Spending the Right Time on Blogging

Marketing is a devil’s task but it is essential if I wish to go places with what I create. Creating something brilliant to be greeted with no audience interaction sucks. It sucks every time.

Could I have created something excellent that nobody will ever see?

The answer is probably.

What is the resolution?

In the early days of this blog I got experimental after a point. It is something you need to do to find the most unique and useful way to find your place in the blogging world. Forget being a copycat, that won’t keep your blog warm.

I created a challenge known as the 60 minute challenge. The purpose was to produce a fully operational blog post in 60 minutes. The entire article would be self-contained within that period. So the majority of writing would occur in that 60 minutes. A further 60 minutes is granted to editing and locating suitable images.

What’s The Benefit?

The problem with creating content that gets blown away by lack of viewers is the fact that you are wasting so much time gilding the lily. The truth is that sometimes less time spent on a task is more if you get across a pure answer.

60 minutes isn’t a big commitment. If you could find enough ideas over the span of a week, you could have 5 articles written that you could deploy quickly in comparison to those over formulated articles that you might commonly spend time on.

I have heard many times that brevity is far more valuable than fluff so I trialed a period during 2014 where the majority of my articles were written in 60 minutes.

There are some drawbacks to the method in that if you don’t strike upon the right topic, the post was a waste anyway. The truth is that some readers don’t have a long time to dedicate to this latest crop of epic posts that Big Wig bloggers swear by.

What is An Epic Post?

Epic posts are the kind that take a whole month to create. I’ve created a few in Blog Prefect’s time in the sun. They perform well for traffic, especially on the search engines because they give the reader a lot of meat to chew on. The only problem is that you could have covered the post in a series of articles more effectively and in a bitesize way that the audience might have preferred.

Even worse for an Epic post is the potential for having a short life. At least if you had spread out the bulk of this article between articles you could have succeeded in seeing which of the elements would survive sustained interest and which would be consigned to the bin.

The Merits of Trying Out a New Topic With the 60 Minute Challenge

The 60 minute challenge is great for testing out a new area for your blog. You run with as much or as little research as you were able to garner within that 60 minutes writing time. You don’t commit too deeply to a fully formed answer but just graze the surface in order to see what kind of interest your audience are showing.

You can think of it as a form of Split test.

Split Test?

It’s marketing slang. As a blogger who starts earning money, you’ll soon discover that you can micro-manage more of how you design and entice your audience. Split testing allows you to run multi-variate tests. These are normally one idea versus another tested in the same environment. As an example, reader A is directed down the blue button route and reader B is sent down the orange button route. You can determine a winner by seeing which of these responds best.

There is an opportunity to mix things up by seeing how a splash in a different pan might work out.

With the 60 minute challenge in particular, you can perform your own multivariate test with the same subject matter. You can test different keywords side by side on an article written with almost exactly the same intent. Because you got it out to market sooner you can make a useful determination between what method of communication of that issue provides you with the most eyes on screen.

But What About Quality?

The 60 minute challenge provides an additional 60 minutes to edit the document. You should be removing tosh at this point. Adding links in the editing stage is always a good idea.

What Links?

Linking in shorter articles is more important than larger ones. Think of the large article as the dump where you can afford to extract data from the source. Have a quote and a link back to. The 60 minute challenge may not afford you the length of time to stare at your competitor’s well-crafted offering.

Link sprinkling occurs after you’ve crafted your product as it should in any article you produce. Outgoing links add value to what Google defines as a useful resource (as long as those links are of quality from trusted origins). You pick your best competitors and link their information where you can.

How Do I Structure This Article?

The classic methods can be observed so you can run with a small introduction, body and conclusion. The 60 minute challenge also lets you mix that up if you so do choose. A lot of the fun with blogs is experimenting to find what works best.

Social Media Push

Sadly, SERPs or Search Engine Result Page ranking is so complicated and convoluted that your only real shot at getting a leg up in the early days is by Social Media sharing. With social media the benefit you have is being able to wave exactly what somebody is looking for in their faces by the use of hash tags and knowing the right people.

A Note On Frequency

Robots love frequency. Not the murderous Austrian-American ones from the future.

They are those intangible crawlers that are fired out from different reporting farms to rank your site on how up to date it is.

The 60 minute challenge allows you to tap into more frequency by focusing you on getting posts ready for market.

 

In Closing

Give the 60 minute challenge a try and you’ll be surprised at what you can push out. If you’ve had some success, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

All you have to do is spend no more than 60 minutes writing an article. You have to pace yourself and make sure that you cover off a conclusion by the time you reach the end of that time frame.

As you might be able to tell, this article is a product of my own 60 minute challenge. I created over 1000 words in 60 minutes. Edited for 20 then spent 30-40 minutes on the images.

