Getting Creative With Your Content

blinkers.jpgI’m disillusioned these days. It takes a lot to get me interested in anything, and as each day passes, I scan more and read less. I don’t care.

I scroll through my feed reader, my attention dulled by the similar headlines. They’re carbon-copy titles that make a desperate attempt to grasp my attention. Some – very few – do. But I’m often quickly disappointed. The headline may be mildly intriguing, but the content of the first paragraph is just the same old stuff. Nothing new, nothing entertaining, nothing interesting.

The lucky rare posts that manage to keep my attention longer than two sentences disappoint me even more. As I find myself thinking, “Hm, this might be good,” the content cuts off. The blog blatantly makes an attempt to herd me like sheep to the site for more.

Three months ago, almost all feeds were full. I felt like people cared about having me read. Now, three quarters of feeds cut me off. I feel like no one cares about me as a reader any more. They just want to force me to their site.

I don’t click through. I am no one’s sheep. I have the urge to say, “F-k you. If you don’t care about me as a person, then I don’t give a damn about you and your site.”

I’m tired of the stupid games and the strategies to boost PR and page hits. I’m tired of the excuses or the blog owner debates about how spending my precious time to please them is something that I want to do.

I don’t. Go to hell. Quit making me jump through hoops to read what you have to say. Stop bombarding me with tricks that have been used too many times.

Too much of a good thing has one result: It backfires as people become acclimatized and their tolerance level rises. It takes more to get a reaction.

The headlines are backfiring. They have to be good, damned good these days to get me interested. The How-To titles make me sigh. The Top Tens make me roll my eyes. I am disillusioned.

Some blogs, the really good ones worth my time, save my faith. Their content means something to me – and I clearly mean something to them. There are no hoops, no see-through tricks. There are different and fresh perspectives. These blogs give me the full feed so that I can read. They want me to read. They want me as a reader.

These blogs, with their honest approach and their better-than-the-rest content, make me think. And I do. I don’t seize the inspiration that comes to me suddenly by its hair to yank it to my keyboard and witlessly pound it out into a raging post.

No, these days, I find myself slowing down. Maybe I’m getting old or jaded. Maybe I’m just tired of moving at such a reckless pace. I’m tired of not having the time to be more than I am.

These days, I’m taking the time to think over more profound posts or what something means to me. I put a note on my calendar with a main point, and I carry the thought with me for days. I toss my thoughts around. I ponder and wonder. Daytime, nighttime… I let my thoughts on the matter wander where they will.

I find myself thinking about what everything means to me, how it affects me and influences me.

And I am not easily influenced these days. I’m standing at a crossroads, contemplating with road to take, which way to turn. I’m tired of performing by the rules that everyone else follows, like horses with blinkers on, blind to anything but what’s directly ahead.

I don’t like blinkers. I want to see everything and run free in the fields. I need wide open spaces and room to make mistakes (as the Dixie Chicks say). I need to be able to be uniquely creative and different from the others. I’ve never done well just doing what everyone else does.

We are at the Content Crossroads. It’s time to make choices. The potential for revolution is ours. I, for one, will take the risk of starting it.

Join me?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Good morning Men with pens,

    This post is one of the best I’ve read in weeks. Though I’ve been writing since 1998, I only started blogging recently. I share your angst for the “just like the rest’ content on many blogs but relish the ones that give me real meat to chew on for days.

    Each day, in your unique way, you inspire me to up the ante not only for my own blog but my writing as a whole.

    Thank you. God bless you. Keep it real, continue to be true to yourself and honor your passion for writing thought-provoking content for your blog and everywhere else that you bless with your words.

  2. “I’m tired of the stupid games and the strategies to boost PR and page hits. I’m tired of the excuses or the blog owner debates about how spending my precious time to please them is something that I want to do.”

    Boy, have I been thinking the same things – and have been getting more and more testy in my comments at the “blogging” sites that promote this stuff. I’m tired of “Subscribe and get a free..”, “Build anticipation”, “Increase your social media contacts” and all that.. so many people parroting the same crappy advice..

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  3. @ Cheryl – Thank you very much :) You’ve summed up exactly what we try to do each day: be unique, be true to ourselves, honor our passion, and inspire people to think a little differently. We have a wealth of opportunity in our hands – let’s use it to its fullest potential.

  4. Brett Legree says:

    @ James – I don’t think it is age, I think it is wisdom.

    Kind of like that conversation we had a little while ago, about how all you want is that farmhouse out in the country, and all I wanted to do was exchange places with the farmer ploughing his field.

    I think many blogs are springing up as “me too” blogs. I have recently started a test blog myself. I have written a few posts and so forth, however, last night I decided to “reboot” my brain and think long and hard about what I want to do with my words. I guess that was the point of the test blog – to fail a few times, figure out what I really want out of it.

    I probably won’t write again until I have something that is truly worthy of going out there. I know I have it in me.

    Anyway…

    I think the “me too” blogs are so much like the cookie-cutter McMansions in suburban cities. We have some friends who live in the GTA, and no word of a lie, when we go to visit, I have to check the house numbers as I cannot tell their house from any of the others.

