the tens of millions of personal journal-type blogs that make up the majority of the Blogosphere, and strangely enough, that’s what it is. However, after closer inspection you will see that this is a blog that sets itself apart from most of the wider blogging community (thus its popularity). What makes it special is very subtle, yet very effective.

What you will find at this blog is a very personalised approach to the basic blogging format. If you’ve done a lot of surfing around the Internet you will know that many of the blogs out there are created from cookie-cutter templates. People have their posts, their categories, their bookmarks, a small biography, a place to leave comments etc. It can become a bit tiresome and repetitive. You end up asking yourself, ‘who is this person whose life I’m reading about? What makes them individual?’ The writer of the ‘MBIAT’ blog has obviously spent a lot of time (intentionally?) creating a space that is totally and utterly reflecting their way of interacting with the world. This creates a succinct, developed identity that readers can relate to successfully.

Basically, the blog is about a 40+ years old woman who has a boyfriend, who she likes to poke fun at. What better way to do it than write a blog about him? She also takes the normal approach of telling us about her everyday life experience. Isn’t it often so compelling that we are now easily being able to see into another human being’s (a ‘stranger’s) perspective on existence? Let’s take a minute to go in some detail about why her blog is more interesting than most.

  1. At the top of the blog are 4 main categories: Weblog, All About Me, 52 Questions, Photographs. Have a look at her ‘All About Me’ page. It has a few cool little lists like ‘Things I love’ and ‘Things I hate’ (not just ‘I’m an accountant blah, blah, blah’), as well as an ‘Executive briefing’ about her life for those who are ‘too busy’ to read the whole section. She’s got a real sense of humour and is always integrating it into the writing. The bio’s been updated as well (something more of us should do in case things in our lives have changed since the inception of our blogs). Check out down the side columns as well. She’s put in a lot of effort to make each one different from the ones on her basic Weblog page (great initiative).
  2. Side columns: On the main blog page she has a photo of herself, a description on what the blog is about, links to her ‘blogring’ friends, as well as bookmarks categorised as ‘Non-Twats’, AWOL Bloggers’, and ‘Boring Politicians for the Twat’. See, we can even be original and creative with our bookmark category titles. She has the usual email, RSS Feeds, and search engine, but then she’s also got a Guestmap (shows where site readers come from around the globe visually), and even has a Shopping Centre where faithful readers can buy merchandise like T-shirts, hats, coffee cups, postcards, and mousepads all adorned with her witty blog name.
  3. Still in the side column, she has a ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’ donation button (keeping her silly approach, lightening up an otherwise serious issue-not many people don’t take money seriously) for monetary help from her readers/subscribers (you can get updated posts emailed). However, this also comes accompanied by her ‘Wish List with a Twist’ giving a real personal touch to why she ‘needs’ the money. E.G. A Best of Simon and Garfunkel CD! (She hates when people use exclamation marks-From the ‘Things I Hate List’). The items on the list are cheekily crossed off as she purchases them, which to me is cute, but also shows the real, honest human reasons why she’s asking for money as well as seeming honest about what she spends the cash on. This breeds a sense of integrity.
  4. Among more categories on this initial page are the links to ‘Twattisms: Quotes made by the ‘Twat’’. Enough said.
  5. The ’52 Questions’ page is a list of questions collated from queries by her readers about her life. It’s quite an interesting and informative read, which adds even more depth to her blogging character.
  6. Photos page: All of the photos are funny or interesting, have meaning, and are accompanied by amusing titles and information. This is what also made her bookmarks more worthwhile than the usual lists. Each one has a small summary stating in detail exactly what kind of blog they are.
  7. Comments are called ‘People spitting’ on her blog. Why does it have be called ‘Comments’?

‘Who needs a man, when you’ve got Marmite?’ (English toast spread)…“You put the Shat in Shatter, Put the Pain in Spain, Your germs are splattered about, Your face is just a stain”John Cooper Clarke. These quotes as well as photos of the ‘Lazy Twat’, ‘Greedy Twat’, and ‘The Twat Gardening’ all help to give the blogging world a fuller picture of the blogger’s complete persona, thus making one feel as though you really know her. She states that the only men she could fall in love with have a sense of humor, and a great tongue-in-cheek, yet natural sense of humor is also what makes this blog extra-enjoyable.