Image Credit

Featured image – Pixabay by Unsplash

Blog Prefect Goals for 2016

January can be a busy time of year if you run a review from January – December. In Britain, unlike America, we tend to do things differently with tax years running from April. This Blog was actually started in July 2013 so in order to account for a full year I would have to  count from 14th July – 13th July every year. Fortunately I run stats beginning 1st January (the sensible way).

All these stats are great but you have to do something with them to make it meaningful. If you’ve followed any of my previous monthly reports you’ll know that I break my dashboard into 7 meaningful metrics. 3 have some control by what I do, 1 is a gut instinct and the final 3 are out of my control (more down to you as the audience).

Blog Prefect Goals for 2016

As you can see by the dashboard below, I’ve derived some goals to meet by 31st December 2016. It was my Internet friend and fellow blogger Mi Muma from beamoneyblogger.com who introduced the idea of setting goals by way of a thoughtful article and I agreed with the sentiment so brought the idea to life on this blog. It so turned that bar my highest performing post of all time, the goals post was the second most popular of the year so I felt honour bound to carry it on for a second year.

2016 Goal

Changes

My goals do have a noticeable variance from last year in that Bounce Rate is now gone. I identified, with Ahmad Imran’s (from Reasontouse.com) observation, that bounce rate doesn’t form a meaningful output anymore. I have therefore substituted the measure for Old vs New.

So what is Old vs New?

My new meaningful measure is a look at how Old posts perform versus new posts within the month. Ratio wise I always expect old posts to outperform new ones in the month because they’ve had more time to get established. The amounts of sway from left to right is the interesting part. A sway in favour of Old indicates that my new posts are failing in the marketing area. A sway to the New indicates that my old posts have less overall attraction but that my newer articles have more bite.

Why set Goals?

Last year I had a successful time of releasing my goals for 2015, this year I felt I needed to do the same, mostly to recap on where I have succeeded but also to explore where I have done badly and to pull up my breeches for another year.

2016 is important for more than one reason.

On July 14th the site will be 3 years old. For the first time I will be celebrating the birthday of this site (as I hadn’t on Year 1 and Year 2). I also plan to launch a competition with a cash prize as part of my birthday celebration.

As a symptom of 3 year’s birthday my 3 year introductory rate on Bluehost will be ending. This means that my Internet property cost will rise which means that in order to fulfil the same level of payback on my investment I will have to do more going forwards.

Dashboard Comparisons

There is a story behind the data and this story helps me decide the goal. As you may notice, the goal this year is a variable goal. I have chosen such a variable goal rather than a blanket percentage increase because I know that I will have to be conservative with some figures. There is a small risk that the numbers I had last year were artificially higher than they should have been because I had one article that hit page 1 of google and I don’t think I have the ability to match that this year. That is to say that the article was a phenomenal one off.

Minimums and Maximums

Two particular areas I like to take a look at are the Minimums and Maximums. This data can give me an insight into my best and worst performing months which gives me a steer into where I need to target more or less yearly effort. However, I don’t entirely base my outlay of work based on last year’s performance because there are other variables involved such as the content itself and how well that responds in the year.

2015 Min

2015 Max

 

Yearly Average

The next area I take a look at is the Average for the year and how well overall the year compares. This can then be compared against the previous year to see what average increase there is. You have to be careful with averages because there is a phenomenon known as skew. It is a bias either negative or positive which can potentially drag the whole series of stats in a direction that doesn’t necessarily correlate to the overall performance. Some of my figures in February 2014 suffered from an experiment I made with a service from SEOClerks. Needless to say this had a severe negative skew on my stats during February.

You can see how certain numbers will chomp at your statistics even though they were a blip or a “Pune Effect” a term I coined from an unusual geographical event I saw in my stats. In statistics, skew can be corrected by “red-banding” certain figures, this means that those figures that are extraneous are put to the side in favour of more supportive numbers. I opted to exclude February 2014 from the averages or tune it by dividing the 11 remaining months and providing it the average figure. Fortunately I’ve not had to do that in 2015 as all stats seem in keeping with the data provided by Google Analytics. Manipulating data in such a way can be seen to be cheating but in some respects where you are accepting lower figures than those presented, you can preserve a more meaningful data set for yourself to work with.

Don’t get me wrong, sudden peaks can be great but ultimately you want to pickup your baseline because by picking up from the bottom your overall throughput can only climb.

2015 AVG

Performance on Goal

I then take a look at how the average compared to the goal average I’d set and at how many times the monthly goal was exceeded. A good indication of success is if you are hitting goals multiple times during the year. For 2015 I’ve had some success in this regard with as much as 12 months exceeding targets.

You can visit the 2015 goal post here to see what I had declared as my goals. I had reviewed 2014’s average and added 15% increase.

2015 Goal Analysis

Areas where it proved difficult to improve

Post Performers

Post Performers observes the number of views on a post in the month that it was launched. It is a slightly unfair figure if you are looking at posts that were launched at the end of the month because they have less time to accrue views. Whichever post scores highest in that month, having been released in that month, is the number selected for the dashboard.

