Bon Mots, Blood, Brother’s Blog.

Following up my last post comes the mandatory promotion of my brothers new blog.

It’s called Bon Mots & Blood and here’s why you should be interested in it:

It offers well-written reviews of books and video games by a variety of talented authors.

Or, to quote from the site’s About page:

“Here at bm&b, our goal is to give you reviews of over-critiqued books and criticisms of under-critiqued video games.

We can also offer excellent taste in indie rock music, scotch, theories as to why television is increasingly better than cinema, and pictures of dogs.”

So please, go check it out. And tell him his oh-so-talented sister sent you!

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Sisterly Advice for New Bloggers

A couple of weeks ago my family and I all received an email from my brother, informing the family that he had decided to start a blog. I was overjoyed to welcome him to the blogosphere and was glad that, as an already talented writer, he decided to try his hand at a new medium.

Then, the other day, I received another email from my brother, this time asking me how exactly to get his blog ‘out there.’ And there you have it, the age-old question (or at least digital age-old question): Now that you’ve decided to write about something, how do you get people to read it?

The following is the email I sent him in reply:

Dear —-,

The bad news: There is no easy, one-step magic trick to getting a blog
“out there.”
The good news: Your problem is exactly the sort of work that I’m
looking for a career in, so I’d be happy to try my hand at helping you out.

Basically, what you’re asking about is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
People make careers out of driving traffic to websites, but alas you
are not a multi-million dollar corporation and I am but a mere novice
in the ways of SEO. Still, I’ll do my best to give you some quick and
easy tips, especially ones that I have followed with my own blog.

Now, keep in mind, my blog is no best-seller. It took me months to
get the limited readership that I have. Yes, sad but true, the basic rule of thumb is
that increasing traffic will take time– perhaps not months, but time
nonetheless.

First off, I hate to admit it to you, but don’t forget that in all
actuality, your blog’s premise isn’t unique (Sorry. Harsh. I know.) In
fact, you would be hard put to find any topic to write a blog on that
would be unique nowadays. It is the content, rather, that
sets a blog apart.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and I’ll give you some basic SEO
techniques:

1) Link your social media: I noticed you have already used Facebook to
publicize your blog, now go a step further. I suggest making a unique
Twitter account for your blog. You can then feature your tweets right
on your website. Also, you’ll be reaching a completely different
audience.  I also have a Tumblr, which you might want to look
into. There are also YouTube accounts, Stumbled Upon, Flickr, Digg,
MySpace, even LinkedIn. Whatever your feel will work best for you. And
then– connect!

2) Search Phrases: Use unique and specific tags for your posts. When
you just label something as ‘video games’ or ‘books,’ imagine the
number of search results that show up before your own. Be specific and
feel free to be liberal with the amount of tags you have. Also, the
words on the site itself all are put into some crazy mathematical
equation that determines your sequence in search results. I’ve found
that people have been driven to my site even by the words used in
images that I post. You can figure these things out by looking at your
WordPress stats. So be creative and feel free to be wordy.

3) Keep your content fresh, relevant, and user-friendly: Seems simple
enough, true, but just keep it in mind. Make sure that when a person
stumbles upon you after searching, they are getting exactly what they
are searching for. As far as keeping content fresh– you seem to be
doing that well. One thing I will point out is the ‘user-friendly’
aspect. Try not to let your posts get too looooong. While for some blog
readers, that’s not a problem, for others is a major deterrent. It’s
overwhelming to scroll down the length of a page and see that the post
you are (or were) about to read is much lengthier than you had
expected. I understand you’re not used to writing for this specific
format, but just keep in mind that it is a different format. Just like
you wouldn’t write a novel like a lab report, or vice versa, you don’t
write a blog post like a novel. I highly suggest looking at one of my
posts for further instructions on this front
(https://tessarickart.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/10-tips-of-blogging-tip-taking-blogger/).

4) Reciprocate: I know that you said you’ve been scouring the
blogosphere and to that I say: carry on. Also, comment back when you
do get comments. Visit other blogs and comment. If you see posts that
relate back to your own, comment and suggest that they take a look at
one of your posts (see my stealthy use of this tactic above).

I hope some of these ideas help. Like I said before, it’s not an
overnight process. It takes work and time. Just don’t become
discouraged. Stick to it.


Your fellow blogger,
Tessa

What does Tumblr mean to you?

