Blogging For Noobs :: Think

You have a ton of posts all ready to go after the last portion of our Guide, and now you want to publish them all in one hit. This is where I put up the single finger in a kind yet firm manner and say NO, do not do this with your work. The temptation in the early blush of creativity is to share everything immediately. This is perfectly normal and I see it happen all the time: the problem then comes a month later when you’re struggling for stuff to fill your space and creativity appears to have evaporated. That’s why this time around, I’m going to ask you to wait, and start planning ahead. Remember that blank calender I left you with last time? Here’s where the fun of Learning to Organise begins.

schedulea.jpg

I’m going to be rebranding this site next month as the Internet of Words (for those of you paying attention) and that means that I need to do a couple of things before that happens. Once I’ve followed my own previous step and worked out what will qualify as content, I’ll need a week to make sure that I have graphics for everything made and ready, and there are spaces in the web design to accommodate what I’m doing. That’s the 14th to the 19th for me, which is my Pre-Planning and ‘Back End’ phase. In that time I can also write posts in anticipation of my launch (June 1st) but not publish them until I know my redesign is working properly. In your case, it could just be getting yourself comfortable with blogging to begin with, and you have a week of playing with layout and posting until you’re comfortable with both.

typinghanks

I’ve then scheduled a Testing Week, which will basically act as my migration period for all the old content, deleting the stuff I don’t want to keep, and getting everything ready to roll. As you can see, after my launch date I’ve got a load of +1 and +2’s marked: the latter indicate days when I’ll introduce a facet of the site, the others marking down that for the first month, I want to generate a post a day. To do that will require me to organise in advance, to have ideas ready to roll, and once I obtain that early impetus it will be important to ensure I have a plan. That’s why I’m writing on Post It notes, scribbling in a notebook wherever possible, and keeping track of things I think are important or interesting going forward. It is why this weekend will be devoted to thrashing out many of those scribbled notes into fully-formed topics to form part of my site.

planttotheface

The key, of course, is to have a lot of content to go, but there are days when I undoubtedly do my best work from a cold start. Today was a case in point: I didn’t expect to create a logo or start a Twitter account for the redesign but both of those happened. I’d simply planned to day to explore the possibilities of both, but you’ll learn in time how inspiration strikes, and when to make the most of it. This is where organisation truly becomes invaluable, because in those creative-rich days, if you can get words down they can be kept and scheduled for days when you’re out of ideas. It also means you are never totally beholden to your site either, and can take holidays or time off without it appearing you lost interest in the project.

punch1

You will find, as time goes on, that if you set aside a set time each day to write, this will also aid enormously with productivity and creativity. For me, I do my best work on non-fiction before lunchtime, whilst fiction always works better in the evening. That means I’ll be able to balance my time effectively around other stuff and still aim for a set result at the end of each week. You may wish to plan ahead on a spreadsheet programme, and there are plenty of time management tools/apps that can help you out, but for me I am at my best with a Moleskine Diary, pen, pencil and ruler. In fact I’d be utterly lost without them now. My planning for the week is either done Sunday night or Monday morning, and this dictates the entire workflow for the next seven days. Find the system that works for you, and don’t be afraid to mix and match until you’re comfortable with the result.

intothedoor.gif

The biggest trick however is not to panic when you’re out of ideas. That’s why you have a notebook, its why you plan in advance… and its where Social media can save the day. Current events, personal interests, what other people are talking about, the latest complaint/beef in your friends circle… all of these are potential topics to start a blog post. For me, I have a ton of projects in various states of completion to consider, a vast array of topics on the Internet of Words that all have a potential place in my planning: but the trick is not to obsess too much about all the possibilities. I’ll be picking a couple of the best ideas to work with at the start, and we’ll go from there. Once the framework is established and has run for a while, I can look at analytics to see where the interest lies, and work from there.

Organisation really is everything if you want a professional looking site. It also doesn’t all have to happen straight away. Just because I’ll be doing a post a day means it will stay that way. We’ll see how things work, and the trick in these early stages is to listen to other people very carefully. Many will give you feedback, and if it isn’t great, you’ll need to be ready to act accordingly. Next time, we’ll talk about how you keep people interested whilst they read, because that will matter long term just as much as your content.

