This week has been rather overshadowed by personal health issues, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my eye on the ball in terms of preparation, which should step into high gear starting on Monday. What that has meant in practical terms is preparing my Patreon space and finally pinning down what rewards will be available on ‘launch.’
Right now I’ll be offering what I consider as a pretty decent set of physical incentives. On order are Enamel Badges with the IW ‘logo’ plus special ‘Thank You’ cards, with these rather snazzy wristbands already in hand. On top of that there will be 10 ‘Founders Rewards’ which represent my top tier of participation, which are being routed in solid wood and which I will hand finish myself. Having read some stories about how there are those who unscrupulously pledge only for rewards and then leave, I’m hoping what I’m giving here is unique enough to simply appeal to those with a genuine interest. It has also been suggested I wait for a month’s pledges before anything goes out and that might also be a wise move on consideration.
The nuts and bolts of the tier rewards themselves are now sketched in a notebook, and I’ll exclusively reveal them to my Twitter feed this weekend, not simply as an early incentive but to check whether people think they’d be interested in what is being offered. To see what else is on offer apart from the physical rewards it is time to
where you can be actively involved in lots of cool stuff ahead of time.
After that, next week will see my back end planning shift up a gear, and there’ll be areas appearing on the site to cover the body of work that will be produced under the Internet of Words ‘concept.’ I’ll be introducing each ‘strand’ as we go, and looking for feedback and interest at the same time. I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank everybody who has encouraged and supported me thus far. I’ve been literally gob-smacked that not only are there those of you willing to take a chance on my ideas, but that you’re already offering help and support for the journey.
Normally I’d wait until Monday for an update on the GSME, but I feel that this needs to be written now, whilst the revelation is still fresh in my mind. I woke up to a mass of emails this morning, happily informing me that I’d almost exhausted the 500k’s worth of CoPromote shares I’d stored in three days. The results of that share, when you look at them, are pretty spectacular:
50 plus retweets and 482 thousand people. WOW. That is indeed impressive, right up until the moment you translate that to my web stats:
That post was read 100 times.31 times on Monday, 37 on Tuesday and 33 on Wednesday. Not a single person signed up for web updates, and (possibly) one person joined my Twitter account. I stopped the boost this morning because, honestly, I think there’s no point.
Effectively, I paid $20 this month to allow other people to feel good about themselves without the need to care about the end result ^^
CoPromote’s entire business revolves around the understanding that if you’re willing to share someone else’s work, there’s a benefit to yourself. The problem, of course, is that many individuals simply won’t care about anything except what they stand to gain from the equation. As long as you can be seen to be doing something that appears to benefit others, it doesn’t matter about whether you take an interest or not. Looking at the people who shared me, and I have a long list, many undoubtedly did so so just in order to add my reach to their totals. How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what I’ve needed to do myself, sharing content that is not appropriate to my feed just to keep the numbers ticking over.
The truth of ‘sharing is caring’ is, in this case, pretty much a lie.
There’s a deeper truth here to be considered: I can see on my list people who shared my work with (it appears) nothing in common with me, except the fact I shared their posts previously. One assumes therefore their reasoning goes along the lines of ‘well if they did this for me and I do that back, maybe they’ll do so again.’ This is the moment that my husband would accuse me of being overly cynical and I’d look at that glass of water over there and know it is both half full and empty simultaneously. It would be lovely to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, right up to the point where you’re proved correct in your outlook. Assuming most people will be using this service for free, that means an awful lot of sharing to allow you to do the same. That means a feed full of stuff that could effectively be curated without you ever having to write a word. I can totally see the appeal of that for certain people, and then it stops being about one person hand curating their output and becomes something completely different.
What you have then is a Twitter account full of other people’s work making your output look both relevant and vibrant, that nobody effectively reads. The problem with CoPromote for me, like it or not, is that it’s not a network that meshes with my interests long term. I could use it to float the occasional general interest piece, maybe with lots of pictures or a lighthearted subject matter but honestly, it is not what I need to sell my extremely niche interest project. Fortunately to discover this only cost $40, so there’s really no harm done. If I’d have gone full out with Twitter I would ironically have a far better chance of reaching the exact audience I want, because I can specify the particular type of user I’m trying to reach, but if I attempted to spend the same amount of money doing so? I’d undoubtedly have gotten about the same return, probably less. Effectively, if I want to sell the IoW, I’m going to have to do so for myself.
