Friday, February 26, 2010

Creating a blog

This is a massive topic that cannot be covered in one single post. I've got some sub categories (like blog design, writing and blogging) on blogging, so you may want to read up on those later. But right now, you're probably wondering why you should even start a blog.

There are many reasons:
  1. It links with your LinkedIn profile and makes you look better
  2. You can use it to showcase your knowledge
  3. You can use it to track the information you discover along the way
  4. It will force you to follow other important people in your field and interact with them
Those are just a few, once you start more reasons will wander out of the woodwork. It's not easy to write, some people have a lot of difficulty with it. LC has a network of copywriters there for you to utilise and get help from, this is just another facet of the support structure. Most of it will involve reading other peoples work of your topics, but remember blogging also allows you to present your own spin on any subject matter you feel.

This will always look good to potential employers when they can see that you're an original thinker.

There are many free hosting sites that you can present your blog on. I used the blogger network because it's very simple and the dashboard application allows me to navigate into google analytics without any fuss. I can also track other blogs from the dashboard, so in essence it gives me all I want without any problems. But if you want more customisation you may want to go with WordPress.

How you want to present the blog is completely up to you, but look at some of the other popular blogs out there and notice what works and what doesn't. You're not going to be monetising your blog any time soon so try not to fill it with clutter and make it difficult to navigate.

Widgets are a part of any blog and you're going to have to play around with them. This will help give you a feel for the environment and design. They can also be useful for generating visitors. I use a widget from BlogCatalog that keeps track of any incoming visitors that have been referred here but Google Analytics also tells me this, so in essence it's only there to show my visitors that I'm being visited regularly.

You've definitely got to think strategically with your blog, but the whole exercise of creating your own blog is to explore and experiment. This will give you invaluable experience that will carry over outside of LC.

You don't have to blog only about your LC stuff. Remember it's your blog, so try to work in a topic that you're passionate about and let that passion shine through. I've got a few different topics that you can see in my category tags and I also have multiple blogs (mainly because the tone and subject matter are too varied to be in one). What topic you choose is up to you, but keep in mind that certain topics will get more interest, like dating or relationship advice over tricking out your laptop with the latest designs. So keep note of the audience you will be attracting with your subject matter.

Keeping your blog interesting and coming up with new subject matter can be difficult. How you solve this is up to you, but reading other blogs always works as inspiration and when you follow them, most of the time they'll follow you back and you'll get breadcrumb visits from those blogs. Don't worry about building a big audience right now, that will come over time as you make connections over the net with other people in your field.

These connections will most likely also have a LinkedIn profile and your steady connections will grow from that. By now, you'll see how it's all integrated and how each facet lends to the other. As your time investment grows in your blogs and social media profiles, so will your reputation and credibility.

Commenting is also an important part of blogging. A blog looks lonely without them and you'll discover there are many automated bots that will worm their way into your site with atrocious spam masquerading as valid engagement. One of the best parts of working at LC is you can send everyone an update on your twitter feed when you've posted a new blog and more than likely some of the staff members will leave comments. They'll probably also be following your blog and then what do you know, you've got a popular blog with interactive readers!

Next step: Tweeting and

Adventures in Advertising
Pensive Video Gamer
Short Stories and other Curiosities

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LinkedIn: What's all the fuss about?

We've all played with social networks like Myspace or Facebook, LinkedIn is exactly that a social network, except instead of social connections, it focuses on business connections. The site reads like an online resume and chronicles your activity in discussions and who you're connected with. The site isn't very user friendly, and that works in your favour.

You'll have to set up an account and put in all your educational details and previous work histories. Once you've done this, connect with a few LC key personnel like:
From those connections you can add all the other Intern staff in common and you'll already have a decent list of 20+ connections. Once you've worked with a few of them you can also request a recommendation from them. Recommendations work like references, except anyone looking at them can also check out the credibility of the source with one simple click.

You may also want to link a blog or two to your LinkedIn profile. Your profile page will automatically get a feed from the last 3 posts and anyone interested in what you do will head straight to these blogs.

So far, I've told you how to set up LinkedIn, but not why it's important. You've probably heard the saying: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." This is so true in business. Potential employers are much more likely to hire someone they know or has been vouched for by a trusted source. LinkedIn provides for that, it'll open doors.

Many of the staff that have set up effective LinkedIn accounts have been offered employment by companies outside of LC. Whether you take them up on the offer is up to you, but a good LinkedIn profile will give you these opportunities and advantages that people without LinkedIn don't have.