Jesse S. Somer has come to realize that there are very few boundaries to creating a blog that is totally original, strongly and succinctly emphasizing one’s individual identity and personality (the key to becoming someone people want to ‘know’ in the Blogosphere).

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Look, this is definitely a serious blog about blogging-there’s no denying this fact. I have and intend to keep writing as much as I can to help novice bloggers, share new technologies with the professionals, and review every kind of blog out there. I am yet to write about political blogs which of course play a huge role in the International community, but let me tell you, if it’s about blogs I’ll be studying it in my research. On that note, I think the reason that I’ve shied away from political and current affairs types of blogs so far has something to do with the seriousness of the content. The world can be oh-so-serious, and I just haven’t yet had the urge to step into those often turbulent waters as of yet.

What am I getting at here? As I’ve mentioned in previous posts like ‘What can you write about on your blog?’, you can blog about any topic in the Universe. As well as the crucial and vital content-based weblogs there are a lot of people out there who are producing online journals for the opposite effect. They want to help people relax, or even better, cause you to laugh and smile. The obvious area to now pursue would be comedy or humour but on this occasion I’ve come across a genre of blogging that is closer to our hearts: little creatures. You know what I mean, children, and animals, in particular pets (those little buddies who can often be as reliable as any best friend or family member).

The best place I’ve found for the latter is ‘Cute Overload‘. This blog goes a little against my usual foray, the written word, but ‘pictures speak a thousand words’ and these photos and movies of little critters can take a load off the widest and most masculine of shoulders. There’s a soft spot in every person, and I think there has to be at least one animal category that’ll make you smile. They’ve got a section on Hedgehogs for God’s sake! The most recent photo posted on November 1, 2006 (I can’t find the link!?) is of a little dog wearing a life vest out on a boat. This is a much more relaxing picture to contemplate compared with seeing a smiling George W. Bush trying to pick up Republican votes in the current U.S House of Representation state elections, don’t you think?

The other site I stumbled across today is at ‘Lil’ Duck Duck‘. They announce that their content is ‘Birth announcements, party invitations, and holiday cards’, not my usual type of blogging preference. However, if you’ve got kiddies at home, there’s actual written content here with heaps of ideas relating to bringing up children, and photos of ‘cute’ young ones doing there thing. Again, I will have to say after reading one of the posts entitled, ‘Tricks to get toddlers to eat’, please remember that blogs are often written from the perspectives of individuals or groups of people who have specific and often individual approaches, opinions, and beliefs about life. Therefore, never assume that the text you read is absolute fact. Do your own research. Critically analyse what is written. Use your own experience to help create your views. I was especially displeased after being told about this particular supposed method of getting toddlers to eat their food expressed in the above post, ‘Bribery!! You can have a candy if you eat all of your ______.’ Sounds like a case of future child obesity to me!

I’ll get back to the serious and technological information soon. As for now, please remember that blogs can lighten up people’s lives just as well as informing them on how to deal with serious illnesses and who to vote for in the next election.

Jesse S. Somer reckons if we vote for the cute little hairy people of the world we might do a bit better than we have with the tall, good-looking, always-smiling, fast-talking, never-say-no, social ‘rulers’ of today.

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If you’ve been around the Blogosphere even for only just a little while, you’ve probably read about A-List bloggers. Supposedly these are the most popular, linked-to, and visited bloggers on the planet. Where did this list come from? Is it accurate? At Wikipedia’s entry on ‘Blogebrity‘ you can get a little insight into the controversial list which was created by an Internet project in 2005 called Blogebrity. Here it is: After clicking down the list in an attempt to see what makes an ‘a-lister’ so popular (Is it content, style; layout?), I discovered one simple truth: they’d all blogged very recently; nearly all of them have endured over time and kept posting regularly.

After looking at many of the blogs, I came across a name that I’d read about many times when people were mentioning famous bloggers: Steve Rubel. I had a quick look down through his recent posts and was grabbed by a very short one about ‘How to prevent blog burnout.’ This interested me because many of the blogs I’ve visited on my searches have long since died on the wayside of the proverbial desert highway of eternity. In this short post he linked to an interesting News article called ‘Keep those weblogs cracking.’ at the Orlando Sentinel, as well an older post of his own (it’s always good to link back to your own previous posts to give new readers more insight into who you are) called ‘Blog from the gut of your company’. These are both interesting pieces, and for me a chord was struck relating to what makes for a good, enduring blog. The two main ideas (and they are quite simple) are about being truly passionate about the subject you are investing so much time in writing about, and about being true to yourself.