When I sit here and think about that conclusion, it isn’t a surprise at all.
I spend a lot of time hanging around artists. It has become something of a cause célèbre for me: however, if there was less time admiring others’ work and more time perfecting my own, shit would get done far faster. Right now, however, inspiration is lacking just about everywhere: art provides that fix, vicariously reminding that passion can be seen and felt in pixels and pen strokes. Encouraging others is, like it or not, a greater source of satisfaction than staring at my own inadequate efforts and finding the means to become better. This is, I now realise, a writing slump. Non fiction fortunately does not seem to be suffering from the same malaise, and when critical thinking is applied to the reason, an answer as to why isn’t far behind.
Fictional worlds currently are not required as ‘escape.’
Time for some brutal honesty: those imaginary spaces were created in my youth, more often than not, to run from from the less than happy domestic situation I found myself within. Only when my kids were born did circumstances dictate that imagination could be used just as it was: the work I have stretching from 2000 until now does, in nearly all cases, exhibit the same basic qualities. There are great ideas but never the ability to complete on them because the confidence in my work simply did not exist. Last year, I found the means to move forward with the help of Ian Fleming. The temptation would have been at this point to go full on fiction projects but in my heart the words now exist in two places where before only one mattered.
I’ve really started to gain pleasure in objective writing away from fiction.
That’s why this new project was born: it allows me to effectively continue therapy for myself using the written word. Where that leaves fiction however is both nebulous and uncertain. Last night after a family row I began and subsequently made worse, I sat alone in the bedroom and grasped that sometimes, there is a reason why everything needs to happen in a certain way. My desire to write has at no point diminished, in fact it grows greater with every passing day. However, what is written has become as significant as my favourite colour or most essential piece of music for relaxation. All the fictional ideas remain part of what I am, but with the practical skills learnt through non-fiction work there is now the means to re-invent each one as something better.
The best way I can find to describe this is what I would imagine the process an artist goes through when learning the fundamentals of their craft. Learning to ‘see’ and draw people realistically might seem a waste of time to the Anime nut, but that basic grasp of anatomy and proportion, when learnt, allows you to think outside the constraints of accepted norms. Once you learn how to do something so well it can happen in your sleep, then comes the ability to step outside the restraints set upon a mind that looks simply at one thing alone. This, it is becoming apparent, is where I am now.
There was other stuff last night that surfaced, things as yet there is discomfort thinking about or even writing down. I want to mark yesterday as a watershed, moment when the reality of what sits in my head was finally reconciled with how I act when things happen that are out of my control. Words have give the chance to explain feelings, but until there’s clarity on exactly what those are, all that remains is silence. Some days, a lot of money would be offered to find the means for every feeling and emotion not to happen simultaneously, yet that’s where I am. Once everything can be sorted, then there’ll be the means to explain, but not today.
I still need writing as therapy, but not in the same way this journey began. As I move forward, the desires have altered, needs sublimating into something more complicated than I’d first grasped. This isn’t just about telling stories any more: I am the story.
I’ve been alive for half a century, which has seen change at a rate which, for some, is frankly staggering. I’ve lived through massive political and social upheaval, watched history play out around me and though all of this have relied on written media to inform and educate where personal experience was lacking. Newspapers, magazines, television providers, radio stations and all forms of educative sources… my entire life has been moulded by the words I’ve read, heard and seen. Since that British bloke ‘invented’ the Internet in 1989 words have begun a transformation: no longer do you have to wait for news to be reported, or hope you can find an objective or relevant viewpoint. Now, more often than not, history happens around you and is immediately available to dissect. The way everybody both perceives and absorbs information is altering, often at a speed that some find confusing and concerning.
This is why the Internet of Words had to happen now.
Once upon a time, when there were no words, one assumes that communication could be quite fraught. Yet now, with the wealth of information available, so many myriad forms of conveying a message, people still misinterpret what they are given. I watch it happen every day, across all forms of media. The faster your delivery method, as a rule, the more a chance exists for misinterpretation (often followed shortly by some kind of altercation.) Once upon a time it could take weeks for news to reach across the planet: now, it can take seconds. It is no wonder that so many people are confused and often unable to cope with the sheer weight of data presented to them. As delivery systems become increasingly more sophisticated, the average brain is struggling to cope with keeping up. That’s why I’m beginning this journey, and in the months that follow hope to use the Internet of Wordsas my platform for investigation and (hopefully) enlightenment.