Furthermore, LinkedIn comes up in search engines. So the more exposure you get online, the better. Make sure you select a good name for your profile, something that fits along the job your doing. Look at the profile page address for Toby or Melanie. These small things count and show proof towards your expertise in the field.

You'll also want to keep track of best answers and topic discussions in LinkedIn. Remember the more accolades you get on your profile, the better it looks. LinkedIn has credibility because any person viewing your profile can see who's said what and in what position they are in. They can validate information for themselves.

Next step: Creating a blog

Adventures in Advertising
Pensive Video Gamer
Short Stories and other Curiosities

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Welcome new person to LC


Welcome to Lead Creation and your internship. I've been where you are now, starting out and for me, it was daunting as hell! Let me paint you a picture, on my first day in the first few minutes of me starting the internship Toby sat me down to have a chat. He'll do this with everyone and mine didn't go so well.

Basically, I was told that male copywriters had a very bad track record at LC. They would up and leave halfway through their internships, which ended up being a colossal waste of time for both parties! Toby then followed it up by telling me he had a bad feeling that I was probably going to leave and that he was going to minimise his investment in me!

What bloody investment? I thought. I'm working for free here!

But 3 months down the track, I can honestly say he was totally right. There is a huge investment in training and effort that goes into every intern. It may not feel like it, it's understandable, but this will change. After 3 months of working for LC, I've got a freaking awesome LinkedIn profile which is integrated with this very blog and have already gotten offers for paid copywriting work from it.

I'd never have gotten that by myself because I'd never even heard about LinkedIn, let alone thought Twitter could actually be useful.

The first thing you should do is have a good think about the investment you're going to have to put into this internship. It's more than just time you'll be giving up, it will also be some misconceptions.

You'll already have read a few training manuals and other assorted documents, now we get into the good stuff. This is a bread crumb document that I've designed for all new interns. It's a step by step document that will give you a good guide of what to do when you first begin. At the end of each, I'll link in the next step. Not all will be on my blog as I cover specific topics, some like SEO will be on Vahes blog.

The first thing you should do is follow the blog by clicking on the side panel. Not just for mine, but everyone of the LC staff that you're directed to. Each blog will have helpful advice and tips so it's in your best interest to do so. I always try to mix in some other entertaining tidbits into my blog to make it a little more readable and exciting. Also, information changes, so being up to date with the latest developments in SEO is a good thing.

Eventually you're going to have to start your own blog. The tags on blog design and blogging hold some great tips for beginners. But more on that later.

Right now you're going to have to create a LinkedIn account, a twitter account and also a blog account (might as well get it out of the way). I suggest using because it integrates with Google apps really nice and allows you to track data very easily.

Play around with them, but don't worry about making it perfect just yet, well cover that in later steps. Right now there are a few blogs that you should subscribe to in Google reader. What the hell is Google reader anyway?

Onto the next step: LinkedIn: What's all the fuss about?!

Adventures in Advertising
Pensive Video Gamer
Short Stories and other Curiosities

Monday, February 8, 2010

Backup your vital files...NOW!

For those two people who follow this blog religiously (my mommy and myself), you may have noticed the lack of updates. This isn't just because working 7 days per week means any free time is spent trying to stay sane, it's also because my Judas Dell has decided to pack it in and die on me. Just when I needed him most.

Actually, that's not quite accurate because my laptop is an extension of my body (I'll be writing a long essays as to why this is so for uni). It's the appendage that allows me to tap into and manipulate my virtual identity. It's a part of me, so when it died, I felt like an amputee. Furthermore, there isn't really a time when I don't need him. At every moment, I need a laptop as much as the moment before. More so because of the invested time in building my virtual identity and creative works on it accumulates.

Unfortunately, it had been a while since a proper backup of my files was completed, so most of my time was spent trying to recover data on the weekend. Though it was a success, I know I've dodged a massive bullet because if I'd lost all the work on my book, it would have probably given up my few remaining slivers of sanity trying to restore those works!

Now days, most of my work is online and stored on servers across the world, instead of being located on my hard-drive. This means that all the work for blogs and blogging is safe. Even the countless draft notes and half-baked ideas are all still waiting for me to complete them, and wait they will!

I'm currently on my trusty old COMPAQ Presario Pentium laptop. A blast from the past, yet it still works utterly perfectly and without fail. I honestly love this laptop, even though it's slow, it does the job reliably.