GSME #6 :: Fade To Grey

As is sometimes the case in Experiments, this week hasn’t exactly gone as I’d planned. However, before we begin, let’s look at the old Engagement scoreboard:

030417

There’s a few things to mention, most notable of which is that in the last seven days I didn’t use CoPromote at all and still the numbers are up. That will change this week, as I’ve almost built up 100k ‘credit’ to use on something worthwhile, but it is as much about writing a decent post to hook people in to reading long-term as it is just churning out rubbish, which seems to be how some people view Twitter to begin with. The plan going forward had been to boost myself using Twitter’s own range of ‘advertising’ tools and last night I cleared a block of space and time to do just this.

options1

The range of options is pretty decent: I can, it appears, pay money to get followers (recommended for accounts with an audience of under 1000, I’m told) plus be charged in any myriad number of ways. This was the first thing that put me off: what I could manage for the cash I have available was woeful at best. Obviously the more you pay, the better your chances of reaching people, though it would be unfair to say that’s the only way this works, because it isn’t. An awful lot of Twitter’s advertising however expects you to not only specifically identify and target an audience, but understand how that works to begin with, and I can see this putting off huge numbers of potential smaller users.

budget1

The fact remains, that if paying a tenner A DAY for what might only be seven clicks is not, it must be said, the optimal use of my cash. In fact, if I’m honest, CoPromote’s reach function did more than that, and I pay $19.99 a MONTH. The only difference is what is promised in terms of Impressions, and I can make that happen myself via persistence and little grey cells. Maybe this is part of the reason why Twitter as a company fails to make money but continues to win in terms of being the most organic and accessible of mediums. Perhaps if they tweaked their selling model for smaller sellers, there might be an upswing in interest.

followers6

It doesn’t take a genius to understand how the basic principles operate, but the work involved for me in identifying a niche audience (which is effectively what I am, like it or not) is not currently worth the return. If I were a Warcraft streamer, however, this could have some genuine merit, or indeed if I was trying to sell my product in a larger market. In that regard, and because I know a number of people have been waiting to see what I think of this, I’d say it may well be worth the effort if you have the cash to back it up. It will also help if your market is well known, and can be easily targetted using specific keywords. I have so many applicable keywords right now for what I do, and as I currently refuse to refine those terms? This is a service I can happily leave well alone.

In fact, you’ll probably get far more out of this completely free guide to optimising your account than is ever going to result from a small business using Twitter ads. As is also the case with Facebook, these companies seem to only be interested in those prepared to spend big in able to make their point, and that effectively prices me completely out of the marketplace. More importantly, I get to help out a friend by granting her post a few extra views, which I’d far rather do than chuck money at a huge company that doesn’t seem that interested in my business to begin with.

Sometimes, your answer means not taking the obvious route.

Days Go By

You and I need to have a chat about how my creativity’s effectively vanished.

typinghanks.gif

It isn’t like it has disappeared completely or anything, and there’s a distinct vein of fictional thinking going on in my head right now. The problem, such as it is, lies with the amount of work I currently consider ‘in progress’ that’s not finished. As I begin the process of sorting out everything else (and on that front, things are going remarkably well) this is the place that suffers not because I don’t want to write, far from it. I just can’t work out what to put to bed first. I have, in various states, nearly a dozen long form projects and about the same in short form. This is the problem when you get seized by an idea, commit yourself to it, and then lose confidence in the ability to complete something worthwhile.

The first step I realise in dealing with the problem is to not write anything fictional, and then realise how much you miss it.

typinghard.gif

Using the Mindfulness ‘concept’ I’ve been learning in the last week, I write fiction for sensation and problem solving. Once the issue I had has been dealt with, that the ‘story’ in my head was created for to deal with, it is left aside. Going back to work that was written therefore with this in mind, it can sometimes prove difficult to recreate the same enthusiasm for the project I had at the time. What now has to happen, I realise, is for me to look critically at everything sitting unfinished on my hard drive, and make some tough choices on what I can and cannot complete. I also needed to write this down somewhere public too, so I can’t pretend this revelation didn’t happen. Now I’ve grasped that? Time to start sorting through the files.

typinghamm.gif

I’m going to, whilst I do this, admit defeat and take out the links to the non-fiction essay page, and my Erotica selection. Part of my issue right now is pressuring myself into things that simply aren’t happening with the timescales available, especially with the push I’m making to being truly organised elsewhere. Yes, I suspect they will happen, and when I have enough pieces of work to justify filling them, they can be re-introduced. However, what I want to do now more than anything else is write long-form, and that means re-arranging my workplace to accommodate the change.