The News article mentions a popular blogger named Stephanie Klein (She’s on that a-list!) who although having been seen as being contentious in terms of her internal-life focus, has endured a long time and attracted quite a large following of readers. She believes it’s because she’s true to herself, and more importantly, is passionate about her topic: Her own life!

In Rubel’s second post he talks about how he would buy a Dell computer over another brand because of what he reads about in the blog of one of its employees. He says that it’s an interesting phenomenon that a worker way down the line of company hierarchy can give a company more integrity than the blogging ‘voice’ of a CEO. It’s hard for us to trust marketers and CEOs who have their own interest so tied into what they’re doing. An employee reeks of credence because they have no reason to write except to tell others what they feel from the heart, or the gut.

Jesse S. Somer writes his name after each post to remind himself who he is. One of his passions is to find out more about himself and the other worldly brothers and sisters around him. That’s why he blogs.

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As I’m still in the early stages of this blog (I’ve had a couple others previously) I’ve got to thinking about how to bring more people to my site. I’m sure it’s an issue that’s come up for many of you out there who’ve wanted to enjoy the great benefits that blogging communication/relationships can bring, but are finding it hard to get noticed. I mean, it’s great knowing theoretically what a blogging community is all about, but I think a few of us need some cold, hard facts about how to get our identity noticed out there in the blogosphere. It’s a giant place; and we really only want to connect with those of similar interests, so how do we do it?

The first step of the process brought me to where? Why, other bloggers of course. At ‘Randomly Amused’s bog post ‘ Tips on getting traffic to your blog‘ I was doing some research about trackbacks and pingbacks (I’ll write more about these soon) when I found this short post, and a link to this other blog site at ‘The Blog Herald: ‘Building blog traffic for newbies’.

The first blog has a few basic principles that you might like to keep in mind if you want to attract more visitors to your online presence. ‘Regarding links, you can link to any and every site on the web, but you will score higher if the links are to sites related to your content, and – more importantly – if the site links back to you. It’s like an Internet handshake. Another important factor is linking to larger, high-profile, big-traffic sites.’

There are some good ideas here, but we do have to question them thoroughly. First of all, after further inspection I have discovered that this blog has been virtually inactive since this post which was written back in January! How much integrity does this blogger hold if they themselves haven’t stuck it out in the blogging trenches? I like the idea of an ‘Internet handshake’, but I would have to say that we should only link to those who relate to our specific content.

The question of whether or not to link to bigger sites needs asking as well. You may simply be seen as a ‘gold digger’ who wants to get free attention without working for it. Or, the so-called ‘A-list’ bloggers may be too busy with their workload and already huge link list to even bother connecting back to you. I guess there’s no hurt in trying, but I would again reiterate that taking the time and effort to search out blogs that relate to your field of interest will most probably produce more ‘real’ connections with people.

The second link to the Blog Herald has a more comprehensive list of ideas to work with. This seems to be a blog that has stuck around for awhile, and which is written in a collaborative effort by multiple authors. This point in their list of how to improve blog traffic backs up what I said earlier about linking to popular bloggers:

‘Link to other small sites without exchange, either through side bar or post: linking to big sites is great in showing what you’re reading, but does nothing to build up your readership because they nearly always never return the favour, indeed a number of them will steal your stories or ideas without any attribution at all. Smaller sites on the other hand are often stoked that you’ve linked to them and will return the favour without asking, even if they don’t, you’ve still done a good deed.’

Read through the posts. Both writers push the point that the most important factor of all is to ‘write, write, and write.’ The Blog Herald pushes the point, ‘Post regularly and post often. It not only brings readers back regularly but it means the spiders from the search engines will return more frequently indexing your entire site, and you’ll start getting hits from the search engines.’

This is another of their important points: ‘Submit your blog to ALL the search engines.’ The more you write, the more your key words will get picked up by Google and the other information-gatherers.

Jesse Somer is a blogger who wants to connect with other bloggers of similar thinking. Come on, let’s make it happen! Give me some advice ‘blogmasters’!

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There are so many people out there telling each of you why blogging is great, but what about the other side of the coin? In a paradoxical Universe, all things can be looked at from polar angles of positive and negative, not to mention the ability to perceive any one situation or concept in numerous ways. I had a look ‘out there’ to see what some people don’t like about blogs and why.

