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Monday
Jul122010

how to get more blog traffic

One way is to write articles like this...

I have just been scouting around looking at the tips out there to increase traffic and mostly they are uninspiring, on a par with telling writers to make sure their book is listed on amazon. Some crazily suggest posting articles 3-5 times a day. For some reason that reminds me of lunatics locked into a cycle of terminal self abuse...

OK- I've found out the following throughout a year of posting articles:

1) Even if you post nothing, you can expect 2/3 the traffic you get when posting madly.

2) My highest traffic for ages was generated by an innocuous small article I wrote ages ago called 'a cure for horsefly bites'. In the winter this gets no hits. From June on it is number one. It answers a real need. Someone has been bitten. They type in how do I cure this and get directed to me. So, being a slow learner its taken me until now to work out that people react best to material that answers some pressing urgent need. My post, one of my favourites, about tickling, gets no attention (though I am thinking of starting an international tickling society with tickle fests around the globe etc. I digress) because being tickled is not a pressing matter to most of us. So what I advise is: recast your existing posts with titles that suggest it is the answer to a pressing need. Instead of 'some remarks on zips' post 'How to get that stuck zip unstuck'. It's not enough to answer a potential need. You should answer a real urgent one. Doesn't have to be serious though. For many people it is urgent to know which type of apple laptop is best.

3) Get your blog headlines sent out via twitter. Most of my referrals are through twitter.

4) Mention famous people in your headline. One of my posts on Michael Phelps gets lots of hits. How about "Not the Michael Jackson method for cooking saveloys' or 'Three ways to beat Tiger Woods at getting a hole in one.'etc

5) Good quotations by people from history that modern people want to resend to others.

6) Useful advice based on real experience.

7) Anything that sparkles, that has a 'hey gladys' factor. 'hey Gladys' refers to a tabloid test of a story - it means does this story make the reader lean over their garden fence and shout 'hey gladys, listen to this' to their neighbour.

8) Recently I have had a huge response to an article aimed at showing how it's not time we lack but energy. The article was very punchy and highly focused, constantly re-iterating the same thesis in different ways. The opening line hinted at solving that age old problem- 'not enough time'. Later I retitled some articles to make them answers or direct allusions to solving PRESSING needs and problems. This really works.

9) Time is a big factor in growing your readership. A year and a bit on mine is growing by the month even when I post only once a week.

10) Change the layout of you site from time to time. This always increases page views and traffic.

11) By checking what is popular you get closer to the intersection of what you want to do and what people want to read. For example, my posts on Egypt and Japan were very popular when these places were in the news- less so now- but I can't write like that all the time, nor would I want to. But a piece I did called 'this is spiral thinking' is now getting loads of hits because someone discovered it months after it was written- and I love writing this kind of post- so now I have a good indication of where to go- maximising at the intersection of my interests and my readers'.

12) Keep checking your unique hits and page view stats. As long as they are rising your blog is working, however slowly. If they are level then keep doing the above until they start rising. When you build a campfire even if there is no flame as long as the smoke is increasing it WILL burst into flame eventually. Keep the smoke increasing. 

13) Have a sense of narrowing in on what the blog/site is about. This needn't and probably shouldn't be very definite. But over time it's good if you are zoning in on your strengths not weaknesses.

14) Put interesting and irrefutable autobiographical info on wikipedia sites of famous people. Then link the reference directly to a post on your site. For example if your site is about music do a few posts on famous musicians and then post autobiographical info on their wiki entries with links back to you. 

15) For some reason anything to do with saving time always gets big hits...

Saturday
Jul102010

Taleb's black swan theory known to Bismarck

The black swan theory states, in a nutshell, that we cannot predict- and by extension, control, the huge world changing events that occur from time to time.

It is far better to try and be good at rapid response- either making the best of a boom or getting out quickly from a disaster. In this context Bismarck presciently wrote: "A statesman has not to make history, but if he ever in the events around him he hears the sweep of the mantle of God, then he must jump up and catch at its hem."

Saturday
Jul102010

yang is the thang

My sister, who is also a highly regarded environmental psychologist, recently wrote asking me if yang therapy was just for boys. I replied: "Though men and women have different yin/yang balances as do individuals there is an element of interpretation at work here. For example shopping for an expedition feels much more yang than doing the weekly tesco run- but the activity is the same. Men may love being asked to fix broken bookshelves but loathe having to vacuum the house- but both are just household tasks. Can you con yourself into yanging up the yin? maybe- up to a point. Whether you are male or female, if you feel you need more yang in your life then you probably do."