The figure is a painful number mostly because my marketing zone has dried up. I also believe that because my posting rate has been down, my consistency and ability to draw people in has reduced. In general I don’t spend enough time in publicising my work. I think it is an issue that many creators have problems with.

This year I set a higher target despite the fact that last year I failed to meet the previous target. I’m going to roll the dice and work harder.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is a subjective figure in some sense due to the way that Google Analytics measures it and what is considered a normal amount. Google Analytics defines bounce as a person arriving on a site but exiting on the entry page. Other stat providers determine that a bounce occurs where a visitors stays for less than 10 seconds on the entry page or what you might consider a rapid close (or click-off as I like to call them).

The normal amount of bounce is a point for discussion, as it will vary wildly from niche to niche, site to site. Blogs can actually survive normally at bounce rates ranging from 80-90%. It depends on your content and how much of a half-life it has. Sites that haven’t been listed for long don’t have time to build up backlinks and authority so your results are likely to be low on the order of search results. Once a site begins to mature, more of your good content has the potential to be found and you have more pins in the pincushion, that is to say, more target keywords provided by your site. Google is a solutions based engine, if you provide your audience the goods, Google knows and rewards you. Otherwise you have to rely on Social Media and other forms of link sharing to pass around your content to wider audiences.

Bounce rate is cut. Finito. Fat lady singing. (but secretly I’m still measuring it).

Areas that performed well for growth

Pageviews and Visitors performed better than expected despite the final tally on WordPress stats being lower than 2014’s results (by 284 views). Visitors were up but not in such a good way. Normally when views to viewers is at the same ratio or close to 1:1 then this indicates that people aren’t hanging around for more.

Areas under-estimated for growth

My referral traffic was handsome in 2015. Entirely around Google search results I saw a huge uplift in traffic from one post alone. The reason for that was because it fit a niche of audience perfectly and so I was rewarded by Google. It has had the best view rate of any post I’ve written to date in the first month alone and had the highest figures I’ve ever seen for June and July. Therefore the 15% target I’d set was smashed every month of 2015. Not to blow my own trumpet but it’s pretty awesome, one of the happiest areas of my results and worthy of that fine purple.

In setting the target for 2016 I’ve had to be cautious because I am aware that whilst the good fortunes of the post could continue for some time yet, I can’t rest on that article alone to save my dwindling figures. Because of how busy I’ve been outside of blogging, I’ve been squeezed on my activity, losing contact with acquaintances that were taking me in the right direction and losing ground to competitors. Going by my Post Performance figures I need to start finding better ideas for content that have high openings from day dot.

So, just to recap on the goals once more:

2016 Goal

There is plenty of challenge in providing these figures. I’m not sure how the year will pan out, how much time I will have to dedicate, and what is going to be popular. What I do know is that I will find some tough hills to climb, have a few epic wins and otherwise continue soaring with every post written.

I’m never satisfied with my numbers entirely, I always know there is room for improvement, I know that there are guys and dolls out there who most likely receive tens if not hundreds of thousands of views per day and I’ve got a long way to go to reach those highs. The fact is that as long as the posts make a difference to some individuals, I’ve accomplished my mission.

I’m taking further steps this year to try to eliminate what could potentially be classified as “indulgent” posts and I will be taking other steps to pimp this ride. (yes, he said that.)

Over to you?

What kind of goals have you set yourself for 2016?

Just started out? If so, what do you envisage as a sensible number? You could strike it lucky and be popular off the bat. You might swing the other way and have a really limp reception to the world of blogging with small numbers. What are you prepared for? But more importantly, how are you prepared to fight?

Been going for a while? Prepared for great or a slip backwards? Is the post schedule you are working to really paying out? Is the place you pimp your links reaching enough clickers? Has your marketing strategy dried up or swelled in recent times? Thought about changing your theme or bringing on more staff?

Been going for years? Got any spare loot? 🙂

And Finally….

Good luck with your ventures for 2016, by the time this post goes out the very short-lived January will almost be a memory. I hope you’ve started out with your best foot forwards but if you need some encouragement or a friendly ear, get in touch on twitter @blogprefect.

How To Keep Working Currency In The Black

Working Currency Concept

Through my time working with BlogPrefect.com I started having ideas about self-help. I’ve read a few self-help books in my time, sometimes you don’t want to share your ills with a shrink, friend, family or stranger. Often it comes down to pride and a perception of weakness (which further explored might indicate an inferiority complex).

We live far more complex lives in the modern age than we used to, even if we are flat broke. Life is still fairly simple in the poorer parts of the world and some studies have indicated that the simpler life, despite being hard is more fulfilling overall with rates of happiness being higher for those with a bit less.

Working Currency is something that everybody has in common. As I will go onto explain, the value of your own currency varies over time and how you conduct yourself in your job or career.