    Much like many of the blogs – you have to look up at the title bar of your browser to figure out where you are located!

    This blog, however, is different. It is like that farmhouse – easy to spot, with the sun shining over the hills in the background, and welcoming.

    So I, too, have decided to build my own personal farmhouse online.

    People – build a farmhouse, not a McMansion. Your guests will want to come back to visit, again and again.

  5. @Anthony & Cheryl: You know, for the last several months I thought it was only me feeling this way. I thought I was being a horrible blogger, not buying into all the gimmicks and growing increasingly cynical while James still continued to have faith in the face of the barrage of games and strategies. I have a lot of moments where I’m sitting in front of the screen saying I’m tired of being told what to do and how to do it. I even get tired of telling people how to do things because I start to wonder if our readers feel the same way.

    In the beginning, yeah I got a lot of ideas from other bloggers, but now I find that happening less and less. Funny thing is, the less I see, the more it makes me think. It pushes me to figure out what to write about next and hopefully make it sound fresh and inviting.

  6. @ Anthony – That’s why I’m going to choose my own path at the Crossroads. I’m glad to hear I’ll walk with you on it.

    @ Brett – Good god, man, you’re going to make my cry!!

  7. Brett,

    I live in the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago, in the West Indies and as a people, we seem to be cursed with “followitis”, as I call it. It’s almost comical but more so, it is sad. It’s all about fitting in with the crowd. Individuality, uniqueness and following your own path are looked upon cock-eyed and with a smirk.

    Never a follower for following sake, I was and continue to be looked at and described as ‘”the funny (not HA Ha) one, strange, a loner etc. etc. It took me many years to learn not only to be comfortable with who I am but to be proud and confident too. Often in my posts readers will get a glimpse of my pet peeve – people being prodded, coerced or even forced to be like everyone else and encouraging readers to listen to the music in their hearts and to dance like crazy to the beat of their own drums. I confess, I do go on about it sometimes.

    With all my heart, I believe that little by little, with our words we can inspire others to consider a new perspective, create a new mindset and live a life of freedom. That is what it is really – freedom to be oneself in the midst of clones.

    Stay true Brett.

  8. You guys crack me up. The next blog I’ll see is “Crying Men with Pens.”

  9. Brett Legree says:

    @ James – don’t worry, I almost wanted to cry writing it. That’s how I know when they are “my words”.

    @ Cheryl – wow, I have to say “thank you”. Thank you for the encouragement. I will stay true.

    I guess this is exactly what I meant about this place. It is like having dinner with family, or old friends, and then going for a walk in the evening sun.

    (How’s that for a picture in your mind’s eye?)

  10. @Brett: Oh man, “McMansions”…that’s funny. It’s even worse out here in the desert. Many of the communities look so much alike you have to wonder which part of town you’re in.

    One thought that frequently crosses my mind is, will we be able to maintain our uniqueness? I sure as hell hope so. If this blog were to ever jump the shark I’d like you guys to tell us.

    @Cheryl: I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone from the twin islands, that’s so cool! Sitting here in the dark, cold (shaddup you Canadians) Nevada morning, the islands sure sound nice. Then again, it’s supposed to warm up to 75 later today…

    Oh, and there will be no Crying Men with Pens. Men with pens don’t cry. Unless they’ve run out of ink.

    @Brett: Dinner at my place consists of barbecue every night. Be sure to bring some steaks with that liquor.

  11. @ Cheryl – I try not to. It leaves ink smears on my face.

    @ Brett – I hear you. It’s a great feeling (even if I did have to get up and walk away from the computer for a few minutes because I couldn’t see well) when the words ring true.

  12. Your blog is one of the ones that always makes me drop everything to read it. As usual, you’ve tapped into a feeling that many of us share. Great post, James. I’m looking forward to more ‘uniquely creative and different’ posts.

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..Are You A Productive Writer?

  13. Thanks for the post. What…uniqueness? Why that would take courage wouldn’t? A trait that is sadly lacking in many it seems. Thanks for making it ‘cool’ again.

  14. Brett Legree says:

    @ Harry – I don’t think you have to worry about jumping the shark, each time I come back here there is something truly unique (unlike a few other blogs, which are now starting to sound like a skipping record…)

    In any case, if I do see a shark, I’ll haul it up on shore, and bring it down to your place for a barbecue. I’m sure it would be quite tasty… with some Quebec liquor, of course. James, I might need some help with that!

    (PS – it “warmed up” today from -29 Celsius yesterday to a balmy -13, maybe I can catch a last minute flight to someplace warm…)

  15. @james

    So does this mean you’ve changed your position on Entrecard (speaking of places where I got a bit testy) ?

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  16. “Men with Pens don’t cry” – I like it. Anyway fellas, enough laughing for now. I have to hop to it and get cracking on my work. I look forward to hanging out again soon.

    Thanks for the lively conversation and have a productive day.

  17. I know I said good bye Brett, but you’re welcome to visit T&T anytime. Although it’s been raining cats and dogs since Sunday and “sharks” today. Some atmospheric disturbance that will surely pass.

    Anyway, bye for the second time.