Friday
Jul092010

quote of the day

"WORK, for example, is a far more actual source of misery for most of us than legislative politics."-- Hakim Bey 

Friday
Jul092010

how to cure exam nerves and interview nerves

Sick with fear before an exam or interview?

Try this old Samurai trick- it looks and sounds weird but it really works. If you have to be on stage or on TV it works for that too.

First get a disposable wooden chopstick or a similar size stick.

Next wet both earlobes either with water or spit- just so you can feel them cool.

Then stare in the mirror and shout incredibly loud- anything will do- oi! is pretty good.

Then immediately snap the chopstick and storm off to the exam or interview- you'll be unstoppable.

The technique comes from the Hagakure, an ancient Samurai manual and I think it works because it takes your mental focus away from the interior out into sensing your skin, your breathing and your physical power.

 

Friday
Jul092010

success and the polymathic perspective

Success is great even though you might have to suck cess to achieve it. Sucking up all that cess from the numerous cess pools available may make you a tad queasy, a little green at the gills. What’s the alternative to being chained to the success machine day and night?

Change.

Yep. Change your clothes, house, car, job , place of residence, whatever. Humans get a buzz from change just as they get a buzz from success. But buying change is or can be expensive. Holidays and travel aren’t cheap.

How do you build change into your life?

One way is to adopt a polymathic perspective. Polymathy, is not, for those new to the term, a weird kind of perversion stemming from an abuse of arithmetic, it is choosing to study/learn/practise many different things, especially mixing physical pursuits with artistic and intellectual endeavors. It is being a jack of a number of trades and maybe a master of more than one.

A polymathic perspective allows you to exalt in things being various. It allows you the freedom to dabble, to try different things, to break out from the specialist’s straitjacket. Isn’t that dilution? Courting failure? Spreading yourself too thin?

It could be. You’d have to find out what worked for you. How many different activities you can fit into one life. It is certainly true that at any one time trying to improve in more than two areas of your life is very difficult. However, maintaining an area without trying to improve in it is easy. The key is to be sequentially polymathic. Spending viable chunks of time on each area you want to achieve expertise in.

Expertise. We are lead to believe that expertise can only occur in one area. Why? It takes 10,000 hours to master a subject – a good enough estimate based on surveys of high achievers. Work a 50 hour week for a year and you clock up 2000+ hours. Do that for five years and you will have achieved mastery. A career of 40 years allows up to eight areas of mastery.

Extreme? Maybe. But the possibility exists. Maybe it’s enough to just know that monopathic specialist success is not the only way to live.

 

 

 

Sunday
Jul042010

michael phelps is transparent

I have just been reading one the best sports biographies I have read for ages. Michael Phelps- No Limits- a thoroughly inspiring tale of the man with size 15 feet who munches on 12000 calories a day. Except he doesn't. Most of the freak stuff was just slightly exaggerated. In fact his feet are size 14 and the aussie gold medalist swimmer Ian Thorpe had size 17 feet...I digress. The book is an excellent view of how, by remaining transparent-ish, one can achieve immense goals. By this I mean, all the tantrums and ego of most sports heroes are laid aside in pursuit of goals and doing what others can't and won't do. That lack of self pity, that willingness to take responsibility for what he does, that rare willingness to let actions always speak rather than words- all that is an element of transparency, of reducing baggage, to a minimum. Everyone has baggage- Phelps parents divorced when he was seven and he had slight behavioural problems at school- the ritalin they put him - the drugs - he weans himself off through a decision of his own- no one elses. He has superb mentors in the figures of his mother and his coach- but it's Phelps in the pool, not them. As his coach puts it- "I can get you in ballpark- that's all." What I love about the way he goes about things is the utterly stripped down simplicity of it: you want X, Ok- to achieve it you will need to do Y by this time and Z by that time. In the world of Olympic swimming 1/100 of a second divides the winners from the losers. It's almost absurd. What isn't, is the way setting seemingly absurd goals, if you attack them with a no-baggage, utterly realistic and disciplined approach can allow you to achieve them. No one will be the worse off for reading this book.