What I’ve learned through blogging (and why this would make a blogger useful to an organisation)

Firstly I just want to thank everyone who is a robot or who is not a robot who has ever visited my blog. The hits have passed 70k which is a pretty modest hit count in all honesty, if I were aiming to get more hits, I’d probably do more reviews, do more face-to-face and talk about my blog, or talk about issues which are relevant to many people, however I don’t do that and I realise that anyone who reads this fits into a certain kind of niche, or what I could call, potential employers and search engine results.

When I started the blog the parlance was much different. What we now call social media was once called ‘New Media’ and many blogs emerged towards codifying a form of epistle-like artform. Then you have other kinds of blogs, which serve as a diary; tittilating biography which highlights the fun stuff and less so the mundane stuff for example, talking about the amazing gig that @genericindieband did at #camden, rather than the 3 minutes of standing and staring into Nietzsche’s abyss as one waits for the kettle to boil at work. Other blogs work as part and parcel of modern organisational strategies to promote products. Copywriters, marketing and even fundraising types may include blogging in their arsenal of skills.

In an age where every aspect of a person is commodified, I have been forced to think about how my non-professional, extracurricular activity of blogging could possibly be useful to potential employers or other projects that I’m involved with. Here’s a list:

Learning from what works and what doesn’t

I use the analytics of WordPress to discover what pages are most read, and seeing what kinds of terms and search patterns most of my visitors had. If I were a company, say, a startup selling novelty t-shirts based on memes (just an example off the top of my head). I might find that more people are searching for ‘trollface t-shirt’ than say ‘forever alone t-shirt’, and I might use this information towards developing more products for people who like trollface t-shirts, perhaps I might make a trollface coffee mug, or a heat-sensitive trollface mug that turns into okayguy when it gets cold!

I’ve learned from my blog about the kinds of visitors who come to the blog. I’ve learned for instance that many readers are probably reading as non-British English readers and speakers. This means that if I were so inclined, I would adapt my standard of written English to fit an audience who may not be fluent, or may not understand little quirks of British English expressions such as ‘topped up’ or ‘BOGOF’ (Buy One Get One Free). I have learned these lessons but for the intention of my blog I rarely observe it in the sense that I am not presently writing to attract views. As it happens one of my most famous posts concerns Sexual Surrogacy, which was largely written as an afterthought without real distinctive conclusions but open questions. I daren’t imagine how many people have read it and considered it as a serious piece of writing. Another popular post involves a very antiquated swear word in the title, which was the swear word used in the film ‘Avengers Assemble’ (or The Avengers if you are out of the UK), I suppose that this post recieved a great amount of views firstly because it was written within close proximity of the premiere of the film, as well as the large amount of popularity associated with the Marvel franchise of comics, films and other such products. Of course, we still choose to write about topics like Goffman’s interactionism, which hardly attracts too much attention. We blog for love, but there are fruitful lessons from purposely being unpopular in terms of the hits!

Understanding how blogging fits into wider SEO phenomena

I’ve learned a little bit about Search Engine Optimisation from my experience blogging. There are certain kinds of techniques which can improve a blog’s listing on a Google result, such as the nature of how you link to other URLs, Some techniques, such as linking to the same page or gratuitous references to other pages in your website are considered unfair and more advanced search engine algorithms penalise such websites, but there are other methods that can improve a search engine’s ranking, sometimes its nice to link to other websites, if you are kind enough to refer to some websites they might notice and share their traffic with yours. Also using certain kinds of buzzwords that attract your audience would be important.

Over the past year for example I have been developing ways to raise awareness of a project that I’ve been involved with. At a meeting last year one of the points made from looking at the analytics of the wider Transition Town group was that many of the people who came to the blog shared interests which formed part of the overall aegis of the group: this included things such as the local community, environment related terminology (peak oil, sustainability, transition) or other kinds of words which have attracted positive attention (such as wellbeing). I’ve not had much success with the blog as I would have liked, mostly my fault, but I have had a good amount of attention from dealing with the twitter account for the project, and that largely came from the effective use of hashtagging and the keywords one uses.

Developing brand presence

Nowadays successful blogs, or products have facebook ‘like’ pages, or an associated youtube page for extra content (or even in some cases the other way around, successful youtube channels have blogs to celebrate the channel! These days its important to recognise that a multi channel approach can be helpful in promoting a product, or yourself! However I’ve learned that depending on your audience some channels are better than others, and this is largely an issue of demography: namely, are you addressing an audience who is concerned with an issue, or perhaps are you targeting an audience who is particularly tech familiar or not?

If you are running a community project for example, even a website is a difficult for some people to access, where their familiarity with the world wide web is limited. In that case a mailing list might be more helpful. Or if you are marketing to a particularly tech-savvy audience, you could advertise space on Reddit, perhaps even making a meme-friendly reference or joke paired with your advertising. Brand presence in terms of individuals can work well through speaking out on Twitter. This may involve re-tweeting (RT) other people’s tweets, making your own hashtag campaign to follow on a larger event or some group related phenomenon. One of my favourite hashtags is from the Comedian Carly Smallman of #reasonsimsingle, which fits into promoting herself as a comedian, also its very funny and relatable. My personal hashtag slogan is #whynotschoenberg, which points out how a certain co-blogger notes that I over-mention a certain composer, also its a riff on an established meme: why not zoidberg?

Taking iniative/being a trendsetter

Blogging, and to a much greater extent, microblogging services such as Tumblr and Twitter, are very much a game of trend-setting and trend following. The Philosopher Voltaire once said: ‘a witty saying proves nothing’ in the 18th Century. However the rules of the game in the 21st century involve re-tweeting, re-tumbling, repinning, stumbleuponing, facebook ‘sharing’ and stumbleupon-liking anything from a picture of Batman on a treadmill to a cute cat, an inspirational quote or raising awareness of a staged political protest. As much as I dislike tweeting, I find its important a tool to keep on the button about certain issues and finding out about breaking news stories before they are confirmed by official news sources.

Developing a literary art form

Blogs, or other content can be part of a corporate viral campaign. There have been many interesting attempts at viral campaigns to promote a product which is not immediately recognisable as a form of advertisement. The ‘I love Bees’ website was an advertising campaign for the game Halo 2, or the TED talk pastiche set in the future set up the promotions for the Ridley Scott film Prometheus. You might see the promotion of fake content as a form of trolling, but in good hands, it can not only create good advertising, it can also create a hyper-reality.

Blogs are also a stylstic form of expression. How many times have books been made from blog posts. In a sense, the blog is the most obvious manuscript for a monograph: using systematic topics and approaching issues through a post-by-post breakdown that addresses subtopics, fits well into the monograph form of the chapter. Blogs allow for creativity. Whether a dialogue, a monologue, an epistle, a Spinoza style geometric proof or pseudo/hyper reality. So long as the genre of blogging stays written, it is literary. Although tumblr pictures would seemingly fail in that regard.

More technical things

There are more technical things that I’ve become interested in and am beginning to pursue. I’m learning to write more in HTML, the language underlying websites. This has led me to think more about SEO and linking with other platforms. I use Evernote for example in part of my blogging as a way of gathering intelligence and monitoring. Blogging can be simple, just by using a smartphone and a blogger app, for instance, you can make a post quite easily, By contrast, one can scrap the templates and write a blog from your bare hands and make something beautiful.

I’d like to think as a hobby, blogging would make me more attractive in terms of my corporate skills. However failing that, here’s a picture of Batman:

Michael

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