  18. Brett Legree says:

    @ Cheryl – we have been considering it, actually, as it looks like a very nice place.

    In the mean time, I had a quick peek at your blog and there is a lot of great stuff there (I speed read), and I’ll be back later today to have a detailed read. Thanks for the words.

  19. @ Cheryl – Laughing?! Good lord, I have a roll of toilet paper handy and keep having to blow my nose!

    @ Anthony – Entrecard is an experiment. To be able to shake the world and protest against following the masses, I have to experience Entrecard. It’s definitely not for us, though, and I expect to close it down as soon as I get around to it – it’s low on my list of priorities (surprise surprise!)

    @ Brett – Yeah, you and I are getting the same weather – for our US friends, -30C freezes exposed skin. I know this, because I did so when I removed my gloves for less than three minutes putting air in my tire. Hurts like a bastard when it thaws.

    @ Sharon – Really? Ha, that’s so cool :) And very flattering!

  20. “I’m tired of being told what to do and how to do it”

    Ayup. Not that I ever did what I was told, but I am getting heartily sick of hearing it, and especially from the parrots and the sheep..

    “Social media” is probably ticking me off the most right now.. I think I’ll go Twitter about that.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  21. Brett Legree says:

    (totally off topic) don’t even *think* about trying to pee outside when it’s -30C

    (That one was for Naomi… heh heh)

  22. Awesome! I wondered if it was just me, wanting to stab a pen through my monitor at every “top 14 ways to __________” post. I mean, some are great and make good points. Some are recycled so much it’s a waste of time. Thanks for the great blog and the full feed in my reader.

    Jana’s last blog post..Musical Therapy

  23. @Brett: We’ll marinate that shark in the Canadian liquor.
    @Cheryl: Thanks!
    @Sharon: That’s the best praise ever
    @Anthony: Parrots and sheep…interesting visual. Either we have Technicolor sheep, or woolly parrots.

  24. Lordy… why do you people live up there? Massachusetts is bad enough..

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  25. Thanks Brett for visiting my blog. Sure, stop by anytime, leave a comment and feel free to make suggestions for improving it via my email address. I want to be just like you and Harry when I grow up.

  26. Brett Legree says:

    @ Anthony – why, for the liquor of course!

    Rumour has it that my ancestors came over here because the grass was greener, or there were small furry animals to be trapped and sold, or something like that.

    But I know it was all about the liquor.

    (I shouldn’t complain, it was -45C in Winnipeg the other day)

  27. @Cheryl: Hey, shouldn’t you be working? Come to think of it, so should I. After all, if you want to grow up to be just like me, I need to set a good example. :)

  28. Oh, that explains a lot. My ancestors actually were small furry animals.. well, not recently. But the humans were from Canada on my mother’s side and came down here to ride in sleighs (near as I can tell from family photos).

    My father’s side came from England with very English names (Lawrence, Beardsley) and lots of furniture and silverware and my father hooked up with the sleigh riding family because he and my uncle-to-be went to Maritime School together.. though I’m sure there was liquor involved somewhere.

    Then, in 1948.. hmm, wait a minute.. what point was I getting too? I dunno..

    Oh, yeah: it’s freaky COLD up there! Y’all are nuts.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  29. @Anthony: Maritime School and sleigh riding…wouldn’t that equal a Nantucket Sleigh ride?

    Sorry. That was a lame attempt at humor. Need to wake up more.

  30. Yeah, but….
    Ummm…let see…that little window thing keeps popping up

  31. James, you’ve made me into an instant subscriber. You had me at headlines.

    I despise the Cosmo-type headlines, like “12 Mind-Shattering Ways To Make People Kneel Before Your Blog.” I think what bothers me is not so much the headline itself, but that in my relatively short time blogging I’ve come to expect that the post will not live up to the headline’s promise. I would prefer a more honest headline, like “12 Blog Tips You Already Know, In Case You Need A Reminder.” Of course, my real preference is that such a post not be written at all.

    To be fair, I have written exactly two “top 10″ posts, one on each side of the same issue. And I’d keep the same headlines if I had to do it over again. And I have two drafts in my reserves that are “[Number] life lessons from [name of movie],” and I’m planning a “how to” post. I’m not totally opposed to using numbers or how-tos, I’m just opposed to consistently using formulaic, over-promising headlines. Then again, I’m still new. Perhaps I can yet be swayed by the masses.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..The Problem With Voting In America: Too Many People Do It

  32. Hi James – as you know, I was one of those who was unwittingly only giving a partial feed. And I can appreciate how annoying that must have been.

    I’ve been noticing a lot of similar articles on the internet recently. And the sad thing is, I’ve noticed that many of the so called A list bloggers writing more or less the same articles as the smaller ones. And most of the time they don’t approach the topic from a different slant.

    And another thing that’s bugging me on blogs lately are all these articles on psychology that are popping up. They’re not targeted at an academic readership, but they come across as academic because the author doesn’t understand the topic well enough to put it into his own words. It sucks.

    CatherineL’s last blog post..Internet Branding: Did You Screw Up Too?

