#blogging

Everything In Its Right Place

My quest to write 500 words a day has really gone off the rails recently. It was always an ambitious goal, but I also sort of set it up for failure by not designating a time each day to write. So I found myself scrambling at the end of each and every day to get 500 words up. As I’m finally figuring out with email, everything happens more smoothly if you designate a time to do it and stick with it.

And a place.

The other problem with the 500 word goal was that this site simply didn’t seem like a great place for it. You see, I run this site on Tumblr. And while Tumblr is amazing for many things, it’s not particularly well-suited for longer-form writing. Yes, even just 500 words. The text box that pops open when you set out to do a text post says all you need to know: keep it short.

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andreelijah asked:

In today's blogosphere how would you suggest starting and promoting a blog? I keep tabs on you, Marco, and Gruber by way of Pulse daily if not hourly and I love to write. I've enjoyed seeing that my two posts on Medium have over a thousand views/reads and it's good for my ego. But how do you gain meaningful readership, and get out there? Everyone has a blog now. Do you suggest using Tumblr or host a Wordpress blog and put some ads on it? I'm REALLY curious as to your take on this. Thanks!

Things are pretty different from when I started blogging a decade ago. Twitter didn’t exist. Facebook was a social network for Harvard students. Basically, the only way to spread your words back then was either RSS or, gulp, email.

So in some ways, it’s easier to get the word out there now about what you write. But in other ways, it’s harder because there’s so much more content out there.

As you note, Medium (disclosure: in the Google Ventures portfolio) seems to be doing a good job facilitating the creation of new content and helping it spread. Tumblr has long been good at this, but honestly, I find it better for sharing pictures, links, etc, rather than longer-form blog posts. WordPress, of course has long been the standard there. Then there are newer entries like Svbtle and Hi as well.

Honestly, if I were starting out now, I’d still do what I did 10 years ago: which is write a lot. It may be discouraging at first if it seems like no one is reading what you write, but if you keep at it for long enough, people seem to have this funny way of finding you.

Be sure to link to others as well. This remains a great way for other bloggers to discover you and hopefully send some link-love back your way.

You could put ads up, but honestly, without a big enough scale, the money will be tiny. I’d focus on growing the readership first.

I’d also try to focus on one topic or a set of topics to write about most often. For those of us you mention above, that topic was obviously Apple. It certainly helped that interest in Apple stories exploded in the past decade, but I think as long as you’re passionate about something, a similar audience will find you.

The key, as with just about everything, is to stick with it.

Jeff Bercovici sat down with Gawker’s Nick Denton in an interview for Playboy:

PLAYBOY: Speaking of the establishment, what will The New York Times look like in 10 years? Will it exist? Will the Sulzberger family still own it, or will they have sold it, perhaps to Michael Bloomberg?

DENTON: The New York Times will exist. Someone else will own it. Most families, the more generations they are from the original founder, the more fragmented the ownership, and eventually the nephews, grandnieces and great-great-grandchildren want their money now. They’d rather take the purchase price than zero dividends. I think the Times has bottomed out, and now, even though the signs are mixed, it will be able to put on more in digital revenue than it loses in print. Or I hope so, because I like the Times. There should be at least one or two survivors. Even when a major disaster kills most life on earth, usually a few species survive. Dinosaurs survived and became birds. Maybe that’s the future of The New York Times: It will be the survivor of the dinosaurs, the little tweeting thing you see flying around.

The entire interview is well worth your time.

15,000 (Or So) Words

At the beginning of January, I pledged to write 500 words a day. Just over one month later, I’m here to admit that it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it seems preposterous that it has only been a month.

The truth is that it’s both easier and harder to write 500 words on a daily basis than I imagined. When I actually sit down to do it, it’s actually fairly easy. When I start thinking about something, the words usually flow. But it’s the sitting down that’s the hard part.

As a result, I usually find myself waiting until the very end of the evening to write — like right now. It’s 11:50pm. I have 10 minutes and 400 words to go. Knowing myself, I know I like this self-inflicted deadline. I always have.

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David Carr on the current boom in newfangled journalism:

I was part of the first bubble as a journalist at Inside.com in 2001 — an idea a decade ahead of its time — and this feels very different.

The web was more like a set of tin cans and a thin wire back then, so news media upstarts had trouble being heard. With high broadband penetration, the web has become a fully realized consumer medium where pages load in a flash and video plays without stuttering. With those pipes now built, we are in a time very similar to the early 1980s, when big cities were finally wired for cable. What followed was an explosion of new channels, many of which have become big businesses today.

A good way to look at it, I think. Because of the written-word parallels, so many people want to compare online journalism to newspaper journalism. But perhaps it is far more analogous to other businesses in the past.

Matt Cutts on guest blogging:

Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking “guest post outsourcing” and writing articles about “how to automate guest blogging.”