As part of developing an eBook on some self-help, I am floating this article to better visualise this on-screen. I am most likely going to have to clean these ideas up and tweak the flow, possibly I might have to go into some of these shorter headings in more detail but this is my first bite of the cherry.

Working Currency

What are some of the complexities?

Routine Payment

In the Western world and developed countries in the East, ownership and responsibility drive a lot of complexity. We are expected to manage finance and assets and perform a lot of work to make sure we are insured and have savings for later life. Banks and financial services to a great extent have passed responsibility of the complex minutiae to the customer. That’s you and me.

House renting and ownership are a big drain in terms of our “Direction”. Why? You become locked into routine payment. Renting is an expensive draw from your monthly income whilst some mortgages can be equally painful in the beginning. If compared to our more nomadic heritage, being pinned down is costly.

Pensions and insurance are difficult payments. This is why advertisers of insurance have a difficult job. Pensions and insurance are a good idea and once you come to draw out a pension, it can be very important, insurance claims equally so. The issue is that if you don’t survive to your pension, the money you tucked away could have no benefit to you. With an insurance policy if you never claim, you’ve burnt money. Now, I’m not encouraging you not to pay out for these provisions, I’m just highlighting the complexity of these decisions and underlining the fact that you are performing habitual payments for protection.

Ambition

Ambition is a drive for a large proportion of individuals. Wanting to take your job higher is noble but it’s quite possible in the modern setting that unless you are well networked, have a face that fits, have a rare skill and rare experience that you will not receive the work you covet. Fairness doesn’t fit into the equation and school yard rules apply in the job market.

Ambition has led to over qualification in many and frustration in others. In Britain, a large proportion of University graduates enter working life through establishments like McDonald’s. That is not to cast any dispersion on McDonald’s but just to say that ultimate expectations are much higher than they used to be.

Demand is also greater at a time where the computer age has whittled down the total number of work force required. In many developed countries (with exception to those who still produce) the focus on service industries due to the decimation of primary industries (mining and manufacture) has highlighted many people who don’t fit in good criteria. There are many people to work in jobs that don’t suit their skill sets or capabilities.

So how does this all relate to Working Currency?

There are a number of old thoughts on work that are no longer valid.

Jobs for life

The 20th century spelled the end for this concept. There are still those who try to work to this in the hopes that they can hang on. Your only likelihood of a job for life is a family business and even those can be subject to market instability. Moving jobs is quite normal now.

Loyalty

The focus of your working life has become a whole lot more selfish now that corporations and capitalism drive results more than being good to each other. You are a replaceable component and if the organisation can work without you or outsource you they will. Management and shareholders are the organ grinder, you are the monkey.

Fair play

This notion no longer holds true. Have you been working in a job for 10 years and hope to get that next position? Think again. You may either be replaced by a bright young thing, an outsider or somebody elevated to the role. One thing you can guarantee is that management always sort out their affairs before anyone else.

Personal development

Simply put this can fail to yield results. You can put down for higher education and other courses and still not see the fruit of your labour.

Take for example, learning a computer language, only of use if you maintain the skill and have commercial experience. If not, you might have to lie on your CV. The truth of the matter is that unless you are going into a job as an apprentice, you need real world experience for certain skills. There are very few vacancies for true “greenhorns” or “noobs”.

Putting in extra

Doesn’t always get you more notice, it may just drive an expectation from those above you.

There was a very famous author named George Orwell who wrote two particularly famous books. One was named “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and the other was a Novella by the name of “Animal Farm”. Animal Farm is a Novella that uses a rich allegory to sum up the struggles that you might face in a dystopian society. One where there is an elite class with a dictator. The character you never want to be is Boxer. Boxer is the most subservient creature but gets pushed to breaking point and literally breaks his back.

Animal Farm

Animal Farm – Artwork by Raul Leon

Giving extra without being valued for it is ill-advised. Many managers will try to use reverse psychology on you when the situation of being expected to do extra without rewards is being discussed. If you aren’t good at the push back then you will suffer with being overburdened.

So if you peel away those kinds of concepts that no longer work, you now see why it is important to maintain what I classify as Working Currency.

What is Working Currency?

It is a slightly intangible way of measuring what value you have to a company. It can be a nondescript value that an HR department tot up when looking at your overall acceptability if you are applying for a new job. It can be the monetary value you hold for a manager beyond just the fiscal cost of your annual, monthly or daily wage.

You can exchange Working Currency for positions internally, be seen in a better light, avoid the axe more readily and carry more weight for pay negotiations. You also are more likely to carry a positive attitude when you move from company to company, are more likely to have people speak highly of you to other companies within the same industry and generally feel more awesome in your working career.

What can affect Working Currency?

I have decided to focus on 8 key areas that raise eyebrows but these are by no means the only affects on Working Currency throughout your working life. Areas that I have not charted but are of concern are Age, Colour and Creed.