  33. @ Catherine – Yeah, I’m disappointed with the A-listers… but on the other hand, I’m going to become an A-lister so the worse they do, the better I fare ;) (and thank you for the full feed – I now read every day!)

    @ Hunter – If I made you an instant subscriber, then I am extremely pleased. It means a lot to me that readers don’t glance over our work. And the way this thread is exploding means even more to us – so thank you, and I look forward to having you hang out with us! I love your headline suggestion. “Ten Tips You Know But I Needed Something to Post” is a close second.

    @ Cheryl – You know you love it.

    @ Anthony – My ancestors are from Ireland, so I assumed they either got tired of potatoes and decided to try and eat snow or they did some perilous deed and were sent here for punishment. Personally, I love Canada and its seasons. I can watch Survivor and think, “Pppfft. Stick them up here and see how they survive.” I’d probably melt anywhere else or get bored. Canada’s always an adventure. Plus we can get away with being crazy and people just say, “Oh, there goes those Canadians again…”

  34. Oh, don’t get me started on the A-Listers.. fed up to my ears and beyond with almost all of them.. no, it is all of them.

    One thing I will say for Canada: none of you voted for George Bush so it’s much easier for me to like you. Down here I’m surrounded by.. let’s play nice.. people.. who still think he’s what this country needs.

    Oh well.. what’s a little nuclear war or two?

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  35. Apropos of the A-listers and why we’re sick of them, look what just popped on on ProBlogger “How to Write Posts That Set StumbleUpon on Fire”

    I’m thinking of posting “How to write headlines that set my teeth grinding”

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  36. Michael Martine says:

    “12 Mind-Shattering Ways To Make People Kneel Before Your Blog.”

    I actually kinda like that one. :twisted:

    I’ve certainly written my share of “Cosmo” type headlines… and so has Cosmo. Funny how it doesn’t get old for them. So who the hell thought Cosmo readers read blogs, anyway? ;)

    I majored in English (trust me, this is relevant to the topic) and one very important idea I learned (and love) is that you have to know what the rules are before you can break them. If you break them inadvertently, you’re just ignorant and there’s no art to your work. Writing “Cosmo” headlines and learning about copywriting in general has been a tremendous education for me. I’ve become fairly successful at it. I can play by the rules, and win.

    But that’s not much fun, is it? You really got me thinking, James. I’m thinking it might be time to start breakin’ some rules. Thanks, man.

    Michael Martine’s last blog post..Pros and Cons of Using a WordPress Blog as Your Entire Business Site

  37. Brett Legree says:

    “If you don’t break some of the rules every day, you’re not working hard enough.”

    A senior engineer where I work told me this one day…

  38. @ Anthony – Well, I don’t want to knock all A-listers and I certainly think that many of them do provide a good education. I won’t knock Problogger or Copyblogger, because those two blogs have a wealth of information on them.

    As Michael suggested, I’ve learned quite a bit on copywriting from A-lister blogs. Not just the how-to but how it works, why people think the way they do, what makes them act, etc. Brian Clark often inspires me to think differently, and I’d like to hope that I’m carrying on his tradition by doing the same.

    Only different ;)

    @ Michael – So if you can play by the rules and win, challenge yourself to break all the rules… and still win. Up for it?

  39. @ Brett – Dude, you work with nuclear stuff. You just keep on following those rules, man. Don’t change a thing.

  40. Thank you James – I know you’re going to do well. And I’m glad Hunter came over here. I think the title he mentioned would put me off reading too:
    “12 Mind-Shattering Ways To Make People Kneel Before Your Blog.”
    Did someone really write that?

    Hunter wrote a great title that stood out as soon as I opened my reader – Are You A Gryffindor or a Slytherin?

    CatherineL’s last blog post..Internet Branding: Did You Screw Up Too?

  41. Brett Legree says:

    @ James – oh, the stories I’m not allowed to tell you ;) would blow your mind…

  42. “I won’t knock Problogger or Copyblogger”

    OK – leave that to me :-)

    No, I agree, but is it all useful? No. Is there a lot of mindless repetition? Yes.

    For example, Skellie’s post that hurts my teeth. Nothing really wrong with it, and she’s right in everything she says, but the big takeaway is right at the end:

    “Befriend active StumbleUpon users and stumble and review some of their content if they have a blog or website. Active users command more traffic and they’re more likely to repay the favor because they’re Stumbling all the time anyway!”

    In other words, it’s really not about exceptional content, it’s about tit for tat: I’ll vote for your “ok” posts and you’ll vote for mine. And THAT is why the blogosphere of today is filled with mediocrity and repetition. It isn’t about truly organic links where I’m writing a piece about how social media distorts reality and I link to this; no it’s about doing reciprocal “favors”.

    THAT’S why we are disgusted!

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  43. 10 things I don’t like about my Mac?

    What kind of bullshit headline is that?

    Everyone knows Macs are perfect.

    I’m disgusted, get me Steve Jobs on the line!

    Wait, didn’t you know? All us A-Listers get to call Jobs anytime we want.