I’ve been on Tumblr for about 6 months now and I’m surprised to say that the novelty has yet to wear off.

I mainly use the site to keep updated on and entertained by my television and movie fandoms ( [n] The community that surrounds a tv show/movie/book etc. ), and generally let out my inner nerd. From my own personal use, I would have supposed that the site would remain more of an alternative social site, always in the shadows of the more thriving Facebook and Twitter. And yet, despite my suppositions, a Nielsen Co. report finds that Tumblr has gained 183% in popularity from 2010 to 2011.

Further findings from the study include:

  • The site averages 21,280 messages and links posted daily. To better understand this figure, understand that it surpasses the number of blogs hosted by WordPress in one month.
  • More than 57% of Tumblr users are under 34 with only 17.5% over 50 years of age.
  • Tumblr uses are more often female (53%)…but not by much.

So why has this site gained so much popularity? And does its notably younger user base point toward Tumblr’s continued trend and growth?

Technically speaking, Tumblr is a form of microblogging. Microblogging  “differs from a traditional blog[ging] in that its content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregate file size. Microblogs ‘allow users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links.'” Other examples of microblogging include Twitter and even Facebook.

To me, it is easy to see how Tumblr is more similar to Twitter than to a blog, such as WordPress. For one, people don’t often use Tumblr for longer messages or posts. On Twitter, individuals are actually forcibly limited in their content (140 characters max).

As for myself, on Tumblr I often just reblog posts that I find informative, humourous, or interesting; I rarely add unique content to the site. Many times, as with Twitter updates, the content of a post may send  the user to a completely separate site. The main focus is not the post itself, but the links or pictures that may lead to another domain.

Tumblr emphasizes how easy it is to use the site. And certainly, the directions are as simple as the  functions of the site. While some may use Tumblr as a primary blog, I still find the site to be less professional due perhaps in part to its simplicity. By this I mean that I don’t feel that one can accurately learn about me via my Tumblr page, whereas I consider my WordPress blog to be an accurate professional representation of myself (much as some people would consider Facebook to be a personal representation of themselves). There are just fewer opportunities to personalize and declare oneself on Tumblr. But then again, as I mentioned earlier, my primary purpose in having a Tumblr account is to free my inner geek.

I also want to clarify that by “less professional” I do not mean that companies and brands are wasting their time on the site. In fact, I feel that Tumblr is a really great way to reach a niche market– whether it be youth in general, or more specific fandoms of certain products and programs. Tumblr is a community in which people are constantly sharing information, even if there isn’t nearly as much direct conversing. It is also a community filled with very opinionated and interested individuals who are purposely seeking information on things that may interest them.

In my opinion, Tumblr is a fun site, but not one that I would ever put on a resume. It’s a place for me to relax and learn more about things that I might enjoy outside of a professional environment. I would love to hear more about other people’s opinions on the site.

Sound off below or respond to the poll. (Note: the last time I tried a poll it failed miserably. Please prove me wrong and restore my faith in both bloggers and polls).

Spring Break, Blog Break

While my Spring Break didn’t involve any exotic locales or raging parties, it did include a significant amount of Rest and Relaxation.

Unfortunately for my adoring readers (this is basically just a shout-out to my mom who has been kind enough to visit my site from time to time), this also meant a big of a break from the blogosphere.

But never fear, for I have returned! Ah, but what to write about? One would think that after more than a week of absence, my brain should be brimming with ideas of possible posts. Instead, I am faced with a spell of writer’s block, a misfortune I seem to almost perpetually suffer from.

So instead of a typical PR or media commentary, I’ve decided to take a break from the typical subjects and discuss a bit of my new/rediscovered favorite things from my Blog Sabbatical (that’s the official title we’re using for it now). So just think of me as a less exciting, less successful Oprah, giving you a list of my favorite things (minus the part where I actually give said things to the audience…okay, it’s really nothing like Oprah).