I’ve been inspired for this project by the Internet of Things: the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. On the Web right now, and all across the Globe, I see and sense an emerging Internet of Words: if I had to define what this project is about, it seems like a good idea to use that definition but with the scope of language and communication as its heart:
INTERNET OF WORDS: The interconnection via the Internet of thoughts, ideas and writing styles embedded in social media, blogs, mobile apps and web pages, enabling new forms of communication.
Of course, one could argue this is already restrictive, that there is an Internet of Images that might be considered more important, but I’m smart enough to know you learn to walk properly before running anywhere. Therefore, we will begin our journey with the tools that form a vital part of my everyday existence, that have saved me from myself on too many opportunities to recall and (most importantly) present the means by which ideas can be communicated and discussed.
I took a University degree back in the 1980’s that many of my peers considered something of a joke: Radio, Film Television Studies and English. It has taken thirty years for me to realise that this was probably the best preparation I’d ever have for living in the Internet Age: words are not just carriers of understanding, but can be weapons and symbols. The power of information is not simply understanding what you are given, but grasping how that shapes the existence around you. Learning how to see, hear and read with an objective eye is a life skill that I am staggered remains lacking in so many people, regardless of age, social status or circumstance. This is not a Millennial failing, or a CIS Male issue, it is everybody’s problem to solve, regardless. Comprehension and understanding matter more now than they have at any point in humanity’s existence as the dominant species.
Every day is a School day, after all.
The Internet of Words is a project that will include my own fictional take on the changing world we live in, essays on the issues I see as being important as we proceed into the 21st Century, plus observations on how words themselves are changing and evolving, often at a speed that some of us can find hard to keep up with. There will be spaces in our Internet for the ‘visual’ words too, and how language is used for vastly differing ends, plus how as individuals we can try and understand the more objective side of discourse and response. Thanks to the unique way the Internet now functions I will be asking people to help self fund this endeavour, via the medium of Patreon.
If you wish to become part of the Internet of Words with me when the project formally launches in June, please
This week, it must be said, has the potential to be a game-changer.
My numbers are down overall for the week, which is due to one thing alone: I didn’t do the work. Instead there’s been a phenomenal amount of back end work, which will continue I fancy for the next four weeks, as I organise and put in place all the parts of the disparate puzzle that will become the Internet of Words. I’ve made the decision to have a separate Twitter account for that ‘brand’, away from what is being done here, because the subject matters are so very different: it is only where the two worlds meet here that the overlap will be noticeable. I’m looking at separate tools for that account’s potential growth, but for now we’ll focus on what happens here in the ext seven days. As you can see, I’ve quietly tipped into another multiple of 100 this morning. What I’m more interested in is the 6% increase in mentions, and the fact I’ve got some idea now of what is effectively doable in terms of long-term engagement.
The plan therefore this week is to stay above 2% engagement and to try and work towards 3%. Next week I plan to make my own graph of how engagement has panned out in the last ten weeks, as that’s a reasonable time frame to show how effort relates to result. The way to keep that number high is to lay off the unscheduled ranting (which I’m getting progressively better at, it must be said) and focus on content people like: pictures, useful articles, insights on my life. I successfully scheduled from WordPress this morning, and have reactivated Hootsuite after an absence.
I’m paying for it, so I may as well use it, and it is proving already quite useful for showing up the holes in my social media ‘strategy.’ That means that this week’s maintenance task, like it or not, is to go redesign a bunch of effectively dilapidated Google+ pages to make sure that niche is covered come Patreon launch. I also have a Post-It note with ‘Pinterest’ on it for my art projects, plus the visual side of the project which is also going to be featured via Instagram and Flickr.
Needless to say, this morning my brain hurts.
If I can get all this right, I’m hitting large areas of effectively undiscovered audience with a concerted effort. My CoPromote 500k reach is sitting freshly delivered for April too, and that means that tomorrow there’ll be a post here with some mission goals and a Call to Action, which I hope to repeat on the Facebook page. I’ll consider it a success that I get one person to be interested at present, especially when there’s effectively nothing to promote until June 1st. The key, of course, is to build interest in an engaging and attractive manner.
If I can get everything to mesh together effectively, who knows what I might be capable of achieving.