    It’s part of the secret creed we all swear to upon induction into the Technorati Top 100… right after we swear to always mindlessly write headlines that start with, oh, I don’t know… “10 things…”

    :-)

    Brian Clark’s last blog post..Why Brains Crave Beneficial Copy

  44. Brett Legree says:

    The only thing I don’t like about my Mac, is that no matter how many Apple stickers I put on it, it is still a Dell… :)

    Seriously, though, Anthony, I liked your post very much.

  45. *jots down note on Blogosphere Domination Game Plan list*…

    …must prepare to swear upon induction… Okay, got it…

    @ Brett – Ha, too funny! I have a Mac spin-off Dell too, stuck an apple sticker on it, and man, that thing turns heads like you wouldn’t believe.

    @ Anthony – I think pulling paragraphs out of context removes the frame, and it becomes pretty easy to twist the underlying message. Skellie is all about quality content, and I think her message was more of a reminder than anything.

  46. Brett Legree says:

    @ James – I think you & I are cut from the same cloth or something (in addition to our similar computers, fairly close geographical location, and love of Quebec liquor, I am also half Irish…)

    My father-in-law had commented on it at Christmas, “what kind of Mac is that, I’ve never seen that one before!”

  47. @Brian

    Ayup, it was ironic that post came up just when I was complaining about cookie-cutter posts and titles :-)

    @James

    I think you missed my point – I wasn’t complaining about Skellie or her post, and certainly wasn’t complaining about that paragraph: it’s dead on.

    My point is that Technorati, Digg, Stumble have all become worthless to me. I never did like Digg much, but I used to Stumble quite a bit. I don’t now because there’s too much mediocrity. And why is that? Because social media networks vote up each others mediocre posts. I’ll be writing a longer post about that sometime next week so I’ll leave off here.. and no, I’m NOT employing an “anticipation technique” with that. My post will be geeky, boring and of little interest to anyone reading here and also I may change my mind and not write it at all.. so there :-)

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  48. @ Anthony – I’m disappointed. Here I was, ready to watch you take on an A-lister and… you done gone and agreed with him. Sheesh. Have I not taught you anything?

    As for social media, I can’t agree with you on that one. I think that it’s not used enough, if anything, and most likely not used properly. SU is a valuable traffic driver for us and helps us gain new readers. When I am using SU myself, I not only help someone else when the content is worth it but I also find it returns better content each time.

    As for Digg… hell, we’ve never made it on there yet. Ain’t in the “in” crowd, so :P

  49. @james

    Agreed with her :-)

    But I disagree about StumbleUpon. Yes, it can be a good source of traffic – so can Technorati and all the others.

    But they are no longer a source of exceptional content. I do not mean the content is junk, but it’s nothing special.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  50. I advocate from now on we use “Top 13.2″ in all our post titles.

    That would mean every time we see such a post, we know that the author who wrote it is in the ultra-secret “Men with Pens” Cool, Creative Content Creators Club (MPCCCCC or MP5C if you prefer).

    Girls are, of course, welcome (cuties, but no cooties).

    Who’s in?

    Nez’s last blog post..We are Creatures of Habit

  51. “Top 13.2″

    Hmmm.. I like it, but would like to see other possibilities..

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  52. @ Nez – That’s a friggin’ hilarious idea! What’s even worse is that I’m sitting here contemplating the potential of that. I mean, think about it… a secret meme, spreading slowly… See, the challenge would be to insert the secret code into the content somehow… and moving as a secret pack… like spies. Spies, creeping through the blogosphere’s shadows, unnoticed, unannounced… spreading like a virus…

    There is a good idea at the depths of this. I’m certain.

  53. @Nez: You know, I never expect this topic to take some of the turns it did. Each time I read a new comment I’m laughing my ass off (not crying though, seriously, got a speck of dust in my eyes…).

    *points at Nez’s comment* Look James, there’s our new tagline “Cuties, But No Cooties!”

    Or not. Getting up early is making me punchy. Where’s John?

  54. But what would a .2 tip look like? Would it fade off like Invisiblog?

  55. @ Harry: Don’t let the decimal point fool you. 0.2 is a fifth, so if you’re tip is ten words long, just write only two words, and we have to guess the rest.

    Nez’s last blog post..We are Creatures of Habit

  56. Ok. I have made a “13.2” post. I stopped the presses, pulled my expected post, and put this in its place.

    The conspiracy begins.. I don’t know if FB has updated yet, so it may not show here as my “last blog post” but trust me: “13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media” is live and kicking.

    You don’t need to read it. It’s just a grumpy old geek grousing about the hoi polloi and their illiterate ways.. it’s enough to know that I used the “13.2”..

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..10 things I don’t like about my Mac by Anthony Lawrence

  57. I cannot believe that the last person I would’ve thought to actually get into something like this was actually the first person to do so. That is so funny.

    The post was actually very interesting, Anthony. I’m thinking it over, which is generally a mark of… hm, well, that something’s brewing.

    @ Nez – I reserve the right to insert either 13.2 or MP5C in my content or comments instead of post titles. I have a Cosmo-headline career on the line…

  58. Ahh, James: I think that I must grok you more than you grok me.. I’m *exactly* the kind of person to embrace this.. I intend to use it often..