1. Been ill for a period?

Illness is risk and unfortunately despite companies appearing understanding and complying with legal regulations, management actually despise your time away. At the end of the day it is costing money they’d rather have spent on you performing your job. So you’ve come out of the other side of that terrible illness. It doesn’t matter. You return with a card marked. Risk.

2. Returned from a secondment?

Secondments are designed generally to get you away from the role you performed before. If you are returning back from a secondment, it means that either you didn’t shine enough in that position or that in some way you suck. Secondments aren’t always created to allow stepping-stones, sometimes they just fill a short-term position that is not needed later on.

3. Not put yourself forwards for positions?

If you’ve not put yourself forward in a long time, you don’t stir the imagination of your managers. The might consider that you have no ambition or that you are happy to follow. As my father has said to me countless times, “you are only as good as you shout.”

Of course on the counter side there may be many reasons why you haven’t applied. There may be sometimes when you have no choice but to apply even though you know 110% you won’t get the position.

4. Had a dip in your work performance?

You might have become disillusioned in your work. It happens. The unfortunate output is that your work performance is going to drop as a result. Work performance can also drop because you aren’t compatible with what you are being asked to do (and what you are asked to do can change over time), or you just lose interest in the same consequences or lack of them.

A lot of dips can come about as results of difficult time at home and they may be linked with your lack of earnings. The ultimate problem is that your employer views you based on how good your last stack of work was, regardless of whether you’ve been performing hard for years. You have to have a good rapport with your manager to be given the opportunity to return to form otherwise you might soon be reviewed or found to be receiving your marching orders.

5. Indicated that you are looking for other jobs?

It is very much going to lead to making your powder wet. That term comes from rifleman back in the age where they needed to load their musket or rifles with gun powder. Keeping your powder dry meant waiting for the last possible moment before you opened the powder bag to load your gun. The ultimate message is not to let on what you are up to. Everything is “fine”. There will be a point where you can’t hide it. Turning up to work in a suit then having time off in the day. Being caught updating your CV during work time. Making suspicious calls or ducking out with your mobile.

6. Studying for a higher level course whilst working?

This indication throws out the notion that you are satisfied. Once again, you are seen as a risk because your time is limited. Your employer may realise that your expectations have changed or will change as a result of inspiration you are subjected to during your study. Higher level courses as a definition would include Degrees and non-work related study that is involved.

7. Change in demeanor?

When you stop being as compliant to situations as you used to be your currency can drop in value. You may reach points in your working life where you feel the level of injustice rising. This is not uncommon. However, if you have a view contrary to another individual and that individual is a power player, this can dent you.

Say something stupid once and people will never forget. It does not mean that what you are saying is wrong, just that its ill-advised to say it, for some people the burden is too great to bear. Even the most stalwart characters will buckle if enough pressure is applied. Staying too long can exacerbate that issue.

Don’t forget Judas!

There is the Judas issue to be aware of. Judas Iscariot was the guy who got Jesus killed, simply put. You may be happily charting along oblivious to the fact that someone who pretends to be your bud on the surface will actually totally sell you out when it is most advantageous to their own Working Currency. They’ll be knocking on Caesar’s door sooner than you can say boo to a goose.

As I mentioned above, the Playground Rules apply to jobs and careers. Watch out if you become a threat.

Or Brutus (Bruté)

Of course, if you are the kind of person who dishes the pain in the workplace, expect those colleagues in numbers to swiftly remove you if the time calls for it. If your acts go beyond reproach the wrong people will notice.

Brutus was a prime Roman, large and in charge, with only Caesar above him, he had no specific axe to grind with the chief but his mind was changed by those around him. In the famous William Shakespeare play “The tragedy of Julius Caesar”, based on true history, Brutus is convinced to join a group to eliminate Caesar in a plot hatched by Cassius and conducted by a group of Romans working on their own personal interest. Brutus and Cassius later die in acts of suicide.

What this means for you is watch out for your allies as well as your enemies.

8. All the King’s Men Syndrome

Currency can be uniquely affected by the management staple in your organisation. I call this the All the King’s Men Syndrome (but obviously if you work in a female Orientated environment, All the Queen’s Women). The syndrome is so named because you normally have a regent and his/her choice courtiers.

Managers are creatures of habit, they often cling to those who do them a good turn. You might find that one big manager is appointed, he cuts out the dead wood and replaces a number of managers below with people he knows. This doesn’t necessarily have to happen in such lofty climbs. You can find this throughout. Clique, Club or Cronyism mentality isn’t new but it can be unfair.

There are some detrimental effects if you become associated with a group who are on the way out. When the King or Queen has gone, the remaining structure may be adjusted to remove certain members of the former establishment. You might face another King or Queen.

Another core problem of the syndrome is that you can be negatively associated with an individual without having any interaction with them.

How do I counter the negative effects of Working Currency?

Like a bank account, your working currency can go into the negative and when you become bankrupt in your currency it is time to change. The best option is to change jobs. You get a reset with a job change which can lever you out of a number of negative situations that revolve around being in a place for too long.

