Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Why I Hate It When A Blog Post Bombs

Every blogger fears that moment when a blog post goes live and then...  nothing.

Not a comment, not a tweet, no significant page hits, nada. You can almost sense the tumbleweed blowing down the street.

Your blog post has bombed. You've missed the mark.

I had one of those moments last week when I wrote a post about life in Sydney. I liked the angle I'd taken and I thought it was a little on the funny side and might elicit a few laughs. I published the post on Wednesday, scheduled a bunch of tweets that same day, shared the post on Facebook and LinkedIn, and watched and waited.

Nothing. Not a peep.

No reactions, a meagre couple of retweets, and Facebook was as quiet as a graveyard.

I was concerned. Was the post that bad? I re-read it to make sure I hadn't offended any person or particular ethnic group, did a quick scout of the blogosphere to check that my fellow bloggers were still alive and breathing, and waited once more for a reaction.

Two days passed and I had one lonely comment and a paltry number of page visits.

The sound of a cricket chirping could be clearly heard and more tumbleweeds blew down the road. Meanwhile, I continued to cringe in my blogger's chair.

What had gone wrong and why did I care?

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (jypsygen)

It's not all bad

Who knows what happened.

Maybe I posted too often on that choice of subject and my readers simply weren't interested. I could have overdone the sponsored post angle which was turning people off. Or it could have been a simple case of poor writing and bland content.

Although it gave me some cause for concern and left me a little bruised, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

This poorly performing blog post gave me a gentle kick up the rear.

It made me look at what I'm putting out into the blogosphere. It made me assess the stuff I'm writing about and how well I'm writing it. It made me to sit down and do all of this, which was surely no bad thing.

A healthy thing in fact.

Why I care so much

This blogging business is an uncertain thing.

On any given day, you might think of yourself as a competent writer, putting out killer posts and garnering comments and page views imagined only in your wildest dreams. The next day, it all changes with the push of a button. Your 400-word post chokes and you're thrown violently back to blogging basics.

Last week was a timely reminder that ISOALLO needs to remain interesting and relevant, a good read and unputdownable. This is why I do what I do.

I've worked too hard to create a dedicated community of readers and followers, and to deliver my own individual outlook on life, to see it wasted on the basis of a post that bombed.

I'd like to think that I have a budding reputation to protect - as a writer and creator of this site - and poor readership and participation acts like a flashing headline: 'Russell, be warned!'.

What can be done

All bloggers hate the dud blog post. Me particularly so.

I'd rather pull out my own teeth than experience the quiet that followed last week's post. But, on reflection, it was useful in reminding me of the need to do the following:
  1. Early on, understand what works and what doesn't on the blog - and apply those rules consistently.
  2. Regularly review the content - too repetitive, too obvious, too much navel-gazing?
  3. Refresh the posting strategy from time to time - if it ain't broke, don't fix it; however, if the site is starting to stagnate, it's time to try a different approach. Try posting less often or, conversely, posting more regularly, consider introducing new topics, or try out a different angle to keep the site moving forward and the content fresh. 
  4. Seek feedback from blogging peers - ask them what they think works well or what doesn't work quite so well and seek out suggestions for future content.
  5. Continue to research the subject area - see what others are creating in this field of blogging. It's not about plagiarising or ripping-off from others, but about looking for new ideas and understanding trends and topics that are proving to be a hit with the community out there.

Have you had a blog post bomb recently? What did you do to fix it? As a blog reader, what turns you off and, equally, what floats your boat?

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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

More Than A Love Of The Raw Prawn

"Enthusiasts bang on about the marvellous Aussie 'lifestyle', which basically comes down to eating shellfish outdoors in your pants. Or going to the beach at 9am on a Wednesday covered in zinc cream", writes Victoria Cohen in her column in The Observer.

It's a humourous piece, entirely tongue-in-cheek, pointing a cheeky finger at some of the real reasons you might leave Britain for Australia, following the revelation that Professor Sprout from Hogwarts (Miriam Margolyes) recently took on Australian citizenship, citing 'class distinction' as one reason for her UK departure.

It got me thinking about the lifestyle here in Australia and about shrimps, barbies, and the great Aussie outdoors. And I wondered...

...is there really no more to life here than a love of the raw prawn?

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (paintnothing)

Of course there is.

For a start, we don't eat shellfish outdoors in our pants.

We eat everything outdoors in our pants. We eat breakfast outdoors in our pants, we eat in winter outdoors in our pants. When the air temp reaches a balmy 43 degrees, would you ever want to wear anything other than your birthday suit accompanied by a small pair of undies?

We don't head down to the beach at 9am on a Wednesday.

We head down to the beach every day and even earlier if possible because, by 9am, the sun is already flambaying my flesh thanks to the oil lathered across my shoulders. What else can you do and where else can you do it in a country where the temperature averages 99 degrees Celsius during the hotter months and the words 'furnace' and 'summer' often appear in the same sentence?

So we float in beach pools on our backs, suck on skinny lattes outside Italian-sounding cafes, and grill the best bits of farmyard animals on our public BBQs. And all of this usually before 9am.

The lifestyle here does not include an obsession with our thongs.

It includes an obsession with our thongs and our sunnies, our boardies, our rashies, even our Uggs. If Bear Grylls went man versus wild in Sydney, these are the essentials he'd carry in his survival kit. Highly fashionable, socially acceptable, and an absolute necessity when venturing to the beach. And to the supermarket. And when in the car. And during a work-out. Except for the Uggs of course. In most cases.

We're certainly not just fans of seafood but we are all fans of eating everything, everywhere.

At an average suburb in my neck of the woods, you can dine on Chinese food, Thai food, Indian food, Italian food, American food, Brazilian food, Portuguese food, Lebanese food, Turkish food and, of course, seafood. We love our food to be cooked by someone else, be it takeaway or eating out with a BYO bottle of plonk.

We also like to eat cheap and the Returned and Services Leagues (RSL) clubs crowding the streets of Sydney seem fairly popular. Dinner is purchased at rock-bottom prices, as long as you don't mind listening to the meat raffle, weekend bingo, and vast array of poker machines next door.

With all this food, is it any wonder that we're all getting fatter as rates of obesity and diabetes soar across the country?

But we're not all unhealthy.

Some of us love to exercise at ungodly hours of the day, in all climates, and on all terrains. You'll find us running in the sand, up the stairs, around the headland, and over the dunes. We're in the water and on the water. We're boxing, planking and pushing up. We're far too active in a climate that should force you to slow down and enjoy forty winks in the shade.

I considered myself fit before I moved here. Then I trained with triathletes, marathoners, ironmen, champion windsurfers, beach sand runners, football league legends, and more. I stopped considering myself fit and now consider myself lucky to have survived - and keep on surviving. They do things a little differently here.

So there you have it. Multicultural dining on every corner, a beachside sense of fashion far removed from that of my former home, and an unhealthy love of self-inflicted pain to stay, well, healthy. I rest my case. There is much more to life here than a mere love of the raw prawn. Isn't there?


What are the stereotypes where you live? What cultural habits, good and bad, have you developed over time?

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