Favorite New/Rediscovered Things

  1. Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee: It’s not quite a revolutionary item for the list, nor is it ‘new’ to me, but with the rediscovery of the warm spring weather comes the rediscovery of this delicious nectar. One coconut iced coffee, with cream no sugar. Please and Thank you. DD iced coffee never fails to remind me of summer, and to be able to drink it again without freezing to death is quite a spectacular feeling.
  2. E.L.F. brand: I was at Target the other day and I came across a shelf of incredibly inexpensive make-up. My first reaction was that some grave mistake had been made in marking prices. My second thought was that I better take advantage of this mix-up before someone realized. Either way, I spent a total of $5 and got some of the best quality lipstick and eye-shadow that I’ve ever used.
  3. Men’s sunglasses: I seem to have misplaced my own favorite pair of sunglasses. This made me quite upset, considering how well they had fared despite my constant manhandling of them. I went to the store to buy a new pair (never over $20, that’s my rule) and I couldn’t find any I liked. Then my mother (that’s two shout-outs now) moved on over to the Men’s section and picked up a pair of Ray-Ban-esque sunglasses. Needless to say, they were perfect and I am quite content with my purchase. After all, I’m not one for the bug-eyed look.
  4. I-pod/phone free dictionary app: Why didn’t I add this sooner? And it was free! So here’s to improving my vocabulary!
  5. Out of Print Clothing: I’ve posted about them before, but I never got around to getting the Sherlock Holmes shirt of my dreams. Instead, however, my mom went ahead and purchased me a lovely Great Gatsby t-shirt that I am more than overjoyed to have. Now to restrain myself from spending hundreds of dollars on the website…
  6. Traveling: I took a short trip to NY to visit a friend over break, and as I hopped from train to train, I experienced a sense of nostalgia. I miss traveling, like I did so frequently when I was abroad. I even stuck to my rule that I developed when in Europe– always wear a scarf when traveling. That way, you can use it as either a pillow, blanket, or blindfold to keep out the light. I have used it for all three and I am not ashamed.
  7. Bagels: I can’t even begin to count that number of bagels I consumed over break. I don’t care how bad for you they are, they will forever be my weakness.
  8. Eureka: This SyFy television show is practically unheard of, which I see as a real shame. The premise: a U.S. marshal and his daughter find themselves stranded, and later at home, in a town a geniuses. Honestly, check it out. It’s heartwarming yet hilarious.

So that’s about it for my favorite things. As I said, my break was pretty low-key. But now it’s time to get back to blogging– a past time I actually really do enjoy. Back to school, back to blogging.

Blog Happy Tips

My previous post provided blogging tips from an article I had discovered. My enjoyment in writing about it, as well as analyzing my own blog in the process, has led me to my latest post: How to Enjoy Blogging.

While I’m no blog expert, and I certainly wouldn’t be qualified to dole out advice on how to have a successful blog, I can admit to enjoying my blogging. As I thought more about it, I decided to make my own list that might prove informational for readers and recreational for myself. So here it is, my very own Advice Blog Post:

How to Enjoy Blogging

1. Make it interesting…to YOU!

  • As I mentioned, my primary motivation for writing this very post is my own self-interest. In fact, EVERY post I write is out of pure selfishness. I write about things that I enjoy or show an interest in, thereby reflecting the enthusiasm in my posts. Life is too short to blog about things that bore you.

2. Mix it up.

  • While many people try to keep their blog pertaining to one particular topic, I find it much more interesting to show a little variation. If it’s a professional blog, that doesn’t mean that you need to post goofy pictures or silly YouTube videos. My blog, for instance, relates primarily to Public Relations and Social Media. However, I can’t resist the urge to share new discoveries. I usually post these under the category of “Stumbled Upon.” Sometimes, however, it’s an old tune that I just need to share, or a favorite quote. Mix it up, keep it fun for yourself and others.

3. Look around.

  • I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, my looking through media news or my looking for a post topic. Either way, I try to stay up to date with media and PR trends. While I look around some of my favorite websites (i.e. Mashable), I often come across an idea for a blog post. Sometimes I’m just stuck and, as I mentioned, I’m not going to write about something that I don’t find interesting. In these cases, I go to random websites that have no bearing on media at all. Sometimes I even turn to what I did that day. Look around you, both on the internet and in your life in general. There are plenty of topics waiting to be written about.

4. Be proud.

  • While you may feel like your blog is barely a plankton in the Blog Sea, you are still taking the initiative to get your voice heard. Even if your hits total 5 or 6 a day (been there, done that, still doing that in fact), be proud that those 5 or 6 people chose to view YOUR blog. Don’t get discouraged.