So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.

There are a handful of good guest blog posts a year — but only a handful. The vast majority of them are either entirely too self-serving or worse, spam.

Yes, I’m linking to Penthouse, but it’s a good interview by Kara Wahlgren of Matthew Inman, better known as The Oatmeal. In particular, I like this part:

Wahlgren: I noticed you have comments disabled on your website.

Inman: I used to think it was an integral part of being a writer or artist—that you have to read comments, and you have to react to them, and you have to mold your work around them. But that doesn’t make me a better artist—if anything, it just makes me doubt myself. So I just don’t read any of it, because I can’t help focusing on that one negative one where some guy writes something awful. I’ve found that my comics are becoming more and more of a rhetorical performance. I just want to draw things that I hope are funny and put them on the web, and that’ll be the extent of the communication, to preserve my own sanity more than anything.

It’s official: everyone hates comments.

Take It Easy, E

December 27, 2007:

Hey. eric eldon here from venturebeat. i’ve been enjoying your posts.

are you set on a solo blogging career, or would you consider writing for another blog. say, venturebeat?

Almost exactly six years ago, Eric Eldon changed my life. That may sound like hyperbole — it is not. That message, sent via Facebook, truly did alter the course of my life.

Today, Eric announced he is stepping down from his role atop TechCrunch to “try something pretty different.” And while I have nothing but respect for that decision, the tech press is a little worse for it — as are we all, as readers.

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giantcypress asked:

Given that you’re planning on regularly writing ~500 word posts, is there any way to not have to click on the “Read More” link to read the whole article? I’m not sure that forcing readers to click on a link to finish reading a post helps anything, and some of your link entries are as long as a ~500 word post would be. Allowing the whole post to be read on the front page would be of great help in terms of reading through your blog. Thanks!

I’ve thought about this quite a bit, actually. The main issue is that I don’t want these posts to overwhelm readers on either my site or on Tumblr. Even 500-word posts can be significantly longer than usual Tumblr fodder and interrupt the flow of the feed.

I know that I personally don’t like seeing these lengthy posts in my Tumblr feed — even if I want to read the post!

Having said that, I’m still thinking about it. I don’t love the “Read More” option either. I’m honestly just trying to make a better experience for followers, so your feedback is noted!

chrisfato asked:

Without plugging any one app for your 500 words a day goal. Do you favor a particular app over another? I have to doubt it would be iA Writer. Good Luck and I look forward to the reads!

Actually happy to plug since I use it so often (and mentioned it the other day), I mainly use Byword to write. I use it on Mac as well as iPad.

Really love the minimalist aesthetic and the intuitive touchscreen controls when you have a hardware keyboard attached to your iPad.

500 Words A Day

I’m not a huge believer in New Year’s resolutions (I tend to reflect more around my own birthday about the coming year). But I do like the idea of using the new year as a jumping off point for a new project. So that’s what I’m doing today, one day into 2014.

I’ve decided that I’d like to write more this year. Or, more specifically, I’d like to write more regularly this year. Last year, I wrote quite a bit, but I’d do so in large chunks of time and words and I never felt like I achieved a good cadence in my writing. So I’m switching things up.

This year, my plan is to write roughly 500 words a day in the form of a short post here on this site. Some days I’ll undoubtedly write more, some days I may write less. But 500 words seems like a reasonable amount to both write in a timely manner and for you to read in a timely manner.1

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John Gruber also had some choice words about the ridiculous Christopher Mims piece:

There’s a nihilistic streak in tech journalism that I just don’t see in other fields. Sports, movies, cars, wristwatches, cameras, food — writers who cover these fields tend to celebrate, to relish, the best their fields have to offer. Technology, on the other hand, seems to attract enthusiasts with no actual enthusiasm.

So true. I also think that many in the tech press, especially if they’ve been in the game a long time, simply get bored — or are almost forced to become cynical.

The technology industry is without question the best industry to cover right now, in my mind. But it’s harder to stand out when you state the truth: how amazing most (not all) things are. It’s much easier to stand out by saying the opposite, even if (and maybe especially if) it’s not actually true. If nothing else, contrarians tend to attract page views.

I believe this cynicism is also why so many in the tech press seem to burn out so quickly and seek work elsewhere. It’s hard to cover technology when you’re forcing yourself to hate it. You start hating yourself, I imagine.

Om Malik:

Even if you ignore the predetermined narrative of the Quartz piece, the article today and many such articles before this one simply reinforce the point that no one — and that includes bloggers like myself, high-brow/super-successful venture capitalists and writers for mainstream intellectual publications like the Atlantic — have little or no understanding of independent spirit of innovation and disruption. Innovation happens in different places, in different sectors and follows a different time scale that only a handful really comprehend.

Such a good rebuttal to this nonsense.