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  59. I think it’s because we tend to choose opposite sides of the fence many times (albeit, I think we both do that by choice) so I’ve started to perceive you as the person who’ll do the opposite of what I would :)

  60. “I think it’s because we tend to choose opposite sides of the fence many times (albeit, I think we both do that by choice)”

    No, grasshopper. You may sometimes choose sides, but sides choose me.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  61. Hi everyone,

    James has asked me to share my thoughts on the topic here. I’ll start by clearing up one point where I think my writing has been unfairly portrayed:

    Anthony Lawrence’s comment:

    “For example, Skellie’s post that hurts my teeth. Nothing really wrong with it, and she’s right in everything she says, but the big takeaway is right at the end:

    “Befriend active StumbleUpon users and stumble and review some of their content if they have a blog or website. Active users command more traffic and they’re more likely to repay the favor because they’re Stumbling all the time anyway!”

    In other words, it’s really not about exceptional content, it’s about tit for tat: I’ll vote for your “ok” posts and you’ll vote for mine. And THAT is why the blogosphere of today is filled with mediocrity and repetition. It isn’t about truly organic links where I’m writing a piece about how social media distorts reality and I link to this; no it’s about doing reciprocal “favors”.

    THAT’S why we are disgusted!”

    / comment.

    The “big take-away point” is actually number 6 in a list of 8 extra, strategic tips. Two sentences in a post that’s over 1,000 words, 95% of which relate to writing outstanding content that will be voted for on its merits — the other 5% is about making connections with other SU users and being active in the community.

    Yet, somehow, that amounts to saying that, ultimately, content is unimportant?

    I also never suggested that you vote for and receive votes for “OK” content.

    If over-done headlines are boring, the flawed but common argumentative device of “repeat a simplified and skewed version of what someone else has said and argue against that version, rather than the real thing” is even more tiring. I do respect and like you, Anthony, and I think we agree on quite a few things, but lately I think you’ve made a couple of rather large logical fallacies (the “straw man” fallacy in this case, and confusing association with causation in the ‘design is not important’ argument).

    As for the tip itself, I can’t understand why the thought of befriending an active SU user you like, voting up their outstanding content and perhaps making a connection that will turn them into a reader of your blog is such a disgusting thought? God forbid we actually give before we get, or co-operate with other people.

    My general response to the debate would be: the A-listers can’t please everyone. That’s impossible. A lot of people here seem to fall into the ‘un-pleased’ camp, but judging by the success of the A-list (a group I don’t actually yet consider myself to be a part of — there are 2,400 blogs bigger than mine), most people do respond well to particular styles of content, particular ideas and particular styles of headlines. One of the reasons certain models are so popular is because they work, and I can attest to that from my own experiences writing content for A-list blogs.

    My suggestion would be to create the reality you want. Instead of unleashing disdain for the A-listers of the world, read blogs you actually do like and write the kind of content you’d like to see. A few of the most active commenters here on this thread could have diverted the same effort into writing a post that more accurately reflects how they want blogging to be. I think leading by example is more fruitful than outpouring bitterness about the way some people do things — and that goes for a lot of debates, not just this one in particular.

    Anyway, sorry this comment is so long. I thought I’d say everything I want to say at once rather than making multiple trips back here. Thanks again to James for inviting me to share my thoughts :).

    Skellie’s last blog post..Cream of the Crop: Six Cutting-Edge, Minimalist WordPress Themes

  62. Skellie – you have completely misunderstood. I am NOT disparaging your post. Your post simply reflects reality: you have accurately explained what is required to be popular in SU.

    Nor am I complaining about A-list bloggers., though I do think many are becoming boring and repetitious.

    I AM complaining about what you insist doesn’t exist: voting up mediocre content. I stand by my opinion: perhaps YOU wouldn’t do that, but plenty of others would and the results show it. StumbleUpon et al. do NOT work.

    You say you “can’t understand why the thought of befriending an active SU user you like, voting up their outstanding content and perhaps making a connection that will turn them into a reader of your blog is such a disgusting thought”.

    You don’t need to “befriend” someone who has outstanding content. I’ve had some content Stumbled and was never approached for reciprocal favors and would have rejected any such approach had it been made. Likewise I have voted up posts I thought were exceptional and would never dream of approaching the author with any such suggestion. In my world, that’s unpleasant and undesirable behavior.

    The system smells bad. Too much C-list content is being brought into prominence. You are wrong, and that’s all there is to it.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  63. Oh, and by the way Skellie: Thank you for not bringing your comments to my post.
    Your presence in my comments could attract the attention of readers I’d prefer not to have, so I appreciate your keeping this here.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  64. @ Skellie – Wow, you really make your comments count! It’s a pleasure to have your views, and thank you, because you gave me something to think about. I believe I try to lead by example, but I do use my thoughts as reasons for change and introductions as to how I want to change or as fodder to give others reason to change – like I did with this post. I hope I don’t come off as bitter, as that’s not my intention.

    I can’t deny that A-listers didn’t get where they are by luck. They wouldn’t have stayed large and popular if luck or chance was all it took. Yes, they use what works, and they make it work very, very well. Case in point, Dosh Dosh, Copyblogger, Yaro’s blog…

    I think the issue though, is that times are changing. People are changing, too. As you mentioned in your post tonight about the overdone sales tactics that people have become immune to, so are people becoming immune to many areas of blogging that masses of people simply bang out without thought.