At a post from a blog called ‘Shanti’s Dispatches’ I read a post entitled, ‘Top 10 Reasons Why Blogging is Like Attending a Liberal Arts College’. This fellow literally (pardon the pun) equates blogging to all of the negative experiences he went through when visiting a liberal arts college. Here’s the list: I think all of these points are valid. There are people in all areas of life that fail to reach a standard of work that other individuals will be pleased with.)

  • Everyone thinks they know more than the next person about whatever happens to be the subject.
  • No one’s afraid to speak their mind, even on subjects they really know very little about
  • Traditionally taboo dinner-table conversation subjects that can lead to heated debate (such as Politics, Religion, etc) are not off limits
  • In fact, taboo subjects are an encouraged topic. You’re supposed to be learning from one another, after all. But do you really? =)
  • When someone gets a factoid wrong, there’s never a shortage of asswipes around who will correct you (*ahem* fact check your ass, as they say these days)
  • College: you brag about your SAT scores, until you realize it really doesn’t f’ing matter anymore. Blogs: you brag about your traffic, # of links, or amount of ad revenue your blog generates. (only, you keep doing so because you still think it matters)
  • College: when confronted with someone who actually does know more than you, just throw out an amorphous concept like ‘post-modernism’, ‘deconstruction’ or ‘nihilism’ to pretend like you know what you’re talking about. Blogs: throw out a buzzword like Web 2.0, Ajax, User-Generated Content, RSS, Squidoo, Wikis, etc
  • College: there was always some hot new party every weekend at a new location. Last week’s has already been forgotten. Blogs: there’s always some hot new story or meme making the rounds, quickly forgotten and tossed into the dustbin of Technorati
  • You develop a huge network of ’semi-friends.’ People you kind of know and could say “What’s up?” to at a party or as you pass by in the virtual comment halls. Upon graduation (or abandoning a blog), you will never see or interact with any of these people again in your life.
  • College: there was never a shortage of cheap beer. Blogs: there’s never a shortage of cheap, one-liner comments. “Great post!”, “I agree. Blogged at: …insert-reblog-post-url-here…

So, in listening to the critical opinions of others we can hope to improve the quality and integrity of our blog writing. Listening to Shanti, I think we might need to (in order of bullet points above):

  • Be humble about what we know and write about. Realise that there are usually people out there that know as much or more about a subject as you. Saying that though, don’t be afraid to believe that you have stumbled across some new concept or idea that could help the world. All innovations come from people, often individuals.
  • Only write about what you are knowledgeable about. Ask questions about what you don’t know. Again, be humble and have integrity. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. People appreciate honesty and humility.
  • Be respectful and conscious of how our words might affect others, especially when it concerns topics close to people’s hearts-like their lifestyle, religion etc.
  • This is a great medium for the sharing of thoughts and ideas. We can learn from one another, but if we are simply arguing a point without tolerantly listening to other perspectives…what are we doing on the Web?
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If someone is nice enough to correct you, take it in good stride-you’re human and it helps you learn and grow. If they criticise and put you down, you know that they’re not worth being concerned about.
  • Again, be humble. If you have a lot of traffic that’s great! (I don’t yet know what it’s like, but it must be fun!) J Still, no one ever likes the show-off who for whatever egotistical reason needs to tell everyone how great they are. Be proud you worked hard and got to where you are, but realise that you probably only got popular because you related to people in a way that they respected.
  • Using verbose language that others don’t understand doesn’t help the blogging communicative process. Keep it simple, unless your blog is for astrophysicists and no one else.
  • Don’t jump on the band wagon. Stick to talking about the content that you’re passionate about.
  • Attempt to make real connections and relationships with fellow bloggers. If someone doesn’t speak on your wavelength, they can only truly become an acquaintance. This whole business of blogging is about meeting others of like mind by sharing a part of ourselves. If you’re fortunate, you’ll make some really good friends.
  • Be specific when commenting on other’s blogs. You can’t really get much from a one-line response. Take the time to express yourself and people will appreciate it.

Jesse S. Somer is quite aware of many things that he needs to improve on. There’s a dark side to everything, but the only way to improve ourselves is to be aware of these faults. The key is to see our challenges in a constructive way and look for solutions, not putting ourselves or others down. This goes for blogging too. There’s going to be stuff that doesn’t sit well with us, that’s life, if you don’t like it-set an example and show us how it’s done properly!

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