So the lesson here is to backup not only your files, but also your laptop. Have an old one handy and ready to rock out at a moments notice. You can buy them second hand cheap and the investment is worth it. I paid $1700 for my Compaq back in 1999 and after 11 years, to still be functioning is a massive win for me.

Also portable hard-drives are also made of win. I owe a big thank-you to Gavin for buying me one for my birthday.

Adventures in Advertising
Pensive Video Gamer
Short Stories and other Curiosities

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wasting time with time wasters

A long time ago, in a version of Thomas far far away, there existed an internet forum that he moderated/administered. This was quiet a bit of work because not only did he have to monitor and dispose of spammers, tend to the many personality conflicts and arguments, but he also had to develop interesting articles for people to read.

These articles took a long time to create. Each one based on hours of research as the audience was very well read and any mistakes or inaccuracies would be pounced upon in an instant.

Yet all this work netted Thomas one thing: Frustration.

Why? because he was interacting with people uninterested in the message, uninterested in the content and solely focused on flame wars and aggravating an already aggravated forum administer due to personality conflicts. Not all the audience was like this, but a few select band of individuals got great pleasure from it. On stage during live performance; they're known as hecklers.

So eventually he did the only thing he could do, he left.

The work was hard with long hours, it was unpaid and most importantly, unappreciated. So after a long rumination process that had been building up for months, Thomas did the only thing that would benefit him. He left and never looked back at forums ever again.

All that work had to be left behind, as well as the online friends that had supported him and rallied to his cause. All the stress and conflicts were also left in the past.

It was four years of work wasted.

But he did learn a two priceless points out of the whole endeavour.

1. Never argue with idiots
This world is filled with them, they come at you from all angles. Never engage them, or if you accidentally do, stop as soon as you realise you're dealing with one. There is an old saying: You can lead a horse to water, but you can never make him drink, and it applies to the morons on the internet. You can't make them think or even see your way of thinking because they are too wrapped up in their own sense of over-bloated self important opinions.
Don't waste time or energy on time wasters. You'll only have yourself to blame!

2. Don't ever take it personally
I've written more words than I care to admit. Writing comes easily to me. Yet with the most carefully constructed pieces of personal reflection, I get people who disagree and volley in personal attacks merely because they have no other way of engaging the material. You can't ever let this get to you. Never return the insults, simply delete the comments outright or ignore them and have a laugh. Once you've invested so much into your words that any criticism hurts you personally, it's time to take a step back from the writing.

Over time, I've learnt to engage with people on different levels and subtly redirect conversations when they get out of hand. But my days of hanging around internet forums are forever over and I am honestly happy about that because there are much better places on the internet to interact with people.

I'm not saying that forums don't have their advantages, but they are fast becoming more and more selective with their users as most users turn towards Social Networks, which offer a greater level of control over your experience.

Adventures in Advertising
Pensive Video Gamer
Short Stories and other Curiosities

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fatigue and guest posting

I've been working too much lately. Seven days a week, five within an intensive retail environment. This is why I haven't posted anything for the last week. It's difficult to construct something worthwhile when fatigue has built up.

Fatigue I can handle, especially as I'm an insomniac. Fatigue is my modus-operandi. That and using outdated Latin phrases or wanky French words, which I just cannot resist. I love the French language and cannot wait to learn it fully, but first I must learn Mandarin for my upcoming journey to China.

But it's the stress of the position that prevents me from writing effectively. For example, if you look at the previous paragraph, you'll see how it's half finished because I went off on a tangent. Now, I love tangents, I'm always exploring them in my mind and when I'm stressed, I'm more likely to get sidetracked.

Now, even though my friends have found my randomness to be witty and humorous, it doesn't translate at all to writing. When I'm on one of my tangent fuelled rants, people have a lot of trouble following my logic or even what I'm saying. So there is a lesson to learn about writing. Keep it focused and on point, otherwise you'll lose your audience. Writing requires energy of a different kind to physical energy. You can still be exhausted after a long day's work and still write. But if you're distracted or stress, forget about it.

Despite not having the energy to post on my own blog, I have been posting regularly on other peoples Blogs as a guest poster. I'm going to start a new section tag for all the guest posts I've done (mainly to keep track of it for my own benefit), but here's a link to my first article which has been featured on the Idea Lady's website.

It's not my best work, I'll readily admit, but it's still my words being featured on other websites. And this is all part of social networking and getting your own brand name out into the ether.

Today, I'm entering my 17th consecutive working day without a break. I wonder how many more I can go?!