    The opportunity to provoke change is all right there at our fingertips. I feel the sense that the online world is rumbling around like unstable volcanos, and it’s just a question of time of what changes will come – and what growth will occur after the land evolves.

    As I mentioned in my post, we’re at a Crossroads, and we can all choose our path to achieve our goals.

    Regarding your blog – in my mind, A-lister does not mean big numbers. A-lister means that blog or that person that commands respect – as you do.

    Thanks very much for dropping by, and I hope to see you again.

  65. @james:

    “I scroll through my feed reader, my attention dulled by the similar headlines. They’re carbon-copy titles that make a desperate attempt to grasp my attention. Some – very few – do. But I’m often quickly disappointed. The headline may be mildly intriguing, but the content of the first paragraph is just the same old stuff. Nothing new, nothing entertaining, nothing interesting.”

    And too many of them are voted up in social media.. again and again.

    I’m sorry: I know this isn’t going to be a popular sentiment, but it’s the truth. SU does not enchant me. Neither does Digg, Slashdot or any of them.

    That DOESN’T mean there isn’t good stuff posted. It doesn’t mean there is less good stuff than there used to be. It doesn’t mean that somebody with a lot of Stumbled pages doesn’t actually have a few gems with in them.

    And it doesn’t mean that Skellie, you or Joe P. Blow doesn’t think carefully about their votes and promote content that actually is superlative. But it is obvious that a lot of people are trading favors and voting up content that never should be.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  66. @skellie:

    Just to make this perfectly plain:

    “I also never suggested that you vote for and receive votes for “OK” content.”

    And I never said that you did.

    However, even if you had stressed that only truly valuable content should be voted up, the fact remains that people are voting for low value content.

    Sheesh, all you have to do is hit your Stumble button to see that. Or visit Digg or Slashdot or wherever – it’s all gone downhill.

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  67. @ Anthony – Then you have to pick on that and take a stance on that: that people are trading favors and voting up poor content. Generalizing all voting and making sweeping statements about all involvement with certain types of social media isn’t the right way to view things, I think. There are many facets to the situation, and exploring what they are and then posting about what is wrong – specifically – and leading change would be the proper way to go, I would think.

    You see, in my post, I complain, yes – but I also show readers there is a different way to do things. I’m not saying refute it all (I hope). I’m not saying choose the high road. Every road leads to others and a journey is not always in a straight line.

    What I do not like is sheepism, with everyone following one rule claimed by one person. I do like people taking the good and leaving the bad and *making it their own*. Being different, standing out, finding new ways.

    Push the Internet’s limits, dammit. Don’t just ride the waves.

  68. @ Anthony – I’ll note that we’re debating on two different yet related issues. :)

  69. @james

    I don’t think I’m generalizing. However, I understand how you could take it that way and I do insist that GENERALLY there is a lot of “just ok” content being Thumbed Up in SU and other places.

    And I am separating myself from all that. I’ve taken all “Stumble” and “Digg this” type buttons off all of my posts because honestly I don’t want to be a part of it any more. Long term, I can’t see these getting anything but worse.

    But that’s just one grumpy old geek’s opinion. As you say, there are “many facets to the situation” and perhaps you see bright spots that I am too jaded to notice. Good for you if you do.

    I think I’ve said all I have to say. I’ve closed off comments at my post and I’m withdrawing from this now – catch you on the next provocative post!

  70. @ Anthony:

    “I AM complaining about what you insist doesn’t exist: voting up mediocre content.”

    Firstly, I never insisted that didn’t exist. In fact, I didn’t make any statements about the quality of content people should be voting up, only that they’ll get more out of StumbleUpon if they’re active on it. I didn’t say anything about voting for either good content, or mediocre content. I don’t think that’s the kind of thing I should have to tell people. I think you’re trying to use the “straw man” again by claiming that I insisted that nobody every votes up mediocre content. It’s just not going to work.

    Secondly, “befriending” someone doesn’t mean “approaching them for reciprocal favors”. That’s an unfounded assumption you’ve made. It means befriending them. Making friends with them. I also never said anything about approaching anyone and asking for anything — in fact, I’d advise against it. Once again, the straw man appears.

    When you say that I’m wrong, what am I wrong about? My article is about writing content that StumbleUpon visitors will be inclined to vote for. You’ve said a few times that you don’t disagree with the strategies in the article. I’ve actually made no claims about the quality of StumbleUpon or the amount of mediocre content voted up vs. the amount of good content. It’s as if you’re attaching the counter-point to your own views to me, whether or not I actually hold those views.

    In regards to: “Your presence in my comments could attract the attention of readers I’d prefer not to have, so I appreciate your keeping this here.”

    While I do wish my presence alone commanded Digg-like swarms of traffic, I haven’t experienced that to be the case. My second response would be, well, you read Skelliewag — you don’t want want my presence to attract people like… you?

