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Posts Tagged ‘rules’

How NOT to attract traffic to your blog

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Log in to your blog. Wait for the statistical figure to show. Fingers crossed—wish Total Views number surprisingly skyrocketed. “What the hell is wrong with people? Why don’t they read what I write?” You wonder.

 

Yong checking his blog view statistics

Almost all rookie bloggers fit into the profile I just described. Don’t feel ashamed if you are one of them, even if you are already a veteran blogger.

It is human nature to be noticed, cared, praised or criticized, and liked or hated. Your blog is part of you. It wants spotlight as well.

Basically, every blog is important to at least 5 people: your father, your mother, your husband/wife, your kid, and of course, yourself.

But you want more people to read what you write up there, make their comments, or just leave a smiling face like :-).

How to generate traffic

So you learn to write online, fighting some old habits of so-called “good writing” in the traditional sense.

Thanks to David and Paul, two funny lecturers who specialize in online journalism, I now have some golden rules for online writing, including blogging.

  • Write for Google search engine (SEO).
    Over 40% of all traffic to a site comes from Google search. This doesn’t include those who first know your site through Google but later visit your site by typing the URL or clicking your URL address in their bookmark.
  • Key words for headlines
    and less than 60 characters. Jacob Nielson acclaimed BBC News for having the best headlines
  • Keep sentences short and simple.
  • One idea per paragraph and keep paragraph short.
    Why? Because it’s easier for online readers to scan. (I know there are two ideas in the above line. No need to remind me.)
  • Use sub-headings after 5-6 paragraphs.
  • Use list or bulletin points.
  • Cut, cut, cut and cut again.
    or, shall I say cut just once and cut the other three cuts?

Dailyblogtips gives 30 traffic generation tips. I would suggest Jacob Nielson’s Writing for the web before worrying about the number of your blog visitors.

How NOT to generate traffic

It’s always easier said than done. And persistence requires even stronger mind.

I could have finished piling up what I want to say in a lump within 15-20 minutes, but one hour later, I’m still here writing because I’m trying to follow those golden rules.

Back to the headline of this blog, how not to generate traffic, or how to lose traffic, the answer is very simple: Do not follow any online writing rules.

You can tell I’m kidding, right?

Well, I noticed some habits, or “mistakes” over the past few months that might cause bloggers to lose readers.

  • Write about things of not much “value”
    You can write about your own life, but unless you are a celebrity like Opera Winfrey or Brad Pitt, you should not expect people to be interested in your blog.

    Jonathan Morrow from Coypblogger wrote a touching story On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas that best makes clear this point.

  • Force” readers to visit your site
    Many people now read in RSS readers such as Google Reader or Blogline. Some set their feed export to “abstract” or “headline” instead of “full text”.

    What makes you so confident that you write better headlines than BBC News or irresistible first paragraph (with a few more lines, usually considered “abstract”) so that people would click on the feed and go to your site?

    Most probably, they will just never bother checking your feed or simply cancel their subscription of your feed.

  • Bolden sub-headings
    Sub-headings not only function as road signs all the way down your post, but also gives tags to Google search.

    If you just bolden the sub-headings, they are actually still body texts put in that <p> tag.

    You have to set them into Heading 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 according to your blog layout. Headline 1 is usually reserved for THE headline. This gives a <h> tag that Google spider catches.The Headline block usually is located in the style tool bar, next to other layout buttons such B (bold), I (italic), U(underline), etc.

  • Update blogs irregularly
    “Sorry, I’ve been busy these days so I didn’t update.”People don’t care about your schedule.

    If they come to your site on day 1, and see no new blog, then on day 2, still nothing, then there is a slight chance they might still come on day 3, but if then they still see no updated blog, they might never come back.

    And on day 4, you feel like writing, and you publish 3 blog posts, or 4, or even 5, but sorry, the gone readers are gone. They are not coming back.

All in all, blogging is about quantity, but more about quality;
it’s about talking to yourself, but more about interacting with others;
it’s about following hot topics, but more about offering original idea; and
it’s about finishing assignment for the Online Journalism module, but more about polishing your writing and getting prepared for a journalism career.

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Brainstorming

December 20, 2009 2 comments

Brainstorming sounds fascinating. Ideas come up like running water in a brainstorming session. Well, I know “like running water” is a cliché, but don’t criticise yet–this is Brainstorming Rule No. 1.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti / Freedigitalphotos.net

Brainstorming is a relatively new word but the method itself has existed maybe since the beginning of human beings.

It is a method of problem-solving either by a group of people contributing ideas or by one single person generating a variety of possible solutions.

Basically, everyone can have or conduct a brainstorming session, but it requires one who is trained to do so to guarantee a satisfactory outcome.

A failed brainstorming

About eight years ago I was an Account Executive in a PR company with 20 or so employees.

One day I was asked to hold a brainstorming session about how to sell a brand of wine (one of our clients) in night clubs.

I didn’t know what to do except for repeating “what ideas do you have”.

After two or three people spoke up, the room submerged into silence.

It was really awkward. Some colleagues looked at each other while others played with their pencils or bended their heads down reading some papers.

“What the hell went wrong?” I panicked and stood still in front of the whiteboard before my supervisor took over.

I didn’t remember what exactly happened after that, but I did remember we “discussed” some ideas, both positively and negatively.

Brainstorming rules

Most of the time, we discuss instead of brainstorming. There is a huge difference between these two.

Discuss involves opinions and analyses of ideas while brainstorming is to generate ideas themselves. Based on experiences from my failed brainstorming and later on successful ones, I would suggest the following rules for brainstorming, with reference to a post by Dean Rieck titled “How to brainstorm brilliant ideas for your blog“:

  • Don’t criticise ideas, even not discuss them;
  • Define the problem clearly
  • Clarify what ideas you expect;
  • Prepared a few ideas beforehand if you are the conductor, in case no one speaks up after a while;
  • Write down every idea and let everybody see them immediately;
  • Allocate easy time during the session, e.g. one-minute joking or nonsense talking, but do drag everybody back to the table after that;

In fact, there are many sites talking about brainstorming if you are interested. I would like to say a few more words about rule No. 1.

People tend to criticise

To criticise an idea seems easier than coming up with an original one. Why? Maybe criticizing satisfies their self-esteem for making them feel better than others. It is hard to people to hold back the desire to criticise, and many even don’t realize it when they are criticizing others or their ideas.

To some degree, it is human nature to criticise. Let me explain.

When babies start to know things, they learn to refuse to do things they don’t want to. For example, you give them milk, they might push your hand away. “I’m not hungry,” they might say: “drinking milk now is a bad idea.” See?

However, criticising is not always a bad thing. In fact, constructive criticising is more valuable than compliments, especially those I-don’t-actually-mean-it compliments.

To expand this topic, we can discuss criticising as an art, both for those who criticise and those who are criticised. I’ll not go into details on this.