Thank you for understanding, and for continuing to support me on this journey of discovery.

 

Feeling Good

There is much excitement in the house, for tomorrow is Elbow at Hammersmith Day. I’ve managed to not see this band for far too long, and tomorrow this will change in a deliberately intimate gig that is already making me vibrate silently with excitement. Considering the shit weekend I’ve just had, the next five days is already looking rather awesome. I’d been ready for a fight this morning over the washing machine but instead I have an assessor coming on Wednesday and the promise of a new machine. The week’s traumas have all sorted themselves out almost mechanically and to top it all, I now have two days next week booked and planned for getting my health looked at, securing some new spectacles and finishing off my Podcast gubbins once and for all.

It is almost as if this hard work is finally paying dividends.

If you’re a regular reader of the Other Blog, you’ll also notice I’ve gone up to two posts a day. Some of them will be new but others will be reposts of notable stuff from ‘times past’ because with over 2000 articles in the back catalogue, I’d now be seriously stupid not to occasionally repeat myself. What it does mean is that parts of the gaming site will get revamped and updated, and posts like today’s ‘How to Start Blogging’ will be repackaged from time to time to remain current with changing trends. it’s not like this isn’t done on the Internet anyway by the entire rest of the population to begin with. I’m also going to get in the habit of writing two posts a week here and scheduling them if necessary. You can expect regular content therefore as follows:

  • Monday: FICTION DAY 😀
  • Wednesday: General Discussion Topic FTW.
  • Sunday: Week in Review.
This is part of my long-term commitment to Getting Shit Done. 

On that front, there is a piece of Fiction ready for upload, so let’s get to it 😀

Sunday Braindump :: Forget You

Send in the Choppers ^^

I think I will do a weekly braindump. This will at least mean you’ll have 52 posts that can be tracked as a barometer for how life is treating me generally. It’s the first time for about a decade I’ve felt the urge to actually be conversational, so it might not be a bad idea to capitalise on the moment. I have a lot of places across the Web that need to be addressed too, so this will help me keep track of what I’ve done and what yet needs sorting. This means I can keep actual entertainment separate and not impinge on you people who really aren’t that bothered with the minutiae of my life, such as it is.

Many things are still broken on the Website front, need fixing or are in desperate need of a redo, but it is Sunday afternoon and frankly, stuff can now wait. It doesn’t help that my brain is mush as a result of doing this, but there is a sense of general satisfaction that now everything has a sense of overall cohesion. I even conceded the black background/white text thing I’d planned when I got a 50/50 split of like/dislike on the change. If I can keep the purple, I’m happy. That colour matters, not just simply because it spells #D9CAFE in Hex. Some things are just meant to be, design fans.

I require a better Biography page. I don’t posses a current picture of myself I am happy with. I should design a Contact Page that works across both sites that isn’t going to inundate my e-mail address with spam. I want to sort out my t-shirts in a manner that means I can photograph them all in a consistent fashion. I am considering a new tablet purchase. ALL of this all has to happen in my brain pretty much simultaneously which means I’ll probably spend the rest of the afternoon unable to get anything done or I’ll simply faff doing summat completely different.  However, I did manage three bursts of exercise over the festive week and I’m fully planning to do three gym visits next week. That’s a MASSIVE step forward in terms of organising my life.

Needs more wimmin 😛

What I have done and I’d meant to for some time is install the Amazon Video app onto the iPad. Season Three of Ripper Street is taunting me and what I am likely to do is watch the first two seasons again as preparation. I’m not that enamoured by much current TV, it must be said, but there are things I wouldn’t mind trying to catch up. Perception immediately springs to mind, which I think I am at least a season behind on. That’s the problem when you don’t really do TV any more: I always seem to be woefully behind on current trends, but I don’t think this is a bad thing. You gotta leave time to breathe, right?

Most importantly of all, someone remind me to talk to real people more this year, and go have dinner with them, and beers, and remind myself what it is like to actually posses a social life. Because this a thing I miss the most, and should be the part of my existence that gets by far the most love and attention.