Part Three of our Ten Point Blogging Guide deals with presentation, and the fact that it matters just as much about HOW you offer readers content as the words themselves. You would think by now that people grasp how important it is for your webpage to be legible, especially when you consider how many people now read on a screen the size of a tea mug. This is something to really keep in mind as a blogger, a fact that newspapers and publications continue to just not grasp. I don’t care how many bells and whistles you think need to be included on your Webpage, if the text is illegible or there’s too many images to load, you’re out of luck.
The problem, of course, is that the Snapchat generation is used to a level of mobile presentation that any smaller blogger will struggle to either emulate or repeat. In these cases you’re stuck with making your words matter, and doing all the fancy stuff to sell them. That means your first point of business after establishing a Blog needs to be the means by which you sell that: we’ll talk about the Social media ‘dance’ in more detail in a few weeks, but for now you should be considering at least some of the following:
Twitter account in the same name as your Blog
Facebook page (see above)
Instagram Page (you get the idea by now)
… and the list goes on, especially if you’re working in a niche market that might benefit from (lets say) a Pinterest account. You want to do this now, early on, so that as you prepare for the new wave of interest in your work, everybody gets to see what you’re writing straight away. You’ll also be amazed at how tolerant people will be of a fairly simplistic website if it a) doesn’t crash their phone and b) doesn’t cost them a fortune in download charges. If you want to be fancy with presentation, concentrate on separate platforms that promote that and keep your blog clean, simple and most importantly easy to read.
Next up (and this will matter if things really take off) is how you format posts. One long, huge wall of text will switch people off. You can write thousands of words, sure, but if you do, break them up into small, easily-manageable chunks. Use pictures or line breaks whenever possible: you don’t need to be clever with the GIFs and the fancy graphics, but if you know that’s what your audience likes, then go right ahead. Most importantly of all, please make sure your spelling and grammar are up to standard, because there’ll be some bright spark out there ready to abuse you for being illiterate if you don’t.
Most blogging tools (like WordPress I’m using now) have a spell check service, as do most browsers. There really is no excuse for mucking it up, but if English is not your first language you can go right ahead and write in the format you feel most comfortable using, and let Google Translate do the rest (if you use Chrome as a browser.) I read a number of French language gaming blogs in this way with no issues at all. The reminder here is to pick the form of words you feel most comfortable using, and allow that format to guide your actions. It’s a global marketplace after all, something many American and English bloggers often conveniently choose to forget.
In the end, what matters just as much as the words you write is the way they’re subsequently presented. Both Blogger and WordPress have the ability to preview sites so you’ll see how they look on both tablets and phones, and the best thing you can ever do long term for your reach is ensure that the Web is the last place you check is looking fine before you commit to a layout. We’ll go back and work out your Social media policy in a few weeks, but for now I want to get you in the habit of making the most of all this hard work you’ve now put into presentation. That means, yet again, pulling out a pencil and paper or a spreadsheet and starting to foster a regular routine of posting.
On the window to my left is stuck this schedule, and every week at this time I’ll sit down and plan the upcoming week’s work. Next time I’ll ask you to consider when you’d like your content to be posted, and how you go about building a consistent schedule to ensure that is what happens. For now, go ahead and keep fiddling with that web template but remember to ask someone else if they can read it as well as you can, or if it works in low light or on an older iPhone.
This stuff matters far more than you realise for establishing an audience.
As was promised on Monday, you’ll now see a major change to the site’s layout. This is, for the main cosmetic at present, and is being facilitated early to allow me to stealthily bolt on space for the new content whilst not interrupting what already takes place. That will all happen at the IW Portal (see menu above) which will remain steadfastly under wraps until my Patreon officially launches on June 1st.
A number of you have already arrived at the Twitter portion of proceedings, and will be treated to the ‘Beta’ version of what will pass for daily curated content on Social media going forward. That will include content permed from the literary and scientific communities, with my own observations and comments intermingled. I’m not following anyone at present, but that will change once everything goes live.
There will be other portals too, but for now we’re just going to stick with one thing at a time before it all gets incredibly confusing and I combust in a brain-fuelled implosion. Needless to say, if you want to know what’s happening and you want to get the low down on things before they happen live here, following the Twitter account is a good first start. I’ve intentionally divorced all of this from my main account for a good reason, which will become clear as time goes on.
I’m incredibly excited for what IW will mean going forward, and I hope you’ll be joining me on the journey.