Your working currency will be valued greater during the golden period of the restart. I define that golden period to be around 2 – 3 years but if you really struggle with the new job you probably only have 1 at best. I mentioned above that you can’t consider a job is for life. Therefore, if you are still 10 years prior to your retirement age, you should consider changing it up every 2 – 4 years to renew your currency. Some people have 5 year plans and often you get asked about such a plan in an interview. Staying happy is about shortening your horizons in your stepping-stones to success.

To conclude

All of the ideas explored above tie back into the Comfortable-Uncomfortable. It’s the state you get in when you accept something you are not happy with for a long period. If you’ve over stayed your leaving point, you should consider pushing the button before you make more negative and indelible stains on your career.

Easier said than done right. Finding new jobs can be difficult for even the most prepared. It’s akin to opening the furnace door. You have to approach this in a work like manner and take rejection on the chin. If you fail in your strategy a number of times, you might have to sweeten the deal someway or somehow. Such ideas include:-

  • Perform some unpaid but witnessed events.
  • Stretch yourself and get creative.
  • Drive a bit more activity into your personal life.
  • Get organised

A Request From You

Dear valued reader,

A share or comment would be greatly received but more importantly, if you feel affected in any way by the content of this article, I’d like to hear from you. If you don’t agree with areas then I’d also like to hear from you.

I am developing these topics as part of a book I am writing and would like to include real life examples from experience other than just my own.

The beginning of this topic started in an article I wrote some time ago. I am looking to expand this going forwards.

You can contact me through my contact page, direct to headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com or via twitter @blogprefect.

If you’d like a hand in steering someone off course from the rocks of despair then here’s your chance!

Best wishes to you!

Reciprocity for Bloggers

If you are new or old to blogging you know that in order to keep momentum and anchor your page, you have to perform some kind acts in order to get people to assist you on your journey. Blogging is not a lone activity because ideally you should be crafting the blog towards your audience. Reciprocity is returning the favour. Someone took some time to share your offerings to their community at large or endorse your words so you owe it to them to return that favour.

Neil Patel of Quicksprout.com lists reciprocity in one of his top 6 tactics to gain influence.

“The principle of reciprocity is one of the main principles of influence.

In simple terms: if you do something for someone, they are likely to return the favor.”

There are a number of ways you can make it difficult to reciprocate

Ever had that dilemma where you are trying to reciprocate but the lucky individual you are rewarding has nothing of sufficient quality that you could share in your networks?

Are you concerned that you are a sharing snob?

It is difficult when you get people outside of your sphere, your niche, your topic, who produce content that you find difficult to share. Hitting that like, favourite, share, reshare or +1 may be hard to commit. Commenting may be difficult because you have no affinity with what is being said and to comment poorly on a topic you are not versed in might come across making you look bad.

I try to reciprocate as often as I can because it helps build a bond between myself and a potential friend. Notice that I don’t say “lead” as they come later. The fact is that you need friends in a community and you don’t receive them without showing your value to them. Friends, as in real life, don’t last forever but should never be underestimated.

Certain individuals can make their content difficult to share.

You can still share things you disagree with

if you pose a respectful but questioning comment.

But not all content is a good match for your audience and you can act to confuse those who come to you.

It’s not always because the content was badly crafted

The content just doesn’t fit with what you know your audience will respond to. You may have your own personal feelings on the subject area and it crosses a barrier that you cannot share. It might be too salesy and promote services or providers you’ve experienced difficulties with. It might be that you want to play down your association with the originator because their inclusion may have a detrimental effect on your following and your target demographic. For whatever reason, it is a bad share.

There isn’t always much you can do about that but if you feel it necessary you can always have a conversation with that individual and see if there is a way to take it beyond the limitations of the content.

Often your friends can be your rivals

The word “Co-opetition”, a business term of phrase, suggest that if similar businesses lend each other a hand or locate in a similar space, they will perform better as a group by drawing in more of the same kind of custom. This is why jewelers co-locate, why you might see rival coffee shops along the same street and why guest posting is a “thing”.

Rivals are healthy friends. They can help you keep your focus either by deciding to steer away from what they are covering or cover it better.

Commenting isn’t as natural as you think

and this is why so few people do it.

The same can be said for likes, favourites, plusses, upvotes, shares and reshares. Getting people to click is a psychology in itself.

This is why it is important to reciprocate especially in the early days of your creations.

Now of course you could look at me after reading that last sentence and think, hey! That’s easy to say but I can’t be bothered to share and share alike. I just want people to share and make my stuff go viral, I don’t want to do all this work for them.

Optimus Prime and Sam by JavierReyes on DeviantArt

It sadly doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to be like Optimus Prime because he’s a badass robot. He embraced Sam like a brother from another mother. You have to do the same with your audience.*

*Technically you don’t have to be a badass robot. Sisterly love also works but no heavy petting because that goes into darker territory. Deformed children and the like. Just saying!

