Archive for blogging
In today’s world of rampant regurgiblogging what constitutes originality in a blog post? Should every post be completely original or is that goal essentially impossible? In virtually any niche you will need to go beyond what you simply think up on your own and have to link to others and (gasp!) possibly reblog in one form or another. So the question is: how do you do that and still add value for your readers? Here are three general approaches to blog writing that involve added value, but you will notice that two of these are not about purely “original” content!
1) Original Posts: Sure, there are blog posts you could call “original” articles. Usually, though, these means telling a personal narrative rather than discussing a current idea, topic or news item. Why? Because as soon as you are talking about news or anything outside of your personal life you will inevitably be repeating information. Still, this applies to a rather limited set of blogs and blogging styles or one-off articles.
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How does an article go from being just another post on a blog to a web-wide sensation overnight? I would argue that at their core most of these strike the right blend of fascinating, novel and mainstream: they are compelling enough to grab your attention, strange enough that they present new information and yet of general enough interest to have a broad appeal to many people who frequent the world wide interwebs. Here are 12 great examples that illustrate these principles in more ways than one and are incredibly entertaining to boot!
LifeHackery’s 99 Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Objects another great ‘themed’ post built around items that everyone has in their home – what better way to draw readers immediately than to point out that boring old objects laying around might have strange secondary uses? Some of the particularly clever/innovative ones come complete with pictures which provide a great initial boost to the article.
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Did you know that a headline or first sentence can break an otherwise awesome article? Everyone knows that websurfers have short attention spans, but the longer you write the more you will realize just how short they can be. By the third sentenceprobably half of them have stopped reading and are looking for the next big thing.
And can you blame them? There is a lot of good content on the web, so an introduction that is catchy (a question, little known fact or amazing statistic) is key. If you can, make your article into a list whether or not you envisioned or even initially wrote it in list format.
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A lot of people use longer keyword-saturated domains. Some of these are carry-overs from an earlier generation of web thought which suggested that search traffic was king. In todays world of branding, name recognition and new media, though, these keyword-rich domains simply don’t cut it anymore. Buy why?
For one thing, they are long, cumbersome, awkward and hard to remember at times. They also tell any web-savvy visitor that you are doing whatever you can to come up on searches – that your goal is traffic and that you’re ‘working the system’ to get it. To people like me at least that is a warning light, a red flag that you might have poor content you are simply trying to dress up with targetted Google-friendly keywords.
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So what makes or breaks a domain for a website or blog? The days of strung together sequences of keywords is pretty much over, particularly of the hyphenated variety. There are still exceptions but they are almost all holdovers from the previous generation of blogging and website development.
But how do you come up with a branded domain? Well, you could take the approach of this site and simply go for something short, random and fairly spellable that doesn’t tie you to any particular niche. Another good strategy is to think of main keywords in your niche and change endings/beginnings, spelling or add suffixes and prefixes like this one and many others.
Things to keep in mind each time you search:
(1) Vary the suffixes/prefixes, maybe add something on both ends
(2) Change the spelling, replacing, removing or adding letters
(3) Think outside the box for uncommon but still niche-related terms
(4) Keep spellability in mind but remember it isn’t everything (e.g. Flickr)
(5) Memorability and brevity are key: keep it interesting and short
Personally, if I have a particular one in mind I just jump to GoDaddy and do a search to see if my idea is taken. Let’s say, though, that your first choice (e.g. AllSucks.com) is taken. Avoid going to the .net or .org options unless they fit the site (e.g. an internet-related site might do well on a .net or an environmental or non-profit site could work as a .org). Instead, look for other variants in the spelling and so on. If you’re on a roll, use a bulk domain search tool instead.
Of course, you often won’t be the first one trying to do this. You want to make a movie review site, let’s say, and aren’t sure where to start. You might try things like Movified, Cineviews, or other combinations that speak immediately to the subject matter only to find they are all taken. Don’t get frustrated and give yourself a break then try again later – if it hasn’t already been taken that perfect match is probably going to survive a few more days! Also, don’t forget, you can ultimately brand anything, but some things are easier than others.
Due to other changes in my life completely unrelated to a happenstance of our invented Western calander, I’m planning some changes around here. For starters, as you may have noticed, I’ve been flip-flopping on a new design/layout for the site. Also plan to post some halfway decent content again for the first time in a while. Trying to organize myself in general due to some changes in my personal life and it seemed like as good a time as any to start making this site something worth (maybe) reading again, despite the ever-ominous URL.
So what happens when a blog goes ‘mostly silent’ for a while and the primary traffic comes from strange sources? Well, in this case my biggest hits these days are for ‘porn’ and ‘hate homeless’ – neither of which are things you’ll really find out about on this site. The ‘porn’ part comes from a few articles discussing porn on the internet and tagged with the category ‘porn’ on the site. The ‘hate homeless’ is in an article that has nothing to do with hating homeless, which I don’t. Strange, eh?
No one likes it when people steal an idea and republish it. In the world of blogging, a’via’ link at the bottom of a post has become the norm for crediting sources. However, this phenomena is getting way out of control and many people link to the latest source in a long chain rather than the original. I found out first hand just how bad things had gotten when I started trying to track the actual source of an article today, only to be plunged into a seemingly endless list of links.
It all started with a blurb on EcoGeek about a 007 Solar Pen Camera spying device. I wanted to submit the link to Digg then noticed their blurb was via TreeHugger, which in turn added two new links: ChinaVision and Dvice. The latter link traced to UberGizmo, which linked to UberReview that in turn linked to 7Gadgets (an appropriate 7th link in the ongoing chain). Most of these sites didn’t link to the ChinaVision (original) site, and only one linked to 7Gadgets where this information apparently first hit the blogosphere.
The fact that this last source didn’t link another source doesn’t even mean, of course, that it is the last source in the chain. Maybe this is just where the chain got broken because one author didn’t cite his source. So where did this come from? Which one should you link to or submit to Digg? Who knows. What does this mean for the blogosphere? Is it natural and healthy sourcing or a sign of things getting out of control?
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Now, I’m not from Seattle … I’m from New York an Minnesota, and snow’s nothing new. Still, it’s fascinating to watch how Seattlites react to a sudden dump of white stuff from the sky (not the same white stuff they’re snorting in front of the house right now) I’ve come to take for granted over the course of my life.
Other thoughts … let’s see here … Gil has to be one of the hardest-working bloggers I know, and a great guy to boot … he’s building up real momentum on his site and I highly recommend checking it out. There are a lot of nifty Diggers (yup, been spending a lot of time on Digg) I should call out as well but I’ve been thinking of saving that for a future post that highlights Diggers by niche.
Oh, yes, I just got back from Chicago where I flew in a small plane for the first time – with my brother (of all people) at the wheel. There’s also nothing quite like going from Seattle to Chicago to remind you just how big a big city truly is, but I digress. There’s also nothing like going shopping on Black Friday to stir up images of the opulent Roman Empire before its collapse!