5. Don’t let your blog be a cause of guilt.

  • Okay, this one I’m admittedly still trying to deal with. Just because you haven’t posted for awhile, or don’t quite feel like going on one day, it doesn’t mean you’ve skipped out on some responsibility. Your blog is just that, YOUR BLOG. Don’t let it dictate what you do or else you’ll stop enjoying. Don’t let an inability or disinterest in posting make you feel guilty. Don’t be afraid to take a weekend, or a week, off from posting. It should be on your time.

6. EMBRACE THE BLOGOSPHERE.

  • This is the most important piece of advice yet– don’t just stay put in your nice little corner of the internet, go explore the blogs of others. You’ll find it to be a pleasant and relatively friendly community filled with well-wishers (and the occasional nay-sayer). Embrace the feedback you get and give. Embrace the blogosphere!

Will Tumblr get Tossed?

My first thought was that Tumblr must be some distant cousin of Flickr. Social media sites ignoring the use of the letter ‘e’ (still looking for a scientific explanation behind that).  This was more than a year ago, when the site was still getting off its feet and riding on the road of uncertainty. Even after its success, it took me a while to hop on board. Finally, I took the plunge, using my Communications major as a justification signing up for yet another social networking platform. It’s been about a month now, and I must self-consciously admit– I’m hooked.

The Tumblr site to me seems like a more visual, less organized Twitter. While your posts don’t need to be fewer than 140 characters, I personally tend to ignore the longer passages. The greatest benefit is the visual aspect– no need to click away to another page to view pictures and, more importantly, gifs. While my experiences on Tumblr are still relatively limited, I’ve found the community to be littered with positively every imaginable gif known to man. Than again, I say ‘littered’ like  bad thing. In fact, Tumblr has brought out in me the absolute geek and fan-fanatic. Unlike my twitter and blog, where I try to maintain a certain level of professional posts and demeanor, Tumblr has quickly become my guilty pleasure. Not that the material is inappropriate, but it certainly is without educational benefits. Instead, my favorite posts (is that even the correct lingo?) include gifs from my numerous favorite television shows.

But enough about me and my utter television/film nerdiness. Back to my initial point in writing this post. During my own use of Tumblr, I couldn’t help but wonder how often the platform was used at a professional level. I have one friend who uses Tumblr for the local publication she writes for– that seems like a reasonable and intelligent use of the site. However, unlike Twitter or Facebook pages for companies and brands, I feel like Tumblr isn’t nearly as professional. Once again, this is simply my opinion on the matter, one I’ve gained from only a limited introduction to Tumblr.

I decided to look into the overall use of Tumblr, and found a some interesting facts. For instance, it was only in early 2010 that Tumblr really hit its stride. Within 6 months, Tumblr doubled its page views. People were starting to catch on to this new fad, with nearly 25,000 people a day signing up for profiles.

I discovered that some of the most popular professional users of Tumblr are mainstream media. Tumblr was another medium through which they could publicize their stories. Everyday bloggers (like myself) also caught on, enjoying the ease the platform provided for posting pictures as well as words.

While the businesses that use Tumblr come from various fields, there remains a high presence of media outlets and personal bloggers. Especially in comparison to the rise of Twitter use among big name corporations (i.e. Fortune 500 companies), Tumblr remains a more personal and  social platform. That’s not to say that a company wouldn’t have any success with the website. I think one of the more endearing factors about Tumblr is the lax environment and community. For this reason, small- and medium-sized organizations are among the first professional groups to turn to Tumblr.

But what about everyone else? What do they, and you, think the benefits of Tumblr are?

One article I found explained Tumblr’s success as such: “Many attribute it to a thrust for the ‘tweener’ social media site – more content than Twitter, less than a full blog… Many use Tumblr as a simple alternative to WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad with quick blogging, reblogging, and feed integration options that allow for faster, more automated methods of running a blog.”

Right now, I’m hooked on the site, but how long will my interest in my own obscure obsessions last? How many Princess Bride or Sherlock (BBC) gifs can one possible watch before wanting more? Overall, I wonder if Tumblr will survive to become the “next big thing.” This, in many ways, will be dependent upon industrial adoption of the platform. Will companies make profit from this website? Can they use it to their advantage? Will it really make a difference with their consumers?

What do you think? Will it last? Do you use Tumblr? What are the benefits? Negatives?

I would love to hear opinions from more ‘experienced’ users.