Reward

Rewards are an important psychological factor in maintaining friendships and positive relationships. Those companies who seek to retain custom use rewards to incentivise. Reciprocity or returning the favour is a reward for bloggers.

Reward has a positive connotation. As a child you are rewarded for good behaviour and those sorts of lessons remain with you throughout your adult life.

The difference between friends and true readers

If you pick any Big Wig or semi pro blogger and look at the people who most commonly reward them, you’ll notice that they are converts. They’ve been following for some time, have their own weight and normally add positives even when negatives are published.

True readers, those of passive voice; absorb the noise and analyse, make quick decisions, decide in the first 10 seconds if the article is going to take them in the right place, then stay or leave. Big Wigs and Semi Pros win by having more noise. Google rewards those who know what they are talking about and social signals are taken into consideration.

What are true readers?

True readers can be like you and me. Remember a time before you were a blogger? You made scant comments, infrequent likes, barely caring as you jumped from page to page, just absorbing what you needed. Approximately 85% of visitors don’t want to interact with you in any shape or form even if you made it easier than drinking a cup of coffee. In the early days it’s more about the reciprocators and how they can help shape your social signals.

That’s not to say that a larger percentage of true readers can’t be evangelised or stimulated to follow kind gestures, but in the main, those who make the effort are in the minority and normally are not without agenda.

Making content that asks questions as supposed to telling people how it is

I have seen many Big Wig Bloggers shout at those complaining about lack of comments to make sure they ask questions.

but

Should you always craft a piece to be presented in that way if what you need to address should be directed in a more dogmatic fashion?

When people go in search of answers through a search engine they don’t always want to be open to questions or have anything detract from the solution. They want their hand to be held to the answer. If you are looking for a guide, you don’t want to be questioned, if you are in a hurry you don’t want to stop for a survey.

Begging for it and the expectation of “gratuity”

BeggingPug

You will cave! Look into my eyes, you are feeling sleepy.

A difficult subject to broach because there are differing views overall. To maintain your dignity you should never beg for anything. It looks weak overall and can really affect how people view you.

Unlike this pug, begging is frowned upon in the Human world.

Having a negative reaction to a beggar in the street is a natural Human reaction. It is therefore no different online. Having people scrabble for your signups to mailing lists and pushing people down channels they may not really want to go might be your strategy but it also may not be a good one.

The question you should ask:

Will my content be universally acceptable?

In terms of reciprocation, it is not something you can hope to expect every time for the many reasons mentioned above and below. Those who show gratitude do so because your contribution made a difference to them but it is not something you can rely on. Such reciprocation may not be balanced and like for like. You may only ever get that one comment, reshare or like from someone and then nothing ever again regardless of how much you do.

Questioning what you do it for

Nothing living can exist in a vacuum without vital nutrients, its survival 101. You need viewers to give you writing juju otherwise your blog will disappear despite your best efforts.

Reciprocity gives you some reward to your effort. A kind word, a sign of approval. That gives you the energy to carry on.

Of course, you should carry on regardless. Because your notoriety might not be instantly apparent, it might take a person a long while to realise your genius or what you did for them. The might not rock up to you straight away with a share or a like but they definitely haven’t forgotten and if you can do a few more good turns they might be more willing to step forwards.

Truth is, there is no time limit on payback. You could have really loved that new car you bought from that manufacturer you like so much. Five years later when a friend asks for your advice, you steer them in the direction of that reliable motor that never let you down in all the time you had it. Same is true with blogging. Really move a person with your help or anecdotes and you could have countless endorsements without you even realising it.

Does positive reinforcement have a negative overall effect?

There is something that many people ask for and if you have used Facebook, you’ll know exactly what this is. The like button is the reward currency for a piece of content adored by hundreds, possibly thousands.

Many people have asked for an unlike button

but why?

Let’s head back to Roman times where the gesture of the thumb either meant life or death to a Gladiator or Gladiatrix in the arena. If you were that combat aficionado, you would want the thumb to be firmly up by dearest Caesar. If not you would face certain death. Caesar often sought the audience’s collective voice to determine the outcome which would be positive or negative depending on the viewpoint of the individual receiving the judgement.

Moving back to modern times the thumb is in use again but this time you are employed as the armchair Emperor (or Empress) in order to vote up on those topics that deserve congratulations or spectacle.

The problem is that Facebook doesn’t share that other side of the coin. Those who disagree. At worst you can report the content for abuse which requires considerably more effort than liking on your part.

However, sometimes you just want a quick way to disagree

not all social media outlets support positive reinforcement.

• YouTube has dislikes.
• Reddit has downvotes.