Adventures in Advertising
Pensive Video Gamer
Short Stories and other Curiosities

Monday, January 18, 2010

Google Reader and the Ninja

Google Reader is a handy application from google that organises and collates all your blog feeds. It gives you a powerful interface which displays the feeds without you having to visit all the sites individually.

What makes this application so cool? How about off-line browsing!

That's right with Google Reader you can download and store around 2000 articles (it will do it automatically for new posts) using Google Gears (a browser extension). This means you can now do your reading where ever you like, on the train, on a plane or even while on the can.

Pretty soon, there'll probably be an integration with Kindle and other types of e-Readers which will seriously make me consider buying one, including even selling out and getting an iPhone or perhaps the new Google phone.

The beauty of this application is that it's a serious time saver. Google are constantly upping the ante regarding their functionality and the Google reader is a serious leap forward.

There is also a hidden Easter Egg when you're on the main screen. If you press UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A you'll unlock the ninja display. That code is called the Konami Code because it's used in heaps of Konami video games.

It's integrated into Google completely, so if you have a google email account, it's ready to go. However, you don't need to register to use it, your other email accounts can also be used for verification. Go forth and explore it now!

Adventures in Advertising
Pensive Video Gamer
Short Stories and other Curiosities

Friday, January 8, 2010

Customising a blog: an ongoing process

Setting up a blog on the first run is a very time consuming process. For my latest blog (which I'd put off starting for months), it took me roughly 4 hours to create all the elements you see on the page and set up additional accounts (like flickr).

It's very tempting to sit back afterwards and look at all the work and think: "Phew! I'm all done, that's it for design!"

But that would be disastrous.

Designing a blog, or your page should be an ongoing process where you experiment with new widgets and new code to see how it integrates itself into the blog.

There are many advantages to doing this, like:
  1. finding a useful widget that makes your page more appealing to your readers
  2. upgrading your own knowledge of manipulating and tweaking your blog
  3. becoming more knowledgeable about products and services on the internet
  4. learn by physically doing instead of dry theory and words
By experimenting on your own blog, the site becomes dynamic and less likely to be stale. But too much change and you'll alienate your audience who may have gotten used to the particular way your site looks. Always have an outlet for feedback and a way your audience to contact you.

Getting back in the groove

It's been over 3 weeks since I last posted on this blog. Sure I have a great excuse of it being Xmas and New Years, and sure I can also say that I'm working 2 jobs and am flat out. But that means only that I've failed to do anything on this blog for 3 weeks.

I've succeeded in doing nothing.

And because of that my steady traffic has dwindled and now I must start raising my profile once again. Not only that, I'm out of the habit of making time to read/respond to peoples posts. The longer you spend out of the water, the harder it is to get back in.

At least the damage is only 3 weeks instead of 3 months.

In the past I've made the mistake of leaving a blog too long and having it dry up. Once the ideas stop flowing the blog will die shortly afterwards. To have a successful blog, you've got to keep at it and keep building your connections.

So learn from my mistake and don't procrastinate. Jump in and blog something.


Now that I've started, my next 2 blog topics have jumped out of the tangled mess that is my mind. See, you've just witnessed my advice come true in this blog post.

Yes, I totally agree with you...

I am awesome!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Spambots: the ultimate indicator of incompetence

For those who have no idea what spam-bots are all about, here is some quick info about them. But basically, it's an automated program that looks for any page it can comment on and throws in a link to it's originating site. The point is to get better Google page ranking or just flat out spam advertising for any site traffic.

It's the most idiotic type of spam.

And it's cluttering up the internet with garbage.

Recently this blog got hit by a bot (which means that the blog is on the rise and becoming more noticeable). Look at the first comment here and you'll see a vague response. Usually these types of responses are also filled with grammatical and spelling errors. Most publishing platforms (like word-press and even blogger) have filters that automatically take out the links or delete the comments outright.

But, some people still insist they have their uses. The only use I've ever seen for automated responses is as an indicator of incompetence. Any blog that publishes auto-response messages are either too stupid to see the exploit for what it is or too desperate for comments to care.

But the internet is being clogged with these stupid comments and messages with the sole purpose of generating quick and free advertising. If you want solid credibility, stay the hell away from spambots and auto-response scripts. Why? Because anyone who has a clue about blogging, publishing or the net can recognise them for what they are.

And the next thought your readers will have will be about your credibility.

Is this what you want them to be thinking about while reading your material?

Once again, I'm the exception to this rule because I've only allowed the publication of one to use as an example for this post. I'm well aware of the irony here.