    Skellie’s last blog post..Cream of the Crop: Six Cutting-Edge, Minimalist WordPress Themes

  71. Brett Legree says:

    @ Skellie – this is the part of your comment that I liked best:

    “I think leading by example is more fruitful than outpouring bitterness about the way some people do things…”

    This is always the best way to do things, in my experience – to lead by example – and so this is what I have chosen to do. To be different, to be myself. This is why I took the opportunity to step back, to reboot, before I got too far into things.

    Thanks for your words. Your work is awesome, BTW.

  72. @ Brett Legree: Thank you. I think James has done that with this post. It’s actually been really cool to see a meta-blogging style post which encourages genuine debate because that’s a rarity. I’m not criticisizing most meta-blogging posts — most of them aren’t designed to provoke debate — but it’s been fun to exercise the critical muscles.

    Thanks again for the kind words :).

    Skellie’s last blog post..Cream of the Crop: Six Cutting-Edge, Minimalist WordPress Themes

  73. Woah — ‘criticisizing’? I’m sure it’s a word, somewhere ;-).

    Skellie’s last blog post..Cream of the Crop: Six Cutting-Edge, Minimalist WordPress Themes

  74. If behavior, color, and labor are words spelled properly, then yes. Criticisizing exists. It’s when you’re sizing up your critics to decide whether you should leap and attack or get backup.

    And I’m glad we’re cool – thank you :) Come exercise any time.

  75. It would appear that I am very, very late for this party. It would also appear that all the shit to be talked has been talked on this topic. Therefore, I take the opportunity to talk shit on a completely different topic

    @ James – Dude, you need to breathe about the whole Canadian/American spelling thing. Seriously. Anger makes you constipated.

    :-)

    Naomi Dunford’s last blog post..Moral Of The Story: Violent Snuggling Edition

  76. @Naomi: I think you mean constypayted.

    Nez’s last blog post..Love Quotes

  77. @Naomi: I think you mean “constypayted”

    Nez’s last blog post..Love Quotes

  78. @naomi

    My parents had a lot of books by English authors and I’ve always been an omnivorous reader, so those “extra u” words don’t look right to me without the “u”‘s and I’m always surprised when my spell check doesn’t like my rendition.

    Moreover, I have my website set to GMT time so many readers assume I must be British.. and with a name like mine, and the spelling variants I’m apt to do unconsciously, who’d blame them?

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  79. @Naomi: You must mean “constypayted”

    Nez’s last blog post..Love Quotes

  80. @ Naomi – Yeah, but at least I don’t have to suffer hemorrhoids like you pregnant women do!

    @ Anthony – U would be the correct spelling :)

  81. @james

    ” – U would be the correct spelling”

    Well, duh, yeah.. but I’m ambUvelant.. biwordual .. indUscriminate.. so it’s all fine with me..

    Anthony Lawrence’s last blog post..13.2 Reasons I don’t like Social Media by Anthony Lawrence

  82. Um.

    I guess everyone left.

    OK then, a quick comment:

    It’s obvious that people try to copy success, especially when they read about how successful the success was. Minds are being molded by these success stories.

    It’s also true that bloggers are competing against a growing abundance of competition and therefore anything that grabs attention may well be worth doing.

    So, in the spirit of innovation, I propose that bloggers start writing their titles backwards. So, instead of writing “Ten Sure Fire Ways to Peel a Banana Without Using Your Hands”, you would write the following:

    Sdnah Ruoy Gnisu Tuohtiw Ananab A Leep Ot Syaw Erif Erus Net

    Blog subscribers would get to see the title spelled correctly, of course, in order to get “value” from their subscription.

    Encrypted titles would be the next logical steps, followed by encrypted posts, and then…

    Excuse me, got a bit distracted. Now I’m off to find some carpentry tools and start work on my farmhouse…

    Mark Dykeman’s last blog post..Posting at the new Fast Company.com

  83. @ Mark – We never leave. But Askimet was very prolific in its urge to scour our site yesterday… and washed a bunch of comments down the drain. Ah, technology.

    And… yes, I think you need some more coffee, my friend. I thought I had some wild-ass ideas! ;)

  84. Oh YES!!
    Thats a writers point of view, the opinion of a man who can see the art he’s nurtured and cared for being bastardized, used, abused and tainted as he watches, unable to stop the rape.

  85. @ Shane – Actually, we’ve found that our content is treated well and respectfully. We’re not into rape.

  86. Thank you for this post! It is very true and I can relate in a way. I don’t have a feed reader, but with browsing websites and blogs, and emails I surely know what you are feeling.

  87. Hallo Veronica, and welcome. I strongly recommend Google Reader. You’ll never look back :)

  88. You bet I’ll join you… thanks!

    Anne Wayman’s last blog post..Freelance Writing Jobs – 50 Writing, Blogging, Editing and Translation Jobs

  89. Cheers, Anne. I know you care about content, and it’s good to see your support.

  90. That is totally radical…I agree 100% with you.

    Very inspiring truth…and of course I will join you.

    Thanks a lot Man with pens…you are a brilliant mind.
    .-= Alejandro Cabrera´s last blog ..Ni Siquiera Jesucristo Puede Salvarlo =-.

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