To counter what I’ve written so far on this I sought out an alternative view by Social Media Sun author Adam Justice. Adam goes into great length on theories behind why Facebook does not involve a like button and if you’d like to read more on that by all means take a trip with the link below:-

http://socialmediasun.com/the-dislike-button/

Two key paragraphs I pick out are as follows:

“Sometimes a like vote doesn’t seem appropriate, even when you have positive feelings for a particular status update. For instance if I posted that I was just involved in a car wreck, you would have to be bitter towards me to like that situation. I always recommend phrasing status updates so that giving a like is an appropriate reaction. Instead of just letting you know I was involved in a car wreck, a better option would be saying that I was in a car wreck, but didn’t suffer major injuries. Life is confusing enough without ambiguous moral math problems on Facebook so it’s best to make it easy on everyone.”

Being appropriate is not something you have to worry about if you are allowed to express both sides of the coin but further in the article Adam goes on to mention that:

“It’s an accepted rule that reviews and feedback will almost exclusively come from users who either display extremely positive or extremely negative sentiments. A neutral experience just isn’t worth the effort it takes to review or comment on content or products. Users who have a negative experience are even more likely to vocalize their opinions than those who have a positive one. You’re fighting a losing battle already when you aim to be liked, so why not take a page from Justin Beiber or Rebecca Black and find your way through dissonance?”

There is a noticeable disparity between negative, positive and neutral responses. As Adam suggests, making the effort to present a neutral comment is far less likely than a strongly charged positive or a steaming negative.

To finish off from Adam’s article (which I recommend you visit if you want to read some more) we reach the meat and potatoes of the problem.

“…25 percent of small business owners hate social media. They feel overwhelmed and dislike the possibility of facing a media disaster that is out of their control.”

This takes me back to an earlier point I mentioned near the start of this article.

“Commenting may be difficult because you have no affinity with what is being said and to comment poorly on a topic you are not versed in might come across making you look bad.”

With such a social platform, how you are perceived by others is important if you want to access the right heights. Go about it wrong and you can plumb the wrong depths. It is sadly like school again all thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. Are you one of the cool kids or one of the dweebs? Do you tread a morally sound line or say whatever you like and get fired whilst slated for eternity?

Some organisations are constant hate figures. Electronic Arts, Microsoft and more besides. Some topics should never be unpeeled like a plaster over gangrene lest you invite wrath. So if you are writing something along these lines you can invite the wrong side of the street to your party.

Social media wasn’t originally designed for business but they showed up anyway

Facebook was designed for people. It then twisted its focus as money became more and more involved. With the benefit of hindsight organisations such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn have had the chance to present their offerings more towards the business user.

Facebook as a social media site was okay for a time until the corporation creep started to latch on.

Facebook User Facts as of September 2015

*As of 25th September 2015.

You can guess that of this 1.49 billion users includes many businesses. Global corporations aren’t content to be an image on the television or a flash of paint on a billboard. They want to haunt your dreams.

The Popularity Train

Is a train you want to be on if you are looking to kick it big socially but this train is entirely artificial, fickle and time sensitive so be prepared for some head scratching from time to time.

Artificial

There are many inventive ways of you not needing to be behind your keyboard to automatically pump out content, quotes, images and other tidbits. Those celebrity socials have teams do this for them in order to maximise the reach and pull of their account. When celebrities and big business use accounts such as these, you can guarantee that to some degree they are stage-managed by a group of social savvy gurus.

Ricky, if I've told you once, I've told you twice, shut the frick up!

Ricky, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, shut the frick up!

I had to disengage my following of Ricky Gervais because of the incontinent stream of duff jokes and idiot comments. It was invading my stream on Twitter and I just had to pull the plug. If you’ve had to disavow, unfollow or otherwise shield yourself from these rather garrulous social Dweebasaurus Rex, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Fickle

Those followers can change their mind quickly, put a step wrong or go quiet for a little while and they vote with their feet or unsubscribe / unfollow button. The problem is that it is very difficult to get a person back once they’ve stopped following you as it is a psychological barrier akin to an embargo or veto.

Time sensitive

Be late to the party and you can miss out, be too early and you could be shooting in the breeze, it’s an unfortunate catch 22. The more fame you have the less time sensitivity matters because many will look to you for inspiration. If you are fame poor, expect to get your timing wrong more often than not in the early days and when you think you’ve got the hang of it, everything changes. The only constant in life is change and schedules often conflict with spur of the moment occurrences.

In Rough Conclusion

I’ve charted a number of ways that reciprocity can go off the rails and how imperfect the social world is. What you should draw from all of this is the need to define your own standards of quality, what you are happy to share and not share and with whom. You are going to make mistakes because of the artifice, fickle fingers of fate and the time sensitivity of your shared good but you should celebrate those who make an effort (even if they have an agenda).

Now share this or I’ll come around and beat you. Is that incentive enough? Also, blooming comment while you’re at it! Hehe.

As ever, I am highly available on @blogprefect via the delightful Twitter and I promise not to spam your stream like Ricky! I don’t promise not to haunt your dreams though. You can also contact me via headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com